Happy birthday, little piggie!

Our little piggie Piper turned one on Sunday, and we went a bit hog-wild celebrating her first birthday.

My favorite girl is quite the party planner, and this shindig was top-notch. She started planning the menu a week or so in advance and it underwent several revisions before she settled on grilled fruit kebabs, BBQ chicken sandwiches, twice-baked potatoes, Ramen-almond salad, and carrot cake.


Now, if you’re inclined to leave any comments pertaining to bacon bits or pulled pork, resist the urge or I’ll set the birthday pig on you, and let me assure you that she has no mercy when it comes to porky jokesters. She’s vicious when it comes to that.

After scarfing down her breakfast, Piper started her birthday with a nap on Pedey’s rug. She usually bosses him right off his rug, but the birthday nap was conducted in peaceful harmony.

Party preparations started early and lasted all weekend. The first order of business was to make a party wreath for the front door. We are fortunate to have an artist at the ready, and he created the focal point of the wreath. He’s also the creative genius behind the logo that graces the front page of this little blog.

Next came the gathering and placing of various pig-related decor:

And the custom-made bow for the birthday girl. Amazing how cute it turned out considering it was made from a $1.50 bow from the grocery store, a flower clip from the clearance aisle at Hobby Lobby, and a candle sticker from the scrapbooking aisle.

Piper kept shaking her bow off the top of her head, so we had to get creative and attach it to a stretchy headband that went around her neck. 

Making the party favor goodie bags kept my little social butterfly busy for awhile, and she was quite pleased with the results. She decorated the cookies herself with a pig snout and pig-shaped sprinkles delivered across state lines from Pennsylvania to Texas by our uber-thoughtful friend, Debbie. 

Birthday gifts for our little piggie included all of her favorites: cucumbers, wasabi peas (yes, she likes it spicy!), and strawberries. Part of her birthday feast was a chunk of watermelon, which she thoroughly enjoyed and hastily demolished.

Speaking of food, the birthday feast for the humans was yummy! My girl’s idea to serve grilled fruit kebabs was a wise one.

The BBQ chicken was a big hit with everyone but this non-meat-eater.

Two thumbs up for the twice-baked potatoes, which disappeared before I had a chance to snap a photo. My favorite girl has always had a huge love affair with potatoes, so it was no surprise to find them on the menu.

The party planner extraordinaire strikes a pose after dinner.

And then suffers through a normal pose, too.

And then came the highlight of the evening: the birthday cake! We scooped out a little of the cake batter and added extra carrots to bake a special (and portion-controlled) cake for the birthday pig. Miss Piggie needed a little help blowing out the candle; we were afraid she’d eat the whole thing, flame and all!

She didn’t stop to admire it before she inhaled it. 

The humans behaved marginally better with their cake.

It was a blow-out first birthday celebration, for sure. One of the party guests commented on how lucky Piper is to have been chosen by Macy and to be so adored. Truth is, we’re the lucky ones. 

“Moon Shot” against cancer

The front-page of The Houston Chronicle today has some very exciting news. The headline reads “$3 billion aimed at tough cancers.”

This got my attention.

The famed MD Anderson right here in my lovely city is going after 8 of the deadliest, most difficult cancers, and has most definitely put its money where its mouth is. By sending $3 bil straight to the front lines, Anderson isn’t playing around. The 8 cancers on Anderson’s radar are lung cancer, prostate cancer, ovarian cancer, melanoma, Acute lyeloid leukemia (AML), Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), Myelodysplastic syndrome, and triple-negative breast cancer. The newspaper article has this handy graphic that highlights the most pressing deets about the 8 cancers under seige.

The latter really got my attention, as all BC news does. What is triple-negative breast cancer, you might ask? It’s a particularly wily form of the dreaded disease that displays negative properties for estrogen- and progesteron reception as well as HER2 reception. Read a more detailed definition here,but suffice to say that this type of BC doesn’t respond to hormones, making it harder to treat.


This news is so hopeful in a landscape of cancer. A veritable ray of sunshine, the Moon Shots program has tons of potential and will surely make the kind of inroads to the “war of cancer” that President Nixon declared way back in 1971 and that has yet to come to fruition. The so-called war is almost as old as I am, and yet we see newly diagnosed cases and deaths from cancer in such shockingly high numbers. Bring on the Moon Shots program!

I have a lot more to say about this program, and will return to it after I finish my to-do list left to me by my favorite girl, who has been hard at work planning a first birthday party for her little piggie. Yes, you read that right: a party for a pig.

I’ll leave you with a quote about the Moon Shots program that has me smiling big this morning:

“In almost every disease, we have an example of something that works. Once you have a first step, it’s easier to take the second, the third.” – Gordon Mills, head of systems biology, MD Anderson

Here’s to giant steps being made toward these 8 deadly cancers. Three cheers for MDA!

