Thursday, March 31, 2011

All you need is love

The boy has a lovey that he loves more than anything else in the whole entire world. It’s a stuffed lion, his name is Leo (as I so imaginatively named him), and he’s been the boy’s best friend in the whole entire universe since he was five months old. Now, as I have extensive experience in the matter, I bought the boy three Leo’s which we’ve been alternating for the past almost three years. Several months ago, however, he totally surprised us by not only being able to tell the Leos apart, he also had a “favorite”. “Favorite” Leo, soon became Leo di Nanna (Bedtime Leo) and was immediately pronounced housebound by yours truly. There was no way that I was going to let Bedtime Leo out of the house, if the Boy wouldn’t sleep without him, what if I lost him?

So the three Leos soon became one housebound Bedtime Leo and two interchangeable “Leo di Fuori” (Outside Leo). Whenever we go out, I am almost maniacally careful about Leo’s whereabouts, I practically check I have Leo before I check whether I’ve got the two kids in tow.  Well, last week I did the unimaginable. I lost one of the Outside Leos (losing Bedtime Leo would’ve resulted in my immediate suicide, or more likely matricide by the boy). I’ve looked for him everywhere. He’s gone. (sniff)
As was predictable, concurrently to the “Day of Great Tragedy” wherein I demonstrated my failure at being a good mother by losing one of my son’s favorite toys, the Girl started showing an interest in Outside Leo. (She’s not allowed near Bedtime Leo, no one is.)
I never managed to get the Girl to bond with a lovey, she decided early on that I was her lovey and no stuffed animal or soft blanket or even binky could replace me, so there. Anyway, now that she’s showing an interest in Outside Leo, I find myself in a bit of a bind, if Outside Leo is to be promoted to the position of the Girl’s Bedtime Leo, then I need to get more Leos to fill in the position of Outside Leos. Following?

Here’s where my life predictably complicates itself beyond what is acceptable for man or beast.  I went online and after much searching I found out the following: the store in Houston where I had bought Bedtime Leo, and successively, Outside Leos 1 and 2 has gone out of business; Ty, the company that produces Leo has discontinued the product; Leo sells used on ebay for $19.99; he sells new on amazon for $61.59 (yeah, I thought it was a typo when I read it the first time too); on another toy store website Leo sells new for $99.99 (so technically Amazon’s price is a total steal).

Oh, I also found out his official name is Ty Lux “Catnap” Lion and as one of the website put it, he’s “retired”. How cute. Now, I bought Outside Leo # 2 last year for $9.99, isn’t selling him for $61.59 a year later pure speculation? Are they just trying to bank off the needs of desperate mothers?? Thankfully Nana saved the day and a replacement Outside Leo is on it’s way to her house from Amazon and then it will be fed-exed across the pond to the waiting arms of her grandkids. No expense is too great for a doting grandmother.
But, I tell you, that Leo is staying in his original box, with all the tags attached until tragedy strikes and I lose another one of the original Leos. Because if I make it a few years with no major mishaps that baby’s being sold for like two hundred bucks.

I mean, seriously, how on earth can they sell a stuffed animal for that much money. As a friend suggested, I probably didn’t even lose Outside Leo, he's just been kidnapped. I’ll be on the lookout for a ransom note. 

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Virtual Coffee {3}


Here we are, Tuesday, and it’s coffee time. No long preamble today, I’m going to jump right in. If we were really having coffee, I would tell you that my day got turned around this morning. You hear the tv in the background? Yeah, it’s Madagascar 2, again. The Boy is home with a temperature, not a high temperature, and he’s showing no other signs of illness, but still he won’t eat anything so I decided to keep him home and avoid the whole throwing up in the car scenario that would’ve inevitably ensued had I decided to take him to daycare.
We also decided to try and send the girl to daycare without him, needless to say that lots of drama followed. After several phone calls and two pretty severe crying bouts she seems to have calmed down, but I have to go get her early, so coffee will be brief. Sigh.

I would also tell you that coffee without my usual cookie, or cupcake, or banana bread just isn’t doing anything for me. Why I wasn’t born with an abnormally fast metabolism is simply beyond me. So here’s a picture of what I wish I were eating, if I hadn’t started the stupid diet yesterday.

I may possibly be spending altogether too many hours looking at food that I can’t eat. But enough crying over spilled chocolate, if we were having coffee today, I would ask you if you were reading anything good, cause I can’t seem to find anything that captures my fancy. Just so you know, I like series, nothing too sentimental, vampire stories are fine but nothing too gory cause ever since I had kids I can’t read or watch anything violent. I’ve become fainthearted! I’m just looking for something light and fun, possibly funny, ideally well written.

You want to know something shameful about me? Every single time I read, anything, whether it be a book, a blog, a magazine article, a newspaper, I edit in my mind. I edit punctuation (pretty arrogant of me, since you may have noticed my own punctuation is not exactly stellar), I rewrite sentences, I exchange words for synonyms I deem more fitting. I annoy the crap out of myself and yet I cannot stop. It’s a compulsion.

