pink, pink, pink, PINK, PINK, PINK, pink, pink, pink

I did not see this, I saw it on xxx blog (vvv), and maybe found the original at http://www.luvimages.com/image/campbells_pink_label_soup_cans-5975.html

I did not see this display in a store—I’ve been avoiding stores like the pink plague this month. I saw it on Stephanie Gilman’s blog Pass Me Another Cupcake blog (http://passmeanothercupcake.com/2014/09/29/one-of-those-days/), and maybe found the original (http://www.luvimages.com/image/campbells_pink_label_soup_cans5975.html).

This photo totally explains why I’ve stayed out of the grocery stores this month. Pink packaging runs amok in October. Pink soup, pink juice, pink milk, pink M&Ms (pink outside package, pink M&Ms inside the bag), pink toilet paper, pink curling irons and blow dryers, pink Kitchen Aid mixers for heaven’s sake!!! Please send me one. And a big bag of those M&Ms.

I’ve been trying to write a posting on October, you know,

 

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But I am so conflicted I can’t really get anything out on paper. Or here either.

I knew October would suck for me. I discovered my lumps last October. I feel as though I have let my pink sistahs down—I never painted a pink ribbon on my nails, or dyed my hair pink before it fell out, or wore pink to chemo days. I don’t have a magnetic pink ribbon on my car, or one hanging from my rearview mirror. I don’t call myself a cancer warrior, and I haven’t signed up for a cancer run or walk. I discussed with my psychiatrist (new experience for me, an actual real psychiatrist just for me) how I haven’t gone to any group sessions, have done no bonding with any other breast cancer women, or men for that matter.

What I have found is some excellent writing by other bloggers who have breast cancer, and over the rest of this month I will be reposting some of their posts.

As for me and the avoidance of stores this month? I have Thanksgiving dinner dishes to prepare, and there is not enough in the fridge to cobble anything together, save a pearl onion, olive, anchovy, pickle and fish sauce stew, and I don’t think there’ll be any takers for THAT one!

So it’s off to the shops later today. Maybe I’ll wear my wig. And I won’t be wearing pink.

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Sixth chemo: behold my poisoning, and reconnecting with an old friend

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Trying to keep this message in mind as chemo progresses. But when I’m not falling asleep sitting up, it’s my nature to try and cram in as many activities as I can. Thank you to the Keep Calm-O-Matic for endless Keep Calms…. (http://www.keepcalm-o-matic.co.uk/p/keep-calm-and-relax-294/)

Complain, complain! I am really hating this paclitaxel. Right now my legs are aching so much I can barely think, or think very effectively. I take over-the-counter Claritin—weird but true, women all over take it and report that it works—for the bone pain from the Neulasta shot, but this is a different pain that the Claritin doesn’t touch. So, I have a couple of yellow pills on board now, and hope to be feeling better (or asleep!) in a little while. [N.B.: did not fall asleep, in fact stayed up until 5:20 a.m. watching episodes of Fringe on Netflix with Luka. Yay March Break and complete irresponsibility for following a sleep schedule]

My sixth chemo was three days ago. It’s March Break, so I thought what a great thing for Luka to do on his holiday: accompany his mum to the medical day care for eight hours or so. Hardly! I left him at home, snoozing, and I went to St. Mike’s for 8:30 a.m. (Tessa had an overnight babysitting job), so I was flying solo. But the flying solo ended when my longtime friend Kelly walked into the exam room. We hadn’t seen each other for an embarrassing length of time, but like the old friends and kindred spirits we are, we picked it up like it was 2004 (that’s when we last worked in the same office, but we’ve remained very good, if often silent, friends). It’s a weird thing to call a friend and say, “Hey! How were your holidays? I got a cancer diagnosis from Santa, yeah, what a drag. What did you get?” So I chickened out from telling friends I’m not in constant contact with, and who’s kidding who? With a single-parent household, full-time job, kids, pets, etc., who can keep in constant contact with friends? And no suggestions to get on Facebook, please. I find it far too Big Brother for my privacy threshold.

This was my second round of Paclitaxel, my sixth chemo.

  • The hand-foot syndrome, with its burning, swelling and blistering, seems to be over (bang your knuckles against anything made of wood, please), to be replaced by
  • koilonychia, the gross prospect of my nails lifting off the nailbed and possibly falling right off. It’s starting already, with the nails flattening out and foamy-looking guck underneath.
  • My white count is double what it should be, but with the steroids and immuno-boosters, and this cough/cold/pink eye/laryngitis thing I’ve had since the end of November, who knows what it is. So I continue to take my temperature every four hours and will know when to head to the hospital (that’s a fever above 38°C or 100.4°F, which I’ve had four times, but it has always retreated after 100.7 so I stayed put. The last thing I want is to go to emerg to get hooked up to IVs unless absolutely necessary.
  • Nausea. Im pretty sure this version of Taxol I’m getting is not supposed to cause any nausea, but I’m getting waves of it, chills, sweats, etc., so I’m taking those meds.
  • Exhaustion. I got it. I slept two marathon sleeps between the fifth and sixth chemo: from 10 a.m. Saturday (I’d just driven to Toronto from Stratford at 7:30-9:30 a.m.) to 7 p.m. Sunday (with breaks for coughing, drinking, sleep-eating) and from 5:30 p.m. to 10:30 a.m. the next day. When it hits, there’s nothing I can do to stay awake.
  • I’m going to lose my hair!!!

