Monday, December 15, 2014

3rd Annual Halloween Weekend

Since we've just wrapped up the Annual Christmin Weekend in real life, I thought I'd better get updated past Halloween before it's next year already. We love spending the weekend before Halloween up in Superior! And who doesn't love a whole weekend to wear all of the halloween costumes you own.

We take many, many pictures. Some show the idea of what our weekends are like...
And then there are those showing the reality...
Regardless, we soldier on forward! Grand Adventures always start with donuts. Our favorite haunt in Superior, A Dozen Excuses, does not disappoint. We each get a donut and then have some to share. Katy seems to like the cake donuts best of all kinds.
Next we head to Duluth (Hermantown actually) for Engwall's Corn Maze. Another favorite stop, we shoot corn from cannons, trick-or-treat our way through the maze and try our hand at the carnival games. It's always fun to pick up a big bag of trinkets and candy. Yes, fun. Keep saying that. Ever stepped on a plastic spider in the middle of the night? Fun. Yes, fun.
Since we're out and about, we stop at the lake for some rock throwing. Not as much participation here. Sure, the rocks are fun but when we get to the ship museum we lose interest quickly. Onward!
After a rest stop at home we head to the wilderness for some more Halloween adventures. I can't remember who puts on this event but the girls get to do crafts and have cookies. All good things. First they get cups puffed off their head by a big air drum. Sciency!
Aforementioned crafts...
Then we head home to bob for apples. Not sure why the lighting is crazy yellow. Never mind the hand in the bucket of course.
Little, tiny, apple parts ev.ery.where.
More science experiments with baking soda and vinegar. Evi? Totally into it. Katy, not so much. Well, maybe if I don't have to touch it...
Capping off the evening with an epic Halloween bath. Won't be too much longer and they won't fit in the tub together! We'll have to have pool parties then.
Finally getting out the wiggles with glow stick skirt dancing. It's too bad the video doesn't show much, it is fun to watch the twirling skirts.
Wiggles all gone...
Sunday leaves us with just enough time for carving pumpkins. Again, it's Evi's heaven and Katy's meh. Thanks to a bunch of help by moms, the carving is done and the girls take the credit.
They really can be sweet to each other when they want to be!
Each weekend we spend together, Rachel and I learn more about the girls and how they work and play together. And, as they get older we face different challenges. Just when we think we've figured it out, they change it up on us. Such is life! And what a great life it is. I can't wait to see these girls grow up together and hopefully embrace their differences and their 'same same' as Katy would say.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Katy's 5th Birthday

I can't believe my baby turned 5! Since we were celebrating the milestone anniversary on her birthday we moved the party back a week. Indeed she did not notice a bit and was extra excited to have yet another party to attend! Every year I want to be the pinterest mom, with all kinds of cute ideas for a Birthday Party To Remember. And yet, I am just a regular mom. In fact, I'm really ok with that. Occasionally I can pull out the big guns but sometimes you have to roll with it. This year's 'roll with it' party was at Kiddywampus, a local arts and crafts store (and more) for kids. 

We chose the Action Jackson party. I'm pretty sure they didn't know what they were getting into when Katy and her friends showed up :-) We had a short introduction to Jackson Pollack and his artwork (so cool that they do that!) and had some rules and regulations to follow. Then to get warmed up the kids did some tissue paper art to take home. Meanwhile, I had my fellow moms (God love you ladies, you save me yet again) running to the grocery store around the corner for plates, napkins, utensils and drinks because I just did not think of that at any point in the planning. At least I showed up with the cake and cupcakes and ordered the pizza!
After the tissue paper art project was done it was time for the big deal. Out came the giant shirts and big socks. Each lucky kid got to do two paintings, throwing that paint all over the wall. What fun! I could have used some paint throwing time myself I think. Surprisingly, there was very little paint on the kids at the end.
Then it was on to pizza, of which Katy only ate the green olives off the top. That's my girl, so silly!
And finally, the cake of Katy's dreams. Purple, round, banilla with minions on top. Cupcakes were added because I thought they'd be easier for the kids to eat and I wasn't sure we had enough cake. hmm. It's a lot of cake. But it was darn tasty! Thanks to The Cake Box Bakery, which wasn't very close to us but they were available and had minion figures on hand. Happy Birthday song was sung, fingers and faces turned purple and then we cleaned up for yet another project. This time it was molding clay bugs, or rather molding clay shapes, some with eyes, some without. Finally it was time to clean up and we ran out of there. Seriously, I felt like I was on a conveyor belt the whole hour and a half. We chose to cut out the present opening (not my favorite part, truthfully) and open them at Nana and Grandpa's house the next day. It's a whole lot of sensory overload to pile in a short period of time.
The birthday girl was overjoyed, but not so much that she couldn't stop and enjoy the party. I call that a win. Who needs pinterest with this girl, we can make our own fun wherever we go. Maybe next year we'll do something at home but if I had my choice I'd do this kind of party again for sure. Only I'll remember all of the supplies ahead of time :-)

