The One Time I Didn’t Believe In God

On the afternoon of October 10, 2008 my mom got news that would change her life forever and make my sister and I question our faith in God.  That day I knew the call was coming from either my mom or someone at the doctor.  I knew if my mom was on the other line, we were good, but if the call came from someone else, it was bad.

Well around 3 PM, my cell rang.  A local number but not my mom’s.  When  I picked up the phone from my office desk at my job at the time, I could hear my mom hysterically crying in the background.  I knew immediately what the person who called for her was about to say.  Before the woman on the line could identify herself, I started whimpering – It was positive.  My mom was about to begin the fight of her life against breast cancer.

A woman who had been so selfless with my sister and I growing up.  Someone who like everyone else was not perfect but had lived for my sister and I since the day she became a mother, was about to have to fight off breast cancer.  We knew so little at that point.  We had no idea how large the tumor was or what kind of fight she had ahead of her but we knew it wasn’t going to be easy.  Immediately after hanging up with the woman I began hysterically crying and called my boss to come in and take over for me. It took her about 10 minutes to get there and when I left I rushed over to my mom’s house.  My mom was sitting there on the couch with my sister and the friend who called me.  She looked like she had been beaten up.  I was so angry.  I was so angry at God for giving my mom a cancer that killed so many, mom’s, daughters and grandmothers.  Why did she deserve it?  I didn’t understand.

Word of course got out that my mom had breast cancer and I started getting random messages on facebook.  Some from people I knew, some from people that I didn’t know very well.  But people started coming out of the woodwork, with stories about how someone they loved had fought off the disease too.  It was awesome.  It was like this secret club that almost everyone is a part of, and when you join it, they all supported each other.

The next week the doctor appointments began.  The process was long and complex.  Some days mom had a “screw cancer” attitude but sometimes she was just ready to give up.  I knew I had to stay strong for her and accompanied her on every Doctor appointment that I could.  She had to have 3 doctors, a surgeon to remove the tumor, a plastic surgeon for reconstruction and a oncologist for the after-care.  She was given the choice – Mastectomy or Lumpectomy.  My mom was so scared to lose her breasts completely so she chose a lumpectomy.  We learned her cancer was aggressive in nature and probably had only developed in the last couple of months before that.  She went through the whole process including the 10 hour surgery and the two day hospital stay.  For many, this is the end of treatment.  This is where the healing begins for many however not for my mom.  Due to the aggressive nature they recommended she undergo chemo, following a regimen of radiation.

The chemo I think was the worst.  It almost killed her.  After every treatment she would become so weak and sick.  She lost all her hair and every time she would recover it would be time to return for another treatment.  She lost 10’s of 20’s of pounds and just got sicker and sicker.  Finally – she had her last appointment for chemo.  This one probably hit her the worst because she was so weak at this point.  Next the radiation began which for some is worse but for her nothing was as bad as the chemo.  She had pretty much recovered from her surgery and she was cancer free.  Her hair began coming back.  I was so proud that she had gotten through all of this alive and so happy to still have my mom.  Although much skinnier, she was still here and loving life more than she ever had before.

At this point we always knew the cancer could come back but we never imagined it would.  Well, almost exactly 2 years later my mom called me after her 6 month checkup.  She had a bad mammogram on the other breast.  This time it wasn’t as scary for some reason.  Not for any of us.  We knew she survived it before and was certain she could survive it again.  They did the biopsy and again the call came, this time from my mom.  Calm and collected.  The breast cancer had returned in a less aggressive state than before on the other breast.  None of us cried.  We all went in with a “Let’s do this” attitude and my mom was ready to fight.  Because this was the second time they suggested a Mastectomy and my mom thankfully agreed.  She was told with a Mastectomy she would be less likely to have chemo and the recurrence chance would drop to nearly 0%.  This surgery was a doozie.  In January 2011, I sat down with my mom to setup for her surgery prep.  This surgery was going to be a long one.  She would go under for what ended up being 16 hours.  First she had to have her breast tissue completely removed and then the tissue in her stomach would be moved up to develop her reconstructed breasts.  After 16 hours she came back from surgery in body but not in mind.  She wasn’t herself almost that entire stay.  During the recovery, I stayed there every night while my marriage fell apart due to forces I could no longer control.  Recovery this time took longer from the surgery and getting her body back into a shape that felt normal is a fight she is still fighting.

