Archive for the ‘Living’ Category

It’s a Lot of Responsbility

May 18, 2010

This whole “being adored” thing. 😉

But as Katey pointed out in a recent comment, my adoring public (well, at least one of them), misses me!  (And I guess rightly so, it’s been almost TWO WEEKS!  For shame, for shame!)

When last we spoke, Hubby, Oliver, and I were searching for an apartment.  Seems we’ve had a turn of luck (for the better, finally!) and we found an absolutely INCREDIBLE condo for rent only FOUR BLOCKS from the ocean in Santa Monica!  We’ve since started packing up and are preparing for our move over Memorial Day weekend.  Because there is an overlap, we’ll be able to move the items we want to keep into the condo and leave the things we don’t have room for, then have a big ole Rummage Sale!  And when I say, “Big Ole'” I’m not kidding.  We’re going to have to sell most of our appliances, all of our outdoor furniture, some of our indoor furniture, and lots of miscellaneous like clothes, toys, and my crafting and caking stuff.

I’m a little sad about the move, mostly because of all of the memories we’ve had in our house, including the renovation nightmares, lots of entertaining, becoming parents, surviving cancer, and getting married.  But as Hubby pointed out, “it’s not the house, it’s us.”  Word!

So I’m mostly looking forward to moving on with our lives.

Speaking of moving on with our lives, one of the changes we’ve had to make is finding a new “school” for Oliver.  As our newly found good luck would have it, we were accepted into one of THE BEST early childhood development centers in the country (says me!)!  This is a great thing for Oliver as we believe he needs the stimulation and challenge.  Although he’s very well loved at his current daycare, we don’t think he’s getting enough stimulation.  So this will be a great thing for him.  And for us because we’ll get to be involved in his new “school”.

Finally, I’ve found a salon that I would like to purchase, also in Santa Monica.  Right now we’re talking with the current owners.  Because we don’t have agents, it’s a bit, um, delicate.  And for anyone who’s read me long enough, “delicate” isn’t one of the first words that describes me!  So whereas I could tell my agent, “Tell them their dump isn’t worth $XX, and make them an offer of $x” I’m finding I have to be much more, um, well, delicate.  It’s a learning process in so many regards.  But now that I have their email address, I’ve composed an offer in writing that expresses my concerns and makes an offer.  It’s much easier than saying it to their faces!

So never fear, Dear Readers, we are all doing well.  Just caught up in the challenges of Daily Life.  But I’ll do my best to keep you all updated about our progress as we go!

Chickens, Jury Duty, Lions, Oh My!

May 6, 2010

Gosh, so much has happened since we last spoke.

First and foremost in my mind (and Upper Respiratory tract!) is this darned UR infection I’ve been dealing with for almost THREE WEEKS!  It’s partly my fault because I waited over a week to get any antibiotics and then I forgot to take them a couple times in a row.  So that likely emboldened the little denizens in my URT because they’re holding on like something fierce!  Initially they had responded rather quickly to the antibiotics.  Hopefully it passes soon because I am WORN OUT!

Other than that, there’s been the almost daily bike ride home from daycare.  With the occasional “coq coq” sighting.

Needless to say, Oliver gets a kick out of that!  Speaking of the little big guy, WOW is he ever developing quickly!  Two days ago he told us his first story!  We were sitting at the dinner table and he said, “Titi (Tristan, his daycare mate) uh uh (usually means ‘like this’ as he pretends to throw a ball) ball, owie (points to his arm)”. So I said, “Did Tristan throw a ball and hit you in the arm and give you an owie?”  And he nodded his head and made a pathetic sad face.  I almost bawled!  He told his second story yesterday at daycare when he explained to me how he knocked over the daycare owner’s prized terra cotta planter from Mexico (she had told me earlier, so I knew what he was talking about!)!  It’s incredible how quickly he’s growing up!

And he’s also getting fiercely independent!

And creative!

Let’s see.  I also spent a week on jury duty.  The second time in as many years!  Clearly I’ve got some bad jury karma or something because I keep getting selected.  Although at least this time I wasn’t an alternate so I actually got to deliberate.  The sucky part was passing a guilty verdict on my 41st birthday!  Oh well, could be worse, the guilty verdict could have been against me!

We’ve also been spending a good deal of time preparing for our impending move.  We spent most of Sunday visiting open houses in Santa Monica.  We went yesterday to see a condo that’s for rent and we both LOVED it!  If you have any extra time, cross some digits for us, will ya?

