Category Archives: Friendships

When is it ENOUGH for YOU?

13 June 2016

I had my first radiation treatment today.  I will go every weekday for the next three weeks. When walking into the facility, my beautiful wife reached out to hold my hand – and I was nervous, in a way that I haven’t been in a long time.  It reminded me of all of the times that we have gone dancing, or to play Gaybingo, here in Dallas, or out to the theater in NYC.  In those moments, we are safe (or so we think). 13394187_10153754358297309_8892603861900442623_nWe can securely hold hands, dance together, share a kiss. Yesterday, in the early morning hours, a deranged man with assault weapons stormed an Orlando nightclub, filled with members of the LGBT community, along with their friends, allies, and club employees. Those who were at the club, Pulse, this past weekend were in a safe, secure space where they could be themselves without fear. Have you ever felt afraid to show love or affection towards the one that you love in public? Every time I think of it, I shudder, because that could have been US, pre-baby days when we went dancing more often, or went out to socialize with friends for a drink at one of our “safe havens.” It has sickened me to see tweets from not only high profile figures like Dan Patrick or Donald Trump, hours after a massacre, using phrases like “you reap what you sow” or blaming current administration. It has sickened me even more to see people I know – people who are supposedly my friends that care about me – posting similar “reap what you sow” statements. It’s too much, and I almost just. can’t. even.


When is it ENOUGH for YOU?

What the hell is wrong with people? This massacre of human life did not happen as a result of our current political administration – how ridiculous is it that anyone would even utter those sentiments?!  It isn’t the parents’ fault. It isn’t because “God has been taken out of schools” – I NEVER prayed in school growing up. It is unbridled, unmitigated and uncontrolled HATRED.  It was not carried out by someone in our country illegally – this was a US citizen, born in New York.  It was not carried out by someone who conducted a back-alley gun purchase with no criminal background check – this was a military grade assault weapon that was purchased legally through a FLAWED system. If background checks came back clear (and federal background checks were obviously NOT done, or done correctly), then something is seriously wrong, considering the murderer had a history of domestic violence and had been investigated by the FBI not once, but at least twice; yet he still was able to not only purchase the murder weapon, but also hold a job in security.  I don’t really care anymore if I piss someone off with my distaste for guns – enough is ENOUGH.  Something MUST be done, and NOW!  I see all of the screaming that Obama and Hillary are trying to take away guns, and second amendment bullshit – but have yet to see any evidence of such attempts to take away weapons OR rights.  Just because someone states that there needs to be gun reform, that doesn’t equate to “taking away my guns!”  Just today, I read an article of a mom in Philadelphia who had the ability to purchase one of these heinous weapons of mortal combat in SEVEN MINUTES. Yes, you read that correctly. SEVEN minutes. No waiting period – HA! That is laughable! I want to know how in the hell that is possible! I want to know how a 20 year old kid with an expired driver’s license was able to also go and buy one of these weapons in FIVE MINUTES?! THIS. THIS is part of the huge overlying problem.  A very, very flawed system for background checks that is the biggest joke that any of us have ever seen! So yes, as Samantha Bee has said on her show this week, we DO want to take away your guns, if they are military grade assault rifles! So come on people, how can you see children get gunned down at school, or a nightclub full of people be systematically murdered by the spray of bullets from an assault weapon that only belongs in a military combat situation?!  When is it going to be ENOUGH for everyone?  sandyhook-heart


Twenty children and six adults at Sandy Hook obviously wasn’t enough.  Forty-nine more people are dead today, and more than that are injured, some may not recover, but all are never to be the same – is this not enough?  Do these lives not matter as much because many of them were LGBT?  People screaming back and forth at each other angrily about their stance on guns, or radicals, or LGBT citizens does nothing but create more noise, overtaking the sound of the tears and sorrow for those who were lost.  Is today the day that you, or I, have to be right? We may not ever agree on who is right, but I hope we can agree that it is most definitely ENOUGH! Those of us who feel this pain for our brothers & sisters who perished, who feel the outrage at the loss of life being overshadowed by arguments about politics or gun control; we still see you, the silent ones who normally pray for every tragedy or post your condolences when the unthinkable happens. We see you and notice the absolute absence of commentary from you on THIS particular tragedy – what is THAT about?   13407221_10153450633247820_179011674951000247_n

When is it ENOUGH for you?

Hatred for that which is different from ourselves can take on an ugly life of its own.  It seems that somewhere along the path in the life of these terrorists, this kind of hatred became perfectly acceptable. Most of us, civilized human beings, are mortified by the atrocities of the Holocaust during WWII, asking over and over why more people didn’t step in and stop the systematic murders of millions.  We are appalled when we hear of those who stood by and let it happen, not willing to step out of their fear and stand up to the obvious wrong that was happening before their very eyes. But that was something in our history books, right?  Yet here we are again, only the murders aren’t by the millions, in another country out of sight.  It’s 26 here, 50 there, a high school or a movie theater in Colorado. When WE see hate directed towards another, and we say nothing, then WE are saying that we are okay with it. When WE see hate physically manifested towards another, and we take no action, then WE are saying that we are okay with it. When WE hear a teen call another faggot, or tell them that they’re “gay” when they really mean “dumb or stupid,” and WE don’t call them out on it, then the message we give is that we don’t have a problem with that kind of hate speech. When is it ENOUGH for YOU?  Will it be enough when it’s YOUR child, YOUR brother or sister, YOUR childhood best friend who was dancing in a nightclub, but then is on your television screen as just one among the bodies? Will you be arguing about your guns then? Will you be pointing fingers at politicians then? Or will you be face to the ground, arms around a stranger who mourns next to you, because THEIR person silently lays among the carnage next to YOUR person? When is it ENOUGH for YOU?