My mom has been cancer free for over a year now.  I hope she never has to fight Breast Cancer or any Cancer ever again but they keep very close eye on her.  I didn’t write this blog to make you pity me or feel bad for my mom.  I wrote this for awareness.  My mom had not had a mammogram for over 15 years prior to the one that caught the aggressive cancer in her breast.  She went in to try to get approved for a reduction surgery and they caught the cancer.  The doctor’s predicted the tumor would have been 10 times it’s size by October 2009.  Was it God?  Was it coincidence?  How did she end up getting that mammogram at the right time?  We don’t know.  We will never know, but I’m so proud that my mom was able to fight off the deadly disease, not once but twice and I’m confident she would be strong enough to do it again but very hopeful she wont’ have to. The moral of the story is folks, get your mammograms when your supposed to.  Cancer doesn’t care who you are or who loves you, it can strike at any time.  I hope  you…. well learned something.  Til next time!

Ode to the Crockpot

Well, today before coming to work I took my frozen ham chunks and my beans that I soaked all night and I put it in the crockpot.  When I get home today, I will peel and cutup my potatoes to put in the skillet to fry/sautee.  Making those potatoes are super duper easy and they are amazing.  After that I will sit down with Anna, my good friend Crystal and her kids, Sebastian and Olivia and we will eat with very little effort put in by me or anyone else.

Last night, I opened a $1.50, 1lb bag of pinto beans to sort through them with Anna.  A good early memory I have of my mother and I, was sitting down with her and sorting through the pinto beans to find the bad ones so we could soak the good ones for the next day’s meal.  It sounds REALLY petty and no big deal to anyone but man to me, was it a big deal!  So everytime I cook pinto beans usually for Ham n’ Beans, I have Anna sit down and sort through them with me.  Even though some “good” beans end up going in the “bad bean pile”, I’m ok with that, because it’s not enough to make a difference and she really feels like she is contributing to our dinner (which she is) so I’m ok with it.

This post is about an ode to crock pots which are great for all mother’s everywhere.  I’m not talking about he crockpot meals that you have to start on high and turn them down to low because I HATE those.  I work.  I work full time.  One day I hope to stay home with my kids or at least work less hours or possibly even work from home.  But those crock-pot recipes that require you to do something before the 8 hour mark, kinda piss me off.  I’m talking about those meals that cook anywhere from like, 8 hours to 12 hours and still be good for the eating.  How awesome is that?  If we weren’t having potatoes tonight, I literally would have only spent about 10 minutes on the prep to a 100 percent homecooked meal.  With those beans, basically the only thing I didn’t do was harvest them out of the ground.  And the ham?  I didn’t even have to cut it up.  I already cut it and froze it like 2 weeks ago.  All I had to do was take the beans from the fridge, rinse them, put them in the crockpot, throw on some random seasonings, open the freezer take out the ham, open the foil and drop it in the crockpot, turn it on low and go.  I didn’t even have to plug my crockpot in because I use it so much it was already plugged in. 
The crockpot isn’t flawless however, there has been many times where I’ve cooked pork chops and other meats on low for 8 hours and they have burnt to a crisp.  I don’t know if the freaking thing, runs hot or what?  Does anyone have this problem?  I need some ideas for some nearly mistake-proof crock pot recipes.  I hear you can make lasagna and apple butter and all kinds of other random stuff that you would never expect, but how do I not screw it up?  The things that seem to cook the best are the ones surrounded by water because it doesn’t have direct contact with the burning hot dish.  Your  tips are welcomed and I hope you have some.  But…..that is my Ode to the Crockpot.

Now I wanna talk about something else real quick— I like to have readers.  I like to know that when I say something that someone is interested in what I have to say.  Because of this, I look at my stats.  Almost daily.  The stats does an interesting breakdown of the days of the week and tells me how many readers I have on a given day.  My blog is getting more popular which makes me happy, what confuses me on my stats is this though:

Now I am 100 percent ok with having readers from all over the country and world read my blog, but now my question is, who the heck lives in Belgium?  Dear Belgium Dweller, I’d like to know who you are, because that’s pretty freaking cool!  Til next time!

Smart Choice Food Source: Yea or Nay?

Ok – I’m not sure if this is a FYI or if it’s more of a this is what I know, add what you know type of thing.  But here goes.

About 3 years ago I read about a program in the news-paper called Angel Food Ministries.  My ex and I were having a little bit of trouble buying groceries and Angel Food seemed like something that might help us out.  Angel Food was (according to Wikipedia ha) “a scandal-embroiled non-profit organization that provided a monthly food service to over 500,000 families”.  When I was thinking about using it, I saw it as a way for us to put the food on the table for an affordable price.  Well this company apparently was a non-profit but was getting rich off of these families that were trying save money.  Like millions of dollars a year.  Well obviously the government didn’t like this so they shut this company down.  I never bought from them but considered it for years.

Here recently Robbie and I, regardless of our efforts to not have to have had to cut our grocery budget down a bit.  So naturally when we decided this we started looking for cheaper ways to eat.  I googled Angel Food Ministries and quickly found they were no more.  With a little more research I found another program called Smart Choice Food Source.

