Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Scrappy Snacks

Today's topic challenge is snacks while scrapbooking. I have such a bad sweet tooth all the time. I really should make an effort to snack healthier. Yeah, there are a lot of things I *should* do.

Normally I keep a stash of Smarties in my craft room. I ran out before we moved and haven't replenished my stock. ::gasp! Oh, the horror!:: Now that 'tis the season for Halloween candy to be displayed everywhere you look, I'll have to buy a GI-NORMOUS bag of 'em.

I unroll those little gems of bliss on my craft table, spread the wrapper out flat, and let them scatter all over. How I avoid getting ink, paint, glue, or embossing powder all over them escapes me, but I've been lucky so far. :knocking on wood: They are the king hoo-yah's of scrappy snacks!

I bought a bag of Sweet-Tarts and Sprees last week, but I'm just not loving them as much. The Sweet-Tarts are too hard, and by the time I eat a few, the roof of my mouth feels like it's been raked with a cheese grater. The Sprees are just "eh". I don't love them and don't hate them.

Lately I've been snacking on plain M&M's when I work. I LOVE M&M's! They aren't as good for snackiness while scrapping as the Smarties, though. You see, I like my M&M's melty and gooey on the inside. And the ad geniuses are full of hooey. They DO melt in your hand, and you get little blotches of color all over your palms and fingertips. So worth it, but I don't want little blobs of color all over my work, so I'm forced to eat them in their non-melty state. They just don't taste as good that way.

So I'm a Smarties girl all the way. Smarties are goooood. Need more Smarties.

Another clean scan

::happy dance::

Today I went back to the oncologist for my CT scan results. Every year for some reason, I prepare myself for the worst possible news. I guess that's so that no matter what the news is, it isn't as bad as I've prepared for. In 1998, I was caught TOTALLY off-guard with my diagnosis, and I don't ever want that again.

Now I can breathe a HUGE sigh of relief and squeal, "ANOTHER GOOD YEAR!"

Monday, August 28, 2006

Love thy neighbor?

Neighbors come in all shapes and forms. Being military, we've never kept neighbors for long, and I've experienced the good, the bad, and the HORRIBLE in my lifetime. I grew up in the same house my dad still lives in, and two of his neighbors have been there since before I was ever born. They look out for each other's property, sign for packages for each other, check in on each other when one is sick, etc. Someday I'd like to have neighbors like that.

I've had neighbors who were very anti-social and never uttered a word to us the entire time we were neighbors. I've had neighbors who on the outside seemed very congenial and friendly, only to actually be like Dr. Jekyll and Ms. Hyde. This neighbor was almost sticky-sweet to everyone she encountered, but we lived in a duplex and shared a wall. When she thought she wasn't being heard, she SCREAMED at her kids constantly and expected her husband to comply to her every whim, whether it regarded their home, his career, or anything else.

Then I had a neighbor who became like family to us. We hung out together, looked out for each other, took care of each other's pets while one family was away, had cookouts, laughed and cried together on many occasions. We haven't lived next to each other in over five years now, but we've recently been stationed at the same base. They live two miles from us now. When we moved into our house, they came over to help us unload the moving truck in the rain, even though they were exhausted from their own things. Anytime we drive up at their house, their kids will drop whatever they're doing, and run squealing from wherever they are to give us hugs. I'm at the top of the emergency contact list for her kids' schools. We've been there for each other from the beginning, and "friend" or "former neighbor" doesn't even begin to describe our relationship. I truly love this family.

THEY are the exception to my experience of neighbors, though. I've had some truly AWFUL neighbors, too. You know the kind I mean; those neighbors who make you long to live on a remote island where you can't even SEE the nearest house.

I'll start with "neighbor 1" at our old house. From the day we moved into that house, "neighbor 1" made me raise an eyebrow. "Neighbor 1" and her husband BOTH grew up on this street, both sets of parents still live there, and it's NOT a big street. Our back yard had a pool and was enclosed with a 4ft chain link fence. When we first looked at this house, the pool was GREEN and very uncared for. By the time we closed on it, the sellers had it sparkling and beautiful. Anyway, "neighbor 1" made me think of the Jeff Foxworthy joke about "...if your family tree doesn't fork". Before the pool was cleaned this grown woman, mother of 3 children, told us that her husband told her she'd have to quit climbing the fence to swim in the pool. ::insert horrified look of disgust on my face:: Her husband later told us that when he went to work, his inlaws had to come and stay at the house b/c his wife "couldn't be left alone". This was after I witnessed him having a cow b/c she was standing in the front yard when he came home one day. Her oldest son is autistic, but the sweetest kid you've ever seen. At first the strange noises coming from their backyard were a little unnerving. After living there for a while, I learned his different sounds and could distinguish when he was happy, upset, hurt, ect. He never talked, but that kid touched my heart. I'll never forget the look on his face when I put candy in his little bucket on Halloween night. It still brings tears to my eyes b/c he couldn't have been more excited or happy if I'd given him a million dollars.

