Saturday, May 17, 2008

Tracks of Dirt and Noise

Hey, check out my mix tape! I know the fact that "mix tape" is in my vernacular ages me. I'm OK with that. I used to have one of those hand held tape recorders with the little square speaker on top and a retractable handle. That was way before the days of the Walkman, much less the iPod that I'm rockin' out to as we virtually speak. And did I mention that I'm really OK with being on the cusp of 40? Really, I am.

Here are a few melodies that comprise our theme music at Chez Dirt & Noise.

Thanks to Cara at Working Moms Against Guilt for pointing out this fun site. You too can make your own mix tapes at Mixwit.
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Wednesday, May 14, 2008

IBC is not a rootbeer.

Few people know that three years ago I found a suspicious lump in my right breast. This was just a few months after Deal was born, so at first I thought it was just a nursing/hormonal thing. Something told me otherwise. I took my health into my own hands and got in to see my Ob/GYN immediately. Talk about listening to your body. A few days later the surgeon removed a lump almost the size of an egg. An egg! It had been hiding in a place my monthly self exam would have never detected. It was only after the lump grew and shifted that I felt it. That egg was heading over to pathology for a biopsy. A biopsy?! I'm too young for this, I thought. Why am I the youngest woman in the waiting room, I wondered.

I banished all dark, negative thoughts lurking in my 2:00 AM sleepless psyche and willed myself to think about something else any time my thoughts veered to thinking about Bird and Deal growing up without me. Mac Daddy and I barely spoke, lest we erupt in tears of fear and worry. The anxiety was eating us alive. Yes, I jumped the gun, but feeling a giant lump in your breast that wasn't there a week ago on top of having a newborn and a 2-year old can make a girl's mind do crazy things. Luckily, that lump was a lipoma. Just a lump. Nothing at all related to the dreadful C word. Bullet dodged.

Lesson learned: listen to your body and be your own advocate when something doesn't seem right. No one knows your body better than you do.

I came across the following post in the blogosphere. I am reposting it in its entirety. The post is written by a fellow mom of two boys. She is fearlessly fighting a form of breast cancer that I didn't even know existed until I read her post. Applaud her courage. Say a little prayer. Hug your children just a little tighter. Now take a look and pass it on. Consider it your good deed for the day.

"We hear a lot about breast cancer these days. One in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetimes, and there are millions living with it in the U.S. today alone. But did you know that there is more than one type of breast cancer?

I didn’t. I thought that breast cancer was all the same. I figured that if I did my monthly breast self-exams, and found no lump, I’d be fine.

Oops. It turns out that you don’t have to have a lump to have breast cancer. Six weeks ago, I went to my OB/GYN because my breast felt funny. It was red, hot, inflamed, and the skin looked…funny. But there was no lump, so I wasn’t worried. I should have been. After a round of antibiotics didn’t clear up the inflammation, my doctor sent me to a breast specialist and did a skin punch biopsy. That test showed that I have inflammatory breast cancer, a very aggressive cancer that can be deadly.

Inflammatory breast cancer is often misdiagnosed as mastitis because many doctors have never seen it before and consider it rare. “Rare” or not, there are over 100,000 women in the U.S. with this cancer right now; only half will survive five years. Please call your OB/GYN if you experience several of the following symptoms in your breast, or any unusual changes: redness, rapid increase in size of one breast, persistent itching of breast or nipple, thickening of breast tissue, stabbing pain, soreness, swelling under the arm, dimpling or ridging (for example, when you take your bra off, the bra marks stay – for a while), flattening or retracting of the nipple, or a texture that looks or feels like an orange (called peau d’orange). Ask if your GYN is familiar with inflammatory breast cancer, and tell her that you’re concerned and want to come in to rule it out.

There is more than one kind of breast cancer. Inflammatory breast cancer is the most aggressive form of breast cancer out there, and early detection is critical. It’s not usually detected by mammogram. It does not usually present with a lump. It may be overlooked with all of the changes that our breasts undergo during the years when we’re pregnant and/or nursing our little ones. It’s important not to miss this one.

Inflammatory breast cancer is detected by women and their doctors who notice a change in one of their breasts. If you notice a change, call your doctor today. Tell her about it. Tell her that you have a friend with this disease, and it’s trying to kill her. Now you know what I wish I had known before six weeks ago.

You don’t have to have a lump to have breast cancer.

P.S. Feel free to steal this post too. I’d be happy for anyone in the blogosphere to take it and put it on their site, no questions asked. Dress it up, dress it down, let it run around the place barefoot. I don’t care. But I want the word to get out. I don’t want another young mom — or old man — or anyone in between — to have to stare at this thing on their chest and wonder, is it mastitis? Is it a rash? Am I overreacting? This cancer moves FAST, and early detection and treatment is critical for survival.

