Saturday, March 31, 2007

model mom

annecdote one:

The doorbell rang at about noon today. My young son and I were still in our pajamas. I answered to find a smiling woman with a Bible under her arm and a religious leaflet in her hand. Before she could launch into her spiel, I firmly but politely said, "We're not interested," and closed the door.

I turned around to find my not-quite-four year old standing with his pants around his ankles and a big smile on his face. "I'm showing my penis," he said proudly.

We immediately had a conversation about private body parts.

I do wonder what exactly the lady at the door had time to see and what horrified thoughts crossed her mind.

I was also wearing my Flying Spaghetti Monster t-shirt.

anecdote two:

My older son had the day off from school yesterday. We went out for a short walk to a nearby store. Inside, one of the clerks was admiring our dog. "I think he would like me to pet him," she said.

"Go ahead, he smells better than he sometimes does," said my not-quite nine year old. "He hasn't had a bath in a year."

"My longest stretch was from September until last week," he boasted.

I was back in the same store today, this time with just the dog. The store was very crowded and a number of people were lined up behind me at the cash. "I remember you," said the clerk. "I thought it was funny when your son said he hadn't bathed in seven months."

It's those little moments that make a mother proud.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

boy meets sponge

And jelly fish.

And birds.

And Jerry Springer's house, but we didn't take a picture of that.

The Mote Aquarium runs a tour (the 'Mote Boat') of Sarasota Bay (at least I think it was Sarasota Bay).

We had fun.

I miss vacation.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007


The Demerol prevents the reaction to the Herceptin.

The Gravol prevents the reaction to the Demerol.

Hours later, I am still very, very stoned.

The overall experience is not unpleasant.

There is a reason that I do not use the truckload of narcotics that has been prescribed to me, unless I am in serious pain.

Did I mention that the experience is not unpleasant?

Monday, March 26, 2007


I am feeling seriously pissed off tonight.

I am angry that I have cancer, fed up with my lymphedema and furious at the lousy prognosis associated with liver metastases.

In the comments at one of my favourite blogs, d.y.i./ not d-i-e, Rebel1in 8 writes:
'part of empowering someone with cancer is allowing them the right to bitch without the fear that they are sending out a message of defeat and whining.'

I am still a 'glass is half full' sort of person but tonight, the water in the glass is boiling.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

skin deep

My spouse loves this picture of me.

I do not.

Yesterday, when we were sitting in the hospital waiting room, he stroked my face and said, "wrinkles."

I cringed. But he meant it as a good thing.

He tells me that I am more beautiful as I get older and he loves every line on my face.

Since he has always found me the most attractive when I am dressed casually and looking relaxed (the man thinks overalls are hot), I believe him.

The 'eye of the beholder', indeed.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

safe and sound

We are home, happy and tired.

Drove over 1,000km yesterday (with two kids in the backseat, don't forget). We made the decision (with full consensus) to skip dinner and keep driving after crossing the border (our easiest crossing ever, as the border guard proved susceptible to D.'s considerable charms).

We all slept in this morning and my spouse and I have spent the day in a stupor. I was too tired, in fact, to worry too much about my ultrasound results. This was a good thing, as my anxiety had been slowly building all week, and had been at times quite overwhelming.

In the end, my oncologist announced that my tumours appear to have stabilized. He claims to be very happy with this result (although I know that he had initially hoped that my intense reaction to Herceptin meant that there would be progress by now). I am a bit disappointed but mostly I am relieved. After all, I feel pretty good right now; the status quo doesn't feel like a bad thing.

I was so relieved in fact, that I didn't even complain when the nurse doing blood work had to try three times to get the needle into my port or when she left me holding the syringe full of blood to go get some gauze to mop up the blood oozing down my chest. Pain and discomfort, it appears, are relative things.

Monday, March 19, 2007

long day

Dateline: Fredericksburg, VA.

Long day in the car and out of it.

Highlight: Barbecue from a little hole in the wall, which we ate standing up at a rest stop.

The Carolinas are beautiful. I would like to get to know them better.

Tomorrow, hopefully, I will sleep in my own bed.

Sunday, March 18, 2007


Dateline: Savannah, Georgia.

They look so sweet, don't they? You would hardly think they had put us through hours of bickering, whining and yelling today, would you (see image reflected in the mirror to understand their tranquility)?

We had a wonderful time in Florida. I hope we can still remember it after the long drive home.

I would love to visit Savannah tomorrow. And check out the Carolinas. But we are pretty much in 'let's get home' mode.

It could be hours before the little monsters, I mean, my beautiful children fall asleep. I look forward to sleep, myself and, hopefully some respite from the nightmares I've been having (I think I am worrying about the ultrasound results that await me on Wednesday).

Lots more hours on the road tomorrow. And we hope to take in some barbecue.

