Monday, March 28, 2011


I had a doctor's appointment on Friday, uh, long time no do that. I needed a referral to a GI so I can get this Celiac-do-or-don't-I thing cleared up (currently I am eating wheat and, meh, I don't really see much difference from when I wasn't). If I do have it, it's important to adjust my diet because of the long-term health effects but life is just so much easier when I don't have to worry about cutting out gluten.

What I wasn't expecting, however, was for the doctor to find a lump in my breast and refer me for a mammogram. She assured me that it was probably a cyst and nothing to worry about and I believed her. I wasn't worried. That was Friday morning. Before I left the doctor's office I had an appointment for today to get the mammogram/ultrasound. I was impressed, this place is so organized! It was at some point over the weekend that it occurred to me that maybe not everyone gets scheduled for testing the next business day.

Then I thought about the questions the doctor had asked me (Is there any history of Fibrocystic Breast Disease- a benign condition exacerbated by caffeine- in your family? Do you drink coffee? Cola?) and her careful lack of reaction when I answered in the negative to both of them. I hate coffee and I'm not much of a soda drinker. My only caffeine comes from tea and I don't even have that every day. When I informed the doctor of that I felt all warm and fuzzily self-righteous inside. I am a good dooby! I limit my caffeine intake and I floss!!! Except that of course there's nothing remotely self-sacrificing about me not drinking coffee, I just can't stand the taste. Upon further reflection though, I realized that the right answer would have been, "Yes Ma'am, I drink a gallon of coffee and I have three relatives with FBD!" Because that would make this much more likely to be a simple, benign cyst.

I did some Googling (I know! Best thing to do if you want to freak yourself out!) and found that cysts almost always occur in both breasts. As far as I can tell it's one of their defining characteristics. I only have one lump. Or, technically, I should say that I have two small lumps and one of them has an even smaller lump in it. Haha, tinyboob humor! So in less that three hours I'll be getting left lump squished and then possibly ultrasounded (I think they only do this if the other test is inconclusive, I hope they do 'cuz I'm totally going to ask the technician if it's a boy or a girl because I bet their jobs do not include enough humor). It's probably nothing. It's probably fine. But I can't help feeling a little greedy and resentful. All those years I was alone and no one depended on me; I would've been okay with going home then. You wouldn't do this to me now, God? Now that I have people who need me? Would you?

Update: It's a cyst (breathe). I'm fine. Thank you for your thoughts & prayers. :)

Lucky Doesn't Even Begin to Describe It

love having my own little family. I still have to pinch myself when I think of how much God's given me in the past year. After many years of searching and doubting that it would ever happen, I found the love of my life; the fact that he came complete with two beautiful kids who instantly accepted me as part of their lives with incredible grace and love is such a gift that I am humbled daily at the thought of it.

I want to be honest though, it's both better and harder than I ever could have imagined. I talk about all the good things often on this blog and I don't want it to turn into one of those "My life is perfect!" blogs. You know the ones I'm talking about- cute-as-a-button blogger has perfect marriage, lovely home, adorable children, nothing ever goes wrong. Not my thing, at all.

In the midst of all this joy is the daily grind of working out a relationship between two sometimes difficult people. Don't get me wrong- I will love Todd until the day I die (even if it's me who kills him. And for the record? Today while I was relaxing in the sun on our itty bitty balcony he snuck up and squirted me through the screen door with a water gun. So if I throttle him someday you'll know he deserved it) but skipping the dating/newlyweds/kid-free stage to jump right into an instant partnership was no picnic. We're both hot-tempered and used to being in charge. We're both know-it-alls who like to be right. Our first few months together where a whirlwind of highs and lows. I frequently threatened to leave and on occasion after a heated argument still run away from home (I've never gotten farther than the Borders near the mall, however. I like to threaten to visit my brother but we both know I just need to cool off for a few hours). Todd's the steadier one in our relationship, possibly because as crazy as I might be at times our relationship is the picture of health compared to his first marriage. We're happy, we're in love; but please don't think we don't have struggles.

I have no regrets about the way we did things. God was clearly leading us and He's been with us through all of the good and difficult times since then. I struggled a lot for a long time with the fact that we weren't married and life wasn't moving along on the schedule I'd envisioned. I experienced a lot of silence if not outright disapproval from a large part of the Christian communities I've been part of. It was hard and it really hurt. I spent a lot of time trying to make Todd do what I wanted him to do and be where I wanted him to be. Luckily for me, he's as stubborn as I am. I'm glad he stood up to me. I'm glad, in a lot of ways, that I lived through this last year as an outcast in the minds of people I used to be close with. I think it's exactly where God wanted me. Jesus lived on the fringes of society. I identify more with Him now than I ever could when I was keeping up appearances like a good church girl. That's not a bad place to be.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Did I Forget to Tell You We're FAMOUS??!?!?!?

