Friday, November 15, 2013

I HAD A DREAM...

…that Chuck and I were in some kind of competition with other couples – like The Amazing Race. The task at hand was for Chuck to eat as much cat food as possible while I spooned it into a hopper.   Yes friends, ‘hopper’ was an actual word being thrown about in this dream. “just throw it in the hopper” “hurry” “faster”   There were piles and piles of tender flaked salmon, tuna with gravy, and ocean whitefish to get through, and dozens of people were screaming for Chuck to hurry the hell up already!   At some point, the phone rang.   I think it was the phone.

  Me: “huhllo?”  sounding like Lauren Bacall
 
    Caller: “My water broke!”

      Me: “who is this?”

        Caller: “ It's ERIKA!”

          Me: “who?"

             Caller: “I’m having the baby!”

It was a peaceful Sunday morning, November 3rd, just 11 days ago. I had turned the clocks back before I went to bed, therefore, I had no idea what time it really was. Hell, I didn’t even know what room I was in. Really. All I remember is that my heart was beating as though I’d been in a race, and I think I could smell Fancy Feast for Gravy Lovers in my pillow.

After getting my bearings, I stumbled out of bed, somehow navigated the flight of stairs, went into the den to tell Chuck about Erika, and almost jumped out of my skin!   There was Chuck sitting on the couch with his back to me next to someone with a big headful of thick black hair!   Turned out to be Lenny!   Geez Louise!   Where was I???

November 3rd was Caroline’s 36th birthday AND Erin and Dean’s 6th anniversary!

And now, Erika and Brian’s baby boy was coming nearly 5 weeks early! That was lucky for Erika, since he turned out to be 7 pounds, 13 ounces! Good for you, kid!
Erika and Brady Luke McMahon
She looks good, right? Erika likes to hit the big drugs, push the kid out, and then call for a manicure!  I luv ya, kid!
Although I wanted to fly to Chicago immediately for the big event, I had a CAT scan scheduled for… (uh oh. Do you get it? cat scan?   Now there’s some symbolism for all you dream analyzers out there!)... for the following day, and I couldn’t reschedule because, well, you all know by now how cancer patients are about scheduling and timing and waiting and all that jazz.  We do not handle it well! 
Because I am allergic to the contrast dye used for, ahem, a CAT scan, I have to be pre-medicated with three doses of prednisone taken 13, 7, and 1 hour before the scan.  Then, along with that third dose, I take 50 mg of Benadryl to further prevent any reaction and 10 mg of Ativan to combat the violent restless legs I get from the damn Benadryl.   On that particular day, I had to be at the hospital at 7:30 a.m. in order to have enough time to drink three cups of refreshing barium sulfate before the 9:00 test. 

Cheers!
So, here’s how it went: I set an alarm to wake up at 2 a.m. to choke down my second dose of prednisone.  Then I tried to go back to sleep with baby's breath on my mind.  No luck.   I got up at 6, showered, packed my bag for Chicago, took two Benedryl capsules plus the Ativan and went to the hospital. Everything was running on time that day, and we were home at 10:30. Just in time for my drug-induced three hour coma.

I dragged my ever-expanding ass out of bed at 2:30 and Chuck took me to the airport.  At 4:30 I was off to the Windy City!  Yippee! A whole week of baby time.


And a whole week of one-on-one time with Sean.  What's cuter or funnier than a two-and-a-half year old? 

A seriously cute kid!
He was especially lovable (to his grandmother, anyway) on Thursday evening when he erupted from both ends!  His mom and dad had just returned from their first trip to the pediatrician with both children.  That must have been a hoot, since each kid crapped twice while there.  When Erika came through the door, she looked liked she'd been through a haunted house.  "How do people do this with two kids?"  Because, unlike 'the rest of us,' you're young!  You can do it!

Sean was given his dinner of plain pasta noodles, yogurt, and a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for good measure.

In short order, his gut took over the universe.  With the first attack of diarrhea, Erika tells Brian, "Don't change him on the changing table - we can't contaminate it for Brady."  I proudly spent years being a mommy to babies and toddlers and I believe I used a changing table exactly four times.  She, on the other hand, ALWAYS uses one, even for Sean at this point!  Admirable.

So Brian gets the kid in the tub, scrubs him down, cozies him up in his PJs and all is well.  For about 30 minutes.

