Sunday, July 27, 2014

Preparing for the worst; hoping for the best.

It's felt like an eternity since Friday.  I've felt the love of my friends and family, those who are here and those who are far away.  Your prayers are palpable.  Thank you.

As I've done more research, I've learned a little bit more.  But I won't know anything for sure until my appointment tomorrow at 4 (could it BE any later or more torturous??).

My OBGYN had called me with my biopsy results.  She told me that I have invasive ductal carcinoma, which you know.  I forgot to tell you that it's grade 3.  I looked that up.  Here's what the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance's website told me:

Breast Cancer Grades

The grade of an invasive breast cancer tumor refers to how closely the cancer resembles normal breast cells under a microscope. In general, a lower grade number indicates a slower-growing cancer that is less likely to spread, while a higher number indicates a faster-growing cancer that is more likely to spread.
Breast cancer grade is determined as part of a biopsy. There are three grades.
  • Grade 1 (well differentiated): The cells in these cancers are relatively less abnormal looking under a microsope. The cells do not appear to be growing rapidly. They are arranged in small tubules.
  • Grade 2 (moderately differentiated): The cells in these cancers are somewhat more abnormal.
  • Grade 3 (poorly differentiated): The cells in these cancers look the most abnormal. They tend to grow and spread more aggressively. 
The grade of a breast cancer is different from the stage. Stage is based on where the cancer has spread.

Um, so...that's kind of scary.

I also had a friend e-mail me and so kindly tell me that she's praying for me and thinking of me.  Her letter was very uplifting.  She mentioned that she has a friend who has the same kind of cancer who just finished chemo.

"Oh," I thought.  "Oh."

So...I may have to do chemo.  But I don't know.  I just don't know what will happen.  I'm arming myself with information.  I want to know what I'm up against.  I'm figuratively reviewing the opposing team's game footage.  I'm looking at images online that look like my x-ray.  I'm writing down questions.  I'll be bringing to my appointment a diagram that my father-in-law sent me that they used when visiting with a doctor about my mother-in-law's cancer.  So that we can have a real diagram instead of what he calls "chicken scratches" - the pictures that doctors try to draw to explain what's happening anatomically.

I want to know what stage I'm at.

I'm a planner.  My plan is to fight this thing with everything I'm worth.  To "beat it up," as one of my friends said.  To "kick its arse," as another friend said.  I should seriously print the lovely and encouraging things my family and friends have said.  They make me feel like a warrior.

Plus, listening to Ben watching the new The 300 movie is also helping to rile me up.  "I WILL FEEL THE THROAT OF CANCER UNDER MY BOOT."  That Eva Green girl kicks arse.  I'm going to pretend I'm her character.  And that I look like her.  That wouldn't hurt any.

Ben and I were eating dinner tonight.  The kids got hungry way early and ate way early and were downstairs playing.  Ben was looking worriedly into my eyes under those fuzzy blonde eyebrows.  I love his eyebrows.  I reached over and held his hand.  I told him that it may be that I have to have chemo.  That I don't know.  But that I might have to.

His cute brow furrowed and his eyes got moist. 

"But hey," I said.  "I am REALLY GOOD at barfing."

He laughed.  "You really are, Kar.  Four pregnancies, barfing from beginning to finish."

"I really could be quite accurate and careful in any situation, amIright?"

"Yeah, you've got madd barfing skillz."

"So really, I got this, Ben.  I got this.  We know what it's like for me to barf for several months.  We've been down that road before.  So let's put a check mark next to the barfing thing."

He sighed.  "Okay."

"Also, the losing-the-hair thing.  You know I hate doing my hair and pull it back in a ponytail every single day, right?  So no big whoop.  We could be matching baldies.  We could get cute little couples photographs together.  All I have to do is draw a goatee on my chin and we can be buds."

He chuckled softly.

"And if it makes me lose weight?  Sweet!  Right??  I could lose some poundage throughout all this!  So it won't all be in vain!  Up top!" I yelled, holding my hand up for a high five.

He high-fived me, and then looked at his hand with wide eyes.  "I'm so sorry, Kar.  I can't believe I just high fived you.  I'm so sorry."

"What are you talking about?  I asked you for a high five, dude.  You don't leave me hangin' on a high five, no matter what it's about."

"Um, okay..."

Then I grabbed his forearm with my other hand and stared hard into his little light blue eyes.  "Here's the deal.  I'm not leaving you.  Don't you think for a second I'm leaving you.  I'm fighting this.  Hard.  I'm not going to give up.  And we're going to be okay."

We will.  Perspective:  we're sealed for eternity with our kids.  The rest is just gravy.  Sometimes lumpy, nasty gravy.  But I have my family guaranteed to be with me FOREVER.  No matter what happens.  But my plan is to stay here for as long as possible.  Or until I'm 95 and I'm like, "Kay, for realsies, I'm ready to be done."

I'll let you know what we find out tomorrow.

Friday, July 25, 2014

I have cancer.

It's so weird to say that.  Today I was telling my friend Megs that I have "a little bit of cancer."  But it's like being pregnant - you're not "a little bit pregnant."  You're pregnant, or you're not.  You have cancer, or you don't.

I actually had a premonition about this.  Years ago, in fact.  I was pregnant with Gage and deathly ill.  And I remember thinking, "This is what it must feel like to have a really horrible illness.   Like cancer.  I wonder if this is what it feels like to be doing chemotherapy."  And something in my brain whispered to myself, "You are going to have cancer one day, you know."

I shoved that thought deep down into my brain and said, "Stop being overdramatic, brain.  Honestly.  How macabre can you BE?"

Then, when I found the lump in Lefty, I just...knew.  I knew I probably had it.  So I wasn't surprised when my doc ordered a mammo, and when my mammo was scary, and when I had to have a biopsy.  And I wasn't surprised when she called me from her cell phone on her day off today to break the news to me.

Also, I had another strong premonition last night, when I was doing my janitorial job.  I just knew what the results were going to be.  And I cried and cried while I vacuumed.

So, my cancer is called Invasive Ductal Carcinoma.  It started out (who knows when) in my duct.  And if we had found it at that time and done a lumpectomy, that would have been the end of it.  They might have done precautionary radiation.  But my cancer has now spread into the other tissue of my breast.  The lump I felt actually is a fibroid.  The cancer is a bunch of teeny dots nowhere near the fibroid.  Like the milky way. Everything else in the x-rays looks mooshy and smooth.  It's the dots that you can't feel that are the bad guys, in this case.

What is so cool is that we even found it at all.  If I hadn't had this lump, we would never have investigated it. We wouldn't have caught it until more damage had been done and had spread more.  Because they're not lumps.  They're teeny little dots.  Hundreds of teeny little dots.

We have a consultation with a general surgeon on Monday, and we'll discuss treatment options.  Obviously, we've been doing a lot of online research, and it sounds like, in most cases, women with IDC (I am an initials queen, but they actually call it that on all these medical websites) usually get a lumpectomy, and then radiation.  And then they'll usually take out a couple of lymph nodes in your armpit and test them to make sure it hasn't spread.  I guess the lymph nodes are where the cancer goes next, after it has conquered the boob.

And radiation - it's not the stuff that makes your hair fall out.  That's chemo.  Radiation is the laser thing.  They say the worst side effect is that you feel like you have a sunburn - red, itchy, sometimes the skin in the area peels a little...

I don't know how much they'll have to remove in the lumpectomy, but if it's a huge chunk, I really don't want to be...lopsided.  Or if they had to do a mastectomy just on one side and put in a fakie, I think that would also look really weird.  One fakie and one normal?  That would just look really bad as I grow older.  One perky and one hanging low, you know what I mean?  So I don't know.  We'll have to discuss that.  I don't know when he'll get me in for surgery.  Hopefully soon.  I don't know how many times I have to do radiation.  I don't know if it's months or weeks.

All I know is that our insurance runs out at the end of August and I have to make preparations.  Ben's new job doesn't have group coverage, so we'll have to go onto Obamacare.  Or do COBRA.  I might have reached my deductible by the end of August, so it might be cheaper to do COBRA than to start over with the deductible on Obamacare.

How am I doing emotionally?  Surprisingly, really well.  I swear it's times like these that the Spirit kind of pours you out a double dose of peace.  I cried a little.  And then I told my family and cried a little more.  And then I went out and raked our back yard.  I needed to do something physical and aggressive.  It felt good.  I had three cokes, which was a dumb decision, but right now, dieting is the last thing on my mind.  And coke makes me happy.  I'm not mad at Heavenly Father.  For now.  I'm sure I'll run the gamut of feelings with this thing.  It won't be pleasant.  But it is what it is.  I'll get through it with Heavenly Father's help.  I truly believe that everything we go through is for a reason.