Today I laid on a table in a cold room, alone, with a mask locked tight around my face, while a huge machine clicked and buzzed while circling my head, giving me the radiation that we hope will keep me alive. FullSizeRender-7 I had to remain completely still. I fought the urge to scream, to freak out in claustrophobic madness. I fought the tears as panic tried to take over. I gritted my teeth in anger, knowing that if I don’t do this, my chances of winning – of living – become markedly lower. FullSizeRender-8 



Today, fifty people will also lie on a table in a cold room, alone – no mask on their face needed. They will remain completely still, too; no fighting panic like they surely experienced during the moments before they died.  I cannot imagine the terror that went through their hearts and minds during those final moments.  They no longer have the urge to scream, or cry, or panic; their lives were cut short by a terrorist who hated them, just for BEING. Is this too harsh for you to read?  When is it ENOUGH for YOU?? Most of the victims were young, with a full and productive life ahead of them.  Some were coupled, some were not.  Some were out, others were not.  Some were there with friends, others were there with a supportive parent.  But rather than give this terrorist a minute of time learning his background – hell, even learning his name – I choose to remember as many of the names of those who perished that I possibly can.  I will try to remember their stories, as I hear them.  

Like Amanda Alvear. She was 25 and was at the club Pulse with her best friend, celebrating having lost 200 pounds. And Brenda McCool, age 49. She was a two-time cancer survivor.  She raised twelve children, and was at Pulse dancing with one of her sons, who survived the shooting, but had to watch his mother die. Stanley Almodovar III was 23 and a pharmacy tech. Cory Connell, age 21, was leaving the club with his girlfriend when they came upon the shooter.  He was a college student who hoped to become a firefighter.  

They were all people just like you and I. Instead of everyone standing around with raised fists in the air, angry and indignant about who or what to blame, why don’t we learn what we can about the only people who really matter in all of this.  Click on their name; if there is an available profile, the link will take you to it:


When is it ENOUGH for YOU?




Wow – it’s Been a Minute!

Hey there – long time no see! It’s been a while since I’ve been here apparently! The holidays cruised on by in a whirlwind of merriment and busy-ness, just like usual – I can’t believe that I didn’t sit down and write a post! Needless to say, 2015 was ushered in pretty low-key for us (even our simple plans of dinner and movie out were cut short from a migraine); we ended up back at home, and our fancy Napa bottle of wine that was chilling in the fridge to ring in the New Year is still there, unopened. We’ll get to it eventually, huh?
All this to say, now that school is back in session for the second semester, I’m not subbing hardly at all, so I have more time to focus on my photography, salsa, meal planning, and helping Krystal get Zoe’s Sweet Inspirations off the ground. Heck it’s February and all of our Christmas decorations are piled up on the dining room table and front living room, just waiting to be packed up and taken back out to the storage shed! But whatever….it’ll get done by St. Patrick’s Day I’m sure! LOL

All this to say…a new blog posting is coming soon (in the next few days, I hope) about my most recent chapter in the reconstruction saga. And next week I should have a post highlighting a local chef friend and her spring menu. Am hoping to have another chef spotlight in the next few weeks as well. You never know what you’re gonna find here! So stay tuned….


Walking the Talk

For many years now, I have actively made an effort to give to others more than I did the year before.  It is something that I enjoy doing, along with my wife, and together we are constantly striving to teach our children to do the same.  I am very blessed to have a teenage son who LOVES to give back to others, simply out of the kindness of his heart.  For most of his life, he has pretty much had all of his needs, and wants, met without knowing what it is like to struggle or go without.  His older brother, on the other hand, experienced struggling and going without – to a moderate degree – when he and his young, single mother scraped by for many years just trying to pay rent and buy groceries.  I wasn’t able to instill the importance of giving back to others when he was young, because we just didn’t have any extra to give.  There were a few Thanksgivings and Christmases that were so lean, that I cried at the thought of having nothing for my young son; feeling like a failure as a mother.  Of course I know that the holidays aren’t about superficial or material things, but just like most parents, you want to be able to provide gifts for those that you care about the most.  It was during those times of lean that I truly learned that there is indeed a lot of good in a lot of people.  I remember one Christmas in particular, when we lived in a small, two bedroom apartment, and I didn’t have any money for food, let alone Christmas presents for my three year old.  On a Saturday afternoon, a few weeks before Christmas, I got a knock on my door.  When I opened it, there stood Santa Claus – arms filled to the brim with groceries.  Santa Holding Stack of GiftsAs I stood there, with my mouth open, he brought them in and set them down, and then left to go get more.  He returned with more food, then left again, only to return with a large box of wrapped toys that he placed under my bare tree.  Just before he and his helpers left, he told me that someone had signed me up for the Secret Santa at the Methodist church in my town, and that he hoped that this helped us have a better Christmas.  I remember hugging Santa and crying, so thankful that someone had taken just a moment to think of us and provide such an endearing, life-changing moment.  That Christmas, and that ten minutes of my life, forever changed how I looked at the world around me.  I vowed that whenever I was able, I would always do whatever was in my power to do the same for those who needed help.

