Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013 in review

Tempus fugit.

There were good times; there were bad times.

Divorces (though both initiated in 2012), medical scares, one awful night that I still won't talk about, huge medical expenses..

But all outweighed by the good. A new daughter-in-law, a new baby, healthy grand babies, loving family, fantastic friends, 2 new houses for my kids, lots of family visits, two birthday surprise parties, reconnecting with old friends..why should I ever complain?

After 6 long months of sticking around here and going stir crazy, we began traveling again.

In April, a trip to the wine counties and the west coast at my brother's house where I was surprised by family in the Stanford Art Museum on both coasts for my birthday ( and yes...I am so old but don't feel it).

In May, a trip up north to Charlevoix and Alanson.

In June, a trip to DC and Maryland to visit old friends then to Pittsburgh to begin my bike trip on the Great  Allegheny Passage.

In July, a visit from my college friend and then a wonderful bike trip together in Northern Michigan.

In August, a trip to Oregon and Washington to see family.

In November, our Hoosier Holiday and a night in the Hoosier Hoosegow.
Then our frozen anniversary in December in Niagara Falls.

Happy New Year to all my readers and my beloved family!

Monday, December 30, 2013

It is wewe wewe cold today.

My lazy self says I've been running and biking for the past 4 days, time for a rest. Inner nag says today is the best it's going to be for the next week. Although it was 18 degrees outside, this is warm compared to what it is going to be. And now the roads are mostly clear. So I went out

More baby-sitting. Last night Maya (though her mom was around but  Naomi figures that we should do the care giving). Tonight Tessa, the easy one. Tomorrow Allie again and maybe Maya.

Yesterday Shanna's family visited. Oliver is now putting his thoughts on paper. Inability to spell doesn't stop him. One note said: Today is wewe wewe cold.

There were other notes using the puzzling wewe. Finally it was figured out that all the wewes were reallys as he pronounces all rs and ls as ws.

And more shopping today. Got a jump start on the next Xmas.

Our Christmas ham was reduced to ham salad, finally gone, and the bone used as a base for black-eyed pea soup, an alleged New Year's treat. Still lots of soup. The cookies are slowly disappearing too.

And yesterday, too much fun fiddling around with Photofunia. One more creation:

Sunday, December 29, 2013


Allie the Gypsy didn't turn out but Tess looks super cute

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Adventures in babysitting

She looks angelic here

For the past two days, we have been watching Allie. And until her child care officially starts, we will have her next week too. As she grows older, she is resembling her mother more and more..a very pretty baby (though Josh was  an unusually pretty baby too).

However she is the crabbiest baby I ever had to deal with. Even crabbier than Naomi. One thing that makes her happy is her vibrating monkey seat. I told Josh over the phone followed by a text to make sure he brought it here but he forgot. As it turned out, he went to a party where everyone else brought their babies and wondered where theirs was. But he said that at least one could reason with an older child (2 being the oldest in this group), there is just no stopping Allie from being crabby.

Did you ever try to reason with a two year old? Their answer to everything  is :
But they needed a break. I can see why.
She sucked up her first bottle in 2 seconds flat and wanted more, screaming while I hastily thawed a second bottle. She then was happy for about a half hour (in which we took pictures). Then a new round of fussing that turned into screaming quickly. She is a motion junkie too, not content to be just rocked. After an eternity of pacing  while patting her, she fell asleep. But those motion detectors were still on high alert and she figured out I had tried to sit down ever so carefully. Repeat pacing. Finally I could sit while she slept. I dared not put her down.

I feel that a good chunk of my time this month has been spent in doctors' offices though not necessarily just for myself. Yesterday I visited my primary which I need to do mainly to get my prescription refills. He is very amiable man who really could easily retire but seems to have a practice just to talk to people. Sort of like Josh when he was very young who viewed school just as a collecting place for his friends. The only real issue I addressed was those keratosic lesions that were burned off by a dermatologist and returned, with friends. He assured me they were harmless. Fortunately none of them can be seen unless you lift my bangs. Some have formed on my torso too which I do not expose to the sun. These ugly things are especially common amongst the fair skinned, which he thinks I am (well at least compared to him, a dark skinned Asian). I was also finally healthy enough for a flu shot.

