Tuesday, May 31, 2011

May 2011 Round Up

Click mosaic to biggify. Created using Big Huge Labs Mosaic Maker.

What books and/or magazines did I read this month?
Spent most of the month on The Rough Guide to Boston. I feel like I'm cramming for an exam! LOL

What movies and/or tv shows did I watch this month?
* TV Time: Pretty much everything! That's what May Sweeps gets you. So not only were all of our regular shows finishing up, a couple of our "off season" shows got started, like Law & Order: Criminal Intent and In Plain Sight.
* New Films: Thor (okay; had terribly silly moments but some good ones as well; seen better and seen much worse), Kung Fu Panda 2 (okay to good, though not as good as the first; darker, more intense, more serious, but visually stunning), Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (I liked it (more than DH); better than 3, on par or better than 2; well done for a "reboot"/redirect), Eat Pray Love (okay; nothing stands out about it, but it was perfectly fine), The Boys: The Sherman Brothers' Story (excellent documentary about this truly legendary musical duo, who wrote most of my favorite childhood Disney songs)
* Old Favorites: Steel Magnolias, Ferngully, Sweet Home Alabama, Julie & Julia, Pleasantville, Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, The Great Mouse Detective, The American President

What special days did I celebrate and how?
Actually spend Mother's Day with my mom, though that wasn't the original plan. Also went down to visit our families in south Georgia over Memorial Day.

What gifts did I give and/or receive?
Tea towels from my friend Joy, all the way from the UK! Now I just have to figure out what to make with them. Maybe a yest something, so I can precisely follow the "cover with tea towel and let rise" instructions.

What illnesses or health concerns did I have?
Luke and I were both sniffing and coughing as the month dawned, but it went away on its own without getting any worse by the end of the first week. I'm betting it was allergies. Then the dermatologist called to say the mole I had biopsied came back as melanoma. It was excised the following week, and the pathology came back with clear margins, so that should be all done. Luke has come home for two weeks straight with at least two new bandaided injuries. They are mostly minor and heal in 2-3 days, but I'm waiting for the school or daycare to start charging us a bandaid fee.

What fun things did I do with my friends and/or family?
We finished up the spring soccer season with the usual pizza party and bounce house place. Made our annual pilgrimage to the Georgia Ren Fest. We also took Luke to the beach when we visited my parents.

Not sure this counts as fun, but it was definitely exciting. We drove through some awful weather trying to get out of town for Memorial Day. First, there was torrential rain and pea sized hail, then we stopped for dinner and watched the lights flicker (like in the movie Twister) as more wind, rain, and hail swept through Jonesboro. I was ready to crawl under the table! It passed with no damage other than debris all over the interstate, but it was scary there for a while.

What new foods, recipes or restaurants did I try this month?
Honestly, at this point, I do not remember. That whole melanoma thing really threw off my month.

What special or unusual purchases did I make?
I've bought (or had purchased for me, thanks Mom and Dad!) several new sun protection items in light of my diagnosis. Tried a couple of new sunscreens, bought a few new hats (two of which Mom kept because they didn't work for me), and the best find in the world: Coolibar sun sleeves (no affiliation, just a happy customer). I'll talk a little more about my new finds in a later blog post; I have a couple of things I still need to try before I'm ready for that one.

What were this month's disappointments or frustrations?
Finding out I had melanoma was certainly an unpleasant shock, and dealing with the aftermath of any surgery, no matter how minor, is always frustrating. Not being able to do things for myself, like change my bandage or tie my shoes, was extremely aggravating, but thankfully short lived. I was *really* hoping Luke's top right front tooth would come out this month. It's been loose since mid-March, and it was extremely loose by the end of this month, but it's still hanging in there. I'm starting to wonder if it will ever come out!

What were my accomplishments this month?
I was diagnosed with and cured of melanoma! (Actually, that would be my doctor's accomplishment, but still.) We are current so far on our summer movie schedule. Really thought we would be behind already, but we unexpectedly managed two movies over Memorial Day, so we're up to date for now. Woo-hoo! I also "changed my hair style." I'm now parting it on the left instead of the center. I know, wild and crazy, right? (I'm so sad.) And I was complimented on my skill at reading aloud during a training class at work; the facilitator had us read key concepts out loud from the book to keep us "engaged" in the training. I was a bit embarrassed by it, but she meant it sincerely and asked if I could read all of the sections from then on! LOL

What were Luke's accomplishments this month?

