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Monday Musings: Everything and the kitchen sink

14 Oct

MP910221049It’s October.

It’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

A friend was just diagnosed. It’s a scary time.

I have my mammogram next week. I don’t want to think about it.

I’ve actually been waiting for October to post a book review from a book I read this summer that I absolutely loved and goes well with this month’s honoring of those who have been affected by breast cancer. We read it for our book club book in July. I’ve waited a long time.

I had a great snack idea to share that went along with it too, which I wanted to write about and to tell you the story behind, as well.

But, I also struggled with this post because I believe in honesty and being forthcoming and because part of the story that goes along with the book and the snack isn’t pretty, but I can’t not add it in or I’d feel dishonest.

I never want people to think that it’s all rainbows and roses over here at our house all the time, with kids and parenting and all that goes along with it. I share lots of great ideas and lots of great and amazing happenings but I did want to share this too, because it’s part of daily life, it’s real.

So read on, for the review, the snack and the story. Today’s post will have everything and the kitchen sink for you.

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The Review:

This summer for our book club, we chose to read “All You Could Ask For” by Mike Greenberg. I’ve linked to his website here for the book rather than showing the cover of the book because I don’t want to use their image without permission.

It was one of the best books I’d read recently. I absolutely loved the story of the women characters in the book, joined together by the common thread of breast cancer. It featured a social media component, as the women first “meet up” online. You know how much I love social media, so I enjoyed that aspect of the book as well. I read the book every second I had the chance. I didn’t want to put it down, and when it ended, I was sad to see it go. I wanted to keep on reading, keep on following the story. I loved, loved, loved it.

I was amazed that the author, Mike Greenberg of the famed ESPN sports talk show had written the story. It had such a female perspective to it, such insight into the minds of how women, girls, think. Lots of girl-talk, chick-flick type of behavior. That part of reading the book, thinking of how he could’ve written it as a male author, was enough to keep me turning the pages alone!

The story behind the great snack idea:

So this summer, as we often do, we were taking a family walk after dinner one night. As we walked, I was slightly behind with my younger two daughters, while Don and Caroline were up ahead. We were walking and talking and I said to them, “Girls: I need to come up with an idea for what to bring to my book club this week. It’s a pot luck. I need either an appetizer or a dessert. Help me out.”

Total concentration.

Total concentration.

Elizabeth answered me, “Well Mommy, what was the book you read about?”

I gave her the cliff notes version, telling her the basic story line about the characters and breast cancer and social media.

“That’s easy,” she said. “Make cupcakes with white frosting and make pink ribbons on them!”

I was shocked. What a great idea! I loved it. I told her I loved it and promised that yes, I’d make the cupcakes and let them frost and decorate them since it was her idea. And I’d be sure to tell everyone in the book club that the amazing pink ribbon cupcakes were her idea.

Yes, yes, yes.

She was thrilled.

So we did. I baked, they frosted, she decorated. She was SO excited. Alex of course, wanted to decorate her own in her own design, so I gave her a plate with four on it while Caroline and Liz banged out the pink ribbon cupcakes.

It was great.

Til it wasn’t anymore.

And so it goes:

I was snapping pictures because Elizabeth had also made me promise to share her great idea on my blog when I talked about the book.

They were getting silly.

Fooling around.

Moments before it all got ugly

Moments before it all got ugly

“Don’t fool around,” I said.

“Let me take my pictures,” I said.

“Stop fooling around.” My stress level was intensifying. My head was about to spin around.

Are you getting it?

Seeing where this is heading?

Within minutes, it happened.

Someone bumped someone, someone knocked the container just so, and some of the cupcakes flipped over.

I lost it.

“You ruined them!” I yelled.

Elizabeth burst into tears and ran down the hall to her room.

They weren’t totally ruined. In fact, they were pretty salvageable. I righted them and packed them up and within a little while longer, I had to leave.

I went to book club with my cupcakes, but the pride and excitement I’d felt earlier was tainted now by my frustration and my bad mood.

We had a fun evening though, we discussed the book, who liked it, who didn’t, and why, outdoors over wine and dinner and then we all went inside for dessert.

I unveiled my cupcakes. They were stunned! What a great idea, how cute!!

I told my story. It didn’t seem as big a deal as it had been in the moment, of course, but a few said they’d have reacted the same way I would have.

I felt a little better. Validated, justified.

I got home in time to sneak into Elizabeth’s room to say good night and to tell her that her cupcakes had been a hit.

“But I ruined them,” she said, crying.
STILL crying.

I wanted to die. I felt so badly for her.