There, now your turn, do you have any thoroughly annoying habits even if you’re only annoying yourself?
Ok all done, see coffee with no treats makes for a poor and quick coffee indeed! Now go visit our hostess Amy, I’m sure she’s got something good to eat.

Monday, March 28, 2011

In the Zone

Recently I realized something astonishing: deciding I’m going to lose weight, thinking about losing weight, and angrily putting back clothes that don’t fit on their hangers is not actually helping me lose weight. Unbelievable, I know! I first started talking about this in October and again in November, it’s now practically April and I’ve managed to gain two more kilos. So my strategy was a resounding success.

At this point, I gave myself a long hard look (as I was trying to even out my eyebrows, cause honestly, who’s got time to just randomly stare in the mirror?) and decided to go to a nutritionist. Those who have known me for any number of years can now pick themselves up off the ground where they fell in total shock. Because, no matter how delusional I often am, at this point I cannot but face the fact that wishing myself skinny is just not having the desired effect. So, after much coaxing from my pilates instructor I saw the infamous (in Italy) Dr Gigliola Braga. She is basically Italy’s Zone diet Guru. I did not know this at the time I made the appointment. Had I known I never would have made the appointment, cause honestly, The Zone Diet has always freaked me out just a little bit.

But anyway, in my total ignorance I went and met this thoroughly delightful lady, who explained the diet to me so comprehensively and so enthusiastically that I honestly couldn’t wait to go home and start it. This happened Friday. Obviously, I spent the entire weekend drinking soda, eating cookies, croissants and starches, because despite all the talk about how balanced the diet is, even I was not deluded enough to think there would be a lot of chocolate chip cookie days. So Monday comes, and I’m all excited about my new diet. I sit down for breakfast and eagerly grab the list of foods I can eat for my two whole blocks (this is a zone thing, if you don’t know what it is, I envy you greatly!) at breakfast, and panic ensues.

It starts out fine, one 40g slice of whole wheat bread is two block of carbs, my green tea doesn’t count, I can eat a few nuts for the fats, but what the hell do I eat for two whole blocks of protein, in the morning? Oh, right, an egg. Ok all perfect, let me check the quantities again, weigh the slice of bread and off I go for breakfast. But then I’ve got to do it again at lunch, and snack, and dinner, and soon another snack before bed, and OMG this is driving me crazy! The counting, the weighing the endless consultation of the list, so tonight I realized why people lose weight on the Zone, they would just rather not eat than have to figure out what in the hell they’re allowed to eat and in what unholy combination.

I’ve been told it gets easier. At this point, I’m highly motivated to have it work because more than looking decent in a bikini this summer I really, really want to beat the Zone. I want to show the Zone that I can totally figure it out, I can tame it, in fact by the end of the week I will be so totally in the Zone that I will own the Zone.
Finally, a diet that appeals to my competitive side.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Buying Time

This week has been an emotional rollercoaster. Well, the whole month’s been an emotional rollercoaster, but this week we seem to have reached and descended from the highest peak. And nobody threw up. So, phew!

On Tuesday, which incidentally feels like it happened about three years ago rather than three days ago, the husband had a bone marrow biopsy. We spent Wednesday with bated breath, jumping every time the phone rang, waiting for the results, which were honestly neither hear nor there, neither fish nor fowl, neither… well, I could go on like this for a while, but I’ll spare you. Basically, the blast cells (i.e. crappy cancer cells) had increased, but by a relatively small percentage. The husband, who is undergoing an alternative treatment that I’m not going to get into now, but I will explain in detail in the near future (not trying to be cryptic, but we do have our reasons, so bear with us!) was hoping that the blasts had decreased. At the same time, we were having some strong doubts as to whether this alternative treatment had had enough time to actually be effective. After long discussions with his doctors, who obviously strongly advised him to start the treatment as planned on Thursday (24th), we decided to take a two-week hiatus and have another BM biopsy before starting the conventional treatment.

This decision was taken neither lightly nor recklessly. We are perfectly conscious of the fact that we have two small children and our first and foremost responsibility is towards them. That said, the rate at which these cells are multiplying suggest that in two weeks time they should/could have increased by about 10 – 15%, after much thought we decided that this calculated risk was acceptable.

When talking about cancer, alternative therapies can be considered a load of hooey, or not. I’m not going to get into this now, but I will say that both the husband and I strongly believe that when fighting an illness of this magnitude medicine will only get you so far. The patient’s attitude, his outlook, his optimism, his strength and desire to get better are just as, if not more, important than all the chemo in the world. So, for the naysayers, whom I wish to exhort now to please keep their opinions to themselves for the time being, let’s just say he’s taking these two weeks to spend some quality time with his wife and kids before being shut up in a sterile room for several months, and leave it at that. He is taking supplements, and he has changed his diet, he is resting, so that his body will be better prepared for the onslaught of chemicals that may come. He’s recharging his batteries, creating memories to cling to, and enjoying the start of spring, so that, if he does have to go through the conventional treatment, he will at least be more prepared physically, emotionally and spiritually.