Suddenly Sean cries that his tummy hurts and Erika makes the colossal mistake of saying, "Let's get in mommy's bed and snuggle."  oops.  According to witnesses, it was a tsunami of vomit.  No warning.  No time for a bucket.  Puke one, parents zero.

Now here's another good thing about being on chemo:  You are rightfully isolated from any sick people.  My job was to hide in my room with Baby Cakes!  Somebody had to protect the little nugget.

Not to humiliate the McMahons, but I so wished they had a nanny cam in their house.  The next 3 hours were INSANE!  As soon as he barfed all over their bed and Erika, the atmosphere turned into the car chase scene from The French Connection.  I don't know what happened faster, the kid in the tub or the entire master bedroom being carried to the basement!  I did not know a person could don a hazmat suit as quickly as Erika did!  Luckily, I had a surgical mask in my purse, which I donated to the cause.  Brian wanted to put the entire set of bedding into a trash bag and throw it out!  At one point he said to me, "I'll never be able to eat Pad Thai noodles again - it's all I can smell."  Oh my God, it's hard to see with these tears of laughter pouring from my eyes!

With Sean on the couch/sick bed, I suggested a bowl be at the ready.  In my day, I would hear that odd little cough from down the hall and have a stainless steel bowl out before the puke hit the air.  After Sean's third or fourth expulsion, I yelled out from the safety of my quarters, "Don't you wish you had a garbage disposal?" 

Erika went over that house like a mold abatement expert.  I swear you could lick the walls in the bathrooms.  "How am I going to feed the baby, Sean barfed all over my chest?"

I can't type any more, I'm on the floor.  This was another long story, but so worth reliving!  Laughter truly is the best medicine.  I gotta go to bed.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

I'm Golden! A message to my siblings.

Ok, so I'm bald.

The baldness is not the point.  It's what I learned about myself by going bald.

Before I let you in on my little secret, I'll set the mood with some background for my readers.



Our father and mother (who art in Heaven,) Bud and Carolyn Golden, Dad and Mom, Bops and Gramma, Great Bops and Great Gramma...they were known by several monikers...had a big family.  Eight children.  In eleven years.  I know. 

It went like this:  The much-desired boy at the top of the order and then seven girls in a row.  They became so good at making girls, that in the end they were sending them out two at a time!  Of course, my brother was the official Golden Child, and the rest of us were the Golden Girls!  The original Golden Girls.  As teens, people would call the house looking for babysitters and just ask for one of the Golden Girls.  When I was a very little kid, I thought Little Golden Books were written just for my family!  Barbara probably told me that.  I remember wondering how other families got our books at their houses, too!

To understand what it means to say "I'm Golden" in our family, it is important to know the wonderful parents of this brood.  If Bob Hope had married Milton Bradley and they had a child, it would have been my father.  Always ready with a one-liner and a master of card tricks and games.  It seems we never tired of the old stories he'd spin during Sunday dinner.  Over and over we wanted to hear about how his mother locked him in the closet where he "spit in her Sunday shoes, her hat, her gloves and then sat there waiting for more spit to come."  While dishes were being done, Dad would entertain by playing swing bass ditties on the piano - I can still hear it!  Sunday nights ALWAYS ended with his popcorn, for which he was/is famous.  It was the only thing he could cook.  Luckily, we all inherited the popcorn gene!

My mother.  Sweet, kind, gentle, loving, and well....she had eyes in the back of her head.  I mean she really did!  She could shoot laser beams through the walls of the house just in case one might think one could sneak across the kitchen in clickety-clackety roller skates looking for a snack!  Being a wise observer of my sibs, I never attempted such a lame-brained trick.

I think I was getting my driver's license when I realized my name was just Kathleen and not "char-bar-mar-li-jo-ja-kathleeeeen!"  Frankly, I don't know how she knew her own name much of the time.  One morning Mom walked into the dining room and slapped Marie across the face.  She stepped back and said, "I thought you were Margaret!"   Now Marie will tell you she stills suffers the psychological scar, but OMG, that was a side-splitter!  Still is!

Anyone with a house to run and kids to chase and, godforbid, a job, is busy, but I can't imagine having to do what my mother did without a clothes dryer until AFTER the twins came along!  Hanging out all that laundry?  In the winter?  The sheets?  How?
What a wonderful family to have and to hold.  I love you all!

