Tuesday, December 29, 2009

ode to a decade

Dear 00’s,

You’ve taught me a great deal. There was a lot of anguish, but also many good times. It’s through these years that I’ve experienced the most growth. I am so thankful for becoming closer to the Lord Jesus Christ and for the blessings of Jeff and Owen. I pray that in the next year and the

following decades that I continue to grow.

In short and chorological order:

-losing my mom
-living abroad
-graduating college
-meeting Jeff
-nyc for three years
-moving back to upstate ny
-buying our first house
-going back to work at my old high school
-having owen
-getting back in check with my faith
-getting married
-getting cancer
-mending relationships

One of my favorite bible verses and one that speaks to my decade:

“Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.” Romans 5:3-5

Blessings to all in the New Year!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The Christmas Goose

Merry Christmas from goose adorned in a red bow and from US!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday. It’s because I absolutely love turkey, stuffing, root vegetables, cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie and staying home with family. And I have been captivated for years by the book Cranberry Thanksgiving.

Written in early seventies it dishes out plenty of vintage charm. While there is a main plot to the story, I was always more interested in the imagery and coziness of the book. Set in New England (I would assume in Cape Cod) Maggie and her grandmother live in an idyllic cedar shingled house at the edge of the sand dune. They invite two odd ball guests to their thanksgiving dinner and the beautifully sketched images that follow continue to capture my imagination: Maggie presenting the cooked turkey to the guests, Mr. Whisker’s half eaten turkey bone, and the black silhouettes of grandmother, Mr. Whisker’s and Maggie set against a roaring fire with the white whipped cream visible on top of the their pumpkin pie.

Images of a peach colored November sky with black trees, the ocean, turkey, pumpkin pie and home. Can’t you just smell Thanksgiving now? This book is the equivalent of The Night Before Christmas for Thanksgiving for me.

We borrowed our copy from the library. On Amazon it says that a used copy is $44! I guess the book it out of print right now. But it's still worth it to keep your eyes open.

Monday, November 16, 2009

double use and butternut squash

I do think I’m quite smart with my mashed butternut squash trick. Well, it’s not really mine. I read about it somewhere… Owen informed me that he does like squash. Once I roasted butternut squash and I told him that it was a pumpkin and he happily ate a little. Well, it IS from the same vegetable family.

But the best, sneakiest way is adding mashed butternut squash to macaroni and cheese. It creates a beautiful orange color, subtle sweetness and a nutritional boost.

Since we are currently living in the apartment, I can't locate my ice cube tray to freeze the left over butternut squash. So, I took a plastic egg carton (I use these for Owen’s paints—they are the perfect easel) and froze the squash in there. I actually liked it better than an ice cube tray because it created smaller cubes of frozen squash.

Anyway, it got me to thinking about reusing the egg carton. I now have two great uses—first the paint easel and now for freezing purees. and I'm sure there are others...

Saturday, October 31, 2009


family of ghosts made by me--a mom, dad and an owen. here

Halloween parade

falling together

view from falling.

goodbye fall--always too short.

but I'm finding solace in

falling back tonight.

Friday, October 23, 2009

ramblings of news

So, I am going to try and get my blog up and running again, after all it is on the verge of disrepair…

There’s been many new developments since I last posted. The most exciting is that I was declared in remission! Not to burst my own bubble in anyway, but I still do have some detectable cancer. But it’s a low number that has remained completely stable (hence a meaning of the word remission) and because of my cancer type it should remain inert. So, I am feeling blessed, especially as I was given the ok to try and have another child. I recently read an article about a pregnant woman who was in remission for a different cancer with completely different protocols. She was ok and now onto trying for her second baby. While I was reading her story I thought “what a strong woman, can I be like that?”

Certainly getting your doctor’s approval is necessary as is feeling comfortable with your decision. As trite as this will sound there are just so many unknowns in life. We can only do our best to try and navigate around but most of the time it’s through them. There is a part of me that worries—what if I need more treatments? Can the doctors assure me completely that being pregnant is 100% benign? No, but what is 100% benign anyway? Do know that I am not putting myself in any kind of medically documented harm’s way… I'm taking this scientific ok and building on my faith to conquer the “ifs” and know that it will be ok.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009


I haven't posted in so long because we just sold our....


in fact, we sold it ourselves! In the meantime, we are looking for a dream house which is not going so well... pack, and say goodbye to our very sweet home of 4 years!

Monday, April 6, 2009

new camera

I am very happy with my new camera. Thanks to my friend Liz, who turned me onto the d 40! I love saying 'the d40' because I feel like I'm talking about a chain saw! Now, I just need to figure out how to make my pictures bigger...

tee-he, my first subject...

