Tuesday, July 19, 2011

You can't win 'em all.

Last Friday was my brother's birthday. He turned 42...nine years older than the queen herself. *curtsies* And like the rest of us, the Sunday following his birthday was declared the official day of family celebration and all splurging goodness at my parents' house; dinner, drinks, gifts, cake...the whole nine yards. My family's awesome like that.

So along comes the week before my brother's birthday, and I'm gently informed by my Mother that as it is indeed my brother's birthday and not mine...my brother has decided that he would like to invite my ex-husband to our family celebration of his birthday. Did you just do a double take? Yeah I expected that...but read on...it gets weirder. So my brother extends the invitation to my ex-husband, which was exceedingly convenient for my brother as they live in the same house, and the invitation was accepted...I cringed...but the world kept spinning and everyone went on with their day. Weirder, right? I know!

So Hubby and the girls and I arrived at my parents' house on Sunday bearing gifts and a card, looking forward to celebrating my brother's day with him and the rest of my family, and prepared to put on our best "this isn't awkward at all!" smiles for my brother's sake. Greetings were exchanged, a Mike's Hard Lemonade was placed in my hand, and we all proceeded into the living room to deliver verbal birthday wishes to my brother, as after all...it was his day. I knew, just from basic deduction that he wasn't anywhere else, that my ex-husband would be sitting in the living room when we entered, but you see...I still found myself slightly unprepared...to find my ex-husband's new girlfriend seated on my parents' couch beside him. I know...just when you though it couldn't get any weirder...there it is.

And I truly must say that I really actually like this girl quite a bit...she's been good for us all as she's kept him happy and occupied (and off of my back). From what I've heard, she's a teacher, and a kind, smart person. Big almost always puts in a request to her Dad that the girlfriend join them for the day on the mornings he picks her up, so I figure she can't be all bad because little miss fussy britches likes her (that's Big, FYI). On all accounts, she makes my little girl very happy and treats her nicely, which is really all I care about, so in general she goes down in my book as "acceptable". Excellent. But that doesn't detract from the fact that my ex-husband and his girlfriend are sitting on my parents' couch at a family function. Maybe it's just me...but I'm more of the opinion that it would just be better for all if they just took their party elsewhere and enjoyed each other's company over at her parents' house, mmmmkay? I mean, seriously.

But we made it work, the adaptable and accepting homosapiens that we are. She sat at his side silently and stayed in the living room almost the whole time, and I roamed the house loudly and drank more than I ever have at a family function to dull the awkwardness. But you know...same, same. Dinner was eaten, happy birthday was sung by the choir, cake was eaten, kids slip n' slided to their hearts greatest desire...and then Hubby drove us home so as to avoid that whole messy Mommy getting picked up for a DUI unpleasantness. The normal family stuff. What, you mean this doesn't happen to you?! Huh...

And so maybe I didn't pass the test this weekend. Maybe I did go ahead and give the girlfriend the impression that I'm more of a binge drinking lunatic than I am a responsible 33 year-old mother of 2...but in the end what do I care? Life is full of unexpected tests and roadblocks set up to give us pause on an otherwise fine and dandy summer Sunday afternoon. Sometimes you finish the marathon and come out the winner...sometimes they find you laying drunk in the gutter half way along the race path. You can't win 'em all.

Monday, July 11, 2011

At least we're all on the same page...

Ok, it's been a great weekend of birthday goodness and joy, but it appears that it's time to get back to reality. I resisted any and all housework for as long as I could, but the sink full of dishes and sippy cups was relentless with it's eyeballing me every time I walked through the kitchen this afternoon. Eventually I caved...which coincidentally coincided closely with the time that Hubby would be arriving home from work. Odd. Nothing like sweating over a pan of steaming hot dishwater, cleaning sippy top valves to knock a pseudo-queen down from her pedestal. Ah, well...it was nice while it lasted.

Speaking of reality, I suppose this is a good time to address my most recent doctor appointments and the impending lymph node elephant in the room. I did go to meet my sister's doctor last Thursday afternoon for a second opinion of sorts on everything that had been explained to me about my enlarged lymph nodes, my need for a biopsy, chances of lymphoma, and the possibility of getting lymphedema as my reward for having surgery. I can only imagine the horror she felt as I added more and more history to my story, but her poker face remained, and in the end I liked her. She was kind and funny and she listened thoughtfully while I recounted my entire ridiculous medical history, and took notes as I detailed the CAT scans from the past few months. She definitely seemed to be taking in each word rather thoughtfully, which made me feel like she was really in tune with the urgency I was feeling over making a decision about the
biopsy and my chances of having lymphoma. It probably took me a whole 30 minutes to bring her up to speed and explain to her why exactly I was sitting there in her office at 4 o'clock on a Thursday afternoon. It took her approximately 60 seconds to tell me what she thought; that I really need to just have the surgery and get the biopsy done and shut up about it already! Ok, she didn't say that, but it was implied, or maybe I was just saying it to myself. Either way, blerg...the end.

