Saturday, November 29, 2008

Three years, one day

I was diagnosed with multiple myeloma on November 28, 2005. Goodness knows how long it was secretly lurking around in there. Years, probably. I also had to undergo weeks of testing to find out what it was, but Nov. 28, 2005 was the first day a doctor handed me a print-out of my biopsy results and told me that myeloma was definitely what I had.

I went home and spent weeks and weeks Googling myeloma, only to read the same horrifying statistic over and over again: If you can believe the Internet, most people only live three years after diagnosis.

Well, look at me now: It's been three years and one day.

I have beaten the odds.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Thankful

I decided to start a new Thanksgiving tradition this year. Several weeks ago, WCK helped me draw a tree on a big piece of poster board. I wrote "We are thankful for ..." in the middle of the tree trunk. Then I cut a bunch of leaves from construction paper. Every day, Jay, WCK, and I each write what we are thankful for on a leaf and stick it to the tree. We've forgotten a few days here and there, but we've mostly been pretty faithful to it. When both sets of grandparents visited this month, they got to add some Special Guest Leaves.

When we first started, WCK wanted to include random items, such as "flashlights" or "windows" (Although, really, aren't you thankful for windows? Think how dark your life would be without them). By the end, though, she was telling us she was thankful for her family and her friends. Aw.

Today, WCK brought home a fabulous paper-bag turkey she'd made at preschool. The turkey had two feathers sticking out of its back. On one of them, the teacher had written, "I am thankful for my family." The other feather said, "the animals." Now, I'm not sure if WCK is thankful for her family AND "the animals", or if "the animals" is just a way of describing her family, a continuation of the thought from the first feather. You know: "I'm thankful for my family -- the animals!!"

Anyway, here is our complete list from our Thanksgiving tree so far. You'll have to guess who said what:

We are thankful for ...

WCK (mentioned by both Mommy and Daddy)
Mommy
Daddy
food
Barnes and Noble
Daddy's cereal
school friends
grandparents
children and grandchildren (this was mentioned several times on the Special Guest Leaves)
turkey dinner (also, "Thanksgiving dinner". This was a popular answer)
our home
good doctors
Garland
our church
leaves
grocery stores
our family (mentioned a few times)
The New Kids on the Block
WCK's school
Daddy's coffee
our car
stickers
Aunt Jenny
Uncle T.J.
Cousin L.
Aunt Kim
Uncle Pat
The upcoming new baby cousin
Aunt Patty
flashlights
movie night and pizza
medicine
football
ceiling fans
cupcakes
chocolate raisins
toys and the toy store
books
President Obama
our beds
the playground
windows

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Portrait-oholism

Jay, WCK, and I got family photos taken at Portrait Innovations last week. Portrait Innovations is a very dangerous place for me. After your photos have been taken, you sit down in front of a huge computer screen with the Photo Lady and pick out the poses you like the best. This process takes a while, so Jay usually takes WCK home while I pick the photos. I'm left all alone with the Photo Lady. This is not good.

I always end up ordering way, way more photos than anyone could possibly need. The thing is, while you're sitting there at Portrait Innovations, you think you are actually making good choices. They must pump some Unwise Photo-Selection Drug through the air vents. You absolutely believe that all of your relatives are going to want to own five eight-by-ten photos of your child. You're convinced that every single person you know is going to want to receive a photo of the whole family wearing Santa hats. You think that if you don't order enough pictures to get the free CD, you will die. And so you place your unwise order.

When you return home, your order seems a little bit excessive, but you don't necessarily feel bad about yourself.

When the photo drug wears off about a week later, you examine your photos and realize you truly have a problem.

Yesterday, I got out my giant packet of photos and laid them out on the dining room table, trying to figure out which relatives would get which photos. (Attention, relatives: I hope you like looking at photos of my child, because you will soon be able to wallpaper your homes with them.) Jay walked by and stared at my piles of photos in disbelief.

"I know!" I said. "I don't know why I ordered these!"

"It's a disease!" shrieked Jay.

Anyone know a good place to go for Portrait Innovations rehab?

Saturday, November 22, 2008

My parents are laughing at me now

When I was very young, movies were rated G, PG, and R. Anything that wasn't rated R was OK for kids to watch. Then, when I was about 11 or 12 years old, the Evil Movie People introduced the PG-13 rating, and my parents decreed that I couldn't see these movies until I was actually 13.