Cuz we totally are. My awesome little brother Zach and his totally hot wife/filming assistant Christie came and made a movie for Zach's film class starring Todd, Stone, and in lesser roles, Daph & I.

It was pretty sweet, lemme tell you. We're petitioning for our own individual trailers for the next film. Todd demanded that his Reece's Pieces be separated by color into three separate bowls. There were no Reece's Pieces, as it turned out, but I'm pretty sure that's just because they bought us Girl Scout cookies afterwards. Come to think of it though, Zach did not separate the coconut from the chocolate in the Caramel DeLites* like I asked him to. I think I need an agent.

*I think this counts as false advertising- there is nothing "lite" about those cookies.

Anyways, here is the Masterpiece:

We all agreed that very little acting was required on the part of the two main actors.

p.s. Acting is hard, yo. After a week of delightfully springlike weather it was freezing that day. Also, Zach's site is over there (is it over there? I think I put it over there. I should check that.) on the right in my links. Check it out, he has some fun stuff. He's brilliant and I'm not at all biased just because I used to change his diapers.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Road Trip Tales: Run-ins with Johnny Law

So you know about the Great Cross-Continental Road Trip of 2010, right? Wherein I flew home to RI for my grandmother's funeral and Todd drove up to my parents' house and said, "Hi, I'm the guy you've been flirting with online for five months. Wanna spend the rest of our lives together? Starting now? With a three-week road trip across the US with two kids and a total of five showers in all that time?" And I said, "Ayup, here's my suitcase."*

* Note: I am not in the habit of jumping into relationships in this admittedly crazy fashion. I swear. I can't speak for Todd but I just... knew. This was it. It'll make for a great story for the grandkids anyway. And by "great" I mean in a, "You probably shouldn't ever do this." sort of way.

The four of us traveled in Todd's minivan and to save money we only stayed at hotels once every few days. The rest of the time we  camped out in the van, which was nice & roomy since Todd had shipped the middle row of seats with the rest of his belongings. One of these times we were driving somewhere in the south (Georgia, Alabama...Arkansas?) and decided late at night to pull over and sleep for a few hours before getting back on the road. We'd been driving for hours and were both pretty beat when pulled into the empty parking lot of a closed Wendy's in a big shopping center. The only activity was a few people unloading supplies into the rear door of the restaurant out of a big truck. After rousing the kids and getting them settled, we snuggled up in the space between seats with pillows and blankets and dropped off to sleep, only to be awakened a few hours later by someone rapping on our window.

We pried our eyelids open and groggily sat up. The man knocking on our window was a police officer. He wanted to "ask us some questions." It turns out that the back door of the restaurant had been wide open when the first employee arrived. She'd seen the open door, observed a carful of crazy crackers sleeping in the parking lot and, fearful that the place had been robbed, called the police. The officer knocking on our window in the early dawn seemed fairly sure that the owners of the van with military stickers hadn't brought their children along to rob a fast food joint and then decided to nap in the parking lot until the sun came up, but had to ask if we'd seen anything suspicious.

We told them about the delivery men unloading a Wendy's supply truck late the night before. Subsequently it was determined that said delivery men had simply neglected to close the door on their way out. Luckily, no Frosties (Frostys? Frosty's?) had been harmed, and after enduring many suspicious looks from the nervous Wendy's worker we clutched the shreds of our dignity around our pajamas and proudly limped (figuratively, of course, we actually drove) out of the parking lot and back onto the road.

A week or so later we were driving through Arizona when Todd became convinced that he had spotted what was surely an extremely valuable pair of binoculars at the fence line to the desert on the side of a highway exit. We pulled over to inspect what turned out to be an extremely valuable** plastic water bottle.  **not really  Just as we were coming to this conclusion a state trooper pulled off behind us with his lights flashing.  The very young, very concerned policeman was very concerned that we'd pulled over and might be having car problems [I like to think he suspected us of picking up illegal Mexicans who'd just made a mad dash across the border, but we were somewhere near Flagstaff so I doubt it]. We assured him that we were fine and tried to explain about the water bottle/binoculars. He looked at us strangely. We grinned nervously. He sent us on our way.  

