Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Well, crumb.

I had hoped my update would read: All is well, lumpectomy went swimmingly, cleared the bump in the road called cancer.

Of course, that would have made for the shortest blog post ever.

AND I don't regularly use the word swimmingly.

After feeling as though I'd been kicked by a Shetland pony for a few days, I bounced back from the biopsy, no problem. Not terrible, just uncomfortable. But I was still relieved to put the whole process behind me. The procedure, the recovery, and the w...a...i...t, grateful I wouldn't be going through that again in the near future.

Next came my MRI. Not a fan. I'm the person who gets to the movies/church service/program early to secure a seat near the aisle and feel confident in my escape plan, heaving a heavy sigh when asked to "move in toward the center aisle to make room for late comers". Well, they can just shove their way past me and feel stuck for all eternity in the middle of the row because I ain't budgin'.

So getting slid into a tube, in my skivvies, staying stock-still, was not my ideal way to spend a half hour. I almost pushed the panic button twice. But I refrained and tried to think of humorous things to distract me. Which may have included envisioning some of you falling. Don't judge.

And can I just say: You know you're from Kansas when...your medical facility is under construction and the MRI machine is in a trailer out back! I kid you not. The techs wrapped a warm blanket around my shoulders and out the door I trudged in my hospital gown and scrub pants in 30 degrees. No sir. If I never had to have another MRI in this millennium, it would have been too soon.

Lo and behold, my surgeon called the next week saying the malignant area on my right side measured twice as big on the MRI as it had on my original mammogram. AND the images picked up an area of abnormality on my left side. So I'd need an MRI guided biopsy.

An MRI BIOPSY?! Was that even a thing? Would a clown with a knife be performing the procedure? Because that would pretty much cover all the bases of what my current nightmares are made of.

We decided to wait to tell the kids until after the results came back. But Reese foiled that plan. She is always watching. Always listening. And has been since toddlerhood. How she didn't figure out Santa and the Easter Bunny by age 3 is beyond me. The girl picks up on everylittlething. The evening before my second biopsy, she casually asked me when my next appt was.

"Uhhh...errr..." I stammered.

"Oh, and why did you have your cancer notebook this morning when you took Tate and I to the dentist? You brought it out of the house and put it in the car," she observed.

My bedroom was an interrogation room. Luckily, I had a good answer for that one, "I had my blood drawn today for all the genetic tests. My orders were in that notebook," I explained.

"Hmm. And what about your MRI?" she quizzed.

"That's tomorrow," I said, not thinking.

"Tomorrow?! It was last week! What are you talking about? You have another one? What's going on?"

Oh boy.

Drue appeared from across the hall. The girl can't hear us yell her name 4 times to do the dishes, but by golly, she can sure pick up on conversations I hadn't planned on having yet.

Cancer is getting on my nerves. Literally. Some days, out of the blue, my stomach just knots up like I'm about to perform the National Anthem at the Super Bowl. But the next minute, I'm fine. And I know it's because someone has prayed for me. I cannot thank those of you enough who've done so.

So, the results are in. My left side decided to say to my right, "I see your non-invasive ductal carcinoma, and raise you an invasive lobular carcinoma."

Double the cancer. Double the...ugh.

Over this past month, they've been poked, prodded, smashed, smooshed, pushed, pulled, tugged, clipped, bruised, marked, steri-stripped, and glued. And quite frankly, they've had enough. Their series of unfortunate events will conclude with a mastectomy.

Which Reese has been on board with from the beginning, "Just get everything off. I mean, it's not like you have all that much up there anyway."

Straight from the mouth of one of my biggest supporters, folks.

She also feels she's earned a spot on my surgical team because she watches Grey's Anatomy. Yeah, no. I've seen her bedroom. And I most certainly wouldn't let her anywhere near my operating room. The nurses would be tripping over her backpack, shoes, and dishes from last week.

When she found out about my second diagnosis she said, "On Grey's, there was this fake doctor diagnosing people with cancer who didn't really have it. And he would start them on medicine and everything!"

As I made a mental note to research boarding schools, she continued, "I mean, I don't think that's what's happening here. I'm just saying..."

They can't tell right now the extent of the invasive component/stage so they won't know if I need chemo until after surgery.

