Friday, July 27, 2012

The Vulcan Brow

I spent the day, 7am-3pm, having my 2nd Mohs procedure on my forehead. This one was way more involved than the same procedure done 2 weeks ago. Today the doctor removed 3 layers of non-life threatening skin cancer versus the 1 layer for the other forehead spot. The result was a significant (to me) oval cut out of the middle, right side of my forehead. I now have another 2.5 inch incision with 30 stitches except this one is horizontal and above my right brow so ....

As I leave the doctor's office, I immediately phone Commuter Husband who is in Houston:
    Me tearfully: "Everything is okay but one eyebrow is definitely higher than the other."
    Commuter Husband encouragingly: "You will always look interested."
    Me more tearfully: "Only on one side!"
    Commuter Husband with a chuckle: "Well, like a Vulcan."
    Me: Weak Smile

So now I am in bed with Twizzlers, a soda, a US Weekly and that same Bag of Frozen Peas feeling sorry for myself for at least 24 hours. Then I will remember there are way worse things.

And the doctor did say the brow should relax down at least 80% within 2 months ...

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Skype with a 10 Year Old Boy

Youngest Son likes to Skype. Here are some examples of what he likes to do:
  • Move his lips like his is talking but no sound coming out - think mime artist
  • Place various body parts such as his tongue and eye within centimeters of the built in Apple video lens - think gross!
  • Dodge in and out of the video range - think motion sickness
And these antics never lose their entertainment value for him. His has a wide grin on his face the entire time.

For those of us past 4th grade, not so entertaining on the billionth time. It is endearing though.

Fun loving Youngest Son on his 10th birthday last April - beads, hat and glasses all part of his self-created birthday look. 

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Week 14 Menu

I picked Youngest Son up from Jewish sleep away camp Friday morning. He had a great time (of course) but Youngest Son, Commuter Husband and I were all super happy to reunite!

And this weekend was more in line with our normal routine which means poor Commuter Husband and Youngest Son braved the heat most of the weekend getting caught up on lawn work. On a positive note though, we did have our much appreciated Sunday grill fest.  The result means Youngest Son and I will have lots of yummy food this week ...

Goldmine Lager Beer Can Chicken - so moist!
Mixed Grilled Veggies including Mexican Grey Squash
Apple Chicken Sausage (my favorite) and Hamburgers (more burgers in fridge too)
BEFORE: Marinated Asparagus Ready for Grill
AFTER: Charred Asparagus - Distracted while helping Youngest Son with Spanish - uh oh!
 We are always so grateful when Commuter Husband cooks for us!!! Youngest Son and I are on our own this week - no Oldest Son and no Afternoon Nanny - darn - no one to share all this food with (evil grin) ...

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Grand Plan Update

We are 3 months into our Commuter Family lifestyle choice. We expect an 8 month period (till December) of transition and a series of critical decisions.

Here are the things we do know and the things that are working well:

  • Commuter Husband 
    • Loves his job in Houston and things are going well on the professional front.
    • Still enjoying the generous hospitality of Commuter Husband's Sister and her husband in Houston.
    • Has a multitude of drink coupons to enjoy on his Southwest flights home.
  • Oldest Son 
    • Enters 7th grade and is in the intensity of preparing for his Bar Mitzvah. He is happy and looking forward to new experiences in 7th grade including playing middle school football.
    • Commuter Husband helps Oldest Son with Hebrew via Skype and telephone - Commuter Husband is way better at Hebrew than me!
  • Youngest Son 
    • Enters 4th grade and is his usual spirited, independent and "enthusiastic about all" self. He has many, many interests - so many that he definitely has to prioritize.
    • Commuter Husband doing weekend volunteering at Operation Kindness with Youngest Son. This has been true quality time for all involved including the dogs and cats.
  • Both boys have adjusted and responded to the Commuter Family lifestyle with flying colors. They are building life skills that are really not negotiable in our situation.  
  • Mommy with Commuter Husband (me) is still getting great work in Dallas area and things are also good for me on the professional front. I am holding up in the daily grind okay and enjoy the extra time with the kids.
  • Afternoon Nanny will be on board to help each afternoon this school year and will help a great deal during August - I am thankful for Afternoon Nanny!
  • Corporate Benefits and a 2nd income has relieved much of the financial stress. Enough said on that one. 
  • We have planned out Commuter Husband's travel schedule for the next few months so that he is with us for important family events (certain sports games, High Holy Days, etc.)
Things that are not great (other than the obvious of Commuter Husband gone during week):
  • Getting lawn work and household things accomplished in Dallas on the weekends. Not so bad if we are home in Dallas every weekend but we are often out of town on weekends so things tend to pile up.
  • Our life requires a bit more forward planning than most but many things in our kids' lives are not clear ahead of time (sports schedules, school commitments, etc.)
  • I feel the emotional weight of an unclear future direction (see below.)
Now what? Most of this is in the brain storming phase ...
  • Commuter Husband will get a little place in Houston area. We are considering renting a place on Lake Conroe so that the family can go to Commuter Husband more often and enjoy the lake and nature and a get-away from the Dallas rat-race (huge appeal for me!) Perhaps our friends could join us there too on occasion!
  • Look for ways to simplify life:
    • Instead of kids making their lunch and taking 4 days a week, we may put both of them on the meal plan at school. I actually did an Excel spreadsheet cost analysis (screams geek!)
    • We need to update our communication and technology family approach. We may provide Oldest Son with a smart phone earlier than anticipated. With one parent in Dallas and one parent in Houston who both work full-time, I think we are going to need more flexibility. We also need to consider laptop(s) or notebook(s) so computer needs are accessible from anywhere.
    • Do we sell house in Dallas and rent in Dallas area in order to have housing that requires way less upkeep? Though this is probably not the best idea because our home is where our kids were born, does create that one secure and stable place for all of us and we love our neighborhood!
  • Both our vehicles are a well into the 6 digits in mileage (1999 and 2003) and guzzle gas. With more driving, we probably need to consider new cars. I am not sure car payments are feasible although a cost analysis may prove otherwise (another spreadsheet coming.) 
  • We will need to make a final decision about Commuter Husband's re-location package and the 2013-14 school year.
The current sentiment from Commuter Husband and me is that we made a good decision to be a Commuter Family. The Pros outweigh the Cons but we still have a ways to go to get things stabilized ...  

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Youngest Son's Tea Party

I could not resist posting this stereotypical letter from Youngest Son, 4th grade, who is at Jewish sleep away camp for 2 weeks. We received the below today. It is written in cursive as shown with his illustration too ... love this atypical kid!

Dear M & D,
I had a awsome day I got to play gaga, flag football, scouts and my favorite a tea party! We learned how to dance, maners, and to have fun! (it's sort of like ketilian)
from: Youngest Son

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Bag of Peas to the Rescue

FROZEN Bag of Peas
This Frozen Bag of Peas has been my companion this weekend. It is perfect for those oddly shaped areas needing the attention of an ice pack.

My Mohs procedure on Friday resulted in a 2.5 inch cut with 30 stitches down my forehead requiring ice on and off every 20 minutes for 48 hours. Unfortunately, I somehow forgot to ice it Friday. I realized my error Saturday morning while reading the bandaging directions and I  was relieved to find this Bag of Peas in our freezer.

I then teared up while placing this Bag of Peas above my left eye - how could I forget?
I had also scheduled 2 outings on Saturday that I could not possibly attend - what was I thinking?

Commuter Husband with sincere kindness reminded me that I am human & we all make mistakes ...

And, it appears I was up and about too much today (Sunday) because my eye is just now swelling.

Limitations are not something I am good at recognizing. Thank goodness my family and friends are so understanding and forgiving.

So I am pecking out this blog post with one hand as the other hand holds this Frozen Bag of Peas on my forehead. I do recall, with a naughty smile, that Commuter Husband was in need of a similar Bag of Peas after we decided Youngest Son would be the Last Son ...

Friday, July 13, 2012

Trade Offs

Today on a Medical Questionnaire: Do you have someone at home who can change the bandages?

Answer: No

I do not have someone because we are a Commuter Family. Many, many adults do not have someone for lots of reasons. It just felt odd and a bit sad to answer No.

In the last three of four years, I have significantly "helped" our family hit our high annual deductibles and even higher out-of-pockets of our expensive privately-paid insurance. Today, I had the first of two Mohs surgeries for basal cell carcinoma (thanks to my lily white skin peppered with freckles and a youth without sunscreen!) Previously, I have had to deal with lower back issues and a feisty gall bladder.

I am thinking Commuter Husband's job providing much appreciated corporate benefits was a good move for the next season of our life even if he is not always here to change my bandages ...