Fast forward to this morning when I went to see my rheumatologist for my long standing quarterly check-up. It's been 4 years since I started seeing him for my Sjogren's syndrome after Little's birth, but this was my first appointment with him since all of this lymph node business so rudely invaded my life. I had hope going in that he would be able to offer great insight on the situation, as enlarged lymph nodes and runaway immune systems are sort of his thing and, as expected, he didn't disappoint. He was able to tell me that my lymph nodes, while rather large, don't feel like lymphoma stricken ones, and that my chances of getting lymphedema are most likely much lower than the 30% that the surgeon estimated they would be, and that my lymphocyte count was normal in my last round of blood work that he had ordered 3 months ago...all very encouraging things. But he still recommended that I go forward and have the surgery. Blerg, blerg! But on the other hand, this was a positive thing as well.

For the first time since I got the news about my second failed CAT scan almost a month ago, all of my doctors are in agreement...no more conflicting stories and recommendations, and that's a huge relief, even if it wasn't what I had hoped to hear. I have the wisdom to acknowledge that upon having children, I gave up the ability to take chances with my life...the luxury to "wait and see" in situations like this...so I've decided to just suck it up, stop whining and have the damn biopsy done. My appointment with my second opinion surgeon is scheduled for July 18th, one week from today, in hopes that she will be of the opinion that a needle biopsy would be thorough enough, as side effects of that are far lower than actually removing an entire lymph node, but even I realize that the chances of that happening are low. (Triple. Blerg. To the max.) But lest yee feel sorry for me, I must say that whatever happens, I'm a tough cookie, and I have no doubt that I'll get through it. And to end on a positive note,, at least we're all finally on the same page about what's going on and what I need to do next. That has to be worth something.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Queen for a day...or weekend.

OK, so I'm 33...and so far it's the bomb diggity. It's true that it's only been 24 hours, and not everything has been perfect (duh) but with each year that I gain an age number (since I turned 30) I find that I celebrate cautiously, waiting for the inevitable terrifying realization of oldness to set in. So...24 hours into age 33...no terror. And that's my report.

I believe in my last post I mentioned the concept of Queen Jenny Day as a new representation of my birthday, which began jokingly because I love my birthday so much and sort of took flight once Big and Little caught wind and jumped on. Well, I'm proud to say that this year's inaugural Queen Jenny Day celebration has not only been the best thing everrrrrrr, but it's morphed into a weekend of celebration as well! On Friday night, after many an hour of anxious toe tapping on my part, Hubby arrived home from work with the most beautiful dozen roses ever! and declared that Queen Jenny Weekend was beginning. God, I love that man.

So Friday night we had pizza and movie night with the girls, and I pretty much got to sit on my big fat duff while he hummingbirded around getting drinks and serving pizza with truly amazing speed and dexterity. Awesome.

Saturday morning brought out the true hero in Hubby as Saturday was the actual Queen Jenny Day. As usual, the girls awakened far too early and headed in to climb into bed with us for snuggle time, it's our daily routine. Hubby awakened and declared that snuggle time would be cut to 5 minutes for the day. Snuggling commenced. They evacuated. I passed out. I was awakened a few hours later by Hubby with a taptaptap "Hurry up and look in the kitchen!" that oozed such excitement that I was just the tiniest bit worried that I might find the curtains on fire (except that we don't have curtains, but I was still half asleep so logic escaped me). But I didn't find fire. Instead, I found 2 very excited girls, who serenaded me with Happy Birthday before I even made it through the doorway, and breakfast! Awwww. So we ate together, while Hubby did his hummingbird impression again. Big made sure that I tried some of the orange juice that Little had concocted and she had stirred (so they totally made it) and for those few minutes I reveled in the moment, because all general crappiness had ceased and life was perfect.