Wish us luck (we ran into a family on the road with children who made mine look like angels. It gave me a little perspective on how things could be worse).

I'll have lots more to say when I get home and have some more time to myself.

Friday, March 16, 2007


This is what we looked like minutes after arriving in Sarasota. We were all so happy to be in the sun and relieved to no longer be in the car. We were giddy.

S. threw himself into the ocean with his clothes on.

T. had a beer on the beach with his dad.

D. loves to play in the sand. And to destroy what he and others have built.

It was worth every hour in the car.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

for tim

Marriage Chant

marriage is impossible marriage is dull
your dance card is empty your plate is too full
it's something no sensible person would do
i wish i was married i wish I was married
i wish i was married to you

marriage is unnatural marriage is hard
you rotate your tires you work in the yard
you fight about nothing every hour or two
i wish i was married i wish i was married
i wish i was married to you

the children throw fits in airports & such
they projectile vomit on aunt ruthie at lunch
& your in-laws know just what you should do
but i wish i was married i wish i was married
i wish i was married to you

i'd like to fix you my special broth when you're sick
i'd like to fight with you when you're bein' real thick
there is no end to what i would like to do
i wish i was married i wish i was married i wish
i was married to you

i like the roll in rock & roll & all i know is you're the sister of my soul
& we make a circle just we two
& i wish i was married i wish i was married
i wish i was married to you

the sky unpredictable, mysterious the sea
do we wish most for what never can be it never can be
i guess that's true but i wish i was married i wish i was married
i wish i was uh huh huh to you

the grass is always greener is what they say to me
if I was your husband maybe I'd agree
i like brown grass & vows that stay true
& i wish i was married i wish i was married i wish
i was married to you to you to you mmhmm to you

-Greg Brown, from Covenant, Hacklebarney Music, 2000.

Thank you for sticking with me for sixteen years. I hope we have many more together.

Thank you for making me laugh and for laughing at my jokes. Thank you for putting up if with all the craziness, and for being my anchor through the worst of the storm.

I love you.

Monday, March 12, 2007

we are here

Dateline: Sarasota, Florida.

Or rather, Siesta Key.

It is beautiful and warm. The beaches have sand like flour and I feel very relaxed.

We made it here just in time, as I we were ready to drop off the kids by the side of the highway (in all fairness to them, they were really good until the last leg of the trip when the little one started provoking the oldest who rose to the bait EVERY time).

We had a lot of fun on the road but were very, very glad to reach our destination.

We hit the beach moments after our arrival. D. yelled, "I'm free!" He was giddy with joy as he ran towards the water. And so were we all.

More on the last leg of our trip and life in Florida to come.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

family road trip, day 3

Dateline: Brunswick, Georgia.

Another long day on the road. Here are some highlights:

We stopped at a children's museum in Fayetteville, NC. It was a great place to stop. D. especially loved dressing up and playing at the various activity centres, playing at being a cameraman, firefighter, police officer and shop keeper. He cracked me up when he played judge at the courthouse, sentencing "Mama Kingston-Wayne" to jail for being a bank robber. He's only three, but there he was, happily pounding away with the gavel. The whole place was pretty cool.

We had southern fried chicken, some b-b-q (we learned today that barbecue is a noun, as in "would you like a pint of barbecue?") and hush puppies (deep fried and battered corn bread. Mmmmmm). For dinner, I ordered a salad with grilled chicken and low-fat dressing. It came with grated cheese and little bits of something deep fried on it. It was all delicious but I am amazed that everyone in the south isn't morbidly obese.

Somewhere just north of Savannah, I noticed our first palm trees. My excitement at this lasted much longer than the children's. Long after they had returned to their video I was still exclaiming "Look! Palm trees!"

We passed a run-down looking building on the I-95 called the Risque Cafe. There were several 18 wheelers parked outside. If we had been alone I would have made my spouse stop. What exactly goes on at an "adult cafe"?

I think that we snagged the last hotel room in all of Southern Georgia (by the time we checked into the Microtel we had revised our expectations from 'hotel with indoor pool' to 'hotel with beds'). I am seriously bummed out because the plug in the bathtub doesn't work. I was very much looking forward to some quiet time to myself.

This is the second time I write this. The battery on my computer ran out when I was halfway through the first draft. Betsy also has fingerprints all over her screen and chips in her keyboard. This is the price I pay for quiet in the back seat (video time is an end of day reward in order to squeeze out a couple of extra hours of travel time). Betsy has been loaded with lots of kids' movies but once we are home again, only my fingers will be allowed to stroke her keys.

This time tomorrow I will be in Sarasota, Florida.

We've had fun but I am ready to be off the road for a while.

I am also ready to share a bed with my spouse again instead of one of the kids.

Friday, March 09, 2007

family road trip, day 2

Dateline: Roanoke Rapids, NC.

