May Chaos

May 30

People.  Did you know that when your child(ren) hit school age, the month of May becomes a lot like the month of December?  Lots of awesome activities and celebratory occasions and picture-worthy events.  Sometimes, I think it should work like this:  “Maren, do you want to go to XYZ activity or do you want to eat dinner?  Because at the moment, I really do not feel capable of taking you to XYZ and also making dinner.  Choose ONE, honey.” Humbly, I only have one school-age kid, and she’s only at the school for 2.5 hours a day, so I’m not even entirely sure that counts.  Seriously, I put her on the bus, go to the gym and the grocery store with my two-year-old, and then go right back to the bus stop to pick her up.  Her teacher, given the amount of knowledge that Maren has acquired during those 2.5 hours per day this year, probably makes dinner and takes all three of her kids to XYZ, and ABC, and LMNOP with no problem-o.  (Her teacher is amazing, and Maren had a sensational year of school.) Am I the only mom out there who did not know about the May Chaos?  It’s not to be confused the December Chaos (obviously, it’s not cold out). I am choosing to love the moments amidst the chaos. Greta has two band-aids perpetually on her knees.  She loves (LOVES) her shoes, and she is constantly changing pairs, taking them off and on, and, of course, doing it all i.n.d.e.p.e.n.d.e.n.t.l.y.  She often puts them on the wrong feet which leads to an increased number of “crashes” as we call them, or “cwashes” as Greta calls them.  I’ve found that she cries less over the skinned knee than she does over the injustice of Mama fixing her shoes to prevent the “cwash.”  So, I bought more band-aids and she does what she wants with her shoes.  She is highly adorable and she will tell you all about her injuries.  Often, she says, “Oh, man!” or “Bummer!” or “Holy moly!” when lamenting over her wounds.  She’s awesome.  She still gives strangers the cold stare, but she is super chatty if you catch her in the right...

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The Lost Lost Tooth

May 22

Maren lost her first tooth last week.  Then, she lost her first tooth.  Let me explain. Maren has had a wobbly bottom tooth for several weeks; we predicted it would be out before the end of school.  Last week, as she came in to say goodnight to me, I said, “Maren!  When did you lose your tooth?” In perfect teenager-speak, she said, “Mom, I didn’t lose it, it’s right here.”  She’s pointing at the hole in her mouth where the tooth used to be. “Um, Maren, your tooth is not there.  You lost it.  Where do you think it might be?” She runs over to the mirror and sees for herself that she is, in fact, toothless.  She immediately starts looking at the floor around her feet.  She drops to her hands and knees and begins crawling back down the hallway. “Hey, Maren… didn’t you just brush your teeth?” “Yes,” she says, still crawling on the floor. “Do you think maybe it fell out while you were brushing?” She stands up and looks at me and says, “Well, there was actually something hard in my mouth that I spit out because I didn’t know what it was.” It’s all I can do to not burst out laughing at this point.  The kid feels something hard in her mouth, spits it out, and doesn’t even investigate what it might be? We go together to the bathroom and look at the sink.  “Well, Maren, I have some good news and some bad news.  The bad news is that I think your tooth went down the drain.  The good news is that I know just what to do.  Did you know that the Tooth Fairy accepts notes of explanation?” When I was a little lass, I lost a tooth.  I put the tooth into my tooth pillow underneath my big pillow and went to sleep.  In the morning, I excitedly checked my tooth pillow and found… my tooth.  The Tooth Fairy must have had a busy night, or so said my mom.  The next night, we repeated the same thing, and the next morning… still the tooth.  My mom said the Tooth Fairy must be really extra super busy, and perhaps we...