Even if we don’t get that apartment, at least Oliver had fun during our visits!

I’m working on the business plan for my salon.  I really hate it, but I can see the value in it.  Actually there is also a salon that we visited that I’m interested in buying it.  I need to meet with the current owner to talk about the details, but hopefully we can come up with an agreement soon!

And as if that’s not enough changes, we have a meeting on Tuesday to tour a pre-school/daycare for Oliver.  We really hope they accept us (we’re REALLY late in the application process but know someone connected to the school who helped us), so any extra crossing of digits would be appreciated (AGAIN!)!

Letting The Cat Out Of The Bag

February 2, 2010

It’s official: I can finally share what’s going on in my life without fear of having someone find out who shouldn’t find out before he/she needed to find out.

I’m leaving education and am going back into the hair industry!  (It feels so good to be able to share that with you all!)

I haven’t been happy this year back in the classroom, and if I’m really honest with myself, I wasn’t happy when I was in the Counseling Office.  What made that slightly more bearable was feeling like I helping to lead our school and was having a positive impact on students and staff.  But I still didn’t really enjoy what I did.  I normally didn’t look forward to coming to work and wasn’t feeling fulfilled.  Education is a rough place to be on a good day, but in our current atmosphere of budget cuts, contract negotiations, layoffs, etc, it’s even worse.  Don’t get me wrong, there are definitely some advantages, like the wonderful paid vacations, health coverage, and decent salary (anyone who says teachers aren’t well-paid is pulling your leg, at least in the districts I’ve worked for.  And that’s not saying they’re paid ENOUGH either!).  But I’m not feeling fulfilled in an artistic and creative way, I don’t feel like I have control over my life and my job, and ultimately I don’t feel appreciated or valued.

If you’ve read much of my blog, you’ll know that I’ve been restless for quite a while, but haven’t been sure of what to do about it.  I knew I needed two things: 1) to be doing something creative, and 2) to be my own boss (or the ability to one day be my own boss).  I’ve contemplated opening many different sorts of business, including a cake shop, a bakery, a restaurant/deli, and a craft cafe.  But my own personal demons keep me from doing any of these due to my lack of professional experience and education (I’m stuck in the “gotta have a degree to know how to do it’ mindset).  Finally it dawned on me: I should go back into hair!

I graduated beauty school in June 1990 and worked for a few years in a now defunct salon, where I consider myself to have been moderately successful, had a decent clientele, and even did some education and platform work for Paul Brown International (also now defunct).  Then I started feeling like I was missing something by not having completed my bachelor’s degree (which I started right out of high school, although even back then I was considering beauty school was decided against it when my guidance counselor told me I was too smart to do that.), so I went back to school to finish my degree (and accumulated a couple of master’s degrees along the way!  Oh well!).  Even during this time I worked part-time in a salon, helping to augment my income, until I finally moved to California to pursue my Ph.D.

And here I am, with more education and degrees (and the accompanying student loan bill!) than the average person and missing the creativity and energy of the hair industry.

I actually made that realization at some point during my chemotherapy.  But making changes to one’s employment when one is getting pumped full of toxic chemicals paid for by one’s insurance paid for by one’s employer is NOT such a great idea.  So I continued on.

And then I lost my position as a counselor, which made me really unhappy, but retained my insurance.  So I continued on.

And then my employer changed my health insurance company, making me leave my beloved oncology team and primary care provide.

And that’s when I realized that someone, somewhere, was trying to tell me something.

So early in the beginning of this year, I made up my mind and for a few months now I’ve been laying the groundwork to get back into the hair business.  I am in the process of getting my license in California.  My ultimate goal is to own a salon (or two or three), but opening a salon is a difficult task without either a clientele or the money to buy one (neither of which I have).  So I’m trying to find an “in” back into the industry (if any of you know someone who works in, owns, or is otherwise associated with a high-end salon in LA, let me know!).

Towards that end, I attended the International Salon and Spa Expo in Long Beach this past weekend.  It was so invigorating, inspiring, and educational.  I’m so glad I went (although it meant leaving my sick son at home with Papa!) because I learned so much and really feel like I’m ready to hit the ground running.

And to make a great weekend even better, I got to hear Tabatha speak!

Tabatha On Stage

And even got up the courage to ask her if I could take a photo of us together!  (And then stupidly handed my iPhone to one of her underlings who proceeded to take A BLURRY PHOTO!)

Tabatha Up Close and Blurry

And got up the courage AGAIN later in the afternoon when I saw her to ask if we could retake it!  (And took it myself!)