Friday, October 24, 2014

It's A Celebration!

It has been a busy few weeks for us. Seems like we're running ragged from one end of town to the other. But because it's all been for fun, it's a good kind of tired. I think. Maybe I'm too tired to know.

First of all, these two beautiful people...
celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary! My parents are both amazing and I am blessed to have them in my life. Susan and Erik flew in for a whirlwind of party prep, fun times and a fantastic party. We hosted an open house for a few friends and family and it was really fun! So many people I hadn't seen in so long and it was great to have them all come for mom and dad. It's a pretty big deal, so many of them said. It is! Susan and I decided on a Grilled Cheese Bar. I would totally do that again, it was delicious. Of course I didn't get a picture of the table but it had 9 kinds of cheese, 5 kinds of meats and assorted veggies and spreads. We had a special grilling chef on hand (thanks Angela!) and the smell of melty cheese was mouth-wateringly good.

We also replicated the top of their wedding cake, down to the 'old school' frosting and fresh gardenias on top. One of my favorite stories that mom tells is of their one year anniversary and eating the top of the cake after it was frozen and it still tasted like gardenias. Funny! And of course I didn't get a picture of the cake before they cut it but trust me it was spot on.
It was so much fun to have Susan and Erik here for the weekend. Katy got it some good bonding time with Aunt and Uncle.
We even got some time for a girl's night out when Susan, Mom, Rachel and I went out to see Dirty Dancing at the Orpheum. It was campy and fun, just as I expected. Dad and Erik got to babysit Katy and Evi and I'm sure that was campy and fun too and the boys were definitely worn out by the girls. Not sure they quite knew what they were getting into when we signed them up for the gig.

The other exciting celebration was Katy's 5th birthday (and Nana's birthday too on the same day). Since we were celebrating the anniversary on that day, it took a bit of a back burner for the day but we made up for it the next weekend (more on that later). There was still singing and cake and presents to open. So it was all good.
 We were sad to say goodbye to Susan and Erik but we'll see them again soon!

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Running into week three and into pinktober

I've made it almost through week 3 of the Couch to 5k program! Tomorrow morning I'll finish the last run of the week. The weather has been perfect for running, which has helped a ton. My new shoes have held off the shin splints so far. Yea! That's a first for me.

Unfortunately my knees are on fire. Can't quite figure out when it crosses the line from 'working out the kinks' to 'damaging your joints'. Advil is my friend. I've had some knee pain in the past but it's mostly been shins, hips and back pain for me. Then again I've never started a running program as a Stage IV cancer patient. I'm just hoping I'm doing more good than harm with my new found excitement for this new program. 

I've really felt the full force of Stage IV in the last few days. Pinktober is upon us and the MBC community at large is all kerfluffle. So much anger towards the callousness of the pink washing all month long. It has caused me to think a lot about how I feel about it all. I don't know. I guess it depends on my mood. I try very hard to be glad for those lucky survivors who have 'conquered' cancer. It is so important to be hopeful and maintain a positive attitude. I was there once too. So there that I went on with my life without another thought. Which is good and necessary to maintain a sense of normalcy. But it also made the discovery of the metastasis an even bigger crash. 