Post-breakfast time quickly became cards (which were homemade from the girls and OMG, practically brought me to tears they were so freaking awesome!) and present time, and then get-ready-for-the-beach-time, which I did help with lest you think I'm a birthday sloth. Little butts were wiped and swimsuit straps hoisted over oddly folded arms, sunscreen applied...and around 10 (an hour later than we had hoped) we headed out for our hour drive to the beach. At first we had a little mumbling discontent about the length of the drive from the back seat, but one wave of my magic hand over the DVD player in the van improved the situation greatly. Man, I love that thing.

Shortly after Rapunzel and Eugene escaped the tower, we arrived at our sandy destination. Excitement was abundant...and then waned as we made it to the sand and got our first look around. See, the unfortunate thing about the beach in Wisconsin is that it's lake beach, which in most cases is great because of the lack of annoying and nasty salt in the water, except in our case yesterday it just meant that there were 8 million tiny dead fish floating in the water and washed up on the beach. *barf* It looked to me like a mass poisoning scene in CSI:aquatics...hundreds of little silver fish, laying there in the sand just kind of just staring at us motionless..whispering "run, ruuuuuuun!!!" in their ghostly fish voices. We females of the family were...umm...skeeved. To say the least. But once Hubby convinced me that we weren't all going to catch some rare form of deadly fish disease (which honestly took more than a few minutes) we did eventually plant ourselves in a fishless spot and commenced Operation Introduce Offspring to the Beach. Overall, a great experience. Sand castles were erected poorly, small waves were jumped, shells collected (I totally didn't know that lakes had shells either! I know! Weird!). Hubby even made a sand sculpture of sorts to impress us women folk, and 4 hours later we were all beached out and headed home...making sure to bring a little bit of the beach home with us in the girls cracks for posterity. What's trip to the beach without some crack sand!? All in all, I'd say we effectively checked the block. Awesome.

Home arrival brought shower time, a few over-tired tears (no, not from me surprisingly) and a quick accidental nap from Hubby and I. (The girls are fine, I swear.) At some point Hubby and I discovered that we both had done a rather reckless job of applying our sunscreen and would be paying the price for a few days. (So...that aerosol spray sunscreen? Yeah, make sure you do rub it in...even if the bottle says you don't have to. Otherwise it may just blow off in the wind, make random contact with your body parts, and leave you with a swirly, checker board type, hot, painful sun burn. Just sayin'.) But even that didn't stop us from getting gussied up and hitting the town, or, er...my favorite restaurant for a night out.

Grandma arrived. We left the house at 7:30, and arrived home at 9. OMG, we're so ooooooold! But we had great time being out alone...and not putting the girls to bed for one night (thanks Grams!). I consumed birthday cookie dough ice cream to conclude the day's celebration of Queen Jenny Day, declared to Hubby that I was wayyyyy too full of birthday, and promptly passed out on the couch next to him around 10. Pure awesome.

So it's Sunday now. I was awakened by the sounds of screams and cries from Little that Grandma had gone home and it was now just us, you know her parents, who were inhabiting the house. Oh the humanity, I know. Big crawled in bed with me, and Hubby was nowhere to be found. (I did find him later laying sleeplessly on the couch. Nightmare...poor guy.)

Little did eventually crawl into bed with Big and I, but her unsoothable screaming sobs, chased us out all too early. So here I sit. Big has gone off with her Dad for breakfast, Hubby is presently sitting on the couch reading the newspaper, and Little has ceased crying for the time being, mostly because I promised that I would drop her off at Grandma's in a few minutes so Hubby and I can go to church in peace. (Sorry God, but that kid isn't stepping anywhere near your home today. You'll totally thank me later.) It's now time for me to step away from this computer and get my prayer-on for the day.

Today will bring the closing ceremonies of Queen Jenny weekend, which shall include dinner and cake at Grandma's house, followed closely by a parade with lots of throwing candy that was enthusiastically dreamed up by the girls. Lots of laughs will ensue, I'm sure...and a good time will be had by all. I'm pretty sure that when all is said and done, the inaugural Queen Jenny Weekend will go down in history as the best weekend everrrrrrrr, only to be topped by the possibilities of next year's festivities. Hubby set the bar high...I can only hope he knows the corner he's painted himself into for the years to come. God, I love that man.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Catching Up

Aaaaaaaand once again, I'm back from a long hiatus. One of these days I'll get into the whole sticking to something thing and not throw my hands up and walk away every few months...one of these days. In the meantime, I'm still 32 (for a few more days anyway), still married to the fabulous Hubby, still mommy to Big and Little...in that regard not a whole lot has changed...but in other ways I feel as if my entire world has transformed in the relatively short time that I've been away. For example...

