Thursday, May 11, 2017

A Robot Operated on Me

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

I’m proud of myself today
For the first time in ten days, I took a shower on my own, put on a bra and, got dressed (and by got dressed I mean in real clothes, not pajamas) and I left the house

Not bad considering last Monday, I had a hysterectomy

Yes, I put it out there, a hysterectomy
The kind where your uterus and fallopian tubes are yanked from your body and destroyed
And by destroyed, I mean tossed in an incinerator and burned

So yeah, I put it out there, I had a hysterectomy

And I’m about to put a lot more out there because as much as I probably should, I do not have a therapist

Plus, I write in hopes that someone else struggling will realize she is not the only one going through something like this and yes, this is something you should be able to talk about without being embarrassed or feeling like you’ve said something you should not
And, because if we can applaud athletes free flowing, we should be able to handle what I’m about to share

Because see here’s the thing: I never told anyone what was going on
A few times, I would speak of it in generalities but for the most part, I did not say a word
I was embarrassed
I had no idea how to even bring it up or with who
At times, I was scared
Mostly I was embarrassed

And if you know me, you know I pretty much embarrass myself daily
But this was just too much
Even for me
But now that it’s over, I can totally handle it

In my late 20s, I was diagnosed with polycystic ovarian syndrome
By the time I was 33, endometriosis had also made itself at home in my woman parts

I had Lucy at 36 - really I was on the cusp of 37
By the time I was 38, I started getting my period again and it was a very different one to what it was like before I had Lucy
It lasted more than seven days, usually 10
And sometimes, it showed up when it was supposed to and sometimes I’d go a few months with no period
A sick joke if you want more kids

At 39, my doctor suggested if we wanted a second child, we may want to consider alternate methods – specifically fertility treatments
My endometriosis was worse and I had now developed what is called Menorrhagia, or heavy menstrual bleeding with passing clots because fibroids were invading my uterus and to boot, my ovaries were dysfunctional
My periods were so heavy, my doctor advised me to not use tampons and put me on iron as I was slightly anemic

By the time I was 40, I would begin having no less than two procedures a year (surgical and medicinal) to alleviate the side effects I was having from the endometriosis, menorrhagia, fibroids and crappy ovaries

From 42-44, specifically to last Monday, I endured what is without a doubt every woman’s worst nightmare……

 15-18 day periods

And when I say 15 day periods, I mean I would bleed for 15 days straight with no relief
My relief came on days 16, 17 and 18 when I would spot
If I were lucky, I’d get almost 18 days before I started again
Usually I’d get 15
Sometimes only 7

Day 1 would start as if it were day 3 of a “normal” period and would get progressively worse
By Day 6, there would be tears and I would be back out buying pads even though I had purchased in bulk no less than three weeks ago
And not just any pad, but the number 5 Always Pad…you know the super duper overnight maxi
I’d wear two at a time
And still have to change every hour
By Day 8, I was tired, light headed and sleeping as much as possible
By Day 12, I would be cranky, exhausted and would not allow myself to be anywhere there was not a bathroom within my line of vision
By day 15, I could barely get myself out of bed

Plus, I was upped to iron twice a day to combat the now severe anemia which had set in
So now I was tired, bleeding for 15 days and couldn’t poop
Bull-fucking-shit

I can’t tell you how many times we cancelled on friends, did not attend something or, I would stay behind and let Sean and Lucy go
And then there were the games, activities, outings and karate lessons I missed because I either too tired, bleeding too heavily or so emotionally distraught I could not even leave the house

I was exhausted – and not just because I had turned into a constipated anemic but because I had to mentally prepare myself for the 15 day Armageddon that was my period
I had to constantly think ahead to what we had to do, where we had to be and then figure out a way to reschedule as much as possible
And if that didn’t work, I just laid in bed and cried

Friends were starting to ask if we were mad at them because we kept cancelling or not attending something we had been invited to
I was caught in situations almost daily whereby I knew if I moved too far to the left or too far to the right, I was going to have blood running down my leg
And no matter how calculated I tried to be, it still happened
Then there were the doctor’s appointments
The numerous ultrasounds
The prescriptions, the procedures performed

It has been exhausting

Sean has been patient and understanding and protected me in ways no husband should ever have to
And poor Lucy…she is scared to death of having her period because as much as we tried to shield it from it, we could not

My period dictated our every move

My doctor first suggested a hysterectomy over a year ago
I remember the lump that formed in my throat
Can’t we try something else?
She sighed
We’ve tried everything
I’m not ready for that I responded, it’s so final
She patted my leg as I cried harder
We have to do something
Ok, I sobbed, can we just try something again?
So we tried yet another hysteroscopy and D & C followed up with another round of provera
Then we did an endometrial ablation

