Wednesday, August 26, 2015

The last time my abode was this clean...

...was when I only had Dylan and Sadie.  Ya wanna know why?

My oldest three have been gone at camp this week.

Oh, wait, wait, wait.  I'm not trying to be a jerk.  The main reason I got on here tonight was to let you know that I haven't gotten my test results yet.  I was supposed to get them today, but apparently, Doctor Pirate was in surgery until late this evening.  So I'm supposed to hear from him tomorrow.  I'm so sorry to keep you in suspense.  Some people I know (*cough* Lex *cough*) are even more nervous about this test result than I am (I love that you're more nervous than I am, Lex), and believe me, I'll let you know as soon as I know.  I've had a Peaceful, Easy Feeling today, though.  (What classic rock group sang that song?)  Perhaps because I started the day right by praying, reading my scriptures, and an hour of yoga - my back is yelling at me right now, saying, "Too many bridges, Kar!  Too many bridges!  You're in your late thirties, ya know!"  Perhaps it's the Holy Ghost, speaking peace to my soul.  I know I'm going to be alright.

So anywho.  Back to camp.  They go to Camp Kesem.  For those of you who weren't with me last year, Camp Kesem is a nationwide organization that provides a free, week-long camp experience for kids whose parents have or have had cancer.  There are 60-something chapters of Camp Kesem throughout the United States, and it's just wonderful.  My kids went to the Sun Valley, Idaho chapter last year, and this year, they've gone to the Gresham, Oregon chapter.  If you're ever looking for a good charity to support, this is one to think about.  Kids from age 6 to 16 can go.  Even if their parent has been in remission.  They get free camp, every summer, until they're sixteen.  The idea is that they get a week to kids.  A week not to worry about their parent.  In my case, a week where they don't have to baby-sit all the time while the parent goes to a million doctor visits.  Dylan and Sadie have been absolute rock stars since I've been here in Bend.  I had radiation EVERY SINGLE DAY for eight weeks, and Dyl and Sade watched The Two Littles EVERY SINGLE DAY while I went.  I'm proud of them for kind of stepping up to the plate for me, but I also really looked forward to this week for their sakes. 

Also, it's a whole week where I don't have to hear fighting about the damn X Box.

A whole week where my house actually stays clean.

A whole week which gives me the opportunity to de-junk their bedrooms without them saying, "But Moommmm, I still play with that toy all the time!!  I don't want to donate it!"*

Have I told you about Micah's Spidey Sense?  He's so funny.  So, in this neighborhood, there are a lot of rentals, and therefore, people are moving in and out all the time.  A lot of people, rather than cart a bunch of stuff to The Goodwill, throw crap they don't want in a box or on a table with a little sign saying, "FREE."

Somehow, Micah can sense when one of these boxes or tables is set up.  It's like he has this honing device.  So he comes home with crap all the time.  He has a salt shaker, gravy boat, and sugar bowl from some apartment.  Another raid scored him some ceramic birds and a beautiful ceramic high heel which is decorated with little glass roses.  Most recently, his aquisitions were a large box with like 20 little sample-sized bottles of perfume and several broken Christmas decorations and ornaments.


The perfume was AWFUL.  Every time I came upstairs, or really, whenever Micah was in my vicinity, I started sneezing, because this perfume is too old, I think.  You know that very bitter, eyewatering smell that perfumes get when they're too old?  I hate to say it,'s Old Lady Smell.  Times fifty.  

We finally told Mikey he had to get rid of the perfume.  Ben gave him an old bottle (but not too old) of his Preferred Stock.  A much more pleasant smell.  Ben also had a stroke of genius when it came to disposing of this perfume.  You see, we've had this issue with our garbage can.  We're good about bagging our garbage and not putting leaky bags in or anything, but whoever lived here before didn't really care about doing that.  So whenever you open it to throw garbage in, you get this horrible Dead Body smell.  Or Old Mildewy Milk.  It's hard to describe. But it makes me gag.  I've sprayed the inside with our sprayer and poured bleach in there and sprayed it some more and emptied it out and aired it out, but that smell is so pervasive.  Anywho, Ben decided to empty the perfume bottles into the garbage can.

