I’m sorry I treated you badly. I can change. I promise.
I love you.
I need you.
I miss you.
My heart is broken.
We’re so good together.
My life is incomplete without you.
I’m committed to you. No other device will do.
I’ll be better. For you. Because I love you. Because you deserve better.
I promise not to take you for granted. Ever again.
I never intended to leave you outside, all alone. I was distracted. There’s no excuse, I know.
I didn’t know it was going rain so hard. The sky opened up, and before I realized where you were, you were soaked. Drowned. Sogged out. I tried CPR. I bought the best rice I could find and made you a dry, cozy bed. Too little too late, perhaps, but my heart is in the right place. Please come back.
Please come back to me.
Give me another chance.
love always, N.
I came across this quote from Sigmund Freud and have been thinking about it for days:
“One day, in retrospect, the years of struggle will strike you as the most beautiful.”
Gonna need to ponder that one a while longer
Of course this made me think of the cancer “journey.” At first blush, my instinct was to think, “If Freud said it, it must be true.” I’ve always equated Freud with absolutes, and if the granddaddy of psychotherapy believes it, so do I. Nothing like putting blind faith in a long-dead, much-maligned, and perhaps slightly insane Austrian guy, right?
I’m still on the fence about whether the “years of struggle” will become the most beautiful. I’m inclined to think not, but am reserving judgment.
My blind faith in all things Freud did get me to thinking, though, so I consulted the all-mighty Google to learn a little more about him. On a side note, I laughed out loud at one of the hits that turned up in my search of Freud: “Why Men Pull Away — 10 Ugly Mistakes Women Make That Ruin Their Chance at Relationships” by http://www.catchHimAndKeepHim.com. What in the world would Freud think of that??
Back to Freud.
Born in 1856 to poor Jewish parents in Pribor, Czechoslovakia, Freud was an outstanding student and graduated with honors. He originally planned to study philosophy but was drawn to med school after reading Goethe’s poem, “Hymn to Nature.” I shudder to think how different our world would be if Freud had not read that poem and gone on to study neurology and, more importantly, anesthesia. Freud was instrumental in using cocaine as an anesthesia, and while many patients died and providers became addicted, the way was paved for modern medicine to employ drugs during surgery. As one who has endured multiple procedures, with perhaps more to come, I’m grateful to Freud for his pioneering spirit. A world without Versed is one in which I do not wish to live.
Freud has many famous quotes, besides the one about the struggle being fondly remembered. This one caught my eye: “Dreams are often most profound when they seem the most crazy.” Anytime a psychiatrist talks about crazy dreams, I’ll listen. You know there’s a great story waiting to happen.
And this: “I have found little that is ‘good’ about human beings on the whole. In my experience most of them are trash, no matter whether they publicly subscribe to this or that ethical doctrine or to none at all. That is something that you cannot say aloud, or perhaps even think.”
Whoa. So the master of psychoanalysis, the guru of getting inside your head, thought that most people are trash. That is heavy stuff. Makes me rethink my instinct to believe all things Freud to be true. And makes me think that perhaps he was wrong about the years of struggle seeming the most beautiful. While there are many things to be gained from a struggle, and I myself have indeed learned a lot from my cancer “journey,” I think I would have been just fine without it, Dr Freud, thankyouverymuch.
Macy and I were watching Animal Planet (aren’t we always??) when this commercial came on. There’s a series of them, created by the American Cancer Society through the More Birthdays campaign. I like this campaign. I give it two thumbs up. The list of musicians who have participated is long — from Aaron Neville to Weezer, with plenty of variety in between. Even my personal fave, Jack Johnson, got involved.
According to the ACS:
“We believe every birthday you celebrate is a victory. Another year that cancer has not prevailed. Your birthday means everything to us. That’s why we’re dedicated to creating a world with less cancer and more birthdays. Thanks in part to our work, 11 million cancer survivors will celebrate another birthday this year. But we can’t stop there. With your help, we can create a world with even more celebrations, more laughter, and more birthdays for all.”
Macy was puzzled by the campaign, which surprised me. Cancer has been a part of her life for most of her life — my mom was sick during Macy’s preschool years, then we had several “normal” years before I was diagnosed. Kids whose parents have cancer grow up fast — they face the ugly realities of illness, fear, uncertainty, hospitalizations, treatments, doctors’ appointments, and death.