Thank you."
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Tuesday, May 13, 2008


Today I am a bit disheartened.

Yesterday I took Deal to the doctor for a nagging cough. That led us to the hospital lab for some testing. Nasal swabs on a 2-year old is not pleasant, yet Deal was an utter super champ. He even thanked the nurses as they gave him a firetruck sticker and a Dum Dum lollipop. It was of course no big deal for us to go the doctor, pay the $15 copay, head to the hospital lab, get a $7 prescription filled. We are thankfully well-insured. Mac Daddy's company takes good care of its people. Plus, though we are not wildly wealthy, we are among the top echelon of Americans who live more than comfortably.

Mac Daddy and I spend wisely and are not frivolous people (as long as you don't count the occasional shopping spree -sales racks only). We believe in donating money and time because there are plenty of lives that are worse off than whatever self pity we feel. We are the world's best tippers. We treat our nanny as part of the family, not as hired help. Think about your creature comforts. A cleaning lady? DVR? 100 pairs of shoes? Sure, we splurge and waste money. We treat ourselves to luxuries. That's because what are necessities to us are luxuries to a whole host of others. And I'm not just talking about the Sally Struthers kids in ads in faraway countries. I mean right here. Under our noses. Among us.

I have never in my life worried about where my next meal would come from. My family answered my growling belly with plates of chicken curry and rice, spinach lasagna, and the occasional Doritos or Oreos. I have always had a roof, a very nice one at that, over my head. I took college for granted. Of course I was going, and of course my parents would pay for it. Same for boarding school, trips abroad, and vacations to Hilton Head and Palm Beach. I never was denied medical care, no matter how big or small the ailment.

Now what about all those people who don't live like I do? What about the kids who wouldn't have the benefit of going to the doctor, much less the hospital? Deal just had a nagging cough, nothing life threatening. That's because we can afford to get him the care he needs to prevent minor ailments from exacerbating into something nasty. Deal and Bird also have a bedroom to themselves, with full size beds no less. A loving, secure, comfortable, clean home. Emotional and financial security go a long way.

The state of our healthcare is shameful. A disgrace. Shambles. We have hit rock bottom. Are you listening in your ivory towers on the Hill? A basic level of healthcare is a right, one that our forefathers promised us. Now imagine if your son died because you couldn't afford to take him to the dentist. The dentist! One thing leads to another so the seemingly simple toothache could point to bigger issues. I once volunteered with a boy whose cancer was spotted by his dentist. Think about how many parents must weigh the expense of basic medical care with dinner on the table. This is a reality, not some media hyperbole. We, as a nation, are in denial.

Don't get me started on the insurance business. What a deplorable bunch of louts.

For now, I will be angry until I find a way to transfer this rage into something more productive. Luckily Deal is doing well. There's nothing that a humidifier, some meds, his teddy bear, and a giant dose of TLC won't cure. And let's not forget the follow up doctor's visit next week.
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Monday, May 12, 2008

More on why Obama got my vote.

A must read.

I know the North Carolina primary is over, but the general election is nipping at our heels. The link above articulately states the many reasons I support Barack Obama. Take a look and make your own judgments.

Here's more fodder to consider.
More on why Obama got my vote.SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Sunday, May 11, 2008

The Irony of Motherhood

Mother's Day is the one holiday that is wrought with irony.

Sidebar: It is in fact a holiday, right? I suppose it would be more so if we all got Monday off. A weekday off is reserved for only dead presidents and MLK, I guess. Even Susan B. Anthony doesn't get a holiday, just a crappy one dollar coin that everyone confused with a quarter and isn't minted anymore anyhow. Anyway, back to my original point about Mother's Day brimming with irony.

Today marks the 100th year of moms receiving greeting cards (Have you noticed the price of these things lately?!), handpicked gerber daisies from the neighbor's garden, a splash of White Diamonds or other such department store scent, and a shawl or something else plush and lovely. The irony is that Anna Jarvis, the mother of Mother's Day, never married or had children. Apparently Andrews Methodist Episcopal Church in Grafton, West Virginia houses the only official shrine to mothers. Its purpose is to serve as a "reminder to the accomplishments of these women and to the issues mothers still deal with today, trying to do the balancing act of being everything to everyone." Hmmmm....a pretty decent sentiment if you ask me.

Now for another dose of irony.

