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Fairly Odd Mother

Frantically waving my magic wand to make wishes come true.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Pregnant with Cancer? You aren't alone. . .

Two years ago, I wrote that my sister-in-law was going in for a double mastectomy for breast cancer.

Later that year, I showed you the beautiful photo of her baby girl.

But, that wasn't the whole story. There was a big story in between "mastectomy" and "baby".

After her mastectomy,

after she canceled her June wedding,

after she canceled her Italian honeymoon,

after she realized that she'd probably never birth a child once chemo had finished ravaging her body and, probably, her supply of eggs,

and right before she went in for a second surgery to remove lymph nodes to check them for cancer,

the doctor shut the door to the exam room and told my sister-in-law that she was pregnant.

Newly pregnant, but needing chemotherapy which could not be done in the first trimester.

Her choice in those early days was a) delay chemo to protect the baby, but likely give own body over to cancer; b) abort and start chemo right away, as her first oncologist recommended, but most likely never get another chance to have a child.

Her dream of having a child of her own collided head-on with the nightmare of having cancer.

She is now telling her story so others who have to walk the same scary path won't have to do it completely alone. Please stop by and say hello to my brave sister-in-law, and friend, at her blog, ChemoMama.

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Monday, March 29, 2010

Hand, medium rare

A while ago, I opened up our little decade-old microwave, put my hand in to take out a cup of hot milk for cocoa, and noticed I was cooking my hand.

The microwave, which should have shut off when I opened the door, was still on even with the door opened.

I shut the door quickly and contemplated my hand. It seemed fine but, ewwwwwwww.

That microwave was discarded, and we talked about getting another, but I wanted to try an experiment: Would I miss having a microwave?

That was at least a year ago, maybe two, and I guess my answer would be: no.

A kettle of water for tea takes just a few more minutes to boil. Same goes for warming milk for hot cocoa, or heating up leftovers. And popcorn is actually a little more fun to make in the hand-cranked popcorn maker I grabbed for under $20.

Sometimes I wish I still had a microwave, but then I think about cooking my hand and that wish goes away.

Can you tell I'm about to embark on a kitchen renovation this spring?

So, as I descend into kitchen-planning madness, what "typical" kitchen appliance or feature could you not live without? For me, it is the garbage disposal, the dishwasher and the trash compactor. And, if you try to take away my coffee maker, I'll bite you around the ankles until you let it go.

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Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Wordless Wednesday: Fun with Shufflebooks



1970's Shufflebook by Richard Hefter and Martin Moskof, found two decks on ebay

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Monday, March 22, 2010


On Saturday, after doing yard work, talking to neighbors, vacuuming the minivan, folding clothes and setting the kids up for a picnic on the lawn, I decide to go for a run.

I laced up my Brooks running sneakers that I had bought so many years ago, left the kids playing in the front yard with my husband nearby, and took off down the street.

"Five minutes", I told myself, knowing that I really should do that Couch to 5K plan which starts off nice and easy. But, I get dizzy trying to keep track of my time in such short bursts of run/walk, so it's easier for me to do it my way.

Down the street and I was panting. Running sooooo slllllooooowwwwlllly, it seemed funny to be breathing hard, but I knew I just had to get past that wall and my breathing would calm down a bit.

Five minutes! Wow, that went fast.

How does everything feel?

Some of you may remember why I stopped running. I ran after I had Jilly, my second, but I got pregnant so soon afterward with our son, D, that I didn't have a chance to run a lot. And then part of my insides decided to fall out, and that put an end to me running.

Forever, I thought.

Ten minutes. Wave to neighbors who yell "Keep going! Keep going!"

I keep going.

At 15 minutes, I'm on a long street thinking about how many time I ran this street before. I've run it when I was pregnant with Belly, and then pushing Belly in her Baby Jogger. I've run it in 80 degree heat with Jilly in my belly. I even pushed both girls in the Double Jogger a few times before.

That was, what, six years ago? Seven?

I am so slow a child on a bicycle could whiz by me in a blur. My feet are coming up and down, just a few inches to minimize the jolting on my body (hey, how's everything doing in there?).

And then, as I close in on 20 minutes and my street appears in sight, I realize I love doing this. I don't want to run a marathon, a half or even a 10k. I just want to go out on a lovely day, a rainy day, a snowy day, and put one foot in front of the other on the hard concrete and feel my asthmatic lungs fill with air.

Some may derisively call what I'm doing "jogging", but no sirree, I'm running.


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Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Wordless Wednesday: Have a sweet St. Patrick's Day



chocolate covered Peeps inspired by
this post on Make and Takes

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Monday, March 15, 2010

Ingredients for a Rock Star party

Add equal parts glitz and glam and gaudy.





Fold in a few rock stars in training



Stir wildly until everyone is out of control




Let things settle while they eat cake.



Cook for 2 1/2 hours and you should end up with one happy Birthday Girl.


(and one tired mama!)

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Wordless Wednesday: Sisters


(card Belly gave to her sister on her 7th birthday)

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Monday, March 08, 2010

My ass has made the big time

It's March, and you know what that means???

Why, yes, it's time for me to take a walk down memory lane, specifically to take a stroll down Colonoscopy Boulevard.

And in honor of National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, I have the pleasure of seeing my post published on the front page of BlogHer! Good thing I'm not shy about sharing!

Please stop by, and if you have a parent or spouse who has been putting off getting a colonoscopy, send 'em over there and hopefully I'll be able to convince them to get it done now.