We did tell the ninos.  I wanted to be as honest, yet comforting, as I could.  I think it's important to give your kids as much information as possible.  I let them know that most women do really well when they get treatment for this, and that I'll be just fine.  I told them that cancer is a very scary thing, and you don't mess around with it.  You get treated for it.  But that I was going to be treated and that I needed their help to be really nice to each other and to do their chores to help me.

I actually went to the temple with my mom and sestrah (have you seen Orphan Black?  There's a Ukrainian girl on there that says "sestrah" for "sister") this morning, and Nat and I got endowments done for two of our ancestors that are sisters!  So, so cool.  But when I was inside the temple, I had some new insights.  Even though I hadn't gotten THE PHONE CALL yet, it's fair to say that we've been going through some stuff, and I really was able to internalize the importance of going through trials so that you can appreciate the blessings. The good times.  The beautiful things.

So my goal is to take mental snapshots of things that are beautiful.  Things that make me happy.  Because they're all around me.  They're in Gage's infectious giggle.  They're in the bright flowers my mom brought me (and the two cokes she brought me).  They're in my dad doing as much research as he could about insurance on my behalf.  They're in Ben's warm, strong hug.  They're in Dylan's gangly 11-year-old awkwardness.  Or Sadie's constant smile.  Or Micah's love of snuggling.  Even in Pepper's nasty dog breath in my face as we napped together on the couch this afternoon.  There is beauty in the ashes of life.  And I'm choosing to focus on the beauty.

I'll let you know what goes on and when I'm going under the knife, as they say.  I really feel like I'll be okay.  If it was brain cancer or pancreatic cancer, I would probably be reacting differently.  I actually feel like I'm in this cool club now - I can be all, "It's October!  Cancer awareness month!  Let's do the Susan B. Komen Race for the Cure!  Let's buy me a shirt that says, 'Breast Cancer Survivor!'  I survived CANCER!"  Even if I lost my hair, I'd be like, "Sweet.  I don't have to do my hair."  And I could wear those cool decorative head scarves.  Or, if I'm like, "Bennn, I want to buy some ice cream," and he's all, "We can't afford it," I can be like, "Fine.  Don't give the girl with cancer ice cream..." All passive-aggressive-like.  Or if my kids don't do their chores, I can lay on the guilt trip pretty thick.  "I have cancer and can't do all the chores, you guys.  You promised you'd help me..."  Ben bought one of my new favorite songs on iTunes today.  Pretty sure he did that because I'm the poor girl with cancer, and he knew it would give me a pick-me-up to have this song on my playlist.

Am I evil or what?  Forgive me.  I'm not trying to make light of it.  I'm just trying to make it seem less heavy. Which actually makes light of it.  Hm.  Humor is how I cope.  So, sorry/not sorry.  I'm going to find the humor in all of this as well as the beauty.  Because I have cancer, dammit.  I'm allowed to deal with it in the way that works for me.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Conversion via the Beastie Boys

I primarily teach ballet at this place that is mainly focused on jazz dancing.  A little bit of acrobatics, a little bit of ballet, a whole lot of jazz.  They do these jazz competitions that I have heard about but never participated in or worried about.  I had my ballet performances to prepare for - what were these jazz competitions of which people spoke?  And my little jazz girls think that ballet is the most boring thing on the planet.  But their wise studio owner makes them take ballet, because she knows that ballet is the building block of jazz. 


I love her for that.  Because it's true.


No matter how fun or funny I am, no matter how many jokes I tell, no matter how much I smile and cheer for them when they finally get something, they hardly ever smile back.  They just sigh and lean on the bar and half-heartedly do rond des jambs, their arms bent into a weird, very non-balletic shape.


The power of my pure, unadulterated finesse has not changed their minds about ballet.  Is't possible?  My weird jokes and the assigning of nicknames and psychotic smile aren't having any effect??  My weird jokiness is my superpower, man.  And it's been defeated by Ballet Ambivalence.


And I get it.  I hate math, right?  And I had some really cool math teachers, but no matter what they did, none of them made me like math. 


I had an idea last week.  I decided on Tuesday that I was going to do a ballet class using pop music.  Something I've often flirted with doing.  Ever since I heard that song "Walking on Broken Glass."  At the time, I remember immediately choreographing a dance to it in my head - doing ballet to a pop song.  My ballet class, when I was 14, did a ballet dance to "Everybody Dance Now."  That was so bad-arse.  I seriously felt so cool when we did that dance.  And since the studio I work for is so jazz-focused, I knew they'd be okay with my little experiment. 


So I set out to make a playlist.  Using just Ben's music on iTunes.  Because all of my CDs were stolen in 2001.  I'm still mourning that.  Stupid apartment complex in stupid Salt Lake...  We're too poor to buy iTunes music for me.  So I listen to iTunes radio.  Or attempt to listen to Ben's music, which he got from his CD's, which never got stolen.  Lucky fella.


And Ben's music....hm, how shall I put this? 


It sucks.


I mean, we have a few song tastes in common - we both love the Beatles.  We both love Led Zepplin.  We both love....ummmm.... Yeah.  That's really where it ends.  He has some hardcore heavy metal, and I hate that stuff.  It makes me feel very angry and want to punch someone.  And I'm pretty sure it wouldn't work in a ballet class.  He loves Beck.  I love one of Beck's songs, "Loser."  (I like to sing the words wrong.  I like to sing, "Soooo, I'm a matador....I'm a loser baby...)  He loves The Doors.  I like the Doors alright, but each song should seriously be cut down by half.  Seven minutes for "Light My Fire"?  No song should be seven minutes long.  "Light My Fire" is a seriously cool song.  For about the first three minutes.  And then for last minute or so.  The middle part needs to be cut out.  The whole organ solo thing.  Bor-ing.


And Pink Floyd?  Don't even get me started.  I seriously, seriously don't get them.  I pride myself on being artsy, but this stuff....I just.....I just can't handle it.  But I do like the majority of "Comfortably Numb."


So creating a playlist without buying tons of music on iTunes was a bit of a challenge.  It took some doing, but eventually I put together a pretty rockin' set of songs.  The biggest challenge was for pirouette music and grand allegro music.  You really, really have to have songs in 6/8 or 3/4 for pirouette exercises and grand allegro (big jumps).  Anything else feels really wrong. 


And can I tell you how hard it is to find pop songs in 3/4 that aren't all slow ballads?  You can do slow ballads for pirouettes, kind of.  I mean, it has to really have a pretty quick tempo still.  And big jumps?  You cannot muster the strength and energy to get excited enough to do big jumps to, like, "Take it to the Limit" by the Eagles.  (Though I did use that for our pirouette exercises.)


So I looked to Google.  "Pop songs in 3/4 time."  There were a few forums on the subject.  Mainly people listing songs and other people swearing at the first people, telling them that that song is in 4/4, not 3/4, duhhhh...  There are some good Beatles songs in 3/4, but I didn't want my entire mix to be Beatles, and I felt very strongly that I needed to use Across the Universe for adagio.  It was staying right there.  Apparently there's a Jay-Z song in 3/4 time, but I wasn't crazy about it.  And there's a Kanye song in 3/4 time.  Again, not crazy about it.  In the end, I settled for "By My Side" by INXS, but when it came time to do grand allegro, I just...couldn't do it.  It just...wasn't quite right.  I ended up switching to a song I wanted to do for petit allegro that worked alright for grand allegro - "Rock the Casbah" by The Clash. 


And how did the girls react to our Jazzy Ballet Class?


They loved it.


I mean, who doesn't love The Clash?


Another favorite for them was when we did jetes to "Body Movin'" by the Beastie Boys.  They were doing more hip hop jetes than ballet jetes, and I had to remind them to keep it ballet-ish.  They were like, "Who ARE these guys???"


I grinned.  "The Beastie Boys."


"The Beastie Boys??  Who are they?"


Ah, young innocence.


Let me think of what else I had on my list...


Plies - I Will Buy You a Garden by Everclear
Tendus - Complicated by Avril Lavigne (don't ask me how a 38-year-old man has Avril Lavigne on his playlist)
Degages - Respect by Aretha Franklin
Fondus - No Woman No Cry by Bob Marley
Stretch - Stay with Me by Sam Smith (could his voice be any silkier?  I'll admit that I full-on bought that single on iTunes)


I can't remember the rest.  But we only do, like, six exercises in an hour.  These girls are still beginners and have a hard time grasping things, so I alternate exercises every week.  I always make sure I do plies and stretches, because warming up and stretching are really important, but next week, we probably will skip tendu and degage and go into rond de jambe, adagio, frappe, etc.