It would be a good many years before I was in a position to do very much for anybody beyond my own family.  I would donate clothes, shoes, or toys regularly, and that was all I could do for a long time.  I would donate small amounts of money here and there as I could.  I would donate my time here and there for a cause, always remembering that Christmas and knowing that someday I would do more.  Eventually, I would join a service-based sorority, and over the years have done many charity functions and events with my sisters.  It has just been in the last few years that I have been in a place where I am able to do more and give more than I ever have in the past.  We, my family, along with the families of my sisters, have started many traditions of giving that we have watched continue to grow with each passing year.  Some years we have donated our time and our cooking to feeding families staying in the Ronald McDonald House of Dallas while their children are in the hospital.

Giving Ronald McDonald some love at his house in Dallas
Giving Ronald McDonald some love at his house in Dallas

We have, for several years, donated items to Newborns in Need, who provide sleepers and blankets for young moms having babies at Parkland Hospital of Dallas.  We donate time, money, and physical energy towards at least one breast cancer event each year.  My family, along with my sisters this year, collect diapers in lieu of gifts for our daughter’s birthday, and donate them to an organization in Dallas that gives them to homeless families.  Last weekend, at her third birthday party, between my sisters and those who came to her party, we collected almost 1700 diapers to donate!

Harrison atop the diaper mountain that was donated at her birthday (and 5 boxes came in after the pic!) - Oct 2014
Harrison atop the diaper mountain that was donated at her birthday (and 5 boxes came in after the pic!) – Oct 2014

My wife and I also volunteer four times a year at a cancer retreat, where she might lead a session of arts & crafts, and I run the kitchen for the weekend.  Recently, one of my sisters and I volunteered on a Saturday morning to make sandwiches for the homeless, and were blown away at the coming-together of our community to make 4400 sandwiches in less than an hour.

My sister, Danielle, and I spending a Saturday making sandwiches - Oct 2014
My sister, Danielle, and I spending a Saturday making sandwiches – Oct 2014

Several years ago, I wanted to give back to one of the schools in our community that my middle son attended, so my sisters and I made them a Thanksgiving basket to gift to one of their families in need.  The next year, we did two baskets.  The year after that, we did three baskets.  And last year, we did ten baskets.  Our goal for this year is a dozen baskets, but we may end up exceeding that if the interest and donations are up!

So while all of this feels wonderful and makes most people want to keep doing it over and over, there often comes a time when we are faced with putting our money where our mouth is, so to speak.  What do I mean?  I mean that sometimes we are confronted with the choice of supporting a charity, or not, based on personal choice, moral codes, or ethical behavior that we either agree or disagree with.  I’m not talking about not going to Chick-Fil-A and giving them my money because the founder’s son doesn’t agree with gay whatever.  Or not giving Hobby Lobby my money because they stand against women’s rights of choice in their own family planning.  But we don’t typically give to Boy Scouts of America because of their stance on allowing LGBT parents to act in a role of leadership in individual troops.  We feel strongly about it, as parents, because the parents of these scouts are just exactly the same as any of the other troop leaders:  Parents.  We typically don’t give our money, or donated goods, to the Salvation Army, largely due to their anti-LGBT policies and practices of discrimination.  But those are just a few examples and reasons that are important to US – and no, we don’t expect anybody to go along with us in our stances unless they hold the same ideals and beliefs.

But what if we are called upon to provide help in a time of need to a group (like a church or charity, for example) that we don’t care for all that much, or that we don’t agree with and also know that they don’t particularly care for us?  Is it our place to judge their level of need?  Is it our place to pick and choose, knowing that without the help that we could provide, their need might not get met?  I feel like, when faced with two roads before me – one is to give without question, and one is to say that the need is not great enough – which one will I choose?  It shouldn’t be a hard choice.  If my heart has in it to give – be it time, money, service, or goods – then when a need is presented to me, there should be no question as to whether I will or not.  When charitable work becomes about US, then we are no longer doing it for honorable reasons.  So what I thought might be a dilemma should never be.  If I give of myself, and I share that with those around me, then my gift of paying something forward should never be in question because of the recipient.  THIS is how we become an example to our children, and how we teach them to become selfless people who care about their fellow mankind.  I’m excited for all of the upcoming opportunities that my family, along with my sisters, will have to give back.

Meeting Pastor Lisa at SoupMobile in Deep Ellum last week when Noah and I dropped off blankets, sweaters, hoodies, coats & hats – Nov 2014

And all of this is not to brag, boast, or say how great I am because I do these things.  This is hopefully a way to show how easy it is to help others, and hopefully inspire even one person to do so.  Pay it forward folks.  You never know when you might be the one in the position of needing that help.  This is repayment time in life for me. Repayment for countless times of help, either monetarily or otherwise, when I wasn’t in my best places emotionally or financially. Repayment for every meal, visit, help with kids, fundraiser, message of hope, and encouragement that I received from diagnosis to remission. I am forever grateful to those who came together for me and my family after my cancer diagnosis – friends, family, and many that I don’t even know.  People gave of themselves with their time, their talent, their finances; and I will forever be indebted to do the same as often as I am able.  And always remember, a little goes a long way.  We need to all just take care of each other…okay??

The Final (hopefully) Cancer Frontier

July 26, 2014

It’s been a minute since I have blogged about the whole breast cancer journey, mainly because I finished treatments back in February and haven’t really done much else. A few weeks ago, I had my first three-month labwork and appointment with my oncologist. I was nervous before going in, knowing that they would be checking my tumor markers to make sure that they were not elevated (which would mean recurrence). Thankfully everything turned out wonderfully normal!

