Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Stewie is a Cutie!

Larry has been calling everyday to keep me posted on Stewie. They are both doing great. Stewie had his first dinner out at a restaurant last night and quietly curled up under the table and didn't make a peep. Larry said he was so good that he forgot that Stewie was there. Larry is having a hard time adjusting to a 60 pound dog jumping on him in the morning when his alarm clock goes off. I guess it's still better than me giving him kidney punches to get up. I can't wait to get them both home.

Monday, October 27, 2008

The Boob-O- Gram

So I got the little card in the mail today that said I was overdue for my mammogram. I sat staring at the card for quite a while. Why is there a picture of a puppy on the front of the card? I mean there is nothing cute about a mammogram. A puppy certainly isn't going to convince me to have a mammogram.Here's the story of what happened last year and why I'm so reluctant to call and make another appointment. God knows I will, but it takes me a while to work up my nerve.

Last year I entered the waiting room of the mammography center. They handed me the usual paperwork with the picture of the perky breasts. Geez-I already am feeling self conscious-mine haven't looked like that in quite a while...years even. Questions, questions....any lumps or bumps that you've noticed? I think they mean in my breasts and not elsewhere on my 40 something body. Have you noticed any discharge from your breasts? EWWWWW. Uh-no. They asked everything except my bra size. Shouldn't they want to know what size my breasts are? I mean I would think it would make sense. At least this way they would know how much they need to squish them.

The nurse aide hands me a gown. Open in the front please, and you'll need to carry your belongings with you-the lockers are all taken. Okaaaayyy. WAIT! Did you say open in the front? Have you seen the size of my girls? Open in the front is a feat that defies physics. I leave the dressing room and try as best I can to keep everything in it's place, my clothes and purse discretely covering the goods. But alas, it was not meant to be. My purse was on my arm and my attempt to keep it there failed. It slipped down the length of my arm and my right breast torpedoed out of the "open front gown". The aide, apparently seeing this phenomenon before, kept walking to the exam room and didn't glance twice. At this point there was no way to cram my boob back into the gown...the girls had been let loose far earlier in the day then they were used to and they had no intention of being put back into the halter. Sigh. Not much to do at this point but pull my purse up and cover the best I can. Yeah-small purse-big handles. Can you say peep hole?

At least in the exam room the door would be closed and I could have a little privacy. Nope-guess again. In comes the xray tech who needs to yell her lunch order to the other staff with the door open. Sharon asks me step up to the machine. No hiding the boobies now. Sharon manages to grab my right breast and place it on the "plate" of the machine. For the next 5 minutes she is rubbing my boob furiously trying to get the "wrinkles" out. ( Read big boobs here). She proceeds to tuck and fold and smooth and pull my arm several times so that the skin is stretched to its absolute maximum. Next time you could at least buy me a glass of wine first.

Ok-I'm on. Kinda tippee- toed but I'm on. Then this clear plastic plate comes down to flatten out the boob. When I say flat I don't mean pancake flat, I mean tortilla flat. Lord Have Mercy! I now have boobicles. My nipple is flattened out so much it looks like a popsicle stick- a boobicle. UGH- one more breast to go. I really can hold my breath longer than I thought. When the vise on my girls is finally let go I have distinctive red rings around the perimeter of my boobs. Interesting-looks like someone lassoed them.

The tech finishes and tells me to wait. Geez-it's a long time. She finally comes in with the doctor. NOT GOOD! They put the xrays on the glow screen and show me a "mass". A mass-that's what they called it. I can't even cry because I'm in shock. The next thing I know I'm laying on a table and having an ultrasound done. Except the tech can't find the mass that was identified on my xray and now my left breast is covered in surgilube (KY jelly for the non-medical folks). Around and around she goes-where it stops no body knows.