Hubby...is great. OK, not entirely. His job sucks. And he's miserable. So that part is not so great. In fact, tomorrow we find out if he'll be graced with employment for another month at XYZ Up Yours Company, Inc. It's completely up in the air. And the funny thing about all of this (because it's totally not funny in any other way) is that Hubby is most likely the hardest working, most dedicated employee I've ever known...like seriously, I'm not just flattering him. He works HARRRD! But he's in a sales position at XYZ and let me just get it out there...God did not create him to be a salesman. Not that all salesmen are slimy bastards, but the ones that Hubby works with are, and that's literally the only friggin way they're making any sales right now in this horrible, terrible, no good, very bad economy. Hubby on the other hand is honest, genuine, thoughtful...and so many other characteristics that give him a serious disadvantage in the sales field. Hence...the impending doom of the end of his sales career. The only question really still hanging out there is whether he will find alternative employment before he finishes up at XYZ...stay tuned...I know we all are.

Big...is, well, big! She'll be 6 years-old next month and will be starting first grade on September 1st. Ohmygod, I just fainted a little. Part of me is sobbing and screaming "When did she get so biiiiiiiiiiiig? Why?! Whyyyyyyyyyyyy?!" while the rest of me is so very pleased that she's learning to read and learning to swim, and just so very excited for her. Clearly I'm conflicted. Otherwise she's pretty much the same kid. She's my sassy, independent child, that's for sure...but she's also my sweet, snuggly, little momma's girl as well. And so it goes.

Little...isn't that little anymore. She's 3-1/2...and so darn smart and silly! Her communication skills have jumped through the roof in the last few months and she now says and does the craziest things! The other day she was playing with her Thomas the Train engines when Hubby gave her a sweet little kiss on the cheek. Her reply? "I love ya Dad, but I'm busy working here!" That's my Little. She's also my squeeling, run around naked kid, my I want to help you do that kid, and my hitter. All in stride.

Little's heart is doing great. Her last appointment was in May and they did do an echo (during which she was amazingly still and well behaved, especially for a 3 year-old) and everyone at the HHC at Children's was just so thrilled with how healthy she is. To say that we're thrilled would be an understatement, truly. She really is our little miracle.

And as for me, I'm ai'ight. My 33rd birthday is this coming Saturday, and I'm just the teensiest bit excited for the extravaganza that we have planned. Big asked me yesterday morning what a beach was...seriously...which threw me into a relatively small bad parenting spiral. In order to resolve said spiral, we're packing them up on Saturday morning and driving up to a beach about an hour from here to let them roll around in all it's sandy, lakey, picnicy goodness...then taking them home and showering them for an hour each. This will all take place after some birthday Starbucks, of course. (Of course, you say.) And the festivities will culminate with a night out to dinner with Hubby...at the restaurant of my choice...alooooooone. Squee! Oooh! And I dare not forget to mention the planned parade-like festivities that Big and Little have planned in my honor, during which they will throw candy (at me? possibly.) in grand 4th of July fashion. Should be awesome. Is it any wonder we've been referring to Saturday as Queen Jenny Day?? I think not.

As for the not so fab updates, I've had some rather negative doctor appointments lately of the freak the crap out of me nature. Cliffs notes version...CAT scans in April and June reflect that I have some enlarged lymph nodes in my (I like to say underarms but the doctors officially and eloquently refer to them as) armpits. They're not getting any bigger (yay!) but they're not getting any smaller (boo.) so I'm sort of in the middle of a big ole crap storm of advice right now. I do have an autoimmune disease (Sjogren's remember?) which could totally be causing the lymph node enlargement and would be no big deal because we already know about that. My rheumatologist has said that I could totally wait a few months and have another CAT scan to just make sure they're not getting bigger, which would reflect the nothing more than the autoimmune crap theory. On the other hand, I met with a surgeon last week who told me that it "was time" for me to have a lymph node biopsy...which turned out to be just a tad more involved that I had anticipated. Can you say a 20-30% risk of me ending up with life long lymphedema!? So, I panicked...then I cried...and then I made an appointment with a new doctor. Heh. My PCP (that's primary care physician for those of you who don't have to go to the doctor 15 times a year) was just seriously a big fat loon, which I suppose is just another way to say that I don't trust her to make life and death decisions on my behalf. So when we started talking about me having Lymphoma...I felt the need to umm...run as fast as I could in the other direction and try out someone else...namely my sister's doctor who she loves. Said appointment with new loved by sister doctor is this afternoon...stay tuned on this as well. And cross your fingers for me if you can. Thanks.

Moments background