Saturday, December 27, 2014

Two days after

I saw this on the FB this morning, and I thought... "I know it's not the day after Christmas anymore, but this is still true, so I'm putting it on ye olde blog."


Seriously, you guys... This has been, hands down, the best Christmas ever. (And when I say that, please know that I'm not talking about the presents I got. It's not like anyone's keeping track, but for the record: a book I didn't want, a movie I already owned (so I gave it right back to Judy), and a real awesome pirated version of Mr. Boogedy - that one is a real treasure, but only because I remember really loving it when I was in jr high.)

I know I've said this over and over again, but... I can't tell you how grateful I am for the time I have been given. I had been prepped by my doctors to expect chemo to start at the end of November/first of December. With a round every three weeks, I would have spent the last week in a hospital.

I had absolutely no reason to think I'd get Christmas. ... But I did. And I'm so grateful!

In the last week, I've:

Been so happy that I was literally bouncing. (If my body was still in a position to jump up and down, I would have. But, since I can't jump, I bounced on the balls of my feet. Seriously. I stood in my living room and I bounced, like Tigger. It was kind of ridiculous.) I cannot remember the last time I was that happy. What a gift!

Been so worn out by all the love and the hugging that I fell asleep, sitting up. Ha! Last Sunday, I went to church in the ward I grew up in, and saw dozens of people whom I love more than I can say. After church, there were people literally standing in a line, waiting to hug Judy and me. And then, I had people stopping me in the halls to talk for a good 30-45 minutes after sac mtg. I made an appearance at my parents' ward afterward, but was too tired to stay there for more than half an hour. As soon as I got home, I sat down with a book and promptly fell asleep. I remember that my last thought was, "I am beloved in 8th ward". (Ha!) Who knew that there could be such a thing as hug-induced overstimulation? (Figures that it would be me who felt like she was gonna die from being hugged too much. We all know that I am NOT a hugger, by nature.) But man alive, it was awesome to see all those people from my past. I love them!

Baked (and frosted) three batches of sugar cookies, for (and with) people I love.

Sung until I couldn't hit the high notes in Hark, the Herald! (And those "high notes" aren't even high!)

Been full of so much emotion that I can't help but cry. ... In a good way.

Walked at least a mile, on four separate occasions. (I know it's sort of lame to be so happy about taking four walks in a week, but listen... It's a big deal when I feel well enough to do that. And that I could walk for consecutive days - up and down hills, because I was in Taylor - is pretty huge right now.)

The last month, the last week (who's kidding who... this day of hanging out at home by myself, catching up on TV, thanks Amazon and Hulu!) has been a gift!

I'm so grateful. Probably more grateful than I've ever been.

I sort of hate what the cancer has done to my body, but man alive... do I love what it has done for my life.

My emotions run deeper, my attachments to the people in my life are tangible, love is a real force in my life.

I'm so grateful. For the people I love, and for the time that I get to spend with them. That my health is as good as it is right now. For more time, to clean my pantry. (Or, you know... watch the last three seasons of Gilmore Girls.)

Life is good, kids. Real, real, good.

I fully intend to have a merry rest of the year. (Heck, I'll probably even carry it to 2015!) I hope you do, too.


Monday, December 22, 2014

Up on the housetop reindeer pause

This is probably my earliest specific-to-Christmas memory...

We were in Provo for Christmas, visiting my mom's parents. I was upstairs (a rare occurrence, let me tell you!) with Grammy. We were in the front room. She was in her chair (the dark blue swivel rocker, for those of you who'd remember such things) and I was standing in front of her and we were singing Christmas songs.

She asked if I knew Up on the Housetop. I didn't. So, she offered to teach it to me.

She sang it through once so I could hear it before she started to teach me the words.



Two things I remember: she snapped her fingers with the "click, click, click", and I giggled at the thought of reindeer having paws.

When she finished the song, I told her the song was silly, because reindeer have hooves, not paws. She smiled her beautiful, happy, smile and told me that "pause" was a different word than "paws", and that it meant to stand still or wait for a minute.

I think of her every time I hear this song. I see her smile, and I hear her fingers snapping with the clicks, and I am grateful for a memory of singing with my grammy who was smart enough to slow down and take a minute to explain the difference in two words that sounded exactly alike to her precocious (that's the nicest word I can think of to describe myself) granddaughter.

Pictured below, Me. December 25, 1978.

(Don't worry that I had just turned four, two months before this picture was taken, and I'm as tall as the organ I'm standing in front of. ... I did stop growing. Eventually.)



The Christmas I learned that pause and paws are two different words.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

I'll be home for Christmas.

I will.

I'll be home.

Today.

Hopefully, by noon.

And, when I get there, I will eat candy until I'm sick and sing until I'm hoarse. And then, tonight, I'll sleep so both my belly and my throat can recover, and then I'll do it all over again tomorrow.

There's nowhere else I'd rather be. (Even if the weather is better here.)

All season, this song's been making me cry. (Who's kidding who? It always does. And when my girl Karen is the one singing it, I'm even more prone to get all sappy and emotional. I so love her!)

When I'd hear this song in early November, I'd have to change the channel, because it was too hard to hear this song that I love talk about doing this thing that I love that I didn't think I was going to get to do this year.

I know, that's so silly. But it's also so true. (Also, holy-run-on-followed-by-fragmented-sentences, Batman!)

I've always loved this song, but this year, I think I love it more than I ever have before. This year, I've felt it in a different way, and I am grateful for that.

I'm so (SO!) incredibly grateful for the time I've been given. It has been such a gift, that I've been able to enjoy the holiday season with my family and my friends, that I get to go home for Christmas this year, where I can eat fudge and sugar cookies and tamales and microwave popcorn and little boxes of sugar cereal and all of the other things that are Christmas to me.

In a world where it can be easy to let the cloud of a dirty scan overshadow all that is good and light in life, getting a 6-8 week reprieve on starting cancer treatments has been the best gift I've ever been given.

I'll be home for Christmas.

Today.

I freaking love my life!

Friday, December 19, 2014

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas

This...

This is my song.

This song. Perry Como's recording. The girls in the office actually refer to this as "Laurie's Song". For real.

Why?

Because, while I am a sing-a-long FOOL with just about anything on the work radio these days, this version of this song is my very tippy-top-cream-of-the-crop favorite.

It doesn't matter what I'm doing, who I'm talking to (my own self, a co-worker or even on the phone with a customer... yes, it's happened), I will break mid-conversation at approximately 2:08 to laugh/sing along with my boy Perry.



I'm telling you, I loooooooove this song!

Because it's cheerful. Because it makes me merry. And because, people, it really IS beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

Enjoy!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

This Year's Santa Baby

Okay, so... have you ever heard this song?

All praise to the mighty gods of Sirius radio for bringing me this little gem this year:



"Please help out my pet charity. ... You see, naturally, that's me."

Oh my gosh, I laughed OUT LOUD when I heard this song for the first time last week. I cannot believe that I'm 40 years old (and am a die hard fan of the Eartha Kitt Santa Baby!), and I had NEVER heard this before.

Love, love, love, love, love!

Apparently, Ms. Kitt released this beauty in 1954, as a follow up to her Santa Baby smashing  hit of 1953. (Isn't Christmas music trivia the most fun, ever? I love it! ... Now, that's a board game I could actually get behind. Hmmm... maybe next year I'll come up with something along those lines.)

Anyhoo, I hope you enjoyed that as much as I did. (Totally played it twice, just while I was typing this up. Ha!)


Wednesday, December 17, 2014

White Christmas



Tonight, I got to see White Christmas on the big screen.

Again.

Last year, I went with some single friends, and it was a good time.

This year, I took Cili with me. And it was... well... perfect.

I so love that kid!