Of course, this was The Most Unfair Thing Ever, and it resulted in a lot of drama and crying and carrying on. All of the good movies -- all of the remotely cool movies -- were rated PG-13. I believe I've already posted about the Infamous Dirty Dancing Incident.

Yesterday, WCK spotted a newspaper ad for the movie Bolt. I'm not sure what Bolt is about, but the ad showed a cute doggie, a kitty, and a hamster. She said she wanted to see it in the theater.

I'm nervous to take WCK to the theater. We've been twice; both times I selected the most benign G-rated movie I could find. At home, we do a lot of fast-forwarding through "scary parts" or spend a lot of time saying things like, "It's OK. Lightning McQueen is going to be OK, I promise." The first movie we saw in the theater was Curious George. Harmless, right? After 30 minutes, she fled the theater in terror. A year later, I took her to Clifford's Big Movie. She actually made it all the way through the movie and seemed to enjoy it at the time, although now she will repeatedly tell me that the Clifford movie was "scary." What? The only thing scary about Clifford is the idea that such a bland movie could get made in the first place.

Anyway. Our newspaper has a column about movies for kids. I checked this column to learn that Bolt is rated PG for some "scary" parts, such as chase scenes and explosions. I want to avoid these things, not necessarily because I think they'll warp her mind but because I don't want to fork over a pile of cash for movie tickets only to have to flee to the lobby after 10 minutes.

I explained that Bolt is rated PG, and only big kids get to see PG movies.

She immediately collapsed and began sobbing, as though channeling the 11-year-old me.

"But I wanna see PG!!" she wailed dramatically. "I WANNA SEE PG!!"

And so it begins.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Mutant Alien Midget Turkeys

These cookies are supposed to be turkeys. No, seriously. They are.



I tried copying them from a photo in the newspaper. I had been hanging on to this photo for a year, since I spent last November at the Mayo Clinic and didn't feel like making turkey cookies back then. Actually, I think my mom offered to make them for me, but I didn't think we should put forth effort to bring more cookies into my life, since people kept sending me snacks in the mail and the nurses kept bringing me cookies every morning and I kept stopping in the Mayo subway system to get junk food on my way to and from appointments and my mom kept cooking me enormous meals. Rough life, I know.

Anyway, my cookies do not look like the newspaper cookies. To begin with, my sugar cookies turned out much smaller than the perfect newspaper cookies, and that is why the turkeys' feet are all the way up by their beaks. Also, I realized too late that the Newspaper Turkeys had mini-M&Ms for eyes instead of the full-sized M&Ms. That's why my turkeys look like aliens. Maybe they are just very surprised.

Fortunately, the children I served them to at a party this morning didn't care what the turkeys looked like and -- heh -- gobbled them up.

Do you think anyone will Google "Mutant Alien Midget Turkeys" and find this post?

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Cycle 19

Can I ever get off Revlimid?

YES I CAN!



Paid for by Little Capsules for Obama.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Good news from the north!

My Mayo appointment went very well. Dr. H was extremely happy with how I've been doing, and we now have an Official Plan to get me off the Revlimid, at least for a while. I already have my next batch of 15-mg pills for cycle 19, which starts in two days. Once I'm done with those, though, I will start taking 10-mg pills for three cycles. If I can remain stable for those three cycles, I will then start taking 5-mg pills. If the 5-mg pills keep me stable for three cycles, I CAN QUIT!!! This means it's possible that I'll be on a Revlimid break in about six months.

Also, since I'm no longer taking dex, Dr. H says I can quit the Coumadin right now and take an aspirin a day instead. I guess there's only a big risk of blood clots when you are taking Rev and dex together. Now I can stop wearing my medical alert bracelet, although I actually think I'll kinda miss it. It's pretty ... in a medical-alert bracelet kind of way. It can be my souvenir.

If I'm able to quit the Revlimid this spring, life will go back to the way it was when I had smoldering myeloma: No more pills, and I'll only need to see a doctor once every three months for blood tests.

It's all very exciting. Everyone cross your fingers for six months of stability.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Back at Mayo

We arrived in Rochester this evening. It was a long drive, and we miss WCK a lot, but I'm trying to look on the bright side: We got to go out to dinner at a nice restaurant for adults that did not include crayons on the table or paper place mats or somebody dressed up like a cartoon animal. I think I violated the "no fatty foods the night before your blood test" rule, though. First I take illegal flash photos at the Sprint Center, now this! I'm out of control! Will my reign of terror never end?