My girl didn’t quite get the point of the campaign for more birthdays. I would have guessed just the opposite — that because she’d witnessed my cancer “journey” firsthand, she’d understand exactly what the ad meant. I guess it’s a good thing that my kid doesn’t associate my cancer with death and, by extension, with no more birthdays. It’s a slippery slope when dealing with young kiddos and disease. On one hand, I’ve tried to be open and honest about my “journey” with my kids, but on the other hand, I sure don’t want to plant the seed that makes them realize that, hey, wait — people die from this, so Mom could too.
What’s the right answer to the “how much is too much info” question? I haven’t the faintest idea. There’s so much about the cancer “journey” that lacks a definite answer. Come to think of it, there’s so much in parenting that lacks a definite answer. I’m sure there are a million and one books on amazon.com about the best way to talk to kids about cancer. I was way too busy upon diagnosis, though, to order any, much less read them. Having cancer is a full-time job, as is raising young kids. So I never found the right answer, and decided to just wing it. So far so good, as evidenced by the fact that my favorite girl doesn’t understand the campaign for more birthdays.
No, this post isn’t really about cupcakes. Sorry. It’s about a funny shirt and stupid people.
I wore this shirt to the gym on Friday and then to run errands afterward. I meant to write about it then but was busy being the hostess with the mostess and am just now getting to it. Anyhoo, the shirt:
My friend Jodie sent it to me in the midst of my cancer “journey” and I howled with laughter. I wore it proudly after my mastectomy and before reconstruction, when my chest was flat as a board and very conducive to easy reading. I wear it proudly now after reconstruction, and will continue washing it on delicate and hanging it to dry in hopes of prolonging its life.
I usually get a comment or a sly smile from my fellow gym rats when I wear this shirt, but Friday I encountered two older ladies who didn’t appreciate the humor. The first one looked at me and tsk-tsked then told her friend how inappropriate she thought it was to make light of such a serious situation. She wondered aloud why our club doesn’t have a strict dress code.
You know me, I couldn’t let it go. Just couldn’t turn the other cheek and walk away.
I said excuse me, I couldn’t help but overhear (not that she was trying to be discreet in her criticisms) what you said about my shirt. I’m curious what exactly about it bugs you? She replied that she thinks it’s disrespectful for people to be flippant when they know nothing of the disease.
I pointed out as nicely as I could (which probably wasn’t really all that nice) that I do indeed know something of “the disease.” She looked a bit surprised when I told her that I myself had breast cancer and am proud to be a survivor. I like the fact that people in the gym who don’t know me see my shirt and realize that cancer survivors can get on with life. I’ve had several people tell me that seeing me at the gym is inspiring to them, and on days when they’re struggling through their workout, they see me hitting it hard and decide to step it up a bit. After all, if the girl who had cancer can do it, they can, too.
But Judgemental Lady didn’t see it that way, apparently. See, she thought there’s no way I could be a cancer survivor because I’m too young. Women my age don’t get breast cancer, she says.
Let’s just say that she got a bit more education on that topic than she might have wanted.
I informed her and her friend that according to the American Cancer Society, nearly 20,000 breast cancer diagnoses a year are delivered to women younger than 45. That my breast surgeon has performed bilateral mastectomies on women younger than me. That my OB-GYN — who diagnosed me — recently diagnosed a women who is 27 years old. That young women with breast cancer fight a different battle than their older counterparts, for many reasons: facing more aggressive cancers and lower survival rates, (hopefully) battling the beast for more years than we’ve been alive, a lack of effective screening for women under 40, being underrepresented in research, having young kids at home, dealing with fertility issues, enduring early menopause, and struggling with serious body-image issues being among the more egregious.
No charge for the lesson, lady.
I set her straight and went on about my business. While waiting in line to return a coat that was too small for Piper (yes, little piggies do need a coat, even in Houston), a lady told me she liked my shirt.
Oh, really? How refreshing.