Then in September, I was having a terribly hard period
I called the doctor, went in for a visit
It was not a period, it was a miscarriage
I could not tell the difference

When I say I could not tell the difference between a miscarriage and my period, that should be clear indication as to what I had been experiencing

I cried on her table again
I thought, I said between sobs and snot, I could not get pregnant after the ablation
It’s not likely you can get pregnant she corrected me, and unfortunately, the pregnancy usually result in a loss
Are you fucking kidding me I ask
She patted my leg again, I wish I were
I didn’t even know….I trailed off
It was quick, what’s known as a chemical pregnancy or sometimes a missed pregnancy
Is missed pregnancy someone’s attempt to make it not sound so bad?
She chuckled, lame attempt huh?
Yes, pretty fucking lame Doc
She hugged me and wrote another prescription for provera and I scheduled a follow up for November

Which I skipped because I was so mad
I also skipped my period for the month of November

As December came to a close, I thought hey! Maybe it’s over!

In January, I got my period…twice
Once for 15 days
A break for 5 days
Then it started again and lasted another 12 days

In mid-February, I finally went in to see her
I can’t take it anymore I cried yet again on her table
I know she said
I’m tired I said
I know she said

I went for an ultra sound the next day
At my follow up the next week, she had me do another ultra sound
She was convinced the read (on the first one) was wrong because the endometriosis was twice as thick as it had previously been

It was not wrong, and the second ultra sound showed even more growth,

We could do another round of…
No I said, no more
Ok, well, then, let’s get you into Boston
Great I say
I need one more ultra sound at the hospital, the one I just did is not comprehensive enough
Ok I say, no problem
It was scheduled for the following week
I went for the ultra sound and then back to her office for the follow up
It was the second week of March

I went back to my doctor’s office for the review
I did not have to sit on the table this time, I just sat in the comfy chair in her office
The tissue was indeed twice as thick as it had been and it was everywhere it should not have been
We booked you an appointment in Boston at Brigham and Women’s
Ok I say
Here is what I am recommending she said, the removal of your uterus, including your cervix and the fallopian tubes
What about my pearls I ask
Your ovaries? I’m gonna let you keep those she says, I think you’ve been through enough, we don’t need to put you through menopause
Thanks Doc 
You’re welcome she says

We already booked you an appointment – for May 19
My heart sank
That is two months out!
I know she says, it’s the best we could do
My heart sank
There was s rapping on the door and it flew open before Dr W could answer
The Nurse Practitioner who I also adore was out of breath
Someone cancelled she said! Someone cancelled with Dr G! There is an opening with him this Friday!
I’ll take it!
Don’t you want to know what time?
I don’t care I said, I’ll take it! I’ll figure it out, I can’t wait until May 19

I am not sure who was more elated at that moment, my OBGYN who has been taking care of me since 2002, her NP who I have also known since 2002 or me

Sean and I went in on March 25
We spent half an hour talking to Dr G before he did an exam
At one point, he suggested the Pill and or an IUD
Until he read a section of my file again
He finally put the papers down, looked at me and said the only thing that will fix this is a hysterectomy

Sean squeezed my hand
We know I said
I was just hoping I could find a different solution for you
I don’t think there is one
No he said somewhat sadly, there is not
It’s ok I said, I’m ok with this
Ok well them let’s see, I will do an exam and then you will go see my scheduler and she’ll book the procedure date which will probably be a couple months out

Sean and I shot each other a glance
We were both thinking two months was an eternity

The doctor saw our exchange and we voiced our concern with the time frame
I am just guessing he said, I usually run about two months out but wait and see what Catherine says
We nodded
The thought of even another month like this terrified both of us

Sean was sent to the waiting room whilst I had my exam

The nurse who was assisting said to me before Dr G walked in

You have 15 day periods?!?
I do I said
Wow
I believe the phrase you are looking for is Holy Shit
She laughed

How have you dealt with it?!
I sighed and swallowed hoping to keep my tears at bay
I don’t know…..

Dr G arrived and we chatted for a few more minutes before he started
He wanted to make sure I understood why he was making alternative suggestions in his office

You are still young enough to have a baby he said, but then I look at your condition, at your records, your ultra sounds….

I know I said, and I appreciate that
And Dr W was doing the same thing
But you have to understand my quality of life, my husband’s, my daughter’s, our quality of life has been miserable the last few years
And I am not sure enduring this any longer will be good for any of us

Ok he said, we take out your uterus then!