The doc comes back in and gives my boob a whirl and then promptly states, "I have some residents with me here today that are coming in so that they can learn." I can't even respond because I'm watching the ultrasound screen for this elusive mass. My left breast is pointing straight up in the air because it's -35 degrees F in the room and I've been felt up for the past 30 minutes. Hey-I guess they are perky after all. My left boob (I think I'll call her Shirley-everyone has been so intimate with her I think she needs a name) is shiny and covered in wet, cold jelly. Then 10 or 12 residents/med students walk in. I glance at them casually. They are all sheepishly looking at the screen and avoiding eye contact as much as possible. Oh and look-I know 3 of them from working at the hospital. Should I wave? God-they probably don't even know it's me. UHHHH yup they do. The rest are asking questions and the 3 of them are counting lines on the wallpaper. I thought of flashing them the other boob when I heard the doc say, "There is the little bugger....oh it's just a're all set...have a great day." WAIT! What? A cyst? Oh thank God. I'm crying with relief.

The tech gives me 3 towels to degrease my boobs and tells me I can go get dressed. I take my clothes and pass thru the waiting area headed for the dressing room when my breast decides to make another escape and go AWOL. This time I don't care. I keep walking not caring that I am exposed and secretly wanting to flash everyone my cancer free breast.

"We'll see you in 6 months Mrs. Burgess," the receptionist tells me. Sigh. I think I'll bring my fuzzy pink bathrobe to the next exam...and maybe some wine.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

My Husband is Leaving Me

Bet that got your attention huh? Ok so it's only for a week that he is leaving me. Geez-we just celebrated our 18th wedding anniversary. Time is tight for us. So much so that we had to have our datenight on a Monday night. It had been so long since we had been out. We went to the lovely 1149 restaurant a few towns over. The food was fabulous-not a complaint from the raw littlenecks to the creme-brule'. But the wine-why is it so expensive in restaurants? We bought a bottle of BV coastal-it was $60.00. Now I have no qualms on spending money on good things...especially wine but why is this particular brand only $18 in the liquor store? Ok so maybe I have one complaint.

We had a great time-it was lovely being without the kids and to not have to eat on paper placements with a choice of coloring crayons. It is a rare treat for us to get alone time-I so cherish it.

So back to why my husband's leaving me. Next week he is leaving to go for training with his third hearing dog. I really hate when he is away. Makes me feel like a single mom and I do miss him so very much. I may be one of those rare people that actually likes their husband and loves having him home with us.
But next week will prove to be crazy. We just found out that our Darling Daughter has made the competitive soccer team-scoring in the top 1/3 of those that tried out. YEAH! So why does this make me crazy? Well the recreational soccer season is not yet over (ends in one week)so that means that rec soccer practice is on Tuesday, competitive practice on Wednesday, Competitive game on Thursday and rec game on Saturday. Yes-4 days of soccer next week with a church meeting, homeschool Halloween party, sign language and a baby shift at work (that I'm going to have to call out from since we don't have a baby sitter). Honestly, I've worked so little I really think they are going to fire my behind (I secretly hope). I so look forward to the day when I can spend time on writing and not feel rushed.
Hey, did I mention that I was blogging for UU homeschoolers? Check out my recent posting.
I'm also giving my first sermon in November on Organ Donation. Whew-it was hard to write without being overly depressing. I'm really nervous but sure it will be fine. I hope I've uplifted it enough. I planned the whole service all by myself right down to the readings and music. Larry read my sermon last night and was crying as he read it. Perhaps more uplift is needed.
I've been spending some time in the pulpit (ok off to the side of the pulpit) lately with the minister as a worship partner. I guess you could equate it the position of Deacon in other churches. Very fun-yeah-yeah-I'm also probably one of the few that gets a high by going to church.
I'm still in the process of writing thank you notes for our fundraiser. I've done a few but very far behind. I will get there. I hope everyone knows how grateful we are.
Time for the little one's bath. More ponderings later.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The Emporer's New Clothes

Well really it should say, The Empresse's New Clothes. Did you ever buy something really cheap that you just love? I made my weekly trek to a local discount store this week. What caught my eye? A really fuzzy, pink robe with a zipper up the front. It was only $15.00- a total bargain. Especially since my old robe had seen better days. Stains, a few pulled threads, a few snags.
So what-it's kind of matronly but I love this robe. It's perfect after a shower, the jacuzzi or just lounging around the house. Today it was almost noon and I realized I was still wearing it. Yes, I showered-I was just busy with house chores and homeschooling and answering emails and realized it was still on.

