Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Beyond Ridiculous

This post will be brief. Just want to report that Christmas was fabulous in that I was alive to enjoy it. And my children and grandchildren are the most beautiful beings on the planet. And I got a wonderful surprise that I'm told I am not at liberty to divulge quite yet. (Don't you hate when people do that?)

The downside was that my main wardrobe piece included (and still includes) two very hard quadruple D domes, accessorized with rubber tubing and automotive parts and a very large sweatshirt. It is ridiculous beyond belief. But also amazing.

In case you're still curious, the domes are growing new skin which will be filled with droplets of belly fat on Thursday. This is the second go-around, and probably not the last. And as much as I go about complaining, I gotta say that literally growing body parts is the stuff of science fiction. And truly a miracle.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Christmas Wishes from the Brandster and Me

Brandon has kept us on a crazy-tight schedule this holiday with some like a couple hundred Christmas performances. Or maybe a couple dozen. But it was a ton anyway, especially while trying to complete big semester-end school projects and catch a few minutes of sleep every night. So I thought I'd post a couple of the most fun here as a Christmas wish to you.

The first is the anti-Brandon, Mr. Crabby. We watched it over and over and over and I still laughed every time. Make sure you watch at least until you see his smile pop.

This second made me cry and get all sentimental and grateful that I have such an amazing reason to be here. (Oh btw, Rob did the flimsy camera work. He has some lame excuse. Good thing I love him.)

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Yes, I am a Believer

I have seen mention in the news lately of “Santa Wars”, with the question of whether Santa is taking over Christmas. And with our youngest now twelve, I’ve also been asked what it’s like to have a house full of non-believers. Non-believers? Santa has no place in Christmas? Hum Bug.

Many, many years ago, my oldest daughter came of the age that she began to question the logistics of Santa’s Christmas Eve journey. When she came to me with those questions, I gave her an answer that crushed her little spirit—as if I’d touched my finger to the Christmas spark in her eye.

The image of that disappointed little child caused me to ponder the appropriate place of Santa Claus in our Christmas celebration. And to reevaluate my response to my subsequent children. I doubt if any of those children recall a conversation like I had with my oldest—which by the way was fairly approximate to the one I’d had with my mother a generation earlier—because that conversation never took place again.

And here is why:

First, it’s important to remember that Christ taught in parables. He told stories that sounded simple to the simple minded. Fishermen, shepherds, farmers and widows were among his cast of characters. There was always a second and deeper meaning to his stories, understood by his faithful followers who were ready to hear and understand.

To the very young, Santa is just a really amazing guy who sneaks into their house and brings gifts on Christmas Eve. As those youngsters grow in wisdom, some of the deeper meanings begin to (or can begin to) form in their minds.
Some are fairly obvious: Santa dresses in red to symbolize the blood Christ shed in our behalf. Santa has a snowy white beard, to represent Christ’s purity.
But the correlations don’t stop there. Santa is full of cheer, symbolic of the Christ’s mission to bring joy to all mankind. Santa gives gifts, symbolic of the ultimate gift of life Christ gave to us. Both Santa and Christ dedicate their entire being to serving mankind.

It requires extreme faith on the part of a young child to believe that a fat guy they have never seen is going to fly to their rooftop with a sleigh pulled by reindeer, slide down their chimney and leave presents just for them. But it makes them feel awfully special.

It also takes faith to believe that a lowly carpenter born in a manger was actually a king who was able to atone for each of our sins and give us the gift of eternal life. This faith also makes us understand how special we are in the eyes of God.
Yes it is true that faith in Christ is ever so much more important than faith in Santa. But for those who understand the nature of parables, the difference is obvious.

At some point in time we all reach an age where we begin to see outside of ourselves to the world around us. We come to realize that Santa couldn’t possibly complete his mission on his own. He needs helpers across the globe to ensure that no child is forgotten.

Christ, too, needs helpers. While he is mindful of our needs, he can’t physically make a phone call to the lonely and harried young mother. Or visit the sick. Or prepare food and provide clothing to the homeless. Or tell a young child that he or she is loved.

Since Christ cannot do all these things himself, he needs angels. He needs us.
Just as Santa needs us to be his elves.

Santa is not just for children. He is a reminder to us all that when in the service of our fellowman, we are actually in the service of our God.
And that is why in my house we will always believe.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Brand New Sweetie-Smooshie-Pie!

I mentioned in my last post that a most amazing thing happened. Last month actually, but I'm a little behind the times.

I don't know if it's possible to find anything sweeter than a brand new baby. Or if there's anything better than being a grandma. Heaven's reward for being a mom. I mean, just look at that face!