C's such a funny, sassy, musical-loving kid. When I saw that White Christmas was the classic movie for this week, I knew she's who I should see it with this year. And I'm so glad that I did.

She was suitably impressed that I know the movie well enough to talk along with the dialogue...

"When what's left of you gets around to what's left to be gotten, what's left to be gotten won't be worth getting whatever it is you've got left."

And the ever popular,

"Well, I like that. Without so much as a 'kiss my foot!' or 'have an apple!'".

Also, 

"In some ways, you're far superior to my cocker spaniel."

But I digress.

Towards the end of the movie, as I was basking in the glory that is White Christmas (it was the final scene when they do the dinner and everyone's in uniform), I had a memory rush in of the year that Santa brought the VHS tape and a giant bag of Cheetos. (I think I was 15.) After everyone else went back to bed, my mom and I sat down on the brown couch in the family room, with the bag of Cheetos between us, and cried and sang and laughed and cried our way through the movie. (Those dang general scenes make me cry. Both in the beginning and at the end. Every time. For over 25 years.)

We'd been watching White Christmas for years, but only when it was on TV. We didn't own a copy of the movie until that year, and being able to sit down and watch it from beginning to end without commercials, just the two of us, with an unlimited supply of crunchy Cheetos... I remember that Christmas morning better than I remember most of them, because of the trifecta of awesomeness.

That Christmas morning was perfect.

Tonight, I took a 10 year old to see a movie with me. We had a giant tub of buttered popcorn to share (my one true love... even Cheetos have to take a backseat to buttered theater popcorn), more candy than any two girls should ever have access to at one time and two 32 oz Cokes. I quoted the movie, and sang my little heart out (and did a little chair dancing, as I am sometimes wont to do). C sat there next to me, sometimes laughing, sometimes staring straight ahead (I'm pretty sure my wild arm gestures to "Choreography" took her aback), and sometimes singing along (she knew every word to "The Best Things Happen While You're Dancing" - most impressive).

Just before Bing headed to NY to be on the Ed Harrison show, C leaned over and said she was going to fall asleep. (It was after 8:00 and she is a girl after my own heart, with her early bedtimes.) For maybe 5 minutes, she was drowsy... but then I whispered/sang my own special version of "Love", and she perked up.

By the beginning of that final scene, she was wide awake and happily singing along to the "Gee, I Wish I Was Back in The Army" song. We laughed and we sang, and I chair danced a little. And then, while Bing and Rosemary and Danny and Vera Ellen and Cili sang "White Christmas" and they threw the barn door open so everyone could see the snow, I just... sat there. Watching the movie, listening to my little ten year old friend sing along, and I realized... I was having a totally perfect moment.

Watching White Christmas.

Again.

But, this time, I was on the other end of that generational gap. Tonight, I was the grown up who was sharing a movie and some snacks with a kid that meant the world to her.

I love my life.

I do.

I love it.

I may not have children of my own to brainwash, but I do have children in my life. Cili's not my 10 year old, but tonight, I got to have a generational bonding experience with her.

I've always been grateful that Dean and Jo live so close, that I have so much access to them, to their family. 

But tonight, I'm grateful on an entirely different level.

At this point in my life, the reality is that I know that I will never have my own biological children. ... Mind you, I'm not giving up hope that someday I'll marry a fabulous man who'll buy me some babies from an orphanage in a foreign country where they'll never think to check my health history before they release some kids to my care. I am not giving up on the dream of being a mom and raising kids. But the reality is that I live in a body that grows cancer, not babies. That ship has sailed... around the world, actually. Twice. ... But tonight, I had a flash of focus where I could actually see that I had passed on something I love to another generation.

I'm so grateful for that gift, for this sudden awareness that I have given Cili some of the same things that Judy gave me. 

I'm so grateful that the Woods can see beyond all the potential damage I could do to their children, and they let me have an active role in their children's lives.

Tonight, I am grateful; for a movie I love, for the woman who taught me to love it, and for my friend who shares her children with me.

This may not be the circle of life that I expected, but it is the circle that I have... and I am infinitely grateful for what (and whom) I do have.

I'm grateful: For the perfect moments in my life, for movie musicals, and for the people I get to share both of those things with.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

We Three Kings

Many, many, moons ago, I was a sweet young thing, living in Provo and attending a BYU Ward.

Okay, fine. I wasn't such a sweet thing, but I was young. (Like I said, it has been many moons.)

I remember, the Sunday before the semester break, we had a musical Sacrament Meeting and three boys in the ward (Arden Anderson, Craig Woll and Terry Anderson, as I recall) sang We Three Kings a capella. ... It was one of the most beautiful things I'd ever heard in my live-long life.

Even now, whenever I hear this song, I hearken back to that Sunday in the Sky Room. I can feel my red velvet seat give beneath me as I lean forward to listen with my whole heart, and I can hear the boys singing a song I'd never truly listened to before that day. It was a beautiful, and life-changing, experience.

It's been almost 20 years since that December Sunday, but I've thought of that musical program every time I've heard this song over the years. I don't know that I'll ever be able to tell those boys what that song did for me back then, but I can tell the original 13 readers of the blog (and anyone else who may have hopped on board for the Christmas song-fest this year).

I love this song. 

I love this song, because the language and the harmonies are beautiful. But I also love this song because it reminds me of three young, but wise, men I knew once upon a time who stood up to sing without accompaniment in front of a room full of people. I literally thank God, every year, for what those men did for my relationship with this song. And for everything else they did that blessed my life - and the lives of countless others - in the mid 90's. (My life has been awesome. I've known so many incredible people, and those three men are some of the cream of the crop.)

The Beach Boys' a Capella version on YouTube is short (one verse), but it's men singing. Without accompaniment behind them, which is how I think this song sounds the best.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

A Few of My Favorite Things

I bet I just freaked you out a little bit with that title.

I bet you thought, "Oh, no! Laurie's one of those people who think that's a Christmas song?!"

Well, I'm not.

As much as I do love me some raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens, those are NOT Christmas wishes. That is NOT a Christmas song.

Nah, I'm just sitting on my couch, looking around my apartment, and thinking... "Man alive, I love this place. I love this holiday. I love all the memories I have, of Christmases here, and everywhere else I've ever been."

People, I have some sweet (SWEET!) memories.

Some of my favorite memories are here, some are in the blue - and then the pink - house with Julie and the Bens (we named our trees Ben, because they were big and strapping, like Brother #2 in Seven Brides... true story), some are in Taylor, some are in St. George, some are in Provo at my grandparents' house. I mean, really, they're everywhere. Every Christmas has been awesome, in its own way. I so love this time of the year!

I lead a charmed life, every day of the year. But there's something special about being a person who loves Christmas, because I am gifted with some pretty spectacular stuff by people who know and love me.

I know that sounds cheesy and ridiculous, but it's true. One of my favorite things about decorating for Christmas is all the people I think of as I pull ornaments and decorations out of my storage bins. As I look at my tree, and as I look around this tiny little apartment that I call home, I am reminded of so many other Christmases, and it makes my heart happy.

For the fun of it, and because sometimes I like to use my little corner of the www to catalog my most sentimental belongings, I'm gonna go ahead and show you a few of my favorite things around here.

How great is this ornament? It's from my friend Colette. Circa (and I'm guessing here, but I'm pretty sure I'm right) 1996. The ornament is actually a box, and when she gave it to me, it had the sweetest little poem about being a box full of love tucked inside. ... Sadly, the poem's been gone since the last house I lived in when I was in Provo. But the box remains, and it goes on my tree every year. I love it. It reminds me of my noodle-haired friend who sings like Barbara Streisand and has the Midas touch in the kitchen.

I love her. I love the memories I have with/of her. And I love that I have this small, tangible, thing that reminds me of her. Every year.