Tomorrow morning I'll have my fat blood drawn and drop off the Evil Pee Pod, and then we'll see Dr. H in the afternoon. After that, it's straight back to Kansas City. I'll let you know how everything goes.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Still can't get this song out of my head ...

... so the rest of you get to have it, too. Watch at your own risk:

Stable!

Monday is my six-month checkup at Mayo already. Doesn't it seem like I was just there? I feel like I should go visit my stem cells and bring them flowers or something. I'm dreading hauling out the Pee Pod, but I will have good news to share with Dr. H: My latest M-spike came back at 1.6 again! I'm still stable! I've bought myself another month off dex, and possibly a conversation with Dr. H about tapering off the Revlimid. Keep your fingers crossed!

Maybe my blood has benefited from all of the positive New Kids vibes. Speaking of the New Kids, I can't get the song "Two in the Morning" out of my head. This is another song that I used to laugh at when I heard it in the car (actual lyrics: "Gotta know if you're mad at me before Grey's Anatomy"), but it was great in concert. Now I can't stop singing it. Remember a few months ago when I got "Summertime" stuck in my head until it became a borderline mental illness? It's exactly like that. WCK keeps yelling at me to stop singing. I don't really blame her.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

I also took an illegal video

The Concert.

I still haven't completely recovered. With the help of Diet Coke, I managed to get WCK to Open Gym yesterday morning, but then I spent her naptime in bed and the rest of the afternoon lying motionless on the couch while she watched every episode of Word World in our TiVo. I'm still not feeling well. I think I'll have a migraine for about a week. The Concert was that good.

On Tuesday I made two trips to Target to get my outfit together. The centerpiece of my outfit, of course, was my t-shirt from the NKOTB concert in 1990. I held on to it all these years, and it still fits. Even when I went through my "I'm too cool for the New Kids" phase, I held on to that t-shirt. I must have known, deep down, that I was going to need it again.

While I was at Target, I picked up a long-sleeved, neon pink shirt to wear under the t-shirt, neon pink shoes and socks, neon pink hoop earrings, and a big sparkly pink headband. I topped off the outfit with a denim jacket covered in enormous NKOTB buttons. Remember those buttons from the '80s that were about six inches across? I wore three of them on my jacket: Donnie, Jordan, and Jon. I had to send the jacket through Sprint Center security separately and get wanded by a second security guy, because the buttons were setting off the metal detectors.

When the concert was over, I realized my Jordan Knight button had been lost somewhere in the chaos. I just thank God it wasn't the Donnie button. I think some good is going to come out of the lost Jordan button, though: I read in the paper the next day that some big business seminar was going on at the Sprint Center; I hope some stuffy businesswoman finds my Jordan Knight button under her chair and decides to stop being stuffy. Maybe it will give her an instant flashback to her youth, she'll decide to quit her demanding job and, say, pursue her childhood dream of starting a cookie company or a boutique for pets.

Anyway. I knew my outfit was a success: When my friend Abigail came to the door to pick me up, she laughed harder than I've ever heard her laugh before. I thought she was going to have a stroke.

Friend nearly has a stroke = outfit is good

After adjusting Abigail's legwarmers, we headed downtown. We had dinner at a place called Chefburger: Lots of burgers and fries and "spiked milkshakes". I had an enormous milkshake filled with Kahlua. It was the best milkshake I've ever had, although it might be the reason I still don't feel well. Worth it, though.

When we got to the Sprint Center, we took an escalator that seemed to go up into outer space. Our seats were supposed to be at the very top of the arena. When we got there, a Sprint Center employee said that they were closing off the top section because the concert didn't sell out, and that we could have seats closer to the stage. Score!

The concert itself was amazing. They did all of their old hits, plus several songs from their new CD. I thought I hated the new CD, but -- and maybe this was an effect of the giant Kahlua milkshake -- in concert, these songs were dang good. Probably one of the best songs in concert was one I always thought was one of the worst on the CD, "Dirty Dancing." (Actual lyrics: "Ooooh, it's so crazy! She's like Baby! I'm like Swayze!") When I hear this song in the car, I laugh. In concert, it totally rocked!