Luke finished Kindergarten!! I'm not sure who is more relieved, him or us. Not that there was a chance he wouldn't finish, just that we can have a break. That was *so* much more stressful than I ever imagined. If that was Kindergarten, I am not at all looking forward to the next 12 years. Sheesh!

But Luke did very well in Kindergarten! There were only three "objectives" where he was still "progressing" instead of "achieved," two in writing (persuasive and something else; all other forms of writing were achieved), and making change with coins. He also qualified for gifted for next year (in math; no surprise there).

We also wrapped up the spring soccer season, as I mentioned earlier. After not scoring any goals at all in the first 5 games, Luke rallied during the last half of the season and scored 5 goals in the last 4 games. He'll move up to the next league in the fall, playing 4 on 4 instead of 3 on 3, graduate to the bigger field (which is about 1/2 the size of a regulation field, instead of 1/4 the size like this league), and they'll have a referee for the first time (usually a teenager from some of the older leagues). There will also be practice twice a week instead of once, and games on Saturday or Sunday, instead of just Saturday. Quite a change!!

Anything else noteworthy to record?
My best friend gave birth to her second child. Diana Violet Sierra was born Tuesday, May 31 at 8:10 a.m. 8 lbs, 8.4 oz, 19 3/4 inches long. Great end to the month!

Monthly Round Up courtesy of Katie the Scrapbook Lady.

Currently feeling: worn out by this month

Memorial Day 2011: All Objectives Achieved!

When we departed for our long weekend away, I had five main objectives: see grandfather, see MIL, plan Boston trip, go to beach, go to movies. I thought surely at least one of those was not going to happen, maybe two. But miracles of miracles, we achieved all 5!

The movie times aligned perfectly Friday night to allow us to get in two movies by Midnight! Kung Fu Panda 2 was okay to good. Not as good as the first, of course. This one was darker, more intense, and more serious, but it was absolutely beautiful, visually speaking. Pirates of the Caribbean was pretty good, too. Better than 3, on par with or somewhat better than 2, depending on whether you ask DH or me, respectively.

Saturday we made the grandfather/MIL sub-trip, but I forgot my camera, so not too many photos there. Dad took this one. (I should have asked to take his camera with us as we went to MIL's, but I forgot.)

My grandfather is not doing well. He is having more frequent trouble putting words together to form sentences, and his memory is just completely gone. He has even started asking about my grandmother; she died almost 5 years ago. :-( I'm not sure he knew who I was when I left, but I know that during lunch, he not only knew me, but he knew Luke by name. He had trouble asking about him and getting the words out, but he knew who Luke was.

We left from there to visit MIL. The road between the two takes you right past the entrance to the Okefenokee Swamp, which has been battling fires recently, including sometimes closing the very rode we were traveling! As soon as we got on the road, we could see the smoke in the distance. (Sorry about the cell phone pics. It's all I had on me.)

Before we get to the photos of the damage, for comparison, this is what the roadside should look like:

Not this:

It was all black on both sides for miles and miles. Here they intentionally burned the median to keep the fire from potentially spreading from one side to the other:

We stayed a few hours at MIL's house. Luke didn't quite know what to do with her new completely hyper puppy, and she (the puppy) didn't really know what to make of Luke either! I didn't get any photos while I was there.

Sunday was outdoor fun day. Well, it was for Luke. You know how much fun I have being outside (note dripping sarcasm); it was bad before the melanoma, and it's even worse now. But Luke loves it, so I do it for him when I can. I let Papa handle photography duties while they did bubbles and I watched from a window inside. I also took that time to work on the Boston plan, which I think I have mostly ironed out (will save that for the Boston recap post later in the summer).

I do feel compelled to go to the beach with him, though. Capris, long sleeves, big hat, and sunscreen, and we didn't even go until about 6:30 PM! In my "old life," I'd have probably gone in shorts and short sleeves with no hat or sunscreen that late in the day, but not anymore. I even made Luke wear sunscreen, though I did let him go without a hat or shirt.

I noticed that Luke had made a footprint right behind one of DH's. So hard to believe they are so close in size!