Ok, here goes:
Mom and Dad
TATTOOED MY HEAD!
 
Imagine my shock when I discovered this two years ago the first time I lost my hair!  I was reluctant to tell you then, but now that I'm bald again, I feel I must.
 
The truth as they saw it:
 
For your own peace of mind, I think each of you should shave your head to see if they had a message for you! 
DO IT!
 

Monday, September 9, 2013

A Woman Walks Into A Doctor's Office.....

And it's all up hill from there.


Last Wednesday was chemotherapy day.  Let's all hope that subsequent treatment days are less long. Shorter. Please.

I arrived at the cancer center early and registered on the first floor, as always.  I was able to skip the lab, as my blood had been drawn the previous day in the angio radiology department.  That was a timesaver, right?  So straight upstairs to Dr. J's office I went for my appointment with him, scheduled for 12:45, and then I'd be off to the infusion center for a slow drip of unpotable potions and a well-needed nap.  Post should end there.

When I stepped into the waiting room, I immediately noticed that patients were stacked up like planes at O'Hare.  This did not bode well for any of us.  Clearly, there are way too many sick people in the world and, quite possibly, the entire staff was out to lunch! 

Not that I've seen them all or anything, but the waiting room I use at my cancer center looks...well, blah.  No windows.  Well, there's glass along two walls, but it's etched, so there is no view, nothing to look at. The walls are painted in Benjamin Moore 'You-look-like-shit-today-blue' and the furniture must have been a closeout from Overstock Waiting Rooms dot com.  You know, the stiff vinyl kind with wooden armrests - some in singles, some in loveseat size - lined up along the outer walls and then a row down the center of the room. They should have a sign on them that reads "If you cannot get comfortable sitting here, we we have a bed of nails in the back you're welcome to try."  Unattractive.

The 'space,' as they say on HGTV, has not seen a current magazine since it opened its brand new doors in 2011.  Still there today is the same copy of Martha Stewart Living (she does it best) and an even older issue of Popular Mechanics.  That's about it for reading material.  At the far end of the room, there is a table with a jigsaw puzzle in varying stages of completion.  Let me just offer this:  If  you find a 500-piece jigsaw puzzle in your doctor's waiting room, you're gonna want a snack.  Goldfish crackers, plate of brownies, 12-inch sub, something to hold you over.

Chuck arrived after parking the car (another great thing about having cancer is that no one lets you walk more than 20 feet) and a very long, convoluted walk from the parking garage.  He said, "Are you still waiting?"  Yes, dear.  He flipped through one of the magazines for a moment and then we got down to the business of people watching.  At one point, there were 13 people sharing our space.  Six of those were sleeping. 

Warning: Flashback ahead! 
When we were kids and had appointments with the dentist or doctor, our mother fell asleep in the waiting room! Every single time.  My older siblings always seemed amused by it.  I was completely mortified.  I would sit as far away from her as I could, occasionally peering over the top of my "Highlights for Children", hoping none of my "neighbors" had appointments with the same doctor at the same time.  Mom's head would fall forward, snap back, she'd make an adjustment, and down she'd go again.  Mortifying!

Back to my waiting room...Not all of these people were patients, of course.  When you have a serious illness, it is important to take someone with you to appointments so that that someone can nudge you awake, should you have to wait through your naptime.  For me, it's important because that certain someone keeps me from chit-chatting with strangers, which I do fairly often, or so I'm told.  "Whadya in for?"  Like that.

There was an elderly woman straight across the aisle from Chuck who was enjoying some very heavy REM sleep, we could tell.  She would slowly lean to one side, then waaay over to the other side, then waaay to the back, etc.  At one point, while attempting an unconscious forward roll, I thought Chuck was going to have to kick one of his size 13s into her chest just to keep her on the chair!

I think waiting rooms in cancer centers should be particularly lovely.  Warm colors on the walls, nice couches and comfy chairs, good looking magazine racks with lots of good shit to read.  Patients are there because our lives depend on it! Dress the place up for godssake!  I'm not a huge fan of televisions in waiting rooms, but this room needs something!  How 'bout a giant fish tank?  I'd be less pissy if I could stare at something like House Hunters International or look for Nemo.  Damn.  Especially once I've texted and tweeted everyone I know to tell them that I'm still waiting!