'art on art'

my house is looking cleaner with the d 40!

easter decor

Here's a simple Easter tree idea. I looked all over for one online with no luck, so I decided to make my own.

1.) I took branches--mine are from a craft store and they have a clear varnish on them.

2.) Stick the branches into the green foam stuff that is used for floral displays. Also at the craft store!

3.) Place into a sturdy vase. I was lucky enough to have one with polka dots, my favorite...

4.) decorate with eggs! I got my eggs from various stores, just be on the look out around Easter for light eggs that you can hang...

enjoy a festive Easter tradition....

Monday, March 16, 2009

Irish Soda Bread

I had no idea that making Irish Soda Bread is so easy. I had a craving--and I remember a very tasty tea (served with this bread) that I had at my friend Claire's house three years ago. So, I got the recipe, made it with Owen (it's that easy) and then made just a few modifications. You still have time for an Irish treat for St. Paddy's Day!

3 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups of flour
1 cup of buttermilk
1 tablespoon melted butter
1/3 of a cup of currants (do NOT use raisins!)

Mix everything very well. You don't need to knead or let it rise... Just put it on a greased cookie sheet and bake at 350 for about 24-27 minutes! Insert a cake tester to make sure it's cooked in the middle. You must serve with butter and tea... If they are really lucky, my co-workers MIGHT get some tomorrow...enjoy!

Friday, February 27, 2009

the petite gourmet

You can shape your child into a petite gourmet—or at least try! I make some foods from scratch, but there is simply no way to keep this up as a working mom. Here are a few of my easy, secret weapons for children over one year:

1.) Frozen peas, beans, corn or edamame (especially in the winter) from Cascade Farms. Find in the natural or organic frozen section.
2.) Frozen pureed winter squash also from Cascade Farms. Add this to Annie’s Macaroni and Cheese (or any other Mac ‘n Cheese). It makes it sweeter and more nutritious!
3.) Gerber Graduates Fruit bars. These are really soft (even enough for a one-year old) and are made with 100% fruit—no sugar added! We are addicted! Find in the baby section of your grocery store.

4.) Sweet Potato Fries. I love the Alexia brand (also in the natural or organic section of your grocery store). Sweet Potato fries are fun for kids to eat (because they are fries), but are much more nutritious than white fries.

5.) I always have a few of the Earth’s Best frozen dinners in my freezer “just in case.” They have fewer add-ins and fillers than other pre-made dinners and they are “all natural.” They’re also taste test approved! Also in the natural/organic section.

6.) Robert’s Pirate Booty. These cheese puffs are fun to eat and are made with all natural ingredients. They even make a spinach and kale variety!

7.) My two dairy tricks are cottage cheese and goat cheese. Cottage cheese is a great snack that is high in protein and calcium. You can serve it with fruit or applesauce. If you start this around one year (small curd) and the child will eat it, you have an easy alternative to yogurt. Goat cheese is actually quite mild—Owen is a big fan (as are his parents). Serve it on crackers! I like the Chavrie brand for its mildness, “spreadability” and high quality for the price. Find it in the cheese section of your grocery store.
8.) Meat—I have not found acceptable frozen or pre-made meat. I will do another post on this… I make my own chicken nuggets, turkey meatballs and poached salmon and freeze for later use. And it's very easy. Recipes coming soon!

Monday, February 9, 2009

Boys, play with dolls?

I read a wonderful article in the recent issue of Mothering Magazine (my dear friend Raissa kindly bought me a subscription to the magazine when Owen was born). The subscription has since expired, but then a co-worker picked up a copy for me. I guess people have been drawn to give me the magazine. Anyway, there’s an enlightening article about the benefits of doll play for boys. The article was written by a skeptical male, who in the end succeeds that doll play is a wonderful way for boys to learn how to nurture and father. Jeff is not as enthusiastic as the author, but he’s on-board and amused.

Nurture, mmmmm… I thought it would be perfect for Owen, because like other 2-year- old boys, he could use a bit more of that. I also am a big fan of gender neutral toys—and mixing it up—trucks for girls, kitchen/doll for boys, etc…..

So, Owen has “baby” now. Is it his favorite toy? No, it’s not. But he does enjoy playing with baby—feeding him a bottle, burping, changing clothes, pretending to change a diaper, etc. Also, he likes wearing him in this homemade sling for a little while.
Half the time he’s nurturing, the rest, well, I guess testosterone gets the rest. Baby is thrown across the room, bopped on the head or he’ll perform a wild rendition of “rock a bye baby.” These are the hide your laughter, and try and teach moments.