Soon after we moved in, I noticed stray cats EVERYWHERE. I called the local animal control, but was told that they were so short on manpower, that there was really nothing they could do. These cats wouldn't let anyone get near them, but "neighbor 1" SWORE they were her cats and got all kinds of upset when I told her that if she didn't keep them out of my yard and my trash, I'd kill them. Now I'm a huge cat person, but the smell of cat poop in MY yard and my trash being torn into and strewn made me not like these feral mongrels AT ALL.

The kicker is, "neighbor 1" wasn't the biggest pain in my rear in that house. Now for "neighbor 2". "Neighbor 2" lived 2 houses down to the right of my house. ("Neighbor 1" was on the left.) When we moved in, the house of "neighbor 2" was empty. After we put up a privacy fence, "neighbor 2" moved in. "Neighbor 2" consisted of a man, 2 women, and I'm estimating 5 or 6 kids. I never knew who belonged with who, but from the time they moved in, their front porch looked like a perpetual yard sale. There was CRAP stacked everywhere. They also had a dog. Now, I'm a country girl, and I love a hound as much as the next country girl, but this little bastage barked 24/7. A hound's bark isn't exactly one you can learn to tune out, either. I also try to be a good neighbor, and I understand that sometimes parties get a little loud. I try to overlook that b/c I was young once and we had our fair share of noisy parties. But when I can hear you TWO DOORS DOWN, talking over your music, and it's drowning out MY TV, we've got a problem.

After summer was over and The Hub had gone to Iraq, I had winterized the pool and covered it. One afternoon, there was a knock on my door. One of the kids from the "neighbor 2" house was standing there and asked if he could swim in my pool. I told him "no" thinking...

1. You're out of your damn mind.
2. I don't know you.
3. I've already winterized and covered the pool.
4. You're out of your damn mind.

I closed the door and went back to what I was doing when it dawned on me. "How does that kid know there's a pool back there? They moved in AFTER the privacy fence went up." That's when I walked out my back door to find a small footprint on the now caved-in lid of my trash can. OH HELL NO! I opened the back gate to find these kids playing in the back yard of the neighbor between us (a single woman who wasn't at home). I asked this kid, "Did you climb my fence and go into my back yard?" The kid innocently says, "Yes". ::temperature rising, heart beating in my ears, take a deep breath, don't strangle this kid:: The fact that there were no manners or "ma'am" in there didn't help matters. I told him very sternly, "You do NOT climb my fence or go into my back yard. DO YOU UNDERSTAND ME? And by the way, this lady is NOT home, so you should not be inside her fence, either." This is when I saw who I assumed was his mother, standing in her yard at 4pm in a nightgown with a cigarette and a beer in her hand. I walked over and asked if that was her son. As if I had inconvenienced her, she sighed, "yes". ::ah, the apple didn't fall far from the tree, huh?:: "Ma'am, I live in that house over there. Your son just admitted that he climbed my fence and went into my back yard without permission." She raises one eyebrow as if she's thinking, "so what?" ::temperature rising, heart beating in the ears again, deep breath, don't strangle this woman:: "Ma'am, that's a wooden fence. If one of those panels broke from his weight, he could be seriously injured. He could fall and be seriously injured. There's a POOL in my yard. I will not have him or anyone else go back there and possibly DROWN. I'm willing to overlook it this time, but if it happens again, I will call the police." ::eyes widen with a look of shock on her face at the mention of the word 'police':: "Do you understand what I'm saying, ma'am?" She gives me a dropped jaw, stunned, "uh-huh". There was no "I'm sorry, I'll talk to him" or anything.

THAT is the kind of neighbor that makes you not EVER want a neighbor again in your entire life.