Ahhhh.... This little beauty is from my friend Christine. If memory serves, she gave me this ornament the Christmas of 2004. (I know it was after she moved to the valley. I was still living in Taylor, and I also know it wasn't the Christmas before I moved down to Mesa.)

I  love it! I love that Ch'chine knows me - has always known me - well enough to gift me with something that's a perfect match to the rest of my decorations. The colors, the shape of the ornament, the gold filigree. I love it, because it's beautiful. But mostly, I love it because of who it came from.


Oh, and these snowflakes. I LOVE THEM.

My friend Jen gave me these ornaments, I think, the second year I was in Taylor for Christmas. So... 2001? Maybe 2002. I love them!

They were the very first snowflake ornaments on my tree. Now, I have silver beaded snowflakes and crocheted snowflakes in the mix, but these are my favorite. I love them. I love them because the glass is clear and the light shines right through them, I love them because they have these gorgeous sheer red or green ribbons tied at the top of the string they hang from. I love them because they're beautiful and classy, and I love them because they remind me of my friend who is one of the most beautiful and classy women I have ever known.

I think of Jennifer every year as I take them out of the little Santa box she gave them to me in, and I think of her throughout December as I look over at my tree and see the proof that she has been part of my life for so many years. Ya might have to dig deep to find the parts of me that are classy and refined, but I like to think that they're in there - and what I know is that the reason they're there is because I have been friends with Jennifer O.



Oh, yeah. And THIS. I LOVE THIS THING!

The first Christmas I lived here, Jo came over with my Christmas present and told me that Rook (her son who is now 13... he was 5 at the time) had seen this in the dollar store and had insisted that they buy it for me.

According to five year old Rook, this hideous little jingle bell snowflake had my name written all over it.

Awh, man. It's such an ugly little ornament. But I love it! I love that it is ALL jingle bells. It's too big for my tree (also, did you notice the purple bells in the center... they wouldn't match a dang thing on the actual tree), so it's been tied to the door knob on my front door every year since 2006. Yup. Tied to the door with that same piece of red yarn. For eight Christmases in a row. (One year, it was there ALL YEAR LONG, because I forgot to take it down and by the time I realized my door was still jingling, it was May. I figured, what was seven months more?)

Anyway, I love it. I'll never know what went through that child's mind when he saw it in the store (let's be real... I don't know that I want to know what he thought about ME, for this to be something that reminded him of me), but I love that he had to buy it for me. I love that it's bright and cheery and jingles every time the door opens or closes.



The star Kirk made me when he was in High School wood shop.

Kirkey made me this star for either Ben #1 (in the blue house) or Ben #2 (in the pink house), I'm not sure. 

What I do remember for sure about Ben #1 was Jule and I got it into our sick little heads that we wanted to have a homemade, old-fashioned, tree, complete with old wooden spools tied with red ribbon and homemade gingerbread men.

Not a wise choice, in a house full of mice. And that's all I'm going to say about that.

Okay, no it isn't. Because to not tell the tale of the mice sliding the cookies across the kitchen counter as they cooled and dumping them behind the stove would be a crime. As would not bringing up how they'd chase each other up and down the tree, fighting over cookies and wooden spools, all month long.

For someone who's creeped out BIG TIME by vermin, it's shocking that the mice didn't make me want to move right out of that old house. (Well, sort of, they did. But as long as we had a tree up, they were more amusing than they were horrifying.)

Oh my gosh... and with Ben #2, we somehow angered a van full of angry men (it wasn't me, Julie was driving) and we got chased all the way from the tree lot to Greg and Doug's house. ... Because if you're two irrational women running from something/someone, it makes perfect sense to drive straight to your boy cousins' house and walk right in like you own the place. Am I right?

Anyway... memories. My life is chock full of them. As is this star. It's been on every tree, in every house, for twenty years. I love it!



And while I'm looking up at that picture of the star, I'd like to draw your attention to the Christmas clock on the wall in my kitchen. I love it! ... It sings a different Christmas carol on the hour, every hour. I've had it for, like, twenty years. I think I paid $10 at Smith's in Provo for that thing. When I moved home in 2000, I hung it in my parents' living room and the music made my dad want to scream. Ha!

See the big Santa pic? My friend Lana sketched that. Isn't it awesome? I bought that print from her for $10 in 2005. I've hung it every year since then. A lot of people have commented/complimented me on it over the years. I super duper love it, and not JUST because that's a pretty close mock-up of the Coca Cola Santa.

And the Noel wall hanging. Oh my gosh, I love that thing. My mom made a bunch of those as Christmas gifts for family when I was a little girl. We had that one hanging in our living room my entire childhood. When I came home from St. George, I was so happy to see it that I'm pretty sure I cried. When I moved to Provo 18 months later, I took it with me.

See below. I grew up with this Christmas decoration, both literally and metaphorically. No matter how simple Christmas is/was, this little felt beauty has always been a part of it. I love it!





The year Julie and I lived in the pink house, I couldn't go home for Christmas. Around Thanksgiving, I got a package from my mom. In it was the very last scrap of the red and white checked flannel she'd used to make our stockings, some white flannel to piece a stocking with, her embroidery floss and needle book, and some patterns I could use to make myself my own stocking.

Fun Fact #1: The candy canes are the very first pattern I ever embroidered. When I was in 5th grade, I decided to make everyone in my class a present, and Judy taught me how to embroider. I made candy canes and daffodils. I'm pretty sure they were a disaster... but I have always loved these criss-crossed candy canes, so they were a given for the toe of the stocking. (My brother Brett has them on his stocking that Mom made him when he was a baby.)

Fun Fact #2: I made this stocking with my own bare hands, and never noticed that it hangs the wrong way. It took Jule and me throwing our annual Christmas Festival for our cousins' roommate, Rustin, to see it and ask if I had made it. I was so proud, because I had, indeed, made it. His reply was classic, "I figured. ... Did you realize it hangs backwards?" Uh, no. No, I had NOT realized it was backwards. And I had used all of the flannel my momma had sent me, so there was no redoing it. Awh, well. I love it, anyway. And I sort of love it even more with the toe pointing the wrong way.



I love this little 3 person nativity.

It's from Jo. (Of course it is. She's always wanting me to remember the reason for the season. ... I kid. ... Sort of.) She gave it to me the first year I lived in this apartment (2006), and it's been front and center every year since.

I love the colors, the height, that it's just the three of them, that it's all one piece.

I love that it's from Jo. 

I love that I'm still friends with my best friend since Jr High. It's more than a little mind blowing that we've known each other for almost 30 years, that we've lived 3 miles apart (again) for the last nine of those, that we've had Sunday dinner every week, every year, that we've texted and called and often seen each other during the week outside of Sundays, and we have never run out of things to say.

I'm lucky. We're lucky. Who gets a real, life-long, friendship, besides us? I love her and I'm so grateful that we live close enough that we get to see each other often. No one else would let me screw their kids up the way she does. I'm so glad I have her. She cuts up watermelons for me in the summer and buys me stuff like for Christmas. I'm the luckiest girl in the world!



Ahhhhh... Dorothy's slipper.

AKA: The Wicked Witch of the East's slipper.

Tomato/tomahto.

Kathy U. bought this for me, and shipped it to me, when she was on her honeymoon, as I recall. I love it! It's the sparkliest thing on my tree, so it always goes in the middle of the tree, where the glitter can catch and reflect maximum lightage.

Isn't it lovely?

I've known Kathy the Younger since she was a kid, and she never ceases to surprise and delight me. I love her as much as I love red glitter and all things sparkly. Which is to say: as much as I love life itself.



This is a new one.

My brother Brett made it. Dude blows glass, and this year he thought he'd try his hand at Christmas balls.

Isn't it awesome? Clear green glass with a polka dot pattern. This shot was taken from above the ornament, but I wish you could see how it glitters and throws the lights.