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Work & Play & Best Laid Plans

We just had a week with lots ...
WORK (sorta) - International Juvenile Diabetes Conference
Buzzy in 2012 Consumer Guide in Diabetes Forecast
My Amazing Friend invented Buzzy. A wonderfully simple device for relieving needle pain. I have had the good fortune to ride along, beside and behind as she has manufactured Buzzy and placed it in over 300 hospitals and provided pain relief to lots of kids and adults.

Each year, Commuter Husband, Oldest Son, Youngest Son and I try to cover a conference for Amazing Friend to promote, educate and sell Buzzy in the Exhibit Hall. Last August, we went to San Antonio, TX for the down syndrome conference and this past week we went to Orlando, FL for the International Juvenile Diabetes Conference. It is such a great life experience for all of us to interact with all these kids and see the beauty in how they face down adversity.

Oldest Son and Youngest Son also "earn their keep." They approach adults and confidently explain the  scientific facts and data to support Buzzy. And they make sales. We always get many compliments on how knowledgeable and well spoken the boys are in their interactions. One Mom brought her Sales Husband back to Buzzy Booth just for Youngest Son to repeat his spiel - too funny!
Boys getting Buzzy booth ready!
PLAY: Universal Studios Harry Potter, Disney Epcot and Surfing
Youngest Son trying out "wrong" wand at Ollivanders
We did (of course) arrive in Orlando a few days early. We were all thrilled to visit The Wizarding World of Harry Potter to sample butterbeer in Hogsmeade, visit Ollivanders (Youngest Son had a wand choose him!) and ride The Forbidden Journey.

Amazing Friend GIFTED us Epcot tickets. She is also very, very generous.  Epcot is our unanimous favorite Disney park. We even got a real lightening & thunder show before Illuminations.

On July 4th, we drove over to New Smyrna Beach on the Atlantic side. The boys had a fun surf lesson and the beaches were lovely. We had hot dogs and ice cream and a relaxing time. I even picked up a few shells.
Surfer Dude leading the lambs ...

Red spot is Oldest Son surfing
BEST LAID PLANS: Home and Off to Greene Family Camp
The Plan was to fly into Dallas at 9pm Saturday and meet Fun Friends at 7:45am Sunday to caravan our kids to Greene Family Camp.

Here is short version of what really happened:

  • Dallas storms delayed our American Airlines flight out of Orlando and AA then rerouted us to San Antonio, TX
  • We deplaned in San Antonio at 11pm where AA had absolutely zero options for us: no hotel, no new flight and no help to re-schedule. AA advised to call the 1-800 number BUT all flights from San Antonio to Dallas booked till Tuesday. The gate agent disappeared within 5 minutes and security showed up. Flabbergasted we were.
  • So, we rented a car from Avis (who felt so sorry for us they upgraded us to a Jeep!), drove to Dallas, picked up our car from DFW airport at 4:30am, returned rental at 5:00am and arrived home at 5:30am
  • We slept 3.5 hours and then drove boys to Greene Family Camp in Bruceville (south of Waco, TX) and yes we had just driven right by there on I35 at 2:30am ...  
Anyway, we had a great week, an unforgettable end and the boys are safely delivered to Jewish camp: Oldest Son until August 1st and Youngest Son until July 20th.

Commuter Husband is sweetly asleep beside me now ... guess the drive back to Houston will wait until the morning ...

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Our 2012 Game Plan - Done.

THREE Hours!!

Commuter Husband and I spent 3 hours today working on logistics planning for the rest of 2012. This included researching, discussing, deciding and planning for priorities & then updating our Family Google Calendar for:

  • Commuter Husband attending 4 of Oldest Son's 7th grade Thursday night football games (Yes, Oldest Son plans to play football!)
  • Commuter Husband being home for Rosh Hashanna and Yom Kippur
  • Commuter Husband participating in Youngest Son's December teacher/parent/student conference
  • Family weekend camping excursion to Arkansas
  • Temple weekend retreat
  • Commuter Husband taking Thanksgiving week off for family trip
  • Year-end Bar Mitzvah trip to Israel
  • Commuter Husband's email to his boss requesting the time off that we have now planned out - yippee!
  • Booking and paying for 5 more Southwest Flights (9 total flights between now and end of September) 
  • And the ultimate OCD scary moment: I have actually scheduled Commuter Husband to drive morning Car Pool for 5 days in first few weeks of school (Yes, we have a Google Car Pool Calendar - doesn't everyone?)
Our Commuter Family lifestyle requires more forethought - obviously.