And whattaya know - no more Dead Body smell!  All we smell is old lady.  And we are AOK with that.

So today, I went through Micah's...ah...treasures...and threw out the ornaments that were broken - there were a few that were intact.  He'll probably notice they're gone, but dude.  We don't live in a mansion.  We don't have a whole lotta space.  I gotta do what I gotta do.  Plus, I let him keep the Questionable Black Fluffy Boa.  I was sorely tempted to get rid of it, but instead, I laundered it and put it neatly back in one of his toy bins.

The house looks fantastic.  I'm drinking it in, because the second the ninos return, it will go back to its former pit-like existence.  Dude, next year, Gage gets to go!  Which means - a whole week without the kids?  I'm not wasting that on staying at home and cleaning the house, man.  I'm going somewhere fun!  Oh wait.  I might be recovering from boob surgery. Hm. Well, we'll see.

Anyways, do you want to see this camp where the kiddos went?  We snapped some pictures when we dropped them off.  I have NEVER seen a nicer camp.  It's a YMCA camp.

 A horse corral?  An archery range?  A chapel???
 The younger kids' cabins have (dead) grass on the roofs...
And yes, round doors.  Like little hobbit houses.  Taco was standing in front of the door - hard to see.  At Camp Kesem, the kids and counselors all go by nicknames for the week.  So this dude's name was Taco.
 The cabins have skylights, indoor's ridiculous.
 I mean, if this is camping, sign me up!
The kids' nicknames this year - Dylan is...crap.  I can't remember.  Something about Commander Something.  Or Something Chief.  It's from some dumb video game.  I'll tell you when I remember.  Sadie's is...Mangle.  No, not Mango.  Mangle.  A character who is actually nice from a video game that we don't even own!  It's called Five Nights of Freddie's, or Five Nights at Freddie's, or something.  The kids play some kind of live version of it during recess, apparently.  Mike decided he wanted to be called Spark.  He originally wanted to be called Sparkle, but shortened it to Spark.  Here are the kids, making their name tags:
 Why would such a sweet little girl choose to call herself Mangle?  It's beyond me.  Dylan in his cabin:
 The older kids' cabins are up on stilts - the terrain is pretty uneven there.  And there are these bridge thingeys between each one:
 This is Dylan's porch.  They built around an existing tree.  So cool.  It reminds me of that Tree House show with that excitable tall man.
 Who's the dude in the striped shirt, leaning against the railing?  Uh, that's me.  I look like a dude.  Who carries a purse.

We saw a few of these around.  I wondered if they were the counselors' tents or nurse tents or something.  They remind me of Mongolian tents.
 Dude, I went to camp for church, and although there is a soft spot in my heart for Camp Darby, it was NOTHING like this.  I think I might have liked camp a whooole lot better if I had this setup!  The kids are so lucky.  I know when I pick them up tomorrow, they'll have many tales to tell.  We'll see if Micah is the most popular kid at camp again this year.  Haha! 

*Which really means that they haven't touched the toy for three years.  Or it's a piece of garbage.  Like, literally, a piece of garbage from the street.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

It hit a little too close to home.

Soooo, if you have plans to watch How I Met Your Mother, or as Ben and I call it, HIMYM, you'd better not read this post, because it will be a major spoiler.
Ben and I do enjoy a good binge-watch, and we've been bingeing on HIMYM for a few weeks.  We finally finished the last season last week.

And I cried for like an hour afterward.

I've kept it together pretty well these past few months, so for a series finale to make me cry, nay, even a comedy series finale, I surprised myself.  First off, may I just list my beefs with the finale?  If you haven't watched this, you'll find it boring.  But it does lead in to why I started crying.  You may scroll down if you need:

1)  Barney and Robin divorce after only three years???  After alllll that leadup?  And this beautiful wedding that they had?  And all the amazing things they did to surprise each other? And they were both so good for each other! (a.k.a. They were both totally selfish.)

2)  And Robin gets all busy with her job and doesn't hang out with her friends anymore?  Even when Lily stood there crying in her Moby Dick Halloween costume, all cute with her pregnant belly??? 