It's not such a bad thing. It's my new comfort item and yes, every adult should have a comfort item be it a cup of coffee, a blanket, prayer beads or the warm fire. And did I mention that this robe was perfect for lounging in front of the fire? This robe envelopes me and I snuggle in to it with ease. Perhaps, it is not the robe. Perhaps it is the thoughts of family that make me feel the same way as this fuzzy, pink concoction of fabric. Perhaps.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Living it Through

It's been a week since I've posted. We've been with family and attended my mother-in-laws wake and funeral. It was a week today that she passed away. It's funny how we so quickly return to the tasks of our lives and move through the grief. It is all you can do. Move through it. It comes in waves sometimes lingering and sometimes fleeting quickly. Larry lit a candle at church today for both of his parents. I lit one for the two of us as tomorrow is our 18th wedding anniversary. We've really been together about 22 years (God that makes me feel old!) and even through the difficult times we've had each other. There are a few good men in the world. Larry is one of them. He's a keeper. Tomorrow I have an actual dinner date with him complete with babysitter to watch the kids while we spend some much needed time alone.

Larry leaves next Monday for an entire week to complete the training with his new Hearing Dog Stewie. A whole week gone-really not looking forward to his going at all but we are excited about the dog. It's been a bright spot in some very difficult weeks.

Saturday I was at an all day conference for the Unitarian Universalist Association in Worcester, Mass. Four other women from my church all attended and the carride there became what we now call "Carpool Ministry". It was wonderful to hear Rev. Sinkford Preach and listen to his resounding, "We are much better together than we are alone." It was also interesting to hear the two candidates for the UUA presidency speak and debate. I picked up a few books, one on Everyday Spiritual Practice and the other on Leadership Development Curriculum. The one disappointment during the day was the last workshop on Leadership and Volunteerism. It really didn't offer a lot for us.

Larry is out walking the dog-I'm guessing it's his meditation time. Many events to process from this past week. I have lesson plans and meals for the week to prepare and I'll call his sister to check in with her. It all goes on.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Finding the Grace

It's been a difficult few days. My mother in law is actively dying. This picture of her was taken several years ago. Mom is wearing her Easter hat that she designed for a contest at the Senior Center. She had little stuffed chicks on it and Easter themed lollipops. Later, she dismantled it and let the grandkids have the lollipops. Mom never worried about being made to look foolish. She has always loved and lived with abandon. I remember Mom once saying, "Go ahead and use me, if you don't then I become useless."
My husband is visiting with his family again today. We both rushed to CT last night after hearing her health had deteriorated and we got home very late last night. She is resting comfortably today with the help of some Morphine and sedation. Mom was very confused and agitated but even in her delirium she was saying her prayers. Her children took turns holding her hands and said their own prayers. It seemed to comfort Mom some.
Mom and Dad and Larry's sister are all Catholic. We are Unitarian. It would not have helped Mom or the family to put our own beliefs forward at such a difficult time. Mom finds comfort in knowing that she will soon be with Jesus. And really it's not about us, it is about what Mom wants and needs as she tries to find peace. Mom has always taken comfort in her rosary beads much as Larry and I do when we sing Spirit of Life at church and share our sorrows lighting a candle in community.
This month at our church, our Small Group Ministry topic is "God or No God." I don't know if I will make this group meeting-it depends on Mom. In our Unitarian faith we recognize and accept many different beliefs yet can hold fast to what our own hearts and minds tell us. I've often struggled with my own beliefs. Usually, I'm very clear but I guess when the full brunt of life is upon you it makes you think and perhaps rethink and perhaps have more questions than when you started.
So maybe it's not a question of "God or No God". Maybe it's the lesson of what God teaches or what we should learn from our own experiences if we don't believe in a God. Maybe it is the being together and learning how to be with one another that we are to learn. Maybe it is the loving each other despite our differences in faith. Maybe it is the unconditional love that comes with being a part of family. Maybe it is about finding the grace in all situations-even the very hard ones.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