We had lots of crazy adventures on that trip but since I didn't have internet access except for occasional hotel wifi I didn't do any blogging at the time. I really wish I had written things down; now I'm starting to forget a lot. For instance Todd and I both remember the Wendy's incident being even more singular than it would otherwise have been because it was the second unlikely interaction we'd had with law enforcement officers since leaving on the road trip. However, dagnab it if neither of us can remember what the first one was.

Unless it was that one time we both had a little too much tequila and Todd was seeing how fast the van could go while I hung Stone out the window by his ankles so he could, "feel the wind in his hair."...

Kidding, I'm kidding!!!

It was Daphne, not Stone.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Just Ducky

ZOMG, internetz!!! You will never believe what happened today! So I believe I pointed out somewhere in this massive overload of information (Psst, second paragraph, don't tell nobody I tol' ya) that the deciding factor for us picking this apartment was the duck family then residing in one of the ponds. The kids were visiting their mom when we moved in but we couldn't resist the chance to surprise them with ducklings when we brought them to their new home.

Summer ended, fall came, and the ducklings grew up and moved on. A few weeks ago we were thrilled to see a new pair of mallards setting up housekeeping in the larger pond. During our frequent familial perambulations around the grounds of our "manor," there has been much speculation on where one would choose to build a nest in this area, were one a duck, that is. It has remained just that, however, speculation... until today. The old man & I were out for a lunchtime stroll and we noticed the duck pair sitting on a rock. We decided to run back home and grab some old bread to feed to them. Mr. Duck was certainly amenable to the idea and swam happily around gobbling up pieces of soggy bread. Mrs. Duck, however, declined to leave her rock, crouching (do ducks crouch?) tensely and quacking at us in a strangely agitated manner. I mentioned to Todd that the nest might be somewhere nearby and that's what was making her nervous. He turned around to jokingly look in the bushes behind us and lo and behold... a tidy nest with nine duck eggs was tucked into the bushes not three feet behind where we were standing. So Cool!!

Oh, also there was a prowling cat, which Todd chased away. It was one of the cats belonging to the sweet older man who walks his cats around the complex every day. Did I not mention him? Yes, I said walks his cats. No leashes, they just follow him. He turns when they lag behind and coaxes them along, calling out their names and talking to them as if they were recalcitrant children. It's ridiculously cute.  Possibly not so good for ducklings though. Oi.                  

Yes, I'm the Crazy Neighbor Putting Leaves in a Plastic Grocery Bag.

Eucalyptus trees were new to me when I moved to California. We didn't have them in New England, but they're everywhere here. They're really pretty and they smell great. There's a tree right outside our apartment that occasionally loses branches in windstorms, and a few times over the winter Todd and I collected the leaves and boiled them to make the house smell nice. When I had my holiday sinus infection I breathed in a lot of eucalyptus steam. It helped greatly even though I ultimately had to enlist the help of antibiotics to get rid of the infection.

Yesterday we were greeted on leaving for the school bus stop by a huge branch from "our" tree lying on the ground and yesterday must have been the gardener's day off because it was still there this morning. Todd and I went for a walk (more EXCITING news on that in next post) and on our return decided to collect some leaves. Thus it is that when our very nice, stylish European neighbor walked by I was squatting down with a plastic bag and hair that has not been washed in several days picking up leaves like a weird hobo with a eucalyptus fetish. She smiled politely anyway. Oh. I was also wearing a heavy wool coat buttoned up to the throat even though it's going to be 60 degrees today. Most Californians do not own anything warmer than a sweatshirt. They complain about being cold a lot.

Just wanted to confirm for anyone wondering that I am still a complete dork. :)

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Spring Has Sprung

It's springtime here in California. Don't hate me because I live here, oh New England friends. It's not my fault you're still surrounded by snow when I can hear birds chirping outside my window. You can't blame me for getting out the summer clothes and planning on wearing a short- sleeved shirt later today when it warms up... can you? If it makes any difference, Todd considers himself seriously deprived because of the lack of snow here and is determined on finding a way to attend Dartmouth so that we can move to New Hampshire next year. I keep trying to tell him that someone who declares "I shouldn't have to wear a sweater in my own house!" when I scolded him for turning the heat up while he was wearing a short-sleeved t-shirt will likely not acclimate easily to New Hampshire winters but he's a stubborn one and may have to find out for himself.

