Sunday, December 16, 2012

Grow your own candy canes

Full disclosure: I didn't come up with this idea myself. I got it from Pinterest. Whoever did come up with it is an evil genius. Thank you, evil genius.

This morning WCK woke up to find:

1. A glass filled with white flour
2. Ralph the Elf resting in an open bag of peppermints
3. Several peppermints scattered around the glass
4. A note reading, "Dear WCK, Plant the peppermints in the flour and see if they grow. Love, Ralph."

I had to edit the photo a little to hide WCK's true identity:

WCK got right to work, very seriously planting four of the peppermints very carefully in the flour. I told her she could plant more, but she wanted them to have enough space to grow. She asked if she should water them; I said no.

This afternoon, WCK and I went to the Nutcracker ballet downtown. Jay stayed home. When we returned from the ballet, we were shocked to find ....

Candy canes had sprouted in the flour!

That's amazing. WCK now fully believes that candy canes grow from peppermint candy seeds. While I do enjoy the magic and whimsy, I'm also imaging the angry phone call from college when she flunks Botany 101.

Friday, December 07, 2012

Hero cat?

Garland, our cat, is going to be 16 in a few months, which is pretty old for a cat. She's always eaten dry cat food, but our vet recently suggested offering her some canned food "just to see if she likes it." The vet's theory is that it's good for older cats to have canned food, because it's easier to chew and helps keep the cats hydrated, and if they ever need medicine, it's easy to sneak in there.

I dutifully went out and bought the canned food, and now I'm finding it hilarious that we had to "see if she likes it." Saying Garland loves the canned food is not strong enough of a statement. The canned food is the best thing to ever happen to Garland. Were it legal, Garland would marry the canned food and settle down and give birth to a litter of baby canned food. We are going to have to send her to a canned food rehabilitation clinic, but I know she'll fall off the wagon the second she gets out.

Garland gets the canned food every morning when I wake up. My alarm goes off at 6:15, so Garland starts walking on my face and meowing and precisely 6:14 every morning. You think I exaggerate. Today, Jay woke up around 5 a.m. to go running. I woke up for a minute and then fell back asleep. Before I knew it, Garland was walking on my face and meowing. I rolled over and looked at the clock, and ... the electricity had gone out! Panicked, I ran to my iPhone to check the time and saw that it was exactly .... 6:14.

Well done, Garland. Well done.

I want to call her a hero cat, but I don't think I can. While I think a dog would have sensed somehow that the electricity was out and heroically woken his/her owner, I know Garland was only thinking of the food. Thankfully, she still received her food on time, which is the important thing here.

Monday, December 03, 2012

Calgon, take me away!

I'm continuing my quest to have a more creative elf, because I'm still feeling like an Elf Slacker. From what I've been seeing on Pinterest and Facebook, you're pretty much required to give your elf a bath in a bowl of marshmallows. Those of you who don't see 100 Elf on the Shelf photos posted by your Facebook friends each day might think this is pretty creative; however, the bath-in-marshmallows-setup is pretty much Basic Elf for Beginners 101. (One of my friends handmade her elf a sweater. A sweater!) I'm not to the sweater level yet, but think I managed to pull off the bathtub pose:

As I was looking at my handiwork, I started to get a little nervous. Was WCK going to believe this? It's one thing to believe the little elf is flying to the North Pole and then flying back to a different spot in the house each night. It's a little bit of a stretch to believe that he found himself a bowl, opened the bag of marshmallows, settled himself into a bath, thought, "Wait a minute! My hair is getting wet!", went upstairs and wrapped a washcloth around his head, and returned to his marshmallow bath, where he would soak comfortably for 24 hours.

Surely, she was going to see through this. Surely, it would all come together and she would accuse me of manipulating the elf. Surely, our days of Elf Fun are over.

No. As Ferris Bueller once said, she bought it.

All right. I guess I'd better start working on that sweater.

Saturday, December 01, 2012


WCK: This ornament says "1998" on it! It must be super, super, super old! Like, from before you were born!

ME: Daddy and I got that the year we got married, so it wasn't before I was born. I was 23.

WCK: Oh. That's young to get married.

ME: Yeah, it is.

WCK: I guess people got married young way back then because they only lived to be, like, 50.

Friday, November 30, 2012

I did it!

Here it is, Nov. 30! I blogged every day during the month of November. Now I just sit back and wait for all of the prizes to roll in! I hope there's enough room in the house for the many, many, many prizes.

Here is where Ralph ended up this morning: tucked into the skirt of the goose's angel outfit. You can't see it in this photo, but the skirt has angel wings on the back. The tinsel on the goose's head is a halo.  Can you think of a better way to usher in the holy season of Advent than with an elf and a goose joyfully sharing an angel skirt? I sure can't.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Ralph's back

Ralph, our family's Elf on the Shelf, is back from the North Pole. He managed to find us at my parents' house on Thanksgiving night, then he found his way into our car, and he's been hanging around our house ever since. When we first got Ralph two years ago, my understanding was that he just needed to move from place to place every night. We got the official Elf on the Shelf storybook and this is what the storybook said this is all the elf needed to do. Now I'm finding out that the majority of elves -- or at least the ones who appear in posts on Facebook -- are out there "doing" things. They're making snow angels, roasting marshmallows, taking baths, filing tax returns, blah blah blah. If you've been on Facebook lately, you know exactly what I mean.

I've always been strongly against having an Elf who "does" stuff, not because I don't think it's fun, but because I'd have to think up a month's worth of activities for him, and sometimes when it is elf-moving time, I'm just tired. The other night I finally caved, and WCK found Ralph drinking a Diet Coke:

I guess the cool part about setting the bar really, really low for your Elf is that it's easy to impress your child. WCK was stunned that Ralph was drinking a Diet Coke. She started laughing, but it wasn't her usual laugh. It was this shocked, uncomfortable, Beavis and Butt-Head chuckle -- "Heh. Heh. Heh." -- because she didn't quite understand how this had possibly happened. She asked me questions all day: "But where do you think he got the straw? How do you think he got the bowl to sit on?" Amazingly, she didn't wonder how he'd opened the can with his hands sewn together.

This morning Ralph was trying to ride the donkey from the nativity scene. The donkey is a lot smaller than Ralph is, so it just looks like a giant elf is trying to squish/strangle/suffocate the donkey. That one didn't get a laugh, but that's OK. I'm setting the bar low. Yep, setting the bar low.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Beating the odds

Wow, I love all of the comments I've been getting. It's been great finding out who is reading my blog. Keep them coming!

I wish this post had matched up with my 1,000th post, but I missed it by just one day. Today is my seven-year cancer-versary. I know that statistics on the Internet mean nothing, but I still think about them all the time. I feel happy when they're in my favor and terrified when they're not. All of you myeloma folks know what I mean. When I was diagnosed, the average life expectancy for myeloma patients was three years. When I hit my three-year anniversary, I was all, "Woo! I've beaten the odds!" Shortly after that, "they" raised the average life expectancy to seven years. ("They" refers to the people who write the scientific-y articles on the Internet that get us all riled up.) OK, fine. Of course, this was excellent news, but now I was back to being average instead of odds-beating. I'd just have to hang on for four more years before I could beat the odds again. I was getting ready to celebrate beating the odds again today, but I did some Googling and found that "they" have now raised it to eight years.