You know what I want to mark my special day? A day spent away from the very things that welcomed me into the legions of tired, spent, tugged at, whined to, frenetic women before me: my kids. There, I said it.

Don't you over-indulging helicopter moms start waxing on about what an ungrateful wretch I am. Oh, don't go shooting me nasty comments because you think I don't love my children. I just don't want to be with them ALL THE TIME. Does that make me a bad mom? Does it make me unfit? Does it mean I don't cherish my children? A resounding NO. Turn your pointed little judgmental fingers away, stop rolling your eyes, tuck your scowls away and hear me out. It goes without saying that I adore my children. I sneak peeks at them while they are sleeping, stroke their hair, and whisper "Mommy loves you" in their ears. I romp with them. I smother them with hugs and kisses. I shower them with praise. But I still need, and enjoy, a stolen break. No matter how rewarding and glorious motherhood is, we all need to take some time away to return to a past likeness of ourselves, to readjust, to rejuvenate. I will be a better mother for it.

Mac Daddy was planning on taking the kids to Marbles and an Imax movie this afternoon. At first I was reluctant to go through with these plans. After all, my children are responsible for granting me this day. Shouldn't we be together? I moped and whined about these plans, Mac Daddy all the while insisting I take an afternoon to myself. Then the WHINING set in. Rounds upon rounds of:

"He's TOUCHING me! Ooh, I said he's TOUCHING me. With his FFFOOOOTT!!!!"

"Deal knocked over my tower!"

"Now he's kicking me!"

"No! I don't want to ride on your rocketship!"

"Mmmmoooommmmmm, he won't get on my rocketship!"



"Get off of me!"

"He pinched me!"

"He pushed me!"

"No! No! No!"



There aren't enough exclamation points allotted to me to make this series of whines come to life. And so I acquiesced and let Mac Daddy take the boys. I nary bid them a hearty farewell and enjoyed a shower with no interruptions, no one slathering on my body butter, no one experimenting with trying to put eyeliner on the cat, no one hooking my combs and brushes together to make airplanes, no one jumping on the bed and throwing pillows (the hand embroidered silk ones!), no one opening the shower door just for shits and giggles. An utterly silent shower. Just me, five body sprayers (Thank you, Mac Daddy for granting me this small luxury when we remodeled our house!) and the luscious smell of almond sugar body scrub. I actually had time to shave both legs today. Armpits too.

Now here I sit, rocking out to ABBA, hot coffee in hand, cat at my feet. Don't mock me. I know you know every single word to Take a Chance on Me. Lately it seems that Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! has been my theme song.

Here comes the next great irony.

I haven't a clue what to do with myself. A pedicure? I indulged in a homemade one yesterday during nap time. Read? My much anticipated book, Rockabye, has yet to arrive, and I just finished Dreams From my Father. Magazines? There are nothing but Business Week and Entrepreneur left in the stack. Yawn. All the things on my to-do list involve filing, organizing, cleaning, or similar tasks that don't feel very celebratory at all. And so here I sit, blogging to an unseen audience, basically having a conversation with myself.

I am, however, reminded by myriad photos surrounding me, that there aren't adequate words to describe the utter, selfless love I feel for Bird and Deal. They make me crazy, yes. They also make my insides hurt with unabashed love that would make me hurl boulders at any bully who dares tease my babies on the playground. Bird and Deal have opened my eyes to a world I didn't know existed. Their candid, innocent perspective is just what I need. Like yesterday when Bird declared that when he started growing in my belly he was the size of a sprinkle. I am fortunate, blessed even, to have been sprinkled with the finest taste of motherhood.

I am also left thinking about what I wish for my boys. Above all, I want them to be good stewards of their planet, their communities, their own families and selves. I want them to be to responsible citizens, loving men, generous souls. I want the world to be a friendlier place. More friends, fewer enemies. I want them to put others first and lend a hand before tossing out judgmental words. I want them to have a dose of idealism planted in their psyches. I want them to know the power they wield as citizens, first generation Americans. And I want them to know the responsibility that comes with it.

Back to the irony:

And let's not forget those mothers we hated during our teen years. Oh, the vitriol from back in the day makes me shudder. Now we have mended those wounds, forgiven trespasses, and learned to connect again. We actually never stopped loving our moms all those hormonal, confused days ago. The difference is that now we understand them, their plights, their sorrows, their paradigms, in a way we did not and could not before we became mothers ourselves. A shout out to you, Mom, for loving me despite myself and having the optimism to know that I'd turn out OK. I love you!

Yet the irony remains. What to do with my afternoon? Oh wait, it's after noon. DSW is open!

Read more insights from moms at http://momocrats.typepad.com.
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