So a few weeks ago, I went back to the surgeon – Dr. Carolyn Garner, extraordinaire – who performed my bilateral total mastectomies last year, as well as my port placement and repair for chemo. A year or so before I even got diagnosed with cancer, my family knew and loved Dr. Garner’s work as a surgeon. She had removed the thyroids from our friend Holly, Holly’s mom, Erikka (right after Harrison was born), and my mother. Dr. Queen of the Thyroidectomy! One of the times that I had gone in with

My girls came to visit - and borrowed my bed!
My girls came to visit – and borrowed my bed!

Erikka before she had her thyroid removed, the doc did an ultrasound on my throat, just for kicks, since I had so many symptoms related to a problem thyroid. I didn’t have insurance at the time, but I did have an obvious nodule that was likely making my thyroid absolutely useless. Flash forward to 2014, when I finally obtained wonderful medical insurance. I had to wait until I was completely done with treatment, or at least that what was recommended, before finally addressing my throid or anything else that would require surgery. I went in, she wanded my throat again, and just confirmed that the nodule was still there, and appeared to be very calcified. We also discussed removing my chemo port, which she had previously sewn to my chest wall. Yes. Good times and great comfort, particularly all of the times that Harrison hit it with her head or body-slammed me. And then, as an afterthought, change of heart, whatever, I started asking about possible small reconstruction. She had removed my breasts and had gone as close to the chest wall as she could, and this left me flatter than a boy – I was actually caved in. Some shirts and swimsuits just don’t fit right anymore, and I had become very self-conscious about it (and I just KNEW that I wouldn’t care about that kind of thing). Well, apparently, I was wrong.

Two of my babies visiting me <3
Two of my babies visiting me ❤

Next thing I knew, Dr. G had my shirt off and was snapping pics of my chest with her iPhone, and then texting the pics to her friend the plastic surgeon, Dr. Sanderson. She said he was a fantastic plastic surgeon, and that I should consider a consultation with him before we scheduled surgery; and yes, all of the procedures could be done on the same day. When I left her office that day, I called and got an appointment with Sanderson for the consult, and a few days later was meeting him and discussing options. I ultimately decided that I would go with just a small, A-cup implant, and had just enough skin to do it and not have to get expanders. Within a few days, surgery was scheduled, insurance was verified, and I felt really good about my decision. Our anniversary trip was already planned and booked, so surgery would be the week after we returned, with plenty of time to heal and be up and about in time for the new school year that begins at the end of August.

Thursday, July 24th we checked in at the hospital at 8:30 AM for my 11:30 AM scheduled surgery. IV put in, visits from doctors and anesthesiologists, and soon I was in la-la land and off to the operating room. Dr. Garner took out my thyroid and chemo port, and when I asked her about the nodule, she said it was bigger than we anticipated (the size of a marble), and solid like a rock. She said that the lab will have to soak it in a solution that will soften it enough to cut it open and do the pathology on it. It could be cancerous, and if so, that will mean more treatment, but nothing near what I have already done. If it is, that means three days in quarantine taking radioactive treatments – and that is it! So I’m not overly freaked out about whether it is or isn’t, because while it may be an inconvenience, I can certainly handle three days of treatment and then it be over!

When Dr. G was done with her part, Dr. Sanderson took over for the reconstruction portion of the program. I think he was at it for a couple of hours, opening up my previous incisions, placing the implants, and building barriers on each side of them to keep them in place (since I had no expanders or pockets placed previously). I don’t think that I woke up at all in recovery, and was up in my room before I did. At first I didn’t think the pain was too bad – until the first time I had to get up to use the restroom. Whoa! When gravity hit, even in little boob gravity world, THAT was ROUGH. I had not been given the handy dandy little morphine button, and nobody knew why; but I made it very clear that I wanted and needed it! When Dr. S stopped by to check on me, I was in a lot of pain and he didn’t understand why I didn’t have the button either, so he was ON IT. Got me hooked up within a half hour, and I was much better – well at least every six minutes I was a lot better…hahaha. I soon discovered that the pain in my chest from the reconstruction was WAY worse than the double mastectomy, and I’m not sure that I understand why. But I went home after one night in the hospital for that one; this time I have been here going on three nights, and hoping to go home tomorrow. My chest is still wrapped really tightly in dressing and ace bandage, so I have yet to see the results. I know that it isn’t going to be much bigger than before the implants were placed, but I expect not to be caved in anymore, with just enough curve (hopefully) to fill my swimsuits.

Mama Burt stopped by to see me!  Love her!
Mama Burt stopped by to see me! Love her!

Soon enough, I will heal again, and start looking for tattoo artists that have experience in post-mastectomy tattoos. If I find someone good that will take me on as a client, then I will start with 3D areola/nipple tats. After that, I want to put the Biohazard symbol where my port scar is, and then later figure out some cool, non-floral designs over other portions of the surgery scars. I never, ever planned on doing any kind of reconstruction, but am glad that I reconsidered and left it as a possibility after all. We shall see!

Beautiful flowers from Mom & Dad, and a new Willowtree figurine from my awesome wife <3
Beautiful flowers from Mom & Dad, and a new Willowtree figurine from my awesome wife ❤

The Versatile Blogger Awards 2014

February 26, 2014

*I’m not sure why none of my spacing in between paragraphs made it here.  I inserted space in three different times, and every time I save my work, it takes it away.  My apologies for everything being crammed together 😉

So I was looking at my blog tonight, and making sure that all of my “About Me” information was current, when I noticed that like, two years ago, a follower of my blog bestowed upon me a Versatile Blogger Award!  And somehow, somewhere, it completely got past me and I never knew!  Now how dumb do I feel??!!  But I read through the entire post from October 25, 2011 and was so honored to have been mentioned among her choices for versatile bloggers from all walks of life.  Plus I LOVE the idea of an annual list of awardees to come up with and share with readers, so that all of MY favorite blogs can get a public head knod and hopefully increase their traffic each year!  So thank you first and foremost to Kana Tyler of Kana’s Chronicles ( for giving me this awesome honor so long ago – and my apologies for not offering my thanks sooner!