Brett and Karen brought a box of ornaments home with them for Thanksgiving and let Katie and me pick what we wanted, before they hit the market. Kate took the big green ball, and I took the little one. It makes my heart happy that my sister and I have matchy-matchy-green-squared ornaments that our brother made.


My life is rich with memories. (Honestly, I think I have more good memories than my fair share, but man alive... do I love them!) I'm grateful for the people in my life, for the amazing people who have always blessed my life, for the trails they've left in my past and for the trinkets I have to remember them by.

Sitting here, in my little house, surrounded by things that I love brings me joy. I love it here, all the time. But especially at Christmas.

Life is good, peeps. It's good without a flocked tree, but I'm not going to lie... it's even better with one!

Man alive, I love Christmas! I love the sights and the smells and the music and the food. I love it all! But, mostly, I love the people who've helped me enjoy Christmas over the years. Thank you for sharing my life and making me merry, for reading my blog and for keeping up with what's happening in my world. I wouldn't be who I am without you, and I love ya more than I can say.

Happy Christmas! Be Merry!

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Merry Christmas to me!

I'm telling you, I freaking love my life right now.

There's a flocked tree, full to the brim with white lights, in my living room. I have near-constant Christmas music playing in my life, and every night is another adventure in falling asleep to cheesy Christmas movies on Netflix. Candy Cane Oreos are back on the shelves at the store, and oranges are good again.

Life is good.

It is very, very, good.

I'm totally aware that it's only the 6th, but I swear... this is my best December ever.

I'm not even kidding.

Last weekend, I was at home, and spent hours singing with Judy and Katie, visiting friends and spending time with family. Since I've been back in my own home (yeah, I have two homes... don't be jealous), I've had movie nights with friends - both with the dvd player and in the theater, hot chocolate and toast and pumpkin bread and peppermint taffy and so many other tastes of this season that I love so much.

I went into December, being so grateful that I got to keep my hair for Christmas, and what I've realized is... I'm getting so much  more than that.

It's amazing to me, how many prayers in my life are being answered these days. My gut says that I'm really not getting any more prayers answered than I typically do, that I'm just more aware than I usually am. But I don't care. It sorta feels like I'm getting everything I want right now, and that is making me a pretty special kind of happy this holiday season.

I'm not sure what the word for this is, but it feels like happiness squared.

And I'm grateful.

I'm grateful for so many things. For the opportunity to live this month of my life without cancer treatments and scarves and wigs hanging over my head (no pun intended). For the chance to spend time with my favorite kids, singing silly songs and doing ridiculous things. For however much time I have left to feel this level of crappy. (Suddenly, a steady 4 on a scale of 1-10 is feeling more like an 8.) For the people that I love, for the opportunity to spend as much time as I can with each and every one of them.

I'm so grateful for answered prayers, even (okay, especially) when the prayers are silly and seemingly inconsequential.

The Lord loves me, and I love Him back.

Oh, yeah. And I loooooooove Christmastime. Forever and ever. Amen.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

The best Christmas present ever.

Can you believe it's November 30th?! ... I sure can't.

I'm not sure if it's because I've spent the last several months napping in my spare time, or if it's because the Earth really is rotating faster on its axis (I know, I know... it's probably the naps), but I honestly can't make any sense of where the last six months have gone.

Tomorrow, it's December.

But I feel like Christmas has already come.

I've been a real slacker at updating the blog lately. (See above: I've been napping.) I made every effort to contact people personally, but just in case anyone reads the blog who isn't in my phone or tied to me through the Facebook, I'll say it again...

I had my scan last week. The growth in my side hasn't changed at all, and Leftie has gone from two inches to two and a half inches at her widest point. (My tumors are usually male. But considering this one's on an ovary, I figured it was only right to assign her a female identity, complete with a name ending in "ie".) I know (oh, trust me, I KNOW) that half inch sounds like a lot. It's roughly 20% growth (which, again, I know sounds like a lot), but it turns out that 20% is smack in the middle of the safety zone (5%) and the danger zone (50%), so Dr. H let me decide if I wanted to start chemo now, or wait another scan cycle.

Hello, easiest decision ever. I'm keeping my hair for Christmas! (I decided this after conferring with the good doctor, of course. He assures me that if/when this tumor starts to really grow, I'm going to know it. I feel like it's plenty safe to put off chemo for another scan cycle, because I know what symptoms to be on the lookout for, and I know that I have a direct line (either phone or email) into my beloved doctor if/when I cross that bridge.)

Having had the expectation that chemo would most likely be happening during the holiday season, I can't even tell you what it has meant to me to have that sentence lifted. (Seriously. I can't tell you, because I tear up and lose the ability to speak, every time I stop long enough to actually think about what I've been given for Christmas this year: Time.)

Because I didn't have an outpatient procedure this week to put in a port, I was able to go home for Thanksgiving for the first time since 2008, and it was a glorious, wonderful, fabulous, festive and song-filled weekend. (Judy, Katie and I started caroling Friday morning - it was the day after Thanksgiving, so it was totally okay - and the music didn't stop until bedtime last night.)

It was great to be home with family and visit with friends at home. I'm going back in three weeks for Christmas, and please believe me when I say that I couldn't be happier about that.

I love this time of year. I love it more than I can say!

I'd resigned myself to the thought that I'd be sick and tired for the holidays this year (more tired than usual, and sicker than I've ever been), and I was okay with that, because when it comes to the cancer, rolling with the punches is easier than fighting them, and if chemo is what I have to do next, then chemo, it is. ... So, getting the holidays back, complete with trips home to Taylor to spend time with my family (and friends who are like family) there? It means more to me than I could ever say.

So, tomorrow it's December. And, while I have no idea how that happened, I intend to live every day in December to its fullest. (Even if that means that I fall asleep on the couch at 5:00, Netflixing a cheesy Christmas movie, I'll be living and loving the crap out of this December!)

I don't know that I've ever had a more grateful Thanksgiving, and I'm looking forward to December more than I'm sure I ever have. It's amazing, the perspective that an extra 1/2 inch on a tumor can give a girl.

That 1/2 inch growth really is the best gift I've ever been given, and I'm incredibly, amazingly, humbly, grateful for that gift.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Answers

I've received a few texts this week from friends and family like with a similar theme of, "Inquiring Minds Want to Know", so I thought I'd do a blog post and answer some of those questions publicly. You know, just in case any one of the original seven are out there, wondering, and unsure if it's okay to ask...

How I'm feeling:

I'm alright. Tired. (Okay, fine. Exhausted is probably a better word. I wake up feeling decent, but by 10:00, usually, I'm tired. And it's all downhill from there. I don't even have words for how worn out I am by the time the sun goes down. But I'm alright.) My pain levels have been holding steady for the last three or so weeks, and I'm not any tired-er now than I was in my birthday week, which I'm considering a win. My cough is still hanging out. It's not going away, but it's not really getting any worse, either. So, I can't complain there. My bowels are real special, but not in any way that isn't, sadly, typical for this aged body of mine. So, like I said... I'm alright.

What happened with the car:

After six weeks of waiting, including a solid two weeks of back and forth discussions (I call them "discussions", because that seems like the nicest way to describe said conversations) with the insurance company, the Neon was deemed a total loss and my ins co cut me a check that I was able to use as a partial down payment on a 2013 Chevy Captiva. I've been driving my new-to-me ride for about two weeks now, and I must say...


I love it. I love that the seats are high. (I no longer mutter - or sometimes yell - expletives getting in and/or out of my car. ... It's been a long 4 1/2 years, people.) I love that the transmission is automatic. (No more having to shift down in rush hour traffic!) I love that it came with a 3 month trial of Sirius radio. (Who enjoys the sounds of the 40's? This girl. And now I can listen to big band music ON THE RADIO, IN MY CAR!) I love that I can hit 70 mph and not worry that my car's going to shake itself to pieces...