Shit, this is a long post....Well, too bad. It was a long day and somebody's gotta talk about it.

As previously stated, my appointment with the doc was at 12:45.  Infusion appointment 1:15.  Can you see where this is going?  At 1:45, my oncology nurse stepped into the waiting room to say that "Dr. J wants you to just go over to the infusion center unless you have any important questions."  Every question I think up is fucking important, wouldn't you agree?  Geez.  But I'll go.  I'm already 30 minutes late for THAT appointment anyway.

I bade farewell to the lady next to me - Chuck had his eyes closed for awhile - and off I went.  Oh, but first, "you need to sign some consent forms."  Well, that shouldn't take long, right?  Twenty minutes later, at 2:05, we were walking down the hall to Transylvania, which has it's own stylish waiting room.  With people waiting. 

By now, I'm famished.  Chuck went over to the hospital cafeteria to get me something to eat, and when he returned 20 minutes later he said, "You're still waiting?"  Slowly I turn, step by step, inch by inch......

At 2:40, just as I cracked open my plastic salad, one hour and twenty-five minutes past appointment time, I was taken back to my room.  Then, more waiting.  First the banter with the nurses, most of whom remembered me (odd), and then the pre-meds.  Decadron, Zofran, Compazine, Benedryl, Ativan, and a bit of waiting.  When I'm good and fucked up, they start the blitz on cancer.  As I recall, it was 4:15 or so when the drip was let loose, and it took until 6:30 for it to finish.  While in my stupor, Chuck went home to throw a pork roast into the oven. 

As I was being unplugged from the poison, a nurse asked me if I would talk to another patient who had just had her first chemo treatment (very thin veins) and was debating about getting a port-a-cath.  Sure, I love to talk to my neighbors, remember?!  A lovely woman and her attentive daughter were brought into my room, and I think I laid out a pretty convincing story on why she should opt for the port.  Besides being so much better than repeated vein stabbing, it also serves as a microchip like you'd have in your dog.  When chemo-brain kicks in (and it will,) anyone can scan it and return you to the waiting room where you belong!
Selfie of healing microchip placement.
No more boob shots for you, Thom.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

WANTED: Port Authority

Yippee!  My dream job was posted on Career Builders!

Wait. What?  my mistake.  I thought they were looking for an Interventional Radiologist.  Damn.  What a great job that would be.

I have been known to spend many hours with my nose buried up to my frontal sinus in a medical book, like the Merck Manual or the Physicians Desk Reference...yum!  However, I became a WebMD when Al Gore invented the Internet.  Wow! My career took off!  Then I was able to fulfill my interest (and make money) in medicine by becoming a radiology transcriptionist, providing me with an endless supply of fascinating cases to read. 

On Tuesday, the day I had my port-a-cath implanted, I had an upclose and personal exposure to the Interventional Radiology Department of UVa.  To say that I thoroughly enjoyed the process is indeed an understatement.  I know, I'm sick (and I mean in the I-love-this-stuff kind of way.) The department runs like clockwork - as I wish all departments did.  They hooked me up to the mandatory IV and even drew my labs that were necessary for the next day's chemo - damn efficient. 

At about 11 am, I said toodles to Chuck, who was eager to get to the cafeteria, and off I went with Nurse Debby to the surgical room, which was lit up like High Mass, as Mom used to say.  I think it actually had stadium lights in the ceiling, along with a gigantic move-around-able x-ray machine.  I had to wear a mask and have my head and face covered so I couldn't see a damn thing!  I so wanted to watch, but they prefer the patient to keep her nosey little face and grubby hands out of the sterile field.  Nurse Debby asked how "in or out" I wanted to be.  Well, since I can't watch, I'd like to listen!   She pushed in just the right amount of  the ever-appreciated conscious sedation cocktail to keep me happy and fascinated.  It was so cool!  

An ultrasound was performed over my neck, which, according to the tech, demonstrated a "garden hose of a jugular!"  Well, I do aim to please.  At about that time, the interventional radiologist, Dr. A, made his appearance and got busy! An incision was made in my neck for the guidewire, and a larger incision was made in my pretty chest to accommodate the port, which looks this:
The thing is threaded through a vein to a point just above my ever-loving heart.  I could have made this much more gruesome, but I just realized not everyone shares my enthusiasm for ooginess. 
 