Now, for those of you out there who write – especially if I have missed your blog or didn’t realize that you have one – this is a pay-it-forward award, so you can also participate and have your own award show over there on your page as well.  Also, you can comment on my blog with a link to your site, for my benefit as well as for my readers.  Here are the rules:

  1. Thank your nominator with a link to their blog.

  2. Bestow the award on 10 bloggers (sharing links to their sites, and letting them know) – I, however, am bestowing it on 11 bloggers, because I’m just crazy like that

  3. List seven things about yourself.

Easy peasy.  So here we go.the-versitle-blogger-award

Domestic Dyke’s Versatile Blogger Awards 2014 (in no particular order of importance):

* Gayby Boom Blog ( – dads Michael and Matthew Burrus-Pearce with their humoros quips about life with a toddler daughter and new infant son

* The Robot Mommy ( – follow along with this SAHM, as she shares her “grumps” pics, and TCIF memes (Thank Coffee It’s Friday, right?)

* The Herzy Journey ( – Jenny Herzberger’s wild ride through breast cancer, treatments, and reconstruction

* Happy Herbivore Blog ( – Our favorite resource for all things plant-based (diet, that is)!

* A Journey Through the Carcinoma Wonderland ( – Austinite wife and artist blogging her way through breast cancer… and all that comes with it

* Slap Dash Mom ( – the adventures of Sadie Lankford, her wife Rachel, and their three daughters (the oldest has her own jewelry line! about anything from cooking/baking, to school, to crafting, to movies, to LGBT rights, to whatever they encounter in their new home of Arizona

* Madgew-musings ( – the inner workings of Madge Woods, her friends, her family, and her travels around the U.S. and abroad!

* The Next Family ( – a wonderful compilation of blogs that come from a diverse family of writers on a wide variety of unique topics

* Simple Life Yoga ( – Brandie Sellers’ blog about her journey that led her to yoga, its teachings (and hers in turn as a yoga instructor), life coaching, vegetarian cooking, health & wellness, and her own experience as a breast cancer survivor

* Online with Zoe ( – amazing tales and treasures from the mind of Zoe Nicholson, human rights activist and feminist who has been on the forefront of activism, writing and speaking for many years, her writing is full of rich experiences and historical significance

* The Davey Diaries ( – follow along as David Mailloux rips open his insecurities to share them with others, as a white, male, educated, openly-gay recovering alcoholic…one day at a time, one step at a time

Congratulations to all of you versatile bloggers!  And thanks for sharing yourself with the rest of us!

Now for my obligatory 7 things about me (according to the rules listed above):

1.  I am still mildly addicted to Friends, the television show.  I watch at least one episode pretty much every night of my life.

2.  I once adopted two poodles from a shelter, naming the female Phoebe and the male Chandler (see?  A little addicted).

3.  I could eat tacos, in some form, every day, I think.  Egg, beef, chicken, fish, shrimp, veggie, black bean, crispy, soft….I could go on and on.

4.  I have had 4 models of Jeep in my life:  Wrangler, Cherokee, Grand Cherokee, and Grand Wagoneer.

5.  I took tap, jazz, and ballet for several years as a kid (yes, with the big tutus and everything), and my mother wouldn’t let me be in any sports because that was for boys.  Yeah.

6.  When I was in 5th grade, my best friend was visiting her grandmother in Wylie, Texas the night that Candace Montgomery murdered Betty Gore with an ax (and was found “not guilty” after using a self-defense argument).  Shortly after that, there were rumors that the murderer and her kids moved onto my street, one block down; never found out if they were true or not.

7.  I do not now, nor have I ever, played Candy Crush Saga.

With THAT, I say, “Keep writing my friends!  Keep reading my friends!  Keep sharing my friends!”

And take care of each other.

The Lessons of Cancer

It’s Monday, and as I type this, I am hooked up to an IV line that goes to my chest, pumping in the chemo drugs that had better be annihilating this stupid cancer.  I am confidant that when I am done, the scans will show no traces of cancer, and then I can get on with radiation and finish out this year cancer-free.  As I sit here, sweatshirt on, blanket on my legs, headphones in my ears and relaxing music piped in… I reflect on this past weekend.


While we were at camp – yeah, it felt kind of like cancer camp for grownups – we had sessions with counselors, art therapy, and some group sessions, to name a few things.  One of the things that we did was make a list of things that cancer has taught us.  We drew a circle in the middle of a page and wrote those words – “What Cancer Has Taught Me” – and branched things off of it.  After we got done, I was pretty amazed at some of the answers – even my own – and thought about what a great blog it would make…so here we are.  I decided that I wanted to write and share about what cancer has taught ME, so here are my top 10, done Jay Leno style.

10.  Life is Precious.  Now we ALL know this, or at least we all SHOULD know this.  Our lives are ours, and we are the ones who have been commissioned to protect our lives, even when we don’t think we should.  Each and every one of us matters, are important, and have value; and each and every one of us should always remember that. 

