Friday, September 03, 2010

4 yrs ago...

I see my last entry was when summer was just getting started.

Since then, Rachel has completed 5 weeks of a summer intensive and a week long workshop and started school again! She's already a full month into her schoolwork. What have I done in that time? I've retained my role as chief chauffeur. Oh yes, and the chauffeur has a new set of wheels. After 15 yrs, we bid farewell to my Eclipse, may she rest in peace. She was the car that was bought because we were planning to expand our family. My previous car only sat 2! No room for a carseat.

Four summers ago, my chauffeur role was not quite as easy as it is today. I don't think about those days very often anymore, but had a reminder today.

After 4 years, it was time to renew my driver's license.

Did you know that in NJ you can actually reuse your old photo? I had no idea. The gal behind the counter just assumed I wouldn't want to change mine. I had to correct that. The day I had that photo taken was the day I realized that I was actually losing my eyelashes. There were a few left, but the vast majority were gone. Yes, they, along with my eyebrows, have made a return appearance. The eyebrows are the same as they always were, but my eyelashes have never been the same again. Fortunately, it's something I only notice when I put mascara on and that's a rarity. :) As much as anyone hates having a license photo taken, I'm pretty much thrilled to have a driver's license featuring my very own hair (not a wig) and a full set of eyebrows and eyelashes. :)

P.S. This one is for Peggy. Enjoy Alaska!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

School's out! Or is it?

We've finished our first year of homeschooling and we're on summer break. Hurray!

Actually, Rachel was done with most of her first year of schoolwork through Laurel Springs School (distance learning program) about a month ago, back in mid-May. There was a cumulative algebra test to take in early June, but otherwise she was done.

Here's a little summary of our adventures and what we've learned along the way.

The fall was a little nuts when I temporarily worked some rather insane hours. T'was residency-like quantities, and I mean OLD residency (my era), not current residency hours! Fortunately, we all survived. I'm even catching up on the housework. And tackling the weight I regained by not exercising 2 hrs most days each week. And, we learned from the insanity of those months that Rachel does best with some scheduling assistance/time management help.

Her program consisted of 36 weeks of lessons in each subject- English, Math, Science, History, French, and Health/PE. Unlike traditional school where you rarely get to the very end of the textbook, every single bit was covered. There was no escaping. You also answer every question yourself. There's no waiting in a classroom to see if someone else will answer. The "calendar year" for the program is 40 weeks long, so that in the end, you get the equivalent of 4 weeks of vacation. I admit that Rachel got behind in a few classes. There were times when I wondered if she'd finish on time at the 40 week mark. I seriously thought she might need an extention. Funny thing is, she really kicked into gear and, in the end, she finished pretty close to the 36 week mark. Not that we did not take vacation- we went to Disney for a week in Sept and March. She took a lot of time off in December because her friends were all free and some time around Thanksgiving. Not to mention performances in The Nutcracker and The Secret Garden. By the time we came back from Florida in March, we had taken at least 4 full weeks off. In addition, we spent a few days here and there doing things other than schoolwork. She certainly took off more than 4 weeks, but somehow managed to finish as if we never took off anytime at all! (insert Mommy brag here- and with A's!)

I have been impressed not just by her new study skills, but her new insights into learning. It's been an exciting transformation to witness. After a year at home, she now thoroughly understands how she learns best. She likes to tackle a subject a day. She'll spend a few hours working on a history unit, the equivalent of a week's worth of history, and then leave it alone for a week. Sometimes, she might just keep going and do two weeks worth in a day. She recently visited RPS, her old school, and was taken by surprise by the short periods and what she viewed as a relatively small amount of material covered per class period. She says that if she were to go back to a traditional school, she'd be an entirely different student. It was quite clear to her, in each and every class, what the most important point being taught was and how much of the rest of the time was superfluous.

I have to say Rachel has always been an excited, almost rabid, learner. She's the child who could not wait to get to school each day. Yet, there were times she was bored in school. She's rarely bored at home. Except now. School's out for the summer. It's been out for a while. We've had other distractions- the year end performance workshop (aka dance recital), an out of state funeral to attend, a party (our 17th anniversary and mortgage burning party) and a few smaller things. But, that's over now. In less than 2 weeks, Rachel starts her ballet summer intensive (6 days a week of dance, 9-4). Not much time left and we have an activity scheduled for everyday until it starts. Should be enough, right? Well, not for my child. She asked me today if she could please start some schoolwork. She's had enough vacation and is ready to get back to work. No, I didn't faint. I almost saw it coming. Almost. There are only 2 weeks left, not enough time to order anything, so we went off to Barnes and Noble to satisfy her workbook craving. Her plan for the remainder of her free time- a Latin workbook, a review workbook (standardized testing practice), and perhaps a little Japanese 1 throught MIT's OpenCourseWare.

What can I say? I am pleased beyond words (hmm.. maybe not. I've certainly written plenty here!) Our little journey into homeschooling this year has been successful by every measure- her academic success, time management skills, and most important, the impressive renewal of her love of learning. In just one short academic year, I am confident that she has learned the most important goal of schooling- becoming a lifetime learner.