Come December, I may not love having a car payment again (it's been longer than I can think of, off the top of my head, since the Neon was paid off), but I figure that it was a necessary purchase... and I'm loving the heck out of the new mobile! It may have taken an Act of God to make me (okay, fine... allow me to justify the decision to) purchase a new car, but I'm glad that it did. Life is easier for my body when I'm in a higher ride, and I'm glad I finally have one of my very own (seat warmers, included).

When I will start chemo:

We don't know. ... Possibly as soon as the week of Thanksgiving. Potentially around MLK Day in January. Maybe around Easter next spring?

I had an appt with my beloved Dr. H yesterday (I had some follow-up questions to the last time I saw him, so I called his office and got myself on his schedule, like any good girlfriend would do) to go over some of the fun (read: not so fun) parts of what's coming my way. We're both hopeful that my lack of significant and obvious deterioration means that my little friends aren't growing SUPER fast in there, and we can put this chemo business off for another scan cycle or two.

My next scan is scheduled for the 20th. I'll get the results on the 21st.

Until then, I'm living a delicate balance of planning for the worst and hoping for the best. (Planning for the worst: I spent all weekend cleaning out my closet and under my bathroom sink, because I wanted to get that done before I'll be too tired and weak to even supervise someone else doing it. ... Hoping for the best: I plan on buying a Christmas tree on my way home from my results appointment and setting it up that night while I watch Elf and laugh myself sick.)

Those are the three most commonly asked questions. If there's anything else any of you darling readers would like to know, go ahead and leave a comment/call/text/fb/email me... whatever (just please don't leave me a voicemail if you call and I don't answer... voicemail stresses me out and I don't need that in my life right now), and I'll get back to you as soon as I can.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

40 things that I loved about my 30's

It's my birthday.

I am 40 years old.

My goodness, I don't even know how that happened... but it did. And, all things considered, I'm glad that it did.

My life has been awesome. I've known the most incredible people, and I've had so many downright hilarious things happen to/around me. I am, truly, blessed.

I've loved my life. Maybe not every day of my life... but I have loved my life, nonetheless.

I'm not a woman who's ever struggled with getting older. I've always been able to own my age, and I've never wanted to turn back the clock and have a re-do. I am who I am because of where I have been, what I have done, and the people I have known. I wouldn't change any of it. I've never struggled with a milestone birthday, and I've never wanted to deny my true age. I figure, I've earned it.

I have loved every birthday. I have loved every year. I have loved every decade.

And I have loved my 30's most of all.

So, today, as I say goodbye to my 30's, I pay homage to them by listing...

40 Things I Have Loved About My 30's

I learned to stop wishing my life was different, and started to really appreciate all that I do have.

Moving to "the valley".

Speaking of which... I have loved living in this tiny apartment for the near entirety of my 30's. (I moved in, just a few months after turning 31. And now I am 40.) It was never my plan to park myself in a 600 sq foot apartment and stay there for a decade, but I'm glad that it's worked out this way. I love it here. It's big enough to meet my needs, and small enough that living here has never exceeded my means.

Living within miles of two (count them, TWO) theaters that play classic movies on the big screen.

I stopped thinking I couldn't wear that skirt because it was too short and my legs were too chubby.

Exploring San Francisco with Mich and G.

I stopped caring if my hair didn't do exactly what I wanted it to do, and decided to appreciate this glorious head of hair for what it is. (And it is, quite simply, a glorious head of hair.)

Sunday Dinner. (Yeah, I capitalized both words. Because it's that important to me.)

Girls' trips to Disneyland.

Bacon Night with Jo and Mon.

I've learned that it really is the way the pants fit - not the size listed on the tag - that matters.

Ball Girl Baking Retreats.

I stopped throwing fits. I'm not sure when or how or why, exactly, I stopped being super dramatic and emotional when life threw me a curve ball. But I did, and I'm really glad.

Living 3 miles from Jo again.

Panda Express has been "on the way home" for the last 9 years...

Mint Kit-Kats

I've learned that everyone has their own path, that what is right for one person isn't necessarily right for another. And that's okay..

The DC trip with Judy.

Grown-Up Cousin Bonding. (Again, I capped every word. Because I love it that much.)

For real, I love my cousins so much that I'm totally going to talk more about that... right now. I love that I have most of my cousin's numbers in my phone. I love that we text can text each other at all hours of the day and night across state lines, that Beth facebooks me and/or calls from England. I love that we have a weekend together with just the girls at Aunt Deb's. I love that Julie comes and stays with me, that we sit by the pool and soak up both the sun and our time together. I love that John's girls make me care packages when I have surgery. I love that I can sit on the floor and laugh - and/or cry - with Debbie's girls. I love that Amy and Holli drove over 6 hours, just to spend 90 minutes in the same building as me, at my Jester'z fundraiser. I love that Greg, Doug, Julie and I were in open competition for over two decades over who was going to be the first to "get" cancer. I love the matching necklaces that Linz had made for us. I love that we share our lives - and our recipes (yes, my real, actual, recipes) - on the facebook. ... I love my cousins. More than I ever thought I could, back when I was a kid and saw some of them maybe once a year, or when I was a teenager and Beth and I were pen-pals and wrote letters back and forth, or even when I was in my 20's and lived with Julie and G&D were in our ward. Across my extended family, those relationships have deepened and broadened and blessed my life. I am so incredibly grateful for all my friends who are also my family. I wouldn't be who I am without having had them in my life.

Warm winters. (There's been ice on the sidewalk in front of my apartment once in the last nine years. One night, in nine years, it was cold enough to freeze water where I live. Isn't that glorious?!)

Weekends in Vegas. -- I cherish memories of being in Genevra's home. Sometimes, there were six of us under her two-bedroom roof, and sometimes it was just the two of us. There is a calm and peaceful feeling that I get when I'm with her, anywhere... but especially when we're on her home turf. I love it there, and I'm so grateful for all the times she's welcomed me into her home over the last 10 years.

Castle.

Getting to watch Roomie, Rook, Cili, Maggie and Sally get big.

My relationship with Amazon.com. (For a nominal fee, those people will mail me anything I want!)

"Book Club" dinners with Jo's kids and my nephews.

Staying up all night - literally, all night - talking with Chris.

Seeing so many of my good friends get married and start families. It's been so great to see so many fabulous people in my life get what they wanted the most. (Christine & Melanie, I'm talking to you.)

Taking cake decorating class with Christian and Christine.

I've learned so much about my body; what it can withstand, what it can live through, what it can recover from. It's astonishing, really.

And while I'm thinking about my body, I have to say that I'm grateful for my doctors, for the surgical staff and nurses who've taken care of me... so many times. Being the blood-and-fluids-woosy-woo that I am, down to the core of my soul, I cannot understand what makes people choose the medical field. But I'm glad that they do, and I'm grateful for all that those people have done for me.

I have loved what being sick has done for my relationships. While I wouldn't wish this on anyone ("even on my worst day" - ha!), it has been such a great clarifier for all the important relationships in my life.

I have loved the time my surgeries have given me with my mother. It's not the best/most fun way for us to get to spend time together, but I have loved that she's been able to be here with me. For weeks at a time. Every time.

Kazoozles were invented. (Willy Wonka is THE MAN!)

It's been great to watch my church girls grow up. When I met them, they were between 8 and 10 years old, and I was their Primary leader. Now, I talk to those same girls and they are the most incredible young women. I'm so grateful that I've been able to see them grow up, that... for better or for worse... I've had a hand in how they all turned out. (They're all awesome, so I figure I didn't do any permanent damage.)