Our belief is, of course, that he won’t have to go through the conventional treatment because, as I said, the mind is a powerful thing, and stranger things have happened. Prayers and positive thoughts and energy help too, so will be expecting loads of good vibes from our readers! ;-)

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Virtual Coffee {2}


As I quite enjoyed having coffee with you last week, I’ve decided to give it another shot and, who knows, maybe I’ll get it together enough to do it weekly. After all, shouldn’t a girl get to have coffee with friends at least once a week?

Plus, I realized that it’s actually quite nice to have a coffee date where I get to direct the entire conversation. It’s a bit self-centered, sure, but hey, I’m a great conversationalist so, lucky you! Although, I’m not sure I want to delve too deeply into what it says about my mental health that I’m looking forward to having weekly pretend coffee with imaginary friends (or, you know, real friends who are nevertheless not actually here). In any case, here we are in front of our respective screens, me with my coffee, cream and sugar and you with… well, whatever you enjoy. 
So, if we were really having coffee today, I would tell you that it seems as though our schizophrenic weather has finally started taking its medication and it appears to have settled on spring as the season of choice. This makes us all very happy as we hope to be able to put the snow shovels away to be replaced by our lawnmower and fertilizer and new plants. I would admit, as you look at me skeptically, that no, I don’t actually take care of the yard myself, there’s a nice retired gentleman that does not have two plant assassins for hands who actually makes things grow quite beautifully.
I would tell you that we’re all longing to put our heavy down jackets away in their mothballs not to be looked at again for months, but I fear I’m jumping the gun a bit as it often snows in April here. So we’re just enjoying the balmy weather for now and not planning too far into the future. I would also tell you that this is our entire plan for now. Who knows what the future holds, because despite our best intentions life is all about uncertainty.

As I sip my coffee, the sun on my back from the slightly open window, I would tell you that I’m just trying to count my blessings for now, and there are many. In the end, despite all of our doubts and tribulations (I love that word!) life is truly a wonderful thing, at least, mine is, and I have to remind myself of this daily.
Though to be honest, I’m pretty irritated by the smell that’s coming from the open window, here let me shut it. Yes it does smell like cow shit. Why, you ask? Because it’s Spring dammit, and we live out in the country, and for the next month and a half none of us will be able to take a clear breath of fresh air cause everyone and their mother are going to be fertilizing their stupid fields. Poetic isn’t it?

Monday, March 21, 2011

Living with Leukemia. Part 6. Anger

Honestly, I was really hoping to be done with the whole Living with Leukemia series. I thought I would do a post in April about what life was like a year after the transplant and then I’d be able to forget the whole sad ordeal. Why is it that nothing ever goes according to plan?
So here we are again, talking about chemo and transplants and what not, and my strongest feeling right now is anger. I’m angry. I’m so royally pissed off that there are no words to describe it. And I don’t want to talk about it, which is why I’m writing about it.

So first things first, don’t ask me how we’re doing, and more than anything don’t ask me how the husband’s doing. We’ve got two blogs, we’ll be writing about it, I promise, but I cannot, I simply cannot spend another year talking about how he’s doing, how the chemo is making him feel like shit, speculating about what could or could not happen and what the next move is. Ask me how I am, ask me about the kids, but don’t expect me to talk about the cancer cause I just can’t. Sorry.

Now that I got that off my chest… we can move on to the anger and anxiety, which much like Jack and Jill, go hand in hand until they both go tumbling down.
As I mentioned in previous posts, I’m a little stressed. I’m stressed because life was finally going back to normal, the husband is feeling good again, he’s got energy, he can play with the kids, he goes to work, we were making plans for our future… And two weeks ago it literally came tumbling down. Because, and this is what nobody talks about as “it’s just not done”, when you’ve got a very resistant type of leukemia, you have a BM transplant after three rounds of extremely aggressive chemo and radiation therapy so strong that your body could not withstand another round, and the fucking leukemia comes back after less than a year the undertone to every single conversion with your doctor becomes if you survive.
This time around we know what we’re going to be going through, the husband knows exactly how shitty he’s going to feel, I have to watch him go through the whole damn process again, the kids won’t see him for at least a month and when he comes home he won’t have the strength and energy to be with us like he does now. And we don’t know how it’s going to go. Of course, we had no guarantees the first time around either, but then again the first time around we weren’t told, and I quote “if you had gone to another hospital they would have told you there was nothing else to do.”
So this is why I’m angry. Because after the year we just had shouldn’t we be given a break? I mean, really, fate or whatever else manages the events in our lives, the happiness and suffering allotted to us, couldn’t just have diverted its attention from us for a little while? Horrible things happen daily to all manner of people, just turn on the news. But I’m still mad. I just wanted to have a few years of calm, and planning for the future and raising our kids with no major drama. Is that really too much to expect?