My neighbors now aren't bad. They aren't loud or annoying. One has parties, but they're never out of hand. They're friendly (with the exception of stuck-up Gunny across the street with the friendly family). Their teenagers aren't loud or disrespectful. My bicycle has been on my front porch since we moved in, and noone has bothered it. They always wave or speak. They've come over to introduce themselves (again, except for stuck-up Gunny). My neighbors here aren't the close kind you can't bear to move away from, but they do make life pleasant. Maybe I won't have to move to a remote island someday.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

My home, my safe haven

Being a Marine wife, we say that home is wherever the Marine Corps sends us. Currently it's a 4br rental house that I don't love, but it's not forever. One of the challenges of moving around as much as we do is adapting and having the ability to make any place "home". I've decorated our home and filled it with things that make it cozy and comfortable to us and to company. I've never wanted a house that felt "stuffy" or made people unsure of whether they could sit down when they came in the door.

One of the rooms I love is my kitchen, although not for the size and design. It's far too small with a non-working "working triangle". I love to cook, so I'm surrounded in there by things that make me happy. The colors I chose are cobalt blue, black and white. I altered a clock for my wall with ribbon, paint, and a cow stamp. I love cows, but there's no way I'm going bovine crazy in any room. I also painted a terra cotta flower pot to hold some of my MANY kitchen utensils. I have such a weakness for kitchen gadgets and cookware. In my dream home someday, my kitchen will have a very Tuscan feel to it.

In my dining room are some of my most prized possessions. There's an antique buffet that I've had for over 15 years now. It was given to me by a very special person once. My tea set is displayed in my china cabinet. The Hub bought it for me in Okinawa, and I've never seen another set even similar to it. Any time we move, it gets boxed up first and rides on the seat in the mom-mobile b/c it's too precious to me to be packed away and possibly damaged. My dining room is also where my "Gone With The Wind" collection is displayed. I have movie posters, b&w movie stills, plates, music boxes, and figurines that comprise this treasured collection.

Our living room is a sort of blank slate right now. It's very neutral b/c I can't decide which direction I want to go with it. No matter where "home" is, though, one wall in our living room is FILLED with family pictures. It keeps us close to them in a sense. Over our fireplace mantel is all of The Hub's plaques from different units in the Corps. They're reminders of his accomplishments, fellow Marines, and good times. There's a bookshelf with some of my angel collection and a shelf full of the albums I've done. There's also a couple of rocking chairs, one of which is an antique from Mexico with lots of hand-carving on it.

There are antiques and family heirloom pieces scattered throughout the house that cannot be replaced. My oldest daughter's bed is the one my grandfather built for me when I was a kid. He built things as a hobby after he became disabled, and that bed is the only one he ever made. It's made of cedar (as were most of his pieces) and put together with hand-carved pegs. The only metal or steel on that bed is the brackets for the side rails to attach to the head and foot. The four posts are made of 4x4 cedar studs and built to last! That thing does not move if you bump into it! Her chifferobe was one of the first pieces of furniture my other set of grandparents bought when they got married.

My craft room is definitely my favorite room in the house. It's the one room that's totally mine to decorate as I want. It's done in sage green with a touch of different shades of lavendar. My craft desk is a custom piece that The Hub built for me. I have a shelf with framed pictures of family and friends. On another shelf is a crate with all my stuffed cows in and on it. THAT is where my cow collection hides. ;) There's also a stuffed "Sully" from Monsters, Inc. up there, along with a Mickey Mouse that speaks Japanese (another souvenir from Okinawa). I have bookshelves and a cabinet that hold all of my crafting goodies, along with totes in the closet with other craft supplies in them. I have a few art pieces on the walls, like the puzzle from a puzzle swap I was in, an altered canvas I did, a framed pic of an angel that a girlfriend of mine gave me, and a few other misc. things.

No matter what our address is, my goal is to always have a safe haven and refuge for me and my family to escape the rigors of the outside world.

Playing catch-up

I've been slacking on my blog for a couple of days now, so I thought I'd take a few minutes to catch up.

Friday's topic was "fave outfit"

I don't really have one outfit, so much as a type of outfit that I love. In the summer, I love my denim capris, a tee or tank top, and my Skecher flippies. I have two pair of those shoes (for now), and I LOVE them so much. I wear 'em with shorts, jeans, skirts, doesn't matter. They're comfy and with the issues I have with my right foot, they are wonderful. *sigh* I just can't say enough good stuff about 'em. They're NOT made for long-distance walking, however. When trying to keep up with The Hub and his long strides, they will leave a blister or two. So I learned that when we're going on one of our marathon, sight-seeing, explorations, it's best that the Skechers stay home.