Here are some photos mostly taken in direct violation of the Sprint Center's "no flash photography" rule:

This photo was legal:



Here they come!!! WOOOOOOOO!!!!



Here you can see Joe, Jordan, and Jon. I'm a little bit worried about Jon. I don't think he really wanted to be involved in this. He's being a good sport, I guess:


A view of the stage and the crowd:

They were singing "Single" from their new CD:



A rare photo: They let Danny get in front!



Donnie! I LOVE YOU, DONNIE!!!!!



There was a second, smaller stage in the back of the arena:



A strategically placed wind machine blew off Jordan's shirt. Aw, yeah. Jordan works out, ladies.



Say what you will about the silliness of The New Kids on the Block or my silly obsession with them. I saw them in concert when I was 14 years old, back when I was seriously in love with all of them, and I still remember that concert being one of the happiest, most exciting, most joyful experiences of my whole, entire life. My friend and I were delirious with happiness for weeks, just because we thought Jon Knight waved at us. That's the beauty of being 14. Those of you who are well over 14: When was the last time anything made you delirious with happiness for a few minutes, let alone for a few weeks?


On Tuesday night, I got the chance to be 14 years old all over again for just one night. I'm sure the thousands of 30-something women all around me were feeling the same thing. How many times does that get to happen? Apparently, only once every 20 years. You'd better believe that when they come back in another 20 years, when they have to sing "Hangin' Tough" while leaning on their walkers and when their teeth start falling out in the middle of "Step by Step", I am going to be there. Front row. Maybe I can catch the fallen teeth.





Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Tonight! (Da da dada) Tonight!

That's right. The concert is TONIGHT.

Raise your hands in the air! And wave 'em like you just don't care! And if you're ready to rock with The New Kids on the Block, somebody say, "Oh, yeah!" (Oh, yeah!)

I will update tomorrow, provided I am not arrested for throwing my bra. In the meantime, hang tough, everyone:

Monday, November 10, 2008

Good grief!

WCK and I belong to a large stay-at-home moms' group, but we've also belonged to a small playgroup with just seven or eight other moms since WCK was just a few months old. After three-plus years, our little playgroup is still going. We meet twice a month at someone's home.

When all of the kids were tiny babies, these playgroups were pretty low-key affairs. The moms would usually just sit on the floor and talk. Now that all of the original kids are big kids who like to be entertained, and now that everybody -- well, except me -- has at least two children, the moms have been getting more creative with these playgroups. The last few have featured very fun, creative crafts and snacks. Today was my turn, and I wasn't sure what I was going to do to keep the kids entertained. I don't think my house is very exciting.

Then I asked myself the question everyone should ask in times of crisis: What would Charlie Brown do?

Aw, yeah. I served up a Charlie Brown Thanksgiving feast. That's right: Popcorn, pretzels, toast, and jellybeans:




I'm not sure if the kids really got it, but the jellybeans were pretty popular. I only wish I'd had a ping-pong table to use as the dining room table, and a trained beagle to serve the food. Maybe next year.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Hunter gatherer

Jay's work client right now is a pork company. I'm sure there's a more technical way to refer to them, but I'll just call them "pork company" because, well, they sell pork. He works in the Official Pork Company Building, and every once in a while they offer free meat to the employees. Jay says that someone will come over the PA system and announce that the free meat is available. Before the announcement is over, people are leaping from their desk chairs and sprinting wildly toward the promise of free meat.

Jay finally managed to sprint past the other hunters and lay claim to two racks of ribs. He brought home his fresh kill, and I cooked them up with an entire bottle of Gates sauce, like a good Kansas Citian.

It was just like Little House on the Prairie when Pa would go hunting and bring home the meat for the family. After dinner, Jay played the fiddle and I got scarlet fever and went blind.

Friday, November 07, 2008

I'm from Io-way

I was at the grocery store this morning, and the check-out lady noticed I was buying party-type food. She asked what was going on. I said that WCK's grandparents were coming to visit.

"From Iowa, right?" she said.

Hmm. I'm at this Hy-Vee all the time (I was there twice today), and I'd been through this check-out lady's line before, but I couldn't remember if I'd ever had a conversation with her about the fact that I'm from Iowa. I said that these are the grandparents from South Dakota, but my parents live in Iowa.