This is what I looked right after the procedure:
 
Nurse Debby suggested that I might want to stop by the cosmetic surgery department and order some breast implants.  At my age, girlie, we don't need implants, we need a staple gun!  Just pull 'em up and chagunck, chagunck (staple gun sound effects) right below the shoulders.  $14.95 at Home Depot.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Houston, we have a problem!

Please close this window now if you are sensitive to profanity, as I intend to use a lot of it from now on.  You probably shouldn't talk to me over the phone either. 


After two splendid years of being cancer free, the little fucker has returned. 

At my checkup two weeks ago, sweet Dr. J told me my CA125 (cancer marker) was up to 31 from 15 three months earlier.  Have you ever felt as though someone suddenly poured hot liquid into a vein in your neck and the heat flowed down your arms and rushed up to your ears and your face probably got red and your heart screeched out some kind of disgusting sound that only you could hear in the form of a big clang in your head?  That's how hearing you have cancer feels.  I remember having the same feeling once when my third grade teacher told me that I talked too much to my "neighbors".  That was a doozy.  My bony knees knocked all the way home.  Come on, she didn't even know my neighbors. 

Anyway, as you know - and I mean the two of you who actually read this blog to begin with - I was diagnosed with fallopian tube cancer in April 2011.  Fallopian tube cancer comes under the heading of ovarian cancer, so from this point on, let's all refer to this disease as ovarian cancer (OVCA), that's just easier all the way around.  I like to call it the Little Effer when I'm in mixed company.  By the way, it is believed that most OVCA begins in the fallopian tubes; just so ya know.
Back then, I had a massive surgery, referred to as "debulking" in medical-speak.  What a ghastly, unladylike term.  Honestly.  It involves removing all kinds of stuff you think you couldn't live without, like ovaries, fallopian tubes, uterus, appendix, omentum, and, in my case, a large piece of my sigmoid colon.  I wasn't using half that crap anyway, so good riddance! 
How ya holdin' up so far?  Hungry for more?  
....You know, I just had a thought that if someone were to come in here and "debulk" my sewing room, I'd be so happy.  Erika.....?
I was given the standard protocol chemotherapy consisting of carboplatin and paclitaxel (carbo/taxol, as we call it in the biz.)  I was also in two clinical trials, one using a PARP inhibitor, and one using Avastin.  Treatment was fairly uneventful...oh, except that I got high blood pressure and my head exploded from the Avastin, landing me in the hospital twice in January of 2012, but other than that, really, it was no big deal.  Oh, and I was bald.
Moving on to what is now being called my FIRST RECURRENCE.  I had a CT scan the day after seeing Dr. J.  He phoned two days later to say, "I'm sorry, but you $%^*+&=#! and you %#$*&^?< ...or words to that effect.  I heard that clang in my head again, and my chest had that hot liquid in it.  He said the mass (apparently it's a Catholic tumor) is very low in my pelvis, perhaps on the wall of the rectum and very close to my tailbone.  Well hell, no wonder sitting was so uncomfortable!  He said that at this point, he was disinclined to operate, fearing that I might be left with a permanent colostomy.  Yup, I remember that part.  Obviously, we/I don't want that, but frankly, I'd shit out my ear if it meant getting rid of cancer.  Let's not think about that for now!
Four days later, Chuck and I went to meet with Dr. J and to look at the CT scan.  It was cool, except for that ugly tumor thingy.  See... it IS a tumor!  (sorry, but that never gets old around here.)  Dr. J asked if I had any questions and I said, "Yes. Does this mass make my butt look big?" .......did he say yes?  nope. too kind.   
  That's him. Kind, right? 
Next step was a biopsy and drainage, which was done Monday, via transvaginal ultrasound.  Now, don't get all wiggy-waggy, they were originally going to go through my fucking back!  And one night a week ago, when dear Marie was here to "comfort" me, we pondered just how they might approach that sucker to drain it.  I surmised they'd probably have to put the Jaws of Life up my ass, grab a plumber's snake, snag the thing, until the floor was awash in my bodily fluids!"  
Actually, the process was speedy, except that we waited for two flipping hours to get it underway!  Some ridiculous excuse about "needing" a "special" "new" "motorized" stretcher, which is "so much better" than the crappy old piece of shit they'd been using for years on every other poor slob.  Better for whom?  After seeing the thing, believe me, I could have done the whole job ON MYSELF with a plank laid across a couple of sawhorses.  Geez, people!  Cancer patients are ON THE CLOCK.  We have no time for this bullshit.
In the end (get it), it was worth it, since I am much more comfortable sitting down.  Dr. Ultrasound removed a wineglassful of fluid - yep, 80 cc - ....ahhhhhhhhh.  Of course, as we expected, it's the same cancer I started with.  It's like an awful, freeloading, asshole tenant.  You evict him, but the grime he leaves in the apartment may be impossible to clean up.  Well I intend to scour the living shit out of my place.  No more Mrs. Niceguy.  I am having a port, aptly called a PowerPort, implanted on Tuesday and will start kicking ass chemo the following day, Wednesday, September 4th. 
Ok, that's all for now.  If you are still reading, you may now go back to playing Candy Crush, or have a drink, or go to bed, or whatever.  Just be sure to say your prayers. 
Link to first mention of the little effer:

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

This is Halloween!

What is it about Halloween that makes me ooze with creativity?  I just love it!  Even though we get exactly ZERO goblins who trick-or-treat, I enjoy costuming (I believe that's a word) the house.  Now that the "young" are really getting into Halloween, I am compelled to outdo myself.

I started with a wreath of sorts inspired by one I saw on Pinterest.

Then came The Witch is Dead vignette...
 
And the Headless Man in the chair...
After Chuck retired, I thought I would never have to look at that ugly UVA sweater again.
Works well in October, I must say.
 
I monogrammed a pumpkin (love my Silhouette machine!):



And it all came together like this:

Our house color never photographs well.  It's more yellow than it appears here.
Hey, Chuck.  Let's paint it gray!
 
 Inside we have my new Witch on her Broom decal from Martha.  I love it!

She's huge!

And, returning once again this year, the mice running amok!
 Don't worry.  Fake candles only.
 
 After all that hard work, I think it's time for a Halloween cocktail! 
I'll try The Black Widow:
 
  • 1 oz. Vodka
  • 0.5 oz. triple sec
  • 0.5 oz Sour Puss Sour Raspberry
  • 2 oz. pomegranate juice
  • Squeeze of fresh lemon juice
  • Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake vigorously and strain into chilled martini glass. Garnish with plastic spider.

    Wednesday, September 26, 2012

    How He Spent His Summer Vacation!

    I bought a huge paper mache 'S' from Joann's on line (this sucker is about two feet tall) intending to make a monogram photo collage for my craft room, like this one I saw on Pinterest:


    As soon as I started gluing on the photos, I realized this would be a perfect "scrapbook" of Sean's summer visit.
     
    I printed the photos on computer paper and used Mod Podge to attach them.
     
    A couple of coats of Mod Podge over all and a coat of polyurethane over the top seals the deal.
     
    This is one of those things where you see something different every time you look at.
    Notice how Katherine, Jane, and Jennifer peak out over that outside curve?

    Erika hung it over Sean's crib in his new house. 

    Friday, August 31, 2012

    The McMahon Quilt

    This is a quilt I made for the McMahons new house
    in Libertyville, IL:


    I love the cute neighborhood designs.
    Perfect for new homeowners.


    The fabric is Summersville by Lucie Summers for Moda.
    She has a great Etsy shop featuring all of her designs.




    Wednesday, July 25, 2012

    Nothing Could be Finer Than to Be in a Diner. . .

    . . . in the morning.  Or for lunch with friends! 

    Last Friday Erika, Sean, and I traveled to Culpeper to meet the Leeds girls at the Frost Cafe.  What a hoot!  And what a cute little town Culpeper is - I had no idea.

    (Swiped these two shots from Yelp.com)
    A neat old-fashioned diner, with formica tables, large vinyl booths, and plenty of seating at the extra-long counter.
    Check out those light fixtures and the swivel stools!

    The food was good!  Could be the best grilled cheese sandwich ever!  I am told that it's best to order the fries "extra crispy."  (I think that means 'please leave them in the hot oil until they've reached their maximum grease absorbency.') 