In the winter (or when we're on the Harley), I love my Levi jeans, my black, clunky, man-boots (think combat boot-ish), some misc. shirt, and a hoodie. Ah, another true love of mine. I rearranged my closet the other day, and I have at least 8 or 9 hoodies/polar fleece pull-overs in there. That doesn't include the ones that *really* belong to The Hub, but I wear 'em, too. Some are fleece, a couple are woven "Mexican blanket"-ish that I got in Mexico a few years ago, some zip, some are pullovers, but they're all cozy and comfy.

Saturday..."Must have's for your day"

This one's pretty simple and straight-forward. First and foremost, I MUST have my morning Dr. Pepper and a cigarette. (I know, bad me.) As soon as I get out of bed, wash my face, I head for the refrigerator, slip that can into my USMC coozie (we have several, but that one's MINE), and head to the garage for my morning smoke. (I don't smoke on the back deck in the mornings b/c the sun is KILLER and my eyes are way sensitive.)

Another "must have" is my computer. I've proven that I *can* live without it (when visiting my family who still live in the stone age), but it's not pleasant.

I absolutely, positively MUST HAVE a good-bye kiss from The Hub every morning. I don't get up with him b/c that's his time, but he always comes in to kiss me before he leaves. When he's deployed I obviously don't get those, but when he's home, there will be kisses every morning.

Gracie is a "must have" for me. She's our 6-yo calico cat that we've had since she was about 5 weeks old. We have our morning snuggle time where she sits in my lap while I watch the news. Bedtime is time for more snuggles, as she curls up under the top cover for a few minutes before going to her basket for the night. She's my baby and a HUGE part of our family. She's so smart and even does tricks! Yep, a cat that will sit up on her hind legs, reach for you with one front paw and meow when you tell her to remember her manners, and also jump into my arms when she wants to be carried (never will do it for The Hub, though).

The last "must have" for me comes about an hour before bedtime. 20mg of Requip. I have Restless Leg Syndrome, and trying to sleep without that dose at night is torture for me and The Hub. I hate to be dependent on a prescription, but nights are almost unbearable otherwise.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Oh, Brother

Today's topic...siblings. Hmm, where do I start? I have an older brother, and it's just the two of us. Being almost four years apart, we were sworn enemies until he moved out to go to college. Don't get me wrong, I love my brother dearly, but sometimes I'd still like to shake the snot out of him.

We're like night and day in every aspect.

~He's a tall, dark-haired mountain of a man. I'm a short little redhead.
~He's a pro at keeping things bottled up inside, while I have the shortest fuse ever and blow up all over the place.
~He's never lived outside the state we were both born in (with the exception of the year he went to college and still came home every weekend). I, on the other hand, have lived ALL over creation, it seems. My ex was in the Army, and The Hub is a Marine, so all of my adult life has revolved around the military.
~In high school, he was Mr. Popular, Capt. of the football team, stud extraordinaire, and went to parties every weekend. I was a geek. My friends were geeks. I didn't hang out with the popular kids. I didn't date much, and can count on one hand the number of parties I went to during my entire 12 years of school.
~He was "Daddy's Boy" and came and went as he pleased. They'd go off fishing and hunting together all the time. I was "Momma's Girl" and was SO overprotected that it's actually kind of sad. I won't even go into that whole thing.

It's a wonder we even speak to each other, huh?

Anyway, I totally blame him for my fear of the dark. Well, not actually the dark, but what's IN the dark. Yes, I'm 35 years old and cannot walk down a dark hallway without having a panic attack. You see, my brother has always been a big-time prankster with a mischievous streak about a mile wide. Nothing gave him more pleasure when we were kids than to scare the bujeezes out of me. Hiding behind doors, in dark doorways, under my bed, you get the picture. He'd wait until his "dumb little sister" came by and jump out and yell. He *still* picks on me when I go back to visit the family.