Sunday, March 20, 2011


I can’t sleep. If I wake up at night, and I’m doing an awful lot of that cause the kids seem to have picked up on the tension and call me two or three times a night, I can’t go back to sleep. I think of all the things we could’ve done or should’ve done or need to do before the husband goes back into the hospital (sometime next week). 
Saturday we met up with some good friends from Milan. We decided to have a picnic at the beach. And I started stressing about it Friday. I hope it’s sunny, the husband needs some sun before he gets shut up in the sterile room, I hope the kids are good, he needs to relax, I hope everything goes well… Basically a recipe for disaster, I worked myself up to such a state of agitation that I spent the entire day feeling sick, my stomach in knots, angry at the weather for being crappy, wondering if maybe we should go somewhere else where it was more sunny, and generally not enjoying a minute of the outing.
All for absolutely no reason, cause I can’t control the weather and other people and the husband would probably have had a much more enjoyable time if his wife had been a little less neurotic and sleep deprived.
The fact is there’s a clock ticking above my head, counting down to Thursday or Friday when he has to be admitted in the hospital. The doctor’s keep moving the dates up, he was supposed to do the biopsy on Wednesday but now they’re saying Tuesday’s better and it’s driving me insane because I feel like there’s no time. It’s good that they’re on top of the ball, trying to get everything done as soon as possible, they’ve been telling us from the start how important it is to get in there as quickly as possible, but at the same time I want to say, no stop, we need more time why are you rushing like this, is there something you haven’t told us?
The husband turns to me, more and more often, and says:  breathe. Because apparently I hold my breath, constantly, like that will somehow stop time: oh, I’m not breathing hence time isn’t passing. Totally ridiculous, I know, and yet at times it’s just easier to not breathe.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Grammatical Pet Peeves

Just in case you needed more proof of how neurotic I am, I decided to occasionally post on something that drives me completely bananas: Bad Grammar. Now, I concede that my own grammar is not always perfect, I’m a victim to run on sentences like the majority of Italian speakers, but I do know what a run on sentence is. Sure, sometimes I make mistakes too, who doesn’t? I could certainly proofread more, but I believe I do have the basics of grammar and spelling down. Incidentally, a great proofreading tip I got back in my translating days was to change the font, size and even color of the draft often while proofreading, it helps the eye catch mistakes.

So, back to grammar et al. most of the time I mis-grammaticize on purpose, and I make up words on purpose, I know what I’m doing is wrong and I do it for a reason, even though often that reason is apparent only to me. Mostly I do it because I want the writing on my blog to be more colloquial, more spontaneous. So what on earth am I going on about?
 There are mistakes being made all over the ether that are neither justified nor voluntary, they are quite simply the result of bad grammar and laziness. And that’s what drives me nuts. (fragment) So occasionally I’ll post on one such error that particularly irritates me, thus exorcising it, so it no longer bothers me. In this manner I’m hoping to achieve the zen-like calm that appeals to me yet eludes me completely.

Today’s pet peeve is: WOULD OF. What you actually meant to write is WOULD HAVE, in fact word just went all apeshit on me trying to correct it. What I’m talking about here is the third conditional and you use it when you want to talk about something that could have happened, but didn’t, in the past. For example: If I had won the lottery, I would HAVE left my job. (You can use the contraction would've)
In any case, there is no reason on God’s green earth to write “would of”. Ever. So don’t, just don’t.
Gosh, I feel so much better now!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Stuff that drives me nuts

I am a creature of habit, when I become attached to something it stays with me for a really long time; case in point, I have a stuffed bunny that’s been sleeping in my bed for thirty-five years. I am a faithful consumer. If I like a product, I’ll keep buying it. I have the exact same gap t-shirt in 45 different colors, I’ll be very upset if they decide to stop producing it. 
I’ve been a loving and ardent windows user for most of my technological life. I remember when I got my first notebook, I was a junior in high school. I needed something to write essays and opted for a Toshiba notebook rather than a word processor (yes, I’m that old) this is how long I’ve been using windows, practically since before windows became “Windows”. Of course, I should have known something was amiss in my life because my very first computer was an apple, back when apple’s logo was cute and multicolored. I was ten years old, it was a desktop, it probably cost more than a car and had less functionality than a toaster. It used floppy disks. My brother and I used it solely to play a game based on the Olympics, all I remember is the characters were almost stick-like figures and you had to slalom down a ski slope, or throw javelins, or pole-vault, stuff like that. So this week, after being a faithful windows user for nigh on two decades, I have gone back to my roots and bought myself a MacBook Air
It’s light as, well, air (aptly named) and thin as paper (almost). It’s pretty user friendly and I’m not noticing any major differences or difficulties. I was already in love with the iphone and ipad so it seemed like a logical next step. I haven’t yet transferred everything from my pc, so I get to say a long and heartfelt goodbye. There is just one thing that consistently drives me bananas, the lack of a “canc” key. In place of the “canc” key they put the computers on/off key. I use the “canc” key A LOT, so I really miss it, and I see no earthly reason not to put it in. So, Steve, before stepping down, can you do something about that please? Cause I keep turning off my damn computer as I’m typing this. Thanks.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Virtual Coffee {1}


