Monday, August 22, 2011

The Lump

How do I say this? I've contemplated that question a ridiculous amount of time over the past few weeks. It's amazing how someone who adores words, such as myself, can find them completely vanished just when they are most desired. Since I am at a complete loss, I will just tell it like it is and hope you all can understand my presence of mind at this moment.

One morning, a few weeks ago, I stood in the shower. You know how that goes. Shampoo the hair. Shave the pits. Stand there to feel the warm water streaming over your shoulders and down you back. But for some reason, this particular morning, I reckoned I should administer a breast exam on myself. Why did that pop into my brain on that morning when I've only given myself one, possibly two, breast exams in my entire life? I can't explain where this thought came from. Why, on that morning, did I feel the need to check myself? I had just been to the "female" kind of doctor for the first time in 6 years just a couple of weeks earlier and everything checked out normal. (Yes, I am ashamed to admit that I have a slight aversion to doctors and have not been to that kind since Chloe was born.)

Maybe I turned over a new leaf in regards to my health. Maybe seeing the doctor stirred up the need to take better care of myself. I don't know. But I determined to examine myself that very moment.

As my fingers traveled around my "you know what", I felt something like a large, cushy rock inside. I immediately rationalized that James needed to inspect the find before I made any rash judgements.

He arrived home and confirmed my suspicions.

I tried not to allow fear to enter my heart. I really did try. My attempts failed miserably, but I want you all to know I tried. I am still trying. But it is there, mocking me, chiding me, gloating over me when I fail to evict it.

I am scared.

We made an appointment with my "lady" doctor and she immediately confirmed. Yes, there is a good sized lump in my breast. Oh, but not to worry. It doesn't "feel scary". Most likely a cyst.

Fear sent its barbed hooks further into my soul.

Last week I suffered my first mammogram and an ultrasound. I laid there thinking, "Ultrasounds are supposed to be used to view babies. Not lumps in breasts. This is all backwards." I longed to be in a different room, seeing a baby through that monitor. Not a rock in my breast.

A silent tear stole down my cheek.

The technician walked in with a clipboard and calmly stated that it, "doesn't look scary." Again with that word. I am scared out of my wits. Doesn't anyone understand that? So what if the lump doesn't "look scary"! I just had some stranger groping my breast! I AM SCARED!

Biopsy.

She said that word. The word alone can freeze a heart. It froze mine.

So what if the lump doesn't "look scary." Oh, for joy! I get a giant needle stuck down into my breast! And they say I don't need to be scared. Ha! Anyone who says that should have a giant needle stuck in their breast. Just because.

So, the biopsy occurs in a couple of hours. This very morning. My throat has constricted so much so that I can hardly swallow my coffee. Tears perch on the brink, ready to spill over.

And still I try to keep fear at bay. Fear has sent his icy fingers deep down into my soul. I cannot live by fear. I must eradicate it. I must turn my eyes to Jesus. He had reason for fear! He sweat blood before his crucifixion. You cannot tell me he wasn't feeling some sort of emotion there. And you know what? He will walk me through this. He will stay by my side. He alone has what I need to get through this morning.

So, if you know me in person and you happen to see me around and you ask how I am doing and I respond, "I'm fine." please understand that those are probably the only words I can speak at the moment. Please don't ask further. Please talk about sewing projects or your favorite flavor of coffee or what you cooked for dinner last night. And please know that I am fine. I am. I am fine. I could be worse. I could be better.

So there. I said it. I probably didn't use the right words and you might not understand everything I am going through. But I said it.

I have a tumor in my breast. I am fine.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The Sparrows

I stood at my back window the other day watching the sparrows. I quietly observed about 30 or so sparrows, pecking seeds off the ground. Beside them stood a dove. One lone dove. I love my doves. They are such sweet birds. So gentle. So kind. They do not chase away the smaller birds as the black birds (Common Grackle, Cowbird, etc.) do. They walk on the ground, side by side with the sparrows and wrens, eating the same seeds.

As I stood there, ruminating about some recent circumstances in my life, a thought seeped into my head.

"God is watching those sparrows too. His eye is on those sparrows."

Wow! Just when I was feeling despairing and forlorn, God reminded me that He is watching over me. He cares for me so much more than the sparrows. And how neat to think that maybe God and I were watching those sparrows together.


"Therefore, I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. Life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds!"
Luke 12:22-24


You see? I am much more valuable than birds. God said so right there. God will take care of me, through whatever storm I must pass through. My God will carry me through.

Friday, August 05, 2011

Meet Snow

I would like to introduce you to Snow, the sweetest little kitty.