But of course, as with all things connected to me, there was a complication. My Jen is a super human momma who popped the little one out in a few seconds and was ready to go home a few minutes after that. You know the kind that make the rest of us look bad? (It's okay, I love her anyway). But when our little Raegan (cute isn't it?) was two days old, Jen took her back to the hospital to get her bilirubum (I'm sure that's not the spelling) checked.

Well, Mike was at work and I was with Ethan, so Jen was on her own when the doc listened to Raegan's little heart and said "Your baby has a hole in her heart" and then walked out of the room.

My own heart ached for her when she got home and told me the story. One of the catches of this grandmother business is that the people you worry about just multiply.

It turns out little Raegan has two holes. One is likely to close on its own, but there's a good chance the other will need to be fixed with open-heart surgery sometime in the next few months.

Of all the things I hoped to pass on to my posterity, holes in their hearts was not one.

But her parents are strong, and she is unimaginably beautiful, and God is good, so I'm confident they'll make through.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Sad and Lonely Cyber Places

So I know with all my rash and rapid posting of the last week I probably gave you all a bit of whiplash. I know, it's like WHA--? She's had a wedding, she's had another surgery, and a grandbaby (oh wait, I don't think I even got that far. But she adorable. Trust me. Pictures coming, promise) AND she has a book coming out?!? But wait, is that her, or some other author?

I know, I'm confused myself.

So let me splain: my official author name is Suze Reese, and my official author blog is suzereese.com. I did this for a few reasons, mostly because there's already a fairly famous author out there by the name of Suzanne Reese. Also because I just like Suze Reese. It's how grew up and I like it. And then there's a small degree of privacy with using a name that's not my every day one. Not sure how much of that is possible these days, but it's a nice thought anyway.

So I've been working like a mad person getting all the social media set up. But it kind of stinks that I'm starting from scratch, so I've got all these lonely little pages waiting to be found. I'm confident they will with time. But for now, if any of you are visiting here, do you suppose you could go visit there and give me some cyber hugs? That's so sweet, thanks. And once again, that site is www.suzereese.com

I'm other places too: facebook, twitter, goodreads. If you're comfy in any of those places give me a shout out.

And I love you too!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Ding Dong The Bells Did Chime!

Those of you who follow this blog know all about my little son Brandon. But you may not have heard quite as much about my bigger boy Daniel. That is partly because so much of my day is full of Brandon. But the other is that where Brandon is full of showmanship, Daniel is every bit as full of reserve.

I love them both dearly. But they couldn't be more different.

And I may have been known to say a time or two that the day Daniel gets married will be the happiest day of my life. So here it official is:

The happiest day of my life.

The event was made especially wonderful by the fact that he married a wonderful girl.

Catching Up...First an Idol

Now that the first day of snow has arrived, and I can't find the energy to do anything but bundle up, I suppose it's high time I play a little catch up with my most fabulous summer.

First off we had a little Draper Idol competition. Odds are good you heard me hollering about it. But little Brandon totally won the youth division. He was just barely old enough to compete, and we gave him the old "it'll be a good experience" line. Which we totally believed. Even after they'd announced a tie for third place, then second...we're all just thinking, first place? No way.

But then they announced him and he walked totally cool to the podium to take the trophy. Reports are that I tackled him as he came down the hallway with the rest of the contestants. That might only be kind of true. I did try real hard to hug him. Which I think is when it hit him that he had won. He pulled away and ran up the hall in tears. Adorable. Just don't tell him I said so. So now that I've got you in complete suspence, here's the performance:

The next days were crazy and fun with a ride in a parade (singing along the way), and performing on the mainstage for Draper Nights. (Though it wasn't night and pretty much nobody was there. But it was STILL the main stage.) Thanks bishop for your support, btw.

So I guess it's official...I'm not the only one who thinks he's cute.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Introducing ExtraNormal! YA Paranormal Romance

I am soooo pleased to announce that ExtraNormal by Suze Reese is about to be released! You'll find it on GoodReads, Twitter, Facebook, and its very own blog (suzereese.com).

That's right, this Suze person has been busy, busy, busy. Here's the low-down if you want to know more:

Back Cover Blurb:
Mira Johns is pretty much like any other teenage girl. Except that she knows how to harness electro-magnetic energy to communicate without words. And she's really, really far from home. Her assignment as an emissary to Earth sounds fairly simple: blend in, observe, and stay away from the planet’s primitive males. But after she finds one mysterious boy too irresistible for stupid rules, she realizes the real reason she's supposed to keep her distance: mates from her world can die if separated. But a series of serious accidents make it clear that someone wants to force her return. Mira decides her only hope is to uncover the truth to why she, the most mediocre of candidates, was actually chosen for this assignment—before the agency discovers her secret and sends her back home.