I’m trying something new today…. Amy over at Lucky number 13 has a weekly linkup called Virtual Coffee, and this week I decided to give it a shot. So for today, let’s pretend we’re meeting up for coffee…

If we were really having coffee today, I’d tell you that I’ve been so tired lately, though the kids are finally sleeping through the night most nights. I’d tell you that I think I’m tired all the time cause I can’t make my brain shut up for even five minutes. I’m always thinking, thinking, thinking but it’s like a dog chasing its tail cause I’m not getting anywhere. If we were having coffee, I’d tell you that I just need to relax, but I don’t know how anymore. The anxiety is always there, the undercurrent of my life.

But then I’d shake it off, and I’d ask you how you like this banana bread I made today, it’s nice and moist isn’t it? The secret is to add sour cream, you know. And then we’d sip our coffee quietly for a minute and I’d start thinking that life is what it is and there’s no point in worrying about what may or may not happen, all we can do is live the life we’re given. If we were having coffee today, I’d ask you how you’re doing, what’s new with you? And you’d tell me about your life lately, even the unimportant things, because you know that sometimes we just need to be allowed to sit quietly and listen to others. And I’d finish my coffee, and reach for the pot and I’d let your voice soothe me as I start on my second cup.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Decisions, decisions

Thank you, thank you, thank you to everyone who commented and wrote me on the last post. We went to Milan on Thursday for a second opinion on the husband’s treatment and reading your comments totally made our day, and distracted us from the crazy, insane traffic of a big city. Seriously, you can tell you’ve become totally provincial when you can’t stand traffic and honking and no parking. We have lost our edge, we simply aren’t aggressive enough to live in a big city anymore, we have gotten soft. Let’s blame it on the children, shall we, and move on.

Anyway, my intention is not to keep you on pins and needles so here’s a little update, along with a lesson on recurring leukemia, this blog is nothing if not informative. As I mentioned briefly in Tick, Tock, the Husband has to have yet another transplant and there are two kinds of transplant he can have at this point, from cord blood stem cells or from a next of kin. The hospital here in our tiny rural town is apparently quite “avant garde” as it does the so called intra-bone cord blood transfusion which is relatively new (which goes to show that choosing to live out in the country is not all bad), but we went to the renown San Rafaele Hospital in Milan, where they do the allogeneic transplant from a next of kin, to speak to the head of Hematology there just to keep all our bases covered. (just some trivia: apparently the husband can’t have another transplant from a third party donor because the leukemia recurred too soon and the commission that regulates transplant won’t approve it.)

What we’ve consistently been told is that there don’t appear to be any significant advantages of one type of transplant over the other in our case, some hospitals choose to do one type cause they like the odds of that one others choose the other type for the same reason, but there is no scientific data that tips the scale. Great, we thought, cause doctors consistently sitting on the fence really make us feel better. The conundrum of course remains of how to make an informed decision when we have neither the time nor the patience (nor, frankly the inclination) to go out and get ourselves a medical degree and specialization in hematology. So, in the absence of cold hard facts we have decided to follow the totally arbitrary decision making tool of our gut feeling. (We are nothing if not resourceful). 
So we decided to interpret “the signs”. The signs did not bode well for moving to Milan when both the husband and I had a hissy fit at the new exit from the highway that had us do a figure eight (I kid you not) to merge into the city traffic, the negative trend continued when it took us 45 minutes to cover the 500mt that separated us from the hospital, which, along with the barely breathable smoggy air and the complete lack of any sort of road signage to direct us to our destination threatened to send us over the edge. Then, when the doctor said that in his highly qualified medical opinion he saw no reason why we should suffer the stress of a move we interpreted it as a pretty definite sign that moving to the City was not in our futures (yay!), the clincher of course was when he also admitted that his big and mighty department had already set into motion the necessary procedures to start doing the intra bone technique that our little country hospital is already doing. So basically, 1-0 for the small town hospital.

Satire aside, of course we would move in a heartbeat in the hope of a better, longer term, remission for the husband, but the idea of being able to face this already trying period within the confines of all our respective comfort zones is certainly a relief. We are still waiting from feedback from another hematologist oncologist in Houston (we really are covering ALL our bases), but for now it appears that we will be staying here.
For those of you who are interested, the plan is for the husband to go through just one round of chemo that “mimics radiation therapy” (in the words of our doc, I have no clue what it means) and then have the cord blood transplant directly into the bone via a minimally invasive operation. His total hospital time should be no longer than about a month, after which all we can d is hope and pray that the marrow does it’s damn job this time.

