Saturday, November 29, 2008

It's like traveling without leaving home.

Ok, so I signed up for this five year drug therapy because I was under the impression that hot flashes were the number one side effect. But can I just react like everyone else? Noooo. I have to rebel and be freezing all the time. However, this has allowed me to justify buying 2 new sweaters this week.

I've been experiencing another kind of weird thing. I don't know if it's drug related, or just that I'm so tired and have had a lot of things on the go lately, but I've had memory lapses it's not really memory loss - just forgetting things.

I have always had a good memory. As a matter of fact it's my memory that got me through high school in as good of shape as I did. It allowed me to skip 17 of 51 classes in the 2nd term of grade 10 math and still pull off a high B+. It's allowed me to win numerous "50 bucks, 50 bucks" from Jimmy. And I've always assumed I'd have it with me.

And you know what assume does.... (and just in case you don't - it makes an ass out of u and me.)

The other day at work, my boss asked me to look up our massage chair factory rep's email address and order 3 chairs. I immediately got on the task. And while I was interrupted briefly to help a customer, it wasn't long before I had our sauna rep's email open and I stared blankly at the computer trying to remember why the heck I was looking her up. I asked my co-workers if any of them knew. I finally had to admit defeat and went to the boss and said, "I have Kristi's address, now tell me again why you asked me to find it."

"No! It's not Kristi the sauna girl, it's Tammy from massage chairs......" I completely had no recollection of her instructions from 5 minutes previous.

Then twice yesterday I was driving to familiar places and I had no idea where I was. As I drove down Van Bien Ave towards the church, a trip I take a number of times each week, I totally didn't recognize what street I was on. It only lasted probably less than 2 seconds. I was in complete control of my vehicle, and I knew I was headed to the church but I felt like I was driving through a strange town. Very bizarre.

The same thing happened last night as I neared Westwood Dr coming down Ferry Ave. Again a road I drive almost daily, but I had a total out of mind experience - knowing where I wanted to be, but not recognizing where I was for a brief flash of time. It's kind of unsettling, but hey, it's a cheap vacation.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Seven hours of deckin' the halls

I should have known by 9:10am yesterday what kind of day I was in for.

That's when I arrived at the church armed with the promised trays of veggies and cheese and a dozen cinnamon buns that I had bribed possible fellow decorators with. Starting time wasn't until 10 but I wanted to make coffee and get the last of the stuff unloaded from my car before that.

The church was locked up tighter than an American airport on September 12th ... Hmmm. Maybe the pastor and secretary don't start until 9:30, I'll go home and have a coffee. Thank God it's only a short drive.

As I sat at home savouring my morning brew, I thought, "I'd better phone the pastor. You never know..."

Turns out he was sick in bed and Wednesday is the secretary's day off.

"We gotta get you a key and the code," was the pastor's response to me. Uh no. I don't think so. Now, I don't mind having a title like "Official Church Decorator" but I don't want responsibility. Keys and codes bring responsibility. Especially when I am the parishioner living second closest to the church building. Who do ya think they're gonna call when keyless codeless people want in the building.

Anyway, I scooted off to the pastor's house to get his key and the alarm codes. It was 10:02 when I arrived back in the parking lot. Obviously all the elves and helpers who planned on helping out with the decorating left at 10:01 thinking decorating day had been cancelled.

Not long after I had everything hauled in, my eventual crew arrived: a 71 year old woman. I know I joked about not wanting 30 different opinions on the decorating crew - I guess I should have been more willing to tolerate any kind of help. Jed also showed up later in the afternoon. And while he did do a number of jobs for me, I felt like I expended as much energy explaining my decisions and convincing him as I did decorating.

I cannot thank my fabulous husband enough for the hours he put in the day before getting all the "ladder jobs" done. He, who doesn't even attend the church and doesn't even care for Christmas decorating - what a good guy.

By 4pm, we'd had enough and we called it quits. While it took a lot longer than I expected, and the mess still needs cleaned up, I'm pretty happy with the results. I had my camera with me, but at the end of the day, I just didn't have the energy to pull it from my purse. Maybe I'll get some tonight after work when I go back to finish up.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Can you see a difference?

The siding, facia and soffit isn't finished yet, but I thought I'd post a picture of the house as it looks today compared to 2005.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Christmas threw up at my house.

Yes, Christmas has thrown up all over my house. I'd like to take credit for that hilarious statement, but I plagiarized it from a Facebook comment. But that doesn't change the facts: there is Christmas mess waist deep. And the sad part is, my house is not getting any beautifying benefit from it.