Anywho, the class was a success.  All the moms that usually sit in the observation room on the floor and text the whole time were standing up to watch when they heard Everclear.  And they slowly started to grin.  Nineties nostalgia kicking in.


The girls didn't start grinning until jetes to "Body Movin'."  I think it's safe to say that "Body Movin'" converted them to ballet.


Maybe just for that class.  We'll see.  I'm constantly creating more pop music playlists in my brain.  Driving down the road, listening to the radio, and going, "Oooh!  This would be really good for frappe!" 


I'm sooooooooo sad that I have to leave this job.  At whatever time our house sells.  I have to start applying for dance teaching jobs in Oregon...

Apple. Cider. Vinegar.

Dude, dude, dude.  You are not even going to believe this, but it’s true as I’m sitting here. 

So.  Plantar fasciitis (please pronounce that in your head with an over-exaggerated southern accent.  Thank you.) for a year.  I’ve had the maximum number of cortisone shots.  I’ve done all the physical therapy.  All of the stretching.  All of the taping.  Everything I could think of.  The last time I saw my podiatrist, he said that I’d have to get custom orthodics ($500) or get surgery.

I’ve noticed that the pain is different than it used to be, though.  Quite honestly, I think it’s my bone spur.  Some heel bone spurs don’t affect people.  But I think mine is inflaming the whole area.  It’s a new type of pain.  In new places.  The doc said he could go in and shave off the spur, but I was like, dude.  There must be something I can do for this spur without surgery.

So I hopped online and did some searching.  And I came across this website called earthclinic.com.  It’s a website dedicated to holistic/herbal/home remedies for problems in the body.  It’s a forum-style site.  I saw all of these testimonials about apple cider vinegar helping with joint pain, bone pain, and most of all, bone spurs.  A bunch of people drank the vinegar, but I was like, gag.  That won’t work out for me.  But then I saw that some people have actually topically wrapped apple cider vinegar-soaked cloths on their heels/knees, etc. and had really fantastic results.  And I was just so desperate that I tried it.

So.  I wrapped my heel in a cloth that had been soaked in ACV and rung out.  Soooo stinky.  Then I put a grocery bag around my foot and tied it, so I didn’t have to smell it all night and get it on my sheets.  Then I put my sleeping brace over it – a thing that holds my foot at a 90 degree angle while I sleep (it’s for plantar fasciitis, but I used it to just help hold this thing in place).  And then I wrapped a towel around my heel and tied it on top of my foot to keep the washcloth right there against my skin.   And I slept with it like that.
The next day, HUGE DIFFERENCE.  I could walk without pain for the first few hours of the day.  It was amazing.  I had to teach dance that day, and I did it with zero pain.  I could jump!  I could show these girls what I wanted them to do!  As the day progressed, it started getting sore again, so I did it again that night.  Next day, same story.  Less pain.  Dang.  I was sold.

So I did that for a week, and saw a huge improvement.  This one guy on earthclinic.com came back and said that he got an x-ray before his apple cider vinegar regimen, and then a month later, he got another x-ray, and the SPUR WAS GONE.  I don’t know how it works, guys, but for realsies.

We went on vacation, and I didn’t want to hassle with it, so I took a break from the apple cider vinegar thing.  But then I somehow pulled some tendons in my foot when we went to the beach.  So painful.  I am such a dork – my brother-in-law is in podiatry school, so I took a picture of my foot with my finger pointing to where it hurt and was like, “Ouch.  It hurts here.  Help.”  So he asked if it hurts when I push on it, when I move it here and there, so I texted him all that info, and he was like, “I think you pulled the tendon that attaches your pinky toe to the bony tuberosity on your foot.”  (Side note:  I really love the word “tuberosity.”  It just rolls off your tongue, no?)

So I went onto good old earthclinic.com.  Again, ACV was mentioned, but also, alfalfa leaves.  Ground up alfalfa leaves.  I knew I had to teach ballet yesterday, and this was Monday.  So I went to the local health foods place and bought a bottle of ACV tablets and a bottle of alfalfa tablets.   It wasn’t that expensive – like $6 per bottle, and each bottle has 100 tablets.  So I started taking the tablets on Monday, and yesterday?  I could actually walk!  And dance!  Both types of tablets reek, but I’ve been faithfully taking them.  And I’ve continued with my ACV soaks on my feet.  I’ll let you know how it goes, but I’m telling you, I really do think that some herbal remedies work.  And some don’t.  For me, at least.  I tried St. John’s Wort for my depression – nada.  But Echinacea to help shorten the duration of colds – I did that the whole time I taught school, and I swear by it.  I saw all my colleagues doing it, and it worked for them, too, because you know, teaching school, it’s like wading around in a cesspool of germs, right?

Ben thinks it’s a load of bunk.  He thinks herbal remedies are a placebo.  I tell him that if they’re a placebo, I’m good with that.  If my body is tricking itself into thinking that these pills are working and as a result, is healing itself, cool.  I’m getting results, whether my body is tricking itself or whether these things really work. 

Oh, and ACV helps with weight loss.  I saw on one of those reality TV shows with those gypsy girls (a fascinating culture.  I could watch those gypsy shows all day) that they drink it to keep their weight down, and it seems to be working for them.  A ton of people on earthclinic said it helps them with their weight.  Nice side effect, eh?  I wouldn’t feel sad about losing a few pounds on this stuff.  Because the three pounds I lost while being violently ill in Chelan?  Yeah, I gained it back.  I’m awesome like that.  Sigh.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Boob Pokin'

So I had my biopsy yesterday.  It really wasn't too bad, honestly.  I went to a baseball game with my folks the night before, and my mom quite helpfully told me that once, when she got a biopsy on her boob, she got, well...shish-kabobed.  Like, they accidentally poked all the way through to the other side.  I was like, "MO-OM!  I DO NOT NEED TO HEAR THAT RIGHT NOW!"  It's like ladies that tell you all of their horrible labor stories when you're pregnant.  Don't need to hear it.  I can listen to it after I have the baby, and I can swap stories with you, aight?  But none of this pre-emptive PTSD.


So, understandably, I was a little nervous.  I did it right there in the radiologist's office, and the actual procedure itself was only like a minute long!  While the ladies were setting up, we chit-chatted about this and that.  I found out that the main gal knows my mom and that the other gal really loves to paint in watercolors.  The Watercolor Lady had plantar fasciitis once and we commiserated about it for awhile.  She took several minutes trying to shoo a fly out of the room.


I looked up at one point and saw some x-rays up on the screen.  And I realized that they were x-rays of my boob!  I was like, "Is that ME?  Is that Lefty?"  Yep.  They were huge on the screen!  I was like, "Dang, if I had this size of boobs, I'd probably be seven feet tall!!"  It was fascinating.  I've never seen an x-ray of a boob before.  And yes, I saw the calcifications.  They looked like constellations.  Bright white.  Dots in clusters.  Everything else just looked mooshy and smudgey in there, but these little guys were very prominent.


They had me lie down on a table (they really should try to make it more cushioney) on your tummy, with your boob hanging into this hole in the table.  And then they pump the whole table up, like the hairdressers do with their special chairs, and then the doctor lays on his back and works underneath you, like a car mechanic working on a chassis.  I guess it makes sense, since boobs are so....weird.  I mean, they take on different shapes depending on how you're positioned, right?  It would make the most sense to have them hanging down toward the earth...

Anyways, so first, they have these rollers that kind of clamp on your boob on the top and bottom, and they tighten the rollers.  It's a little uncomfortable, but not bad.  But maybe it's just me.  And my insensitive boobs. Wink.  I had to turn my head and face the wall, my cheek on the table.  They took some x-rays, and I had to hold my breath during them.  I was worried that my heart thumping was messing the x-rays up, but the gal said I did great.  I got to stare at a painting on the wall during the whole procedure.  The painting was really beautiful.  Lily pads in a pond.  I later commented on the beauty of the painting, and they said that the artist is a medical doctor and likes to make paintings based on anatomy.  The lily pads, with the faint outlines of their stems going to the bottom of the pool, represent kidneys.  I thought that was cool.


So the radiologist came in and positioned himself underneath my chassis/boob and was like, "Okay, I have to give you a local anesthetic.  It's going to sting, but then afterward, you won't feel anything, which is a good thing."  I gave a thumbs up, realized he couldn't see it, then grunted, "Okay..."  I was nervous.  I think the shot is called Lidacaine or something like that, and I've had that shot lots of times in my dumb foot before cortisone shots.  And they hurt like a Mother of Pearl.  So I was scared.  But dude, I didn't even feel a pinch!  I didn't feel any stinging!