As an aside to those of you that knew us when we lived in Milan and loved it, can you believe we’re actually happy we get to stay here rather than moving back? That despite my ever increasing complaints about the snow in the winter, along with the shoveling, the muck, the wet muddy boots in the house, the smell of manure in the spring and summer, the damn tractors and or cyclists taking up the entire one lane country roads and the total and complete lack of refinement, I have indeed learned to love the fact that the longest I’ve had to wait for a parking space is 10 minutes and that’s because parking further than 20mt from my intended destination is simply unacceptable, that traffic means 4 cars and a tractor, or possibly some cows crossing the road, that it takes me 10 minutes to get to the hospital… you get the picture.

I have indeed been countrified.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Hello, I love you, won't you tell me your name?

Dear readers,
Today I decided to dedicate a few lines to all y’all out there reading this.
There are more of you than I ever imagined would come to read my blog, and some from countries where I know for a fact that I have no family members or friends, so this is a heartfelt thank you for reading my words. For those of you who want news of the husband, there is none now, when there is I’ll post on it, promise.
First and foremost, a moment of gratitude to all of you who’ve done this:
Thank you for liking me on facebook and reposting my posts on your page, thanks for tweeting my posts and sharing with your friends, thanks for reading my words and commenting, on here, on fb and via email, in short, thanks for participating in my life.
This is going to be a tough time for us, but I’m not going to make this a “woe is me” blog, so if you find me still occasionally posting on totally random things don’t worry, I probably won’t be doped up on acids (they’re the ones that make you euphoric, aren’t they?), it’s just that life, though despairingly depressing at times, is also wonderful and exciting and I believe we need to capture that aspect more than ever when we’re facing challenges. One of the wonderful things in life, I’ve found, is blogging. It allows me to share my feelings, my thoughts, it allows me to rant and to express myself and unlike the journal of old, I actually get feedback and feedback is great. (well, it can suck too but one must always take the bad with the good, right?) At this point, all of you veterans of the blogging world know where I’m going with this, cause this is in fact a thinly veiled de-lurking post. Lurkers are those reader that come and don’t comment, cause well, let’s be honest most of the time you don’t have time to comment or possibly you’ve got nothing to say, which is just fine, cause I’m supposed to entertain you and not the other way around. But as the title of this post says, Hello, I love you (and I love the fact that you’re reading me at all) won’t you tell me your name?
So, today, just this once, if you’ve got time and are so inclined, leave me a line, say hello. I would really like to meet you!
Now, if only I could figure out how to put in an email subscription…
p.s. if you don't recognize what the title to this post refers to, you're too young to be reading this blog!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Tick, Tock

I’ve been sitting here in front of the computer for a while trying to write this post and I just couldn’t decide what tone I wanted to give it. Do I feel ironic? Sarcastic? Do I want to make light of an intense situation by trying to be funny? Or maybe I want to be poignant, and possibly elicit a few tears? I can’t decide. Mostly because the main thing I’m feeling right now is disbelief.
The leukemia is back. There, I said it. I actually toyed with the idea of titling this post Leukemia Loves Us, but then realized that would’ve just been silly, or sad. I guess I haven’t processed this news yet so I’ll stick with a matter of fact tone, how ‘bout that?
The husband had a bone marrow biopsy about a month ago and they told us he had about 2% anomalous cells (cancer cells), so they abruptly took him off the immune suppressants to stimulate his bone marrow into action so his immune system could take care of these cells (apparently this is what a healthy immune system does). And that’s where we were when I left for Brazil. They redid the biopsy about a week ago and he now has about 10% anomalous cells. So basically not only is his brand spanking new immune system not doing a damn thing about these cells, they are actually so comfortable and at home in his body that they are happily reproducing. Just reproducing away, left, right and center. Lucky cells! (and that went from trying to be funny to sarcastic real fast!)
So now we have to make some decisions real fast, like the clock is running fast, like hurry up and decide already fast. We’ve got a couple of treatment options, both of them involving a transplant, just different types of transplants and we’ve got to get everything done in about a month. So basically, no pressure at all. We realized he’ll be having the second transplant at almost exactly a year from the first transplant. This has nothing to do with anything, we just thought it ironic.
That’s it for today, just some news. I can confidently predict some pretty pissed off posts in the near future though, just as soon as the implications hit. So stay tuned! Or, more logically, run for the hills as fast you can, that’s what I’d do!

A day at the beach, a ladybug and a fireman

Saturday was an amazingly relaxing day, so I thought I’d share a few pictures.
We’ve been having some pretty crazy weather lately, some days it’s spring, then it snows for two days, then it rains and the snow melts and it’s spring again, then it snows and, well, you get the picture. So after a relatively trying week, what with all the vomit, and the girl starting daycare (more on that soon), everybody was on edge and a day at the beach was just what the doctor ordered. Plus, our schizo weather decided it was spring again, so we jumped on the bandwagon! Or on the minivan so to speak. We spent the day in Varigotti, a tiny beach town in Liguria. There’s an awful lot of pictures of my children, but really, what did you expect?!
Oh, and as usual with the picture posts, click to continue reading!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Happiest face ever

Now tell me if this doesn't make you smile:

Happy Sunday!