3)  Here's my biggest beef.  The thing that made me cry.  Ted spends TEN YEARS searching for his soulmate.  So much heartache.  So much loneliness.  Such hard breakups.  Ten. Years.  And then he FINALLY meets The One.  And she is so fantastic! She plays base guitar!  She works to end poverty!  She makes English muffins sing, like puppets!  She totally fits in with Ted's friends!  She is the mother of his children! 
And you see glimpses of their future together.  And it is so great!!  They have a healthy, supportive, wonderful relationship!!

And then she dies, ten years into their relationship/marriage?  She dies??  This light in Ted's life, his soulmate, the mother of his children?  Dies?  So that the writers can make this big arc come back full circle and he is free to finally date Robin?  Because, conveniently, she's single now, since she and Barney divorced?  What about Ted's wife?  The unselfish one?  The one that wanted to be with him from the get-go???

I cried because this girl died.  I mean look at me.  I can't even remember her name.  But here's the thing:  she is more significant than for me to not know her name.  She is more significant than only being in Ted's life for ten years.  It's bad enough that her boyfriend, who she really thought was the one, died when she was 21.  But for her to finally find love again, but then be taken away at the age of 39?? (Yes, I calculated it.) 

It's not fair.  She didn't get a fair shake.

And I'm scared of dying.

No, that's not it.  I'm not scared to die.  I just don't want to yet. I want to be an old granny.  Like 80 or 85 maybe.

The thing is, I'm trying to ignore this...bump...on my mastectomy scar.  And I've done pretty well so far.  But when What's-Her-Name died when she had young children... It was staring me right in the face.  So I cried and cried.  Ben held me, and I sobbed and told him that I don't want to die!  I like to pretend that cancer is completely behind me, but until I've gone the perfunctory... three years?  Five years?  I don't know what it is, even.  But until I've gone that amount of time without any traces of cancer, I don't know how easily I'll rest. 

I suppose this is premature scanxiety.  I won't start scans to see if cancer is still staying away until my last Herceptin treatment, in February.  But I'm going through a type of scanxiety, really.

I went to a breast specialist today ("He's obsessed with breasts...hey, that rhymes!"  What show?).  He looks like a pirate.  He has a Jeff Goldblum Jurassic Park-era jerry curl mullet going on, and one gold hoop earring in his left ear.  I liked him the second I saw him.  And he really took the time to talk to me and look at my bump and measure it and figure out a plan of action.  Taking into account my type of cancer's tendency to recur (my type is HER2 Positive), he decided to do this needle extraction thing.  It entailed a small, hollow needle extracting some cells from this bump.  It was painless, because I don't have any feeling there.  Gage was in the room, however (my baby-sitters are at My Mom Has Cancer Camp this week), and try as I may, I couldn't shield his curious eyes.  He was fascinated by it, at first, but then commanded the doctor, with some concern, "Don't hurt my mommy!"  It was sweet.

Doctor Pirate says that tomorrow, they'll get the results back and call me.  There are three possibilities: 1)  It will be positive for possible cancer and they'll have to do a biopsy.  2)  It will come back benign and we don't have to worry about it.  3)  It will come back inconclusive, and they'll have to do a biopsy.  They are trying to avoid a biopsy in case it's just weird scar tissue; radiated skin is very difficult to heal, and they don't want to cause any damage if what we're looking at is scar tissue.

So it's not scanxiety, per se, since this isn't a scan.  But it's the same kind of a deal - a test to see if I'm cancer-free.  So, dear friends, can you pray for me today??  (Let's face it, it's like 11:30 while I write this, and you are all in bed.  So I'm saying "today" because you'll most likely read this tomorrow.)  I'd appreciate it.  I really am, for the most part, thinking positively about it and assuming that it's no big deal.  I guess I'm just coming to a realization that...I guess I won't be out of the woods for a long time.  And I so want to be out of those woods. 

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

It's worth it just for the cheesemonger alone.

It has become an absolute MUST in my book to visit the little Bavarian-themed town of Leavenworth whenever we visit Chelan each year.  An adorable little town nestled in a valley with towering, lush, green mountains surrounding it?  Hanging baskets and pots just overflowing with petunias - at least 5 in front of every shop?

