30 March 2012

Scared With A Cee

Before you continue, you should know there is absolutely nothing wrong with me. At least not with my breasts. Because I know you were wondering…

On Wednesday I had my very first mammogram. Ah, what a pleasure that was. I had heard about it, but was still a bit surprised to see and feel just how tightly my breasts could be sqeezed between two pieces of Plexiglas. The appointment was over before it was even supposed to begin. I was in and out in under ten minutes. Not bad.

The technician told me I would receive a phone call on Thursday for a follow up appointment should anything show up. If not, they would just send me a letter with an invitation to come back in one year. When I spoke to Ryan on the phone at the end of the day yesterday, I told him I had not gotten a phone call and everything must be alright.

I had spoken too soon. After I hung up, I checked the missed calls. While I was accompanying Lola to her ballet class, the local clinic had called. And they had left a message that they would like to go over my mammogram results with me. Of course they were closed by the time I listened to it and I was left stewing over the possible implications until this morning.

I had a hard time keeping it together at first. While I knew in the back of my mind that this was nothing but a courtesy call, I could not get my brain and my heart to believe it and act accordingly. Things got better once Ryan came home and I was able to talk about it. He reassured me, and undoubtedly himself, there was nothing to worry about. I calmed down enough to be able to make jokes about it.

This morning I called the clinic as soon as they opened. It took them approximately ten minutes to answer their phone by which time I was thoroughly worked up again. If you insist on scaring your patients, at least have the decency to be open for business when you say you are. When I was finally connected to the nurse, she told me the results were negative ("What does that mean, is that good or bad?", my frantic brain was yelling at me) and that they would like to see me back in one year.

Good news then.

After taking a deep breath, I was able to calmly tell the nurse what the mammography techs at the hospital tell their patients and how she had scared the living daylights out of me with her message. She was very apologetic and I could tell she genuinely felt bad about the whole situation. We parted on a good note.

I called Ryan with the good news, made myself a cup of coffee, and painted my toenails a beautiful taupe color. I don't care if it's snowing outside, things are looking sunny to me!

09 March 2012


I just picked up the following conversation between Lola and her friend B. They are playing in her room. I am in the next room, trying to put together a shopping list. It's not so easy anymore to capture the funny stuff she says because she talks a mile a minute now. But she still cracks me up.

“Guess what? My grandma wants me to stay little forever.”


“Because I am just so cute.”

“So she wants you to be little?”

“Yes. But I just keep growing.”

“No you don’t.”

“Yes I do.”

“But I am still taller than you.”

“That’s because I am growing s-l-o-w-l-y …”

29 February 2012

Round One With The Shovel

The Universe had the good foresight to ignore my plea for snow last December. For that I am truly grateful since Ryan conveniently broke his arm just in time for shoveling season. So far it hasn't been too bad. An inch here or there just makes for a nice workout to start my day with.

Until today. We woke up to a foot of snow and counting. Naturally it's not the light, fluffy kind. No it's the wet, heavy kind. After I cleared a path to the garage and did about a third of the driveway I got a break. Our neighbor with the burly snow blower asked if I didn't mind if he lent a hand.

I didn't mind.

While he cleared the rest of the driveway and the sidewalk, I dug out the steps, freed the front door, and tackled the 5 ft. pile of dense snow on the corner deposited by the snow plow this morning. Another neighbor with a big plow attachment on his truck pulled over to see if he too could help out. Snow brings out good things in people.

We live on a snow mobile trail and for the first time this winter I have heard them drive by. They're noisy. Lola had a snow day today, and is playing with the little girl from across the street. I am watching the snow continue to fall from the cosiness of my bedroom while I massage my shoulders and mentally prepare for round two.

01 February 2012

Miss Representation

I ran into the trailer for the documentary Miss Representation this morning on Facebook. It was posted by a blog I follow. The movie “explores the under-representation of women in positions of power and influence in America, and challenges the media's limited portrayal of what it means to be a powerful woman.” (IMDb, 2011)

It’s important stuff. You should go watch it. Go. Now. I’ll wait.

It makes you want do something, doesn’t it? It did for me anyway. So I shared it on my Facebook page, and visited www.missrepresentation.org and pledged I will do anything I can to change the message that is being sent out to little girls and boys today. It’s not much, but it’s something.

What got me thinking were the comments on the original Facebook post by Little Acorn Learning, a Waldorf inspired blog. They boiled down to turning off the TV permanently, not allowing children access to computers, no video games, no cell phones, nothing. While I do understand this knee-jerk reaction, to me it is sticking your head in the sand.

There is no way we will be able to keep our children from the media, and the media from our children. Unless you go off the grid and never return, chances are your child will watch TV or play on a computer at some point. If it’s not at your own house, it’s at school, at a friend’s house, in a waiting room, in a restaurant, in a store. It is extremely hard to avoid.

We do not raise strong, confident, and respectful women and men by ignoring the topic. This approach is very popular with some but teenagers still get pregnant and people still get infected with HIV. Time has proven again and again that the ostrich method simply doesn’t work.