Tabatha Up Close!

She is my hero and inspiration.  Some people may think she’s a bitch, but I love that she has incredibly high standards for the hair industry, for herself, and for other salons and can just say it like it is.  Her dedication and energy for the hair industry are inspiring.

So there you have it, the cat’s out of the bag!  A toast to moving forward!  Chin Chin!

One Year!

November 25, 2009

The Wednesday before Thanksgiving will always be special to me because it’s when my doctor told me I was in COMPLETE REMISSION!

One year down and one to go before I’m considered to be out of the woods (most cancers require 5 years, but the form of lymphoma I had is most likely to come back within two years, so if it doesn’t chances are it won’t (knock wood!))!!

We’re going to spend the day motoring (because apparently Mini Cooper drivers don’t drive, they motor!) to Denver to spend the weekend with special friends.

Checking In…Finally!

September 24, 2009

I really can’t believe it’s been almost TWO WEEKS since I last blogged!  My goodness, what kind of bad blogger am I?!  For heaven’s sake, I traveled to France and blogged more than that!  I guess that would explain why my readership is falling off…

Unfortunately it hasn’t been fun being around me lately.  I’ve been running around like a mad man.  Here’s a typical week for me:

Monday: up at 6:15AM, teaching from 8:00-3:15, meetings until 4:30, rush home, pick up Oliver, make dinner, eat, clean up, get Oliver ready for bed, and try to keep from falling asleep before 8pm!

Tuesday: up at 5:30AM (!!), teach from 7:00-3:15, go grocery shopping for the week at Trader Joe’s, rush home, pick up Oliver, make dinner, eat, clean up, get Oliver ready for bed, and try to keep from falling asleep before 8pm!

Wednesday: a repeat of Tuesday except that instead of shopping at TJ’s I’m usually at CostCo or Target getting household supplies, etc.

Thursday: up at 6:15AM, teaching from 8:00-3:15, rush to the university where I’m taking classes to clear my credential from 4:00 until TEN PM (!!) then rush home to get in bed!

Friday: up at 6:15AM, teaching from 8:00-3:15, possibly do a couple errands but usually rush home, pick up Oliver, make dinner, eat, clean up, get Oliver ready for bed, and try to keep from falling asleep before 8pm!  (See a pattern here?!)

Saturday and Sunday are mildly less hectic in that I don’t have to rush as much, but they’re still chock-full of laundry, cleaning, errands, farmer’s market, visiting with friends, and trying to raise our own Tasmanian Devil.

Speaking of which, interspersed into the nights between those hectic days has been getting up to either soothe Oliver when he starts SCREAMING AT THE TOP OF HIS LUNGS! and/or putting him back to bed.

About a month or so ago he started waking up in the middle of the night, crawling up onto his rocking chair, and turning on his overhead light in order to be able to see better while he PLAYED with his toys and “READ” his books.  Since he’s in his toddler bed, he’s realized he can get up whenever he wants and is definitely taking advantage of it.

So I took the bulbs out of his overhead light, leaving only his nightlight.

Didn’t work since the nightlight provided enough light for him to continue to PLAY and “READ”.

So I took out his nightlight.

Then when he’d wake up, instead of playing and reading quietly, he started screaming at the top of his lungs.

So I put the nightlight back in.

And he continues to get up in the middle of the night, sometimes several times, to PLAY and “READ”.

Part of me asks, “Do I really care as long as he’s not hurting himself or something?”  And the answer is, “No, as long as I can sleep!”

Unfortunately he’s such a freaking little bear when he doesn’t sleep that we can’t stand to be around him.

I wish there was a happy ending to this, but we’re still searching for it.  We have no idea what to do to keep him in bed and to keep him sleeping.  I guess we could take out all his books and toys so there’s nothing to distract him, but that sounds like a major pain and a lot of work.  (But if you have any thoughts or suggestions, shoot them my way!)

Aside from all this, I’m realizing that I may not be happy in my job.  Don’t get me wrong, I love working with the kids and being the Yearbook Adviser is (mostly) great (with the partly being the whole trying to manage a staff of TWENTY-EIGHT YOUNG WOMEN!).

But it’s a definite drag having to deal with the adults, mostly the administration and the parents, well, and the teachers who don’t do their jobs and therefore leave me and the other like-minded teachers (namely those who care and want our students to succeed) to fill in the slack.