Reese's take on that? "Awww...I hope you don't need chemo. You just figured out how to curl your hair good."

Seriously, someone take this child. Give her a loving home.

I'm so thankful for my first cancer diagnosis, which led to a discussion with my surgeon about getting an MRI, which led to David and I shrugging our shoulders and saying, "Sure, why not?", which led to a diagnosis of my invasive cancer that wouldn't have been found otherwise. Does God work in mysterious ways? I've never been more certain.





Thursday, March 29, 2018

That first week back after vacation can be a doozie. Am I right? Lazy days of sunshine and carefree agendas replaced with a slew of activities and commitments.

I do believe my week back after this Spring Break was my dooziest yet.

A biopsy, breast cancer diagnosis, and some dental work thrown in just for grins.

"Hi, Florida? Yeah, I think I'm gonna go ahead and come on back. Kansas isn't working out. At. All."

I had zero symptoms.

Zilch.

My mammogram at the beginning of this month was just another pesky thing to check off my "to do" list. Which I think must have hurt its feelings, because it decided to go ahead and just change the course of my health, my priorities, and my general outlook on life.

My images were suspicious so they recommended a biopsy. I can't help but wonder if my radiologist suspected malignancy more than he was letting on, because when he handed me my disc of images, he said, "You'll need to take this with you to all of your appointments." All of them? A biopsy is one appointment. And my results were supposed to be benign. So there wouldn't be "appointments" plural.

We headed off to sunny Florida. And I channeled my inner Scarlett O'hara, pushing aside all worries for a week away with the fam, "I'll think about that tomorrow..." We came home, David left for Indy, and the next day I headed to my biopsy. He called that morning and asked if I was nervous. "Nope," I said, semi-confidently. Apparently, my subconscious decided otherwise, because I started sweating on the way. And I was instructed not to wear deodorant until after the procedure. Not wanting to arrive a hot, stinky mess, I stuffed wads of kleenex under my arms and cranked up the A/C, all while the temp outside registered a balmy 40 degrees. At least I was headed to a hospital, where they'd be well equipped to treat me for my subsequent frostbite and hypothermia upon my arrival.

As I neared the exit, a billboard advertising their healthcare system caught my eye. Something about "advances in cancer treatment...". I'd have to speak to them about that. Because that's pretty much the last word one wants to see emblazoned in the sky as they reach their destination in a situation such as this. Perhaps a palm tree, or a cute puppy photo could better advertise their facility and evoke positive emotions.

Tate had forgotten his gym clothes at home that morning. Naturally, I was exasperated. Looking back, I think it was divinely timed. Instead of worrying about my predicament in the waiting room, I was focused on devising a plan for how I would make it back home, find his clothes and deliver them to the school office before heading to work. I was also scrambling to find the email I deleted from his school with the location of their temporary office while the main one is under construction.

My name was called. And off I went, trying not to leave a trail of kleenex behind me.

They said I should get my results in 2-3 business days. This isn't an Amazon order, people, I thought, this is my future.

I got the call at work 2 days later. And just like that, "oncologist", "treatment plan", and "hormone receptors" were added to my vocabulary list.

Next came telling the kids. The day I was told I'd need a biopsy, I was driving Reese to practice that evening and she was going on about great her life was at that very moment. "I just have like these bursts of happiness!" she said, all smiles.

"Awww...that's called bi-polar," I suggested.

"No, like I'm always happy. But sometimes I'm just like extra happy, like right now. But I kinda feel like something bad could happen at any moment though."

So I kept my mouth shut. I wasn't ready to be the reason that their biggest worry in life was no longer how many likes they'd get on their Instagram post.

Should we sit them all down together to break the news?  No. Too ominous. Although, that is how we surprised them with a trip to Disney World a few years ago. So I guess it could have gone either way.

I told the girls together. "Soooo....I had my mammogram a few weeks ago..." I started. Reese immediately interjected, "You have breast cancer!" So much for easing into it. I went through the timeline of events, reassured them it was early stage and very treatable, then answered their one trillion and one questions. "So when they called me yesterday..." I continued, Reese interrupted again, "Yesterday?! You've known since yesterday? Why didn't you tell us last night?"