He finished the exam up and sent us to see the scheduler

As she flipped through her book, I flipped through my date book looking at everything we had going on
April was crazy – we had tickets to a couple plays, Easter, Mum’s surgery, Lucy’s Birthday Party, and Lucy’s First Communion were already on the docket

May was almost as busy and I had just learned that morning there was a possibility my co-worker and I would be traveling to Sweden for at least one if not two weeks of training

Ok she said, we’re looking at May
That is way better than June Sean said
Yeah it is I said…but I was already thinking I would still have to go through probably two periods before the procedure because I was confident I’d be starting any day

How does May 1st sound she asked

For a split second, neither of us said anything
I think we both figured it would be mid to late May so when she said May 1st, we were completely caught off guard

I’ll take it!
You don’t have to decide now you can…
Nope! We’ll take it Sean seconded
Yep, I said, we’ll make May 1st work, book it

So she booked it

And on April 1st, I started my final 15 day period

And on that Monday, April 3, I went to the dentist again because my tooth was still bothering me
He was trying to adjust the bite and hit my nerve while drilling
On Tuesday, I had to go back again because it was still bothering me
On Wednesday, my boss got fired
On Thursday, I got Jury Duty

But I did not care because come May 1st, I would no longer have to endure 15 day periods

So last Monday, I had a hysterectomy
Specifically, I had a Laparoscopic Robotic Hysterectomy
A robot, controlled by my doctor, made 5 incisions in my abdomen (the one in my belly button hurts the most)
That same robot, and my doctor, then yanked my fallopian tubes out of one of the incisions and my uterus (and cervix) were shoved out my vagina

I could go through the whole day for you….

How we arrived at the appointed hour and knocked around the waiting room for a bit
My emotions were all over the place and I was having mini freak-outs
Fortunately, Ryan Seacrest’s debut on the new Kelly and Ryan Show was playing and as Sean has an even bigger crush on Kelly Ripa than I have on Dwayne The Rock Johnson, he was pleasantly distracted
and I could have my freak outs in silence with no interference

Then I could tell you how we were finally called into the pre-op and as with any day surgery floor (yes indeed, this was a day surgery which means….I was sent home mere hours after this was performed), we were moved through almost like cattle
I was quizzed on my name and birth date every few minutes because all women want to be reminded they are on the verge of 45 just as they are about to have their lady bits removed from their inner sanctum

Then I could tell you how once I was settled into the bed with an IV safely started, the barrage of doctors and nurses started to come by
I quizzed all of them to make sure they were not tired, hungry or otherwise delusional
We all made sure we were all clear on what was being removed, who was doing what and where things should be when they were done
And I was my usual funny witty charming self
They took great delight in my request that my uterus be named (Sally) after they informed me they would be delivering it 
They laughed even harder when I double checked and asked them to confirm my pearls(ovaries) would be left in place

And then I could tell you how I came out of the procedure with no complications except I am a hot mess when it comes to anesthesia and apparently, they doped me up but good
So I do not remember coming out of it
I do remember crying when she told me I had to pee before I could leave
And I remember crying as I got dressed

And then I remember nothing until the next day
And even that next day is fuzzy and not so clear

My sister stayed with us to help
And for three days, I sat on the couch
The pain was nothing like I have ever experienced – made my C Section feel like a walk in the park
I winced, groaned and cried with every move
But I made myself get up and walk around the living room because they told me walking was one of the best things I could do
By Thursday, I was walking around our circle – sure, it was a slow pace but I was moving

My sister made sure I was hydrated
Sean showered me
And my Lucy just kept smiling, telling me she loved me and tried so hard to do everything she was being told to do with no arguments or negotiating

My sister had to leave on Thursday afternoon but Sean stayed with me Thursday and Friday
I wasn’t great company but there was something quite comforting about just having him there with me

Saturday, Sean and Lucy attended various First Communion celebrations for some friends
I was left home alone for the day
It was good for them to get out of the house and have fun
It was good for me because I had a proper cry about everything
You know what cry I speak of - that cathartic cry we all need every so often which cleanses our body and soul as only a good cry can

I cried because I will not have more children – I can no longer grow people
I cried because I really wanted to grow one more person

And I cried because I have Lucy and that makes me pretty fucking lucky

I cried because I think of all the lost and wasted time these past few years
I cried because of how much all three of us have had to endure

I cried because I was lonely on Saturday – I wanted someone to knock on my door and come in and talk to me but no one did
I cried because I did not know how to ask for help and because I did not even know what to ask them to help me with
I cried because I realized I had blurted out at a PTO meeting a couple weeks ago I’m getting my uterus shoved out my vagina and the women at that table were so empathic and caring and sad for me
I cried because I finally realized I do have people and they do care for me

I cried because I know this has been hard on Sean – he’s had to handle everything over the past week from laundry to bedtime to meals and it’s a lot….and we’re better as a team….and I was only one week into what is supposed to be a three-week (minimum) recovery
I cried because he’s held his own and I am so proud of him