Topless Kate

My first thought when I heard about the latest British Royal scandal was, poor Kate. The Duchess of Cambridge was busted by prying paparazzi while sunbathing topless in Provence. At a private residence. While not on official duty or fulfilling her role as a member of the royal family. What a shame. She seems like a smart girl who’s got her stuff together. She’s young, in love, and on holiday — who can blame her for enjoying the sun with her hubby in [supposed] private?

Closer magazine has been ordered to hand over the original photos to the royal family. Can you imagine the stodgy, never-smiling Queen having an envelope of these photos cross her desk? Yikes. Poor Kate.

Aurelien Hamelle, attorney for the royal couple, declared that the photos were a violation of Will & Kate’s privacy.  She was quoted as saying, “It is a scene of married life, intimate, personal, that has nothing to do on a magazine.” I have to agree. Yes, she is a public figure, and yes she lives very  much in the public eye and therefore must endure the barrage of photographers everywhere she goes. But why can’t there be a moratorium on following and photographing while she’s on vacation?

Yesterday, Closer‘s sister publication Chi published 26 pages of photos of William and Kate on vacation, including the topless pics. Chi’s editor-in-chief Alfonso Signorini defended the decision to publish, saying, “It is a story worth publishing in an extraordinary edition because it shows in a natural light the everyday life of a very famous contemporary young couple in love.”

Who’s he think he’s kidding? It’s not about a famous couple in love, it’s about Kate’s breasts.

What a shame. And the fact that the pics used were ill-gained and taken in secret with a very long lens is especially shameful.

Even worse are those who are speaking out against Kate, saying it’s her fault. If she didn’t want nudie pics published, she shouldn’t have taken off her top. A CNN blogger says “…it also creates a situation that requires common sense. Kate, unless you know for sure that no one else’s prying eyes — or camera — will see you, don’t sunbathe naked.”

Donald Trump opened his big mouth and Tweeted, “Kate Middleton is great—but she shouldn’t be sunbathing in the nude—only herself to blame. Who wouldn’t take Kate’s picture and make lots of money if she does the nude sunbathing thing. Come on Kate!”

Way to blame the victim, Donald. As if anyone gives a rip what he thinks.

Also Tweeting was teen actress Emma Roberts: “I LOVE Kate Middleton…but when you’re A PRINCESS you shouldn’t be topless anywhere except the shower or the bedroom.” Thanks for that very valuable advice, Emma.

Kelly Osborne stood up for the Duchess, though, saying “The one thing that is hers is her body you know what I’m saying. Everything else belongs to the country.”

In the midst of the firestorm that surrounds this topic, I can’t help but think of myself and legions of other members of the Pink Ribbon Club. Radiated, surgically excised, and reconstructed breasts don’t exactly lend themselves to topless sunbathing. Negative body images abound after a bout with breast cancer, and the idea of hanging the surviving girls out there, even in private, is not likely on many BC girls’ list of favorite things to do. What a shame.

P.S. If you’re planning on leaving a comment saying “who cares if the breasts have been radiated, sliced & diced, and reconstructed, we want to see them anyway” — don’t. Just don’t.


It’s been too long

way too long

No, I haven’t fallen off the edge of the earth. And no, I haven’t been too busy playing tennis to blog. Sadly, tennis isn’t in my plans for the near future, and by near future I mean several months. Almost 3 weeks out from my knee surgery, I can say that without crying. I’m not happy about it, but frankly, as bad as my knee was and as hard as the recovery has been, I can’t even imagine playing. I’m glad the US Open coincided with my convalescence; it kept me entertained and still, which is a tall order for this busybody.

I expected recovery to be hard, but I didn’t realize how time-consuming rehab would be. I do physical therapy and a modified workout 5 days a week, with one day of just PT and 20 minutes on the bike and one day of rest & recovery to round out my week. The rest & recovery day is the hardest for me. I love the free time early in the day, but by about 2 p.m. I’m antsy and jonesing for a good sweat.

Been spending more time than I ever have, ever in my whole life, sprawled on the couch in front of the TV, exhausted and spent. After getting my kids off to school, doing PT and the modified workout, running an errand or two and feeding myself, I’m done. All I can manage is to splay out; lifting my arm to point the remote at the TV is a big chore. Such a strange state of being for me. I’m trying to be patient, and of course being so so so tired helps in that pursuit.