"I knew you were from Iowa," she said, "because of your accent."

What? I have an accent?

"I have an accent?" I said.

"Yes," said Check-Out Lady. "YOU REALLY DO."

I didn't even know an Iowa accent existed. I thought the whole point of being from Iowa is that you didn't have an accent. That's what sets us apart from those poor, unfortunate souls up in Minnesota. Now I am very self-conscious. If anyone knows what an Iowa accent sounds like, please let me know, so I can quit doing it.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

We thank you very sweetly for doing it so neatly

Wow. Republican rule is coming to an end. Now I know exactly how the Munchkins felt when the Wicked Witch of the East died.*

*Although I will never understand why, if she was truly oppressing them, they were allowed to have their own government and military system. Does this bother anyone else, or is it just me?

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Happy Election Day!



I thought I was very clever in coming up with a good Election Night dinner. I revealed it last night with great fanfare.

"I'm going to be making Barack-oli cheese soup," I said.
"Yeah," said Jay.
"I said," I repeated, "BARACK-oli cheese soup."
"Mmm hmm," said Jay.

Either I'm not as delightful as I think I am, or Jay has spent the past 14 years building up a powerful immunity to my puns. I can't really blame him.

He must be immune, because I am dang delightful.

This post brought to you by Concrete Geese for Obama.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Proof: Men do not notice what you are wearing, ladies

When I left for the grocery store today, WCK was in her room taking a "nap". (No sleep actually occurred during this "nap") She was wearing a long-sleeved brown shirt, jeans, a naptime Pull-up, and no shoes.

When I returned from the grocery store, WCK and Jay were watching football together in the living room. WCK was wearing a neon green t-shirt, pink sweatpants, a pair of bright blue Dora the Explorer underwear (sticking out of the pants), and a pair of brown shoes on the wrong feet. I laughed and asked Jay what was going on with WCK's outfit.

Jay was confused. Jay looked at me like I was insane. Jay had no idea that

a) what WCK was wearing was any different from what she had been wearing all morning, even though they'd spent most of the morning together and
b) that there was anything at all unusual about her outfit.

Obviously, WCK had changed her clothes herself during "naptime". She even pulled off her Pull-Up (which was thankfully clean and dry) and threw it on the floor. Her father did not notice. I asked him if he really thought I would dress her that way.

"Sure," he said. "I'd take her out in public in that outfit. What's wrong with it?"

The fact that I have the most fashion sense out of everyone in this family is chilling. Absolutely chilling.

Lady and the Tramp can be confusing

My child is upstairs singing the following song:

"We are Chuck E. Cheese if you please! (da dum dum dum) We are Chuck E. Cheese if you don't please!"

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Hummus hands and other Halloween treats

Our Halloween was great! We had beautiful weather, so we could trick-or-treat coat-free!

In the morning, I took WCK to a theater in Union Station to see Busytown. This was a play for preschoolers based on Richard Scarry's books. I remember my mom taking me to plays all the time when I was little, so I was excited to take WCK to her first play. We all love Richard Scarry at our house, too. WCK seemed to enjoy it very much -- except for one brief part with firefighters. Apparently firefighters are scary in any form, even when they are wearing animal ears and singing a cute song about putting out a pretend fire.

Later, I tried to make a creative, healthy, pre-trick-or-treat meal. I made these pumpkin oranges ...



... which were filled with fruit cocktail. You were supposed to chop up the orange innards and put them back in, I mushed them up so badly taking them out that I was only left with juice. The cocktail worked, though.



These carrots are supposed to look like a disembodied hand rising up out of hummus "dirt". Maybe if you squint really hard.



And the main course ... pizza mummies! Woo hoo! Of course, WCK only ate the eyes.



After the mummy meal, WCK put on her bumblebee costume, and we hit the neighborhood. We were able to do a few more houses than we did last year. After we got home, though, WCK became OBSESSED with handing out candy to other kids. I think that was more fun for her than the trick-or-treating. She stood at the window yelling, "Come to our house, people!!" I let her eat one little bag of Sour Patch Kids, and she was absolutely wired. We finally got her to sleep around 10 p.m.

This morning, we discovered that the Great Pumpkin had been to our house. He took away about half of WCK's candy and left a toy in its place. I love that Great Pumpkin. He's my favorite fictional character.