So what do you do? Terrify the 70% of survivors for whom it won't return or bring more and more awareness so that the 30% of us who have it return won't fall into the pit of despair? I wish I had the right answer.  I'm not sure if I would have lived differently if I knew I had a 30% chance rather than the 5% I was counting on. I can tell you though, the crash was HARD. No amount of pink prepares you for that. And in fact it made me WAY less prepared. 

So as the ice bucket challenge may have been unrelated to the disease of ALS, so too is the pink Biffy or the pink toolset (etc etc) unrelated to Stage IV breast cancer, the part of breast cancer that is not curable and is in fact 100% fatal. But, just think of how much that ice bucket challenge made for the study and research of ALS. Bucketloads that's for damn sure. 

Pink washing is awareness. Awareness brings money to support research. Selfishly I hate the fact that the balance is weighted heavily against Stage IV. Hardly any of the money raised by pink trinkets goes to me and my mets sisters' fight. But can I be angry that it might find some early detection that will save the lives of thousands of others walking behind me? I'd hate to think so. 

Truthfully, I'm more concerned about just making it through the next day. Balancing the checkbook that I haven't looked at in months. Helping Katy succeed in her new class while she struggles to find her way. Keeping up with work, which is more difficult every passing month but is no less necessary for keeping us in our house and eating more than popcorn for dinner. Managing the pain and fatigue from the meds that so far have kept this disease at bay. This is my daily battle inside of the larger war against this ugly disease. 

I'd love to be out on the forefront of the advocacy for MBC. I am grateful for the strong women who can do it. And maybe some day I can too. Maybe my few and faithful readers can help. Remember us living and thriving with metastatic breast cancer would you please? Learn about Stage IV at metavivor.org. Know that it's not a fluffy, pink world out there for everyone. 


Thursday, September 18, 2014

Couch to 5k - The Beginning

I've made it to week 1 day 2!  So far so good. The goal is the Chocoholic Frolic on November 2nd. I'd love to run the whole 5k. Mostly I just don't want to die. 

Technically it's day 3. I tried a few weeks ago to start but I downloaded the wrong podcast and it had me running way more than walking. Add that to the 15 year old "well-loved" shoes and I got shin splints so bad I could hardly walk. I took some seasoned runners advice and got fitted at Marathon Sports. And so far, well after two runs anyway, minimal pain!

I'm not sure I'm cut out to be a runner but stay tuned and I'll let you know how it's going!

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Blogging on the road

So I figure if I'm really going to do this blog thing I'd better find a way to take it on the road. So today I'm testing out the blogger app. Seems pretty easy so far! We will see if the formatting lives up to my obsessive nature.

Today Katy and I went downtown to see the hip hop and breakdancing contest Ground Breaker Battle. As expected it was too loud for a while but then apparently not. Yea! We picked up some trinkets and some dance moves. Katy got a hand painted backpack from a graffiti artist. I think she likes it. Sometimes it's hard to tell. 
Since the contest was right next to the light rail station Katy was quite distracted by the trains. And because we didn't really have plans for the afternoon we are now riding to St Paul and back. I'm fairly certain I bought the wrong kind of ticket. Doesn't seem to be a huge deal and I doubt we'd get in a huge among of trouble as long as we tried. Anyway it's a nice ride and Katy's enjoying it. I think she might be close to sleeping. 
Speaking of sleeping, we are working hard at an early bed time. The first two weeks of school have been rough for the little nugget and sleep is a large part of that. Our nights are now all about bedtime. It's been a lot on my shoulders and I admit I've been lax on forcing earlier sleep. I'm just too tired! Ha! But with some effort we are now 9pm instead of 10:30-11pm. Still there's some cranky pants happening both at school and daycare. Next week I'll meet with all of her teachers to see if there's something else to do to help her. So grateful to have such a wonderful team looking after her!

We made it to St Paul! Now to turn around and go back to the car...