And Beautiful Awesomeness in a Cover:

So here's the deal, all those places listed above are feeling very quiet and lonely about now. Granted they were all set up in the last couple of days, but still. It's awkward just sitting there as a blog or Facebook page with no visitors. You watch the clock and wiggle your toes and try not to look too anxious. Especially as a GoodReads book with no ratings. So if you're comfy in any of those places, feel free to look around and be friendly!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Two Handed Again

Here are some things that are very good to have two hands to do: Style Hair, Eat, Type. Those are what I missed most, though the list could be very, very long. Things I did not miss are washing dishes and vacuuming. But that's okay. It was worth it. As of today I am finally and officially two handed. Woop! Woop! And I am dying to catch up on all the big events I mentioned in my earlier finger-pecking post, especially before the next big event of BRAND NEW GRANDBABY occurs. Which could be any second now. Could be right now in fact. Poor Jen feels the need to start every phone call with, "I'm NOT in labor." That's only cause I hung up on her this morning while I was with the doctor getting my official clearance to use my arm again, and then I freaked when I couldn't reach her. But it's okay. I'm calm now. So anyway, I'm gonna crank it out now. A day at time maybe. We'll see how it goes. First, while I'm on the subject, is this here arm surgery. It's called lymphevocenular bypass. Not really, I just don't want to look it up. But it's something like that. So here's the (trying to be) short story. They took out my lymph nodes under my arm cause they were full of cancer. Lymphatic fluid travels around your body via lymph nodes, so with those gone, the fluid gets traffic jammed in my arm and it gets all big and puffy and ugly. I posted a pic on facebook but I'm kind of regretting that now cause it's kind of freaky so I'm not gonna post it again here. But trust me it was big and ugly. So my genius doc (the same one who is doing my reconstruction) put some new channels in that connect the lympathic system with the venous system. Since the venous system is pumped via the heart, it gets all that fluid moving. (And in case you're worried, the lymph system ends up dumping its stuffing into the venous system a little further down the road anyway, so it's not mixing stuff that shouldn't be mixed. I was worried about that.) The end result, as of today, is that my arm is still a little big at the elbow, but the hand and wrist are ABSOTALUTELY normal! And the whole arm feels soft and light and amazingly wonderful. The best part is that I don't have to wear that ugly compression sleeve 24/7. So no more people asking me about my tats. That's kind of a bummer. But I'll live with it.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

One-Handed Pecking

My last post was about life hitting you like an avalanche. Well I'm back to report that LIFE is still boring down in huge clouds of glorious, momentous events.

Like the event of the year: Daniel and Klea's wedding. Wow was it wonderful. Truly a heaven-made match. And you should see the pictures! Stunning!

Then there's the runner-up event of the year. THE CUTEST DRAPER IDOL JUNIOR WINNER EVER!!!! Man, what a day that was.

We also have life-changing, phenomenal surgery that I want to tell the world--or at least all lymph sufferers--about.

Finally, a fire on our mountain last night. Scary, eerie, entertaining, awe-inspiring and heart-wrenching all at the same time.

And I'm being TORTURED!!!!!

See, I have nothing but time to blog about all these things, but I am currently required to lie around full time with my arm in the air. I'm happy to do it in exchange for a skinny, light-weight arm. But like a dancer on crutches, my fingers are aching to dance across the keyboard. These few little lines of uninspired prose have taken nearly an hour of pecking, since I not only have just one hand, but the keyboard is propped above my line of sight. If you could see all the mistakes I've fixed you'd be super impressed.

So I will tell those stories eventually, in the meantime this will have to do for my story-telling fix.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

The Avalanche Effect

You know how it is--if you blog or even if you journal or correspond with someone--how something cool or different happens--like maybe your child does something amazing and eventful or you just feel inspired about something or maybe you notice you have an inordinate amount of toe hair--and you think, "Hmm, I think I'll blog about that."

That's how it usually is anyway. But sometimes something amazing happens, and you decide to blog about it. But before you do something equally amazing happens. But you can't blog about that thing until you blog about the other. But then something else happens. And before you know it:

You're running from all these wonderful blogging opportunities and you can't possibly slow down and write about them because there are too many and you don't have time because life keeps coming at you and coming at you so you just run and run and run.

That's how it is with me anyway.

Eventually though, I always seem to be forced into a stop. Like today. So I'm going to do my best to tell a bunch of big long mostly wonderful stories in a nutshell.

First, my job. Which isn't any more.

I was going along quite innocently thinking all was great at work. My department was breaking records like mad. Unfortunately for us another department was breaking even more records like even more mad. So the powers that be decided to do away with my department.

So in an instant I said goodbye to my nice writing job. (Blog idea!) But no time yet.

I decided the timing was fine, since I'm (this) close to getting my new novel published. It even has a brand-spankin' new name: Extra Normal. (Which did not come easily. Another blog post!)