"Uhh...because I was carting all of you to and from practices all night. We weren't even all home at the same time," I reminded her.

"You, Drue, and I were all in the car together on the way to volleyball," she pointed out.

"Yeah. And you were driving! What was I supposed to say, 'Ok, go ahead and take a left up here. Oh, and I have cancer'?! What on actual Earth?!."

Our conversation took a slight detour when Drue asked, "So, do you know if you're heterozygous? Because we're studying punnett squares in Science."

Reese's biggest concern was that I'd let a man do my biopsy. Bless it.

Tate adorably let it sink in and asked, "So, like, is this something that we need to be worrying about?"

"Nope. Not in the least, Buddy."

The kids suddenly became very agreeable and amicable toward one another over the next few days. At first I thoroughly enjoyed it, but then it turned a little creepy. And when I suspiciously beat the girls at MarioKart, I said, "Aha! You let me beat you! Stop it!"

From the moment I got my diagnosis, I've had a flurry of phone calls from nurses and schedulers. The very first of which turned out to be a sweet nurse I actually met when she was a little girl and her parents taught my Sunday School class. It was very comforting to have her end our conversation with, "I'm praying for you and your family!"

My cancerous culprits look like grains of salt on my images. But instead of playing nice and spreading out evenly, they decided to cluster together and plot against me. We're waiting to see if any cells have escaped into other areas or if I have mutant ninja genes indicating a high rate of reoccurrence. If not, my surgeon is just going to crash their little party, remove them all in an outpatient procedure, and any stragglers will get zapped with 3 weeks of radiation. At which point I'll do a mic drop as I exit the hospital. Until I return shortly thereafter for my appointment with my oncologist to begin my 5 year med. Maybe I'll just take my mic to all future appointments from here on out.

So, ladies...G-O! Go directly to your mammogram. Do not pass "Go". Do not collect $200. Although I'd gladly bribe you if that's what it takes.

I want to go back and hug the radiologist who read my mammogram, the 75 year old survivor who didn't hesitate to approach me in the waiting room offering encouragement, and the nurse who instinctively reached out and held my hand during my biopsy. I'm not even a hugger. But I suspect I'll be more open to the idea from now on.

I finished out the week getting a filling in my tooth and was numbed up half the day. There I sat at my desk, contemplating the information I'd received within the last 24 hours, dribbling my water all down the front of my shirt thinking, "I've had better weeks..."










Friday, January 12, 2018

To Infirmary...And Beyond!

Deep thoughts from our week under quarantine. Just indulge me here, folks. I've had limited adult contact with the outside world this week. I have words, lots of words, to get out.

We had bugs from all over. Tate was puking. I was coughing so hard I was awarded my first inhaler in 41 years. Fevers galore. Entire bottle of ibuprofen dispensed.

Basically my deep thought is this: There's nothing like a week of sickness to reset one's attitude. I was downright giddy when my fever finally broke for good and I felt well enough to clean the bathrooms. Mundane chore last week. This week, I'm glad to be able do it. Which, yes, should be my attitude every week. But it's not. Far from it.

Weeklong sicknesses can also reset attitudes when it comes to teens. Not theirs of course, (wouldn't that be nice?), but mine towards them. Just like when they were little. Their abundant energy could certainly wear me out some days. But as soon as one of them would go down with a fever, I'd take one look at their pitiful sleeping self on the couch and think, "I'm not sitting there 'til I disinfect that whole cushion"...oh, but then I'd think, "What I wouldn't give for them to be running up and down the stairs strewing their toys from room to room."

It's the same way with teens. On Reese's worse day this week, when she didn't change position for hours on end and I kept tiptoeing up to her bedside to see if the covers were rising and falling, I thought, "What I wouldn't give to see her roll her eyes or give me that look of 'what planet are you actually from'?".

This was the same day, incidentally, I read an article about flu related deaths in otherwise healthy individuals. Talk about timing. Of course I wasn't going to tell her because it would freak her out. But I must have been hovering a little too much that evening because she finally looked at me and croaked, "What?"

"Huh? What?" was my smooth comeback.

"Mom..." she pushed.

"Tell me if you feel any different."

"Why?"

"No reason."

"Mom..." she pushed again.