I cried because a week is the longest I have ever gone with snuggling Lucy
And laying with her at night in her bed talking is my favorite time of day
I cried because this poor kid has tried so hard to not make a mistake all week because she keeps being told to be on her best behavior because Mummy is in pain – and that’s so much pressure on a kid…
I cried because she’s held her own and I am so proud of her

I cried because the doctor said don’t pick up anything – and by that I mean you won’t be able to pick up a gallon of milk so no lifting!
I did not believe him so I tried to lift a gallon of milk
He was not fucking kidding
I cried because I could not turn from side to side without pain radiating from every direction
I cried because my belly button hurts

And I cried for me
Because there is something so emptying about a hysterectomy – figuratively and literally
And I don’t know how to fill that void
So I cried until there was nothing left

And then I took a nap
I woke up an hour or so later and my eyes were puffy and I was thirsty
But somehow, I felt better

Sean and Lucy got home close to 9
They had been out all day and were knackered
And it was good for them
And it was good for me

Sunday, I woke up and felt better
I was still moving slowly but I could go up and down the stairs without whimpering

Monday was a tough day
I started doing some work from home and probably tried to do a bit too much
I’m amazed at how tired I get so quickly
I slept terribly Monday night

But Tuesday was ok
The morning was tough but by the afternoon, I was feeling better
And then Tuesday night, I slept better

And today, Wednesday morning, I woke up feeling the best I have felt in over a week
I showered, unassisted
I got dressed by myself  
I put on a bra and real clothes, not clean PJs but an actual shirt and skirt
I left the house by car for the first time since last week
I went to a PTO meeting and laughed
I hugged Lucy without worrying about it hurting
And it was good for me

I had a hysterectomy last week

Procter and Gamble’s profits may drop slightly and I am going to wait a bit longer before I try to pick up a gallon of milk but I am going to be just fine 

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Spring is.....

Lucy brought home a project last week to work on

It was titled Spring is...

Each page started out with a phrase which the kids had to finish and then illustrate

Lucy worked so hard on it

She put thought into each and every page and labored over the illustrations

When she finished, she proudly showed us her completed book

The bee picture made me laugh aloud...I think it was the eyes

The last page with all the animals may be my favorite - her detail was impressive

But it was the second to the last page that made me catch my breath

Here's the finished product:










Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Dirigo

I was born and raised in Maine
I left when I was 17 for college in upstate New York
Then I moved to the mid-west
Then I moved to Massachusetts
I've not lived in Maine since I was 17
But I still call it home
And I still think it is the best place I've ever lived
And not just because when I lived there my Mum did my laundry
Maine started out as this little territory where the Norwegians used to come to hang out with the Indians and trade stuff
Then the British and the French showed up
And the fighting started
The British fought the French
Then the British fought the Americans
Then the Americans won and "rescued" Maine from becoming Canada
And Maine became part of Massachusetts
We were physically separate from Massachusetts but they still bossed us around
We've had a love hate relationship with Massachusetts ever since
Maine tried more than once to secede from Massachusetts
It did not happen until March 15, 1820
It was on this date Maine became the 23rd State of the Union as part of the Missouri Compromise
And it on on this date in 2017, we say Happy 197th Birthday to the Great State of Maine
Today, I live in Massachusetts
But my heart, my love, my loyalty is with Maine
I love Maine
And not just because we have multiple official and unofficial state slogans:
Dirigo
It Must be Maine
Vacationland
There is More to Maine
The Way Life Should Be
As Maine goes, so goes the Nation
Worth a Visit, Worth a Lifetime
Where America's Day Begins
Maine: We're Open for Business
I love Maine for the pine trees, blueberries, and moose
For the salty sea, the fresh air, the endless night sky and rocky coast line
I love Maine for whoopie pies, Amato's and Humpty Dumpty chips
I love Maine for the Green Bridge, the big globe and the Indian Statue
I love that everyone in Maine has a blue tarp in their trunk just in case
I miss the no nonsense practical way people think and talk
I miss the things we say in Maine:
In Maine, things aren't cute, things are cunnin'
We don't have basements, we have cellahs
In Maine, we don't hit people, we deck 'em
We don't throw things, we either chucked it, hucked it or winged it
In Maine, it's not likely, it 'taint likely
We don't get worked over in a business deal, we get rooked
In Maine, its not that we don't care, we don't give two shits
And we don't kid or joke around, we shit you not
On weekends, we go upta camp and inta town
And we don't run, we book it
In Maine, we don't remember the time, we 'member that time
And we don't steal things, but we kife it
Also, dinner is only on Sundays, every other day we have suppa
And things aren't close by but instead, are up the road apiece
In Maine, people are not eccentric, they're a rig
And we don't ask what you are doing, though we may ask Chuppta?
When you are a kid growing up there, you don't appreciate Maine as much as you do when you are an adult who has moved away
As an adult, my appreciation, pride and fondness for Maine swells with each year I'm gone and everything I realize Maine has given us:
Acadia and Baxter State Park
The Portland Head Light and Fort Knox
Monhegan Island and Eastport
Sand Beach and Sandy Point
Green Lake and Bass park
Funtown and Old Orchard Beach
Dysarts and Hussey's
The Penobscot
The County
Blueberries and fiddleheads
B&M Baked Beans and Brown Bread (in a can)
Stonewall Kitchen and The doughnut hole
Toothpicks and Earmuffs
Reny's and LL Bean
Togus - the hospital and the cat
Moxie and Whoopie Pies
Brian Butterfield and Bob Stanley
Dorothea Dix and Milton Bradley
McDreamy, Linda Lavin and Judd Nelson
Bill Cohen, Mrs Sullivan and The Busch Family
The Kearns Family
The Demaso Family
Winslow Homer and the Wyeths
Sal, Jane and Burt Dow
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and EB White
Margaret Chase Smith, Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe
Paul Bunyan and Joshua Chamberlain
Tourney Week (February Vacation)
The Bangor State Fair
The Blue Hill Fair
3,500 miles of coastline
Your one syllable name
The Maine Stein Song
The 16 Counties of our State
And not just the actual counties but the song we all had to learn in grade school
To this day, I still hum that song for no reason
I taught that song to my husband just because
And I don't care where you are, if you start singing that song, any Mainer within a earshot will start singing along with you
True story
It's how I made friends with this guy I knew in 2004
I was at Wellington Station, started singing that song (who knows why) and this guy started singing with me
Turns out, he had just moved to Medford (he lived one street over form me) and was from Rumford
We sang that song, hung out a bit that summer and then he moved back to Maine because he hated Massachusetts (it was too loud, too fast and smelled funny)
He's right
I love Maine
I love everything about it - except Cape Elizabeth, they are so snotty
I'll live there again someday....I hope anyway....on a lake....or Cadillac Mountain if they'll let me
But until then Maine, Happy Birthday from afar
I miss you, I love you, and I adore you
You lead Maine and I follow
Happy 197th Birthday Maine!

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

I Give Up

Today is a big day for us Jesus Freaks as my brother likes to call me
It is Ash Wednesday which marks the beginning of the Season of Lent
It is a season of penance, reflection, and fasting which prepares us for Christ's Resurrection on Easter Sunday
And it is through the resurrection of Christ which we will attain redemption
The ashes are reminder of our mortality and devotion as a follower of Christ
The ashes are a symbol of repentance, of mortality, of the day we will stand before God and be judged
The ashes mark the start of a season of examination and abstinence known as Lent
During Lent, we'll fast, pay penance, abstain from meat on Friday, and go through periods of self-examination in preparation for Easter
And, we'll give something up as a form of penance
For some, it will be a luxury they give up
 For others a vice
For many, it will be some form of food or drink
Some will decide not to give something up but to do more of something
Others will use Lent as a declaration to make a dramatic lifestyle change
For many, it will be at time in which we try to embrace and embody what it means to be a "good" Catholic (because you know, we only have to do that 46 days out of the year during Lent)
We'll attend Mass as a family this evening and receive our ashes from last year's palms
And as we begin the Lenten season, as a family, we'll make our declarations to one another of what we are giving up/embracing/going to do better during Lent
Sean has mentioned he'll probably give up beer or the Groove crackers he likes to snack on
I have no doubt Sean can give up crackers and beer
When Sean decides to do or not do something, he just does it or does not do it
He has more self control and will power when it comes to shit like that than anyone I know
It is really, really annoying
Lucy thinks she can give up TV
Lucy giving up TV is a different story
Look, I love her, and I want to be supportive....but Lucy giving up TV is just not realistic
She loves her screen time way too much
Plus, I know my kid
She'll wiggle out of this on one of two technicalities:
1. She'll still try to finagle screen time on the iPad via Hulu, YouTube and Netfilx
Because when she says she's giving up TV, she is being literal and saying she will not watch anything on the big TV
2. If Sean or I happen to be watching something, say Football (soccer), March Madness, baseball or Chopped, and she walks into the room, she'll argue it doesn't count because she was not the one who either a) turned on the TV or b) picked what was being watched
I'd like to think she has a future as a lawyer or an advocate of some kind but a grifter is probably a more viable option
I have no idea what I'll give up or do more (or less) of during Lent
Sure, I could give up pizza or candy or coffee or be less self deprecating but I'm pretty sure that would just result in low blood sugar levels, a headache and I would not be nearly as funny as I am now
So then I thought I know, I'll give up swearing
Especially after last night when I accidentally taught Lucy two new swear words
So this morning at breakfast, I said hey Lucy, have you decided what you are giving up for Lent?
No Mumma, have you?
I have! I enthuse all proud of myself, I'm going to give up swearing!
Lucy looked at me blankly
Swearing?
Yes! No more F Bombs, no more bad words...
You're going to give up swearing?
Yep! I replied all smug and proud of myself with a can do attitude, I'm giving up swearing!
Lucy set her spoon down, looked me square in the eye and lost her proverbial shit
That kid laughed for seven minutes straight
Twice, when she appeared to have regained composure, but when I repeated I would not swear for the next 46 days, she laughed even harder
I called Sean on my way to work after I dropped Lucy off
Honey, listen to this, I say, when I told Lucy I was giving swearing up for Lent she....
I never finished
Sean started laughing as soon as my words were out of my mouth
When I arrived at work, my co-worker and I were chatting and he asked if I give up something for Lent
I do I said, and this year I'm giving up swearing!
He laughed
Almost as hard as Lucy did
Definitely as hard as Sean did
So I'll be giving up ice cream