Unfortunately, novels don't bring in money right away, and with a bunch of college kids in the house looking for work, I went looking for something that would bring in some quicker income. I came across a business a dear friend of mine is running. Which is how a person who has never even considered owning a pair of designer jeans came to sell them. Slapped an ad on my car and off I went. (Hurry, hurry, get it started. No time to blog yet! There's so much to tell!) Got my first check yesterday. Which is cool. So if you're in the market for a great deal on designer jeans, I'll hook you up.

But literally the day after my first party I left on a wonderful retreat to Moab sponsored by WBC (Women Beyond Cancer). Oh, but wait! There's more! Minutes before leaving my son and his girl sat us down and announced their engagement! (Wowzers!! The blog is screaming at me!!!) I left for the retreat flying high. One of the happiest days of my life.

The next day I was hiking delicate arch. We got to the end of the hike and were told to climb a hill one at a time, on all fours, to see the prize at the end. At the moment that I saw this view:

(The one behind me.)

A text came through. It was from my future daughter-in-law, a picture of her new ring. (Sadly I can't figure out how to get that one off my phone to put here.) I saw the image and started crying. I called out to the crowd below "My future-daughter-in-law just sent me a picture of her ring!" I was expecting some kind of "awww!" but got blank stares instead. Yeah, they didn't quite get the vision. Oh well, it was still cool and awe-inspiring.

One of my favorite stories from the retreat. We went on a humvee tour with Tommy. I expect only his mom calls him that, but we were a bunch of moms and he was very cute. He was about to take a path and asked us if we wanted the hard or easy way. One enthusiastic (and amazing) member of our party called out, "hard! hard!" The path he took had a steep drop that caused us all to scream while our stomachs made our way up to our throats. At the next path, he asked the same question. Here's the path:

Miss Enthusiasm made the same call. The rest of us weren't so enthusiastic. But Tommy turned the Humvee around and backed it up the hill. The hard way? Get it?!!! Hysterical!!! Yeah, that's how the trip went.

The very best part was when we found ourselves in the Fiery Furnace on the very day the world was supposed to end. (You remember that day don't you? Can you imagine a more ironic place to be when the world ends?!) In case you don't know, the Fiery Furnace is this very challenging and beautiful hike that a bunch of women battling cancer have no business hiking. But we did it anyway. Talk about amazing. I admit I had a freak out moment. Maybe two. But mostly I was trying not to wet my pants from the laughter. Like when we were told to keep three points of contact while squeezing between two walls with no bottom. Yeah. That's the kind of stuff they kept making us do. "You just put your hand here and your foot here and you just scoot without looking down." And one of the members of our crew flung herself onto the wall and asked, "what about TEN points of contact?" Maybe it's not hysterical now, but while close to freaking out and trying not to die, trust me. Life doesn't get any more exhilarating than that.

Here's the group of amazing women, thrivers all:

Life changing. Incredible. Wow. Wish I could say more, but that avalanche is gaining on me!

Time to plan a wedding. Which happens to be in just a few weeks. Busy Busy Busy Busy. But first I was supposed to take trip to California, to get my mother to a family gathering. But while planning that, Brandon was selected to do a bridge solo the next week on a tour to California with his performing group.

We weren't planning on going. But he was so adorable. I just couldn't miss it. So I got my mom and my kids off to the trip to northern cali, and the next week I headed to southern cali. Here's probably my favorite performance:

The most cool thing (besides the solo) was performing on the Disney Stage. Talk about awesomeness.

And finally, here's proof that I was on the trip.

So there it is, my big bad wonderful avalanche of a month on the run. Now back to the wedding...and novel...and jeans....

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

An Open Letter to the Treehouse Zumba Instructors

Dear Treehouse Zumba Instructors,

While trying to convince my clumsy feet to salsa the other day, I decided I ought to write you all a letter. But since I'm always in a frantic rush (even when I'm not in your class), I thought I could maybe multi-task and write your letter as a blog post. Hope you don't mind.

First, I ought to tell you who I am. I'm sure you've noticed me. I'm the one in the back of the room wearing big baggie clothes and going right when I'm supposed to go left, forward when I should go back, and up when everyone else goes down. Oh, and I wear an ugly compression sleeve on my arm. Yeah, that's the one—I knew you'd figure it out. And that's one reason for writing—to explain the sleeve, since I'm sure you've wondered but have been too polite to ask.

To explain, I need to go back to 2009, and with apologies to those who have patiently followed this blog over the years, let me do a quick recap: September of that year I was diagnosed with stage III breast cancer. Always the over-achiever, this particular cancer was super aggressive. My oncologist told me that when the team of doctors got together to discuss my treatment, they looked it over and decided I needed every treatment currently available.