I felt bad knowing that she was still so sad and that this had in fact, ruined her night too.

I told her that they weren’t ruined and that although I still felt justified in reacting as I had, that was sorry.

I laid with her til she fell asleep that night, not something I often do, but I felt better when I left at least, than I had.

To this day, months later, I still have Mommy Guilt over the way the whole thing went down.

Lessons Learned:

But, I keep reminding myself that every day and every experience won’t be perfect. We aren’t perfect parents, they aren’t perfect kids.

Things happen. In the grand scheme of things, this wasn’t even a huge deal, but it weighed on me heavily and has for months and months.

During this month of October, during Breast Cancer Awareness Month, I will continue to make more of an effort to count my blessings, to remember and focus on the good and what’s gone well, and to remember that life can change on a dime. Overnight. In a split second.

If that were to happen, it’s the rainbows and roses I’ll want to remember, as well as the blessings I have and all the lessons I’ve learned.

Breast Cancer Awareness Month: I did it and I’m fine.

29 Oct

Two weeks ago, I wrote a special post in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Little did I know, how much of an effect it would have on me.

Two weeks ago I posted on here in honor of breast cancer awareness month. I wrote about a local teacher who had been newly diagnosed, and about 39 year old Meredith Israel and her three year battle with breast cancer. I wrote about how it’s stories like theirs which drive me to do what I do each day. I want to live a life with no regrets, for as much as is possible.

But I was 41 and had never had a mammogram. At 40 you can have a baseline and every year thereafter, have another.

Imagine what kind of regrets I would have if I ended up with a disease for which early detection is such a big part of the fight? Imagine what kind of role model I’d be for my three daughters if I missed this?

It was a comment on my blog from my new Kids’ State Dinner friend, Debra, that jolted me into action, booking my own mammogram that very day. Since she wrote it on my blog for all to see, I am copying it here for you to see:

I sometimes forget that people like you, Jennifer, who only met me after my treatment was complete don’t necessarily know that I’m also a breast cancer survivor. Four years ago this Halloween I did my “I turned 40 so I should have a baseline” mammogram and it came back abnormal. At the time, Madeleine was in half-day Kindergarten and Avi was in preschool 3 half-days/week. Many tests and rechecks later, I found I had an early-stage form of breast cancer. In February and March 2009 I had 2 lumpectomy surgeries and then 6 weeks of daily radiation from late April – early June 2009. Fast-forward a few years and I’m a survivor — I get checked a few times/year. Cancer-free for 3 1/2 years and counting! Get your mammogram — the best way to survive cancer is to find it early enough.

Like I said, it was this very comment that hit me on the head like a ton of bricks. What was I thinking? I’d had the paperwork for my baseline mammogram since January, five months after I’d turned 40 and nine months ago now. What was I waiting for?

I wasn’t afraid of taking the test. I wasn’t nervous about getting the results (yet). I guess I was just guilty of letting the days go by and not being one to put myself first, almost ever. Those of you who know me well, know that I spend PLENTY of time in doctor’s offices. I could practically BE a doctor by now, in any number of pediatric specialties. I guess my own “well visit” type of test just fell by the wayside.

So thanks to Debra, I called that day. I scheduled my mammogram for a week later, Monday, October 22.

I even had scheduled TWO, for a minute there, as after I scheduled one, I found out from my mom that a different place was giving out free Alex and Ani bracelets with the breast cancer “Hope” charm on them if you went and got a friend to go too. So I scheduled one there, a friend scheduled hers, and then later on I canceled the first one I’d scheduled. No free bracelet, no mammogram there for me.

It wasn’t until the night before the test that I started to get a tiny bit nervous. Had I waited too long? Was I going to be sorry for not doing it sooner? Was I going to have the biggest regret ever? What would the test show? I think I’m fine, I feel fine, but would I be surprised like Debra and so many like her had been?

Thankfully, there was nothing to worry about. They read my results right then and there, and I was fine. I got my bracelet and I even made my appointment for October 23, 2013 for my next one.

So thank you Debra, thank you Meredith and thank you to all of you who are my heroes in this fight against breast cancer (shout out to Meri K and Nicole W). There are so many out there who have lost their battle and so many still fighting today.

And I beg you: if you are 40 and haven’t had your baseline yet, take Debra’s advice above and go out and schedule it now, bracelet or no bracelet. (Although I realllly love my bracelet).

Don’t let this be your one big regret.

My new bracelet will be a constant reminder of all my friends who have fought this battle and won, those who lost the fight, and of those who are still fighting, as well as my reminder to put my own health first.