Starting in September, I became the Official Church Decorator and I am taking my job way too seriously. I've decided to totally revamp the seasonal d├ęcor. After numerous years of same-old same-old, there will be nothing red anywhere in the building. I didn't even dig through the boxes stashed under the stairs to find salvageable items to use. With the exception of the 3 huge wreaths, I just bought everything new in blue and purple and silver.

I had a humbly meagre yearly budget to work with. I blew through that in the first 8 minutes of September.

The official church decorating day is Wednesday. I've put out an invitation for anyone who wants to participate to be there. On one hand I hope lots of help shows up - it's a hu-massive job. On the other hand, I'm too controlling to want anyone else to have any input. I know I have a bit of an off-the-wall concept for decorating, but as a general rule once I'm finished, most people find it acceptable. I just hate having to explain my concepts to raised eyebrow expressions- it intimidates me and makes me second guess my vision.

Meanwhile, I have the wreaths torn apart and spread all over my dining room. My counters are spread with twenty 12" trees. There are dozens of bows made up, piles of lights, bits of ribbon and discarded packaging everywhere. I even dropped and shattered a Christmas ball, but I can't get to it to sweep it up, so there's shards of silver under my table.

I can hardly wait for Wednesday evening so I can clean it up ... and start again with Christmas puke for my own home.

I know my dining room is small, but this is ridiculous.

I knew in January that I'd be doing this, but yes, I left it till last minute.

There are glimpses of prettiness to inspire me to carry on.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Face Up On Dash

Jade popped in for a bit after work today. I thought that was nice and was enjoying just sitting and visiting with her when she asked, "What time do you think the medical lab will be open until?"

Oh crap. I completely forgot that she had asked me the other day if I could give her a ride to get some blood work done because she passed out last time.

I'd been cleaning out the shop so I can have my winter parking spot back. My clothes were really grubby, I had only combed my hair with my fingers today and had on no make up. What the heck. It's only a 5 minute jaunt into the lab...

I didn't bother to change my clothes, fix my hair or paint my face. I didn't bother to buy a parking pass.

We got into the lab where Jade was informed she had to drink the orange potion and wait for one hour before she could give blood. The lab was open for 61 more minutes. 1 minute to drink, 60 minutes to wait. Good timing. Good thing I didn't waste time running after a parking meter.

After she drank it, we went to head out the door to find something to do for 45 minutes. Oh no you don't! They no longer allow you to leave. "Some people react to the syrup," was their excuse. Uh yeah, way to inform the pregnant lady that what she had already drank was potentially dangerous.

Jade was a little concerned about that. However, I think between Lucy and I, we convinced her that the real truth is that people often leave and forget to come back, or "accidentally" eat or drink something and that's a big waste of the orange syrup.

Anyway it was about 75 minutes later before we headed back to the car. Darkness was just starting to settle in but I could clearly see a little white ticket-size paper on my windshield. Arrgh! Here I was doing a good deed and I get punished.

Closer inspection showed that it was not in fact a parking fine, but a paid parking ticket. Someone had obviously had time left on their ticket and noticed I didn't have one, so they inserted it under my wiper. Wasn't that nice? Such a little thing, yet it sure perked up my day (especially after first thinking it was a fine). God bless you secret person, may you find a twenty dollar bill somewhere.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Bring on the hot flashes.

I've been so cold the last week or so. I know that winter is in the air and you'd think I'd be used to it after living here for 32 years, but I still hate it. Thank God we have a hot tub again.

Today I opted for self-inflicted hot flashes to begin. Ahhh!

I had my consultation with Dr. Bishop, the oncologist. The pathology report indicated that my breast cancer was a 4mm tumor classified as DCIS, hormone positive. That means it was "ductal carcinoma in situ" which in english means the cancer cells were contained to a duct and had not invaded the duct walls, or anything else for that matter. It was very early stage. ***get your screening mammograms, people***

Being hormone receptive means that the cancer cells were spurred on by estrogen. There are different levels of hormone receptive-ness, mine was "highly receptive." This doesn't mean I have excessive levels of estrogen, but that the cancer respondes to and is fed easily by estrogen.

They have a formula for determining what, if any adjuvent therapy is required. This includes, age, genetic risks, tumor classifications etc. Your score will determine whether it's best to leave treatment at just surgery or whether to supplement it with chemo, mastectomy, radiation or hormone therapy etc.

I fell into the borderline radiation category. Dr Bishop suggested that I either opt for radiation or hormone therapy, which means taking Tamoxifen, an anti-estrogen pill, once a day for five years. I could choose to do both but he really felt that was not necessary.

He laid out the benefits and side effects of both and left it up to me. I opted for hormone therapy. He said, "Good. That is the way I would go if it was me deciding." That made we wonder what his response would have been had I opted for radiation. hmmm.