Nevertheless here in the central valley entire orchards (chances are some of the the fruit and nuts in your grocery store come from right around here*) are gloriously awash in tiny pink or white blossoms. Todd and I went for a walk around our condo complex the other day after  dropping the kids off at the bus stop and we saw two frogs in the pond. They were... making more frogs. Also we saw our resident Giant KoiTM and a pair of ducks who are hopefully (though not at that very moment) making more ducks so we'll have ducklings again in a few months. While the kids were gone over the weekend we saw five turtles, countless tiny koi plus the trademarked giant one, rescued two frogs from the swimming pool and saw several more frogs in the pond. Some of them were...making more frogs. Speaking of which I consider it my duty to educate you about the fact that apparently frogs can swim while they're...making more frogs. Stuck together, as it were. Todd and I accidentally startled one pair and then snickered like teenaged boys when they swam frantically away in tandem. Oh- we also saw lots of snails, though they're not as exciting since we see them all winter long. And a chicken!! but I'm getting ahead of myself.

* Yes, ha ha, we are all fruits and nuts here in CA. Now be quiet and stop bothering my grownup readers, DAD.

A few weeks ago we saw some sort of large bird of prey sitting in a tree visible from our balcony. It was, frustratingly, just close enough for us to figure that it was some kind of raptor without being able to see any more detail than that. I like identifying birds, so I was cursing the fact that we do not own a pair of binoculars. Earlier this week though, I saw the same bird fly out of a tree right over our heads while I was walking the kids to the bus stop. The tree was just a few yards away from the bus stop and it seemed like there was some sort of large nest being built. The bird flew back and forth a few times and gave a distinctive laughter-like cry. Clearly he was not happy about the humans under his tree.

I went home and did some googling and figured out that we have a Cooper's Hawk living on our street. This is the time of year they build a nest in order to start a family. T and I walked the kids to the bus yesterday and we saw one bird (sure enough there are two of them, though I haven't managed to see them closely enough to tell the male and female apart) fetching twigs for the nest. We went walking on the nearby bike path and we saw quite a bit of our new neighbors. They apparently hunt in the empty fields by the bike path where lots of plump and juicy ground squirrels live. I found a pellet on the ground under the nest this morning (hawks eat cute wittle fuzzy things whole and then hork up pellets containing fur, bones & other indigestibles, just like owls!) and was sharply reprimanded from above when I stopped to look at it. I plan to be on the lookout for a pellet that hasn't been trampled by schoolchildren so that we can take it home and dissect it with the kids because I am weird like that. I mean, scientific. I am scientifically inclined that way.

The chicken was a bit more confusing. We startled it poking (pecking?) around in a front yard a few houses down from the corner the bus stops at. It's an extremely suburban neighborhood, not the type of place you'd expect to see a chicken, but then we seem to attract them. Before I "met" them (in person) Todd and the kids had an abandoned chicken nesting in the basement well under their kitchen window in North Carolina. We chicken-napped compassionately relocated it to my uncle's house in South Carolina on the Great Cross-Continental Road Trip of '10, also known as "Our second date." Therefore clearly random ownerless chickens are drawn to our family in some strange way. However we fear for this one's continued existence. You see Cooper's Hawks used to go by another name... Chicken hawks.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

And Then I Punched Him

Todd has this adorable



EVIL love for lying-in-wait in order to jump out and scare the ever-loving cream puffs out of me. When I get up first, he either puts the covers over his head, or artfully arranges the pillows so that it looks like he's put the covers over his head and hides in the closet. I know he's most likely in one of these places (though sometimes he finds a third place to hide just to keep me off-balance) but if I jump on top of the lumpy bed he he will invariably leap out of the closet and cause me to make noises that would lead one to believe that I am wetting myself in fear. [I am not, of course. I have excellent bladder control. My mother has been bragging for years about how I potty trained myself, instantaneously, at the age of two. Why it didn't occur to her that this might indicate some sort of control-freak issue I'll never know, but she sees it as a point of pride.] If I turn my head from the bed to investigate the closet he may well jump up from beneath the bedclothes and make me scream like the girl that I am. It's inevitable, even when I know perfectly well he's around the corner I can't help but yelp in momentary, inadvertent terror when he says, "Boo!" [I think that should be the chorus to a catchy 80's song: "I Can't Help but Yelp," except I can't think of many things that rhyme or how to work "whelp" into a pop song.]

The kids have now taken to "trying to scare Jess" as a favorite pastime. Their father is such a good example. One of these days though, I'm going to get them all back. I'll make them pee their pants in terror. Or I would... if I were not likely to be the cleaner-upper of the resultant pee-pants. Maybe I'll get revenge in some other way.