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Game Day

It's School Vacation week
That week when as a parent, I feel pressured about indulging Lucy in as many activities and and attending as many events as possible
In the days leading up to Vacation Week, I scour the internet and the local Groupon site looking for things to do that wrap culture, education, physical activity and together time all in one
Really, what I want to do is just hang out at home, watch movies, read and maybe play a game or two
But instead, I am frantic in trying to find things to do
I feel this overwhelming need to schedule whatever days we have off together right down to the minute to ensure we make the most of it all while trying to appear spontaneous and free spirited
So here we are, February Vacation
Saturday we started off super strong
My friend and I took our girls to the Theater - not the movie theater but the real live theater with real people
Lucy was super impressed
Even more so because they were selling Sour Patch Kids at the Concession stand
We spent the afternoon visiting then made dinner together
We capped off our night watching basketball
Day One was full of culture and out of the house time along with socializing
Off to a strong start
Sunday we spent in Rockport and Gloucester
We wandered through the little shops in Rockport, ate lunch at The Causeway and then wandered around Gloucester all whilst educating Lucy on fishing as an industry, rocks, the tide, the ocean and, we got a walk in
Capped the night off yelling at Syracuse as they fell to Georgia Tech
Education, a little bit of culture and physical activity
Day Two and we're still holding our own
Day Three, President's Day nothing planned but we had options!
We had grandiose plans to get out and do something fun and exciting and borderline cultural/educational
We kicked around another outdoor excursion, a museum or possibly Disney on Ice
We lounged in bed until 9ish
Lucy and Sean played Star Wars Operation while I did a bit of work
Then, still clad our in our PJs, we started a game of Cat-op-oly and yes, it is just what it sounds like: a cat version of Monopoly
The properties were cat breeds and the utilities were cat accessories or characteristics
We figured while we were playing, we'd decide what to do for the day
It started off as every game of Monopoly does in every household: giggling, teasing, friendly heckling which turned to a bit of trash talking
Then the shit got real
Lucy had a property Sean wanted
She was broke, I was slipping her money under the table from my own bank
He dogged her until she was reduced to tears and crying as she handed over her favorite property (read cat breed, it was a Maine Coon)
He was ruthless
There were more tears, deals being brokered, rejected and reneged
There was pressure to sell, yelling, and finally, a bankruptcy
Lucy lost it all - literally and figuratively
She absolved her corporation selling out to me before collapsing on the couch emotionally spent and exhausted
Sean and I kept going, with Lucy back at my side as a team, until finally, he took me for every penny and property I had
I was broke, homeless and mortgaged up to my eyeballs
Sean stood with his hand out stretched as I owed him $1400 in rent for landing on his property that was as built up as it could be
I looked on the floor to make sure I had not dropped any money, tried to figure out if I had any properties worth anything to pay him with instead of cash and I'm not going to lie, I almost stole from the bank just to shut up my sweet husband who had morphed into a smug Trump like Real Estate Mogul right before my very eyes
But I had nothing
I was tapped out
 I gave up and admitted defeat
Lucy took refuge on the couch hiding under the blanket
Sean let out a whoop and rolled around the floor in his play money and property cards gloating
The game had started before 11 and ended at 3:15
Day Three of Vacation:
No culture
No physical activity (unless you count jumping up and down and waving cash in people's face as physical activity)
We did not get out of the house
Hell, we did not even get out of our PJs or brush our teeth
And I am not sure reducing your 7 year old to tears over a game of Cat-op-poly can really be counted as educational even though were some math lessons in there
Day Three, we've crashed and burned
*sigh*