Get your colonoscopy in March and start spring with a clean-as-a-whistle colon!

(I just don't understand why I'm not writing slogans for a living).


In other news, my son is, well, odd.

Want proof? Lately he has been sleeping with a new lovey; two, to be specific.

His loveys are oval and brown and fit nicely into his hands as he takes the trip to slumberland. They smell like dirt.


Yes, he has been sleeping with two russet potatoes. One is Ron, the other is Roy. Don't ask me which is which.

As odd as this is, it just can't be the weirdest lovey ever, so please leave me a comment and tell me: What is the strangest thing your child has adopted as a nighttime lovey?

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Saturday, March 06, 2010

Lucky Seven

Seven years ago today, she joined our family. . .


making our first baby a big sister.


She was once our "chubby little bug". . .for about 15 minutes.


And now, so quickly it takes my breath away, she is seven.


Happy birthday my sweet girl!


Thursday, March 04, 2010

The playdate test

I'd forgotten how awkward these things are.

My girls have several friends, some they see a lot, and some they are still getting to know. For the most part, their newer friendships are forming gradually between friend-to-friend and mother-to-mother at the same time. And, that's nice because I know that any playdates they have with these newer friends should be fairly easy for me too.

Not my son, though. He goes to preschool, and his friends' parents are those people to whom I just smile and say "hi" once or twice a day, three days a week.

And now he's requesting playdates. Oh, help me.

Right before the first one, I had a stomachache. Why haven't we ripped out the ugly pink carpeting upstairs by now? Why does my kitchen still have this wallpaper? My dining room! It's a school room with books and crafts and papers everywhere!

I felt like a girl about to go to prom with a huge zit on her nose.

Regardless, that first playdate went well: D and his new friend got along famously, and the mom and I spent an hour or two chatting.

But, when the conversation about kindergarten came up, I dropped the "H" word and I felt the air in the room change. The fact that we homeschool still came as a surprise despite the fact that my school-age girls are with me every time I drop off or pick up D from school,

Oh, and she's a teacher? Fabulous.

Listen, I know that teachers and homeschoolers can be friends, but there is that awkward pause of "ohhhhhhhhhh" every time this happens as we digest and size up each other.

Do I think this fact has been the reason there has been no reciprocal request for a playdate? Or was it just me? Or---no, it couldn't be---my son?

This morning I do it all over again with a new mom and her son. And, I know the homeschooling thing is going to come as a shock since her last email asked me if she'd see me at the kindergarten orientation held last night.

I wish I could have a glass of wine before a 10am playdate.

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Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Wordless Wednesday: Happy New Year!










(photos taken by my husband in Boston's Chinatown for their New Year's Lion Parade on 2.21.10)

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Monday, March 01, 2010

What a Monday looks like

I know some people are curious about what goes on in our homeschooling life, so I thought I'd post a regular Monday "school day":

6:30am: I'm up and making coffee, starting laundry and answering emails for Cool Mom Picks.

7:30am: Wake up the kids and jump in the shower. By 8:30, we're all dressed, beds are made, and we head downstairs for breakfast.

9:15am: Bring D to preschool. Arrive a few minutes late, but they have a "loose start", so no big shakes.

9:30-10am: Back home to answer some emails and read some blog posts while the girls dance to "their music". (can I call this Physical Education?)

10am: Start school. Give Jilly her Spelling Workout book and show her which pages to do. While doing her lesson, she's practicing reading, writing and spelling.

I sit on couch with Belly and watch DVD lesson for
Math-U-See Lesson 18 in Gamma Level (multiplying by 7). Belly then takes her workbook and does the first assignment for Lesson 18.

When she finishes Math, I give her a couple of pages to do in her new Scholastic Maps Workbook while I sit down with Jilly to do Math. She is also on Lesson 18 in Math-U-See, but the Alpha Level.

Jilly seems nervous about starting Subtraction today, maybe because the instructor, Steve Demme, so adamantly states that the kids must know their addition inside and out before they move on. To alleviate her fears, we decide to do another review lesson on addition instead of going forward with her lesson.

Jilly does her math review page while I ask Belly her spelling words from the list in Sequential Spelling. She likes this program since she is able to self-correct her work.

Sit down and do a grammar lesson in First Language Lessons with Jilly. We review the "fall months", and when she sits down to do an activity for the lesson, I start Belly on her new Growing With Grammar book.

When Belly finishes that, she asks to do a page of cursive in Pictures in Cursive to get a little more of her work checked off for the week. I say, ohhhhhh, okay.

By noon, they are playing school with their dolls. We will do science, history and art later this week, and Friday we are taking a field trip to Old Sturbridge Village to attend their Home School Day.

At 1pm, we'll pick up D from preschool and go to the library for an hour. At 2:30, D has speech and then the girls have gymnastics with friends. By the time we get home, it'll be time for dinner. Tonight I'll read to the kids and ask Jilly to read aloud to me a bit. They are all reading on their own now, but they still want a book at bedtime, especially Belly who still loves to snuggle in for her story.

Now a disclaimer:

Not all days look like this, nor do they all go this smoothly. I didn't tell you that Jilly gave me heck about doing her work this morning. Belly has been easier this year than any other, maybe because she finally realizes how much she can accomplish in just a couple of hours while her friends won't be home until almost 4. I wanted to have both girls read aloud to me this morning, but their "classroom" of dolls who were waiting to be taught was just too adorable. I can have them read to me at the library or tonight. . .or we'll just do it first thing tomorrow. We'll see how the day goes.

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