Really, scientific people? Right at my seven-year anniversary, you raise it to eight years? This is just like the book Catch-22, where they (a different "they") keep raising the number of missions a pilot needs to fly before he can get out of the military. At this rate, I am never going to beat the odds. I will have this disease for 70 years, and then they'll raise the life expectancy to 71 years. I'll die at age 100 when I get run over by a church van, and everyone will be all, "Oh, too bad she never managed to beat the odds." I can just feel it.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012


According to my Blogger stats, this is post number 1,000 on my blog. I can't believe I've thought of 1,000 things to write about. I started writing this blog almost seven years ago, when WCK was a 15-pound baby with chubby cheeks and a little tuft of hair. One thousand posts later, she's a second-grader in a plaid school uniform who will be off to drama class in a few minutes. I could not have imagined this back on Post Number One.

I hope that I have a few thousand more posts in me. I hope someday we'll all see post 2,000, where I'm reporting that Jay is teaching her how to drive, and post 3,000, where she's getting ready to graduate from Big Important Paleontology School. I know that many more things will happen that I can't possibly imagine here at post 1,000.

I'm also a little amazed that there are people out there reading all of this. If you've been reading all 1,000 posts or even just a few of them, let me know who you are! Leave a comment here or on my Facebook page. Are you a myeloma patient? A friend? Just somebody passing by on the Internet?

Whoever you are, thanks for reading. Here's to 1,000 more posts. At least.

Monday, November 26, 2012


Before I became a parent, I always vowed that my future daughter would never be allowed within 500 feet of a Barbie doll. I'd never read any official scientific studies, but I was pretty sure that merely glancing sideways at a Barbie doll would instantly lower her self-esteem, give her an eating disorder and guarantee her a career as a stripper. Fast-forward to now and, of course, my child has numerous Barbies, and she has not once mentioned wanting to become a stripper.

I have never personally purchased any of these Barbies, unless you count the Hannah Montana doll that was the only thing she wanted from Santa during the Great Hannah Montana Reign of Terror in 2009. When you have a daughter, though, Barbies just magically accumulate at your house. When WCK turned six, we invited her whole kindergarten class to her birthday party, and nearly every boy gave her a Barbie. WCK was confused, and I told her that that's just what boys think girls want for their birthday. I'm not faulting you, mothers of boys! Barbies are, like, $5.99 per doll, and they're very easy to grab from Target and then wrap or stick into a gift bag. As someone who has shopped for a lot of classmate birthday presents over the years, I totally get it. 

Still, I was not about to buy these Barbies myself until I found out that they now make Barbies that do important things. My first purchase was a Barbie astronaut suit, because WCK always says she wants to be the first woman on the moon. WCK carried the astronaut around with her for weeks. Then, right before the election, I had to buy "President Barbie 2012", which features Barbie in a pink power suit. I got one of those for my niece, too, in case the two Barbies wanted to have a debate. Then, just in time for Christmas,  I found out that they make Paleontologist Barbie! Seriously! WCK has wanted to be a paleontologist since she was two, so I had to order one of those from Amazon as one of her Christmas gifts from Santa. It just arrived today. The funniest part is not that Paleontologist Barbie is wearing a sparkly pink vest or a tight-fitting t-shirt with sparkly gold dinosaurs on it. No, the best part is that the fossils she's digging up are covered in glitter. The pessimist in me thinks that the Barbie Corporation only believes girls can be interested in science if glitter is involved. The optimist in me wants to think that Barbie has unearthed a yet-undiscovered dinosaur species: The Sparklesaurus. She'll go back to the university and write all kinds of papers on it and prove that glitter existed in the Jurassic Era.

And if Barbie's theory is ever disproved, she can fall back on her career as a stripper.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Merry Beginning of the Christmas Season

Now that Thanksgiving is over, the Christmas season can officially begin at our house. Today we got home from our Thanksgiving trip to my parents', and WCK and I started hauling all of our Christmas decorations out of the basement. We don't have our tree yet, but we have enough other Christmas decorations to keep us busy for a while. One of my favorite things to haul out of the basement is my  big collection of Christmas CDs. I'm addicted to Christmas CDs. My collection keeps getting bigger every year, but my favorite Christmas CD of all time will always be John Denver and the Muppets: A Christmas Together. Why? Here's a sample:

Saturday, November 24, 2012


Tonight my sister found a box of photos and papers that belonged to our grandma, who we always called Nanny. Nanny died in 2001. Jenny and I spent a couple hours going through the box, sometimes laughing so hard we were crying. You just have to understand: Nanny. Was. Awesome.

I can't even begin to describe my grandma in words, but we found a photo that pretty much tells you everything you need to know.

This is my grandma:

See? I defy any of you to produce a grandma who is more awesome than mine was. 

We also found a diary Nanny kept when she was a teenager. It turns out she had a lot -- a lot -- of boyfriends. Is it surprising, though? I mean, look at her legs in the above photo. Can you imagine what she looked like as a teenager? At the end of the diary, she made a long list of all of the boys who had taken her out and/or kissed her (twenty in all), but the last one one on the list was my grandpa. My grandpa was it for her. We found the diary entry from the first time they kissed:

December 22, 1944: Went to Holly Hop. Really had swell time. Steve kissed me under the mistletoe and Ahoooooo Gosh I really think he's perfect!

Nanny died of breast cancer at age 73, and I miss her all the time. I feel happy though, knowing that she spent fifty-some years married to the guy who made her go "Ahoooooo". 

And that joy you see in the photo? That's pretty much how I remember her doing everything, whether she was dressed up as Catwoman or not. 

Friday, November 23, 2012

The Bad Neigh Bear

Last night, I was sitting around with my parents and my sister, and we started talking about my previous post about the State Farm Good Neigh Bear. My sister came up with the brilliant idea of creating a "Bad Neigh Bear." The Good Neigh Bear could demonstrate the right thing to do; the Bad Neigh Bear would show what you should never, never do. For example: "The Good Neigh Bear always wears a bicycle helmet. The Bad Neigh Bear burns down his house to collect the insurance money."

I totally think I should write a letter to State Farm about this.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

My official biographers

I'm sitting here after Thanksgiving dinner, listening to WCK and my niece, who are sitting under a makeshift tent very slowly writing a story. The story goes something like this: "Once upon a time, there was a girl named Karen, and she had a little sister who was very naughty. The sister would steal all of her toys. And one day the sister ate all of the cookies and she got in trouble. The end."

Wow. That was painstakingly researched and 100 percent accurate.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012


Finally! Here's some proof that I'm not yelling at my kid all the time. Here we are on a sunny day having a good time:

Jay and I both thought that Garland is throwing up in this picture, but WCK says she's playing with a cat toy. Well, I suppose if I can wear an evening gown and Jay can wear a purple shirt with orange pants, then old, slow Garland can play with a toy.

I am just thankful she didn't write, "I'm thankful for my family because they give me margaritas."

Tuesday, November 20, 2012


It's been a very exiting day here at the Cancer Girl World Headquarters. I got word that Bon Jovi is back on tour! And they're coming to Kansas City! On April 13! A Saturday! Tickets go on sale next week! I can't stop using exclamation points! Or weird sentence fragments!

Breathe in, breathe out. Breathe in ...

Monday, November 19, 2012

New myeloma treatments!

I was very interested to see this article from the Myeloma Beacon today. It's about new myeloma treatments under development. It lists eight (eight!!!) anti-myeloma drugs under development, and one drug to prevent bone loss in smoldering patients. I have to admit that the scientific-ness of the article lost me, and I couldn't stop thinking how the names of the new drugs sound like locations in the Star Wars universe.

GUY IN A HELMET: I come from the Planet Daratumumab in the Oprozomib Galaxy!
GUY IN A HELMET II: That means you're the sworn enemy of the Lorvotuxumab Mertansine.
GUY IN A HELMET: Yes it does. (Kills other guy with his light saber.)

Cut me some slack; I'm an English major. And I guess I don't have complete respect for Star Wars, because I know Jay would give the characters better names than "Guy In A Helmet." On the other hand, I think I write better dialogue than George Lucas does.