I got crap from my chemo nurse, with Kelly as her witness, that I am “doing too much.” I have to say I was feeling really energized having Kelly there for the day, and of course we were talking nonstop and laughing, and for the first time my nurse put me in a single room with a bed for my chemo instead of one of those chic beige naugahyde lounge chairs, but I could not lie down because I was having too much fun catching up with Kelly. Plus my nurse heard about my driving to Stratford and London and back.

She said that I need to sleep, relax, let my body be sick and heal. She says she sees women like me who keep pushing and don’t listen to their bodies and let their brains lead the way. After six chemos, she said, I have to stop and heal. I am trying to take this to heart as I sit in a basement parking garage waiting for one of the kids to finish an appointment. “Sure, I’ll drive you, and I’ll post to my blog while I wait for you,” I said. Hmmmm, so do I resemble my nurse’s remarks?!?! Yes. As soon as I post this entry, I am going to relax (after a quick trip to Dollarama, Sobey’s for a prescription, and a couple of groceries 😉

I’m throwing in the rake

It’s the day after Halloween. We had a blast (photos to follow, maybe, if they’re any good at all). But to get to Halloween decorating, I had to venture into the backyard to fetch the rake, to make piles of leaves, to stuff stray body parts and wigs into, to make part of the front lawn look like a zombie resting place.

Don’t misunderstand me. I see my backyard every day from on high, from the Romeo and Juliet deck that towers over the yard. From that vantage point the grass never looks really tall, and you just see the tops of weedsflowers and the odd dog toy. Sure, the raspberry bushes are overgrown, but whose raspberry bushes aren’t unruly shoots and brambles?

So to gain access to the backyard and the rake, I had to go down the path between the houses, and encountered this:

This passage sealed the fate of the zombie leaf pile on Halloween night, and led directly to my decision to abandon the backyard fall cleanup

A week and a half ago there was a phenomenal storm that ripped a huge branch from the front maple. It landed on the car, with one end on the front yard, over the car and the other end touching our neighbours’ tree in the centre of their yard. It took two strapping lads to drag it and stuff it between the houses, because the wind was so fierce we figured it would keep smacking things on its way down the street. I wrote a note to number 1 son and his friend to please cut the branch down and bag it for yard waste day removal. Fail.

So I picked my way around the tree and saw my backyard from ground level for what could be the first time since the end of summer. Great horny toads! What a disaster! I’ve been asking, suggesting, prodding, threatening, even the n-word that is forbidden in my home to describe anything I do (na**ing), but no one has done anything but pick raspberries and throw toys for the puppy for the last two months, and it looks it.

It all comes back to the mum. Read the ads, make the list, cook the meals, clean the meals, buy the clothes, wash the clothes—now not only would I be raking the leaves back here, but pruning and thinning and grass-cutting and then sawing and hacking these branches down to size too.

So this morning when I opened my mail and saw one of those deal emails for a fall yard cleanup, I said NO. Actually, I said YES, I will buy this, and NO I will not get stuck doing more work around the house than I already do. So, I paid $59 (regular charge for the service is $189) for someone else to rake, bag and drag the leaves away, trim and prune my lilacs, forsythia and raspberries, fertilize, de-weed and cut the lawn.

I have felt a huge weight lifted from my shoulders, and back, and back of legs and triceps, biceps and deltoids too. I feel like a wealthy woman (the charge went through, so why not??), because for a few hours, I will have a yard man or woman. I have never had one of those. I’ll bet it feels great.

Til next time, or when I get Halloween pics from my phone.

Works for Me Wednesday: The solution to messy kids’ rooms.

wfmwbanner1.jpgI haven’t posted to Shannon’s blog carnival Works-for-me Wednesday in a few weeks, and man, there have been changes. 1) it is now hosted by Kristen at 2) We Are THAT Family (a blog I read regularly and love) and 3) today she is asking us to repost a WFMW post that we really liked. So, Here goes:

I’m relying on the wisdom of my mother again for this Works for Me Wednesday tip. She had four kids in five years, and our beds were made rugs straight and books on the shelves and toys in the toybox for years. She sewed my next youngest sister and me the most exquisite bedroom linens in a blue willow pattern, complete with fancy birds, pretty girls on swings, little men on ornate bridges. She made coverlets, bed skirts, shams with ruffles, even elaborate draperies in several tiers with fancy tie-backs. What little girls in their right minds wouldn’t want to keep that room company-ready??

