Thursday, January 24, 2008 


Since I have just enough time for a drive-by post, I thought I'd share some of the diva's misinterpretations, or rather, re-interpretations of words and phrases. I will give extra credit to any one who can decipher them all. I warn you, some are very easy, others are tough.

"See ya later, crocodator!"

college cheese

shark juice

diamond flash

Extra credit: "mom, why did you call me buttface?" (buttface is the twisted word here, and it has something to do with diamond flash)

Good luck! Answers posted tomorrow!

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Tuesday, January 22, 2008 

The Bucket List, or Day Zero Project

Hopefully at the age of 36, I am nowhere near needing a bucket list. Yesterday's post got me thinking that none of us really know when the time will come. And then, I found this.

In keeping with the whole "carpe diem" thing, I have decided to create my own 101 list, which I will share with you.

1. Paint my basement
2. Take the kids fishing
3. Plant and actually maintain a garden
4. Go geocaching
5. Watch all of AFIs top 100 films
6. Finish our basement bathroom
7. Run a 5k
8. Have a yard sale
9. Clean out all the kids' closets and toys
10. Read "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance" (I never read it in college and always meant to)
11. Start donating blood
12. Find and attend a church on an ongoing basis
13. Stick to our monthly budget
14. Potty train Youngling
15. Teach Cman and LMD to ride their bikes without training wheels
16. Take the kids to the zoo
17. Write a post at least weekly
18. Go to Bay Beach
19. Take the kids ice skating
20. Lose 20 pounds (again)
21. Send cards to loved ones instead of just buying them and leaving them to sit
22. Organize the file cabinet
23. Have the kids' friends over to play at least 4 times a month
24. Update the baby books
25. Get all the digital pictures from the last oh, six years printed
26. Start scrapbooking
27. Bake something from scratch once a week
28. Clean out my closet
29. Decorate Youngling's room and transition him to a bed
30. Find old movie posters for the basement
31. Go visit Canada
32. Join flylady....I know, no comments, please
33. Join a book club
34. Attend at least 1 MOMS event a month
35. Complete the framed family tree
36. Steam clean my carpets
37. Go camping with the kids
38. Limit the kids' TV time to 1 hour a day
39. Ride a train
40. See the Northern Lights
41. Catch fireflies in a jar
42. Take a family trip to Chicago
43. Take a family trip to Arizona
44. Take a family trip to the Happiest Place on Earth
45. Make a CD for Mr. Chaos with songs that remind me of when we were dating
46. Find a babysitter
47. Go out on dates with my husband again (at least once a month)
48. Drink 8 glasses of water a day
49. Write a letter to each of the kids to open at a future date
50. Send Mr. Chaos a love letter a month
51. Finish the kids' playroom
52. Complete decorating the game room
53. Complete decorating the family room
54. Take an art class
55. Build a deck for the backyard
56. Sign up for the Debeers Class Action
57. Do my best to finally see a tornado
58. Build a snow fort
59. Have a snowball fight
60. Set up chore lists for the kids
61. Complete the floor plan sketches
62. Obtain builder's permit
63. Work out at least 3 times a week
64. Take family trip to one national monument or park.
65. Attend a State Fair
66. Eat State Fair food for one day without any guilt the next day
67. Take the Jelly Belly Warehouse Tour.
68. Tour Leinie's.
69. Adopt a pet
70. Go to the dentist
71. Take the glucose fasting test
72. Get Lasik done
73. Go to Summerfest
74. Hike at Devil's Rock
75. Go on a picnic
76. Go golf 18 at least once
77. Register LMD for kindergarten
78. Register Youngling for preschool
79. Sell old TV
80. Perform a random act of kindness at least once a week
81. Finally let Mr. Chaos teach me how to play tennis
82. Set up the hammock this summer
83. Take at least one nap in that hammock
84. Tour the Packer Hall of Fame
85. Say "yes" to one of my kids' requests at least once a day. Even if it's just reading a book at the time they want me to do so.
86. Take a cooking class
87. Take a cake decorating class
88. Try 10 new fruits or vegetables
89. Take a neighbor cookies
90. Take a CPR class
91. Become a trained weather spotter
92. Attend a ballet
93. Attend a live theater event
94. Attend a concert
95. Take a family trip to the Mall of America to see Lego store and the Underwater Adventures Aquarium and the Dinosaur Museum
96. Attend a Green Bay Packer game at Lambeau Field
97. See the Badgers play football at Camp Randall stadium
98. Take the kids bowling
99. Go to the neighborhood party in summer
100. Cut eating out to twice a month
101. Stretch for 5 minutes every day

A special thanks to Gina over at There's N.O. pLAce Like Home. She just put this up on her blog and it's where I first heard about it.

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Monday, January 21, 2008 

The C Word defines it as the following:

can·cer /ˈkænsər/ [kan-ser]

1. Pathology.
a. a malignant and invasive growth or tumor, esp. one originating in epithelium, tending to recur after excision and to metastasize to other sites.
b. any disease characterized by such growths.
2. any evil condition or thing that spreads destructively; blight.

There was a third definition about a zodiac sign, but that doesn't fit today's discussion, so let's choose to ignore it.

Cancer has touched the Chaos house not once, but twice now. My aunt is fighting and winning her battle with colon cancer. She is my mom's sister, and as early as I can remember, I have felt like one of her own. In her mid-60s, she unapologetically dyes her hair a bright, shocking red. One of the most upbeat and dynamic individuals I know, hearing her news was a punch in the gut. It left me reeling with uncertainty for her future as well as mine.