One of the single greatest life lessons I have learned: Roll with the punches instead of fighting them. They're going to come, no matter what I do. I now know that if I don't waste energy fighting change, I'm better able to adapt to my new reality.

I've learned that choices are cumulative. I am where I am and who I am, because of where I have been and the people I have known. Choices I made in my late teens and early 20's continue to impact my life; professionally and personally, I am who I am because of who I was. Being aware that the choices I made over twenty years ago have shaped who I am helps me to know that it's incredibly important to make solid choices in the here and now.

I've learned to live and let live. Other than grammar and punctuation, I don't really feel the need to stand in judgement of another person. It doesn't do me any good to judge someone, and it sure isn't going to help anyone else if I'm standing over here, feeling superior.

I've learned that I really do lead a charmed life. ... I mean, I always thought I did. But now I know it. I've been incredibly lucky to have known so many amazing people in my life. I have always known that my friends and family are generous, thoughtful, kind and loving. ... I never knew that I would stand in literal, physical/temporal, need of their thoughtfulness, kindness and generosity. But I have. And they have been there. ... I'm so grateful.

I've learned that love really is the most powerful force on earth.

Life has been good to me. My 30's, in particular. ... I'm grateful for where I have been, and I'm curious to see where I go from here.

Happy Birthday, to me!

Monday, October 6, 2014

And then there were eight...

As most of you are aware, last Thursday was scan day. Which means that Friday, I got the results.

And the verdict is... I have a new tumor. On my left ovary. (Turns out my brain isn't the only organ that thought it would be a bad idea to even think about trying to put a baby in this body. Ever.) And I'm officially inoperable. So... chemo.

Rather than starting chemo right away, Dr. H asked if we could push it out six weeks, for a couple reasons:

1) The chemo he'll put me on is BRUTAL and he doesn't want to make me that sick until he absolutely HAS to.

2) He'd like to use Thursday's scan as a base and run another CT to see how fast it's growing before he starts a drip.

So, I have a scan scheduled for 11/20. If that scan shows tremendous growth, he'll admit me and start chemo asap. If the November scan doesn't show tremendous growth - and if I'm still not experiencing life-altering symptoms - he'll push it another six weeks.

My pain level will always supercede any scheduled scans. If I start waking up at night because of the pain, or if I start coughing and cannot stop, or am nauseated every day of my life, etc., I am to call and he'll do an emergency admit and start the drip.

I didn't get the name of the chemo. (Truth is, I didn't even have an appointment with H on Friday. My appointment was with G, to get the results of the PET. ... But the results of the test mean that I need chemo, and H will be my chemo doctor. So, H, out of the goodness of his heart, made some time to come in and talk to me for a few minutes. ... I love that man. ... I need to make an appointment this week, so I can go back and ask a few follow-up questions.) What I do know is that this chemo is one of the two hardest out there. It will be ugly. He'll admit me for 4-5 days for every round (yeah, I'll live in the hospital - for days - for every round of chemo... sounds groovy, right?), and then let me rest for three weeks between rounds. They'll do two rounds, then do a scan to see if it's shrinking. If it is shrinking/holding, we'll do more chemo. If it's growing, then we'll "do something else". Don't ask me what that means, because I'm not sure. ... I asked, and he was evasive. (Awesome. Possum.)

What I do know:

The PET showed four hot spots: a gland in my neck (remember how I told you that I was so tired that my teeth hurt? ... well, there was enough swelling there that it showed up on the scan), two spots in my left side (these little dudes would be what is now coming up from the tissue left behind in my last surgery) and Leftie. (This is what I have named my new little friend.)

I don't know how big these new friends are. What I do know is the SUV uptake on Leftie is more than twice (almost three times, really) that of the larger friend in my left side, and while that's a little freaky, I'm choosing to believe the S in SUV really does stand for "Shiny" (this is what G told me on Friday, to help me both understand and come to terms with all the shiny/sparkly bits of my body that popped on the PET), because somehow, it feels better to think my left ovary is sparkly... and not maybe dying.

How I feel about this new ovarian revelation:

Ehhhh. (That's right. I feel "ehhhh".) It might be because I'm in shock, having recently seen the sentence, "Ovarian metastisis is suspected." appear on my PET report. It might be the copious amount of Dr. Pepper that is, even now, racing through my veins, numbing all internal sensitivities. It might be that I know, deep down, that, truly, nothing has changed. That my body has been doing what it's been doing for months... and that the PET just gave me the information. On a lot of levels, I knew this was coming. And while I wasn't expecting Leftie to fall, I have been waiting for a shoe to drop. And it did.

So, I will do this.

And in the meanwhile, I'm grateful that I have October.

I may not have all the energy I'd like to have, but I'm glad that Dr. H's plan is giving me my birthday month before there's a real possibility that I'll start to lose my hair and my lunch on a regular basis. Go ahead and call me Pollyanna, but I am deliriously happy that I get this ENTIRE month for myself and all of my silly celebratory ways. (Speaking of which... Anyone want to take me and all my tumors to dinner, while we can still eat anything we want?)

Saturday, October 4, 2014

The Universe Loves Me

It really does.

Listen up, and I'll tell you how I know.

First off, EIGHT SOLID HOURS of sleep last night. (Who cares if those eight hours started at 9:00 and I was wide awake at 5:00? Not me, that's who! Eight hours of sleep is eight hours of sleep, and it doesn't matter when/how I get it.)

By 6:00, I'd packed the Jeep with my bags of returns and hit the road.

Too bad WalMart is the only place that's open that early, so I didn't get to run all my return errands. But still. I was able to return two full bags of crap there, and that made me happy.

After trolling through WalMart, picking up all the stuff I didn't buy when I was there, just last night (light bulbs for the bathroom... because I can't seem to keep all three lights in there alive at the same time, liquid plumber, because stress makes my hair fall out... and I've been a little stressed lately, the brown shrug I knew I should have grabbed up yesterday when I heard it calling my name), I was headed home.

And then hunger struck.

Raging, angry, hunger.

So I did the only thing a hungry woman who was only 2 miles away from home could do... I pulled a u-turn in the Jeep and backtracked to Taco Bell.

Yes, at 7:00 AM. Don't judge. ... I happen to love bean burritos and nachos for breakfast.

I placed my standard order (bean burrito with extra red sauce and sour cream, nachos supreme and a large mountain dew) and the girl gave me the total... And then the mic crackled and a male voice came over the speaker, telling me they'd emptied the fryer for cleaning that morning, so they couldn't make my nachos (*bonus -- I now know that Taco Bell fresh fries their chips... also, they clean their fryers... who'd have guessed? .... on both counts, really).

I was on the verge of bursting into angry tears, but then the man told me that, since I couldn't have nachos, he'd give me anything I wanted on the menu (that wasn't fried) FOR FREE.

You heard me. I got a free Taco Bell breakfast. ... After 8 solid hours of sleep.

Like I said: The Universe FREAKING Loves Me.

Today's gonna be awesome.


Friday, October 3, 2014

Yup, I'm that girl.

You know the girl.

The one who buys herself whatever she wants.

Just because...

But especially on a hard day.

Yeah, I'm that girl.


I just love daisies.

They make me smile. Always.

But, especially when they're in MY house, on MY table, in my blue vase that always makes me think of You've Got Mail ("a vase... a vaaaaase?"), they make my smile.

I may not always get what I want, but I'll be damned if I can't buy myself flowers any time I want them.

So, here I am. 

At home. 

With daises on my kitchen table and the smell of clean laundry in my bedroom. 

I love it here.

Let the weekend begin.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Bucket Lists

As anyone who's known me for, say... half a minute knows, I am a list-loving FOOL!

I make:

Grocery Lists
Shopping Lists
Packing Lists
Cleaning Lists
Baking Lists
Lists of Lists...