9.  Laughter is Healing.  Something that I have always tried to do is keep a sense of humor, no matter what the situation.  Yes, some might find it to be inappropriate at times, but sometimes you just have to lighten up a dark or grim situation – like cancer – by inserting some funny into it.  The few times that I have cracked and fallen apart, there is almost always a laugh coming at the end of the tears.  My friends – my good, true friends – are equally important and talented at knowing when to lighten things up, thus redirecting my focus OFF of myself and my situation and back to the business of being ME.  1175669_10151656676857309_2046112741_n

8.  I am STRONG.  This one took me a while to figure out.  Many people say, when facing a difficult situation, that they don’t know how they will ever do it, or that they just know that they cannot do it.  But you know what?  We can do pretty much anything we put our mind to!  I didn’t think that I could endure all of the loss, years ago, of family and friends who did not “approve” of my relationship with Erikka; but I did.  I didn’t think that I could endure anymore hate and ignorance in this world that has been directed at my family, or other families like ours; but together, we have.  I didn’t think that I could endure my oldest son’s teenage years and a custody suit that almost broke me down to my core; but I did and came through to the other side.  I didn’t think that I could ever endure breast cancer and all of the procedures and treatments that I watched my mother go through seven years ago; but I did.  I have.  And I AM.  I have discovered that I am way stronger than I ever gave myself credit for, and it is still amazing to discover it!

7.  Our bodies CAN turn on us.  The year before my surgery, I had started walking, then running, for exercise.  I had lost 32 pounds before my diagnosis, and I was going to the gym at least three days per week for Aqua Cardio, as well as regular cardio and weight work.  I was in better shape than I had been my entire adult life, eating better and taking care of my body, when I found a lump and was diagnosed with aggressive breast cancer.  We have no way of knowing how much of my diagnosis was due to things that I had done in my unhealthy past (smoking, overeating, etc.), how much was environmental, how much was familial, or how much was just sorry luck of the draw.  But it was eye-opening to know that cancer has no agenda, and will pick and choose whomever it wants to be its victim.  1234150_10151643344332309_1470707719_n

6.  Our health is one of the most important things that we can control.  Yes, we have control over our health.  Many of us choose not to, until it’s too late and we are trying to control disease in order to extend our life.  Had we taken control earlier, then we may not need to try to do damage control later on.  But truly, knowing what I know now, if I could go back, I would totally change how I ate and took care of my body in order to not go through this.  I will also say that while having cancer totally sucks and makes me feel miserable, I don’t think that I would give it back because of all that I have seen, done, and learned through this process.  So take back your health, if it has gone askew; be the one to make healthy lifestyle choices and decisions – trust me, it makes a difference!

5.  Love is stronger than fear.  There is a LOT of fear that comes with a cancer diagnosis.  While a doctor typically won’t tell you, “Hey you have cancer.  You’re going to die,” it is still very scary to hear those words and resist the panic that comes with it.  All of the “what ifs” creep in and can become overwhelming.  What if I DO die?  Who will take care of my kids?  Who will close out all of my accounts?  Who will make sure to clean out my nightstands before my mother decides that she wants to pack up my things?  Who will take care of my wife?  Who will take Noah to camp, and make sure that Harrison and Zoe remember me somehow?  But somehow, someway, every time those thoughts sneak in, someone comes along and replaces them with love and assurance, and those fearful thoughts are banished from my mind.  

4.  Support can come from the most unexpected places.  I was really, really worried when I got diagnosed about a multitude of things.  I had no insurance, so how in the world would I get through treatment?  Would the doctors recognize my wife as such and allow her to accompany me, for big things as well as little ones?  What was I going to do about money, without me working and bringing in money for the majority of the year?  What will I do about money now that the money raised for us is running out?  But yet, my worries have all been answered by amazing people who have come out of the woodwork to offer love, support, and financial assistance when needed.  We have gotten money sent to us from the most unsuspecting people, and have been eternally grateful for the kindness of both strangers and friends.  And support hasn’t always been financial stuff at all.  We have a multitude of friends who we consider family that have helped with both of the kids (mostly the baby), and without them, I don’t know how I would have gotten through some of the rough days.


3.  There is a LOT of good in a LOT of people.  I will never have an opportunity to thank and hug all of the people who have helped us get through this ordeal, especially in the beginning when it was all new and very scary.  People that we didn’t know sent meals and filled our freezer.  Other people that we don’t know, as well as those that we do, raised money and had benefits in my honor, and provided us with much needed financial help to get the bills paid during these months that I would not be working.  I have had prayers and well-wishes sent to me via ecards, cards in the mail, and even cookies, by folks that I have never met and might not ever.  Still others have cleaned our house for free, and taken care of our rambunctious toddler on days that I just don’t feel good enough to do so.  Because of social networking, we are constantly bombarded and blasted with ignorance and hatefulness going on in the world around us, and it becomes difficult to see that there is still any good left anywhere other than mankind’s own agendas.  But cancer has shown me that despite all of that ignorance and hate, there is so much good in our fellow mankind – friends, family, strangers alike.  We just have to really, really look for it, listen for it….and it will present itself.  It actually renews my faith in humanity, and because I’ve seen it and know that it’s there, it can’t be taken away from me.