One very interesting coincidence about the doll’s arrival…Potty training miraculously started! mmmmm

Sunday, February 1, 2009

snow painting

All you need to paint snow is food coloring, water, and a squeezable and empty condiment container (like from a restaurant) to make the "paint," + snow. Note that I had red and Owen had blue.....

Owen requested that I take a pictures...then I thought I'd put them here.

The artist.

This is a highly recommended activity (about 2 yrs plus) for both enjoying the outdoors, beating the "winter blues" and being artistic. On top of that, it costs almost nothing!

Saturday, January 31, 2009

my (very brief) thyroid cancer story

This is my less than ordinary journey through papillary thyroid cancer. Papillary thyroid cancer is known as “the best” type of thyroid cancer to have—basically because it’s a ‘garden’ variety cell and is well differentiated—meaning that it’s more like a normal cell then a poorly differentiated one. It’s also usually very slow growing. But not all papillary behaves so cordially. First of all, there are several subtypes of papillary and a few of those can be a bit more difficult to treat than just plain old papillary.

There is the possibility that papillary can, over time, change into a different, more aggressive cell type then what it started out as. Like any other cancer, there is the chance that it can spread—even though these numbers are pretty low, it does happen.So, without getting into every little detail of my experience like how many lymph nodes were affected (ok, so there were quite a few) what my thyroglobin level (which in my case is the cancer blood level) was and is now—it’s not a zero, YET—you can assume that it’s been an atypical experience.

I’m not sharing all the minutia, because besides select friends and family, who really wants to read a dictated report of your trip to Dr. X, Y & Z anyway? This is about the process of healing, snapshots of choosing to live a life above cancer and the cast of characters that support me along the way.

Friday, January 30, 2009

sharing good news!

So, I’ve had a turn of events… just as I was gearing up for radiation it was decided by my doctors not to do it (after reviewing tests)! I do still have a level of cancer that is detectable on a blood test, but the doctors at Sloan Kettering feel that the level is low enough to not treat and it should, in theory remain stable for a long time. I take a drug (well it’s a slightly increased dose of synthroid—which is a thyroid replacement hormone) so that I am a wee bit hyperthyroid. Keeping me a little hyperthyroid actually suppresses the cancer and creates an environment that the cancer does not like to be in—meaning that it is a very effective therapy in and of itself. Ahh, the “joys” and confusion of thyroid cancer!

I'm overwhelmed with a mixture of emotions. I was ready to get every inkling of cancer out of my body. But, at the same point, I really trust the doctors and don’t want to do radiation flippantly. And of course, it’s really nice not to have the radiation—which does carry negative side effects. If my level remains stable, I will formally be in a remission! I HAD to ask my doctor if I could have another child and he said that if things look good in 6 months, YES! So, that's is something nice to hope for.

In the meantime, I have questions for my doctor brewing in my brain. I’m going to store them up for my appointment in six months. I know all the main stuff—it’s just my crazy brain that is thinking of all kinds of ancillary thoughts. I am not quite over that stage yet, I haven’t been able to put the cancer out of my mind yet, but I will.

So, here begins a new blogging chapter—so far I’ve toggled between cancer, motherhood and other aspects of life. But now, I hope there will be less cancer news/talk. I will always be grateful for what cancer has taught me and aware of the impact that it has on my life. Thank-you everyone for your support and I hope you’ll keep reading as I continue to find my grace...

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

making sense of it

My treatment has commenced. This week involves three days in New York for tests and pre-treatment work. It’s a three week “process” and I am nearing the end of week one.

On Tuesday I witnessed the inauguration of Barack Obama in the Sloan Kettering Nuclear Medicine waiting room. To be trite, it was hopeful, moving…. And it wasn’t only for the evident progress of our country and the historical significance of this day. While all eyes were glued to CNN, a Sloan Kettering motorcade paraded through the hospital. The entourage included pediatric cancer patients, their secret service agents (nurses), and a homemade white house and presidential mobile built on radio flyers. We were transported from our own fears as we looked into the eyes of these brave children. We held back tears, so that we appeared strong. We waved and clapped to our dignitary patients, and when they were gone we could cry. No matter who you voted for, the election of President Obama is evidence to every patient “that all things are possible to those who believe” Mark 9:23