"Oh alright already! People are dying from the flu. Like healthy people. So just tell me if you feel extra bad, even if it's in the middle of the night."

There was not one day this week that all 3 kids attended school at the same time. It became part of my nightly routine to call a school or 2 and leave a message. I half hoped a truancy officer would come to my door, just for some face to face contact with society.

While we're on the subject of school...one sneeze at the dinner table in elementary school, and they were announcing they must stay home the next day. Those days are g-o-n-e. I debated with Reese and Tate at length Sunday night why they would both be missing their first day ever of middle school and high school on Monday.

Tate argued, "But I haven't thrown up since like 3am. So I can go!"

Technically the lad was correct. "Buddy, every time you stand up to do something you black out for like 5 seconds. Black out time is not factored in to what little time you have between classes. You're staying home," I rebuffed.

And Reese was convinced she'd need to repeat the semester (which literally had begun 2 days prior) if she missed a day. At this point I was still sick and not feeling up to arguing so just said wearily, "I don't know what to tell you...you ain't goin'." (Perhaps I'll take an English course with her that additional semester).

Turns out, Tate just didn't want to do the extra homework he'd have from missing class. Which took all of maybe 20 minutes Tuesday night.

Tate and Drue headed off to school Tuesday while Reese and I settled in for our morning naps. My phone rang around 10am. The school nurse. "Hi, I have Drue here in my office..."

"Of course you do. I'll be right there."

Reese bemoaned missing another day on Wednesday, but by this time she felt so miserable, I didn't have to put forth nearly as much effort arguing with her.

Apparently, Mother Nature even grew tired of Reese's objections to missing school, so she dropped the temp and sent just enough ice to get school cancelled for Thursday. "There, you're not actually missing another day," I reassured her.

"Yeah. But I can't enjoy the snow day because I'm sick."

Oh. My. Stars. In. Heaven.

She emailed her teachers to get a jump start on makeup work. "What do you have to do to make up P.E.?" I asked. "Run a mile per day I miss," she said, complete with eye roll (Yay! It returned!). "Girrrllll....you're going to be running your own personal 5K to make up this week!" I figured up.

David checked on us all Thursday night from Denver, "How's everybody doing?" he asked. When I reported we had all turned a corner and were on the mend he said, "Oh good! I was just wondering if I should extend my stay."

I was quite the little organizer keeping track on my phone who had medicine when and what their temp was. They were all set to go back today but Drue decided to be an overachiever and keep her fever a little longer and her voice comes and goes in croaky whispers.

I took pity on Reese walking to the bus stop in 7 degree weather this morning before sunrise and offered to drive her to school. This is big, folks. I haven't driven her to high school once this year.

We dropped Tate off across the street from his school and as I pulled into morning traffic to take Reese, my friend Carrie "Voxered" me (cool walkie talkie phone app) and said, "Just in case you're dropping any kids off at Walgreens, that light's not working." So I had just dropped my son off in single digit weather with no way to get across 4 lanes of morning commute traffic. Lovely. A quick call to another Mom friend who dropped her son off at the same time eased my mind. She dashed back to check on them and they were nowhere in sight. I didn't even want to know how he made it across. (Turns out, the button was frozen on their side of the street, but not the other, so someone ended up pushing it for them...my curiosity got the better of me.)

As we neared Reese's school, I said, "Sooo....you know I'm not going in that parking lot, right? I'll drop you off on that side street. And don't be a hater about it."

As I started down that street I saw the side parking lot with no line of cars. So I pulled in and around near a random door but stopped short on the corner, "Oops, I don't think this is really a drop off and here comes a truck behind me. Hurry! Hop out!"

"But I don't even know where I'm at!" she said.

"Love you! Have a good day back," I replied as I drove off.

I'm doubting she'll have to add on another semester, due to the fact she challenged me in a game of Fight List on my phone 30 minutes into the school day. Working real hard there, Reese, real hard.

She did such a great job convincing me she was well enough to return today, after school I said, "Oh. Hey. Clean your room."

"I can't. I'm sick," she replied without batting an eye.

Yep, glad to have my sassy gal back.

Now we just need to get Drue well enough to be her snarky self and all will be right with my world.