She went on to ask if it was a fundraiser for cancer. I had to think about that for a minute, and while I was trying to figure out what in the sam hell she meant, she started blabbing about a bake sale her kid’s school did for cancer. She thought my shirt referred to a bake sale! Now that’s a new one.
I explained that no, it’s not a fundraiser and it’s not a bake sale, that I myself had breast cancer. She still looked puzzled, so I spelled it out for her: “cupcakes” is a euphemism for breasts, and mine “licked cancer” by defeating the wily beast that was laying siege to my body. I guess technically my cupcakes didn’t lick cancer, but my surgeons did by amputating said cupcakes, but that seemed like more detail than the conversation warranted. She smiled at me in the manner one would smile at a deranged lunatic on the loose and scooched her shopping cart back a little bit.
I don’t care what the general public thinks; I love my shirt and will continue to wear it proudly. Judgemental old ladies and bake-sale zealots be damned.
I know, I know–I’ve been seriously neglectful of this little blog. I’ve been busy. The days are just packed. It’s bad. I feel guilty. Yadda yadda.
To assuage my blogger guilt, you might think I’d craft a meticulous, witty, and informative post about something, anything.
I hit the ground running this morning and got the kiddies off to school, fed the animals, pounded out a good workout, grabbed some groceries in the rain, unpacked said groceries, horked down a Greek yogurt with blueberries & raspberries, threw some chicken breasts in the oven to bake before they take a dip into chicken noodle soup, and now I’m heading to my tennis drill. And it’s not even noon.
Sooooooo, in lieu of a meticulous, witty, and informative post, you get this: enjoy!
10 years ago today, Macy exploded into this world.
She’s been making a splash every day since.
When we brought her home from the hospital, in her little car seat, we had no idea what kind of fun, wildness, and hilarity would ensue. Her personality was right there from the very beginning, ready to wow us and cause us to scratch our heads at the idea that someone so small could have that much verve.
Such creativity is hard to contain. Starting school was rough for this girl. She was not a happy camper at preschool open house.
I am 100 percent sure Macy was behind the bubble explosion and that she convinced Payton to come along for the wild ride.
With a love of animals as big as Texas, our girl never met a creature she didn’t adore.
Macy, as you celebrate the wonderful world of double digits, I have a few things I wish for you:
May your creativity always rule as you live your life out loud.
May you always take it to the limit. Push the envelope. Go your own way. March to your own beat. While this trait of yours drove me nearly to madness in your early days, I trust that it will serve you well as you navigate life’s twisty, turny path. Be yourself — no matter what.
May your acute fashion sense always lead you to put your best foot forward.
May your life be long and sweet and full of all your favorite things.
May you always sparkle!
Make a wish, sweet girl!
Obsessions, mild or savage.
Everyone’s got one. If you claim you don’t, you’re probably lying.
For some people it’s something simple, like Diet Coke or bad reality TV shows (Housewives, anyone?). For others, it’s not so simple, like crack.
I’ve got a new obsession.
I’ve been flirting with it the last few days and trying to convince myself that it’s ok, it’s harmless, I’m in control. Every time I thought about talking about it, or heaven forbid, blogging about it, though, I clammed up (rather unusual for a tell-all-kind-of-girl like me).
I think about my new obsession a lot. A whole lot. And I’m starting to think I may need to seek help. Is there a 12-step program for people in my shoes? I can’t imagine standing up in front of strangers assembled in a semicircle of uncomfortable folding chairs drinking tepid coffee from styrofoam cups to admit that I’ve got a problem with…beets.
Yes, you read that right. Beets.
I’ve always liked them, and can remember my sweet mama pickling her own. Not in the pressure cooker with Ball jars that go ping! when the hot-water bath creates a lasting seal. Nope, she did it her way, which was to whisk some sugar into some vinegar and dump a bunch of sliced beets in to macerate. Yes, you read that right: macerate.
I bought some beets last weekend thinking I’d roast them and give the tops & stems to our friend Henry, a grey lop-eared bunny who adores them. I figured I’d see if Piper likes them, too. So really, I did it for the animals. The sweet, hungry, innocent animals.
I’ve no idea what’s fueling the jump from “I’ve always liked beets” to “I can’t get them out of my mind.” Today I went so far as to investigate what nutritional properties they have, thinking perhaps I’m deficient in something and my body’s telling me to load up on beets to restore that delicate balance.