Bavarian pastries?  The occasional traveling preacher who shouts hellfire-and-damnation at the top of his voice in the central square?*  Those reasons alone are reasons for me to want to go.

But the cheesemonger?  Oh, the cheesemonger.  It's my favorite.  My souvenir from Leavenworth every year is the same:  a big old hunk of cheese from the cheesemonger, which I devour in its entirety (we're talking to 1/4 to 1/2 pound of cheese) on the hour drive back to Chelan.

I also enjoy taking cheese-loving selfies and sending them to my sister, Alexis.  Actually, I've only been doing it the past two years.  But I will continue to make this a happy tradition.  (You're welcome, Lex.)  I can't find my selfie from last year - last summer, as you know, was a bit ca-ray-zay and I can't find half my pictures.  I found out I had cancer right when we got home from Chelan last year, so those vacation pictures, plus any more from the remainder of the summer, are...somewhere.  Quite possibly on my parents' computer's hard drive.  Which I forgot to check when I was home for the 4th of July.  (D'oh!)

But I do have my selfie from this year:
It's, um, a neat picture.  All pictures of me are...neat.  (Meaning, not neat.  I'm really, really unphotogenic.) Yes, my hair looks almost strawberry blonde in that light.  It was an unfortunate box dye job.  I have some greys, but don't want to pay a professional to color it, since my hair is only like an inch and a half long.  So not worth it yet!  When it's longer, it will be a different story.  We (meaning Ben and I - Ben's favorite thing in the world is to dye my hair.  I think this is seriously so adorable) tried a different brand and color, and voila - I'm a strawberry blonde in certain light.  In other light, my hair is the color of Carrot Top's hair.  If you add the Angry Eyes the girl in the Ulta makeup store gave me back in July, and if my hair had been coming in curly instead of stick straight (not that I'm complaining - stick straight hair has been The Dream my whole life!  I'm lovin' it!), heck.  I would be Carrot Top's doppelganger.  Hang on a minute; let me find my Angry Eyes picture:
Hahaha!  See?  Carrot Top hair color, Carrot Top eyebrows.  Kay, take a minute and scroll up and see the real thickness of my eyebrows (I overplucked in the nineties - didn't everybody?  And now they won't grow back), and then scroll back here to see the comparison.  There is a WHOLE other story about this little eyebrow makeover.

Short version:

1)  It was supposed to be a free consultation.
2)  It wasn't free.  It was $25.  Which I found out AFTER the consultation.
3)  I think the eyebrows look a little bit better with actual makeup on other parts of my face:
4)  But it's still a whole lotta eyebrow when all I've had for 20 years are the skinny ones.  I'm used to them.  And they won't freakin' grow anyways, so to get dramatic eyebrows like these, I'd have to basically paint them on every day.  I don't know if I want to invest that amount of time on a look I'm not completely sold on yet.  Who am I, Cara Delevigne?  Have you SEEN the eyebrows on that girl?  Yowza.  I mean, they work for her.  Don't get me wrong.  But they're...intense.  Note:  Yes, one of my front teeth is moving.  I am not happy about it. Note #2:  Yes, Mom, you were right to counsel me in the beginning to keep the enormous caterpillar eyebrows I was born with.  But I had a little college rebellion and ate only cheesy breadsticks for every meal and plucked the crap out of my eyebrows.  For a rebellion, it wasn't so bad.  Except for the whole trip-to-the-hospital-because-my-body-couldn't-poop thing.
5)  To get this thick eyebrow look, all I needed was to buy two products, totaling $50!

Fifty bucks?  Who am I, Paris Hilton?  I don't think so.  That didn't happen.  Okay, half of that happened.  I got the eyebrow pencil.  Which is, arguably, the nicest eyebrow pencil I've ever had.  It had better be, if it was $25.  #stickershock #buyersremorse #itsneverhappeningagain #makeupshouldnevercostthatmuchIdontcarethatmuchaboutitandhardlyeverhavetimetowearit

So yeah.  Back to Leavenworth and my adored cheesemonger.  So I went on downstairs (it's a downstairs establishment, like MacLaren's in How I Met Your Mother [an addiction that Ben and I both enjoy]), and when I walked up to the counter, the dude remembered me!  I'm trying to figure out if he was pretending to remember me (which, in Kar Land, translates into sweet-talking me) so that I'd buy a lot of cheese, because I don't look much like I did a year ago.  Maybe it was my Extremely Magnetic Personaaaaaaality!  Haha!  Anywho, whatever.  His sweet-talking worked.  He had me sample a few new cheeses that had come to their full age, or whatever kind of cheese talk you use for that.  I really liked the one you see in the top picture.  And I took not one, but TWO pictures with my cheese:
That's the entry to the shop.