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

New School Year, New Beginnings

The summer ended with the last splash in the Linden Hills pool before we hung up the flip flops and got ready for school.
Katy started Hi-5 Pre-Kindergarten this year. She's in an inclusion class, which means there's an aide for the 3-4 kids in class that might have some struggles during the day. For Katy, that's transitions and sitting still. I've met her teacher and her aide and I'm so excited for her to have this time with them. They are both amazing women and teachers. I think it's going to be her best year yet. If only we could get used to the 6:50 am bus arrival. ughA
I'm starting a new beginning too. Since Katy's off to school so early and I have to be up for it, I am embarking on the Couch to 5K program. Ideally I'd lose some weight and not be so sore all the time. Worst case scenario I'm more sore all the time but I'm going to be optimistic and hope that this program is an easy enough start to make a lifestyle change for me. There's a 5k run in November that involves a swag bag of chocolate. Good goal for me I think. We shall see. More to come on that!

Happy September everyone!

End Of Summer Grand Adventure

We're making this Grand Adventure a big one to finish off the summer in style. Katy and I headed to Superior, WI for an early start to Labor Day weekend. Originally the plan was to have a picnic on the shores of Lake Superior but mother nature had other plans. Cold and rainy does not a fun picnic make. But we are nothing if not masters of last minute events.

First stop for doughnuts, of course. We checked out the newest place in Superior, A Dozen Excuses. We went later in the morning on Friday. Since we had gotten in late on Thursday, there was some catching up to do before we left. The selection was fairly limited at the late hour but we got a few raised and some cake doughnuts. They were quite tasty and moderately priced. Judging by the mess we made, they were a hit.
From there, we took off for Duluth and a secret spot for feeding the ducks and geese. It was a cemetery with a lovely pond. Katy nodded off on the way so we took a little time out while Rachel and Evi started.
More bread, coming up!
Our next stop was the Leif Erickson Rose Garden. I enjoyed the flowers, the girls enjoyed their umbrellas.
We stopped home for an indoor picnic. Not quite as interesting as the shore but we had a lot going on so it was probably best.
Browsing online for 'fun things to do with kids in Duluth' I happened upon the North Shore Scenic Railroad's Music and Pizza Train! For your ticket you get a 2.5 hour ride, one half of a pizza and one drink (beer extra of course). A great deal and a great deal of fun! Katy was not quite into it as we were driving there and was concerned about 'the spitting is coming out'. Since she had her first (since she came home) encounter with puking a few weeks ago she's a little obsessed about 'the spitting is coming out'. Indeed she was just super tired and a nap perked her right up. Eventually.
We started in the 1960's era double decker car and made our way to the 1950's car and finished the ride in the 1918 vintage car, right behind the locomotive. The 50's car was my favorite but I'm glad we had our pizza in the 60's car (vinyl seats!). Live music played in the concessions car and was piped over the loudspeakers. There was a bit of dancing in between watching out the windows. I'm so glad we found it, and that there were tickets, and we were all up for it!
The next morning we continued by heading back to A Dozen Excuses. We had a much bigger selection and yet Katy chooses the plain cake doughnut. I, on the other hand, thoroughly enjoyed my Creme BruleƩ filled pastry and I tasted Rachel's and while I don't remember what it was, I remember I really liked it. Swiss cheese brain...
We spent our down time painting nails with our cool nail art kit from the fair (similar to this, with pointy end and brushy end). The girls got their names on their fingers and some assorted flowers and then shiny pink toes. Too bad it was too cold for sandals!
Before we headed home, we stopped by Canal Park for sandwiches from Nothern Waters Smokehaus. We took our time, splashing in the fountains first. And just so you get the true feel, I've included a video with sound. Wouldn't want you to miss out on that!

Katy enjoys her first candy necklace from our stop at Hepzibah's Sweet Shoppe. Or rather, she didn't enjoy it but tried hard to. She kept wanting me to bite it for her. sigh.
As always, Katy falls asleep shortly after we hit the road. As in, she's asleep sometime in between when I buckle her and I get in the car to drive. A wonderful way to round out the summer.