The Chicken Whisperer

Here is Patrick with his favorite silkie chicken named Cotton. That's Rosie looking on to see if she can get some laptime too. You can't tell from the picture but Cotton is sound asleep on Patrick's lap. My oldest child, Patrick just turned 12 years old on Monday. He is my sweet, sensitive boy and loves all of God's creatures. What other kid would make a pet out of a chicken? But I have to admit that I love the chickens too. There is nothing more relaxing than listening to their soft clucking as they happily peck at the cracked corn. They also have an affinity for anything shiny like diamond rings or sparkly sandles. They are quite amusing to watch but honestly, I've never met a dumber animal.

Patrick has spent his days hiding in his new Monsterology book. He also is reason a book on Zombies and the next in his series called Beringr. I actually hate buying him books just for the sole reason that he finishes them so quickly. Borrowing books doesn't work for us. Patrick likes to read them over and over and often has 3 books going at once. He'd rather read than just about anything else. This week for homeschool we are working on writing reports. Patrick is doing his report on Hermit Crabs. He has researched them on the internet and happily spews out tons of little known facts about Hermit Crabs. Most mornings you can hear him saying, "And did you know......".

How far he's come. He often forgets what he is doing in the middle of his chores, he has never been able to memorize or recall the multiplication tables and often can't find his shoes. But this sweet, gentle boy is a friend to everyone and sees no difference in young or old, race or color, or boy or girl. He has never, ever bullied anyone (except for his brother and sister which I believe is a right of passage) because he knows what it is like to be bullied. He is the peacemaker, the chicken whisperer, the Ghandi of Rhode Island. I love his quirks and his short comings and his talents. I am so very proud of him.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

On Being Grateful

Last night was our fundraiser for Canines for Combat Vets. I had a great time with only a few snags but honestly, I have let them go. There are so many to thank, the members of our church, our friends who contributed so many awesome auction items, our family who all attended and complete strangers who heard of our cause and felt a need to give.

In all we raised over $18,000 dollars. $10,000 will go to Larry's hearing dog and the rest to the Combat Vets program. In all, 2 service dogs were sponsored. We are ever humbled at the generous outpouring of support and love. Everyone has a cause so the fact that so many chose to help us with the Combat Vets is stunning to me.

We found out this past friday that Larry has been matched with a hearing dog. The pictures above are of Stewie, his third hearing dog who is a one year old yellow lab. We met Stewie on Friday while we were visiting NEADS. Stewie and our dog Pete got along great. Larry will travel at the end of the month for a week of intensive training with Stewie before he comes home to our family. Stewie will go to work everyday with Larry, he will go to grocery stores and everywhere else with him helping him to hear the sounds of the world. Stewie will be the enhancement feature to Larry's cochlear implant.

Mixed in with some difficult times this week was some wonderful news and great times. Perhaps that is life.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Where Have I Been?

This is a puppy from NEADS.

It has been difficult few days. We are gearing up for our fundraiser this Saturday and I've been running errands all week. We still have the helium tank to pick up for the balloon centerpieces, run to the bank for cash for the auction and a few odds and ends to finish up. Tomorrow-Larry and I will travel up to NEADS to finalize details for the fundraiser.

We are however, very worried about his mom who is fighting very hard to overcome her illness. It is a hard time of year as the anniversary date of my own mom's passing is at the end of the month. It's been hard coping and difficult for me to be there for Larry. He gets it though.

It will be sad without her at the fundraiser and we wonder if we will even be able to attend the event ourselves. I spoke with the NEADS team and they assured me that even in our absence they would run the fundraiser for us. I was crying. We have such deep gratitude for everyone's generosity. From the ticket sales, to the auction donations, to the volunteers who have offered to help-we have been surrounded by love and friendship even through the most difficult of times.

I had a little reprieve last night when I was able to go with my friend Sue. I met her a few short months ago when she and her son came to our homeschool group. Sue and I did a little shopping and then went to TGIF's for a margarita and some girl talk. It was good to be out and not have to think about how crazy it's been.