The good news is that progress is being made. While the PT is brutal, and forcing my knee to do things it most definitely does not want to do is hard work, I can see real improvement over the previous week. I’m still under strict orders to let the pain be my guide, but I’m pushing myself a bit more every day. Yesterday the big accomplishment was step-ups (stepping up onto a low bench and forcing my knee to bend as if I were going up a flight of stairs). At first, the bending motion was excruciating, but by about the 20th rep it got easier. Today it was a modified squat with the big rubber ball. Real squats, which were a big part of my life pre-surgery, are off the menu for me, forever. Or as long as I have this cartilage-deficient knee. If I choose to get a new knee, I can squat all day long, but with this old clunker, no squats and no lunges. If I linger too long on the fact that I can’t do two of my favorite exercises–in addition to the moratorium on tennis–I’ll get very sad, so I’m zipping right on by those topics. Gonna try and focus on what I can do, and see how far that gets me. For now, the list of things I can do is pretty short, but I’m doing those things with less pain overall, so I’m calling that a win. I have a newfound respect for anyone who lives with chronic pain. Knowing that mine is temporary is comforting (although 3 weeks is a loooong time when you’re in the thick of it!).


Not bad

It’s been two weeks since my knee surgery. A fortnight, as they’d say on Downton Abbey. While I’m not one to sit still by preference, I would rate this healing process a solid “not bad.” It’s certainly nothing I would choose; I much prefer to be a perpetual busybody. Being constrained by my body makes me crazy, and I used to fight it mightily. I still hate it, but am coming to accept it. I’m not one for horn-tooting, but I’ve gotten a lot better at convalescing since cancer and infection so rudely interrupted my life. Put a knee surgery, albeit a complicated one, into that context and you’ll see what I mean. I’ll never love being grounded, and I’ll always yearn to be able to do more, go faster, move freely, and aim higher, but I’m doing ok. A solid “not bad.”

Physical therapy started in earnest on Monday, despite the Labor Day holiday. I was definitely laboring in my PT session, no doubt. While a good, hard workout leaves me spent and satisfied, a good, hard PT session is an entirely different animal. Making my battered knee do things it doesn’t want to do, like bend and straighten without hiding behind a limp and an outward-swinging cheating motion, is hard work. Convincing my knee that going down a set of stairs is not cause to sit down and cry is rough. My trainer is a hard-ass with no sympathy and no mercy — just the way I like it. Yesterday I was surrounded by real athletes — not adrenalin & endorphin junkies who pursue fitness but athletes who live & breathe by their sport. Watching them grind out a crazy-hard workout while I felt desolate by the endless floor exercises my PT requires, I noticed the green-eyed monster creeping in. Yep, I was jealous of those able-bodied guys whose bodies sailed through increasingly difficult exercises. Burpees with a 3-step box jump? Easy. Overhead press with gigantic plates and metal chains thrown in for extra weight? Cinchy. One-arm rows while balancing one-legged on the Bosu ball? Piece of cake. Their form is impeccable, their bodies never lagged, and their muscles rippled showily beneath their dry-fit clothes. I was flat-out jealous.

I’m still swollen, bruised, and slow. My form is decidedly old-lady, and just getting onto a couple of the weight machines was tricky. On a normal day, I’d just hike my leg up and hop onto those machines, but these days, my steps are slow and borderline shuffling, and hiking up a leg and hopping on aren’t on the menu. As I struggled through my workout, right leg shaking angrily with the effort, I realized that those athletes who looked so effortless were out of place. They’re NFL players, and the season has started. So…why aren’t they working out in far-flung cities, with their teams? Two had just been cut from their teams, and one didn’t get asked back at all. They had a bigger problem than I have with my rehab: they’ve lost their jobs and are scrambling to find another spot on another team. So while their bodies haven’t stopped them from doing what they want, circumstances have. I’m guessing they feel as much stress and frustration as I do, and who knows — they may look at me enviously, because all I’ve got to worry about is a few months of rehab while their very livelihood is on the line. 

Perspective. Once again, perspective smacked me upside the head.

I guess I needed that little reminder that while I’m “not bad,” I could be a whole lot worse.

Today is a day of rest & recovery. At the end of yesterday’s session, when my trainer ordered me to rest today, I balked. Rest?? I’m just now starting to see some progress. My range of motion is better, and I managed to use a different cardio machine than just the bike (my least-favorite, by a lot). I’d worked up a good sweat and was starting to catch a glimpse of a decent workout, after a bit of a dry spell. I didn’t want to rest & recover, I want to go, go go! Later that evening, though, as the muscle strain and soreness and the ever-present tightness around my kneecap set in, I understood. So today I will stay out of the gym. I will rest & recover. I was tempted, though, after I dropped off my middle-schooler, to run on over to the gym as is my routine. One day away, and I miss that place like a lovesick crackhead, as Ke$ha so eloquently says.

Since I’m grounded for the day, I have plenty of time to figure out how to clean up this:

Our little piggie found a lipstick in my purse and after she tried it out, she got some on the carpet.

pink is her color!

Not bad, Piggie. Not bad.