Friday, August 25, 2017

It's 6am Somewhere

At the beginning of the week, Reese said she needed two 2 liter bottles by Thursday for Biology. We don't buy 2 liters so it was like Christmas in August around here when Drue and Tate found out they could drink as much as they wanted. And, in fact, were encouraged to do so quickly since we only had a few days.

Who knew there were so many styles of 2 liters? Reese's teacher said not to get "weird" ones but I had no idea what that meant. Reese deemed my lemonade bottle "weird", so I put it back and got Sprite Zero. Sprite has been forever ruined for me thanks to the stomach flu. Root beer was our second pick. No bad memories associated with that flavor that I could recall.

I have been stumbling downstairs at 6:15 every morning this week to pop some waffles into the oven, announcing more than once, "Don't get used to this, people! I'm not doing it the whole school year." Yesterday morning the mostly drunk {"drunk" meaning "gone", not "intoxciated"} 2 liter of root beer was sitting on the counter. MOSTLY drunk?! Reese needed to take it that day. I poured out what was left {probably 12 ounces or so} and started sipping away. Not my first choice of beverage at the crack of dawn but, by golly, I wasn't going to waste one drop. I rinsed out the bottle and set it next to the already rinsed out Sprite Zero. Mission accomplished. Mom had saved the day.

As Reese flew around the house like a crazy person so she wouldn't be late for her bus that comes at O dark 30, I hollered, "Don't forget your 2 liters!!" Her school is across town and the list of forgotten items I will drop off for her is slim. And may actually only include "oxygen tank" should she become dependent on one for survival.

"What?" she hollered back.
"Your 2 liters! It's Thursday!" I reminded her proudly.
"Oh. I don't need those 'til the 28th," she said dismissively as she stuffed practice clothes in her backpack.

I had just guzzled the rest of it for nothing? And the worst part was, it was caffeine free. So it would benefit me in no way whatsoever. Great. Now root beer is ruined for me because I will associate it with early mornings. And I abhor early mornings. David was flying in that evening, so I had to put signs on the empty bottles saying, "REESE NEEDS THESE FOR SCHOOL" because he tosses out anything and everything we are not using at that exact moment.

All in all, we made it through the first full week of early mornings, extra school supply runs, and picture day thrown in for grins (pun intended).  Reese did have a near miss when she decided to start walking home one evening after practice while I was at a parent meeting at the middle school and was late picking her up. My rule-following child who worries about getting arrested for jaywalking in our neighborhood decided to cross all four lanes of Blackbob with no traffic light in sight. What. On. Earth. I half wish the cops had picked her up to scare her straight. Besides, the girl can't not smile. So her mug shot would have been pretty adorable.

And I'll be bracing myself for her frantic text from school on the 28th..."Mom, I forgot my 2 liters."

Monday, July 03, 2017

Picture Perfect

Our last professional family picture was 5 years ago. Five! Tate has more than doubled in age. He wasn't even alive for our only other family picture. Both of which were for our church directory. I ponder getting one taken each year but since I'm the procrastinator, and David only takes charge of circumstances that actually appeal to him, here we sit, with zero family photos adorning our walls. 

Let me just go ahead and state another reason we haven't had one taken since 2012. They. Are. Stressful.

When we journey down to the beach each Summer, I toss in some coordinating clothes for the kids and envision getting the perfect shot of them beaming sweetly as the waves cascade around their feet and the sun sets. It usually ends up with tears, squinty eyes, and someone getting soaked because they got too close to the water. All of this captured with my state of the art photography equipment...my phone. 

So this year, I decided to turn this whole fiasco over to a professional. An innocent third party the kids would be embarrassed to punch each other in front of. 

So I booked it. And so began the rest of the planning. 

First up, announcing the joyous news to my wee little subjects. They took is about as well as they'd take the news of having to get all their nose hairs plucked out one by one. But they picked up on how excited I was so they kept their objections to a minimum.

Next up, outfits. Oy.

David and Tate are super easy to shop for and wear whatever I bring home. I took my more challenging family members {ahem, girls} with me to shop for outfits. Nope. Apparently it's not as fun to shop for something you care nothing about. When we didn't come up with anything at the first 2 stores except their attitudes, I slowly drove back by our house and tossed them out onto the lawn. Or at least that's what I imagined doing. 