Instead we need to be aware of what we watch, what we say, what we do. We need to talk with our children about what they watch, what they say, what they do. This is how we raise children that are not interested in the current message because they know how limited it is.

So this is me, creating awareness. Please pass it on and help me change the message that is sent to our kids. Thank you.

I’ll get off my soap box now.

26 January 2012


Lola: "I have a big crush on K." (K. is a friend and co-worker of Ryan.)

Ryan: "Oh, do you?"

Lola: "What's a crush?"

Ryan: "It's when you have romantic feelings for someone whom you want to kiss."

Lola: "Okay." Evidently that is what she meant.

K. explained to Lola how they could just be very good friends since he was not only married but a lot older as well. And then we talked a little about etiquette. About how it's not polite to hit on married people.

Also, don't fart.

20 January 2012

Friday The Thirteenth

It was Friday the Thirteenth and the day started out like any other. I have never been afraid of that particular date, in fact I rather liked it. I thought it was special. And after living in Spain for a while, where it’s Tuesday the Thirteenth that has everyone avoiding ladders and black cats, I really didn’t have any negative associations with it.

How naïve of me.

Around 11 AM my husband called. He was up in the UP skiing at Mount Bohemia. We were all supposed to go there for the weekend, including my brother-in-law and two of my nieces, but Ryan went up a day ahead. It was his first time on his new powder skis and he was very excited about finally being able to use them.

When I answered the phone he told me the skiing was glorious. He had hiked up the mountain before they opened with another guest and made first tracks. The snow was great and he got a few awesome runs in. But then his tone changed. He said he was really calling with bad news; he had had an accident. He slipped and fell on his elbow and he thought it was broken.

A trip to the local hospital confirmed it was indeed fractured. The tip of his elbow had a crack about a quarter inch wide in it. They put a fiberglass splint on his arm and wrapped him up. With a sling and a bottle of painkillers they sent him on his way, telling him he should look for an orthopedic surgeon first thing Monday morning.

And so we did. The doctor explained how he would screw two pins into his arm and tie a piece of metal thread around his elbow to pull it all together. His surgery was scheduled for Wednesday. He would have to spend one night there since general anesthesia was required. That was a bit of a disappointment. Both our fathers have just had a knee replaced under local anesthesia. But I guess your arm is higher than your heart and a spinal blocker is a bit of an issue then.

The surgery went well. When they opened up his arm the damage turned out to be a bit more extensive than visible on the x-rays. Instead of two pins they put in four. Other than that, everything went as planned. I was able to take him home yesterday. He, and therefore I, had a very rough night but the pain has subsided some and is now bearable. He is starting to heal. In six to eight weeks he should be as good as new.

21 December 2011

Teachers Gifts

I like to read craft blogs, I'm sure most of you know that by now. They inspire me, entertain me, wow me, and comfort me. What I did not realize is that they also shape me. As in influence the way I think things are.

Take for example teachers gifts. This time of year, and even more so at the end of the school year, it's all about teachers gifts. I thought, based on my reading of craft blogs, they were the norm. Everybody gives their children's teachers a gift. Today I found out that is not the case.

Perhaps it's the place where we live, but when Lola and I handed out the gifts we made for her teachers today, we were given genuine looks of happy surprise.

Lola had given me quite a list of teachers to make gifts for: her Jr. Kindergarten teacher, the teacher's assistant, her music, art, and gym teachers, her ballet instructor, the principal ("He's like the cops."), and her bus driver. Some of them may have thought I was the driving force behind their gift but that is not true. It was all Lola. She's thoughtful like that. I like that about her.

We made birdseed ornaments for all of them. Lola designed and made the gift tags all by herself.

19 December 2011

Merry And Bright

Dr. Perry's house it's not. But I am proud to report that our little town has one homeowner that goes all out for the holidays. We try to drive past his house whenever we can.

18 December 2011

Walking To Holland

Miss N. announced she would be leaving me in the morning because I wouldn't let her watch the show Ryan and his friend were watching downstairs. I asked her where she was going.

"Far away," she answered me.

"You have to go to school first," I told her.

"I'll go after school," she replied.

"What about your Christmas concert tomorrow evening?"

"Oh. Then I will go after that."

"Where are you going?" I asked her again.

"To Holland."

"How are you going to get there?"

"I'll walk."

"It will be dark out by then. Are you sure you want to walk along the highway in the dark, all by yourself?"


"Just so you know, there is a great big ocean in between America and Holland making it a little difficult to walk all the way there. You could take a boat but it takes four days. I know this from personal experience. It will take you about a year to walk to the coast. When you get there you're going have to buy a ticket for the boat but I'm not sure if you can actually take a boat anymore since they canceled the passenger line years ago. You could fly though."

I could tell Lola was pondering this information.

"Do you think I should go?" she wanted to know.

"No," I replied, "I think you should stay here with me."

"Okay, that's a deal," she said happily.

I'm glad that's settled. I kind of like having her around. And she kind of likes being around. Most of the time anyway.

15 December 2011

Let It Snow. Please.