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Whoopie Pies

For my friend Cathy:

When I was a kid, you were one of my favorite people to hang out with - even though you were a grown up
Youth group and snowmobiling with you are two of my most distinct memories
And let's not even talk about the time you somehow managed to sneak us all out of the house dressed up to get our picture taken for Mum and Dad
You were such a huge part of our childhood - you were always there when we (I) needed something
Some of my fondest memories are just hanging out at your house in your Mum's kitchen watching her bake - she always wore an apron and I feel like there was a cigarette in the ash tray in the corner of teh counter along with an open soda can (although that could have been my Mum with her Tab!)
Shirley Chalmers could bake up a storm in the second smallest kitchen in Orrington
Loretta's was of course the smallest...but that could have been because of all the kids crowded in there with her
I thought Shirley was magic when it came to decorating cakes
But I swear, the best thing to ever come out of that little kitchen on the Snows Corner Road were the Shirley Chalmers Whoopie Pies!
I was never so excited when your Mum let me help me make the pies and then fill them with cream
I remember when she gave me a copy of her recipe
She wrote one out for my mother and I asked for one too
She asked what I was going to do with it - I was, after all, just a kid
I said I would make them when I had my own house just like she did
I remember Shirley chuckling at my request, sort of muttering and shaking her head
But she wrote one out for me any way
It was on one of those little cards that was imprinted with From the Kitchen of Shirley Chalmers
I kept that card for years Cathy!
And when I finally had my own place, I hung it on the side of my refrigerator in a clip with my favorite recipes
It has moved from Maine to New York to Illinois to Massachusetts with me
I also have cards in my mother's writing (though not her pizza recipe...I would never even attempt that one!) and my Aunt Nell's writing
I cherish those cards
I think having recipes handed down generation to generation is a beautiful gift
But I think to have it in the writing of someone who was a part of your life is an even more beautiful gift
Friday, there was a bake sale at Lucy's school
Lucy loves Whoopie Pies as I do
She asked if I would make them for the sale
I do not have to be asked twice
So I went to the clip and flipped through it looking for that little card
It was not where it should have been
I frantically flipped through it again
It still did not appear
I flipped through my recipe box (because yes,I still have one of those too)
I still could not find it
I pulled down my cook books and flipped through the pages hoping I had used it as a book mark
I still could not find it
I ended up making cookies
One time I thought I had lost a recipe Aunt Nell gave me and I cried
Not because I lost the recipe but because I lost her handwriting
It was not a recipe I make often...but she had written a couple notes on it and made hearts and little smiley faces....she signed it With Love, Aunt Nell
And, it was one of the last recipes she wrote out for me before she passed away
I've lost my recipe Cathy .... the one the infamous baker, Shirley Chalmers wrote out for me when I was probably 11/12 maybe 13 years old
And I am gutted
Not just because I lost the best Whoopie Pie recipe but because it was in her writing
There's something about having something like
I am not quite sure what it is or how to express it.....
Shirley's writing, that recipe, reminds me of when I was a kid...when I thought I would always be a kid and you would always be down the street and our parents would always be young...
And when I got to hang out with you and Sheena
And snowmobiling
And your brother
And Orrington
And your Mum
And you
It makes me miss those days
It makes me realize how lucky I was as a kid to be surrounded by people like you
It makes me miss being a kid
So if it's not too much trouble, think Shirley would share the recipe with me again?

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Valentine Bandit

In early August 2012, on a gorgeous Sunday morning, I went to Courtney and Eddie's Wedding Shower
Sean and Lucy spent the day together
I came home with cupcakes for Sean and Lucy
They came home with a 4.9 year old, black, short hair domestic called Ziggy
From the moment Ziggy entered our home, it was as if he had always been there
And it was not long before he and Lucy became, well, Lucy and Ziggy
Lucy follows Ziggy around
Ziggy follows Lucy around
They read together, sleep together, watch TV together and eat breakfast together
He hops up on the sink, she turns the water on for him
He sticks his face in her cereal bowl, she moves the spoon so he can get at the milk
He stands in front of the pantry door begging for a treat, she says lovingly uh uh uh Ziggy! No treats! You know what the Vet said! 
She keeps this up until she thinks I'm not watching then slips him a treat and makes him promise not to tell
We walk in the front door, he's there to greet us as she is calling out to him to let him know we're home
Lucy worries about Ziggy when we're away and misses him terribly 
She misses him so much she'll often request we cut our trip short so we can get home to him 
We don't but its the thought that counts
Lucy and Zigs even fight
She scolds him, he meows right back at her
He drags one of her toys around the house in his mouth, she snatches it back and tells hims to play with his own toys
She pets him a little longer than he wants to be, he gives her a swat
He's swatted, swiped and hissed at her 
She's swatted, swiped and yelled right back
He's even scratched her a couple times
And when that happens, her bottom lip quivers, and she fights back tears as I know her little heart is breaking 
Then she'll demand we take him back to the kitty farm we got him from
So I agree and start to gather up Ziggy's things 
She reminds me not to forget his favorite toy 
So I scoop up that favorite toy (no Mumma, not that one! The other one!), announce to Ziggy he's leaving and promise Lucy as soon as Daddy gets home, he'll take Ziggy back