And so began an intense regimen of surgeries, chemo, and radiation. After that I had a reconstructive surgery that failed. Plus I'm now on about five prescription meds that are pretty cruel to the body but hopefully will keep the cancer away.

The person I am in 2011 is vastly different from the fit and healthy person I left behind in 2009. On the upside I'm filled with gratitude and sentiment. Happy to be here. Happy to be anywhere. Loving my family, my grandbaby, my hubby, my friends. All of it.

On the downside, I've lost both boobs and gained twenty pounds, which gives me the figure of a pine tree. I have a hairstyle that's a little too long to be cool but a little too short and dark to be me. I have a stupid arm that swells up and requires that ugly compression sleeve (twelve positive lymph nodes). And overall I feel more like a grandma than the mother of a young boy (I happen to be both, but I used to feel more like a mommy than a grandma).

Despite all the bad stuff, my prognosis is good. Not great, but good. I have just another year and a half of holding my breath and hoping IT doesn't come back. After that I'll party.

So now the reason for writing. Again, those that have followed this blog know that even though I've been a Treehouse member for years, I've had issues with going during my treatment. Partly because I have restrictions with my arm. But mostly because I feel like a big fat blob when I'm there. I tried a few classes off and on, but mostly stayed home with my treadmill and hand weights.

Then one day I decided to go wild and crazy and try a Zumba class. Even took a friend. And it was . . . um . . . interesting. I kind of left half-way thru. Yeah, it was fun and all. But it wasn't for me. Too many ultra-fit ladies strutting their ultra-fit stuff; and me tripping over my very unfit feet.

But there was one thing the class had going for it: it didn't require me to put any weight on my swollen arm. Every other class I'd tried required I make modifications while the rest of the class did their pushups or planks or updogs. And since I seriously need to move my fanny to fight the effects of these fat-inducing drugs, I eventually decided to give it another shot. I can't say I enjoyed the class that time either. It wasn't until the third, maybe fourth time, that I decided I could actually do this thing. I think it was when I stopped worrying about my feet and the skinny ladies in class and just started moving to the rhythm. Yep, it was actually fun.

And would you like to know how I feel while I'm in the class? Well, let's see...I feel fat, awkward, clumsy, old and out of shape. Sorry, I know you were hoping for more.

But don't worry, it gets better. Because there's something else I feel: ALIVE. That's right—for the hour that I'm in that class trying my best to jump and bop and gyrate my hips in a way that somewhat resembles what you're doing, I feel truly alive for the first time since that awful diagnosis.

And something else: I feel hopeful. Not hopeful that I'll ever look or move like you. But that I'll eventually look and move better than I do now.

And that's why I'm writing. To thank you for giving me that.

Yours Truly,

Suzanne, from the back of the room (Zumba-Hey! Zumba-Ho!)

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Mushy Mommy Sweet Spots

The sentimental bug has bit again. It's like an infestation lately. But this time I have a good excuse. My baby boy, the one I rocked for years, well beyond the appropriate baby-rocking time; thinking every time he'd let me that this could be the very last time. I don't remember the exact last time, but I'm sure I had that thought.

Fortunately he's still a sweetheart. On the night of his birthday we snuggled next to me to watch a movie, even though there were multiple comfy spots in the room. And during the movie he grabbed my hand and whispered in my ear that he loves me. Hearts are known to melt that way.

When our kids are babies, those simultaneous heart-melting whilst bursting moments come frequently. All they have to do is say 'please' with their adorable eyes wide open and your heart goes to mush. It takes nothing more than putting a train properly on a track (like my little grandbaby on his birthday this weekend), for the heart to swell with pride. (Just ask his momma.)

But those sweet moments become fewer and far between, and therefore all the more precious as they transform into small adults. And I really do love the age of twelve: that gianted-footed awkward age of walking a tightrope between childhood and adulthood, always a little off balance, never sure their place or appropriate behavior for their age. They still want toys for their birthday, and only want boys at their birthday party, but they need the cool clothes and hair. Of all my children's stages, that age ranks among my favorite.

Which brings me to a video. First I have to apologize for posting it again, I know many of you have seen it. But I didn't include the story of why it was one of the sweetest mommy moments of my life.

The pre-story is that Brandon was chosen to be in his school talent show (this was a pretty selective talent show, no mind readers or bubble gum blowers or gifted bodily orifice noise makers). The auditions were a full month before the talent show, and while Brandon did well enough to be selected, he didn't know the words, moved awkwardly, and there was this horrible bridge in the middle of the song where he just stopped singing, leaving the audience to shuffle uncomfortably in their seats.