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James took Chloe and I out this morning on a kitty hunt, as he promised Chloe while he was away. What I figured would take all day and many cat rescue shelters, took all of a drive to Petsmart and 10 minutes with this sweet kitty. Immediately upon being set on the floor at the pet store, Snow (at that time named Messy Hessy) commenced with rubbing all of our legs, hands and even my purse. Chloe held out her hand and Snow rubbed against her like she was her long lost best friend. In that instant, the bond between kitty and girl was forever sealed.

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"Please!!!!" Chloe begged. "Please! I want THIS kitty. This is the kitty I want. I love this kitty. Please can I have her?"

She didn't need to beg. James and I could clearly see that this gentle, sweet, loving kitty would be the perfect addition to our family. She loves all of us equally and can't be petted quite enough. But she also loves to play. She chases her toy mice across the floor and carries them around in her mouth as she shakes them to death. (poor, dear, toy mice)

Less than an hour later, Snow was ours.

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And when I say "sweet kitty" I really do mean sweet! The one and only time her eyes widened was on her journey in the cat carrier from the store to the van. The entire time in the store and the entire van ride home, her eyes stayed naturally in a contented manner. And I have yet to hear a single peep from her. Not a squeak. Not a mew. Nothing. She is perfectly happy to have chosen our family as her people and is showing us just how affectionate and playful she can be.

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And now I must be off. Twillerbee is a little confused and upset by the curiously dreadful noises emitting from under Chloe's closed bedroom door. Something is in there that should not be, of this she is quite certain. While Snow's eyes have yet to widen in horror or fear at anything since we adopted her, Twillerbee's have remained saucers ever since she realized something spooky was shut behind that door about 3 hours ago. I must go assure her that she loves me and that she will not be eaten by a black and white monster.

Daddy is Home!

Hip-hip-Hooray! James is home! I don't know if I happened to mention that he had left earlier this summer on this blog or not. Tried to keep it a bit low key this go round. But yes. James has been gone most of our summer. He returned home yesterday. Hooray!

We started a tradition. (I know...*eye roll*...another tradition in our household. Like we NEED another tradition. Hmmph!) But when James returns home from a deployment, we enjoy taking Chloe to a certain bear building venue. Yep. You guessed it. Build-A-Bear.

This time, Chloe informed us that she needed a boy dog "bear" to marry her girl cat "bear". She's been looking forward to this excursion since before he left town...that is, up until the moment James promised her a new kitty. Suddenly a stuffed dog lowered itself on the "wants" list pretty quickly. But, she did not forget the promise and so as soon James was buckled into the mini-van next to Chloe in the backseat, we drove to the Build-A-Bear palace.

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It's funny. It has been 1 1/2 years since we've been to Build-A-Bear, but Chloe knew where everything was and the steps needed to build Fluffy, her dog "bear". She chose a soft body for Fluffy and stepped on the peddle herself to fill him up.

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It is serious business stuffing a bear.

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I can't help but wonder what Chloe's wish for her bear was. She looked so adorable making her wish with Fluffy's heart in her hands. But I just can't ask her. She would tell me in a heartbeat. And we all know that if you tell your secret wish, it won't come true. I wonder, though, if it has anything to do with Daddy never leaving again.

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Time to wash Fluffy.

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And then we printed a birth certificate for Fluffy.

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Upon arriving home in Chloe's bedroom, Cinzy (the cat "bear") and Fluffy met for the first time. After saying hello to each other, Fluffy cut quickly to the chase by asking, "Will you marry me?"

James and I were able to talk them into a courtship after Cinzy said, "yes" since we felt they truly didn't know each other that well yet. When James asked Fluffy if he would like to meet the other kitties in our house, he replied, "No! I don't like cats!"

Huh.

"What are you doing marrying one then?" I queried.

"Oh. I only like this cat. Just this cat. No other cats." He replied.

I just have to say. I enjoy having James home. We have so much fun as a family. We laugh and play and enjoy being in each others presence. Welcome home James! I love you very much.

Marshmallow Flower Cupcakes

When the need arises for something cute but quick, I will turn to these adorable cupcakes from now on. I pulled a box of cake mix from my cupboard and some marshmallows and sprinkles this week to whip up something fun. Voila!

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Opps. I forgot to taste test them before I gave them away. But how can you go wrong with marshmallows, sugar sprinkles, vanilla icing and vanilla cake? I don't think you can.

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Little Joys

Sometimes, the smallest or simplest things bring me so much cheer. I can't explain it. Maybe its my simple mind. You know what they say...simple minds = simple playthings. Well, if such is the case, so be it.

While baking in my kitchen a smile creeps across my face every time I reach for...