My point, and I do have one, is that I'm glad there are non-English-majors who are keeping on top of these things.

Sunday, November 18, 2012


Today was the annual Charlie Brown Thanksgiving party at our house. We had a bunch of kids over, did a turkey craft, watched A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving, and then ate the Thanksgiving dinner from the movie. If you haven't seen the movie in a while, Charlie Brown has to make Thanksgiving dinner for a bunch of friends, but he doesn't know how to cook. He ends up serving popcorn, pretzels, jellybeans, and toast:

Everyone seemed to be enjoying the feast, and then one little boy came up to me and said, very, very sweetly, "In the movie, they also had milkshakes."

You know, that's true. Now that I review the footage, it appears that they served either milkshakes or ice cream sundaes. It's nice to get feedback on how I can improve the party next year.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

The Good Neigh Bear

Years and years and years ago, Jay and I lived in Minnesota, in a little town that was a suburb of the Twin Cities. I freelanced for the weekly newspaper in this little town, and I had to write an article about a carnival sponsored by State Farm Insurance. When I called the person in charge of this carnival, she told me excitedly, "There will be an appearance by the State Farm Good Neigh Bear!" Apparently, this is the State Farm mascot, who gives safety tips to kids. It's like the State Farm jingle: "And like a good neighbor .... State Farm is there!" 

I thought the name "Good Neigh Bear" was hilarious, and I told Jay about it, and Jay also thought it was hilarious. The poor State Farm employee who had to walk around the carnival in a giant bear suit probably found it less hilarious, but Jay and I have continued joking about the Good Neigh Bear for all these years. Hey, we have to have something to get us through until the next episode of America's Funniest Home Videos.

We recently changed our insurance to State Farm. As we were leaving the office yesterday, we were told we could take any of the free promotional stuff that we wanted. There, among the calendars and magnets, was, yes! A Good Neigh Bear coloring book!

I had to take a coloring book "for our daughter." WCK didn't really care about it, but Jay and I were pretty excited about getting our hands on some actual Good Neigh Bear merchandise. Within the coloring book are valuable safety tips. Look at this kid; he wants to disobey the Good Neigh Bear, but the mom is smiling knowingly. I would have angry eyebrows, for sure:

I wanted to learn more about the Good Neigh Bear, so I Googled him. The first link that came up was a  2009 press release from the Consumer Product Safety Commission, announcing that some State Farm Good Neigh Bear stuffed animals posed a choking hazard because the eyeballs could come off. There was only one actual report of an eyeball coming off, and no injuries were reported, but I imagine this was a trying time for the Good Neigh Bear and his family. Here he is -- a safety guru with his own coloring book, and he has to face accusations of wanting to choke children with his own eyeballs. I'm sure he was overwhelmed. Maybe this is why he forgot to put on pants for the coloring book. 

Anyway, the CPSC did offer a solution for the owners of the accused Good Neigh Bears: 

Remedy: Consumers should immediately take these bears away from young children and discard them.

Discard the bears ... or the young children? I'm so confused.

Friday, November 16, 2012


Somehow my child got it into her head that tortilla chips are called "margaritas." She's not a big fan of Mexican food, so I guess it all sounds the same. Last night I went to a moms' night out, and I took some black bean salsa and chips. WCK saw me about to leave with the bag of chips and started jumping up and down saying, "Margaritas?? I love margaritas! I want some margaritas! Will you bring some margaritas back from the party for me?"

What the heck?

Finally I figured out what she meant, and I explained that the chips are not called margaritas. I said a margarita is a grown-up drink, like Daddy's beer. She is very familiar with Daddy's grown-up beer.

But then this morning, she must have forgotten, because she woke up saying, "Did you save any margaritas for me? I really want some margaritas!"

I need to nip this in the bud before she brings it up at school at tells her teacher how Mommy gave her some margaritas, and how good they were with salt on them. Maybe she'll offer to have Mommy bring margaritas for the entire class! First the Angry Eyebrow picture, now this.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Mid-month music break!

It's time for November's traditional mid-month music break! I know I just posted a music video a few days ago, but who can ever get enough of Bon Jovi, right?

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Dere Peter Pan

Just when I thought I'd never come up with a blog topic for today, I discovered a letter on the living room floor. Addressed to Peter Pan.

To: Peter Pan
Frum: WCK
Adrest: Nevre Land, Lost boys tree

Dere Peter Pan,
I was thinking that our ball will be on tusday. Hav you evre hrde of thangiving? If you have hrde fo it. Then I'm having a Thang giving prty at 12:00 pm in my room. Or in Nevr land.


PS. I love you

Haven't I been telling you she's the World's Cutest Kid? Haven't I? I think it's very sweet that, while a lot of girls in the second grade are writing "I love you" letters to people like Justin Bieber, WCK is still in the Peter Pan stage. Peter Pan is one lucky guy. I wonder if he's actually going to show up. I should probably clean the house.

If WCK ever finds out that I read this, let alone posted it on the Internet, she's going to be really, really mad, but probably for only 15 years or so. Then, after some therapy, she'll forgive me and think I'm an amazing mother for preserving this part of her childhood for all to see. In theory.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Where's my card?

I posted this link earlier today on my Facebook page. It was a story in the Kansas City Star about how more cancer patients are using humor to deal with their disease, and how cancer-related humor has become more acceptable in books, movies, blogs, and even t-shirts and greeting cards.

It turns out that Hallmark makes funny cards for cancer patients. I had no idea. The article shows some examples of these cards. They are all geared toward patients who are going through chemo, who are bald, or who are "100-percent cancer-free." Don't get me wrong: These people deserve cards. Actually, they deserve far more than cards. They deserve medals and ticker-tape parades through town. And cake. Lots and lots of cake. For the rest of their lives.

But what about the rest of us cancer patients -- OK, the teeny, tiny niche market of cancer patients -- who haven't gone bald or gone through chemo and probably will never be 100-percent cancer-free? What about the delaying-a-transplant myeloma folks?  I'd love to get a card that says, "Here's something to brighten your day, since you'll spend all of it waiting at home for the FedEx guy to deliver your Revlimid!" or "Happy five-year anniversary of your stem-cell transplant!" Maybe something along the lines of, "I promise not to look at you with a horrified expression when you say you're not in remission!" or a cheery note to say, "I like you enough to know that your disease is called myeloma, not melanoma!" And, last but not least, "Congratulations on your negative pregnancy test! Love, The Celgene Corporation."

Some of these could use a little revising, but I think they'd work.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Shake it up, just like bad medicine

Woo! My M-spike went down a teeny bit to 1.4! I'm almost back to my all-time low! Let's hope the lower dose of Rev will keep it there. In the meantime, let's celebrate with the Official Cancer Girl Theme Song:

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Spelling words

If I have to think of things I'm thankful for this Thanksgiving season, I have to say I'm thankful that Jay likes to spend a lot of time helping WCK with her math facts and her spelling words. I used to try to help, and spelling time would turn into Screaming-Crying-Slamming-Doors Time. To put it simply, whenever I try to help WCK with her math facts and/or spelling words, she reacts like this:

When Jay helps WCK with her math facts and/or spelling words, she reacts like this:


I don't know why exactly. The only thing I do know is that Jay will be the one teaching her how to drive someday.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Friday night is AFV night

A few months ago, Jay and WCK started watching reruns of America's Funniest Home Videos on WGN together. They both think the show is hilarious. WCK spends the entire hour shrieking and laughing out loud. I was appalled, knowing that all that footage of people falling off porch swings and catching on fire and getting hit in the crotch was going to warp my child's brain. Still, Jay and WCK persisted in watching America's Funniest Home Videos. Before I knew it, I was watching it with them, warping my own brain. And then, gradually, we started making the watching of America's Funniest Home Videos a regular thing.