Here’s what I found out: beets are very low in saturated fat and cholesterol. They are a good source of vitamin C, iron and magnesium, and a very good source of Fiber, folate, potassium and manganese.
I’m mildly curious about the difference between magnesium and manganese, but too hepped up on beets to delve into this mystery.
My current favorite way to shovel in the beets is this: roast them in foil sans stems & tops at 400 degrees for about an hour, chop them, and throw them on top of mixed greens then sprinkle on some crumbled feta. Toss with fancy dressing Cremer style (1/2 cup melted hot pepper jelly, 2 T cider vinegar, 1 T olive oil, salt & pepper) or be lazy and drizzle on some oil & vinegar.
That is some all-out beet-y goodness.
I’ve had this salad for lunch and/or dinner the last 3 days, and am seriously thinking about having it for breakfast as well. My fingers are hot pink from peeling roasted beets, and my cutting board is permanently stained by them. I’m completely obsessed.
I had to have a few stitches in my leg 10 days ago. Didn’t write about it because it involved a bite from a dog owned by our BFF, and he (the BFF, not the dog; she’s female) felt bad enough about the fact that his dog bit me, and I didn’t want to rub it in. I’m all for charity, but it takes a backseat to my shamelessness at mining any and all events for a blog post.
So here we are. Full disclosure.
In hindsight, I know that the circumstances surrounding the dog bite should never have converged as they did. I should have known better. If only hindsight and “should haves” meant something in the real world, where dogs tussle and humans intervene. So it happened, I handled it, and life goes on. I still love the dog whose canines ripped my flesh thoroughly enough to expose the tissue underneath, and I know that she didn’t intend to hurt me. I’m just glad our sweet little piggie didn’t get tangled up in that whirling dervish of a dog fight.
Of course the brawl happened late at night, and not during regular business hours. Of course it happened when Trevor was out of town, so that if I did feel the need to go to the ER, arrangements would have to be made for my favorite girl, who’s pretty awesome and very independent, but not at 10:30 at night. Of course I put on a brave face and reassured said favorite girl that everything was fine, despite the unceasing burbling of blood from my gashed thigh. Of course the stitches on the left and the paw-shaped scratches and bruises on the right required me to sit out of tennis and the gym for a few days.
And of course, I had to take antibiotics.
The idea of getting back into the abx routine was worse than the wounds themselves, worse than the 4 lidocaine shots into the gash, and worse than the stitches. I just finished the last of the Augmentin last night–hallelujah! After 267 straight days of oral antibiotics for my post-mastectomy infection, you’d think a simple 10-day course of Augmentin would be easy peasey, but for me, not so much. Maybe it’s PTSD. Maybe it’s that my body has a heightened awareness of abx after the near-constant dosing last year. Maybe I’m just a big baby. Whatever the reason, facing those drugs twice a day was tough, if only for 10 days. I hope it’s a long, long time before I need antibiotics again.
So the stitches were scheduled to come out today, but after a quick peek my doc said nope, that wound looks way better but it’s not ready to be sans stitches. Gotta leave them in until Friday, just for good measure. Because of how deep the gash was and because it’s on my leg, which moves all the time because I’m not one for sitting still, there’s still a chance it could open up again. Better safe than sorry, right?
I’m ok with the stitches staying in another 5 days. I’m tough, and in general I’m a fan of conservative measures when it comes to my body’s healing. But I struggled to maintain my composure when my doc warned me that the gash is going to leave a scar.
No, I didn’t cry at the idea of a stitched-up gash marring my leg. I laughed — out loud — at the idea that a inch-long scar would freak me out or upset me. That little bitty scar is nothing compared to the miles of track already laid.
In the 2 weeks since Piper has joined our family, I’ve fielded a lot of questions about the piggie lifestyle. Here I will attempt to answer them, but keep in mind I’m no expert and am learning as I go.
WHERE DID YOU GET HER? Macy did her research and looked at hundreds of piggies online. Her favorite was this little girl, from Jensen Farms (click here to go to their website, but be forewarned: there are a few typos and usage mistakes, so if you’re the kind of person who is bugged by that, peace be with you. I’m still trying to figure out a way to edit their stuff without coming across as a weirdo/know-it-all/grammar stalker).