"Is that too terribly painful, Karlenn?  Are you doing alright?"


"Wait, you're doing it right now?"


"Well, I just finished."


"Um, no, not painful at all.  I didn't even feel it."


"Really?  That's strange..."


I mean, maybe the discomfort of the rollers that were clamping my boob made the shot not seem like that big of a deal??  I don't know.  Whatever.  I'm glad it didn't sting.


After a couple of minutes, they were ready to do the biopsy.  So apparently, they go in there, and they extract three samples in some way - I quite honestly don't want to know the trauma my poor boob went through.  And then!  They put in this little "marker."  They want to mark the space where they took the samples from, so that if they have to come back, they know where to go.  I thought that was fascinating.  So I have this little tag inside me.  Like those sharks they tag and then track all over the ocean.  So cool.


Then they uncranked the rollers and had me slowly sit up, putting pressure on my boob for awhile, and then they put this special strong tape over the...well...hole.  I mean, I saw an x-ray of the thing they put in you to take the samples, and it's not a teeny needle.  It looks like maybe the size of a pencil or a tampon or something.  I shuddered and looked away.  I was surprised they don't do stitches, but oh well.  If the tape does the trick, then I'm good.  They did that special tape when I got my hysterectomy, and that totally surprised me.  Tape??  Crazy.


I had to wait for another couple of minutes, and that's when I saw the towel-o-blood under the hole in the table.  I had to look away again.  That was a whole lotta blood...  But I felt fine.  I hadn't even had time to eat lunch yet, but I wasn't dizzy or anything.


Then we had to do a whole other round of mammograms, something with which to compare future mammograms, should that become necessary.


They told me not to do any housework or anything for 24 hours.  (Yesssss.)  And then Ben took me to Jamba to get an Orange Dream Machine.  I took it easy for the rest of the day yesterday and attempted to take it easy today.  It's not always easy to take it easy when you have four needy children, amIright?  I'll find out the results of the biopsy on Monday.  Wish me luck.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

A Total, Real, Earth-Shattering Spiritual Experience


First of all, may I say that typing on Ben’s laptop beats typing on the iPad, any time, any day?  I felt that my writing on those days was extremely sub-par.  Glad to be back to a normal keyboard.

We had about a week in Chelan to ponder our upcoming life change.  Moving 9 hours away to a new city.  We’re still not sure how we’re going to make it work, with Ben taking such a huge pay cut, but we’ve been poor before.  Heck, we’ve always been poor.  We know how to be poor.  I’m a grump about it, but I have to keep reminding myself, as my sister once changed one of her passwords to, I’m “poorbuthappy.”  I have kids whom I adore.  I have a husband whom I adore.  I’m mainly able to function physically.  My mental state is perfect – which is a big deal.  If my mental side is doing well, I’m good.  I’m good. I feel like we’ll make it.  We’re just hammering out details.

I was washing dishes one day in the kitchen, there in Chelan, pondering my life (I had someone recently tell me that all the mundane household chores that we do as housewives are actually a blessing in disguise, because it gives us time to ponder and be really open to the Spirit.  Or stress  out a ton.  I’ve known women (including myself) that usually do the latter. )

At any rate, throughout this whole process of Ben losing his job, I’ve had a difficult time feeling promptings from the Spirit.  I’ve been praying to accept whatever direction Heavenly Father wants to send us.  I’ve been reading my scriptures.  I’ve tried to find quiet moments where I can really listen for His promptings.  And I really haven’t gotten much.  Which has been frustrating.  It feels like it’s harder to get those promptings now, because our home is so chaotic with the kids constantly fighting and screaming and being generally crazy.  I feel like it was easier when I was single, or when it was just the two of us, to hear the promptings of the Spirit.  I’m the kind of person that needs to step back from the chaos and just be silent for awhile.  In fact, I brought my ear plugs with me on our trip – BEST DECISION EVER.  It shut out the extra noise for me. 

So I’ve been a little frustrated with lack of spiritual direction.  Quite honestly, I think the Spirit has had a hard time reaching me, not only because of my chaotic environment, but because I’ve been just…so upset at this whole situation.  We have to leave the home that we just barely bought.  A beautiful home that fits our family so beautifully.  We have to live on half of what we earned before.  And that will be hard.  We’re literally looking at double-wide trailers now over there.  It’s ridonkulous.  I’ve just been in a general state of pissiness.  Which obviously makes it hard for the Spirit to reach me.

So back to my story.  I’m drying drinking glasses, and I’m thinking about having to go back to work. Because it’s inevitable.  I’ll have to go back to work.  I sighed and thought to myself, “I guess I should get my teaching certificate up to date…” and I felt sad and defeated.  I did love my teaching job.  Mainly.  It was hard.  Those kids sapped everything out of me, emotionally, spiritually, mentally, physically…I came home as a shell of a person.  I went to bed at 8 p.m. every night.  I spent every spare second creating lesson plans and grading papers.  And visualizing that kind of life with four kids now… I really don’t know how I can be a good mother to them when other peoples’ children have sapped the life out of me, you know?  I can’t picture coming home from that and being a caring, loving, energetic mommy to my ninos. I know my mental barriers – things I fear will push me over the edge, and every decision I make is basically decided upon by whether it will push me over the edge.

I think going back to teaching school would do that.

So then I thought briefly about teaching dance.  How, in these past few weeks, when I get home from teaching dance, I’m completely energized and happy.  Patient.  Alive.  I was thinking, as I sat there, drying the dishes, “You know what I really want to do?  Keep teaching dance.”  And I’m not kidding, it was like angels singing Hallelijah and blowing trumpets.  A parting of clouds.  Chills going up and down my arms.  And a clear voice inside my head – not an audible voice, but a voice, nevertheless.  A clear, piercing voice.  And the voice said, clear as day – “You need to teach dance.  This is what I made you for.  This is your destiny.”

I almost started crying right there in the kitchen.  I know it was a Spiritual prompting.  And I’m going to follow it.  I’ll probably make as much as a public school teacher makes anyways.  Haha!  I’ll be teaching (a lifelong passion), and teaching something that is a huge part of me.  I’ll be dancing for a living!!  A dream come true!

Can I tell you something cute?  I was teaching my little 7,8,9  year old girls today, and after class, I had three girls give me huge hugs.  Cutest thing EVER.  And I had a mom ask if I could give private lessons to her daughter every week to help her with her jazz pirouettes, fouettes, and turns in a la seconde.  I checked with the lady in charge and arranged it.  So I start that next week.  It will be fun, helping someone one-on-one.
As to when we’re joining Ben in Bend, no idea.  I’m kind of waiting for him to figure out what he’s doing.  I think he should just go ahead and find us a rental house and get all settled in while I tie up loose ends here, and then we can go join him.  Besides, the house will sell much better if we’re not here in it.  Because my kids are complete and total SLOBS.  He’s like, “Maybe I should find a room for rent.”  And I’m like, “For a month?”  I want the kids there to start school at their new school.  I don’t want to rip them out of their school after only a month or two here, you know?

Ben and I (okay, it was just Ben) used a roto-tiller to till the dead grass in the backyard today.  It took Ben two hours.  I pruned trees so he could get under and around them.  I’m in charge of raking the dang thing while Ben starts painting the house.  Ooooh, wait until you see what colors we’re painting it.  It will look so much better!  And hopefully sell well.  I think I should try to find some area rugs to jazz up our rooms and also cover up the fact that these floors show every speck of dust.  We should have gone with the lighter color so that dirt and grime could be hidden more easily.  Ah well.  You live and learn.  So we have lots to do.


I got my biopsy today.  I’m so tired right now that my eyes are rolling into the back of my head, so I’ll type all of that tomorrow.  Oh, and this will take a few days to upload, because Ben accidentally tore up the internet line when he rototilled.  It was buried only a few inches of topsoil he tilled!  I don’t know what kind of idiot buries an internet cable in the first few inches of topsoil, but whatever.  Bad on whomever did that before.  Ben says he can fix it.  So until then, no internet.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Woking About

We headed down to Wenatchee one day this week. Mainly so we could go to the Wok About Grill, one of our favorite places to eat. Completely worth the half-hour trip each way.

I also really wanted to get Ben some jeans for his birthday, and there really isn't a place to buy any in Chelan. At least not any that would please my picky man. Every pair of jeans he owns has a hole in the crotch. Nat and I were trying to figure that out the other day - why the crotch, of all things, is worn out on our husbands' jeans.  We thought that maybe our men wear their jeans below their bellies, which makes the crotch hang low, and then their thighs rub together right there, thereby causing the crotch holes? That's the best we can figure.