Journey to Healing Retreat – Sept. 2013
“Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: “What! You too? I thought I was the only one.” ~ C.S. Lewis

2.  Body image is a constantly evolving thing.  Boy ain’t THIS the truth!?  Just when I thought that I was actually getting happier with the body I was seeing when I got dressed, I got knocked down a peg or two!  After surgery, it took weeks before I could look in the mirror when undressing and not want to cry.  I still have my moments, too.  But as the swelling has gone down only somewhat, I am learning to accept the new image that I see when I look in the mirror.  And as I continue to take chemo – weekly now – I have noticed that my face has gotten more round and circular looking (like a plate head).  I hate the way that I look!  It has been very distressing to look in a mirror and know that this person looking back is not me – ohmygawd there is a SICK person looking back at me!  I look like a cancer patient!  Well holy hell….that sucks.  So I now have to get used to a new normal, and hopefully when I am done with treatment, I will lose all of the extra weight that has been put on during treatment.  1173783_10151643343162309_400297376_n

And the #1 lesson that cancer has taught me….

1.  Boobs aren’t all THAT important.  Now don’t take this the wrong way, because I know how important it is to many mothers to nurse their babies and give them awesome milk to grow and become strong little people.  But I had already used mine to nurse two babies, and before surgery, all I did was complain about their size and heaviness.  I was constantly trying to find a bra that didn’t roll up underneath, or a sports bra that didn’t create a uniboob.  I complained about their size, and was jealous of trans friends who got “top surgery” to take them off and not worry about them anymore.  In the grand scheme of things?  Mine tried to kill me, so I had them lobbed off, with no reconstruction planned or discusses.  They were just big lumps of fat on my chest, and I do not want to die just to have them.  Now that I am several months out from surgery, I have my moments where I miss them, and wish that my body was whole.  I still struggle with how mangled and deformed I feel, and know that there is nothing that I can do to change it.  I know this though – my breasts did not define me before, so they won’t define me now.  I can exercise and work out again and build up my chest to not look so flat; and eventually have some badass tattoos done to cover my scars.  But most importantly, cancer has taught me that no set of boobs are ever worth dying over….I’m just sayin.’

The Chemo

My goodness, it has been a long time since I have written anything.  I guess between chemo, sickness, and trying to get my summer on, I just haven’t made the time.  But it’s a rainy day today, and I’m feeling pretty good (but lazy), so here we are.  I figured it might be time to share about the wonderful world of chemotherapy, now that I am halfway through.

So for me, the course of treatment was to be eight rounds of chemo – the first four consisting of two drugs, and the last four to be a third drug.  The first drugs are known as AC, and are very commonly used to treat breast cancer.  AC is made up of two drugs:  doxorubicin and cyclophosphamide.  These are drugs that are meant to prevent cancer cells from dividing and growing, and are supposed to eventually cause the cancer cells to shrink and disappear.  One of these, for me, is given as an IV drip through my port; the other, aka “the Red Devil,” is given to me in a giant syringe, pushed directly into my IV line.

Meeting The Red Devil for the first time
Meeting The Red Devil for the first time

The red devil causes the first few trips to the bathroom after treatment to be freaky – my pee is red!  It can also cause tears or sweat to turn red for up to a day or two after treatment, but I haven’t tested that theory as of yet.  This drug is so strong that they wouldn’t give it to me directly in an IV in my arm when my port was messed up – because if it leaks out onto the skin, it will eat it away.  Kind of like leprosy, I imagine….yikes!

I have treatment every three weeks.  There are tons of side effects, and at times it seems like the treatment is doing me so much worse than the cancer itself!  Thankfully, I haven’t had near as many of the side effects as some; but it still sucks.  I started losing my hair after the first treatment, so I buzzed it down super short.  Within a couple of weeks, it was coming out in big chunks, and while we were out of town in Little Rock, it got to the point that I woke up looking like a dog with mange – so I had to go and have it all shaved off.  That was rougher than I ever imagined it would be!

Post head buzzing.  Wish I could have kept it like this - SOME is better than NONE.
Post head buzzing. Wish I could have kept it like this – SOME is better than NONE.



The day I had to shave my head - my amazing friend Marisa did hers, too, and surprised me!
The day I had to shave my head – my amazing friend Marisa did hers, too, and surprised me!








Also, I have to call the doc if I get a fever of 100.5 or higher, which is really low for most people, but chemo causes the immune system to be compromised and blood counts to go way down.  I have only had to call once, and even then, my fever only got up to 100.2 degrees.  But let me tell you – 100.2 during chemo can make you feel like death warmed over!  There is also the well-known side effect of nausea and vomiting, and once again, I am thankful that so far I have not puked even once.  The nausea is pretty constant, and to me, that can be worse than just puking and getting it taken care of.  I have four anti-nausea prescriptions that range in strength, and I have used them all.  There are many natural anti-nausea remedies, and all I will say about those is that they work.  Much better and faster than ANY of those prescriptions.  Allegedly.

Like I said, I am now halfway through my chemo treatments.  The AC portion of the program is over, and I am extremely thankful.  The next, and final, four treatments will be of a drug called Taxol.  I don’t know near as much about this one, but I know that the doctor has assured me that it won’t make me as sick.  He did, however, tell me that it will make me more fatigued.  What the what???  How is that even possible?  I am tired ALL the time, it seems!  Well, at least for the first two weeks.  It seems like a pretty regular pattern emerged over the past four rounds:  week one SUCKS and I am tired/sick pretty much from the day after treatment; week two sucks a little less, but I am still fairly sick for most of the week; and week three seems fairly normal, where I can go and do more.  Most of the trips that I have taken this summer have been during week threes.  And hey, that has worked most of the time.  Of course, the trip I was most looking forward to was to the beach and was scheduled during a week three – and I was sick the entire time with cough and cold BS!  But what can you do, right?