Oh, and by the way, they have a Cheese-of-the-Month Club, in case you were wondering what to get me for Christmas...  I'm dead serious.  (See you those gorgeous hanging baskets?  I die! I'm in Gardening Withdrawal [GW], since I don't have a garden anymore at the ugly townhouse where we live.  I'm seriously thinking next year of getting window boxes.  And hanging baskets.  I gotta do something gardeney.  I'm dying without a garden to take care of.  I did have two porch pots with some really happy begonias this summer.  So there's that.)

I must warn you - if you don't have a lot of money to spend, Leavenworth might not be the place for you. It's mainly shopping.  And I really do hate window shopping.  Why waste my time looking at stuff I can't buy?  But the cheesemonger and the hanging baskets make up for it.  And the Bavarian pastries.  And, of course, the hellfire-and-damnation preachers.*

Gage, window shopping for a birdhouse:
Which he didn't get.  He chose some Minecraft character miniatures, of course!  Nothing says Bavaria like Minecraft character miniatures.  Even if he had wanted a birdhouse, I wouldn't have gotten one.  I don't want to encourage the pigeon vermin around here.

Also, consider yourselves lucky that you don't see Gage's other hand down the back of his shorts.  It is a constant nowadays.  You can ask anyone who who has spent any amount of time with us lately.  Gage is an official Bumb Grabber, in the grand tradition of S kids.  Actually, I don't remember Dylan or Micah being Bumb Grabbers.  But Sadie sure was. They like the feel of their buttcheeks, evidently.  Gage also likes the feel of another part of his anatomy, but we won't get into that.

I keep begging  Ben to let our family take a Bavarian Photograph - it's like the Old Time Photographs you can get at state fairs and in Old Town ___________ (insert any city in the western United States here), but with Bavarian costumes!  The lederhosen, the fraulien-in-bustier-and-serving-steins-full-of-foamy-beer kinds of costumes.  It matters not that I've never drunk beer, or that German bustiers are a little bit...slutty-looking. (Is this because of Halloween?  Did Halloween do for German bustiers what it did for old-fashioned Nurse Costumes?)  I want to be a fraulien in a bustier and holding a stein, dang it! I could make it modest!  I would arrange my billowing tunic underneath the bustier into a modest one. (And yes, technically, I'm a frau, not a fraulien, but I doubt fraus wear bustiers.  Perhaps they do.  I'm not schooled in age- or status-appropriate traditional Bavarian garb.  I just think it would be fun to wear a bustier sometime.) By the way, do you know what the worst German-or-perhaps-Transylvanian-I-didn't-really-pay-attention-in-bustier movie costume is, according to Kar?  This one, from Van Helsing:

You want to know why?  From far away, during her fighting scenes and all, that stitching in her chestal area looks like...n words.  Not that n word.  The n word I have a struggle saying.  I'll give you a hint.  I no longer have n words.  Get it?  I also struggle with the fact that Ben has a Hollywood crush on Kate Beckinsale.  Hmph.  (I'm allowed to have Hollywood crushes, but he, on the other hand...Hmph.  I may institute a "Let's keep our Hollywood crushes secret" rule in our marriage.  I'm a jealous sort.)

You guys will have to talk Ben into letting us take an Old Time Bavarian Photo next year.  It's on my bucket list.  Oh.  And it just occurred to me that frau-in-bustier photos might look better when one has two items to, ahem, boost.  That would have looked really, really funny if we had done that this year...  A bit lopsided.

Thanks to my sweet mother-in-law for getting some souvenirs for the kiddos.  They love them. Dylan saved his souvenir money to unlock some stupid thing on Stupid Minecraft.  That game was created by the Devil himself.  Ask any mom.  They'll tell you.