So I informed him he'd need to work on these things if he wanted to be in the show. But of course the show was a whole month away. As the days drew near he worked on the song from time to time, and became much improved. There wasn't much that could be done for moving awkwardly. He's almost twelve with giant feet. That's how it goes. And then there was still that horrible bridge solo. He'd attempt squawks and squeeks, but they were worse than the awkward silence. So finally the night before the performance I lay down the law and say he's got to work out that bridge. He absolutely can not just stop singing in the middle of the song.

So we turn to Youtube and watch other performances. Some of them do a dance. Awkward. Some sing. Beautiful. Some cut the bridge out. Wimps. (And since we've already turned the minus track in, we don't have that option.) So Brandon decides he'll sing. The night before.

I plop myself next to the hubby and grumble that I've been warning him about this all month. He's just got to stop procrastinating. yadayadayada.

Before I go on, I have to backtrack with the story of the video camera. Ours broke last year, which is a crisis when you have a son who performs. Last summer we borrowed a camera to record his singing performance at the state fair. But it took hours to get it onto the computer, and then seconds for the computer to crash and burn up the vids. So Rob bought me a new camera for Christmas, but it was a flip and did not have the zoom or audio for our needs, so we took it back. Which meant I absolutely needed something for this performance.

In the weeks that he was supposed to be practicing, I was hunting for the best features for the value, and ended up buying one just the night before. Of course that meant I wasn't absolutely sure how to use it. So I arrived early. Early enough, in fact, that the principal sent me to the front row. I didn't even need the zoom. I got the camera all set up on a tripod, turned on, focused on the person setting up the mike. I'm practicing the different functions when I see Brandon waving frantically in my direction. We try lip reading and sign language, but it becomes clear that I must turn off the camera and tiptoe my way across the front of the auditorium to see what he needs. His message is that he's first, not second as we'd been told. So I head back to the camera, but before I do the principal announces the student body, who are standing on the same side of the room as me. I figure I won't confuse anyone if I step forward now. I most definitely don't look like a jr. high SB officer. But I might embarrass my son if I suddenly step into the limelight. So I wait until they're onstage, introducing my son's performance, and then I stoop over and try not to step on too many toes while I rush back to my precious camcorder. I miss the intro where they say how amazing he is, but I do get it on time for the performance. Good thing he dragged me away from the camera to warn me.

Anyway, I'm frantic over the camera and nervous for him and my stomach's all full of butterflies. And then he opens his mouth and the most pure, angelic sound comes out. My heart turns all kinds of swollen up mush. Within seconds the group is clapping. They don't slow down or lose their enthusiasm, even when he gets to that bridge.

If you watch, you'll see him look my way with a bit of panic in his eyes. If you could see me you'd know that I'm holding my breath. But then he looks away and takes a breath of confidence and gets through it. Not perfect, but he ends strong enough that nobody seems to care. When he ends the song, the crowd roars their approval, with me heading up the lead. I decide not to stand--that old embarrassing your child deal--but I wanted to. This was one of those indescribably joyous moments that makes all the messes and tantrums and nagging and childbirth and expenses worthwhile.

And a quick followup, two days later I pick him up from school, and as he approaches the car a group of very tall junior high students surrounds him. My Mommy Antennas protrude. Brandon shakes his head and nods and pushes his way through. He gets in the car looking glum. I ask what that was about. Of course I'm wondering if I'm going to have to go talk to the principal. Maybe I should just go take those boys out myself. Teach them a thing or two about bullying. And then he says, "That's how it's been ever since the talent show." After more prodding I learn that the boys said: "So you're the singer." Brandon: "yeah." Boys: "Good job."

"You did say thank you? Right?" Because I always ask him that, and he always promises me he does. But I think he just does it through telepathy because I've never witnessed it. Anyway, I continue to say, "But you love it, hah?" "No I don't" he insists, with a little curl of a smile playing on his lips.

That's my cutie. Provider of Sweet Mommy Moments Everywhere.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

New Pics

I'm not sure how I feel about this picture. It's a fine little portrait. The photographer did a good job. My hair is how it's supposed to look. Makeup is good. Outfit is a nice color. Can't find a thing wrong. Except for maybe one. The woman here is much older than the one that looks out through my eyes. Maybe that's normal? Maybe my treatment put the aging process into fast forward? Maybe it's just my imagination? I don't know. But here it is. Me in 2011. (And for the record, I'm really really glad there is a me in 2011. Even if she is an old lady.)

Signature Line - Help Needed!

I realize I haven't been around much. (At least around here. I've been around, believe me.) But I'm going to do better. I must. I have two new books in the works, along with a new website, facebook page, blog, etc. I will go into details later. But for now I'm looking for a signature line. You know, the clever little sentence under your name. I do not have one, which I'm thinking is a message in and of itself. As in, this person is much too boring to have a signature line. So I'm coming to my friends for help.