HOW MUCH DID SHE COST? That’s kinda personal, but suffice to say that the price goes up in direct proportion to how big the pig will be when full-grown. In other words, be very wary of a breeding selling “mini” pigs for $200. Compare the price of a piggie to the price of a purebred dog or cat and it doesn’t seem so outrageous. Plus, with a lifespan of up to 20 years, you’re gonna get your money’s worth.
HOW BIG WILL SHE GET? This little piggie is estimated to be between 15 and 20 lbs when full-grown. The best way to tell how big a piggie will be is to look at the parents’ weights. Piper’s dad is 12 lbs and her mom is 20 lbs at 3 years old. Female breeder pigs (piggie mamas) are kept heavier than non-breeding females, though, so keep that in mind. A breeder can’t ensure a piggie’s final size, so beware of any such claims. Like all mammals, piggies’ growth is dependent upon food and exercise. Feed her a lot, she’s gonna grow. Exercise her a lot, she won’t get too fat. The age-old, simple equation of calories in vs. calories out applies. Be careful, though, because they are good eaters and are quite appreciative of treats & snacks, so combine that with their all-around adorableness and it’s hard to resist feeding them as much as they want. Tammy, if you’re reading this: no more cookies for Piper!!
WHAT DOES SHE EAT? Pretty much anything. We bought pot-bellied pig food in a 25-lb bag at a feed store. Prices are comparable to dog food. I’ve never had a cat, so I can’t speak to how pig chow compares to cat food price wise.This one is by Manna Pro, and Purina makes one too. Check the nutrition label, though; the first bag we bought is for fattening up pigs to go to market. And that’s all I’m going to say about that. The pig chow has the right nutritional formula for her, but she also gets half a Flintstone’s vitamin every day. We have to chop it up and hide it in her food, but she’s worth it. For the pig chow, she gets 1/4 cup twice a day, along with whatever vegetable scraps we have around. Ok, the truth is, she gets a custom-blended tossed salad on top of her pig chow. When I’m making salad for lunch or dinner, I’ll throw the yucky parts of the lettuce, the stems of the spinach leaves, and the tops of tomatoes in a tupperware and save it for Piper’s bowl. She likes all three of the abovementioned veggies, plus carrots and cucumber. She doesn’t seem to like bell peppers or celery, but I’m guessing she would eat them if not offered her faves alongside. She loves strawberries and blackberries, and you haven’t lived until you’ve seen her eat an apple. I have videos of her eating but can’t figure out how to upload them. Stay tuned.
WHERE DOES SHE DO HER BUSINESS? In the backyard, like a dog, or in a litter box, like a cat. She seems to prefer the backyard but doesn’t like to go out in the cold (luckily she lives in Texas!). Whether outside or in the litter box, she is very focused and takes care of business as soon as her feet hit the grass or the pine shavings. If you do use a litter box for a piggie, don’t use kitty litter or any kind of pelleted litter because they can confuse it with their pig chow and get sick. No one wants to see a backed-up piggie.
DOES SHE GET ALONG WITH OTHER ANIMALS? Yep. Our researched indicated that piggies get along well with any animal. Our dogs, and our doggie BFFs, were divided into two camps regarding Piper: the “couldn’t care less” camp, and the “I want to investigate/prove my dominance” camp. She’s a bit leery of the dogs but I expect they’ll become good friends in time.
DOES SHE PLAY WITH TOYS? Piper has several dog toys, and an activity box. The box is an under-the-bed plastic storage container full of wiffle balls and tennis balls. We hide a handful of grape tomatoes in amongst the balls and she pushes the balls around to find the food. Piggies love a sandbox to root around in, and the “hide the tomatoes” game would work in a sandbox as well. Breeders advise giving piggies a section of yard to explore. So far she hasn’t shown any desire to dig, but she likes to push the dirt around with her snout.
DOES SHE DO TRICKS? Piggies are very smart and can learn lots of tricks. Piper is learning to give kisses on command, and she picks up new things easily. She learned to use the litter box in a day. We videotaped her finding tomatoes in her activity box, and while Macy was watching the video, Piper heard us saying “find it!” on the video and promptly jumped in the box to start looking. I’m hoping to train her to do the laundry and load the dishwasher.