My former employer offers all its drugs free of charge to those on its insurance. I see now that my thyroid medicine will be covered and had him write a script for the particular brand. A fly in the ointment: my drugstore does not have it and they refuse to order it so next week I have a mission.

Warm (all is relative) and sunny right now. Happy, happy. Maybe I will bike after my run once I make sure there is an ice free path.
Below are Baby Josh  and Baby Allie at 13 weeks. Josh had darker features such as dark brown eyelashes versus strawberry blonde ones:

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Boxing Day

From Passive/aggressive notes
Happy that this isn't a card I've received
Factoids that I've learned recently:
That cleome rhymes with Naomi. I learned this nugget from  a garden show I watched  recently featuring dahlias, impossible for me to keep alive plants. Cleomes and cosmos are more my speed as they pop up all by themselves and are very hardy. Cleomes are very pretty but smell like skunk spray.

Poutine, that weird French Canadian concoction I ate a couple weeks ago during our Canadian anniversary celebration, has an English connection. An English speaking person suggested to a Quebecois to PUT IN some cheese curds to the gravy covered fries.

That Joyce Kilmer was actually a man, the best known bad poet of such drivel such as Trees. His life was cut short fighting in WWI. He would have been a perfect Hallmark card writer lending much more sentiment than than the card I posted above.

So what do we need to 'box' on this day?  Our problem was that we started early shopping for everyone. Good for everyone (except us) as we were constantly trying to even things out so nobody got more than anybody else. We tried to get the best deal using cash back schemes, coupons, rebates, what have you for the big ticket items. Julie had expressed a desire for a certain object months ago. We got it for them but in the meantime they got it for themselves. We already got the rebate so it isn't clear we can take it back. Also I could use it for myself. Josh already suggested a replacement gift for this but it will be more a gift to him than Julie.
And it is impossible to get things even. I showed Naomi the magazine I made for my mother-in-law. She instantly calculated that there were far more photos of Shanna than herself.

And we have plenty of food left over from yesterday. This was going to be our main meal as we have no place to go but for Shanna and Josh, our place was just one of three places they were going to. Due to divorces of their in-laws, there are more households to visit.

What did I make? An egg-broccoli cheese braid. Scallops with bacon (none of these left. Maya alone gobbled up a good portion). A ham (a lot less work than turkey) a simple green salad (untouched) Maya decorated cookies (also untouched), cheese plate (untouched) bellinis and my mini cinnabon waffles that left quite the mess in my waffle iron. Won't make those again.We also had Shanna's cheesy biscuits and Julie's fruit plate.

If I hadn't overslept and did not have Maya to entertain, I would have run when it was dry early yesterday. Cold doesn't bother me; slippery footing does. The snow started during the commute to my house making it dangerous to drive. It especially was slippery for Josh (he comes in from the North)So I am antsy to get out again. No Y for another 2 weeks.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Scenes from Christmas 2013

Before I put the food out

Naomi changed her hair color yet again. Wish she'd let it go natural

Maya and Aunt Shanna


No Tess or Ramy as Ms Tess too sick to leave the house

Allie's Xmas dress

Maya stayed overnight thus the PJs

Xmas dress with my new scarf

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Twas the night before X-mas...

Allie's X-mas outfit
and all through the house
 a creature was stirring..
and her name is Maya

Maya is sitting next to me as I type and not quietly.

Earlier we made X-mas cookies. Her job was to roll dough balls into different colored sugars and sprinkles.

Tomorrow all the kids and their kids come. We sort of overdid it on the presents.

Earlier I braved the cold and the snow but it felt good when I finished.