And fights? Oh, boy, they were doozies. That's practically ALL we did growing up. We were latch-key kids (before that was even a term), and it's a miracle my parents didn't come home from work to find us both dead with our hands still clenched around each other's throats. And when he'd tear something up, he'd MAKE me take the blame for it. My parents KNEW that he was the one who did it, but he'd never 'fess up. Why did I take the blame? I was younger, smaller, and he was in charge when we were home alone. My life was already hard enough without throwing that monkey in the blender.

The boy tortured me on a regular basis. When I was around 3, I had no friends in the neighborhood b/c they were ALL boys. So I did what any annoying little sister would do. I tried to follow them every step they made all thru the woods and everywhere else. He got tired of it one day (my mom was in the house), so he fixed the problem. He convinced me that we were gonna play "Cowboys and Indians". Well, I got captured and TIED TO A TREE in the yard. Then he left me there and went to his friend's house! My mom said she kept hearing me call him from the same place in the yard and wondered why I didn't try to go find him. When she came out, there I was. Who knows how long I would've been there otherwise. And my mother is still amazed that I spent so much time alone in my room growing up. Gee, Mom, I dunno!

The torture didn't stop there, though. Like I said, we fought like cats and dogs. When he'd get tired of it, (keep in mind he was bigger than me) he'd tie my hands and feet up, throw me on my bed, stuff a sock in my mouth, and shut my door. All of this happened while our parents were at work. Of course, to get rid of any evidence of such a thing, he'd untie me just a few minutes before they got home. I still told on him, and he'd get in trouble, but it never stopped him from doing it again. HE was the stubborn one back then. The tides have now turned. ::insert evil grin here::

Oh, and when I got into junior high and high school, he beat up ANY boy who even looked at me. Yeah, we're talking slamming them into lockers and threatening their very lives. He was VERY protective of me. No wonder I didn't date much, huh?

Times weren't always bad, though. I still giggle about the yarns he'd spin, and I was naive enough to believe them. One always comes to mind. I was maybe 4 or 5 years old. He had a BB gun and had tossed it on his bed one day and punched a hole in the sheetrock of his wall. When I asked him what made the hole, he told me that there was a monkey inside the wall. Stupid me believed him and proceeded to make this hole bigger to try to see this monkey. Well, who got in trouble for the hole in the wall? ME. I don't know why that still strikes me as funny, but it does.

Back then, smoking wasn't the big "no-no" it is now. Since our dad and our uncles all smoked, we (along with some of our cousins) decided to try it one day at our grandma's house. I still, for the life of me, don't remember where grandma and the moms were, but I'm sure the dad's were off fishing or hunting somewhere. Anyway, there were no cigarettes in the house, so we decided that DRINKING STRAWS would suffice as a good substitute in this situation. Sheesh, we lit those things on fire in the kitchen, and it's a wonder we didn't burn the house down. Needless to say, we didn't enjoy smoking.

There was also the time grandma's vase was mysteriously broken (again while we were all there unsupervised). We glued it back together, and to this day we all swear that the vase had ALWAYS been that way.

After he went to college, his weekends home were different. The two of us would go off to the movie together or go get a pizza or something. I think it finally dawned on us that we were growing up and wouldn't always have each other *right there*. It was time to mend fences. I had always been the annoying little sister, and he was always the mean big brother, but things changed.

So, yeah, growing up was an adventure, and it wasn't always easy, but he's the only brother I'll ever have. There's nothing we wouldn't do for each other.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

The best and worst in scrapbooking supplies

In my four and a half years of scrapbooking, I've had my hands on a LOT of different tools and supplies. Some have become "must have's" while others fall into the "that is the most awful thing I've ever seen!" category. Here are a few:

Love 'em

~Cutterpede trimmer - I've tried so many different trimmers, but the Cutterpede is the best I've come across. Crooked cuts and "off" measurement lines aren't an issue with this little green gem.

~Quickutz, especially the new squeeze hand tool - Their dies ROCK! It quickly becomes an obsession that overtakes your brain, screaming, "MUST HAVE MORE!" The old hand tools took more effort and were harder on the hands, but the new ones are heavenly.

~Perfect Layers - I mat a LOT of photos and journaling blocks, and this set is completely idiot proof. The mat that comes with it went into the trash soon after arrival b/c it stunk to high heaven, but those two ruler things are a definite "must have" in my stash.

~Xyron - OMG, how did I ever scrap without one? LOVE IT!!! The little "X" is invaluable! I have a 500 also, but I don't use it nearly as often.