Friday, March 4, 2011

Traveling with kids, a few handy tips

I figured today was as good a day as any to post a few tips on travelling with kids. First off there are some great websites out there that give informed, expert advice on this very subject and a simple “traveling with kids” search will take you right to them, I strongly suggest you do this because you really get a lot of useful information from them.  I, on the other hand, will proceed in my usual fashion of giving you a few totally inane tips, gathered from nothing more than my own personal experience. So nothing expert about it at all. But, hey, someone, somewhere, may find them useful or interesting (ideally useful and interesting, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves) so here goes:
1.    Be a pain in the patootie.
Whether you reserve your flight, train ticket, hotel or whatever, online or through a travel agent ask all and any questions you may have, even if the answer seems obvious. If it’s important to you, get the information, preferably in writing. Let me give you a practical example: say you’re flying with a child under 2 years of age and you don’t want to buy their ticket, since you may have the option to take them on as a “lap child” (more on why I think you shouldn’t later, but whatever, that’s just my opinion), and say you’re flying internationally or just on a really long flight where one would assume you get the little baby crib that they stick to the wall of the bulkhead seats so you don’t go crazy insane holding a kid in your arms for thirteen hours straight, well don’t assume.
Call the airline and double check that the crib is available. Get them to write you an email. Make sure you understand that you want it. Ask what the weight limit is, cause there is one, so don’t assume just because your kid is under two he’ll fit, more than likely if he’s over 6 months he won’t. Go figure. And when you get to the gate, repeat the above process. Trust me. This also applies if, for example you need to reserve a special meal, or need help with your luggage, have any sort of disability, are travelling with large or irregularly shaped luggage or (heaven forbid) pets.
Don’t take anything for granted, you’ll be happier when you know ahead of time how limited your options actually are.
2.    Be blind, deaf and dumb
If you’re travelling with children your chances of encountering embarrassing situations is directly related to the number of children you are travelling with and rises exponentially depending on the time of day, size of airport (train station, bus depot, whatever) and period of the year that you’re travelling in. If you’re flying there are two sure-fire moments when you will want to shoot yourself in the head and die a bloody, dramatic death: airport security and boarding. These are  the two moments that will open your eyes as to how many assholes there actually are in the world, because you will be wrestling your child from the stroller while simultaneously removing your shoes, belt, sunglasses (bra, iud and quite possibly your soul), and loading your purse, diaper bag, carry-on on the conveyor belt, closing the stroller  and holding your pants up as you keep your toddler from running away and/or your baby in your arms, and nary a soul will lend you a hand. In fact, I’m willing to bet that everyone in line behind you is huffing, puffing and complaining that their flight is leaving whereas you, clearly, are just there for the fun. So I say, don’t get flustered. Be blind to their glares and do your thing calmly and methodically so you don’t end up with your pants round your ankles since you had to take your belt off, be deaf to their complaints, your kid’s screaming in your ear will help with that, and keep your passport and boarding pass between your teeth, your hands are busy anyway and this way you’ll avoid telling everyone around you to eff off. Also, wear flip flops, the indignity of going through security barefoot will be too much for you to bear.
3.    Pretend you are a vending machine
Bring food, lots of it. Snacks for your kids. Snacks for you. And please don’t be ridiculous by trying to think of healthy snacks give your kids chips and yourself chocolate. They’ll find it highly entertaining and you will need the comfort. Also, who the hell has time to peel carrots before a long trip anyway? Remember a hungry kid is a grumpy kid and flights are always delayed! Also, you’ll rarely find milk on airplanes, keep that in mind if you’ve got a small child.
4.    Bring toys, don’t buy out toys r us
You do need entertainment for your kids, but you also need to be able to carry it. Don’t bring anything that’s too small, like little cars, or legos, you’ll lose them. Stickers are great, crayons (not markers), and a magazine with lots of pictures. Remember most planes now have the little individual screens where they can watch cartoons and play games and stuff. (but confirm this before leaving, if they don’t, go out and buy yourself an ipad. You’ll thank me later.)
5.    Relax
It may not sound like it from the previous points  but the more relaxed you are about the whole experience, the happier everyone will be. And remember, the plane does indeed land after a relatively short span of time, so no matter how bad things get it’ll all be over soon. That’s your new mantra, by the way. Also, you’ll likely never see any of the people you’re traveling with again so who cares what they’re thinking, plus think of all the wrinkles they’ll get from giving you the evil eye.
6.    Some things are very different
If the last time you travelled as a child was in the 80’s and 90’s let me point out a few things that are different: there no longer is enough room between the rows for a child to lie down on the floor and sleep; you are no longer allowed to see the cockpit (I know, this is incredibly sad, as this was the number one form of entertainment when we were little); kids rarely get those great fun packets to play with from the airline (you remember, with the colored pencils and the little stuffed airplane); this last one isn’t at all related, but an adult and a child are a really tight fit in an airplane bathroom, so make sure you have a plan as to what to do with your kid in the event that you have to pee if you’re travelling alone and/or with more than one child.
And lastly, as promised, why I think you shouldn’t fly with a lap child. Turbulence. Let’s say that 90 times out of 100 you only experience minor turbulence, there’s still that teeny, tiny ten percent chance that you may experience slightly more energetic turbulence. On a long haul flight I guarantee that you won’t have the presence of mind to be hanging on tightly enough to your kid throughout the whole flight. So your kid could get hurt. It’s a small chance, sure, though slightly higher if you’re crossing an ocean. But if you pay for a seat (usually you pay 50% of the ticket cost for a child under two) you can bring your carseat and strap the kid in. Your child will sleep more comfortably, you won’t have to hold him for the entire trip, and you may actually manage to get a sip of that inflight drink. Just ask yourself this, you’re probably spending a few grand for the trip anyway is a couple more hundred saved really worth your child banging his head on the overhead carryon bins if turbulence does hit?
Now, do you have any travel tips? Please share!!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Super Dad