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I adore this little baking soda can. I worked for a French chef while living in England where I was responsible for making various sandwiches which he then sold for lunches to the local colleges. My boss catered other goodies as well so I often walked into our storage shed/kitchen and found myself in the midst of a baking marathon. He used this baking soda. I fell in love with the tiny can and when I saw him preparing to toss it into the "rubbish bin", I asked if I could keep it.

Upon arriving home, I began looking for the perfect location for my new-found treasure. Ah-ha! Toothpicks! They fit neatly inside the can. It was like this little can was made to be my toothpick holder. I've kept them in it ever since.

So, you see. This little can is more than just a cute baking soda can from England. It contains my memories. Each time I grab for it, I float away to a time when someone attempted to teach me french words. When I learned that Disney inserts vulgar curse words into their movies in French. (I shocked my boss a time or two when I said a word I learned from Beauty and the Beast. He stared at me like he couldn't believe a good girl like me would say such a thing. I had no idea! It was in a kid's movie, after all.) When I worked alongside my neighbor/best friend, chatting about the best places to go shopping in Cambridge or Bury St. Edmonds. When we stopped work every mid-day for an egg salad sandwich and tea.

All of that, packed inside a baking soda can with my toothpicks. And it's a pretty neat little can, too.

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Love Notes

Chloe ran down stairs yesterday and silently handed me a note.


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It read...


"I love you Mommy. Do you love me?"


I stopped what I was doing and smiled at her. "Yes. I love you very much!"

"I knew you would say that!" she replied with a grin as she scampered away up the stairs.

A few minutes later, I heard the pitter patter of feet scurrying down the stairs and a second note fluttered into my lap. I picked it up.


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The second note read...


Ok. So you love me. Ok. So I love you too. I ssssoooo lllloooovvvveeee ttttttooooooo!"


I laughed and hugged her and planted kisses all over her face. This little girls lights up my world. I reluctantly let her go as she announced that she would like to write me another note. Can it get any better than what she already wrote?

When she trotted back downstairs for the third time, grasping the third note firmly in her fingers, she gingerly handed it to me and said, "This note is not for you. It's for Daddy."


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How sweet is that? My heart melts. She meekly informed me that she wrote another note for Daddy but that I couldn't see it because I would get mad. I promised her I would NOT get mad. She picked up her foot. Her foot? Yes, her foot! And here is what I read...


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"I miss you Daddy!"


...was written across the bottom of both her feet. I couldn't stop laughing. I am chuckling now as I write this post. This child is the sweetest little girl. So full of spunk and fun. She loves laughing and making other people laugh. Laughter is good for the soul. Even when we are missing our Daddy! I choose to ignore the fact that my daughter has ink seeping in through her skin (which makes me cringe...I have a phobia of ink on skin...but we don't need to discuss this) and laugh with her.

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Bird Tea Party Tablescape

Chloe and I have wanted a tea party with our friends for quite some time now. I finally got around to planning and executing just the thing. It took me a while to gather all the supplies and plates and decor, but once I started, it just sort of came together.

First I found the blue/green plates at Home Goods. I found a matching cake plate and the party just sort of evolved from there.


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A good bird tablescape needs a multitude of birds, in my opinion. I found quite a few on clearance at Micheals. Egg candles, a set of 3 for 60 cents, added just the right touch to the table here and there.


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A perfect find. A bird candle for 2o cents.


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A birdcage filled with daisies and a bird nest with a couple of eggs for our centerpiece.


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More daisies spilling over the table.


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Dainty pink accents. I love these pink glass bowls I found at Hobby Lobby for half off.


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Tea time necessities.


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I found these cute little espresso cups and saucers at Crate and Barrel for $1.95 each. I could not pass them up for a little girl tea party. (Or a future grown up espresso party.)


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I love my salt bowl and spoon I picked up at an antique store a year or two ago. Isn't it darling? I can't get over how adorable it is.


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For the party favor I found these little soaps for $1.00 each.

Tea party fare. I kept the food relatively simple but stunning in presentation. It took me all of 1 1/2 hours to whip up everything this morning.


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Bird Tea Party Menu


Fruity Magic Wands
Sugar-and-Spice Sandwich Swirls
Ham and Cheese Squares
Fairy-Tale Bird's-Nest Cookies
Raspberry Tea
Pink Lemonade


All the recipes were taken from Chloe's Fairies Cookbook.

We told the girls to come dressed up as fancy as possible. Chloe chose her princess dress I made for her 5th birthday. I put a crown in her hair and she wore her lace gloves. So girly. Each girl that came was dressed just as fancy as Chloe.


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We need to have another tea party soon. We had a delightful time.