I ordered my dress online and matched everyone else to it before it had even arrived. Big gamble. But luck was on my side. When my dress came in I eagerly tried it on. I'd saved a screenshot of it on my phone to refer back to when I was shopping for the other outfits. As I stood in front of the mirror, turning from side to side, I sighed, "I mean, I think I like it. But I don't look like the girl in the picture." 

Drue doesn't mince words, and rather than offering some positive feedback such as, "Oh, I think it looks cute", she simply said matter-of-factly, "Well...you're not a model."

As our vacation departure grew closer, the thought of the picture weighed heavily on my mind. And I would blurt out random instructions from time to time. More like a drill sergeant preparing troops for boot camp, rather than a Mom offering suggestions for our beautiful family memory that was about to be made. 

"Whatever I pick out for you to wear, that's what you're wearing. End of discussion."

"I want real smiles, people. Not the fake ones you rehearse 50 times before you post them to Instagram. Genuine ones! We're paying good money for this!"

"No kickboxing in the hallway! Have you lost your mind?! Our picture is in less than a week!"

And when Drue's boogie board flew up and caught Reese in the eye, I simply exclaimed, "Our picture is tomorrow!"

All the clothes came together nicely. I found David a light blue linen button down. "What do you think?" I asked him. "Sure. I mean, I'm never going to wear it again though", he confessed. Fine by me. I only needed him to be in it for one hour. 

He ended up wearing it twice before we even had our picture taken. The second time I ironed it I hissed, "This shirt is of the absolute devil! These wrinkles! Ridiculous! Linen is from the underworld."

The week we were leaving for Alabama, Tate developed a gum infection out of nowhere. The dentist prescribed antibiotics and recommended he have a baby tooth extracted. You guys! I made him smile first to be sure he wouldn't look like a hillbilly before I agreed to move forward with his treatment. That is the moment I realized I may be going a tad overboard with my preparations. 

I tried to plan every possible picture pose down to the last detail. What if she gets a shot of our hands intertwined together and everyone sees my ragged nails I pick to bits? So I bought fake ones at Target and painstakingly glued them on during our car trip South. 

As David checked us into our beach condo, the kids grabbed carts from the lobby. My fake nails started popping off one by one as I hurriedly tossed out duffels from the truck bed so we didn't exceed our 10 minute time limit in the circle drive. Alas, our sweet hand pictures were not to be, as the next day David's wedding band flew into the Gulf during a game of catch. 

I supervised Tate putting on his sunscreen at the beach. But later that evening a large red sunburnt splotch appeared by his right eye and cheekbone. I'm sure it could have been edited out, but I did threaten to touch it up with some of my concealer. "Nooooooo!" he replied, horrified. Then proceeded to check the mirror every 7.2 minutes to see if it had begun to fade on its own. 

The next night was it. Picture time had arrived. I pressed everyone's clothes and gave them each the speech that they were not to eat and/or drink anything once they put them on. "So be sure and eat something beforehand. If you pass out during the pictures, we will just prop you up and continue."

I took a deep breath, slipped on my dress, and looked in the mirror. Panic set in. How had I not remembered I have no idea how to do my makeup or hair? Sure, I get by enough to go to work or Wal-mart, but for a documented keepsake memory? Heck. No. 

Not to mention the humidity in Alabama mocks me. And sets out to undo any type of hairstyle I attempt. I frantically pulled up a few You Tube tutorials and got to work. Then proceeded to ask David and the girls, "Too much eye makeup? Not enough? Should I trim my bangs real quick?" I got an emphatic "NO" for that last question. 

We were off. I didn't let David wear his super sensitive linen shirt in the car knowing the seatbelt would ruin my labor of love ironing job. More instructions on the way. Tate is going through a phase where he contorts his body in all directions rather than have the girls touch him in any way. David said, "No crying. If she asks the girls to touch you or put their arms around you, just no crying."

We pulled off the road, under a bridge, to a private part of the beach. Reese, our eternally fearful child, looked around uncertainly and said, "This is shady. She doesn't have her own place?" 

"How would one go about securing a real beach...sand and ocean...in a tiny studio?" I asked. "I'm pretty sure she's still legit."