DOES SHE NEED VACCINES? Nope, just a dewormer. She will need to be spayed before she’s 6 months old.
DOES SHE SHED? STINK? Neither. Piggies have hair, not fur, so they don’t shed or have dander, which means they’re great for people with allergies. She doesn’t stink, either, which is more than I can say for the two dogs in our house. Our breeder said her pigs get a bath once a year, if that. Piggies’ skin is a little dry, so Piper gets a slathering of baby lotion once a week. She also needs sunscreen if she’s outside (don’t we all?).
IS SHE FILTHY? Not unless someone is eating tzatziki nearby, in which case she tries to dive into the container and cover her body with the tasty dip. Her snout gets a little dirty after she roots in the yard or if she has a particularly juicy blackberry, but a quick swipe with a baby wipe or paper towel fixes her right up.
HOW EASY IS IT TO INCORPORATE A PIGGIE INTO YOUR LIFE? Very. She follows us around the house like a dog and loves to sit and nap in our laps. She can be left in her crate, or to roam Macy’s room, when we’re gone, and piggies like to go for walks on a leash. We’re working on the leash training, but so far she’s been easier to train in every area than the dogs. She was pretty needy the first day or so, but she’d been separated from her mama, had flown on a plane, gone for a long car ride, and thrown into a strange environment. I would have cried, too.
DO PEOPLE THINK YOU’RE CRAZY FOR HAVING A PIG IN THE HOUSE? Perhaps. But who cares? Actually, the general response to her has been overwhelmingly positive. She’s cute, neat, non-stinky, well-behaved, and loving. What’s crazy about that? Some homeowners associations and city ordinances prevent piggies, so check into that if you’re thinking of getting one. If you really, really want one and your area prohibits it, remember the old “What they don’t know won’t hurt them” rule. But you didn’t hear that from me!
HOW DO PIGGIES COMMUNICATE? They make a variety of different sounds: up to 20 different sounds, in fact, from grunting and snorting to woofing and crying. Check out this excerpt from a breeders’ “Piggie Manual:”
Whining- well, that is pretty straight forward–they want food, someone made them mad, or is messing with them.
“Ahhhh ahhhh ahhh”– is a familial greeting. It means they see you as family.
“oink, oink, reeeeeee”- means they are searching for someone or something and they are a bit nervous.
“Woof”- it sounds like a bark. This has two meanings. Excited in a good way, they will bark and run and play. If they say it in a higher pitch it means DANGER and they will run away.
“Ooof” (while blowing air) – usually means annoyed, but can mean nervousness
“Rarararaa grumble grumble”- means I AM NOT moving off the couch!
Teeth grinding- can be confusing, it can mean they are teething and have discomfort, in pain, and some do it for contentment
Continuous oinking- I call this “echo location”- they are just oinking to see if someone is around,
Screaming- this means they are mad because they are hungry, confined, or can’t find you.
Grunts- they have soooo many of these…. Most are happy grunts, they have different sounding ones
that come with belly rubs, when you get the “right spot”, petting, happy I am eating food grunts, etc.
Piper makes a “chuff chuff” sound when we pick her up; piggies don’t like to have their feet off the ground, so the transition from standing to being picked up and getting settled in one’s arms elicits the chuffing. There’s the “I need to potty” grunt that has a different intensity. She makes another specific grunt when she’s following us and trying to catch up. If she’s unhappy, say if someone is eating and not offering her a taste, she will give a little screech. She sighs and sneezes, which is just about the cutest thing ever. She also wags her tail like a dog when we say her name, when she’s eating, or if she’s just plain happy. Then there’s the “piggie flop” she does when she’s being scritched in the exact right spot: we’ll be scratching away and all the sudden she flops over onto her side. Whump! Piggie down!
ARE THERE ANY DOWNSIDES TO OWNING A PIGGIE? We’ve tried really hard to think of one. Not that our family is a piggie brain trust or anything, but even after a lot of thought and careful consideration, the only thing I can come up with is that her pee stinks.