I'm really ashamed. For myself. For my family. For all of those people who got kicked in the crotch in the 1990s.

It started innocently. We'd get pizza or sandwiches on Friday evenings and just casually turn on the TV to see what was on and, oh, look! America's Funniest Home Videos just happens to be on! We didn't have a problem. We were just watching it because we were flipping channels and it just happened to be on. We didn't, you know, turn it on on purpose or anything.

Last night I realized we had a problem. When I stopped to pick up the usual Friday night pizza, I sent Jay a text "jokingly" reminding him to be home on time for America's Funniest Home Videos. He was home by 5:30, and we were all ready with our pizza, only to discover that America's Funniest Home Videos (or AFV, as I will now call it, because, well, I have now watched it enough to have the right to call it "AFV") didn't come on until six. And waiting for it was agony! We had to watch the news! Like animals!

It finally came on at 6 p.m., and I have to tell you that WCK and I were completely outraged that the video of the seagull eating the hot dog didn't win first prize. It lost to footage of a little boy saying, "When I grow up, I want to be a vampire bat." Really? That's worth $10,000? Doesn't every little boy want to be a vampire bat? Obviously the voting is rigged, because that seagull ate an entire hot dog. Then it threw up the hot dog and ate it again! Bravo, seagull!

I'd say the injustice is enough to keep us from watching the show again, but I don't think anything is enough to keep us from watching the show again. It would take an act of God. Or a big kick to the crotch.

Friday, November 09, 2012

The Time I Walked Home

WCK loves to hear me tell the story of the "time I was really naughty in first grade." So here it is.

The Time I Walked Home

When I was in first grade, a neighbor lady babysat me after school. Neighbor Lady had a daughter in my grade, and we carpooled with yet another neighbor girl who was in third grade and therefore an older, sophisticated, worldly woman. I idolized Third Grade Neighbor Girl.

Neighbor Lady (who also spent the day with her preschool-ish-aged son and my preschool-ish sister) would pick us up after school. One day, she didn't show up. The two other girls and I stood in the parking lot and waited. And waited. And waited. We probably waited about 15 minutes or so, but at the time it seemed like we were waiting for hours. All of the school buses left, and then the safety patrols all went inside. That was a really big deal. That meant it was really late. Once the safety patrols went inside, it was like we were the last living beings on the planet. We didn't know what to do.

Then Third Grade Neighbor Girl came up with a good plan: "Why don't we just walk home?"

This made complete sense. Obviously, no adult was coming to help us, so we needed to fend for ourselves. I should add that we did not live within walking distance of the school, we needed to cross numerous busy intersections, and nobody was going to know where we were once we left the school. These facts did not deter us, though, because they didn't even cross our minds.

WCK always interjects here, exasperated: "Mommy, why didn't you just go inside and tell a teacher what was going on?"

Obviously, WCK has been raised to have more sense than I had. I'm also amazed that the school didn't post teachers outside to make sure all of the kids got home OK. And why didn't the safety patrols, you know, patrol the area to make sure everyone was safe? But this was 1981. Child safety hadn't been invented yet.

We started walking, and we made it pretty far. We even crossed the busiest street in our town. When I think of WCK crossing a street this size all by herself, I nearly have a breakdown. Just as we were passing the Creepy Shopping Mall, Neighbor Lady's car screeched to a halt next to us and she started pointing and screaming hysterically, "You know better than that! And you know better than that! And you know better than that!" At the time -- and up until I had a child -- I felt she was overreacting. Now I think she remained pretty calm, considering. If WCK tried something like this, you can only imagine the angry-eyebrow picture she'd have to draw later. A single piece of paper would not be able to contain my angry eyebrows. (As a side note, I used to think Neighbor Lady was "mean", because she was always yelling at us to "hustle" in the mornings before school when the other carpool driver was on the way. Now that I've had to get one kid ready in the mornings, I just have to say, hats off to you, Neighbor Lady. Hats off.)

Anyway. I don't remember if there was ever an explanation as to why she was late, but I also don't remember my parents being mad at me, oddly enough. But to this day, I'm completely obsessed with being on time to pick WCK up from school or drama club or wherever, and it's all because of The Time I Walked Home.

The End.

Thursday, November 08, 2012

Pinterest progress

Last month I made three things from my Pinterest boards. It's always exciting when I actually make something I've pinned. I have 1,575 pins, so that means I only have 1,572 pins to go. Progress! Of course, by tomorrow I'll probably have, like, 25 more pins of things I'll never make. It's an illness.

Anyway, first WCK and I made these cookie witch hats. They were extremely easy. Squirt orange frosting on the bottom of a Hershey's kiss and stick it to a Fudge Stripe Cookie. Instant witch hat!

Then we made these witch brooms, which were even easier. Just stick a pretzel stick inside a mini Reese's Peanut Butter Cup:

Finally, on Halloween night I made this veggie skeleton to counteract all of the sugar. We still had way, way too much sugar, but at least I made an effort. We did eat a lot of the skeleton, too.

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Dude, where's my hemoglobin?

Do you ever get news, and the only word you can think to say is, "Dude"? "Dude" can apply to just about anything -- good news, bad news, strange news, and the fact that my already insanely high hemoglobin is even higher than last month. Dude.

You'll notice that my white count is lower than it normally is. I asked the nurse practitioner what she thought about reducing my dose of Revlimid to 15 mg. I've been on the 20 mg for close to two years, and I was on 25 mg for about six months before that. She thought that was OK, and she went to check with Dr. GPO. Dr. GPO stopped by to tell me that 15 mg was fine with him, and that I'm the first myeloma patient of his to ever run a half-marathon.


Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Election 2012

Get out there and vote! Remember, if you don't vote now, you can't complain later!

Brought to you by Cute Little Citizens for Obama

Monday, November 05, 2012

Angry Eyebrows, Part II

This is starting to look bad. My child drew another picture of me with angry eyebrows, just in time for parent-teacher conferences.

This is page one of "My Book About Feelings". WCK writes, "I feel mad when my mom tells me to pick up." And here I am. This time, in addition to the angry eyebrows, I have a big yelling mouth, and I'm also levitating several feet off the ground in my fancy ball gown. Also, my eyebrows are blue.

I'd think with all of this yelling and eyebrow bending and levitating that WCK feels she must endure at pickup time, our house would be much, much cleaner. It is not. You might also notice the "after" picture, which shows WCK sitting in her perfectly clean room, which I assume she has agreeably cleaned after her fancy, floating mother yelled at her. I assure you that the "after" picture has never actually happened, unless I was too busy floating away to a formal affair to notice.

Sunday, November 04, 2012


On Election Night 2008, I made Barack-oli cheese soup. I thought I was insanely clever; Jay didn't get my joke. Here is the exact exchange we had, as recorded in this very blog back in 2008:

"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.

Flash forward to November 2012. I was making my grocery list for the week and announced to Jay that, once again, I'd be making my Barack-oli cheese soup for Election Night. We had exactly the same conversation we had in 2008. He'd already forgotten the significance of the Barack-oli cheese soup.

Seriously, how does he not remember the exact details of a conversation we had four years ago? Is that too much to ask? Am I not as delightful as I think I am? Finally, I wrote it out on a piece of paper and he got the joke. Whew. Nobody panic; I'm still delightful.

I just hope the 2016 nominee has an easier name, like Sally French Fry or something.