*I actually really dislike hellfire-and-damnation preachers.  Does that tactic actually work??  I'm more of a catch-them-with-honey kind of a person.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

The Beautiful Old House on the Hill

Ben's mom and stepdad's house is just amazing.  It's more than 100 years old and overlooks the tiny town of Chelan.  We love coming here.

Ben and the kids checking out the old, hollow tree:
 A view farther back - you can see the town and the hills beyond.  You'll notice it's a bit smoky.  There are two fires in the area - it's so bad outside that you can visually see ashes falling from the sky, and it smells like a campfire.  It was like this last summer.
The swing that hangs from the hollow tree:
 It's so refreshing to have a lawn on which the kids can play.  We haven't had access to that for awhile:

Gage loves bubble baths:

Making card houses with Grandpa Greg:
 I made German pancakes one morning.  Ben took a picture of one of the pans.  Apparently he was appreciative.  He cracks me up:

Okay, I'm off to watch Poldark.  Have you HEARD of this new show?  Look it up, immediately.  Ah-MAZ-ing!!

Tuesday, August 11, 2015


We're here, in the land of beautiful orchards and smoke-filled skies, once more.  Central Washington, Chelan, to be exact.  (The smoke-filled skies is a reference to the fires that seem to plague the area every summer.  This summer, there's a fire near a small town called Staheegan.  No idea on if that's the correct spelling.)  Ben's mom and step-dad live here.  We la-hove it here.  And we love Ben's mom and step-dad.  His step-dad, Greg, actually just finished a huge stem cell and chemo-filled hell - he has/had bone marrow cancer.  We wanted to visit him once his white blood cell count was in a safer range.  He's doing okay; the chemo's side effects are still raging through his body, and that's really hard for him.  But his latest scan shows that he is free and clear.  Such good, good news.

Greg's brother, Jodi, lives here, as well, and he is HI-larious.  My favorite joke of his so far this week: He just bought the movie, Insurgent.  He showed it to us, saying, "Look!  I got Insurgent!  We should watch it!  I can't wait until the next movie, Detergent, comes out.   It's where they all wash their clothes.  And then the fourth movie, Astringent, is when they try to clear up their skin."  I'm still chuckling over that joke.  Haha!  He's so funny.

Saturday, we played in the lake:
Gage got tired and conked out on the blanket:
 My adorable mother-in-law:
 Micah's more of a play-in-the-sand guy:
 Greg has to keep his feet up most of the day - his neuropathy and edema are still pretty bad from chemo:
Oooh, oooh, I forgot to tell you some most important news:  Micah was tested by a child psychologist, and he does have ODD, but in combination with generalized anxiety disorder.  So he's on medication for both problems, and his behavior has improved a thousand-fold.  We are so, so grateful.  This diagnosis and medication is an answer to basically seven years of prayers over this kid. He actually seems...happy.  For the first time.  Truly happy, contented, and at peace.  It's like the shell that was covering the true him - the Anger Shell - has been stripped away, and he is able to emerge. So, so thankful.  This vacation with him has been extremely pleasant.  I'm thrilled.

Micah is also taking a vitamin supplement called Q96 that my friend, Kara recommended.  It is supposed to help anyone with any kind of neurologic/mental health issue.  I'm sure it's helping him as well.  If not, it certainly can't hurt to get more vitamins and minerals into one's system, no?

Kar Cancer Update:

Still going in for my herceptin IV every three weeks which, thankfully, has no bad side effects.  A troubling little...nodule?  Blister-like bump?  Has appeared on the scar line of my left chest.  My radiologist says it's either just my skin still trying to cope - apparently, the radiation stays in your body and continues to zap the area at which it was aimed for six months after your last treatment.  Man, no wonder I'm so tired!!  So it could be that my skin is still trying to heal, and it's difficult, because the radiation is still there, wreaking havoc.  Orrrrr..... it could be something we need to biopsy.  I need to make an appointment with a breast surgery specialist in town so he can check it out. So if you are ever praying for me, pray that the blister-like bump is skin, still mad at me for being radiated, and not any type of recurrence of cancer.  I'm thinking positively and just planning on it being angry, sad skin.
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