My aunt found out her news in a shocking way. One night her temperature became dangerously high. After being admitted, it was discovered her bowels had ruptured, her insides were gangrenous, and just like that she had cancer. One moment seemingly well, and then not so much.

I admit I have been selfish in regards to her illness. I root from the sidelines, choosing to get sanitized updates via my mother. I wear my Livestrong bracelet in support of her battle. Yet I can't bring myself to call her on the phone. It would make the word too real, too present to ignore. It's difficult enough hearing secondhand that she is wanting to give up;hard to hear she doesn't want to have any more of the medications that will save her life. As I sit here and type this, I can tell you which number chemo treatment she is on (seven), how many more she has to go (five), and how her overall outlook is (the doctors are optimistic they will soon be able to say cancer free). What I can't tell you are the things that humanize the battle. Do I know if my aunt, who has been a hairdresser all her life, still has her hair? Shamefully, I do not. I don't want to hear how tired her voice sounds or how defeated she is after her latest chemo treatment. And once you finish reading this post, you will understand why my shame has been doubled.

A few months after we got the news on my aunt, Mr. Chaos received a call no one wants to hear. His mother called to tell us a spot was found during her annual mammogram. She was upbeat and dismissive, telling us it was most likely nothing, even though all of us knew the urgent manner the doctors had when setting up her biopsy date was not a good sign. Biopsy came back positive, which led to MRI. MRI showed spots on the spine, which led to nuclear scan. Nuclear scan showed lesions on the spinal column, skull, several ribs, and an arm bone.

And now here we are. Words and phrases are being thrown at us all over again. Words like "Femara" and "metastasized" and "3% survival rate". Words that individually can be dissected and defined. But as a whole, those words become an incomprehensible jumble of angst that is immobilizing. How can someone continue to want to fight after hearing 3% survival rate? Thankfully, my mother-in-law is looking at things in her cheerful way. Even more thankfully, she is choosing to ignore the things the doctors are not saying. Like the fact that although she has had her diagnosis for over two months now, no doctor has talked about surgery on her breast.

Mr. Chaos has been dealing with things in his usual way. He bottles everything up within himself, believing with every fiber of his being that ignoring it will make it all go away. I remind him on a daily basis to be gentle with the kids as they do not yet know. Not that he isn't gentle, but more that he isn't his usual laid back self. I feel that I am floating adrift with this news, and I feel the need to anchor myself. Yet I respect his need to find his own way to acceptance.

Meanwhile I have been busying myself with things I can handle for him. I spent an entire day organizing the vast quantity of CDs, video games and DVDs into binders....a job Mr. Chaos has been promising to do over a year now. I made the phone call to the plumber to start our bathroom remodel. Tomorrow I plan on reorganizing our file cabinet. I started the job today, but was waylaid when I found something I had been wanting to discuss with him. In my quest for order in our lives, I found her will.

The will was drafted six years ago. I took it out of the manila envelope, and read her final wishes as I still crouched on the floor in front of the file cabinet. Yet again I found a life summarized by things said and unsaid. I now know my mother-in-law wishes a memorial service at a certain church. No heroic measures will be taken in extending her life. She wishes to be an organ donor. In the event of Mr. Chaos' passing before her, she wishes all worldly possessions be left to Cman. LMD and Youngling weren't born yet. That omission was what finally made me weep. Not because they had been left out. In reality, they hadn't, if the phrase "and any future children of my offspring" was any indication.

At that moment I truly began to realize all the things cancer will be taking, from all of us. As it continues to eat away at her body, it is also eating away a mother, a grandmother, and a warm human being. She won't be at the weddings of the chaos kids. She won't see Youngling in school, meet Cman's first girlfriend, or witness any of LMD's dance recitals.

What muddies the waters in this are the things she will be gaining. My mother-in-law is loving and kind when her medications are working. Not the cancer ones....the ones for her bipolar disorder. There have been times where for the sake of the kids or for Mr. Chaos, where contact has been limited. When my mother-in-law is ill with her bipolar, she tries to hurt everyone she can. We have worried on more than one occasion for Cman's safety. So with this cancer diagnosis she will be gaining dignity and most importantly, peace. She will be free to be the person we all know she can be after she passes. It's hard to begrudge her of that. So, all the losses aside, I do feel that she must be looking forward to release. I have been able to watch this all from an emotional distance. In the past whenever issues with her health arose, Mr. Chaos and I dealt with them together eventually.

This time I have been increasingly frustrated with how completely I have been shut out. Any mention of "that word" in this house leads to a change of subject or a change of scenery on the part of Mr. Chaos. I will admit as the weeks have gone on I have become more terse in my interactions with him. I failed to understand why he couldn't discuss things with me, or at least acknowledge the necessity for making certain decisions.

Yet today, in writing this post, I have realized a few things. He calls her on a daily basis to see how she is doing. After years of intermittent communications, he has forgiven her and is making himself available to her as much as she needs it. He may not want to face the details, but he has been able to make himself emotionally raw. Instead of hiding with excuses of distance and commitments like I do with my aunt, he is not only facing her cancer but their troubled past. He is braving it all to help them both find peace.

As for me? When I hit submit, I think I'll be making two phone calls. One to my mother-in-law, and then one to my aunt. I think it's time we talked.

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