Seriously, I am a list-loving fool! (One year, one of my girlfriends gave me a list-o-graphy book. It's like a journal, sort of. But it's organized in lists that tell the story of one's life. I love it!)

Anyhoo... I am a lover of a list. I like writing my tasks down, and I like scratching them off. Lists bring me joy.

And yet, there's one list that I simply cannot bring myself to make: The Bucket List.

It's funny, I never knew that I had strong feelings about TBL (yeah, I totally just made that acronym up) until I had the cancer.

There are all these songs about bucket lists, movies about bucket lists. Most people I know have a Bucket List (at the very least, in their head). But not me.

Here's the thing... as much as I do love a list, I only like to write things down that I know I'm going to be able to cross off. And TBL, by its very nature, screams to me that there may not be time to get it all done.

I don't know... it makes me nervous.

So, I don't have ABL. (Did you catch that? A Bucket List, acronymed. ... I must be slap happy, because I am breaking grammar rules left and right, making up acronyms and VERBING "acronym", while I'm at it.)

Tonight, Gone With The Wind was the classic movie at the Cinemark in my neighborhood. It's been on my calendar in my phone for weeks, if not months. I'd been so looking forward to seeing one of my most favorite movies of all time on a big screen... but here's the thing: My spine feels like it wants to pop out of my body. Usually, I get enough rest and down time on the weekend that I start the week w/o pain, and then it just gets gradually worse throughout the week... but this week has NOT been typical in that way. I woke up in pain on Monday, and it's gradually gotten worse.

I was still planning on going to the movie, until about 4:00 this afternoon, when I realized how much it hurt to sit up in my chair at work... which meant that going to a theater to watch a four hour movie that started at 7:00 wasn't in the cards.

And, luckily, seeing GWTW wasn't on my (imaginary or otherwise) BL, because... as much as I would have loved to hear Tara's Theme in surround sound and look at a larger than life Rhett Butler on the big screen, my body needed me to ground myself to my couch tonight.

Once again.

I sort of hate that I've had to break plans twice this week (and it's only Wednesday), because I'm too tired and worn down to do anything in the evening after work... but, at the same time, I'm glad I've been able to put in some extra hours at work in the last few days, because the next two days will be shorter work days, due to my medical schedule.

And I'm glad that my laundry is done, and every dish in my kitchen is clean, and that I have actual, bonafide, vacuum lines on my cheappie carpet.

And I'm glad that I don't have ABL, because it was a bitter enough pill to swallow that I couldn't see the movie in the theater tonight, because my body needed me to stay home... if I'd missed a chance to cross an item off A BUCKET LIST, I would have been truly bummed.

But since seeing that movie on the big screen was just Something I've Always Wanted To Do (and not Something I Want To Do Before I DIE), I was okay with sitting at home, watching the dvd, and typing this random post.

Sometimes, I think it's super awesome that I have this brain that's all over the place, because it helps me have Pollyanna moments in my own living room. (Other times, I just give myself a headache. But tonight, I'm happy with my DVD and glass full of tap water. And, for that, I am grateful.)

Monday, September 29, 2014

The State of the Union

Don't mind the political nature of the title of this post. ...  My couch and I have been spending a lot of time with my friends in The West Wing this month. (I'm about seven episodes from the end of the series. ... I can't say any more than that, because I'll probably start to cry about it. Again.)

But for real... here's what's going on in my world:

Lots of TV watching. Usually because I'm too tired to do more than sit/lie/fall asleep in a sitting position on my couch... but sometimes because I wake up in the middle of the night with a busy brain and can't go back to sleep.

Lots of crying. ... See the statement above about how I keep waking up in the middle of the night with a busy brain. I happen to live in a body that needs 8 hours of sleep to function. ... And I haven't had a solid 8 hours of sleep on the reg since, oh... August. (I did get a solid 10 hours Saturday night. - Thank you double dose of Ativan combined with two Tylenol PM! - Which gave me hope that maybe I'd be in actual control of my emotions yesterday. Uh, no. No, I was not in any kind of control. And if you don't believe me, feel free to ask my sweet little 6 year old niece, Hazel. The poor kid was sitting on my lap in church when I could not get it together. Shoot. Me. Now.)

Lots of weird little projects. (Walk-in closet cleaned out? Check. Kitchen towels organized in the hall closet? Check. All hot pads washed and mended where hot bacon grease may or may not have incinerated entire sections of yarn? Also, check.) See statements above about the busy brain. My options, when my brain is this busy, are to either make my hands just as busy as my brain is... or to sit on the floor and cry. Sometimes, I get a lot accomplished. Sometimes, I don't.

Here's the thing: I am tired. More tired than I think I have ever been. (And, kids, I have been tiiiiii-red.) This has been the busiest month, bar none, of my life. Which, truly, I think has been a good thing... because without all the stuff that's been keeping my hands busy, I'm afraid that my super-active brain would have imploded on itself and killed me on the spot. But still, I am tired.

So tired that I can't handle talking on the phone, unless I'm driving at the same time. ... Because I need the distraction of driving to keep myself from bursting into tears. So tired that I still haven't counted the cash from the bake sale/Jester'Z fundraiser of last week. (Seriously. I haven't even unzipped the bag it's been sitting in. On my table. For almost a week.) So tired that I honestly considered sleeping on my closet floor on Saturday, because I wasn't sure that I had the energy to pick myself up and put myself to bed.

If it wasn't so laughable, how tired I am, it would be pathetic. I mean, I'm so tired right now that my gums are swollen and my teeth hurt, which is a new low, even for me. (It's awesome that I think that's funny, right?!)

The good news is... (drum roll, please) Dr. G fought a good fight with my insurance company, and I'm scheduled to have my radioactive injection on Thursday.

The PET is Thursday morning at 7:00, and I'll get results on Friday around 10:00.

And as much as I am a leery of getting the results (at this point... and trust me when I say that I've thought of and through ALL of the possible scenarios here - usually in the middle of the night... there really isn't a scenario/treatment plan/surgical option that I'm a fan of), I am hopeful that once I have concrete information as to what's causing the cramping on my left side, I'll be able to sleep. For at least six hours. And then maybe the swelling in my gums will go down and I'll be able to smile a whole smile. (A girl can dream, right?)

Until then, I have six and a half episodes of TWW to get through. (Yeah, I've watched a good half an episode while I've been typing. Remember how I told you I have to multitask, or I cry? Case. In. Point.)

As always, more details will come as I have them. For now, I just wanted to check in with ya'll (I thought maybe it was time to talk about more than the Neon... and no, I still don't have an answer there, the latest is that they'll have final word by Friday this week) and let you know that while I am one tired girlie, I am still kicking. I may not be answering my phone or making any unnecessary public appearances, due to lack of social (or any other kind of) energy, but I'm hanging in there. I'm grateful that it's FINALLY scan week, and am super hopeful that the (okay, my) hyper emotional insanity is about to end.

Friday, September 26, 2014

This is what happened this morning...


That's right, the Neon got towed away.

Now, before you get all excited, thinking the saga of the flooded car has come to an end, please let me assure you that we are SO not at the end of this story.

Here's where we are as of now: (buckle up, because you might fall off your chair when you read this), my ins co thinks the car is salvageable. Even BETTER, they think the value of the car is around $4,400. (Sure it is. It's a 2001 Neon with 160K miles. It blue books at $2500. But whatev.)

Anyway... the cost to replace the seats (cushions and upholstery) and flooring is around $2800. So, this morning the car was towed to a body shop. If there's anything electric (like that car HAS electric ANYTHING) that would bump the cost to repair closer to the estimated value of the car, it could go back to being totaled.

My life.

The Neon being totally out of commission was, pretty much, the one thing I thought was a guarantee in my life right now. I guess The Universe is out to teach me a lesson on making assumptions...