Anywho, if Ben had his 'druthers, he would want a pair of Lucky jeans for 80 bucks. Which we have never been able to do, honestly. The next best thing for this picky man is Old Navy. So we made the trip down to good old Wenatchee.

The Wok About was as awesome as usual. Love that place.






Then we went to what Ben calls Old Slavey. (He has names for almost every store - Safeway is Slaveway. Pizza Hut is Pizza Slut. Little Caesar's is Little Sleazer's. He's a funny guy.)

The kids were being super-special, so after about 5 minutes, I took them out to the car. Containment. But first I picked out some sunglasses and sports socks for myself and gave them to Ben. Old Slavey has the BEST workout socks. I also got some schlip-schlops for Sadie and Gage.

Ben ended up with a few pairs of jeans and a t-shirt. I'm glad. No more wearing patch-crotched jeans for my man. For now.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Pool Poo-lution


Fortuitously, my adorable cousin, Tania, was at her vacation home with her hubby, Kip, this week. And her vacation home is only 20 minutes away from Chelan! She very graciously invited us over for lunch and a swim in her swimming pool. It was awesome. Kip barbecued hot dogs on the grill and Tania was the best hostess ever. She had cream soda available (my kids' favorite!) and even put them in those little cozies to stay cool.






She had a life vest available for Gagey, which was perfect for him. He was able to paddle all around on his own, which made him happy. Dyl and I had a spirited water fight, which was a blast. And then I got seasick and had to get out for awhile. Yes, seasickness from swimming pools. I am my father's daughter. He gets horrible motion/seasickness. He also gets vertigo. He can't even go to yoga with my mom. Once he's upside-down, that's it for him. He's nauseated and dizzy and DONE. Neither of us can watch those 3- D things at the beginning of movies in the theater, where you're, like, going down a roller coaster and popcorn is popping to your right...you know the thing I'm talking about?

Anyways. Tania's place is beautiful and it was so nice just to chit-chat with Tania and Kip. Unfortunately, we had a little mishap with Gagey. I thought Ben had put Gage's swim diaper and swim trunks on that morning, and he thought vice versa, when the truth was that Gage had put his OWN swim trunks on, sans swimming diaper.

And he had an accident. In the pool. A pooping accident. Ben used snorkeling goggles to locate the pieces of poop at the bottom of the pool, depositing the pieces into a ziplock bag, and the floating, fluffy pieces were scooped out by Kip with his little pool net thing and flung into the garden.

Sooooo embarrassing...

Kip and Tania took it all in stride and were very cool about it, but I felt really awful. We soon left. That's usually how things go. One of my kids embarrasses me, so we beat it before things get worse. :)

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Hoochie Mamas at the Beach

Kay, can I first tell you how much I hate typing on an iPad? My fingers are asking why we can't do our regular typing things. Hunt-and-peck - that's so not me. Not since high school typing class. Best class I ever took, I swear.

Also, this Auto Correct thing? What a pain in the arse! Sometimes I choose to lengthen out a vowel. Type it eight times to emphasize a word. And Auto Correct chooses to make my word into two new words that have nothing to do with my original word. Hate. I know how to spell, iPad. Let me do my thing.

Kay, so I swear on the sword of Indigo Montoya that I will upload these pictures this afternoon - pictures of what I'm hoping to tell you about, but they're on the hubby's phone, and getting him to send pictures he's taken to me is like twisting arms. Like pulling teeth. All of those cliches. We even may have a video for you. You'll love it!

Oh, and P.S., I'm feeling much better. Good thing I waited for three hours at the insta-care and got my pooh analyzed. Good thing we'll be paying for that... Ah well. It is what it is. I had no idea at the time that I would feel better the next day. I just knew that I couldn't go another day feeling like I did.

So, um, sorry if you thought I might be hospitalized or dead or something because I was all, "I'm deathly ill," and then I suddenly disappeared... I'm good. And no longer 3 pounds lighter, probably. I've been super-naughty with my eating. Ice cream! Milkshake! Carbs! Naughty, Naughty Kar. But I was in a celebratory mood.  "My husband got a job that pays peanuts! I have solid poop now!" These moments must be celebrated.

Alright. On to the hoochie mamas. No, iPad, not "hoodie mamas." Hoochie mamas.

So please don't think from this post that I'm a judgemental person. I'm really, really not. I just...really love people watching. It's one of my favorite pastimes. I think people are funny. I especially enjoy when people aren't trying to be funny and they're funny. Those are precious moments.

So we went to the lake a couple of nights ago. We have to go in the evenings because it's been like 108 degrees every day since we've been here. We just can't bear to go out in that. So we wait until after dinner until it's cooled down a teeny bit.

So we found a spot and Ben and I sat on the shore with our feet in the water, which actually felt lukewarm. And if you've ever visited Lake Chelan, you'll know that it is always, always icy cold. This weather is actually heating up this enormous lake. It's insane. That's just how hot it is. Anyways, the kids splashed and swam around and we were just enjoying ourselves.




We couldn't help noticing some girls playing in the water to our left. First of all, they were wearing really skimpy bikinis. Strapless bikinis. One of them had like a lace-up back. Honestly, they looked like they were wearing lingerie. I didn't appreciate how they were dressed. My hubs doesn't need to see that.  They looked to be in their early 20s. It was just the two of them. And they were taking selfies. And modeling shots of each other. Frolicking in the lake. Splashing around. Click-click. Making Duck Face. Click-click. Cheek to cheek duck face. Click-click. I mean, they spent like an HOUR taking selfies.  "Here we are at Lake Chelan, and we're spending our whole time taking selfies instead of hanging onto that huge piece of driftwood over there and trying to stand on it without it rolling over or swimming to the dock and climbing out onto it and singing the Rocky theme to ourselves while punching the air or throwing pebbles at each other. Or sitting with our feet in the water and having a deep talk about life. Or looking for little clam shells. Or floating like starfish. Or racing to the dock. Or dunking each other." I mean, there are so many things they could be doing, and instead, they're taking selfies. "Look at how much fun we're having!" When they're not really doing anything fun. They took their pictures, then climbed onto their towels and reviewed their pictures for an hour and probably posted them.

I don't know. I should stop being so judgie.  I mean, social media has its place, right? I love that I can see what my sisters-in-law are doing. I love that I can see what my sisters who live far away are doing. I love when they send me articles they liked or memes that reminded them of me. I love that stuff! I love that you can ask if anyone nearby has a such-and-such you can borrow. I love that you can put something out there about how you're feeling and can have those who care about you rally around you.

But I hate when people take pictures of themselves "doing" something when all they're doing is taking pictures of themselves and not doing anything at all.  I hate that reporting about doing something has replaced doing the actual thing.

But what I think I hate most of all is when people girls base their self-esteem on getting attention (the wrong kind of attention) from boys. I'm realizing now that what I'm feeling toward the girls is not a
self-righteous judgmental kind of feeling. I'm realizing that I feel sorry for them. It's actually a maternal, "Oh, I feel bad. They need to do this to feel good about themselves" kind of a thing. I want to go give them a hug and tell them that they should put their phones down and just enjoy the sunset and talk about life goals or how their families are doing. Or to read a good book. To find fulfillment in a way that will bring them true, lasting happiness. Not just Facebook " likes." Likes don't last. They will feel fulfilled for about two seconds, and then need to take some more selfies of them dressed scantily in a bar, taking shots.

I'm not saying I know more than them or am better than them or anything. I guess I'm saying that I'm grateful. I'm grateful that I feel good about myself. I'm grateful for the gospel, which gives me true self -esteem. I'm a daughter of God. I don't need likes or followers or whatever, because I know who I am. I'm at peace with that. It's a relief, really. Not to have to base my worth on whether a boy lusts after me or whether I'm pretty or ugly or whether I look perfect on Facebook or not. I can just lean
back, relax, and watch my niños play in the water and enjoy the feel of the cool water on my toes. Because that's what life is all about.

Monday, July 14, 2014

A Rough Night

Welp, I was violently ill all night long last night. Slept on the bathroom floor. Well, maybe "slept" isn't the right word for it. I existed on the floor. And then I was up every three minutes, doing my bidness. It was freakin' awesome. My body finally ran out of things to rid itself of at about 8 a.m. For fun, I weighed myself before bed last night. Then, out of curiosity, I weighed myself this morning.

I lost 3 pounds in 8 hours.

I tried not to feel perversely pleased at this.