Saturday, November 03, 2012

Master of Disguise, Part II

My running disguise just got even better. Today I participated in a 5k trail run at a local nature sanctuary. Instead of t-shirts, all of the participants got black stocking-cap-type hats that we can wear for wintertime running. I'm pretty excited about my new hat. WCK was horrified; apparently the black stocking cap is even worse than the pink hat. Could you imagine what would happen if I got a bright pink stocking cap? I'm going to have to look into that. Anyway, I think I'll be even more unrecognizable running with my black hat. Once I put my sunglasses on, I kinda look like the Unabomber.

Help! The Unabomber is in my bathroom!

Friday, November 02, 2012

Master of disguise

For the first time, I'm going to post a photo of myself directly on the blog. Here I am:

And for the record, my chip time was 2:23. My goal was to finish in under 2:30, and I stayed with the 2:25 pacers until about mile 11, and then -- whee! -- I took off! Well, I took off as fast as an 11-ish-minute-mile gal who has already run 11 miles can take off, but I beat my group by two minutes. I finished just as the very first runner from the full marathon was finishing, but I won't dwell on that.

Why am I posting this photo of myself? Because it doesn't look like me. I am in disguise.

I have a complex system of running gear that starts with the pink hat. I love my pink hat; WCK thinks the pink hat looks ridiculous. She's convinced that all of the other runners must be laughing at the pink hat, too, and that I could possibly win the entire race because all of the other runners will be collapsing to the ground from laughing at my hat. I continue to wear it, though, because a) I like pink and b) it sucks a lot of the sweat off of my head and keeps it from running into my sunglasses. I need the sunglasses at all times because I wear earbuds that have the little hooks that go over my ears, and the sunglasses hold the earbuds on. I need the earbuds because if I try to run without Bon Jovi, I die. So you see that I have a very complex system in place, and each piece depends on the others to keep me alive:

hat + sunglasses + earbuds + Bon Jovi = Karen does not die.

Because of this complex system, I've noticed an interesting phenomenon. At the park where I run, I often run by people I know, people who should recognize me, and they have no idea who I am. It's possible that you're reading this blog and you've seen me run by you at the park and you've had no idea. It happens a lot.

OK, fine. The lady from my exercise class didn't recognize me. I should cut her some slack. A week before the half-marathon, I ran a 10k, and Jay and WCK were waiting for me at the finish line. My own husband, who was actively looking for me, did not recognize me. He saw me coming and turned to WCK and said, "She'll be wearing a pink hat, like that lady." The following week, my parents -- my own parents! -- did not see me cross the finish line because they didn't know who I was.

The only person who can recognize me in my running gear is, of course, WCK. She's the only one with the special power. It's like those horror movies where the innocent child is the only one who can see dead people or evil spirits or whatever. WCK can see pink hats. And then she laughs at them.

Thursday, November 01, 2012

November! Woo!

It's November 1, and once again I've signed up for National Blog Posting Month (or NaBloPoMo, for those of us who are way, way too busy to say entire words). If I write on my blog every day during the month of November, I'm eligible to win a prize. I have no idea what the prizes are this year, but I really want a prize. This is the fourth year I've participated in the blogging month, and I have yet to win a prize. I think this year could be my year.

 Now, some of you might be doubting my blog-every-day abilities since I only blogged, well, one time during the entire month of October. I was busy. For one thing, I had to read this book, and then I had to spend some time recovering from how truly awesome this book was:

 As you can imagine, the recovery process was brutal. I might have to read it again, but not until December because I am totally committed to the blog.

 Also, I ran my first half-marathon. I will write more about that later, but I will say that I crossed the finish line without dying, so they gave me a medal. My facial expression was exactly like this, but my hair did not look this good:

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

I am Iron Woman!

Yesterday my hemoglobin was the highest I've ever, ever seen it since I became obsessed with my hemoglobin seven years ago. Proof: And it wasn't until I got home from the doctor that it dawned on me: My hemoglobin is 13.1 just days before I'll be running 13. 1 miles in my first half-marathon. This has to be a good omen. Even my red blood cells are ready to run.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Crazy times, crazy verbs

All right, I'm back. What's been going on? Well, my M-spike held steady again at 1.6. Thank you, Magical Bon Jovi Photo:

In the meantime, Jay changed jobs. That's good, but it also meant that we had to switch insurance companies. For the last couple years, the complex process of refilling my Revlimid every four weeks had become like a well-oiled machine. The nurses were on top of things. The pharmacy was on top of things. The drug company was on top of things. Then I go and do something crazy like switch insurance companies, and I'm locked in the nightmare of Crazy Revlimid Bureaucracy. I spent about two weeks making phone calls and going like this:

It all worked out in the end, and I have my bottle of Revlimid now, but I spent over a week off of it when I was supposed to be on it while we worked everything out. We'll see what happens to my M-spike next month. Dr. GPO said not to worry, because I'm already "heavily Revlimid-ed". Yeah, we're totally using Revlimid as a verb now, and I don't even care. That's how crazy everything got.

While all of this was going on, however, I was interviewed by the Cure Talk web site! This is the same web site that asked me to participate in the panel discussion last month. You can see my interview here

Cure Talk is having another myeloma panel on Sept. 25, and you can learn how to sign up to call in and listen here.  This time the expert is Dr. Paramiswaran Hari, who will be talking about relapsed, refractory, and high-risk multiple myeloma. I'm not going to be participating this time because it's at the time of day when I'm picking WCK up from school and then getting screamed at that spelling words are too hard  lovingly helping her with her spelling homework.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Bad Romance, Part Two

First of all, THANK THE LORD ABOVE that there are only two of these NKOTB romance novels, because I. Can't. Stop. Reading. Them.

The Boys from The Block and at least a hundred wayward apostrophes are back in book number two: "Second Chances." It picks up right where the first book left off, with BFTB fans Shelby and Kaye engaged to Donnie/Dean and Danny/David. Shelby is excited, but Kaye is depressed. Who can blame her? She's the main character in a New Kids on the Block fantasy romance novel, and she ends up with Danny? That's rough.

Kaye breaks up with Danny/David (whew!) and runs off to Cabo San Lucas, unaware that this is where the "sexy, dream-come-true of a man" Jonathan Knight Joshua Hite lives when he's not on tour with BFTB. Kaye  happens to run into Josh/Jon, who invites her to a party at his private villa, where he reveals shocking news: He's not really gay after all!

OK, I don't care how many bad apostrophes this author uses. I am totally on board with her now.

Kaye and non-gay Josh/Jon fall in love, but they know they can never act on their feelings because it will hurt Danny/David and break up the group. Blah blah blah, Kaye hangs out at Joey McIntyre's Jake McKenzie's opulent Beverly Hills mansion for a while, trying to decide which group member she loves more. Blah blah blah, the women end up at the group's hotel while they're on tour. Kaye and non-gay Josh/Jon realize they can no longer control their feelings for each other and give in to a night of very non-gay frenzied passion. David/Danny discovers what they've done and freaks out and threatens to break up the group. Oh my God, no!!

Blah, blah, blah, a bunch of stuff happens at Josh/Jon's stately New England mansion (mostly non-gay passion, but also some sledding with Jared/Jordan), and then ... big drama! Josh/Jon pushes David/Danny out of the way of a crazy stalker fan with a knife, despite the fact that he (Josh/Jon) was right in the middle of an anxiety attack. (Because we all saw the episode of Oprah where Jon Knight talked about his anxiety disorder, right?) The group is saved! David/Danny forgives Josh/Jon and goes back to his ex-wife!

In the end, Shelby marries Donnie/Dean at Josh/Jon's private villa in Cabo San Lucas. Donnie/Dean wears his Red Sox cap and serenades her with a medley of BFTB hits, and she reveals she is pregnant with his baby, for real this time. And Kaye and non-gay Josh/Jon also live happily ever after!