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May 21

For the 6% of you who are hoping I’m going to discuss post-Civil War politics in the U.S., you are going to be sorely disappointed. I’m talking reconstruction, as in breast reconstruction. Let me first clear up the misconception that reconstruction after breast cancer equals a boob job.  No, people–not the same.  There are lots of reasons it’s different.  Consider building your dream home; you have to work within the lot you own, but you can do what you want with the house–that’s a breast augmentation, or boob job.  Next consider restoring a building after a fire, but you can’t use any traditional materials and you have to keep the original floor plan–that’s breast reconstruction.  The former is ideally designed, the latter is patched together.  Comparing the two is really not fair.  Each are beautiful in their own right. I am a candidate for reconstruction, wherein a plastic surgeon would create new breasts for me.  I haven’t yet met with a plastic surgeon to discuss what type of reconstruction is best for me.  There are several different types of reconstruction: implants or donor site tissue (back, belly, butt or thigh); often a combination of these is recommended.  There are also lots of physical factors for the surgeon to consider: body shape, donor site tissue viability, body fat percentage, radiation burns, surgical scarring, and skin tightness/thickening.  If and when I meet with a plastic surgeon (or two), I expect I will get a very specific recommendation about what type of reconstruction would be best for me given all of the aforementioned factors.  Also, different surgeons use different techniques, so that element comes into play also. Why haven’t I done reconstruction yet?  Well, I had to have a bi-lateral mastectomy to cut the cancer out (August 2012).  After that, I had to have radiation therapy to nuke the cancer site (September-November 2012).  Radiation continues to impact the skin and tissue for six months after treatment, so this month (May 2013) is the first month that I could potentially be eligible for reconstructive surgery.  Some breast cancer patients are eager to get on with it: they want their “new breasts” and it is important to them.  Other breast cancer patients are more...

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Her Medical Choice

May 14

Everywhere I went today, people were abuzz with talk about Angelina Jolie’s brave and inspiring announcement.  I encourage you to read Jolie’s own words in her op-ed piece in The New York Times. There is little doubt that Angelina was proactive with genetic testing because of her mother’s diagnosis at forty-six, and death at fifty-six, of ovarian cancer.  I think her wish is simple: she doesn’t want her children to have to go through what she did. I get it Angelina, I do. And what scares the pants off me is that my daughters will be facing a similar decision in a few decades.  My diagnosis at age thirty-two means that my daughters should start being screened at age twenty-two.  That’s an awfully young age to make big decisions.  Breasts, like it or not, are intimately tied to femininity, sexuality, identity, and beauty.  I grapple with each in the wake of my diagnosis and surgery, and I’m a “healthy”, “well-adjusted” woman who has already been lucky enough to marry her stud muffin husband and birth her gorgeous babies.  Angelina and I have that in common.  Many women, my sisters and daughters included, are looking at either daunting family histories and/or positive BRCA (breast cancer gene) tests and trying to weigh these big issues against one another.     It is a hideous predicament to find oneself in.  And honestly, I’m glad I never had to make the decision in that gray shady area: in black and white, my doctor’s told me what I had to do in order to save my life.  My cancer left me breast-less. To be clear, I am BRCA negative.  But my doctors believe that my cancer does have a genetic component: it might be BRCA3 or BRCA 45, or we may never know.  Regardless of individual genetic testing and statistical analysis, the fact remains that one in eight women will get breast cancer in her lifetime. One in eight.  Think of your eight best friends.  I know, yikes.  Then add eight of your aunts, daughters, nieces, grandmothers and moms into the mix.  Double yikes. My hope is that women are empowered to become informed and to choose their own path.  Having one of the...

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May 12

It’s been kind of a rough couple of weeks over here. Overall things are good.  Really good, even. The rough stuff is mostly that Greta loves me too much.  Her love for me is so great that she must think I can read her mind, because whenever I am in her presence, she is screaming at me that I did not give her the right color spoon, or water instead of milk, or that baby doll instead of this baby doll. So, essentially, the days are filled with screaming.  It’s loving screaming, so that’s something, but it’s still screaming.  I think most moms of toddlers can probably relate. A friend said recently, “The days are long, but the years are short.”  Yes.  Totally right on. Phenom, Nana, and even Daddy report that Greta is so sweet, and so fun, and so cute (albeit very when she is with them.  And I see all those great things too, I just see those things peppered in between all the many bouts of screaming.  We all see the change in her attitude when I enter the scene.  The love for her mama drives her batty, apparently. Eight weeks ago, I was due to have my girlfriends over at 7:00pm on a Thursday night.  Brad called me at 6:15pm to say that he would be home by 6:30.  I’d spent time that day tidying up and making treats for my friends.  Thursday nights with my girlfriends are one of my sacred times: I always walk away from the night feeling refreshed and recharged.  I was all set for a great evening, except for all that screaming.  At 6:20pm, I texted all my friends: Meet at Panera instead!  There is too much screaming!  I can leave at 6:30 and have an extra 30 minutes of no screaming!  Ahhhh!  The screaming! I scrapped my plans to host an evening because I just needed to get away. Six weeks ago, I was sitting next to Greta in the kitchen while she screamed and bucked and threw food for the seventh straight meal.  None of my consequences were working.  She wouldn’t eat unless she was standing up in “Maren’s chair” which changed every forty-five seconds, leading...

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