Smart Choice Food Source first of all does not present themselves like a ministry or a charity even though a lot of the ordering goes through Christian Based Organizations for distribution.  They say that they distribute restaurant quality foods.  So naturally my first question on this was – why are you shipping these to families on a fixed budget rather than to restaurants who are willing to pay full price?  Well they answer that question.  They say: for example that when you order your child chicken nuggets at a restaurant they are all shaped perfectly.  When those are produced the nuggets are not always perfect and the imperfect ones that have the same nutritional quality are the ones who get distributed to Second party distributors like Smart Choice.  Another example was a manufacturer of pies.  Lets say that manufacturer makes 5 million pumpkin pies to be sold to restaurants for Thanksgiving.  But if only 4 million are bought they have another 1 million that needs to be distributed and sold, so Smart Source buys those at a discounted rate and are able to extend their discount to their customers.

So they make this box, with meat, and different types of food designed to feed a family of 4 for a week.  Well this box has enough food to feed us for like 2 weeks at least because we don’t eat like a family of 4 (obviously).  Then they have these little side boxes.  The one that struck my fancy was the pasta box and kid box.  The kid box I figure will be great for Anna and Robbie (who eats like a kid) and the pasta box will be good for all of us (especially me).  So I figure if this is as wonderful as the company says it is, we can eat meals for about 3 weeks on about $81.00.  That’s pretty awesome.  I don’t want handouts.  We aren’t needy.  We are just on a budget.  If this is something that we can get our belly’s satisfied with I think it might be worth a try.  The big kicker and the thing I don’t like about is that you have pre-pay about a week and a half before you actually get the food.  So being on a budget this clearly causes a bit of an issue.  Because— if we are waiting on food to distribute that we already paid for than in the mean time we have to buy more food which ends up costing us a little more.  Once we get started I think it will work ok, but it will cost a little money initially. Have any of you ever used either of these programs?  Your thoughts?

The big difference I see between Angel Food and Smart Source is the food might not suck with Smart Source.  I remember Angel Food used to have crap like powdered milk.  Am I supposed to drink that?

So if I actually commit this month to doing it and the food is good, we might be able to crunch our grocery budget significantly.  I’d love to hear anyone’s thoughts on this.  Anyways, I guess that’s all today.  I hope you learned something new.  Til next time!

It’s October!

Happy October Everyone.  October is an exciting month!  Fall begins (I think {At least the temps change like it’s fall}), most of my shows are in full swing by October, It’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month (Check those boobs!), Halloween (Candy), The time changes (We all get to sleep another hour in the mornings) and the wasps all die or hide (my favorite).

What does everyone have planned for this month?  I’m excited because this is Anna’s 4th Halloween and she is really getting to an age where she can enjoy it.  I remember being a little kid and trick or treating.  I remember coming home from the night and hovering over my candy to ensure my dad didn’t steal any tootsie rolls.  I remember my sister who is 6 years older than me tricking me into trading her milky ways for tooth brushes (ass).  I remember one year and I think I was about a year older than Anna – it snowed!  Like straight up – honest to goodness- snowed!  I remember being in my dad’s little camper truck and wearing his huge (to me) ropin’ gloves so my little fingers didn’t freeze off.  I’m pretty sure that year I was a witch.  I am not only remembering what it feels like to be a kid but enjoying my time as an adult.  A few years ago when holidays like Christmas, Halloween and Easter would pass by, I remember being sad that they weren’t as fun as what I remembered them being as when I was a kid.  I remember thinking in those years that I would never have that feeling of excitement back.  But I was wrong.  To see your child go through all that enjoyment and fun is almost as fun as enjoying those holidays as a kid yourself.  Not quite, but almost, and much more than I ever expected.

I had a very innocent childhood.  Nothing bad really ever happened to me and I never really had any worries.  Of course I thought life was pretty intense but looking back I thank god for that innocence.  It’s amazing life was like that for me and a lot of people are surprised to hear it.  I had parents who divorced when I was 7.  My home never felt broken to me though.  My parents were both in my life a lot and my parents had a relationship more like a long distance relationship, rather than a divorced one so I never really felt the effects that I think many kids from divorced parents do.  Anna’s father and I are divorced as most of you know and I always wonder what kind of childhood we are giving Anna.  Is it carefree?  Stressful?  I hope I’m giving her a childhood somewhat like the one my parents gave me even though it’s quite apparent to everyone including her that we are no longer together.  Before I get into too much of a serious talk, I wanna end this blog on a good note.  I hope everyone has a wonderful October and you enjoy my blog this month.  XO!  Lots of post idea for this month coming up so stay tuned in!