I mean, I'm not saying I would ever take laxatives to lose weight. I guess I was just glad that all of my suffering wasn't for naught. At least I lost 3 pounds from it. I've been working on those pesky three pounds for the past month. :) It's like my pregnancy with Micah. So, so horrible. I was so sick that I only gained 9 pounds. So after I had him, I looked amazing! Which was fun. But then the weight inevitably piled on again. It always does.

At any rate, I went to the insta-care here in town this morning. I was really hoping they would give me some kind of shot or something. Instead, I waited for 3 hours, and then was very helpfully told that I either have a virus or some kind of bacterial infection. I had to, um, provide a sample of my...product (humiliating!) and get my blood drawn. I will be contacted in 3 days about the results. And if I'm still violently ill in the interim? Drink lots of fluids.

Thanks, Doc.

I'm seeing a bit of a pattern. I'm sick all night, dizzy and tired but okay all day, able to eat dinner and laugh really hard at reruns of Nadia G's Bitchin' Kitchen with Ben's uncle Jody (I mean, have you seen that show? Hi-larious), but at bedtime, I feel my body sink back into horrible illness. As I type this, I'm trying to ignore my churning stomach. I'm just so grateful that only 2 of my kids had this illness and it only lasted 12 hours for each of them. Fingers crossed.

Ben got the official job offer from Bend this morning. He'll make a little more than half of what he was making before. But we both feel good about it. I figure we've lived off that salary before; we can do it again. We've been poor our whole marriage; we're used to it. I'll work and it will be okay.

And get this - the boss of this company called Ben a couple of hours after he had e-mailed the offer, all anxious. "Sooo, um, did you get my e-mail? Are you going to join us? We just really want you in our company. We think you'd be a good fit."

How adorable. Like a boy saying to a girl, "So, did you get my text???" And it's gratifying, too, to know that Ben's talent is being honored and that he's wanted. He needed to hear that, for sure. I think he'll really love this job.

So now it's time to figure out logistics. Selling house. Finding temporary room for rent in Bend for Ben. Eventually finding rental house. Probably a single-wide trailer in a really bad part of town...it will be fantastic. :) But hey, way more temperate winters there. And hardly any wind. And summers don't get very hot. Kind of getting excited.

When the kids and I were walking around downtown Bend during Ben's interview, every other store was a wine shop or a coffee shop. The kids were thoroughly dismayed by this. You would have thought by their reaction to this that we were walking around the red-light district in Amsterdam. I had to keep telling them that we're not in Kansas anymore, and that Bend is different from Idaho Falls in lots of ways, but that people who drink coffee or alcohol aren't bad people. And that we're going to be more of a minority now, but that it will be a good chance for us to be good examples and introduce people to our beliefs. I reminded Dylan of his baby blessing, which emphasized that he would be a good example and missionary to his friends. I told him that us moving to Bend would give him a great opportunity to fulfill this part of his blessing. I think it will be great. It's fun to live in " the mission field." I really enjoyed that about San Diego.

Tomorrow, I have a great story for you involving some dumb girls down at the lake this evening. Good stuff. Stay tuned. In the meantime, pray for me that I won't have another night like last night...

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Naive Little Kar

So before I got sick with...dysentery... (wink, wink) I was able to go to Ben's meet-and-greet for his 20-year high school reunion on Friday night.

Luckily, this time, his high school girlfriend (who wasn't even in his grade, but crashed the 10-year reunion and was trying to hit on him - it was pathetic) didn't show up, so that was a plus.  And it was hilarious.  All of the wives that Ben's friends had been married to 10 years ago were gone, with new replacements.  And lots of bitterness on the part of his friends toward the exes. One of his buddies, we'll call him Roger, who we've seen a few times over the years when he had business and was passing through SLC (when we lived there), has this huge Santa Claus beard.

I was like, "What's with the beard, Roger?"

He's all, "It's a 'Screw You' to the ex-wife."

"Oh, she hates beards?"

"Yep."

"But what does it matter if you aren't married anymore?  Isn't that hot and itchy?"

"I'm going to wear this beard until my son is 18 and I don't have to pay child support anymore."

"How old is your son?"

"Six."

"Um, oh.  Okay...  Your new wife is okay with the beard?"

"Yep."

This other guy, we'll call him Nate, was talking to us about some kind of personality test online.  He's like, "I'm a PTSDEG.  It means I'm like this and like that and blah blah."

"How interesting!  I love that kind of stuff!" I said.  (I really do.  I just can't remember what his initials are or what they mean.)

"Yeah, it's taught me so much.  Like, just by looking at you and your body language, I can tell you're really introverted."

"Um, not really the word people use to describe me..."

"And hold up your palm toward your face, with your fingers together."

I complied.

"I can tell from the length of your ring finger that you are really, really good at math.  Am I right?"

"Um, noooo...I'm pretty crappy at math."

"Well, maybe you think you're crappy, but you're really not."

"Um..."

This same guy, when he introduced us to his girlfriend, said, "This is my partner."

Ben goes, "Like, your partner that you work with?"

I stared at Ben.  "No, babe, like, his life partner."

It was so funny.

I was having a really good time - I love conversing with people, even though they're strangers.  It's just my deal.  (So, no, I am NOT an introvert.)  Everyone was so friendly and outgoing and really interested in Ben and me and our life... And I was interested in them and their lives!  I was like, "These are great people!!"  I had this deep heart-to-heart with a classmate of Ben's that had just left her abusive husband of 18 years and moved home with her grandma and started a dog-grooming business...  It was great.

But after only a couple of hours of chit-chat, Ben was like, "Well, we'd better get home.  Gotta put the kids to bed..."

I looked at him like he was crazy.  "But Benny, your mom said she'd do that! This is so fun!"

"Eh, I'm tired.  We'll have fun tomorrow.  Bye, everybody!!" he yelled over his shoulder as he dragged me out the door.

I punched Ben in the arm when we got in the car.  "Ben, why on earth would you want to leave so early to go home and put the kids to bed?  I'd much rather talk to people than put our kids to bed!!  I HATE putting our kids to bed!!"

"I was getting uncomfortable.  Everyone was drunk."

"What?  No they weren't!"

"Oh, they totally were."

"Well, I mean, they had drinks they were drinking from, but I thought they were just 'buzzed,'" I said, using air quotes.  "They weren't, like, falling all over and yelling and laughing really loudly or anything..."

"Kar, only drunk people in the movies are like that.  These guys were drunk.  I know them.  They aren't usually this outgoing and friendly and fun."

"What????"

I was shocked.

And then I made a little connection from long ago.  From my days in high school.  When we had basketball games, or hung out to play board games, or watched movies as groups of friends, people always asked me if I was drunk.  And I never was.  (I actually have never tasted alcohol. It just wasn't a huge temptation for me.)  And I was always like, "Why would you think I was drunk???"

And now I get it.

OR.  Here's another example.  I was in drama club in high school, and one of the parts I had to play was a drunken wench (a Shakespearean play).  And I asked all my friends, "How do I DO this?  I don't know how to play a drunk person!!"  They all responded with, "Just act like yourself!  You always act like you're drunk!"

So, apparently, being jovial and outgoing and spazzy is the characteristic of being drunk.  Good to know.  Good to know.  Maybe this is why I'm so bad at first impressions...people must think I'm totally drunk all the time.  Hmmm.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Hapless

You know how, in every Jane Austen book, there's this character who is always described in Cliff's Notes as "hapless"? The bumbling idiot who's being cuckholded, or the guy who just doesn't get that she's just not that into him? Or the parent who doesn't have enough money and is forced to extremes to try to marry her dowry-less daughter off to someone, anyone?

I feel like I am that hapless person. The person who always seems to be down on her luck. I knew of a family in my neighborhood growing up, and they were truly the definition of hapless. The dad couldn't find a job. Their daughters had horrible reproductive issues. The mom, the sole bread-winner, got terribly ill. Their son, on a mission, also got terribly ill and had to come home early and be hooked up to an IV for months and months. And everyone kept saying, "Oh, those poor so-and-so's. They don't need anything more happening to them. They've had enough challenges." And yet the challenges kept coming at them.

I feel like we're those hapless people, Ben and I. I saw an old friend at a bridal shower about a month ago, and she was like, "I heard about Ben getting laid off." And I was like, "Yeah..." And she was all, "You guys just can't catch a break!" I nodded thoughtfully. But like I've said before, everyone is struggling. Maybe they're just not as transparent about it as I am. Maybe that's obnoxious; I prefer it to be termed as authentic. I mean, different strokes for different folks. I don't begrudge people who like to be more private about their issues. Everyone handles things differently; I choose to be transparent. So whatever.