While radiation would have been over with in a couple of weeks, it would only protect the left breast from re-occurrence. By taking the hormone therapy I will also protect the right breast which is susceptible.

Contrary to popular belief, (ok, I don't know if can be called "popular belief" because probably the majority of non-cancer patients know nothing about it) Tamoxifen does not "bring on menopause." In fact it only displays "menopause-like symptoms."

This means that I get to practice having hot flashes, vaginal dryness, irregular and possibly heavy bleeding, tiredness and weight gain for five years, then I'll probably get a year or so of reprieve before I head into menopause for real. By then I should be a pro.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Here's to you, Mom!

Yay! Jed has spent two nights in his new basement suite.

I still need to shovel out the spare room that he had been occupying for the last number of months. Since he has everything he needs for life and survival in his suite already, just about everything in the room is headed for the dump. Except for the items of mine that I've been missing for while and am sure to find buried beneath teddy bears, blankets and past issues of the Free Press. (I'm not even sure what these items are, but I am certain I will find some.)

Sunday night was his last night to sleep "at our house." He was in the bedroom supposedly getting ready for bed for while when he emerged with a present for me. He had blown up a blue surgical glove and drew a face on it. The back side of it said "To Mom. Love Jed. 22" I assume the 22 just stands for his age, but was probably influenced by the hockey signatures he has been around since becoming a volunteer at Cougar games this past week.

I thanked him for the beautiful treasure and set it on the floor beside my desk after he went to bed.

The next morning the blue man had deflated and Jed's true feelings towards me shone through:

Yes, he'd given me the finger!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Giving in Action.

In January 2005, I became convinced that we were going to have to move into town when Jed graduated in June. He needed to have access to the bus system and other opportunities that were just not available 15 kilometers out of the city. Besides, our 6 bedroom house on five acres was starting to feel a little large and hollow for our shrinking family.

Although Albert wasn't totally convinced about the need to move, I began scoping out neighbourhoods I found acceptable. I wanted a sunny neighbourhood where the snow would be first to leave. That was my first priority. I didn't want to drive up or down long hills to get to work each day. Of course the bus system needed to be accessible to Jed.

I drove around neighbourhoods at different times of day on different days of the week to see how many unsupervised teenagers were "just hangin' out."

I didn't really care too much about the actual house. I knew Alb can fix anything. I didn't want something too big. And I didn't want one where all the houses on the street look the same. I also didn't want a quarter million dollar mortgage.

I spent the next couple of months scouring real estate papers and websites and making my arguments to my husband about the need to move.

By mid March I had him convinced, although he hadn't jumped on the house search band wagon just yet. I think he was more just overwhelmed by all the work needed to prepare the exsisting home for resale.

At the beginning of March a house on Sanderson Road was listed as a private sale through Property Guys. I thought it had potential: acceptable neighbourhood, south facing, reasonable price, had a shop, paved driveway....

At the end of March we went to Kelowna for spring break. As usual, I spent most of the journey in a semi-comatose state somewhere between sleep and wakefulness.

As we neared the end of the trip I sat up and said, "I just bought the house on Sanderson and built a little addition on the front to add character and put green siding on it."

Alb looked over at me like I had smoked crack for breakfast and was suffering hallucinations or something.

And life carried on.

Over the next couple of months Albert worked his butt off getting the house ready to list. We viewed a few prospective homes to purchase and played phone tag with the seller of the Sanderson house for about 2 months before we were able to set up a viewing time. Meanwhile the listing price had dropped a few thousand dollars. Always a good thing.

Long story short, we purchased the Sanderson house in July - two months before our other home sold. And Albert got his promised Goldwing and new truck. (Hey, sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do to get your way.)

One year later, we were happy little campers as empty nesters in our small home that had potential, but no urgency, for updates.

The home as listed on Property Guys in 2005.

We worked on the yard a bit, leveling it and installing sprinklers and sod and planting some bushes and trees after we had to remove the large beetle-killed pine in the front yard in 2006.

In October 2007, after returning from our fabulous Goldwing excursion across Canada, we drew up plans to turn the small bedroom into a marvelous ensuite - the feature in our old house that we missed the most. Two days before we planned to purchase the supplies, Jed returned home from his 15 month venture of living away. And our lives were very unexpectedly altered and plans re-directed.

After much research and seeking God and general flailing about, we applied for and received a grant from Giving in Action, a division of The Vancouver Foundation, towards making a suite that would allow Jed to live somewhat independently yet still be "home."

It's been a long, emotional, stressful and dramatic-event filled year. And it's been labour intensive for Albert and his trusty sidekick, Jim. But finally it's all coming together.