Hopefully, I'll know more by Monday. (Which will be the three week anniversary of The Flood.  Ha!)


Wednesday, September 24, 2014

2,000 Words

Tonight was the Jester'Z fundraiser. It was everything I had hoped for, and more. (Not only did we sell out... WE SOLD OUT BY 3:00 IN THE AFTERNOON!)

I'd love to stay up and tell you all about it, but I'm too tired for words (typing them, speaking them... thinking them). And then it hit me that I could use a couple pics to show you the current state of my very tired union.

If a picture's worth 1,000 words, well then... let's give you 2,000!

This is my kitchen.

It is a MESS.

Judy taught me to always clean up as I go when I'm baking. I haaaaaaate to see dirty dishes on a counter, and don't even mention the egg carton. (That's right, I have TRASH on my counter!)

And yet... it's been like this for DAYS. Because I'm tired to clean it up. 


And then there are these bad bous.

Do you know whose hand this is?! ... MINE!!!

I know, I look like a homeless person.


This is how tired, I am people: I have trash on my kitchen counter and chipped nail polish. And I'm going to bed in this state

*Note the time of this post actually hitting the www: I started it last night, fell asleep while the pics were uploading... and then finished this morning. Today, MAYBE I'll do some dishes or paint my nails (oh, and tell ya'll about the Jester'Z fundraiser). Then again, maybeI'll take a nap. Only time'll tell...

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Stilllllll waiting

The insurance adjuster came out to look at the Neon yesterday. (I know this, because he was kind enough to call and let me know that he was rolling my windows up so it wouldn't re-flood during yesterday's torrential downpour. Never mind that the first time the car flooded, the windows were all rolled up. And that the insurance company is who told me to leave all the windows rolled down in the first place. ... Oh, and that the damage has already been done.)

As per the insurance adjuster, the car is most likely totaled. (He can't make the actual decision. It's his job to assess the damage against the estimated value of the car, then he sends the numbers back to the claims dept, and THEY make the official call.) But - and there's no surprise here - to quote the man, "the cost to replace the seat cushions and floor boards would exceed the value of the car".

(Insert raucous laughter here.)

That's right... even if the flood didn't wipe out my engine, the car isn't worth the cost of replacing the FOAM (okay, and upholstery) of four seat cushions.

But the insurance company still has to rule.

It's Thursday morning and I need to hear from them by 5:00 tomorrow, otherwise I'll keep the Jeep through the weekend. (Fingers crossed, because I freaking LOVE driving that bad boy!) Given that it took over a week to get someone out to look at the Neon is helping me feel pretty confident that I'll be driving my (free) high-riding 4x4 until Monday. Wahoo!

Sunday, September 14, 2014

So, here's the latest on the Neon...

There isn't one.

True story.

When I talked to my insurance company Tuesday morning, they asked if they could leave my car where it was instead of towing it to a body shop. The reason being that, with the influx of claims in the Phoenix metropolitan area, they didn't know how soon a shop would be able to look it over... and if (just laughed out loud at having used the word "if") the car ended up being totaled, there was a good chance they'd have to pay tow fees + storage fees at a shop, and then tow it again to be destroyed.

Because I really didn't care where my soppy little car was sitting, I told them that was fine with me.

On Tuesday, I was told that everything should be resolved by Friday.

(Insert maniacal laughter here.)

On Friday, I called the insurance company to get an update on my claim and was told that the adjuster hasn't made it out yet... but they believe he'll be here either Monday or Tuesday, and everything should be resolved on Wednesday.

(My gut says it'll be the end of the week before I have anything concrete.)

The good news? I have been paying for comprehensive coverage on my 2001, and that covered a rental. So, I do have something to drive for as long as I need it. (Yay for that extra $60 a year that I've been forking out for full coverage. It's paid off, just with the savings of a rental for the last week!)

And the fact that it's taking for-freaking-ever to get a solid answer from the insurance company has afforded me time to spend time at dealerships test driving cars against each other to determine which car I really like the best.

Here's a true story: After spending HOURS at dealerships on Tuesday and Wednesday afternoon/evening, I was feeling particularly sorry for my sad little self. What with my back hurting because I'd been moving around too much, and my head hurting because I'd been dealing with some pretty special sales people, I drove home thinking, "This is the worst possible timing to have to be doing this."

And then, like a lightening bolt from the sky, it hit me that this wasn't actually "the worst possible timing" to have to be doing this. That, right now, I can qualify for financing, because I'm working full time and can provide pay stubs. That, right now, I do have the strength (barely, but it IS there) to walk car lots and get in and out of multiple cars in a day. That, if I went backwards OR forwards even six weeks in my life, it's unlikely that I'd be able to do either of those things.

It turns out that this freak flooding accident that happened in my parking lot came at EXACTLY the right time.

Don't get me wrong, I am still hoping and praying that the Neon pulls through. I'd reeeeeeeeeally rather not have a car payment, especially as I don't know what next month's scan will bring. But if an act of God is what made the car die... I have full confidence that He'll also help me figure out a way to pay for a new car, if that's what I need to do. And now, thanks to many hours, spread over multiple days, on three different dealerships' lots, I know what I want. And I know I'll be able to qualify for a loan and pick up a new car in one day... if it comes to that. Isn't that lucky?

Monday, September 8, 2014

When it rains, it pours.

The Neon may well have met its watery grave today...


Only time (and the body shop's estimated cost of repairs) will tell.

We had a record-breaking rain here in Maricopa county last night.

For real.


That was the I-10 this morning.

To clarify, the pic of the Neon is in my own parking lot. Not only did I not hit the freeway in my little car... I couldn't get IN it, my own self, to move it from where I'd parked last night. This pic was taken this afternoon, when I got home from work. The water was about 1/3 up the doors this morning, and had flooded the inside of the car up to the top of the seats. (My one regret about this day is that I didn't get a good pic of the inside of my car this morning, while there was still a river running through it.)

I've called my insurance company. Filed an "Act of God" claim. Got transferred to the Catastrophe Team (seriously, that's a DEPARTMENT at State Farm!). I picked up a rental tonight on my way home from work. (God bless Joshua and his truck for... once again... coming to my rescue. He dropped me off at the bank on his way to work, and helped me get to Hertz on his way home. I seriously don't know what I would have done without him!) Tomorrow morning, my car will be towed to the shop and they will determine whether it'll cost more to fix my car than it's worth. (Honestly, my thoughts are that it would probably cost more to clean my car than it's worth. The water that dude's been sitting in all day is pretty grody. Oh, and I think he's probably worth about $300.)

I'm not sure how to feel.

On the one hand, that car's been sooooo good to me. For the last 13 years. So, I hate to see it go.

On the other, I've been driving that car FOR THE LAST 13 YEARS. (And it's been literally a pain to get into and out of since my first tumor. It's so low to the ground that I practically have to fall into it. ... And getting out is, I am not kidding you, a seven-point maneuver that usually ends in a grimace and/or an expletive.) So, I'd love to replace it with something that's higher from the ground. My sad little body's had it with the 4-door sedan.

My emotions have run the gamut today.

I've been cracking up laughing, all day long, about the river that was running through my car this morning. I actually think it's SO funny that so much damage could get done overnight, in a parking lot, by rain. IN THE DESERT.

As much as I'd love to have a reason to buy a new car... it also makes me want to throw up to think about adding another expense to my life when... frankly, it's already pretty expensive.

I've decided to pray that the Neon will make it. If only because I'm pretty sure my medical expenses are going to take another nose dive in the next couple months... and I'd really rather NOT be out another $200-$300 a month for a car payment in the foreseeable future.

As much as I'd really like one of those cute little baby-sized SUV's, I'd really rather keep my crazy old car that's been paid for for almost a decade...

Wish me luck!