President Obama’s work and inherited problems are burdensome. Our industries and infrastructures are reddened with malignancies. As the children marched away, celebrating and encouraging this new president, I pray for what he can do for them. I trust in the conception of a better health care system, more money to be directed to notoriously lower funded cancers (sadly many of these are childhood cancers) and that with God beside him, Obama can give our children (especially our dignitaries) hope.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

a new year, and the new plan

The holidays have a great way of distracting me. It comforted me to think, “I can deal with my health stuff after the holidays...” At least I had the holidays to consume my thoughts and my energy. But I came back to work on Monday morning with a foggy feeling like I forgot something. At work, I am catapulted back into my life—and remember what I forgot while on my siesta—there are emails that remind me about the troubled economy, my to-do lists, and little scratchy notes about Sloan Kettering. The holidays can no longer distance me from my reality.

A nice reality on the first Monday of the New Year has to be the Low Iodine Diet (LID). AHHH, just while every other diet crazed person is doing the same, I too I am following the herd. This is the first time ever that I’ve been on a New Year diet—but this of course is no ordinary diet—you can’t stray. But, this is my THIRD time on the LID diet (first time for treatment, second for testing, and third for this treatment). I am comfortable with all the prep work/cooking involved and sometimes I really get into it. I even now, have a few favorite LID recipes and a semi-permanent LID cookbook with my other cookbooks (
I hope to remove this imposter soon).

This diet is a medical diet and it’s used to prepare and starve my body of iodine, so thyroid cancer cells will avidly consume radioactive iodine during treatment. It usually lasts for three weeks, but because I’m crazy, I do it for four weeks. I think I do it so I can prove to myself that I can do it, and because I want those thyroid cells to be STARVING for iodine. To read more about the LID go to
this post.

One thing to be said for this diet is that when you are on it, you really feel that you are doing something. You feel in control of your cancer and it’s kind of fun to think of the cells starving and then getting tricked into gobbling up radioactive food instead. It makes each day on the diet easier to think on this.

Ok, so early in December was the last time I even mentioned the "C" word, so what’s the deal/ plan? Since I’m on the LID, there is in fact a plan! I decided to move my care down to Memorial Sloan Kettering after a lot of back and forth—mostly due to money and contract confusion with my insurance company.

When I decided to move my care down there, I thought I would have to pay $3,500—but to my surprise, insurance came through on Dec 30th and they are paying for everything at MSK, at least for now. In addition, a very kind soul offered her apartment in New York for me to use as I wish over the three testing/treatment period. The amazing thing is that I’ve never met the owner of this apartment, but she heard my story and wanted to help.

I am blow away by the grace of God and the intervention His will on my situation—the compassion of a stranger and the great turn of events with my insurance company. What gifts I have received, worries elevated, and spirit renewed!

Friday, January 2, 2009

my new year wish

My wish is for peace, both for me and for anyone else or any thing that is trying to achieve it. If I could obtain true peace, 2009 will be a success. I constantly fight anxiety and I'm tired of it. So, peace in '09 it is.

Jeff, Owen and I spent a very special first day of the year together. We went to Vermont to cross country ski/snowshoe with a pulk (sled) for Owen. It was COLD, and I thought about sissing out because my mother-in-law reported that conditions were arctic.

The cold wasn't too bad because the place that we went has beautiful trails through thick forest, so you are protected from the wind. Best of all, it was sunny and all the trees were dusted with powdery snow. Owen loves the pulk. This picture is actually from last year, but you can get the idea.

This year was different because I took a tumble on a hill, right onto my tailbone and Owen laughed HARD. I don't think he would have really gotten that giggle last year! Also, Jeff had to pull about ten pounds more of Owen!

I left Vermont feeling less anxious and ready for 2009--so happy for my time with my boys, the glow of exercise and the peacefulness of nature. Wishing you all a most blessed of New Years!

new year's eve party

I threw a New Year's Eve party for Owen. We even had a few presents I left over from Christmas. One of these presents was a cardboard house that I decorated late into the night on Dec 30--I painted it, and it was so rewarding, I just couldn't stop.

On New Year's Eve we awoke to the most enchanting snow fall. Jeff was working until Owen's nap time, so it was just me and my geezer for our New Year's party. I ordered a special gelatto cake and Chinese food, both of which were delicious. I was proud of my decorated home. I hung streamers from the ceiling the night before...

But most of all, I so enjoyed this special time with Owen. He was such an important part of my year. It's funny that when I thought about MY year, many of my thoughts were about his--let's just say, "on his behalf." We toasted with sparkling cider with over a dozen cheers.

And after he was tucked in bed, Jeff and I went to a party at a friend's across the street. It was just perfect.