~Bazzill cardstock - Yes, I started out using the flimsy non-textured cardstock that comes in packs at Wal-Mart. People told me that once I ever got my hands on a sheet of Bazzill, I'd turn into a paper snob. Whaddya know? They were right. On occasion, I don't have the right shade of Bazzill (oh, the horror!) and am forced to use something else that's been in my stash forever and a day. *ick* The weight, texture, and colors that Bazzill has is just beyond comparison to me.

~K&Co albums - *sigh* 'nuff said. They're pretty, durable, and the page protectors are true to size.

~Tim Holtz Distress Inks - Holy cow, what I wouldn't do to see into that man's imagination. I'll spare you my Tim Holtz babbling, though. Those inks are the greatest thing ever, and I have almost every color. Love 'em! Period.

Now that I'm in this dreamy stupor of scrapbooking heaven, I'll relive some *blick* moments of discovery.

Hate 'em

~QVC kits - I've bought two in my lifetime. Hey, I was a beginner and thought I had to have everything I saw that was scrapbook related! They're such a waste of money to me! Yeah, I used the albums, but most of the paper, stickers, and diecuts are STILL in my stash of "Please God, make my daughters use this crap!" I totally blame Lisa B. and David V. for that lapse in sanity.

~Page protectors that aren't true 12x12 - "ARGHHH!!!" That is THE most annoying thing ever! It sends me into tangents similar to an exorcism that would make sailors blush. Because I've run across the horrid things on more than one occasion, I stick with K&Co albums and refills because I *know* I wouldn't scare small children if they watched me put a LO in one.

~Creative Imaginations older lines of paper - Once again, can these people NOT measure a freakin' piece of paper??? I often layer patterned paper onto cardstock, and when I have a gap at the top or bottom b/c the 12x12 paper isn't *really* 12x12...well see the comment about the page protectors for my reaction.

~Paperkins - Yes, I used these little dorks in the past, and I have a couple of templates to make more, but I've evolved. I can't even begin to explain what all I hate about them.

~Tombo repositionable tape runners - Ugh. I just can't even go there. Licking the back of your picture to stick it down would give you better holding power.

And the worst thing EVAH???

~The grey and orange Fiskars paper trimmer!! - Ack!!!!! It's horrid. I had one for a while. It flew across the room several times b/c it refused to cooperate. All I ask is for a STRAIGHT CUT, for cryin' out loud. Is that too much to ask? I was so dissappointed in it b/c as a seamstress, I've been a devoted Fiskars customer for many years. Their dressmaker scissors are just the cat's meow. They just seriously missed the mark with this little hunk of junk. I've heard that their other trimmers are much better, but I'm not willing to give them a chance. I've found my trimmer.

So there you have it. The good, the bad, and horrible according to me.


We all have goals. Some are short-term, while others may take years to achieve. Here are some of mine, in no particular order.

Short Term
Lose weight
Exercise more
Quit smoking (okay, this one may turn long term on me)
Get packed so our move in December will be as smooth as possible
Move and settle in to our new home
Catch up on craft projects that I haven't done yet

Long Term
Be the best wife and mother I can possibly be
Get out of debt
Provide a comfortable, safe, happy home for my family to come home to
Find a vehicle that I truly love and will love for more than a year or two
Buy a house in SC and move HOME (this won't be until after The Hub's retirement)
Put our two girls thru the colleges of their choice
Start my own business (once again, this will be after his retirement)

The lists go on and on, but these are a good starting point.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Cancer revisited

Back in June of1998, after 7 short months of marriage to the man of my dreams, I was given a diagnosis that shook me to the core and left me forever changed. I was diagnosed with Clark's Level IV malignant melanoma and told if I didn't undergo surgery and chemotherapy, I wouldn't live.

Today was my annual check-up, and since we recently moved, it was with a new oncologist at a new office. I wasn't sure what to expect and hoped that this one would be different from my last oncologist.

A little back history...When I was first diagnosed, my oncologist (an absolute angel sent from heaven) told me that I would need check-ups with an oncologist and dermatologist for the rest of my life, along with CT scans, blood work, full body examinations, etc. Like I said, this man was heaven-sent, and his word was and still is gospel to me.

When I was in South Carolina, my oncologist wasn't proactive at all and made me feel that since I had hit my 5-yr. mark with no recurrence, I was wasting his time by taking a few minutes of his time once a year. I had to be a complete witch to get him to do referrals for my scans b/c he "felt they were unnecessary at this point".

