Wednesday, June 27, 2007

I have been bad. I should have written something about the trip last week. California was nice. Hot the first couple days (really hot) and then we had a nice mild breezy day for the bar-b-que. It was good to see my mother. The girls really enjoyed her pool. They were in it the 4 days more than they were out of it. Lauren made great strides and was amazingly fearless in the water as she is with all things.

Brianna is going to finish up her gym credits over the summer. I think at this point her decision to go to a junior college and get her feet wet is a good idea. I was so happy to see her. Miss her all the time and hope she can come home for even a small part of the summer. Wish I had gotten more pictures!

It was strange spending that much time in the car with Ross, and at
my mothers for that matter. We really don't have much to talk about any more. It was actually nice the night of the party at my mom's house. He was tipsy enough that he was affectionate with the kids. Emma looked surprised like she didn't quite know what do do when he hugged her and told her how much he loved her. I know he cares. Just has a hard time demonstrating it at times with three daughters.

Mom's house looks great. She has done a lot of work and it shows.
She was pleased that we found a praying mantis in her garden
for two days in a row. It is a good sign of a well balanced garden.
He was a neat little fella, climbing all over us and posing for pictures.

Driving up to mom's on the first day, we drove though St. Helena in Napa County. Wineries, wineries and more wineries. I would like to go back and explore. Without kids (I don't think they would get the same kick out of the architecture and wine tasting that I would)! The little GPS I got before we left worked beautifully.

Coming home we had some time to spend in San Francisco. I got some amazing pictures of the girls and swans at the Exploratorium. The hydrangeas in bloom on Lombard. The murals in the Mission District. AND.

We snacked at the most incredible bakery called Tartine. We split a Croque Monsieur, which is an open face sandwich made with country bread, bechamel, gruyere, thyme and pepper, topped with smoked Niman Ranch ham. Emma and Lauren were in heaven. It was lovely. Then we tasted something even more incredible. A Fragipane Croissant with brandy and almonds. Oh my! Positively sinful. The Mission District where the bakery is located would be a great place to people watch. I would love to sit and drink coffee on a Sunday morning, share some yummy pastries with Brad and enjoy a California morning.

We also dashed through Chinatown. I would have a lot of fun looking through the shops. The girls and I got silk dragonfly slippers for $5.00. What a bargain. And I found grapefruit incense. I like it.

The flight home was a red eye and boy were we exhausted when we got home. The kids of course slept in the car on the way home from the airport. I was not so lucky. It was muggy and sticky! Brad came up for pizza and to give hugs. I missed him a great deal. It felt good to be in my space.

The kids leave for Ireland in 3 weeks with Ross. They are both very excited.
Saturday, June 9, 2007
Summer has truly begun. Lauren has graduated from Kindergarten and has told me she is now "officially" a First grader. That would make Emma "officially" a Fifth grader.

The girls are both excited to go to California, see my mom, see Brianna and swim in mom's pool (not necessarily in that order).

Brad made it back from Toledo safely. The allergies/cold that started on him last week turned out to be Strep. He had a fever and a more pronounced swollen glad on Wednesday . Thursday the MD did a quick strep. That's what it either was or became. So far I feel OK. Although I was exhausted last night and woke up achy this morning. Hoping it was just working around the house aches. Keeping an eye on the girls. They seem to be fine and had seen him last week and this week and so far so good.

We had a nasty oppressively hot day Thursday and once that blew through we were left with perfect Summer 70's. The weekend is promised gorgeous and I am looking forward to putzing around the house, exploring out and about a little bit and cooking Summer foods.
Saturday, June 2, 2007
Saturday! Made it through the week. Brad made it safely to Toledo for his niece's baptism. He got himself a new toy for the trip. A GPS device for the car. It is one of the ones he was looking at for me, so this way he can play with it using his "professional" eye. If there are any idiosyncrasies he will find them. Then we can decide if I should look at another model or make or if this is the one for me.

My plans had been to run a few errands on the way home last night and come home and relax in a child-free house. But my friend Laurie sent me a text asking if I wanted to meet for drinks and snack. I had arrived home to normal sedate weather. Within minutes of receiving Laurie's text the wind kicked up considerably and the sky went black as tar. Thunder, lightning and driving rain. And then it was gone in about 5 minutes. Leaving behind a pink sky with some fluffy dark gray clouds. We met at Rock Bottom near the house for a few hours, sat at an outside table, people watched and talked about everything. Merlot for me (no Sideways comments from anybody!) and Mud In Your Eye pale wheat for her. A little calamari and really good homemade potato chips with a malt vinegar powder. Came home, talked to Brad for a few minutes on a bad cell signal and climbed into bed.

A bit about Laurie. Because it is a worthwhile story and she is an amazing woman. Laurie is 36 years old. She has 2 gorgeous girls Hannah (10) and Brenna (6)... they get on with Emma and Lauren really well. A little over a year and a half ago she went to her OB/GYN thinking she felt a lump in her breast. He did a breast exam and sent her on her way saying basically he felt nothing and did not feel it warranted a mammogram.

A couple months later she went back because the breast still felt "wrong". The physician grudgingly conceded that a mammogram was needed. The results of the mammogram did not get back to Laurie for several weeks, and this was only because she called. The nurse in the office (damn nurse) read her the top paragraph "dense, fibrous tissue with no masses visualised"... what the second paragraph included was the statement from the radiologist recommending "MRI or surgical consult" as further clarification. This was not told to Laurie.

At the end of last year her breast changed even more so. Becoming hard, red and warm. She was sent for a biopsy (a year after she first felt something was not right). The diagnosis was cancer. Ductal Carcinoma. She was sent for an oncology consult and chose and amazing doctor at Loyola Medical Center by the name of Ellen Gaynor. She is matter of fact and honest. We all liked her style immediately. As the diagnostic test results began to roll in. The end diagnosis was Infiltrating Ductal Carcinoma with some Inflammatory Breast Carcinoma characteristics. Five tumors in all and because of the IBC no possibility of just removing the tumors and leaving the breast.

Laurie has completed 7 out of 8 cycles of chemotherapy (Adriamycin and Cytoxan for cycles 1-4 and Taxotere for cycles 5-8). She home born this all so well and is so strong. She looks more and more beautiful each day. I saw a magnet that said "Bald Chicks Rule" the other day and am putting together a basket for her.

A mastectomy is the next step. She has that consultation next week and this will most likely happen at the end of June or early July. And then 6 weeks of daily radiation when the mastectomy site has healed.

The point I want to make (in addition to how awe inspiring my good friend is) is do self checks regularly, know your body, be your OWN advocate. If something does not feel right and the first answer does not jive with how YOU feel and what your gut is telling you, do not be afraid to dig deeper, ask for second opinions, demand attention. Doctors are not the end all be all, and things do get missed, labs do get lost, egos and experience does play apart. So do not think you have to take the first word as the only word... there are always more words!

I am getting Brad a T-Shirt that says "Save Second Base" (he is the self proclaimed bo... never mind:)