So I’m going through another mid-life crisis about what I want to be when I grow up.  Unfortunately I can’t wrap my brain around some things I’m interested in (like having a bakery/cafe and sewing/fabric) because I don’t feel like I have the experience and/or education.   Which keeps leading me back to what I do know and have experience at: doing hair.  So I’m looking into what it would take to get licensed in California and to open my own salon.  It’s all very preliminary at this point, but it’s the one thing I can see myself doing successfully (meaning I could make enough to live on and enjoy doing it while at the same time being independent and having time to live).  I’ve considered it before but felt it was too late in my life to be making such a drastic change.

And then I read, “My Life In France” by Julia Child!  She didn’t start her career until well into her 40s!  If she can do it, why can’t I?  Hopefully as long as I’m doing something I love and I’m good at, things will fall into place, right?

With that, I’ll leave you with this question: Who is that little boy sitting at my kitchen counter?!

All Clear

January 23, 2009

Got an email from my doctor: the PET/CT scan has also come back negative for lymphoma.  NO CANCER!


Now to shake this cold and get on with living!  I think Oliver and I may play in the rain for a little bit this afternoon!

Giving Thanks

November 26, 2008

I had my doctor’s appointment today and got the news from him that I’m in COMPLETE REMISSION!

After congratulating me, he said, “Now let’s talk about that transplant.”

To which I furrowed my brow and said, “Say what?”

He was confused and had never spoken to me about “that transplant” but soon explained it to me.

Apparently, since I am now in COMPLETE REMISSION (I hope I don’t jinx myself by saying it out loud! I apologize Universe!), it is possible to remove stem cells (where they come from I don’t know, I always get so absorbed by what he’s saying I miss or forget to ask about the details!), then put me through “high dose” chemotherapy to kill all of my bone marrow (and any remaining micro-somethings that could turn back into cancer some day), then transplant my stem cells back into my system after which I’d regrow/redevelop/make more bone marrow. A 4-6 month process.  The purpose of this would be to wipe out my bone marrow and any cancer cells that are in the marrow (but dormant or whatever).  So it’s basically like wiping the slate clean.

I was dumbfounded. I hadn’t heard of this before and could barely hear what he was saying, much less try to process what it all meant and would mean for my family and me.

He reiterated that he wasn’t encouraging it but rather presenting my options. He also said it was so new that it wasn’t even considered experimental yet (which also means many insurance companies won’t cover it). This also means there was practically no data to support whether or not there was an actual benefit.

So after I compartmentalized that for future thinking, I had to ask for some clarifications about bits of information about my cancer that I wasn’t sure about. Turns out I do remember correctly (actually I think it was my mom who told me) that I was indeed in Stage 4 and that without treatment he said I likely would have succumbed to the cancer within 2-3 months.

Which means I would have died around August.

It’s a very sobering thought to know that I was that close to death…

After my appointment (and almost kissing my oncologist’s feet!), Oliver and I went to the high school where I work for what I thought was going to be a luncheon put on by our parents for our faculty and staff.

But when we got there I found out that they were having a Town Hall, which means everyone gets together in the cafeteria for some sort of discussion/awards ceremony/etc. Today’s Town Hall was about “Giving Thanks.” My principal asked if I wanted to say a few words to our students (and seeing as I’m such a Praise Whore and love being the center of attention, I said “Sure!”).

So with Oliver in my arms, I got up on stage and explained to our 500+ students a little about me getting cancer at the end of May last year and that I had just come from my doctor who told me I was in COMPLETE REMISSION.

I shared with them about how I had grown up really poor and that for various reasons there were nights when I wished I wouldn’t wake up the next morning.

I continued by telling them that instead I went to college and now I have a job that I love working with people I love helping students I love. That I got to marry the man that I love and that we’re adopting our son.

I ended by saying that all of us have something to be thankful for and that even if they thought they didn’t have anything, to come and talk to me and I would help them find at least one thing.

I was amazed by the respect and kindness they showed me while I talked (even when I said I married the man I love!).

So this Thanksgiving I will be giving thanks for my life, my health, my amazing husband and son, my family and friends, all of you who take time from your day to read my blog & comment and so many more things.

I hope you are all able to find as many things, if not more, to be thankful about. (And if you can’t come talk to me and I’ll try to help you find at least one thing!)


It’s Official!

November 24, 2008

Sorry for the silence y’all; it’s been a bit stressful at Chez Frank.