Wow. I am considering e-mailing the author to find out if she's going to write any more of these. I'm not even being sarcastic. In the meantime, I need to check out something intellectual from the library to cleanse my brain.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Bad Romance

I don't read trashy romance novels. Really, I don't. I'm not saying that I'm sitting around reading Dickens, but my tastes are usually, say, somewhere below Dickens but above Twilight on the trash-o-meter. Not that I didn't read all of the Twilight books -- because I did. But usually the books I read are generally right around Oprah's-book-club level. Mostly mainstream stuff that you find on the "staff recommendations" shelf at Barnes and Noble. Mostly non-trashy.

All of that changed a few days ago when had a "recommendation" for me. It based this recommendation on some New Kids on the Block merchandise that somebody purchased using my account. I think my account was hacked. By magical elves. So that the elves could pre-order the new NKOTB biography that's going to be released Oct. 2. Or so I'm speculating.

The recommendation was a trashy romance novel called "Second Time Around", but I'm confused as to why Amazon thought I would like it. It was clearly not about The New Kids on the Block in any way. I mean, the name of the band in the book is "The Boys From the Block." And they don't have a hit song called "Hangin' Tough." It's called "Tough Enough." And the bad-boy member is absolutely, most certainly not Donnie Wahlberg. His name is "Dean Waldon."

I have to admit I was horrified and intrigued at the same time. Before I knew it, the magical elves had hacked my account again, and the book was downloaded onto my Kindle for $2.99. The elves forced me to read the entire thing. And now I'm here to tell you all about the book so you don't have to read it yourselves, or even hire elves to read it for you. You're welcome.

The first thing I learned about trashy romance novels is they don't require correct grammar, spelling, or punctuation. The author loved to fling apostrophes around with wild abandon. I tried counting them, but gave up around the 20-ish mark. (The worst offender: "Pilate's") She also liked to use "you're" instead of "your" and talked about the Donnie character's many "movie rolls".  But I quibble. Who cares about grammar when you have a story this good?

The main character is a late-30s-ish single mom named Shelby, who is obsessed with The Boys From The Block. Shelby just got divorced from her husband, Chad. Although we're told that Chad has "blonde hair, chocolate brown eyes, an athletic build and wonderful smile", we also know that Chad is Evil because a) he cheated on Shelby with their dog's veterinarian and b) he haaaaaaates The Boys From the Block and is always saying mean things about them. Boo, Chad!

Shelby's best friend is Kaye, a fancy, sassy lawyer who has been so busy being fancy and sassy all these years that she's never managed to land a husband. Julia Roberts will play Kaye in the movie version, and the women sitting behind me will repeat everything she says. Kaye is also obsessed with The Boys From The Block, but in a fancy, sassy way.

It turns out that Kaye's newest client at the fancy, sassy law firm is, of course, Jordan Knight Jared Hite, a "sinfully handsome" member of BFTB. (Side note: Jordan/Jared is married, but his wife is Evil.) Jordan/Jared gives Kaye two tickets to a concert, plus backstage passes. Backstage, Shelby encounters Donnie Wahlberg Dean Waldon, the BFTB member with whom she's been scarily obsessed in love for 20-some years. Their eyes meet. They go dancing -- dirty dancing, if you will. Some days later, all five members of BFTB suddenly show up at Shelby's house and she cooks them lasagna and reveals how obsessed she is with them. They all find this hilarious and charming, and not the least bit scary. I will remember this the next time the New Kids show up at my house.

It's during the lasagna encounter that Donnie/Dean realizes he's had it with long-legged models and instead is attracted to chunky, boy-band-obsessed stay-at-home moms from the suburbs. (You know this is what the real Donnie Wahlberg is thinking. You know it is.) Shelby and Donnie/Dean begin a dramatic affair, where many, many dramatic things happen: Shelby tells off Donnie/Dean's Evil ex-wife, who is always lurking around. Then the members of BFTB are involved in a dramatic plane crash. It's so upsetting that Shelby rushes to the bathroom and throws up (dramatically), and then begins to wonder if she is pregnant with Donnie/Dean's baby. She's not, and Donnie/Dean recovers from the plane crash injuries and invites Shelby to his opulent mansion in Beverly Hills.

All is well -- and there are many, many more vague sex scenes and long talks about "the relationship" -- until Shelby discovers photos on the Internet of Donnie/Dean dancing  -- dirty dancing, if you will -- at a club with a Playboy model on New Year's Eve. She can't understand that dirty dancing with Playboy models is simply part of his job. You can't tame Dean Walton, Shelby! You can't! No woman can! They break up. Dramatically.

Some time later, Shelby's friends (or, as the author would say, her "friend's") take her to Atlantic City where BFTB are performing. Shelby gets drunk and goes (dirty) dancing at a club with the other four members of the group to make Donnie/Dean jealous. Finally, she ends up dancing (dirtily, of course) drunkenly with Donnie/Dean and confesses her love for him. Blah, blah, blah, more talks about "the relationship", and then Shelby seduces Donnie/Dean by hiding in his cabin on the BFTB cruise ship wearing nothing but a Boston Celtics jersey.

Of course -- of course! -- this prompts Donnie/Dean to propose. And they'll live happily ever after. The end.

I forgot to mention that partway through the book, Kaye (the fancy, sassy lawyer) begins dating BFTB member Danny Wood David Ward, and they also get engaged on the Boys From The Block cruise ship! You just know there is going to be a double-wedding with the other group members serving as groomsmen, and we're going to learn all about it in ... the sequel. Yes. There is an actual sequel to this book. The magical elves are downloading it right now.

Friday, August 24, 2012

When wiener dogs attack

When we were in Rochester last month, my parents took WCK for a walk while Jay and I met with the doctor. They passed by a toy store and ended up purchasing a very realistic-looking stuffed wiener dog that WCK named Hot Dog:

My dad admitted that Hot Dog made him nervous, because when he was a small child he was attacked by a wiener dog. It took me nearly a month to write this on my blog, because I couldn't re-tell the story without breaking down and weeping from laughing so hard. Before you think I'm a cruel daughter, you should know it wasn't a vicious attack. He claimed that he was under an apple tree, jumping up and down trying to get an apple, when the wiener dog started joyfully jumping up and down next to him and ended up scratching him next to his eye. I've known my dad for 37 years, and I never knew that he had a wiener dog trauma in his past. He claims to still have a scar from it, but I couldn't see it. I still believe him, though, because you just can't make that stuff up.

(Sorry. I still have to pause to weep from laughing so hard. It's too soon.)

After he told that story, I suddenly remembered that when I was a kid, our neighbors across the street had a wiener dog named Jimmy. Whenever you'd ring their doorbell, Jimmy would start going "Yip! Yip! Yip!" as viciously as a wiener dog can. I was absolutely terrified of Jimmy. The neighbor girl made fun of me, but now I feel vindicated. I've been carrying the Fear of Wiener Dogs Gene in my blood.

(Sorry. Stopping again to weep.)

WCK, apparently, does not have the Fear of Wiener Dogs Gene, because Hot Dog is her new best friend. For the past month, she's been asking to take him along when we run errands. After careful consideration, Jay and I said no. I mean, look at that dog. It's a very realistic-looking dog. If you saw that dog lying in a car in 106-degree heat, wouldn't you assume that it was a real dog and it was, well, deceased? We pictured people breaking our car windows at Sam's Club, trying to rescue the stuffed dog.

So Hot Dog mostly stays home. The other day, WCK dressed him up and told us his name was Hot D. Word up, Hot D.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Going undercover as a smart person

A few weeks ago, I was contacted by a woman from a web site called Cure Talk who asked me to be a guest panelist in a Serious Medical Discussion about myeloma. Really. Me. In a Serious Medical Discussion. I'm sure that she saw all of the shirtless Bon Jovi photos, and yet she asked me anyway. Maybe she didn't read far enough to see all of the (also shirtless) NKOTB videos. I don't know.