After the walls went up on the entrance to Jed's suite, and the siding was ordered, I had a total A-ha moment of realization that I truly had envisioned this whole thing before I even set foot in the "Sanderson house" back in March 2005.

The process:

Digging up the unfinished basement to accommodate new plumbing.

The forms go in for the addition that will provide an entrance downstairs for Jed and a new dining area upstairs for us. A nice added bonus.

Hard to imagine that in a few short months Albert and Jim will have this transformed into a marvelous living space.

Of course it only made sense to replace the old cracked wood windows before we resided the house. Now that was a can of worms we hadn't planned on opening up! They basically had to reconstruct the entire front wall of our house due to nightmarish construction.

To save time, we paid a considerable amount of money to have a drywaller come in and professionally finish and paint everything. Uh, yeah. Live and learn I guess. His "6-8 day job" turned into 6-8 weeks and I know for a fact Alb and Jim would have done a better job. Oh well, it's finished now and we can move on.

I was anxious to use the new dining area and moved in before the drywall was up.

The entrance to Jed's place is down 1/2 a flight from the front door.

What a blessing to be able to equip his kitchen with new appliances, including a dishwasher (which I currently don't have upstairs.)

That's the bathroom door at the end of the kitchen and his bedroom door is just off to the right, beside the bathroom door.

This door at the end of his living area leads to a small office which gives access to the electrical panel to both the suite and our side of the basement. The little cubby area will have a built-in desk for his computer and printer.

Jed chose his own colour schemes in each of the rooms. While the combination of yellow walls with burgundy trim isn't on the top of most fashion lists, it does look okay. It's a nice bright basement suite.

Jed originally wanted to paint his bedroom pink in honour of breast cancer. (That was even before my mammogram and subsequent diagnosis of breast cancer)

I convinced him to go with a different colour so we could paint a pink ribbon on the wall. He chose a baby blue and insisted that the trim be breast cancer pink.

The bathroom looks a little pinker in the pictures than it actually is. It's a salmon type colour. He gave no explanation as to why he chose this colour. I thought for sure he would pick out a bright shower curtain with dogs or fish or something on it, but he went with basic ivory.

Not too many 22 year olds living in a basement suite can boast their very own brand new front loading laundry team. I'm sure he'll never fully appreciate what a blessing this grant has been.
But I do. I think.

Move in day will be Tuesday November 11. Which, by the way, is 23 years to the day Jed was conceived - the day his brother died. (not sure why I felt compelled to include that little tidbit of information, but now you know)

Friday, November 7, 2008

Wiiiiiiii ... what a wonderful surprise!

Last Saturday was the first day that I felt like I might finally be able to stay awake for more than 2 hours at a time. So I celebrated with a little retail therapy.

When I arrived back home from the mall, Al F's vehicle was on the street and there was a strange black car in the driveway. I knew Al was coming to remove some firewood that was stacked behind our shop, and I assumed he brought some help with him.

I parked my car on the street and was walking up my driveway when this cutest ever little blond chick comes walking out from behind my house. I screamed like a girl!! And ran to hug my baby girl.

Brandi and Kore had bought a new car and took it for a little test drive and came for a surprise 24 hour visit. Ahhh! That was just what the doctor ordered. We had a little impromptu family BBQ and spent the evening challenging each other on the Wii. Ok, I mostly just cheered them on - one game of bowling was about all the energy I had to expend.

What a fabulous day.

Jed got home from a day working at the church and nearly fell back down the stairs.

Ken always wears mismatched socks when he comes to my house, so I'll buy him more for every Christmas, birthday, Easter etc.

Wii hula hooping was not invented for pregnant women. When Jade started having belly pains, I banned her from participating until at least the beginning of February. (Due date is Feb 23)

The Wii Fit calculated Brandi's Body Mass Index and immediately shrunk her icon to a stick figure. It was hilarious!

Sister love.

Chillin' after quite a few rounds of bowling, golf and tennis. He wouldn't hula hoop until the next morning when he didn't have an audience.
I think this was taken just after the girls kicked butt at a rousing game of taboo.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Capt Barbee

Barbee is already busily organizing a team for Relay For Life which is a 24-hour relay held May 9-10, 2009 to raise money for the Cancer Society.

Soon the team will have an official name and have an official website where you can see who's part of the team, join the team or donate to support the team.

We have some good fundraising ideas bouncing around and we are already planning the 24 hour party. Plan to join us.

Consider Yourself Reminded.

Ten years. It's been 10 years today since I was branded with that title that no-one ever wants to wear. That is until you receive it. ...