Which makes her cry harder
Ziggy hears Lucy crying and comes over settling down next to her 
She's still crying so he moves closer to her, leaning against her leg
She ignores him
He pushes against her again
She still ignores him and says I'm really mad at you Ziggy!
He stands up, leans against her rubbing his head and meows
She finally gives in, buries her head in his neck and says I forgive you Ziggy Boy but you really hurt my feelings!
He nuzzles her again with a big meow and and she accepts his apology
And they go back to being Lucy Goose and Ziggy Boy
Once, Ziggy had to have a biopsy done 
He had to be put to sleep of course and a section of his back was shaved and he had stitches 
When Ziggy came home, he had to wear the cone of shame for a few days
Lucy was beside herself when she saw him 
And when he tried to eat and could not, she nearly lost her shit
She had tears in her eyes and her voice cracked as she sat on the floor feeding him kibbles one by one and muttering words of comfort and love to him

I am not sure what squeezed my heart more that day: the thought of something being wrong
with Ziggy, how much Lucy loved this kitty or what a great big sister she would/should have been
Ziggy has acquired a a multitude of nick names over the past few years:
Ziggy Boy 
Ziggy Boy Sykes if he's really in trouble
Fatty Boom Boom 
Count Chub-u-la
Panther 
Sir Barfs-a-lot
Zigs 
Count Zig-u-la
Ziggy Bo-Biggy
Zigmund Zigaby 
Chubby Chubster
Sometimes Lucy will holler Where's my Best Kitty Boy? and he'll come running or lumber down the stairs to see what she wants
Or if he's being fickle on a given day, she'll ruffle his head and say Whose my Grumpy Cat?!? in a funny sing-songy voice to try and cheer him up
Lucy loves and adores this cat 
And this cat loves and adores her right back
On Valentine's Day, as dinner was cooking, we exchanged Valentine's with each other
Cards for Daddy from Mummy and Lucy and a heart full of Kit Kat's, Twix and mini M&Ms
Cards for Mummy from Lucy and Daddy with a heart full of Hershey Kisses with hazelnuts and sweet tarts
Cards for Lucy from Mummy and Daddy, a stuffed cat, a heart full of Kit Kat's,
some Skittles and M&MsA card for Ziggy from Lucy along with two new toys
We sifted through the mail and pulled out a few more cards to be opened
The last one was a card addressed to Lucy Sykes, no return address, post marked Boston, MA
We did not recognize the handwriting
She ripped it open and screeched with delight when she realized it was a card from none other than Ziggy!
She waved it in front of Ziggy (because yes, he was sitting on the chair next to her) and squeezed him in thanks and in love
Sean and I looked at each other and exchanged, in silence, through head shakes, furrowed
brows, shoulder shrugging, hands turned upward and finger pointing,
Not me was it you?
Nope, not me!
Then who?
I have no idea!
What the hell?
Beats me!
Lucy continued to hug Ziggy who got all the credit for her favorite Valentine of the day
We don't know who did it
We honestly have no idea
Not because we can't think of who would do such a thing
The opposite actually
We can think of so many who would in fact do such a thing because those are the kinds of people we are lucky enough to be surrounded by
I posted this on Facebook hoping to find the person - or at least in our message of gratitude reaching him or her
I hope it did as you deserve a heartfelt thanks
So if it was you, if you are the Ziggy Valentine Bandit, thank you
Thank you with our whole hearts and heaps of gratitude and love
Your gesture, such a sweet simple gesture, brought a huge smile and giggle to Lucy's face 
And after the week she's had, it was just what she needed
Also, it earned Ziggy a treat 
(Mumma! I think Ziggy should get an extra treat for being so thoughtful and sending me card!) 
So I'm pretty sure he's even more grateful to you than she is
You made Goose's Day - and you made ours, you truly did
I hope you continue to brighten the world each day with gestures like this......I'll be sure to pay it forward!