Anyways, it's come to the point now where, when something bad happens, I'm so used to it that it has little effect on me. When I found out about my boob having something concerning in it and needing a biopsy, I was like, "Naturally." When Gage spent all night in Bend barfing, I was like, "Yep." When he had diarrhea several times yesterday, I was like, "Mmmmm-hmmm."

And when I went jogging this morning and was also hit with...dystentery (a much more elegant name for diarrhea, in my mind, and I'm nothing if not elegant, wink, wink) when I was 2 miles away from Ben's mom's house I was like, "Well, of course."

Hapless.

So, I spent the next 45 minutes struggling to get back and not to totally poop my pants. Luckily, Chelan is situated around a lake, which means lots of marinas, which means lots of port-a-potties. See? A stroke of luck right there. Not completely hapless. I managed not to poop myself. I did have to stumble behind a small bush on the busy street surrounding Chelan at one point. It was situated on a slope, though, with a tree between me and the also very wide open parking lot below, so, um, I felt a little bit better about it. But I got some thorns in my fingers when I was scrambling back up the slope and almost fell back into my, um, bodily product. I grabbed the first branch I could. Which was thorny.

Good times, man. Good times.

I almost considered going out onto a boat dock and sticking my butt in the water. It was burning, and I knew that lake water would feel awesome. But I refrained.

It's Ben's 20-year class reunion this weekend, and I missed almost everything, which was a bummer. Get it? Bummer? Greg and Gloria have to travel to the closest temple, which is 3 hours away, two Saturdays a month, so they've been gone all day. Ben took the kids to the picnic thing while I tried to rest, but tonight I was left to try to take care of them while still violently ill myself. Of course. I didn't want Ben to miss out on the dinner part of his reunion.  While left to my own devices, Sadie, um, sharted in her pants. (I only reserve the elegant word of "dysentery" for myself. Everyone else has
diarrhea or the Hershey Squirts or sharts in their pants.). Gage sharted in his diaper and screamed and fought when I had to wipe his little red bumb and put desitin on it. Naturally.  We were watching
some show about naughty dogs on Animal Planet (which was really pissing me off, by the way. Buttheaded dogs, ripping their beds apart. Naughty dogs are NOT cute, Animal Planet. Not in the least. And then this one dude has a pet skunk - she was, like de-stinked when she was born - don't fret - but he was basically saying that he loves her more than his ex-wife or his kids. Like, they divorced over his pet skunk. That is seriously messed up. Not cute, Animal Planet. Messed UP.) and they kept showing commercials for some reality TV show about people who hunt for Bigfoot, and Dylan and Micah were so traumatized by just these commercials that they weren't going to bed for me. All while my stomach has been churning and threatening another unfortunate bout of Elegant Dysentery. Mmmmm-hmmmm.

Hapless.


Nailed It!

Ughhhhh, every time we make the zillion-hour trip to Washington, I always swear I will never, EVER do it again, yet here we are. Sigh. At a gas station in Yakima. My sister had to do an internship here once, and she hated it. So far, I'm not terribly impressed by it. It smells weird.  And it's absolutely boiling outside.

Kay, so, big, big news: Ben had an interview this morning in Bend, and HE NAILED IT. He nailed it so much that the boss man called just five minutes ago, told Ben he'd be a perfect fit, and that he was going to send Ben a formal offer on Monday. Can I get an hallelujah? HALLELUJAH! Saying a silent prayer of thanks right now.

And we both have a Peaceful, Easy Feeling about Bend. And can I tell already that I'll love it there. So forestey! So artsy! While Ben interviewed, the kids and I walked around this park by the Something River. Can't remember the name of it right now. And I was like, yep. This is my kind of place.

This little duck followed us the whole walk.
I think he was hoping we'd feed him.  We didn't have anything with which to feed him, but there were signs everywhere saying, "Help cut down on Poo-lution!  Don't feed the ducks!"  Hahaha!

The houses on the other side of the river are fantastic.  Huge.  Amazing landscaping.
 There's a bridge at one point that crosses over to the other side of the river (Gage was off trying to find a bug, probably, and Micah's shirt was on backward, but he refused to turn it around for me):
 We saw a little otter carrying some grass to his little nest underneath some shelf-like rocks:
 Um, her face looks a bit creepy here:
 Look at how tall Sadie is getting.  Almost as tall as her brother.  Cray.

So now we have to figure out logistics. Do the kids and I stay behind until the house sells? He would start the first part of August, so he'll still get his severance plus salary for that month...could we feasibly move here, with him, into a rental until the I.F. house sells?  I don't know.

And then salary. The job itself is perfect for Ben. Custom homes. A lot of craftsman-style homes. Stuff he's dreamed about working on. He'll love it.

But he won't make enough for us to survive.

Which means I'll have to work full-time. As a public teacher? As a dance teacher? That's what we need to figure out. I'd rather do dance, but teacher benefits are really great...and I would work while the kids were in school...

But ballet... I can't tell you how much my life has lit up since I started teaching. Ben says he hasn't seen me this happy in YEARS. It's true. I'm in love. In love with teaching ballet. I'm in love; I'm in love; and I don't care who knows it! (What movie??) I taught some advanced students on Wednesday, and for kicks and giggles, I taught them the Four Little Swans variation.

They loved it.

They rocked it.

One girl even asked if I could record her and her friend doing the variation. I grinned and grinned. They are so hard core. I love it. I had three groups of four, and I gave each group a nickname. The Sweat Sisters (they accordingly made a little gang-like sign for themselves), Hard Core, and Wonderwomen.

So anyways. Lots and lots of thinking and praying to do.

And, um, I found out today that there were grave concerns about the results of my mammogram. I have to get a biopsy on two areas of, um, Lefty. I'm scheduled for the day after we get back from this trip. I'm trying to remain cheerful and optimistic.

Which isn't hard. MY HUSBAND GOT A JOB!

Boob Smashin'

Sooo, to my two readers, you needn't fret. This won't be graphic.

The other day, I was actually reading a magazine article about breast cancer, and the author said she was doing a "routine self-exam," which, I need to admit, I've always felt weird doing. It's like kegels. I feel really weird doing them. You're supposed to do them all the time, but, eh...weird for me. Call me narrow-minded. Whatever.

So the author was like, "I felt a lump during my routine breast exam, so I got it checked out, and it was breast cancer! And here is the rest of my story..." And I was like, "Sighhhh. Okayyyyy, I suppose it's been a few months since I've copped a feelskie on myself." So I reluctantly did, and guess what?

I felt a lump.

Being a woman, I immediately jumped to ominous conclusions and started planning my cancer treatments. "Oh, yeah, definitely gonna get fakies if I have to get a double mastectomy. But not a bigger size than I already am. I won't be able to dance very well if they're too big..."

Also being a woman, I immediately texted my sisters. My youngest sister freaked out and urged me to call my doc right away. So I did, and was given an appointment almost immediately.

My doc then copped a feelskie, (She's a girl, which made me not feel quite so weird, but still a little weird) and said I probably just had a fibroid. Which is just weird boob tissue, apparently. She says sometimes it comes on as we age. And she said I should probably stop drinking caffeine (Can we please observe a moment of silence here? This is a huge blow. A really big deal to me. She might as well have said I should probably never eat again. For realsies), because caffeine makes them more painful. She also recommended I take 1000 milligrams of vitamin E per day. And then she said I should probably get a mammogram.

All I've ever heard about mammograms is that they smash your boobs between two plates, and that it's exceedingly painful. My sister Nat remembered Mom getting one once and then staying in bed all day afterward, but as she and I discussed it, we came to the conclusion that Mom was probably just tired that day. She was always tired. Being a mom to four kids is exhausting. I know from experience, dude.

Despite these fearsome tales of pain and possible exhaustion, I went ahead to my mammogram appointment as planned.

And you know, it really wasn't that bad. Maybe my boobs are less sensitive than other peoples' boobs? I have insensitive boobs. They forget my belly button's birthday.  They walk away when they see their friend, my collarbone, crying. They don't get my armpits flowers on their anniversaries.  (Like one boob is married to one armpit and the other boob is married to my other armpit, right? Work with me here.) They're emotionally unavailable.

Anyways. So they got smashed up and down, and then side to side, and then diagonally. It was no big whoop. No need for a nap in the afternoon, though I took one anyway, because I taught dance for four hours that morning and was totally wiped out.

I should hear back from my doc in a couple of days about the results. In the meantime, if you could wear a dark brown armband in honor of my inability to drink coke, I'd appreciate it.