Anyway, the discussion was earlier today. It was a one-hour conference-call-type thing featuring a myeloma specialist named Dr. Ravi Vij of Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. A group of bloggers on the panel took turns asking questions. I was told there were 25 other people (all myeloma patients, I think) listening in. I was super, super nervous, because I assume the rest of the bloggers on the panel are Serious Medical People who have never theorized that myeloma can be cured through magical Bon Jovi photos. 

Don't worry; I didn't ask the doctor about magical Bon Jovi photos, even though I swear Jon Bon Jovi made my M-spike go down last month. I pretended for a minute that my blog is an Intelligent Blog.

Here is the question I did ask: "I'm a younger myeloma patient -- diagnosed at age 30 -- and I'm wondering if doctors are seeing more young patients, and what is the difference in the treatments they receive, compared to the typical older patient." Or something like that. It's all kind of a blur. 

Here's what I scribbled down in my notes: The doctor said that he does see younger patients more frequently. The youngest he's seen was 18 (!!!!) years old, but he also said that according to "Official Data" the age at diagnosis is actually creeping up. (Really? That is surprising to me.) The biology of the disease in younger patients is not well studied, but younger people tend to do better because they're in better health in the first place and can tolerate the treatments better. He said that the younger you are, the more likely the doctor will bring up the idea of an allogenic (donor) transplant. 

I had another question about whether myeloma will ever be treated without dex, but we ran out of time. Perhaps if nobody discovers the shirtless NKOTB videos, I'll be asked to do it again.

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Thank you, magical Bon Jovi photo!

My M-spike went back down to 1.5. Everything is perfectly stable and fine. Wow, I'm so glad I didn't spend four weeks completely freaking out about it, because that would have been silly. I should have known that my magical Bon Jovi photo would take care of everything. 

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Peter Pan: Truly outrageous

The other night we went to a big outdoor theater for a performance of Peter Pan. Technically, the name of the play was not "Peter Pan." It was "Cathy Rigby is Peter Pan! Presented by Beauty Brands: Salon Spa Superstore!" I got a free can of hairspray at the front gate.

The play was great, and WCK really enjoyed it, because Peter Pan is her absolute favorite story/movie/play right now. The woman sitting next to me, however, seemed to be enjoying the play on a whole different level. I couldn't tell if she simply had an obnoxious personality or if she'd visited the margarita cart a few too many times. Maybe both. Every time Peter Pan would say something, Margarita Lady would repeat the line to her friend as though she could not believe Peter Pan just said something so outrageous, and then she'd snort with laughter.

I've witnessed this behavior before, but I thought it was a bizarre phenomenon that only happened during Julia Roberts movies. Every time I see a Julia Roberts movie in the theater, I always end up sitting in front of a group of 50-something women who repeat everything Julia says. Why? Why?!? Is there a curse upon Julia Roberts, and if a 50-something woman does not repeat every word she says, Julia will no longer be sassy and hilarious? Is it sort of like if you say, "I don't believe in fairies" a fairy falls down dead? I think Peter Pan said that. Or maybe it was the woman sitting next to me.

Anyway, WCK and Jay were oblivious to Margarita Lady, but I heard it all. When the crocodile chased Captain Hook across the stage, Margarita Lady exclaimed, "Wow! That guy is good!!" Then she frantically paged through the program, muttering, "Who's playing the crocodile? Who's playing the crocodile?"


Fortunately, Margarita Lady did not return to her seat after intermission. Maybe she couldn't take the excitement anymore, or maybe she was eagerly waiting backstage to meet the actor who played the crocodile. Maybe she was passed out under the inflatable pirate ship in the children's area.

I'll have to imagine where she ended up, because I'm going to write a play based on this incident. I'm planning to call it "The Lady Next to Me is Drunk! Presented by Jose Cuervo Margarita Mix!"

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Mt. Stuffmore

Jay named the unmanageable pile of stuffed animals in WCK's room "Mt. Stuffmore." He said that we should charge admission and let people get their pictures taken in front of Mt. Stuffmore.  I said it would be a huge liability issue, because Mt. Stuffmore could come crumbling down and fatally crush the visitors at any moment.

The problem wasn't just the pile of animals. The entire room could have been called "Mt. Stuffmore", because it was, well, stuffed. It was bad. Really, really bad. And I don't know where all of these toys are coming from. I do not remember actually buying very many stuffed animals. Are roving bands of stuffed animals breaking into our house in the middle of the night? Are the stuffed animals getting pregnant and giving birth to additional stuffed animals?

Although I can't rule out either of these theories, I think the problem stems from the fact that WCK and I are both borderline hoarders who can't bear to give things up. When WCK says she can't possibly part with the plastic shopping cart I bought her when she was 15 months old, I completely understand where she's coming from.

So the mess kept growing. There was simply too much of it to organize and clean, so I gave up. Then, the other day when it was too hot to do anything else, WCK and I ended up watching a marathon of "The Call of the Wildman" on Animal Planet. This is a show about a crazy guy named Turtleman who goes around capturing wild animals who have managed to get themselves stuck inside houses, barns, chicken coops, etc. As Turtleman was wrestling a family of possums out of a dilapidated old house, I realized it was only a matter of time before possums started making nests in the clutter in WCK's room. Then we saw a commercial for "Hoarders: Buried Alive." As a woman's newspaper-filled kitchen caught on fire, I saw our future.

The next day, I announced that we were cleaning out the room. WCK was surprisingly agreeable and even suggested numerous items to go to Goodwill. This was not an easy job for two borderline hoarders. I would find myself about to say, "Really? You want to give away the stuffed dinosaur that Very Good Friend gave you for your birthday when you were three?" And then my brain would say, "Shut up, you idiot! Shut up, shut up, shut up!"

Finally, after about five hours of cleaning and a trip to the thrift store, I looked around me and saw something I hadn't seen in a long time: WCK's floor. They said it couldn't be done, but I am here to tell you that I did it.  I conquered Mt. Stuffmore.

If you've already ordered tickets for the Mt. Stuffmore sightseeing tour, I will refund your money.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Things that make you go, 'Hmm.'

So, my M-spike had been slowly going down for months and months, and in June it hit an all-time low of 1.3. Then on July 9, it bounced up to 1.7. OK, OK, OK. Not a big deal. It's going to be fine. FINE. It's a lab glitch. Just ignore it. Then when I went to Mayo this week, it was up to 1.9. The first thing Dr. L said was, "Now that makes me go, 'Hmmm.'"

You never want your oncologist to go "Hmmm."

After we talked it over for a little while, though, I explained that my M-spike is always higher at Mayo than it is in Kansas City. (It's true. I looked it up on my blog later for confirmation. Thank you, blog.) Dr. L said that makes a lot of sense, since the lab at Mayo is much more sensitive than your regular, run-of-the-mill, built out of plywood in 1889 non-Mayo labs. She agreed that 1.9 at Mayo could be 1.7 (or lower) back in Kansas City. So she stopped going "Hmmm" and came around to the idea that it's not a big deal and it's going to be fine. FINE.

And she told me what nearly every doctor has told me since the beginning: "We don't look at one number. We look at trends."

I know, I know. But having a complete heart attack over one number is just what I do. I'm good at it. It's my thing. I could win an award.

So. I just need to wait a couple weeks until I get tested again in Kansas City to see if it's gone up again from 1.7. And if it's gone up a teeny bit, I need to wait until the next month's test to see if it's gone up again. That's one of the 786,421,932 annoying things about myeloma: You have to wait around to see the trends.