I'll list some ideas here, and I'd really really like your feedback. I get so embarrassed when I ask questions and no one answers. I know, it's my fault for not hanging out in the right places, but I'm asking any way.

So here goes: (Oh, I only stole one of these. I'll be curious to see if it gets a different reaction from the others. And no, not gonna say which one.)

1. Some smiles are actually frowns being optimistic. They get extra credit.

2. When I grow up, I want to be an old lady.

3. I write fiction since nobody would believe my real life.

4. Life is so beautiful only because it is so hard.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Happy Package

I'm dying to call Michigan right now. But it's kind of middle of the night there, so I'm refraining. Instead, I decided to come here and give a big shout out to one of my most amazing of friends. Well, I guess technically she's family. But she's one of those great family members that you would choose in a heartbeat as a life-long friend, if you weren't already connected by family ties.

I count myself lucky to have many of you that fall into that category, so don't feel bad if you thought for a second I was talking about you, cause I could have been. But today the shout out is just for her. Apparently my frumpy post hit a nerve, and she took it upon herself to make me feel better. I'm talking makeup, jewelry, head covers, home decor, and of course CHOCOLATE! Caramel too, with a note that it's the next best thing to chocolate. And she's right, it is fabulous caramel. Every item came with a cheery note.

The house decor has already been put into place (it just arrived minutes ago). My poor non-magnetized fridge has been feeling awfully naked. These gel gems came with a note that they make her smile. And I am so smiling now, looking at those little cheery yellow flowers sitting in their little corner and reminding me of my sister friend. Life. Is. So. Good.

Thanks Carol!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Big Huge Questions of the Universe

I've been pondering some things lately. This is stuff I have no answer for. Deep stuff. Troubling stuff. Stuff that keeps me up nights. I'd really like your thoughts on these matters, so if you have any, please chime in.

First, why it is that bills and junk mail make it to the mail box in an absolute and timely manner; but checks, packages, and letters get all kinds of lost and take all kinds time? Seriously, I don't think it's my imagination.

Next, why is it the human body can't figure out when it has consumed one of those fast-food salads with 20 million calories? I mean, if calories are just an equation for the amount of energy food has provided, why doesn't the body stop half-way through the salad and think, "Hey! I am sooo stuffed. I know this is just a salad, but it feels like I just had a 1000 calories, so I think I'll quit." No, that would be too easy. Instead it's saying, "I only had a itty-bitty salad for dinner, so I think now I'll have some cheesecake." Seriously, the body is an amazing thing, why can it not figure this out? Why do we need books and calorie charts to tell us these things?

And finally, why after a round of hair-losing meds, have I had to trade my eyebrow tweezers for an eyebrow pencil; but at the same time my toe hairs have multiplied by about a thousand? Again, I would really, truly like to know. I'm thinking maybe hair follicles are affected by gravity? But it's just a theory.

Answers are welcome - as are any of your own deep unaswerable questions.

Sunday, February 20, 2011


I feel much better today. Not that I'm settled, or even close. There are still rooms that are downright scary. But the major rooms are coming together nicely. And seriously, how can you not love this room?

I did say major remodel, right? That is seriously major. Life is good.

Friday, February 18, 2011

The Answer is No. No. No. Any more questions?

The question of the day, the one I am asked by pretty much everyone I see is, "So are you all settled?"


This is what I want to say: You betcha. Not a box in sight. It's all good. There's a place for everything and everything's in its place.

But I stink at the lying thing, and that's a bold-faced lie.

So no. I am not settled. Boxes are everywhere. It's a mess.

Thanks for asking though.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Time for a Re-do

When we sold our home a little over a year ago, cancer wasn't in the plans. Of course cancer is not the kind of thing anyone plans on. But this was especially bad timing, getting the news just days after selling the house. It would have been devastating, except that we could feel the Lord's hand in it all.

So the house we moved to was not intended to be permanent. Just a place to re-group and heal. And we felt the Lord guide us, so that was good.

And while it's done the job nicely, we've been left in a bit of a quandary. It has felt like time to move on for a few months now, but the thought of packing up and moving again is just way too overwhelming.

So I have a plan.

And it's a good one.

You see, Friday morning we are going to wake up, strip down the beds, and proceed to do a complete home makeover. Each and every room, including the kitchen and the bathrooms, are going to be totally remodeled and updated, on that very day! Even the yard! Even the neighborhood! Every last detail will be new (to us and least). Well, except for the neighborhood thing. That will be old, as in our old one. It's going to be the easiest large-scale remodel in the history of the planet. By the end of the weekend the entire house will be redone.

I realize this might sound suspiciously like a move. But as I said, I can't even think about that.

But a remodel? One that only takes a weekend? One that plants me in the same neighborhood as a whole bunch of my favorite people? Yeah, I can totally do that.

It's gonna be a good weekend.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Frump Girl...