The session went well. She was super sweet. All she would say to the kids was, "Now look at each other" and they would burst into fits of cherubic giggles as she snapped away. Who were these people? Long flowing curls, dresses I remembered ironing, thin blonde boy with tousled hair...yep, they were ours. 

David and I don't often gaze lovingly into each other's eyes. So we usually ended up bursting into laughter when we were posed that way. And I would say through my clenched smile, "At least I still have my wedding ring. So it looks like we're married."

After the last few photos were snapped, we all piled back into the truck. "Did I do good smiles, Mom?" Tate asked. When I assured him he had, he shared, "That's probably because I was thinking of baby pugs trying to walk and falling over." Whatever works. 

"Why don't you guys smile like that for me though? It takes like 50 tries!"

Reese simply said, "Well, she was fun." 

I'm in love with the sneak peek she posted today and can't wait to see the rest. 

Until then, I'm off to bury David's linen shirt in the backyard. 






Tuesday, February 28, 2017

The Nuggets Made Me Do It

I blame those blasted chicken nuggets.

I really feel that is the point at which my night began its downward spiral.

A few weeks ago, I spent the day in Leavenworth and headed home around 5ish to begin our running around for the evening. David was in Dallas and I had timed my pick-ups and drop-offs perfectly.

I grabbed McDonalds and made my way home to tend to all the creatures living there, both human and canine.

I unloaded my haul onto the table. Four drinks. Four fries. Three burgers....

They had forgotten Tate's chicken nuggets.

(Insert dramatic heavy sigh.)

Yes, I should have double checked the bag. But I just glanced in, saw the 4 fries and a bunch of other stuff at the bottom and hoped for the best.

My irritation subsided once I made it back to McDonalds. Honestly, this was small potatoes (french fry pun) compared to my other worries that week.

Drue met me in the driveway when I returned home, anxious we were going to be late to volleyball. I dropped her off at 6 on the dot, rounded up Tate at 7:30, swung by and grabbed his buddy (thank goodness for carpools) and dropped them off at basketball.

I made my way across town to pick up Drue by 8pm and home we went.

Feeling rather rockstarish about how my night had gone thus far, I slipped into my PJ pants and settled in to watch "This is Us" (thank goodness for DVRs).

Tate usually hangs out in the man cave if we're watching girly shows upstairs. The animal shelter had emailed earlier asking for the names of our foster puppies so they could enter them into their system, so I texted Tate, "Think of 2 boy puppy names".

I texted him again after the show (which I miraculously made it through with dry eyes), "Time for bed". He hadn't responded about the puppy names and when he didn't respond to my text about bed, I sent, "I'm not sure why you never text me back. Ever.".

A few minutes later there was a knock at the front door. It was close to 9:30pm by then and Drue casually headed down the hall saying, "I got it." I leapt from my bed yelling, "Noooo! Don't open the door at this time of night!"

The dogs were barking and I slithered down the hall turning off lights as I went so whoever it was would go away. I heard the doorknob turn and Tate's little voice in the entryway.

I stared in disbelief, "Tate! Was that you knocking on the door?! Why were you outside?"

"Yeah," he said hesitantly, "I was coming home."

He spends most afternoons at the school park with his buddies but knows to head home when the street lights come on. I couldn't believe he'd been outside at this time of night. I felt angry, scared, and guilty all at once.

"From where??" I pressed urgently, already thinking up an appropriate punishment for giving me heart palpitations.

By this point, Drue was looking at me like I'd gone bat crazy and said very slowly and in question form, "B-a-s-k-e-t-b-a-l-l  p-r-a-c-t-i-c-e?"

They watched as I processed this information, unsure of how they should react. When I collapsed on the stairs in laughter, they followed suit and started recounting all the ridiculous things I'd said in the last few minutes. Then gladly reenacted the whole scenario for Reese when she got out of the shower.

This will be one of those topics of conversations that resurface for years to come, "Remember that time Mom freaked out on Tate for coming home from practice?!"

And I'll just shake my head and say, "It was those blasted nuggets..."






Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Love at First Bite

I adore the handy dandy cooking apparatus that is my crockpot. Toss stuff in in the morning, a lovely meal awaits you at night.