And no, this was not that graphic, so you can stop whining, boys. I could have been a lot more descriptive. Sorry/not sorry if I've given you PKBTSD - Post Kar's Blog Traumatic Stress Disorder. I hope my post hasn't made you hang low. I hope you won't be nursing a grudge against me from here on out.  I know I've been a Double D in sharing this with you. (A Daring Damsel.)  I'll tone it down next time.*

*No, no I won't.

We be big trippin', spendin' cheese...

Um, soooo... I'm writing this while we're on the road. Specifically, while Ben is filling the car up and we're baking in the car and smelling noxious fumes.  ROAD TRIP! Dang; road trips used to be a lot more fun before we had kids. Haha!  It's hard for me to commit to road trips nowadays. A three-year-old spilling his entire SoBe on our bag of treats? And then crying bitter, inconsolable tears for the next twenty minutes?

Priceless.

Who doesn't want to pull over THREE TIMES in the first two hours of travel time to go potty??? Who doesn't want to hear her 11-year-old son crying because her 3-year old son started ripping and scraping at him because he wanted Oldest Son's cookies? And then move Oldest Son to the backseat so the poor dog has to now sit in the Seat of Violence?

Yep, Dylan, an 11-year-old purple belt in Taekwondo, got beat up by a 3-year old.

If I had been Dylan's age and in the same situation, I probably would have slapped Gage across the face. My youngest sister will attest to this fact. I was much less patient before I had kids. It's been a lifelong process for me, gaining patience. But I will say I'm better than I used to be. Having one kid with ADHD and another with developmental delays and another who I swear might have some kind of emotional disorder kind of forces one to learn patience. As do two spousal layoffs within 5 years.

Which brings me to why we're on a road trip in the first place - Ben has an interview for a job in Bend, Oregon. Which is six hours away from his Ma's house in Washington. The kids looooove Ben's mom and all the fun to be had there, so after much consideration - my aversion to road trips with children were addressed at length - we decided to make it a family trip instead of a solo trip. We'll stop in Bend for the night, Ben will have his interview in the morning, and then we'll head on up to Chelan.

The Bend guy interested in Ben is offering, well, not enough money for a family of six to survive on, but we're quickly learning that nobody is going to offer much more, no matter where we go. I will most certainly have to also work. We figured that if I teach dance there, we'll be okay. Or I can teach school there and we'll be okay. Also, he'll be freelancing for his old company (they just can't afford a full-time-with-benefits in-house architect but do want to send occasional work his way) in the evenings and on weekends.

So, if the interview goes well, the most likely scenario is that Ben will start working in Bend and I'll stay in Idaho with the niños and try to sell our house. Which could take anywhere from a couple of weeks to a year or more. I don't relish being apart from Ben - been there, done that, gotten the t-shirt - but we most certainly can't afford two mortgages, or one rental and one mortgage, so this is just...reality.  So he'll probably rent a room or whatever somewhere until we can join him.

Again, we don't want to leave I.F., but it's really important to me that Ben works doing something he loves. And there is nothing in architecture in I.F. And this firm in Oregon really, really excites him. And it uses the same software as he uses. And I've heard rave reviews about Bend. All forested. Cute. Clean. Artsy. Honestly, it sounds perfect for us.

I don't relish ripping the kids out of school AGAIN, nor do I relish moving. Nor do I relish leaving my friends. Nor do I relish trying to keep the house clean for showing. Nor do I relish leaving my two new jobs teaching dance locally. (Yep, I started at a second studio, as well. I taught ballet for FOUR HOURS yesterday. I'm DYING. But happy.)

But life rarely goes as planned. We have to go where Heavenly Father takes us. Maybe it's Bend. Maybe it's somewhere else. We'll see. Maybe Bend needs our crazy family. Maybe our crazy family needs Bend. I know that Heavenly Father will take care of us. He always has. Life has rarely been carefree, but honestly, everyone has something going on. And when that thing ends, another takes its place. That's the biz of life, dude. It's not always pleasant. It's not meant to be pleasant.

Hey, here's another plus to moving to Bend: We could have all kinds of fun with Ben's name and the name of the city. Hey, here comes Bendy Ben! Hey, B.B., do you want a diet coke? Ooh, that's Ben From Bend! Best architect this side of the Pecos! He was Bad (Bad!), Bad (Bad!) Bendy Ben, baddest hen in the whole darned pen... No, that doesn't make sense, but it's all I can come up with while being distracted by Gage, who is crying because he dropped the bug he had captured in the Chick-Fil-A parking lot, and by that creepy movie, 9, that the kids are watching. Not the biggest fan of that movie...

Kay, I'm signing off now. Have to deal with a screaming three-year-old.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Rigby Lake - much better this time.

Kay, update on the job hunting - Ben didn't get the job in Vegas.  This company uses a different rendering software than he has used in the past.  He assured them that he learns new rendering software very quickly, but they didn't feel like they wanted to wait for that learning curve to happen.  Oh, and we were asking for "too much."  Let me say it again:  Too much my butt

So, you know, it's a good thing we used his sky miles to send him down there.  Good thing. 

Ben was actually really relieved.  He said that he just hadn't felt the vibe that we would end up there. 

He has another interview next week in Salt Lake.  He got offered a temporary job - 3 months only - being a project manager with another dome company that has worked with Ben's former company a few times, which we seriously considered, because we could make some money to save, but then that would put off Ben's ability to go places for interviews - he wouldn't have been able to leave the job site.  We prayed and thought and pondered and prayed and just felt like he needed to stay here and apply for this Salt Lake job. So...we'll see.

I'm just grateful that we felt something.  This whole time, as I've been really striving to feel the Spirit guide me, I haven't felt one dang thing.  So feeling the guidance of the Spirit was a huge relief.  A very peaceful feeling.

On to more pleasant things...

On Memorial Day, we decided to take the ninos to what they call "the beach" - Rigby Lake.  Haha!  When we got there, well...it wasn't a lake yet.  It was a puddle.  Rigby Puddle.  This gives you sort of an idea:
Initially, the kids were disappointed because of the lack of water.  I was disappointed that they had charged us $5 to get in!  Do they have no integrity??  Who charges $5 for people to walk half a mile to even get to the water's edge?  For a puddle that's all warm and algae-ish and has all these gross slimy weed things in it??  Really.  This is my sarcastic thumbs-up about the situation:
But as soon as the kids got the sand toys out, they got over their disappointment and had a total blast.  Hours of fun.  I helped them build a sandcastle and whatnot, but it was pretty windy outside and I was kind of bored.  I wish I had brought a book.  Ah well.
We found out that Rigby Lake is kind of on a long waiting list of who gets water.  The farmers get it first, and then the lake gets it.  So all we had that day was rainwater.


 Sadie wore her life jacket the entire time, even though it only got to knee deep at the highest.  Haha!
Gage wore HIS life jacket for a couple of weeks afterward.  All day.  All night.  During naps.  He went through a life jacket phase.  He is very phase-related.

My sis, Beads, is in town, and we decided yesterday to head back to the lake.  It was a perfect day.  No wind.  And this time we had one of those cool dome-umbrella things to block the sun for Beads's adorable baby daughter. 

The kids had a blast.  Heck, I had a blast.  Sadie and I swam all the way out to the dock and back.  And we practiced floating and then pretended we were seals and walked with our hands up to the beach from the water.  Dylan had another large sandcastle construction project going on.  Gage was searching for "buggies."  (His new phase.  Bugs.)  Despite two coats of sunscreen, Dylan and Micah got toasted, poor things.  I felt bad.  Micah got to help feed his new baby cousin.  He was so tender and sweet to her. 

I got to sit under the umbrella dome and cuddle my sweet baby niece and chit chat with  my family and laugh at my mom making the baby do complicated tap-dancing moves with her feet.  My mom is so hilarious.  I love it.  It was great.

We took Pepper, which I was initially worried about, but apparently, Rigby Lake is dog-friendly.  Pepper played fetch with either Ben or Spencer the whooooole time we were there.  For like four hours.  The guys would throw the ball clear out into the water and she'd slosh out there and then swim to fetch it and bring it back.  She didn't want to ever stop.  Our beach neighbors kept telling us how cute she was.  She didn't bug anyone and was as good as gold. 

Beads took a bunch of pictures.  I'll put them on here soon.  I always have her "give" me her pictures when we finish a family vacation together.  I believe she's now become the family archivist.  And I'm good with that.  Now I can focus on my main family job - getting food out of the coolers in the back of the car for everyone else while getting violently carsick.  And on my other family job as Family Salad Maker for Gatherings. :)
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