    Since Jane and I like to meet for lunch, we plan on returning to Culpeper to sample more of the eateries and stores.  But it's always more fun when we bring along friends.
    Katherine, Janie-Poo, and Jennifer

    As we walked down the street to our cars, we came upon an old-styled hardware store.  Jane and I got so excited, but the Leeds girls could not understand why! 

    Well here's why girls . . .
    They have squeaky hardwood floors, a very distinct smell,
    AND they have really cool stuff . . .
    . . . like Radio Flyer cars for Sean!
    .....Pfau's anyone?

    Thursday, July 5, 2012

    Why I Hate Camping

    I hate camping because:
    It requires driving or, worse yet, hiking into nowhere.
    It often means carrying one's bed on one's back.  please.
    It means no running water of the blessed indoor-kind, which, of course, means no toilet.
    It means no TV.
    It means bedtime comes at about 6:30 - see above - (not bad for kids, but not for me.)
    And, as if that were not enough unpleasantness, it means NO POWER.  AT ALL.

    The Chang family would be living the camping life if it were not for the fabulous good fortune that they live near US (refer to blog title), and we did NOT lose power.  Especially sweet, since we have very effective air-conditioners and it has been close to or over 100 degrees since the storm.  

    Last Friday, Virginia withstood a derecho.  Now who knew what that was?  Be honest.  You've never heard of it.  To quote Wikipedia, it is a wide-spread, long-lived, straight-lined windstorm that is associated with a fast-moving band of severe thunderstorms.  It wreaked havoc on the mid-Atlantic states, leaving well over a million homes with NO POWER.  

    >>Erin and Dean lost power.  Caroline and Pei lost power.  So that meant . . .

    . . .YIPEE!  We got to have a huge sleepover!  The entire fam-damily (except for Brian, who was back in the safety of Chicago) moved in and slept over Saturday night!  I had no idea just how close a family could be!  The Maupins got power back on Sunday, but the Chang Gang is still here (it's Thursday)!   Which brings me to the point of this post:

    This is what 2 1/2-year old Avery does while "camping" at Poppy and Gee's house;
    
      Please note that the iPad is PLUGGED IN!

    Thursday, June 21, 2012

    Baby Gate

    This is my current baby gate:
    It's too wide, too clunky, and just plain ugly.
     
    Last week, while stalking one of my favorite sewing bloggers, Karen, from Sew Many Ways, I came across her little bit of genius to keep tots and dogs from heading up the stairs:  PVC gate.
    After a quick trip to Lowe's for PVC pipe ($4.00) and a quick trip across the street to Joann's for fabric ($12.00), I put the whole thing together in about 20 minutes.

    It's a perfect length, lightweight, and so cute!


    Karen's tutorial is great!  The gate looks like this on the inside:

    And from Lenny's viewpoint, things went from this:
    to this:
    Love it!

    Thursday, May 24, 2012

    Sean turns ONE!

    Cute, right?

    And it turns out he is another fantastic model for clothes sewn by Gee!
    Last night Chuck and I Skyped with Sean and watched him eat an entire Dilly Bar, which may have contributed to the man-sized gut! 
    We love you, little boy.

    And here is a little ditty from two of Sean's cousins, Avery and Jet.

     

    Friday, May 4, 2012

    Barbie Cake for Ellery

    I don't know how it happened, but Ellery became a four-year-old last week.  In her honor, and to help out her very busy mommy, I created this Barbie Cake. 

    And here is the birthday girl!

    Wednesday, April 25, 2012

    What the h-e-doublehockeysticks is THAT?

    I saw this in my lawn one day while ouside with Lenny.  I ran in the house for my camera and took a few shots.  I had no idea what this cute little 'face' in the grass was.  Google tells me that it is some kind of puffball mushroom past it's prime (whatever it's prime means.)  Lenny snatched it out of the ground right after I took this picture.

    Monday, April 2, 2012

    It's a GIRL!

    Corinne Marie Maupin arrived on March 28th.  Erin and Dean once again had a baby in no time at all.  They make it seem so easy.  She was 8 pounds 6 ounces, nearly 21 inches long.  Such a beauty!

    Her big sister Ellery is clearly in love.

    And just look at this trio of tots!

    Welcome Corinne.