Last Thursday I went in for another bone marrow biopsy and PET/CT scan.  I have a doctor’s appointment on Wednesday to go over the results, but thankfully I don’t have to stress until then.  My doctor’s assistant called today to tell me that I’m in COMPLETE REMISSION!!  (Not sure what incomplete remission is, but happy I don’t have to worry about it, because I’m in COMPLETE REMISSION!)

That was SUCH a HUGE relief, I can’t even begin to explain.  I was imagining my luck at having to hear him say, “Well, unfortunately…” on Wednesday and then having to make a Thanksgiving dinner on Thursday.  Wouldn’t have been good.

But I don’t have to worry because I’m in COMPLETE REMISSION!

Did I mention that we’re hosting Thanksgiving dinner this year?  It just kind of happened because our friends Troy and Louise (where we spent Thanksgiving last year) aren’t hosting this year, which left Marguerite and Roger and us without an invitation (imagine their nerve!).  And apparently Marguerite doesn’t know how to cook a turkey, so Mr. Control Freak (me) instead of offering to make the turkey, offered to have it at our house.  Oh well, it’ll be fun.

Did I mention I’m also making all of our gifts again this year?  (Yah, I know, clearly I lost some brain cells after all that chemo!)  So my BEAUTIFUL new (to me) embroidery machine and I have been working double time to get things whipped out.  I’m trying to be Zen about it, but Zen and I don’t play nicely together.  But when you consider Oliver and I leave on December 12th to go visit my family in Wisconsin for three weeks, it doesn’t leave a whole lot of homemade gift making time left!

To add more stress to the situation, Oliver’s first birthday is on Sunday!  I can’t believe he’s going to be a year old already!  And can you believe I’m actually considering not making his birthday cake?  How bad of a Daddy would I be?!  Awarding-winning, I’m sure.

Part of my hesitation is that I can’t think of an original design that I want to do.  One of my friends suggested just making him his own small cake and getting a cake for the rest of us (although I wasn’t planning on having a big party).

Which is worse, not making him a cake or making him a cake using a design I’ve already done (the baby in the bath tub)?

Despite all this, I’m surprisingly upbeat.  Mostly because I’m in COMPLETE REMISSION!

Free At Last!

October 20, 2008

This morning I was awakened (btw: it took me 10 minutes to figure out if I should use awakened or woken!) by my doctor who came into my room to tell me I was all clear to leave the hospital.

Other than my platelets and my hemoglobin, which both remain a little low, all of my other numbers are in the low average to average range.  So no more low white blood cell counts and having to watch what I eat and who I touch!  Woot woot!

Unfortunately the low hemoglobin means I’m a bit exhausted and due to the neupogen shots I feel like my legs have been beat with baseball bats (apparently white blood cells are made in your leg bones and the ache is a sign that your body is producing them, so it’s good, I guess!).  Thankfully a friend is in town helping with Oliver, which is a godsend right now as Daddy can barely take care of himself right now!

Speaking of My Little Giant: when he saw Daddy (whom he calls ‘mama’!) he got a huge smile on his face, crawled into my lap, and gave me a hug!  The kid is giving hugs! It’s really quite adorable, especially since up until now he’s not been an overly affectionate little guy.  He’d prefer to be exploring the world than cuddling.

As of now all I have to do is recuperate.  My numbers should only continue to climb.  In the middle of November I have to go through restaging again, which means another bone marrow biopsy and PET/CT scan.  But I’ll deal with that when the time come!

Thanks again for all your encouraging words and comments!  They definitely helped to pass the time.  Although honestly this time I was so sick (apparently I had a bacterial infection in my blood and/or something called sepsis) that I ended up sleeping a good deal of the time.  Sunday was the only day I felt a little stir crazy and that wasn’t so bad.

So back to living!

PICC On Someone Else!

October 7, 2008

I’m done.



No more chemo, no more books…  er, sorry, the ecstasy is making me giddy!

The best part of it all, well, one of the best parts of it all?  They took out my PICC line!


Just think, all 44cm of that tubing was going into my arm and towards my heart!  For the last four months.

K, have to finish packing and get on with my life!

Thank you all for your support through all this.  None of you can ever imagine how much it has meant to be able to write down my thoughts and feelings and to be able to read such amazingly supportive comments on my blog.  Thank you for that!

With any luck, there will be no more blog entries with a category of “lymphoma” (but you know me, I’m afraid I just jinxed it!)!!!

(ETA: the tubing is red, that’s not blood!  There was only one drop of blood on the very tip of the tubing when she removed the line!  Sorry to gross y’all out!)


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