Saturday, May 01, 2010

Backyard Ballerina

I posted these on Facebook (and yes, this blog automatically updates to Facebook so this is a repeat for some), but I was reminded by someone today that not everyone who normally reads my quite neglected blog is not on Facebook.

That said, I bring you the backyard ballerina! She has been bugging me to go do some fun ballet photo shoots at various locations. Now that the weather is finally agreeable, some of those may happen. This shoot was rather spontaneous when we finally had a nice day after a Sunday rehearsal. It was also a way to make sure that she finally retired a pair of rather dead pointe shoes! These are a few of our favorites.

Next up- DanceVision's The Secret Garden on May 8 at 7pm and May 9 at 1pm. Tickets available at

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

And the road curves, ever so slightly

I imagine it was the news that I only need to see my breast surgeon yearly that set me off on this new path..... this path that I thought was leading me so very far away from Cancerville that I would no longer be considered a citizen.

We won't discuss how someone who has had a bilateral mastectomy and oophorectomy and has perky silicone implants instead of actual non-perky breasts could possibly think they would ever not be considered a citizen of Cancerville. Let's agree to skip that part.

Lately, as I approach the 4 yr post-diagnosis mark, I have been feeling more and more removed from that place and all that it entails. 5 years is a magical number in the oncology world. When you read survival statistics "cancer xyz at stage n has a 75% survival," it is a 5 yr survival rate you are reading, unless otherwise specified. Yes, just 5 years. There are many cancers where if you can get to 5yrs disease free, you are considered cured. Of course, unlike the portrayal in the media, breast cancer is not one of those cancers. It does not pay attention to silly things like medical journals and textbooks. It can come back to visit years later.

So, yesterday was my 6 month oncology visit and Zometa infusion. For some odd reason, I thought I was almost done. I was thinking one year more of tamoxifen and Zometa and then we make decisions. Decisions whether to follow conventional current wisdom and stop tamoxifen at the 5 yr mark and to stop Zometa at the 3 yr mark. Well, apparently despite 3 semesters of college calculus and a little more advanced math, I cannot count. I did not actually start tamoxifen until 2007. I was not thinking about that part. So, I am on tamoxifen until sometime in 2012. Not a huge deal. I am not experiencing anything I can blame on tamoxifen. But I was thinking that was it. One more year.

Instead, I am presented with my treatment plan through 2015.

Don't get me wrong. This is not a bad thing. Whatever I can do to keep the beast out of my body is what will be done. Including getting rid of the weight that so nastily reappeared when I was working excessive hours this past winter. 5 more years is just longer than I was anticipating of "treatment."

So, I'll hang out here in the distant suburbs of Cancerville a little longer. The alternative is unacceptable.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

It's Cap and Gown Time

How about a nice bottle of champagne?

It's graduation day!

No, Rachel has not finished her homeschool course for the year. She has about 14-16 weeks worth of work to go, depending on the subject, as long as she keeps up!

It's me.

I'm the graduate.

While it is not quite my 4 year cancer-versary, and obviously a bit more until that "magical" 5 year mark, my breast surgeon is allowing me to graduate to annual appointments. One less appointment to schedule and reschedule is a blessing! She's a tough one to get an appointment with... my appointment today was 2 months late for a 6 month check-up. Couldn't even get one for 6 months out when I left last time, and then 7 months turned into 8 when they rescheduled. Par for the course. But, I'd much rather give that precious appointment time to someone that really needs it. I still have an oncologist and an internist examining me at regular interals... at least for now.... and a plastic surgeon and a gyn-onc who probably expect to see me again one of these days.

In some ways, moving further down the road in the journey is disconcerting. There's the feeling of waiting for the other shoe to drop. There's the sorrow over learning a friend is near the end of her days. There are women I know who were diagnosed around the same time I was who are fighting metastatic disease. Worse, there are those who now just live in our memories. A little survivor guilt mixed in with the normal fears. The last time I felt so content with my life, the shoe dropped and this detour began.

It all leads to a more cautious celebration, but still a celebration. I choose to celebrate all of it. Every day. Every minute. I am here to talk about it thanks to a so-called routine mammogram that I might have had to fight to get today.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

October 2009

Let's pretend the leaves are still falling and the weather is still beautiful. Let's pretend it's late October. OK?

Apparently, that is where I left off here at my long neglected blog. Where have I been? I've been insanely busy. I've been covering a maternity leave for another OB and I've appeared in DanceVision's The Nutcracker (along with Rachel and 60 or 70 of her closest friends). There have been very few moments to spare. I'm taking advantage of a few hours of downtime to clean up my computer's hard drive, which includes printing photos and burning CDs to get said photos off said hard drive.

So, without further ado, I bring you Halloween.

The first photo is Rachel and Katie, who played the role of Toto. She was such a good girl... both Rachel and Katie! Katie is a friend's pet. She stayed calmly in the basket throughout the evening. The remainder of the photos are from our annual Halloween photo shoot. Most were taken on the D+R Canal. Others were taken at the Plainsboro Preserve.

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Monday, October 19, 2009

An article for Pinktober

Not just any article, but one written by the very talented Pamela Grossman for Weight Watchers on-line. If you click, you may see a familiar occassional blogger quoted. :)