Other contenders for titles to this entry: Sweatin' to the Oldies, Verklempt, Cleavage Envy, Wardrobe Problems or (drum roll) My Brain on Drugs. Obviously this has the potential to be a rambling post. But it all makes sense in my brain (which I have to warn you is on drugs), so we'll see how it goes.

First, I have to say that I would blog about how my Whitney had surgery last week. Wisdom teeth, which is nothing to get excited about, except that it's the fourth patient to recuperate in our living room lounge chair in two months time.

I would also tell the story about my Jen, who was on her way to pick up Whitney for the surgery when she hit a patch of black ice while trying to avoid a stupid car that ran a red light, and then spun out of control into oncoming traffic but miraculously avoided all of them and hit the barricade on the far-side of the road, totaling her car; but that she and the baby are just fine.

This is the same girl who miraculously came through with just bumps and bruises after a near-fatal four-wheeling accident this summer; and ended up in a coma after surgery a couple of years ago. I would tell all about that, but it's almost too much to believe. I mean, honestly, who could have that many near-miss events in one family in such a short amount of time? So I'm not going to say a word about any of it.

I will talk about how I watched My Big Fat Greek Wedding over the holidays. (How's that for a light-hearted change of subject?) If you've never seen it, you just have to, like right now. And then watch it again, and again, until you've seen it enough times that you laugh out loud just BEFORE the funny scenes, like when the dad is about to pull out a bottle of Windex. Good times. Anyway, there's one scene where the heroine is explaining that she used be "Frump Girl". "It was a stage I was in," she says. "Until now."

I'll get back to that in a minute. But first there's my wardrobe problems. This is nothing new. The last year has been a challenge for my wardrobe, to put it mildly. A couple months ago I went to Old Navy and bought myself half a dozen extra large, long-sleeve scoop neck shirts that do the trick for hiding what I don't want to be seen and allowing extra room for the things that need it. It was a slick solution. But then two things happened.

First was the drugs. I won't name them. Partly because I can't ever remember the names, and partly in case some poor soul does a search for them by name and find themselves here expecting accurate information. But in my very layman's understanding, I was put on two drugs intended to shut down all of my hormones, since my cancer thinks hormones are like some kind of candy.

One of the drugs shuts my ovaries down, like you'd expect. But apparently the brain produces some hormones as well, so the other goes there and whispers sweet nothings that tell it to stop producing hormones. Unfortunately, this confuses the brain tremendously. In fact, it's so messed up that it can't even tell if I've had enough to eat. As if turning down that big piece of cheesecake with chocolate sauce isn't hard enough when you know you're full. But when you think you're hungry? Forget about it. My hips didn't stand a chance. Ten pounds before I could blink.

The other problem was my surgery. I've been calling it reconstructive, but it was actually more like deconstructive. Basically they just took out the expanders and laid down the muscle, preparing me for real reconstruction in a few months. Let me be clear, I am not complaining. I'm more than happy to get rid of those awful coconuts. But the result is...well...disturbing. Not just flat, but concave, especially on the side with radiation. Think of a hundred-year-old man eating a lemon and you have a pretty good idea. And the wardrobe restrictions. Well, let's just say those scoop necks aren't working for me any more.

But I'm not so excited about buying a bunch of new clothes to fit this latest round of odd body shape, especially since it'll probably be totally different in a few months. Which brings me to the word Verklempt, which I learned is Yiddish for great amounts of emotion, in case you were wondering.

And it also brings me to the gym. Obviously. I haven't been a regular for the last year, but decided that now is the time. Obviously. So I put on what I usually wear for exercising: my sweats. Okay, so I might also wear them for relaxing, and cooking, and shopping and any time I want to be comfortable. Which is always. They are, after all, the only thing I can put on without worrying about all the things I have to worry about. So I love them.

But then I was at the gym, spinning on a stationary bike, and the words "Frump girl, frump girl" started in my head. Like a chant. "Frump girl, frump girl, frump girl, frump." I was, after all, surrounded by a serious amount of skinny women with tight clothes and cleavage. Seriousy tight. Serious cleavage. And me in my baggy, oddly-shaped sweats. Frump girl. Frump girl.

I've found myself in various stages of frump in the past, usually corresponding to the births of my babies. But I've also been a far cry from Frump Girl at times. Specifically in high school, when legend has it (my husband's legend) that I spent four hours a day styling my Farrah Fawcett hair. Truth is that was only for dates. It was really closer to an hour.

But of all my stages, I've never felt this far gone. This frumpy. I tell myself every day to be patient. In fact that's my new battle cry: patience, patience, patience. And while I'm waiting patiently for my veluptuous new body to emerge from this mess, I think I'll have some ice cream. Cause I'm starving. Just ask my brain.