Some group earlier in the day had made quite an impressive sand castle, decorating it with things they found around the beach.

Well, we can't have that, can we? We must make our own!

Complete with functional bridge over the moat:

I played with the camera and the lighting while I waited.

Finally, they were ready to fill the moat! Thus began the bucket brigade:

It didn't get very full (kept absorbing the water; not a surprise), but it served its purpose. It failed its load test, though. Not even the bridge engineer could do that with just sand!

But as fun as it is to play in the sand, visits to the beach are really all about the water. And boy, does that child love the water!

Luke was asking for a snack when we left (actually, he was asking for more chicken, which he had for dinner). Only thing on the island right now is Dairy Queen. That'll work! They had chicken, too, but when given the choice between chicken and soft serve "white" ice cream, the ice cream won.

Sitting in the back corner of the restaurant with damp swim trunks and wet hair (and a mostly dry swim shirt), he was shivering before he was half way done. I ended up giving him my sun shirt to try and keep him warm. (I had a tank top under it!) He and Nana huddled for warmth while he finished. A great end to a great weekend.

Currently feeling: accomplished!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Monday, May 23, 2011

Now I lay me down to sleep... or not

If I felt more creative, I'd whip up a sonnet to my mattress, but lack of quality sleep is hampering my mental faculties. Hopefully, I will be caught up soon, since I am finally back to sleeping in the bed! Don't get me wrong, I am grateful the recliner sleeps as well as it does, but it was starting to get old.

After getting my stitches out Thursday, I didn't even try the bed. It was just too sore. I felt pretty good Friday night, so I gave it a shot. Fail! It didn't work at all; I lasted all of 5 minutes. The pillow hit right on the incision (is it still called an incision when what you had was an excision?) when laying on my back, and it didn't support my neck enough if moved it up high enough that the bottom edge wasn't touching my shoulder. Laying on my right side didn't work, because when my left side rolled forward to try and lay my left arm on the mattress or pillow, it pulled too much on the wound. I can't lay in the bed with my body fully on its side (without rolling forward so I'm more on my stomach); I need something supporting my back to do that. I can manage that type of support on the sofa, but my hip will start killing me after a while. And laying on my left side is out; too much pressure directly on the wound (yes, I even tried it rather than simply assuming). ::sigh:: So it was back to the recliner on Friday.

Again, I felt pretty good Saturday, but after Friday's experience, I didn't even bother. Sunday, it hardly bothered me at all, so I did a trial run at nap time. I was able to lay on both my right and left sides in my "usual positions" without any trouble. I wasn't sure if it would hurt after a whole night like that instead of a couple of hours, but all I could do was try. Finally, success! Ahh, I love my mattress.

Currently feeling: ready for some good sleep

Friday, May 20, 2011

Last Day of Kindergarten

Today is my last day as mom of a Kindergartner. I now officially have a rising 1st Grader! Not sure who is more excited about today being the last day of school, Luke or me. No more 5:45 AM alarm! At least until August.

How much has he changed in the last 9+ months? So much, it is hard to quantify. He is reading and writing, which he pretty much was not doing at all before he started. He is also doing much more complex math now. Previously, he could only add up to about 10; he can now go up to about 20 and he can subtract. It really is amazing. But there were other changes as well.

Compare the newly minted Kindergartner from back in August 2010:

To the grizzled veteran Kindergartner of this morning:

I know, I can't believe it either. The poses aren't identical (didn't have time to review the August photos before I had to take the ones this morning), but you can still see the change. Particularly look at his shoulder height in relation to the inset panels and door knob. I see him every day, so while I know that he's gotten taller, it is still stunning to actually *see* the difference sometimes. I can't wait to see what 1st grade brings!

Currently feeling: ready for summer break!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Authentic Tea Towels

And by authentic, I mean from a country that knows its tea: the United Kingdom! I mentioned on the bulletin board that I wanted to know where to get the "tea towels" that so many chefs use on Food Network. Several of them use these tightly woven non-terry cloth towels for things like straining thawed frozen spinach or shredded potatoes, covering bread while it rises, or rolling jelly roll cakes, but every time I searched for "tea towels," I came up with these frilly decorative things, many of which were still terry cloth! Um, no.