But, I began hearing about another magical gadget...the Instant Pot. Basically, instead of needing 8 hours cooking time, it only needed 20 minutes. A procrastinator's dream! No more fretting a day ahead about what to make for supper. I could decide on my way home from work and just plop it in.

I began hinting around that an Instant Pot would make my life complete.

Years ago, we knocked out the upper cabinets in our kitchen so we could actually see people's faces on the other side of the counter, rather than just their torsos. Therefore, we have ZERO extra storage space for anything. I had to include a solution to this problem in my pitch to David.

"My crockpot has a crack in the bottom. Nothing leaks out or anything, but it could literally shatter at any moment. If I get an Instant Pot, I can throw the crockpot away and a storage spot will become available."

Come Christmas morning, my shiny new toy was waiting for me all wrapped up amongst the gifts. I admired it from afar for a few days. When I finally opened it up and perused the manual, panic set in. So many steps to follow. And the words "pressure cooking" kept taunting me. I quickly shoved it all back in the box.

David inquired from time to time if I had tried it out when he was traveling.

"Well...no," I finally confessed. "I'm scared of it, ok?! I'm afraid I'm going to blow the whole house up!"

As is his response to most of my life crises, he laughed.

He retrieved it from the box when we were both home one afternoon and said, "Here, let's try it out together. I'll make sure you don't blow anything up."

Something seemed off about the kitchen. I gasped, "Where's my crockpot??"

"I threw it away. You said if you got an Instant Pot, you'd throw out your crockpot."

"You know full well I never throw anything out! I was going to store it in the basement as my backup!"

"I know. Exactly why I got to it first and threw it out."

He walked me through the steps of securing the lid, punching in the right setting, preheating and pressurizing. As the pressure whistled out at the end, I hit the deck and exclaimed, "I am never using this!"

Now that my overreacting was out of the way, I was able to move on to a more rational way of thinking, as is my pattern. I was going to conquer this pressure cooker if it was the last thing I did. And I still believed it might be.

Since Drue was pretty sick today, I stayed home with her. I had to run to the store for a few things and decided it was as good a time as any to face my fear of that darn pot. I texted David my plan so he wouldn't bring home something super awesome for supper, ensuring nobody would want what I prepared.   

Next, I Googled super easy recipes for beginning instant potters in the parking lot. Some recipes had no business popping up in that search. Way too many steps and ingredients. If I have to scroll down a screen or two to read all the ingredients, nope, next. I was getting anxious to get back home to my little patient, so I just picked a super short recipe and went on my way.

Heading home, it dawned on me.

I picked BBQ spareribs!

Why on Earth would I have done that? Meat is David's specialty!! There's no way I can even compete with him on that level. Sigh. The deed had been done. The slab was in the backseat. There was no turning back.

Tate was curious what I finally decided to make.

"Ribs!" I said proudly.

"Hmm," he thought aloud, "Will Daddy be here?"

"Yeah. Why?"

"Oh, nothing. He just usually cooks ribs on the Traeger. But...he might like these too," he said, sounding unconvinced.

Blast! Even my 10 year old knew this idea was doomed from the get go.

David meandered into the kitchen when he got home and I shooed him out. He came in a time or two more, looking quizzically at my technique, but I continued to kick him out and hiss, "Don't. Say. Anything."

In went the apple juice, onion, vanilla, water, meat, oh, and the liquid smoke David brought home after my frantic text asking if we had any, followed by my threat to give up completely if we didn't. When the main course finally emerged, it looked, and smelled like ribs.

"Reese, you eat the first one," David suggested, then eyed her cautiously, "Do you feel ill?"

Wanting to remember everyone's first impressions, I grabbed a pencil and started jotting down their comments.

"Are you taking notes?," David asked, then continued, "These are delicious! I'm so proud of you! You are the best wife a man has ever had!"

I promptly put down my pencil. Which was for the best, because Tate had splattered sauce all over my notes.

I timidly sunk my teeth into the ribs, "Wow. The Instant Pot could take the place of the Traeger," I proposed.

David paused with a rib halfway to his mouth, "Why would you even say something like that?"

I think I'll just start hinting I need a personal chef. Now that would make my life complete.











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