Earlier even a frustrating doctor visit but maybe things are looking up.

Merry X-mas my faithful readers!

Monday, December 23, 2013

The Botanical Gardens

What to do on a drab cold day?
Visit the botanical gardens with a friend.

Barrel cactus

Poinsettia tree
This stands in the same place the family shot on the right was taken of our  family before Josh and Julie's wedding

Wreath of succulents

recycled tree ornaments



Sunday, December 22, 2013

Sunday Funnies

The above is from a collection of smart wrong answers.

Naomi: I moan
Dontae: Donate
Allison: Son is all
Oliver: Or Live

And diaper is repaid backwards.

Today will be the warmest day for the rest of the year. Not the toasty 70s on the East Coast but above freezing so I had my last bike ride.

I made another photobook  this morning so I feel productive.  Yesterday my 89 yo mother-in-law received the magazine I made with photos of her visit. She cried when she looked at it. Below is the scanned cover of it:

Saturday, December 21, 2013

And Solstice for all

Finally wrapped everything

Maya riding a hobby horse made from a wrapping paper roll and a cross stitched head I made in the 70s for Shanna

Today's visitor

Finally our days will start becoming longer. As I was walking to my last LiveStrong class the other day it seemed almost spring with the melting snow, sun and  birds chirping but the cold gloom returned the next day. Waited and waited for the fog to clear, which it never did, so out I went hardly able to see much more than a few feet ahead.

Earlier in the day, we took a trip to Toledo to pick out some gift items not available here stopping at The Original Pancake House. We used to stop there on the way to NYC but it has been a while since we made that trip. Dutch Baby Garden: a big crepe  with a quiche like middle with lots of veggies. Yum.

Shopping is done; wrapping is done. Everyone comes over X-mas morning. Waffles made up of cinnamon rolls? Saw that on a cooking show as I was watching Daniel the other day.

My phone keeps beeping with weather alerts for freezing rain but it doesn't look like it is happening yet. Josh and his family made the drive here for lunch. Allie is just so cute.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

"Til morning is night

Sunny supervising tummy time

Tess rocking the Pebbles Flintstone look

Oliver's kindergarten holiday creation

Ms Maya
Daniel and his tree
The title is from Daniel's rendition of Away in the Manger sung at his recent preschool xmas concert.

Yesterday a busy day. First watching Maya, then a run in the office park (though snow is melting today..yay!) then off to Shanna's to watch Danny and Tess while she went out for an appointment then off for a holiday dinner with some ex- co-workers. I was treated with a beautiful sunset on the way to the dinner. A fun day and night.

Most of what we wanted to buy is bought. I have all the wrapping supplies and gift bags laying on the couch. Just need to get cracking connecting gifts with wrappings.

Not all is fine in ex-Cancerland. The good news concerning a family member turned out to be a big misunderstanding. Not good after all.

And the bizarrely named Friend of the Court is certainly no friend of the client. Things are all tied up in clerical mistakes and red tape and general misinformation making life much more difficult around here than it needs to be.

And there needs to be a thaw inside our house too.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

X-mas Chair

Steve enjoying some Xmas chair
Years ago I bought Steve a pleather recliner to replace a stylish Swedish leather chair that broke in half not long after my obese father sat on it. Rare for me, I actually bought a guarantee from the furniture store for the new recliner against such things. I am not sure if the guarantee worked for impossible to clean ingrained grime though a bottle of pleather cleaner (doesn't work) was thoughtfully included in the package. I think I promptly lost all the paperwork, which I guess the company bets for. As it was very comfortable, Steve spends many hours reading in it when he isn't in his 'office', our dining room table on the computer (he leaves my computer in the actual den alone). Anyway, the chair looks gross. I tried to buy a slip cover for  but could never find one that fit well. It remained an embarrassment for me among many in our house that given all the time we presumably have, we should address, but inertia is a powerful force. Also given that it was still comfortable and functional, we both have a strong waste not, want not tendency. So it stayed.