Today, we drove. And drove some more.

Progress is slower travelling with two kids than when m spouse (then just my main squeeze) and I last went on a road trip in 1991.

We are all sick but, all things considered, in good spirits (although D. is having a tantrum as I type this).

Tomorrow, we may actually stop and do vacation type things.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

family road trip, day 1

Dateline: Scranton, PA.

Writing from a Holiday Inn with free wifi...

We hit the road as planned today, in the early afternoon (family and friends who know us well are no doubt reeling with shock).

The car was stuffed to the rafters. Suitcases, bags of books, pillows and blankets, no comfort was spared. The highlight of the trip was a dramatic reading of Edgar Allan Poe's The Bells by my eight year old son. He really is amazing.

The first thing my younger son did when we checked into the hotel was strip and jump up and down on the bed in front of the mirror yelling, "I'm naked, ha ha ha!"

Stinky D. is now in the bath. S. has read a three hundred page novel and is complaining that there is nothing to do. My spouse is about to go for a swim (there is a pool right outside our door but my spouse is the only one interested).

I am going to take it easy (our first cultural experience of the trip was a 'spiedie' in Binghamton, NY, an experience I do not care to repeat), have a scotch and hope that my children will fall asleep soon.

Update: S. has decided that he wants to go for a swim after all (he is being lured by the hot tub). Time to take over bath supervision.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

and we're off....

Well, almost.

We're not finished packing or anything. But the plan is to hit the road shortly after noon tomorrow (my father-in-law called to check in on our famous "precision timing" this evening. My spouse and I are not exactly known for our organized departures).

  • I have the cold that hit my little son this past week end (the best immune system strengthening drugs in the world can't beat a three year old and all his creative ways of transmitting snot to his Mama). Given that my last couple of colds have landed me in the hospital, I am slightly worried, but so far my energy is good and I have no fever. Sometimes the sniffles really are just the sniffles.
  • The dog has been packed off to Auntie D.'s for the duration. I miss him already but he'll have a good time.
  • The woman who is house-sitting for us makes her living cleaning houses. This means that, when we return, our house will be cleaner than when we left it. We are also likely to find that everything has been rearranged, from large pieces of furniture to photos and knicknacks.
  • I am bringing knitting. Lots of it. I am making a blanket, based on a pattern that emulates log cabin quilts (from Mason-Dixon Knitting). I have been working on this project for some time, loving the colours and the feel of the yarn in my hands. I found a kind of relaxation in the repetitiveness and felt like I could keep knitting it forever. Until last night. Now I loathe it. The colours are garish and the yarn is too heavy. I am finding nothing but boredom in the repetitiveness and I can't wait to be finished with the damn thing. The blanket is coming with me and by the time I cross the border back into Canada it will be finished and I will be working on something else.
  • I'm bringing my laptop, loaded with hours of movies for the kids to watch in the car (although I still feel queasy at the thought of their little fingers all over it. A woman who names her computer does not relinquish it easily. However, I had to accept that it was the only one with sufficient memory). This means I can blog from the road, wifi or broadband permitting.
Time for bed. Going to try and sleep off this cold and get the packing done in the morning. We will be on the road by early afternoon, come hell or high water.

I really need this vacation.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007


Things I have learned from my children:

Play hard and with focus.

Surround yourself with the things that make you happy.

Believe in yourself. And don't be afraid to show it.

Take time to stop and enjoy life's pleasures.

Monday, March 05, 2007

i am awesome

I walk through the snow pushing a stroller filled with pre-schooler, library books and a birthday cake.

I walk the dog on a day when wind brings tears to my eyes that freeze on my eyelashes.

I walk long and hard, my heart pumping.

My legs are strong and muscular.

My face glows with exertion.

I am fit and healthy.

When I walk, I am not a cancer patient.

Friday, March 02, 2007

words to live by

Sometimes, the fear and sadness really do come from out of nowhere. Yesterday, I was sitting and knitting, waiting for my boys to finish swimming lessons. As I looked up to see my youngest running towards me, the thought hit me, "I won't be around when he starts high school."

The thought quite literally knocked the wind out of me. I pushed it away and we went on with our evening. The sadness did linger, though.

Then today, as I unpacked my bag of goodies from Monday's belated birthday dinner, I pulled out, among many other lovely things, a mug with the following on it:

"Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take but by the number of moments that take our breath away." (anonymous)

That pretty much sums up my approach to life these days. I have a friend who often refers to "living on borrowed time." We all live on borrowed time. What matters is making that time count.

I'm trying to do that.

The same wonderful women who gave me the mug gave me a card that says, "Between me and insanity stand my friends."

Amen to that.

I may outlive the doctor's predictions and I am doing what I can to make that happen. But I am also trying to enjoy the present and to savour those moments that take my breath away.