Several people pointed me to various types on the web, which I appreciated. Then a woman I have only known via the board and her blog offered to send me some real English tea towels. No exchange, no payment, just a gift from her to me. Since she was sending them all the way from "across the pond," she figured they'd better look the part. I just love them! Thank you so much, Joy!!

For everyone who suggested that glass cloths is what I was probably looking for, you were right.

And just in case I ever get lost on the London Underground, I can use this. Guess I should keep a towel handy! (Yes, I just made a Hitchhiker reference without having read the book.)

I love this sentiment; it's just so... so... British! I'm sure that's why it became so popular after the discovery of this wartime poster that wasn't really used during the war. (Not a bad sentiment to remember in cooking, either.) It's a cool story you can read about here. I almost don't want to use it; just frame it and hang it in my kitchen!

This is part of what I love about our board; it is a genuine community of genuinely nice people who do things for others "just because" all the time. I've been on both the giving and receiving end of such generosity in the past, and I love that we all continue to "pay it forward." I have frequented this board in all of its various incarnations for over 10 years now, and I don't know what I would do without my friends there. We've been through laughter and tears, hope and heartache, marriage and children and divorce, literal life and death in the last decade plus. No matter what anyone ever tells you, you *can* make REAL friends in an online community. Love you all!

Currently feeling: loving my friends

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Monday, May 16, 2011

Excision Results: No More Melanoma!

The dermatologist office called. My results came back clear! The doctor didn't even call, just an office person. That's always a good sign. Not many people go from biopsy to cancer diagnosis to surgery to officially cured in less than 3 weeks! I'll get my stitches out on Thursday, and none too soon. They're really starting to itch.

After Thursday, I will have to see her every 3 months for a year, then every 6 months for 2 years, and if I can go all that time without having anything suspicious crop up, then I can go to once a year. (YOU should go once a year, too, okay?) Thank you for all the love, good thoughts, and prayers!

Currently feeling: pleased

Sunday, May 15, 2011

GA Ren Fest 2011

We froze our rears off at the Georgia Renaissance Festival this year. It was in the 50s when we arrived, and I'm not sure it ever made it to 60. It was also heavily cloudy and even lightly sprinkled now and then, though not enough to make much difference in the dust. I don't think I'd ever heard RenFest guests saying things like "glad I wore jeans" or "I should have brought my jacket." I feel bad for the scantily clad ladies wandering around! We stuck with our usual favorite venues and shows.

This was a new feature of the morning joust, knocking over this thing (can't remember what they called it). They kept adding weight to the bottom to make it harder. It was interesting to watch.

Then collecting rings with the lance. This is one of my personal favorites, especially when they toss them in the air.

And of course, the official joust.

As evil knight Sir Maxx is prone to do, he offended the queen and was sentenced to a refresher course in chivalry that we were all invited to witness. The class was taught by joust master Lord Mauldron (not sure that is his official position, but that is how I think of him). He couldn't do it alone, though, and asked for some help from the audience, where he found an eager young squire ready to assist.

Here's how it played out.

Squire Luke did later decide to pick on someone his own size. Luke was having fun just running around the empty hillside between the food court and the joust arena, and this boy decided to join him. I love watching children just make it up as they go. They had a blast for a good 15-20 minutes.

We caught part of Breaking Point and Todd Key, and Luke rode the Crow's Nest spinner, which he really likes. I *really* wanted to see Tartanic, but the timing never worked out. Then we headed back to catch the final Barely Balanced show of the day. We've seen them every year they've been there, but until now, Luke was always crashing too early to stay for their once a day fire show. We finally managed it this year, and though it is impressive, I think I like their regular show a bit better.

They know and understand you won't really remember their names (unless you've seen them several times, like we have), so after they introduce themselves, they jokingly refer to themselves as Small, Medium, and Large. I really miss Casey, the former Small. The new girl (Margaret, I think) is fine, but she's not Casey. But, having not seen the fire show before, I'm not sure if Casey can do this!

Luke really wanted to stay for the last joust, but he was clearly way too tired, despite arguing with us that he wasn't tired at all. Sweetie, we're you're parents, and we know you. "But I'm not tired!" Yeah, right. Less than 10 minutes in the car said otherwise.

Ah, the signs of a successful outing!

Currently feeling: a little chilly