Fast forward to today. The cute Laura Ashley Owl and the Pussycat border exists only Continue reading

From the mouths of babes: wot the !!*%%!

Limping in from the car last night, Tessa, Luka and I carried/dragged between us two backpacks, three bags of groceries, a dance bag, one happy puppy, one cup of coffee, one cup of tea, two purses and a briefcase-type-thing. As we jostled for position on the porch, I said, “Get out of the way, you guys, I have to do the door!” Immediately the path cleared, I unlocked the door and we all plowed through, me first to the kitchen.

I hear gasping behind me. It’s Luka, having a seizure of some kind—no wait—he’s laughing so hard he cannot breathe. Tessa and I stare at him.

“Are you OK? What’s so funny? Calm down and get some air!”

“Mum, Muuum, you are aaaahhhhhahahahahahah!!!!!”

Yes, I am a laugh-riot.

I’m curious, but not that curious, and I turn to return to the kitchen. Tessa presses on with the questioning, and finally Luka chokes out, “Mum, you said you had to do the door!!!” Whereupon Tessa shrieks and laughs and falls down on the stairs and the two of them carry on like, well, I don’t really know. Like it was the funniest thing in the world for a mother to say.

Memo to self: up the radar for double entendres.

I can’t believe a seven year old would get that out of what I said.

Can you?

Works for Me Wednesday: when shame is a good thing, or, how to get teenagers to clean house

Welcome to Shannon’s Works for Me Wednesday‘s blog carnival!

Before my post on how I got my teens to clean, I want to promo my “Seriously, folks” contest. The prize is a three-parter, worth more than $50, see it here, and leave a reply or comment here to enter. The winner will be drawn randomly next week! Now to the post:

After years of trying to build up a happy, whistle-while-you-work vibe around house cleaning for my offspring, the making of charts and lists and rotas, giving stars and tokens and hard cash, planning pizza dinners to reward their domestic efforts, I have finally hit upon the only thing to make my kids really clean.

Shame.

Not the “were you brought up in a barn? how can you live in a pigsty like this?!?” type of shame. I’m talkin’ kin shame, in the form of The Aunt Who Bakes. My closest-in-age sister has a cleaning lady, and looks at cleaning in a different light than I do. She sees it as a challenge. She knows the state of my digs, and when she offered to drive up for a day and a morning of cleaning and organizing together on the weekend, I jumped at the chance.

I told my crew: “Your aunt is coming up here for one thing—to help us clean. To get rid of these cardboard boxes [in the living room, two deep, four boxes high], these shoes and boots [35 to 40 pairs], to find out what’s under that couch [I’m scared]. You will clean while she is here and that is it. Why? Because I said so!”

I don’t actually use that phrase a lot any more. Huh.

My sister and I cleaned the whole first day and gabbed and gabbed. Time went quickly, and the kitchen looked fab. The next day we moved into the living room. I made breakfast. Kids came down, including a friend of Graydon’s who will remain nameless because of his actions over the next two hours. They ate, sis and I had coffee. Then The Aunt Who Bakes brought out her shop vac, handed it to Graydon’s friend and said, “Here, you can vacumn,” and for the next two hours that kid vacumned while the four of us picked up 2,000 or so pieces of Lego and Magnetix and Bakugon and fancy hairpins and CDs and beads and bits of jewellery and makeup and coins and so much stuff my head was spinning. We did 10 hours of work in two, and for the first time in a long time, we could see clear through under a couch, chair, coffee table and shelving unit. There wasn’t a blade of bunny hay anywhere.

If my sister hadn’t been there, they’d have lasted 20 minutes tops before someone would have to make tea, or go lie down because of a mystery illness or there’d be a homework meeting somewhere. With my little sister there, they couldn’t leave. Here was their aunt, 100 miles from her home, helping us clean ours. If that wasn’t shame, what was it?

I know there was pride there too, because for the next few days, I could hear them saying, “Wow, does this room look bigger,” “Here’s a place to put my DVDs” and “Hey, there’s nothing for the puppy to chew on!”

I promised Graydon’s friend I would never mention his name in connection to this story, nor would I tell his mother what a great job he did, for fear he’d be pressed into action at home.

Cleaning with a sister who can guilt my kids into working without saying a word—it works for me!

Please leave a comment, and then click over to Shannon’s blog for a ton of tips on parenting, cooking, organizing, playing, you name it!

Can’t think of a comment? Am I the only mum with teens who won’t clean? When rewards fail, what’s next? Have you ever thrown their stuff in the trash, or any other drastic measure?

Enter my contest—save the prizes in your holiday gift stash! See it here, and leave a reply or comment here to enter.