My sister-in-law warned me when I asked for snow. “Be careful what you wish for!” She has a very valid point. But really people, when I look outside into my yard, I feel sad. It’s gloomy, foggy, damp, and dark. If I wanted Washington or Dutch weather, I would have stayed there. I want snow. I am entitled to snow. That’s what living in the Northwoods is all about, after all.

Last year around this time, we just came out of a snow storm. On this morning last year, I froze my butt off outside at five in the morning trying to catch a glimpse of the Geminids meteor shower. This year, because of the fog, I didn’t even bother getting out of bed. And yesterday Lola's 4K class went on a field trip to a Christmas tree farm to get the class Christmas tree. The weather was pitiful. It rained.

Now, I am not ignoring my sister-in-law completely. And I have found out through the years that the universe is somewhat in tune with this blog. Therefore I will phrase my weather wishes very carefully here so that the weather gods know exactly what to send our way and when.

First off, I would like a White Christmas. I have had too many Green Christmases and they are just not the same. Second, we have plans to go skiing after Christmas which also requires large amounts of snow. I think a snow storm on or around Christmas Eve would be grand. Christmas Day is fine, too. We live right next to Church and that’s really the only reason for us to leave the house on those days.

As for 2012 and the rest of winter, January and February involve lots of skiing, snowmobiling, and other fun outdoor activities requiring snow. March is when it gets tricky. I suppose it’s too much to ask to actually start spring on the first day of spring, but April showers should be rain showers, not snow.

I know I am not the only one with weather wishes. It must be very confusing for the weather gods to accommodate everyone which is probably why weather forecasters never get it right. But please, bring us some snow right now. Tis the season…

Thank you.

13 December 2011


Miss Lola is crying very hard. In between sobs she laments: "Why am I such a misfit? I'm just a couple of misfits." It's really quite dramatic. And incredibly funny but I can't laugh because her tears are real. It doesn't matter what I say to her, she won't stop quoting Rudolph as she throws herself onto my bed and wails.

And our day started off so lovely. Lola and I were having a great time together, painting salt dough ornaments we had baked earlier and sprucing them up with lots of glitter. Everything was fine and then I left the room. I was only gone for two seconds, maybe three, I swear. Upon my return I walked right into the Great Glitter Explosion of 2011.

Oh goodie.

When I asked her what happened, Lola answered she spilled just a little bit and must have had some on her feet when she walked to her room. Indeed, there was a great big pile of glitter on the floor with two size 9 1/2 footprints in the middle of it. I could trace her steps all over the upstairs.

So for the second time that day I hauled the bulky, heavy, pain-in-the-butt vacuum cleaner up the stairs. (Why, my good Americans, why do you insist on using these outdated appliances? Don't you know there's a whole continent out there that uses lightweight, easy to handle vacuums with a retractable cord to boot?)

After I cleaned the mess in my room, I asked Lola to pick up her room. Imagine my surprise when I turned around fifteen minutes later and found she had carried all her toys downstairs instead of putting them away. I was just struggling with the impossible task of slicing a fresh baked loaf of bread and I may have lost my patience there for a minute.

Hence the misfit. At least she sparkles.

You Can't Blame A Squirrel For Trying

When I took down all the window screens awhile back, it wasn't because Martha told me to do so. It was to have a better view of the bird feeder out the kitchen window. This house came with two battered bird feeders and a concrete squirrel statue. I fixed and cleaned them all up and put them to use again. Unlike the stuck up Rhinelander birds that wouldn't give my feeders the time of day, the birds here flock into my yard every day.

So does the squirrel. The big feeder has a squirrel guard and the chubby fellow knows it. He spends most of his time hanging out underneath the feeder on top of the statue, munching on dropped sunflower seeds. But every once in a while, he gives it a go. He climbs up the tree and tries to get his little paws in the feeder. It cracks me up every time I catch him hanging on the shepherd's hook, slowly sliding down the pole.

12 December 2011

Home Is Where My Books Are

When we moved into this house, we had big painting plans for the kitchen, the living room, the dining room, and the upstairs bathroom. Consequently we didn’t pay a lot of attention to our furniture arrangement and interior decorating. However, the kitchen is taking a little longer than anticipated and everything else has been put on hold until that project is done.

After a while I got fed up with the mess downstairs and started moving the couch and the chairs around. And having my parents-in-law over for dinner seemed like a legitimate reason to put my handmade, solid oak, shipped halfway across the world, inconveniently large square dining room table together. And so, slowly but surely, we were turning our house into a home. The only things missing were art on the walls and books in the bookcases.

Ryan took on the garage this weekend to make room for the cars. Most of what was in there had already found its way into the house but there were a few boxes and some pieces of furniture left. The boxes contained my books. At first I wanted to stack the boxes in the entryway and wait until the living room was painted before I put the books away. But when I looked around at the Christmas tree and the decorations Lola and I have put up, it just felt right to put the books in the bookcases instead.

When we are ready to paint the living room I’ll move the books again, it’s not that much extra work. And the difference they make is amazing. Books give a room character. I put up some pictures too while I was at it. And just like that, we created a home.