Fast forward to today. My new oncologist didn't even give me a chance to say, "I haven't had a CT scan in a year, and I need you to put in a referral for one." She asked me! "When was your last CT scan? When was your last female exam? Have you ever had a mammogram? When's the last time you saw a dermatologist?" Imagine the look of complete shock, amazement, and joy on my face at this point. She cares! She IS a good one! I walked out of that office with an appointment already made for my CT scan and mammogram, which will both take place THREE days from now.

But now I have to share the part of my day that reached in, grabbed my heart, and touched my soul. Before I saw the doctor, the nurse called me back to do the whole weight, blood pressure, temp. thing. When I sat down in the chair for her to draw blood, I looked at the room I was in. It was the treatment room. "Dear God, give me strength. I *can't* be in here." So many feelings and emotions came rushing back to me that I had to fight back the tears. This was the first time I'd been IN a treatment room since I went thru chemo. In the center of the room was a half-circle of recliners, each with a little table beside it. In the corner was a refrigerator with juices and sodas. Next to it was a shelf with snacks and soups. There was a TV, but for the life of me, I don't know what was on it. There were several pale, frail-looking, bald people sitting in these recliners, covered with blankets with IVs hooked to them. Although they were complete strangers to me, I felt a kinship and a bond with them. I was there, in one of those recliners, having that poison pumped into my veins just a few years ago. Although much of that year of my chemo is a blur, I remember my oncology nurses and my husband begging me to eat *something*...just a little soup, maybe some crackers, *anything*. My heart was breaking for these patients, knowing what they're experiencing and knowing that some of them may not see the other side of this mountain they're climbing. At the same time, though, my chest swelled with pride for them because despite everything, they're still fighting that fight and still have their sense of humor. They're not letting it beat them.

It was a moving experience for me, to say the least. These people, although still strangers to me, will remain in my thoughts and prayers. My greatest hope and wish is that there will come a day when each of them can look back and say, "I beat that horrible monster called cancer."

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Bad Habits

Me? Are you kidding? I don't have any bad habits!

Excuse me while I duck to avoid lightening striking. Whew, now I'll 'fess up.

I am notorious for my bad habits. To avoid writing a novel by going into detail, I decided to just list some of them. Okay, I *might* explain on some of 'em.

-I'm VERY picky and VERY stubborn.
-I smoke. I know I should quit. I plan to quit. But I *enjoy* it.
-I pick at my fingernails and tear them off when I'm stressed.
-I'm THE world's worst procrastinator, especially when it comes to medical check-ups. The Hub makes sure I don't gaff them off for long, though.
-I'm HORRIBLE about keeping in touch with people. That goes back to that procrastination thing.
-I drink too much soda.
-I don't eat right.
-I don't exercise enough. As a matter of fact, I hate to exercise. Too bad I wasn't one of those people born with a metabolism that stays in high gear.
-I am way hard on myself.

So there you have it. It's not pretty, but it's me.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Jumping in vs. Wait and see

I've never been one to jump onto something when it's brand new. For some reason, I wait around and say, "No, I don't wanna do that" only to change my mind later. One of my friends (you know who you are) has told me several times that I should blog, but I resisted until now. Why? I don't know.

It was the same way with scrapbooking. I had a group of friends that got together for weekly crops, and I'd go and hang out with them, but it 'wasn't for me'. Ha! Wrong! Once I decided to give it a shot, I was COMPLETELY hooked. The entire room in my house that holds scrapbooking, stamping, and other craft supplies shows that it didn't become a became a way of life. I can't look at things without my mind immediately shifting to "How could I alter that?" "That would make a great pic for a layout!" You get the picture.

Same story with television shows. I never watched Sex & The City until it went off HBO. Now? I've seen most episodes several times and LOVE it. Why wasn't I interested then? Just recently I've started watching (and enjoying) Grey's Anatomy. Yes, almost everyone on a message board I'm on watch it religiously, but nope, not me. Well, maybe *this* season I will. ::grinning sheepishly::

So why do I do this? Is there something somewhere inside me that fights "fitting in" and being like everyone else so much? I do love marching to the beat of my own drummer. There's no figuring me out, though.

Why start blogging now? Because it gets awfully noisy with all these thoughts and ideas rattling around in here. This'll give me a chance to set some of 'em free. We'll see how it goes.