Apparently it was an embarrassment for the kids too or at least a strong signal THEY NEED A NEW CHAIR. So for early x-mas, a chair arrived. It was supposed to come while we were gone. Naomi's contribution was to await the delivery and signal Josh to come set it up which is why they were both there when we came home. But there was a snag and the chair came yesterday instead. As this is leather and dark, grime should not appear so quickly. Also it doesn't swivel which is a plus as the grandkids like to swivel knocking things down like the lamp though it was Steve who by swiveling has broken two lamps. And it is much larger so another source of embarrassment can be put to rest, this cheap card table Steve insists on keeping next to the chair. No room for it now, c'est dommage.

Stupid Electra and  the city who is real slow to clean up after her. After 2 days of not running, I finally went out yesterday despite the 15 degrees. It was sunny and calm however so that helps. Also the nearby business park does keep things plowed so yay for them.A boring route but much better than a treadmill or a running track. It felt good to have the endorphins flood my sorry self again. More snow today but as today is a Y day, assuming I can find a parking spot, I can go inside.

I did drive Sunday on a narrow, slippery path to resume watching House of Cards. Oh that slimy Francis so well played by Kevin Spacey! Michigan has become roundabout happy. I needed to go through 3 of them to reach my destination, one of which is a deluxe roundabout with separate lanes separated by curbs making t-boning impossible. The problem was on my return around midnight when the designated left turn lane, the direction I needed to go, was filled with 6 foot drifts. Given the time of night, I couldn't really be stranded there. So I went the wrong way trying to cross over into the correct lane but instead I hit a hidden curb. Ugh! Well there seems to be no damage.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Tumor signalling

What do crab apples and tumors have in common? Read below
Turns out tumors can message each other. This has been suspected for years though the precise pathway involved in this signalling has yet to be identified. The main evidence seems to be is a blossoming of  existing mets when the primary tumor is removed. It is as if the mother tumor in its death throes tells her children It's up to you my sweeties to carry out the work of destroying our host(ess). Get crackin'!!!!

To me, this signalling seems similar to that of the apple trees. 2012 was a bust for apples due to the early spring and then winter again. It's as if the trees said to themselves Well if we want babies, we are going to have to try twice as hard the next year leading to the bumper crop of apples in 2013. Some trees overdid it leading to splitting branches due to the increased weight of so much fruit.

Every year in early December there is a meeting in San Antonio showcasing recent progress against breast cancer. I read reports from this with a jaundiced eye. So many promises that rarely pan out into something useful. Some clinicians now are changing the treatment of newly diagnosed stage 4 patients based on the suspicion (I assume there is real evidence) removing the primary tumor will just make the mets grow that much faster. So they are leaving the primary tumor alone. It will probably die with chemo anyway. No one dies from the primary tumor and the surgery will just further weaken the patient.

Another nugget that came out of this meeting is the preliminary results of that clinical trial that I passed on 5 years ago.  They were giving one of 3 bone strengtheners, Zometa being the most well known inconveniently delivered as a monthly infusion, to stage 1 and 2 breast cancer patients and then watched for mets versus patients not on bone strengtheners So far, regardless of receptor status, mets have been 34% less prevalent in the treated patients. And not just bone mets but all mets. So maybe I should not have passed. But I don't seem to have mets so there.

More progress has been made extending the lives of stage 4 estrogen+ BC patients (never a cure however) but still a stage 4 TNBC patient's average survival is a mere 12 months, up from 6 months. Part of the problem is that TNBC is a catchall for many different tumors requiring different treatments. To be successful, each tumor needs to characterized and a treatment plan individualized. There are lots of irons in the fire but I suspect it will be years until something truly useful results.

Not a fan of Electra. Still snowing and my muscles are unused. I guess I could shovel...
But I am in project mode. Yesterday's work: x mas photo ornaments


Blog Archive