In the meantime, we can all look at this photo until we feel better. And by "we", I mean "me". He looks like he's casting a magical spell over the cancer cells. It's like bad medicine, cancer cells. Bad medicine.

If you're new to the blog and don't understand the Bon Jovi photo, you can click here for an explanation. Or you can just sit here and look at the photo.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Cancer Girl's secret identity ... revealed!!

Exciting news. I posted my first "guest blog" ever! It's for the Erma Bombeck Writers' Workshop web site at If you're a writer or want to be a writer or just want to read some funny posts, it's a good site to visit. I was pretty excited that they accepted my submission. You can go right to the post by clicking here! And you will also see .... me! And find out my real name! It's not Bruce Wayne.

After years of being somewhat undercover, I was a little bit nervous. Plus, when the editor told me to send in a photo of myself, I realized how hard it was to find a photo where

a) I'm actually in the photo because I'm not the person taking the photo
b) I'm in the photo all by myself and not posing with WCK
c) I'm not wearing sunglasses and/or have my hair in a ponytail
d) I'm not pointing joyfully at a box of fudge.

Honestly, I never realized how much I like to pose for photos with boxes of fudge.

In the end, I managed to find a ponytail-less photo where I could crop out WCK. You can see a tiny bit of her hair on my shoulder. I'm hoping I don't look too dorky. Maybe next time I should use a fudge photo.

Monday, July 16, 2012

It's not you. It's me.

My doctor at the Mayo Clinic broke up with me.

I loved Dr. H! She was the greatest doctor ever. We'd been together for over six years. We'd been through all kinds of ups and downs, through stem-cell harvests and bone-marrow biopsies and giant jugs of my pee. It was magical.

Then, a few months ago, I got a letter from her that said she's participating in a study at the hospital and won't be seeing patients in the clinic anymore so I'd need to switch doctors. Just like that, it was over between us.

That's it? You're leaving me for "a study"? Is the study is younger and better-looking than I am? That study will never love you like I did, Dr. H! I gave you my blood! My blood! Did that mean nothing?

Well, it took about an hour or so, but I finally started feeling like I could get back out there and start seeing other doctors again. I asked around the myeloma support group on Facebook, and a bunch of people told me they knew a doctor, Dr. L, who would be perfect for me. I nervously got on the phone and called Mayo and asked if I could get together with Dr. L. They said yes. I'll be meeting her later this week.

I've heard really good things about Dr. L, so I'm sure she'll be great. I know some of you must be thinking, "Come on! She's just a rebound doctor!", but I believe she could be The One. Still, I will really miss Dr. H. I guess I have to remember that old saying: "It's better to have seen a doctor in the Mayo Clinic Department of Hematology and lost than to never have seen a doctor in the Mayo Clinic Department of Hematology at all."

Or something like that.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Disney World Tip #3

Disney Tip #3: Waiting in line

All Disney guidebooks have the same goal: To keep you from waiting in line for rides. If you read enough of these guidebooks, you start to believe that long lines are something you can control. You start to believe that a good, smart, clever mother will not expose her innocent family to a 40-minute wait at Peter Pan's Flight. You know, deep down, that if you wait for more than five minutes at Pirates of the Caribbean, you are a failure as a human being.

Not wanting to risk such failure ("Well, yeah, we had to wait for an hour at the Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh. Jay and WCK are moving out in the morning."), I studied all of the guidebooks. I made plans. I memorized maps. I found an app for my BlackBerry that would tell me what the wait times were for all of the rides at any given moment. I was prepared.

And it worked. We rarely waited in a line for more than five or ten minutes. A few times, we could just walk right on. I was triumphant.

Then we got to the last couple of days of the trip, when we went to Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios. We were tired and hot and not quite as motivated, and all of my detailed plans started to break down. We showed up at rides willy nilly, without any kind of a plan. And yet ... we still rarely waited in line for more than five or ten minutes.

The only exception to this is Toy Story Mania at Hollywood Studios, but I've decided that ride doesn't count. It's obviously surrounded by some kind of magical force field that allows crowds of people to instantly beam into the line, Star-Trek-like, so that there's immediately a 40-minute line the second the park opens, and there's absolutely nothing you can do. That's my theory, and I know it's true.

But the other lines were perfectly fine, all day long, even when we didn't have a plan. I started to wonder if the wait times for rides come down to one simple, three-step formula:

1. If there are a lot of people at the ride you want to go on, you will wait in line for a long time.
2. If there are not a lot of people at the ride you want to go on, you will not wait.
3. You can't control other people or the universe, so you probably cannot control the Disney lines, either.

Ha ha! Just kidding. I mean, I have the Disney BlackBerry app. Of course I control the universe.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Coming Out

So, last night I added that Facebook page for my blog. (Please like me! Facebook then gave me the chance to invite my friends to "like" me. As I went down the list of friends, checking off people to invite, I started thinking, "Wait, I don't think that person even knows about the cancer. Neither does that person. Does that person know?"

I suddenly realized that tons of people I know don't even know that I have cancer. Hmm.

The day I was diagnosed in 2005, of course, I sent out a big, freaked-out e-mail to everyone I knew. Then I started the blog, and I told that same big group of people. I wasn't trying to keep it secret or anything. As the years went by, though, it just seemed like kind of an awkward thing to bring up to people I'd just meet. When is a good point to mention it? It seems like it would be easier if I were 30 or 40 years older and everyone in my peer group had some kind of medical issue to discuss. ("Do you want to hear about my gall bladder?" "Oh, don't even get me started about my gout!") I'm guessing that's how old people bond when they're getting to know each other, sort of like how 30-somethings bond by discussing all of the different ways their little kids drive them insane. But when you're in your 30s and you're the only mom at playgroup who has a fatal disease, you sort of keep it to yourself so you don't bring everybody down.

Plus, I'm always scared of being viewed as the "Cancer Girl." I don't know why, since 99.99 percent of people don't treat me that way, but it sometimes sneaks up on me. I was once at a gathering where people I hadn't seen in a while kept coming up to me, cocking their heads sympathetically and saying things like, "Oh, how are you? Are you OK?" I was confused at first, and then I remembered. Oh, yeah. The cancer.

Since I've never, ever been visibly sick -- and I've never felt sick, except off and on during the year that I was on the steriods, bleh! -- it's really easy for me to blend into society as a completely healthy person. And I kinda like it that way.

Anyway. I sent out a mass announcement to all of my Facebook friends, finally coming out of the closet about the cancer and the blog. Then I started having some moments of complete panic. Now all of these people I know from the real world who thought I was somewhat normal are finally going to read my blog and find out I'm completely nuts. I'm picturing all of the Nice Catholic Moms at WCK's school:

Nice Catholic Mom #1: And she seemed like such a quiet, mild-mannered lady when she volunteered for the field trip, and then I found out that she writes a blog about Jon Bon Jovi taking his clothes off!

Nice Catholic Mom #2: HAVE MERCY!!!

Nice Catholic Mom #3: (dies of shock)

Wow, I feel so awful for the family of Nice Catholic Mom #3. You'll be in my thoughts and prayers.

I finally settled down, and then I had another panic attack in the middle of the night. I was trying to remember every single person I'm friends with on Facebook. Have I ever secretly made fun of any of them on the blog? I don't think I have, but ... crap! Have I? Are the parents of WCK's friends going to tell their kids that WCK licks Dr Pepper off of the driveway? Is she going to need therapy now? Do any of them know my doctor? Are they going to tell him that I've been calling him "Great and Powerful Oz" since 2006? Is he going to find that funny? Is Jon Bon Jovi going to sue me? What is going to happen to me now?? WHAT???!?!?!?!?!?

I guess now we find out. Have mercy.