I had one of those 24 hour stomach bugs today, which basically means that starting at 5am to 2pm the toilet bowl and I got really up close and personal. Thankfully, it was a short-lived love affair, we just aren’t that compatible. The remaining time till now was spent lamenting our relationship in bed in alternately a cold sweat and writhing pain. Predictably, I got sick on the nanny’s day off so the husband had to step up to the plate and take one for the team. And I must say, times like these make me really glad I decided to reproduce with him specifically, he was brilliant. I honestly thought he was going to run screaming from the house by mid-morning (that’s when all the poopy diapers hit), but not only did he remain calm and collected he managed to arrange snacks, change diapers, entertain, wrangle, calm tantrums and “I miss mommy” tear-fests, feed a healthy lunch, put down for a nap all pretty much on schedule and with minimal prompting from the sickbed.  He’s now feeding them dinner, hot dogs (not my first choice but who am I to complain and get this… sautéed carrots).
And it’s not like he’s had much practice, I mean, he was pretty hands-on with the boy but then after the illness he just hadn’t had the energy and as many of you well know, two kids don’t require twice the energy as one, they require tenfold the energy as one.
So this is a brief post so I can congratulate myself on picking the right guy.
Oh, right… and to thank him for a job well done and for letting me be sick in peace.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Parenting, cigarettes and a fifteen year old

I realized that the previous post about my Dad got published on the 28th, whereas it was meant to come out on the 27th, his birthday. So, to atone, I thought I’d share a little anecdote from my youth.
As many of my peers I started smoking in my teens, as an act of rebelliousness, freedom, maturity or something to that effect. We thought we were the height of cool sneaking a smoke behind the annex building in high school. How we thought we were being sneaky when as a group of six or seven we walked into a classroom reeking of a speakeasy from the 30’s, I have no idea. In any case, despite all of our stealth tactics my mom clued in on what I was doing when I was fifteen and confronted me with a pack of cigarettes she had found, possibly hidden beneath my mattress or some other totally secure location like that.
Amazingly, she didn’t immediately blow her top as was to be expected, she gave me a devious smile and said and I quote “you are to tell your father when he gets home”. Gulp. Yikes. I definitely would have preferred a screaming mother to disappointing my father, but there was nothing for it but to wait until he got home, at eight, it was three thirty… I was looking forward to four and a half hours of angst. Great punishment by the way, Mom.
So my Dad walks in the door, and I was hovering at the top of the stairs and call him up to my room cause I had something to tell him. I was obviously nervous. He started getting obviously nervous, possibly wondering what the hell could have happened to cause the laden atmosphere at home. The tension was palpable. So I hand him the pack of Marlboro reds my mom had found, minus half the contents that I had much more expertly hidden in the battery compartment of my “boom box”. As an aside, it was the early nineties, and there was no minimum age to buy cigarettes in Texas though the next year they passed a law that you had to be seventeen to buy them, I was sixteen. Though surprisingly, that didn’t stop me smoking either.
Anyway, he’s looking confusedly at the cigarette pack and I whisper “Mom found out I smoke, occasionally, rarely, at parties, don’t get mad, she said I had to tell you.”
And my Dad bursts out laughing. Laughing. In relief. Because in retrospect I imagine we had managed to so freak him out with our little scene that he must have thought I was pregnant, or getting married with a biker from Fresno, or got a tattoo or possibly all three. The occasional cigarette? He could live with that. (Also, he smoked, so you know pots and kettles.)
This was without a doubt a massive lapse in parenting judgment, but from then on I secretly thought my Dad was the coolest. Except for when he wouldn’t let me go out, then he was a dictatorial tyrant with no heart.