Photos from Rounds 1-4 I LOVE all of the tshirts that people have given/sent me, and wear a different one every time :)
Photos from Rounds 1-4
I LOVE all of the tshirts that people have given/sent me, and wear a different one every time 🙂

Onward with the chemo – I believe that the next one (first round of Taxol), will be August 5th, the day before my birthday.  Nice.  They tell me that treatment will be about three hours, not including the bloodwork that I do when I get there, waiting for the results, and the half hour of pre-medication (they give me anti-nausea and anti-anxiety meds).  I’m just ready to be over and done with it.  I think I get a PET scan when I’m done – which of course had better show NOTHING left!  Then I have to do 30+ radiation treatments, which will be daily Monday-Friday in Flower Mound…I am SO NOT excited.  According to the calendar, I should finish up everything around the week of Christmas.  Wow.  What a long year.  But a Merry, Merry Christmas it shall be!  And the best Happy New Year will be a bill of clean health and remission!

The Outcome & The Oncologist


The Outcome:

One week out from surgery.  The pain is intense; the drains are annoying as hell.  My post-op appointment with my surgeon is today, and I am SO hoping that she will remove at least one of the drains today.  

We get to my appointment right on time, and are taken back right away, as usual.  She starts off by telling me that I am actually and officially only a stage 2 with my cancer; and based on the number of lymph nodes affected (9 out of 15), I was actually a 2a.  Initially, just after surgery, she had thought that based on the size of the tumor that she took out, I would for sure be a stage 3, which is what she told me in the hospital – thus upsetting me greatly before I was ready to go home.  But when I went in for this appointment, she told me right off that she had been mistaken, and I was truly only a stage 2.  She said that her first statement was based on the size of the tumor, and that it appeared to be 4 cm upon initial examination in the operating room.  The lab returned a result that it was actually 3.5 cm, and therefore only a stage 2.  I was VERY grateful for her error in judgment!  But this also told us that it had grown quite a bit, in quite a short period of time.  When I found it, my doctor estimated its size to be 2-2.5 cm.  The mammograms and ultrasounds measured it at 2.76 cm, just two weeks later.  The biopsies measured this tumor at 2.8 cm, and the final lab results after removal show 3.5 cm.  This is at least a full centimeter growth in less than six weeks!  She then went on to tell me that she got all of the cancer, to the best of her knowledge, but she suspected that the oncologist would want further body scans and brain scans, to make sure it hadn’t spread to other parts of my body (since it was so aggressive and fast growing).  I pray that the fact that it was fast growing says that it had not been there long when I found it.  I then got her to take out the right drain, which was heavenly; but she said I would have to wait a few days longer for the left drain.  

I was so excited to get a few minutes of snuggle time with my baby girl, since I can't pick her up :)
I was so excited to get a few minutes of snuggle time with my baby girl, since I can’t pick her up 🙂


The Oncologist:

While on our way to my post-op appointment with the surgeon, I got a call from Texas Oncology – Carrollton.  I made an appointment for my consultation with Dr. Enrique Perez for Friday, April 19th.  The very nice lady, Roxann, emailed me new patient paperwork so I could be efficient and ready upon arrival.  When Friday arrived, we went to lunch beforehand at one of favorite restaurants – Misto Bistro – run by one of my favorite friends, Janet.  We have been friends for a while now, and I have worked with her doing catering (which I love); but our friendship has gone to a whole other level in the past several months, and she is even more special to me than before.  After lunch, we headed to Texas Oncology of Carrollton, where I met the chick who will be my supercool nurse, Amy.  I was ushered into a room, where I was asked a series of questions that I had already answered on all of the forms that I had previously filled out.  Soon, we were being introduced to Dr. Perez – a very nice and very tall man with a wonderful disposition and bedside manner.  He was able to put me to ease by anticipating my questions and answering them before I even got a chance to ask them.  I told him that my genetics testing came back negative, and my hormone receptor testing came back as a triple negative – triple negative for estrogen, progesterone, and HER2.  So now what?  I am negative for everything.  “What does that mean for me??”  I asked the doctor.  It basically means that it is harder to treat; but we are going to fight and we are going to do everything that we need to do to keep me alive.  Well alright.  That’s what I need to hear.  

Dr. Perez went on to tell me that he wants me to have a PET scan, a CT scan, and an echocardiogram before starting chemo.  He also said for me to go ahead and have the port put in, while I am waiting to start and waiting for my scars to heal.  He explained that based on all of my negative results, he was going to do a certain course of drugs (which I can’t remember the names – except that one is the evil red one that I have read about) for four rounds, three weeks apart.  The first four rounds will be two drugs together.  After that I will do another four rounds, three weeks apart, of a third drug.  He said that I WILL lose my hair, and other side effects could include diarrhea.  Yay.

Three days later I was back in Dr. Garner’s office to get my left drain out (FINALLY, thank God!).  I went over my oncologist visit with her, and we scheduled my outpatient surgery for the port placement.  It would be a couple of days later, on Wednesday morning, and she assured me that it was nothing…a breeze.  This procedure would be a walk in the park compared to the mastectomies.  

So I guess here we go.  No looking back.  Part one is done.  And as hard as it has been in the two weeks post surgery, I don’t think it will be anything compared to what is coming with six months of chemotherapy.  

Guess we will see.

The Surgery


Holly, Lorrie, me, and Erikka before the OR

The day had finally arrived.  I was ready.  But I was also a little scared.  But I was more ready. Ready to get this thing out of me; this thing that has been growing quickly on its mission to rob me of my life.  I knew that this major surgery was the beginning of an uphill climb, but I willingly signed on for it, just like any of the 5Ks that I have done in the past – and will do more of in the future!

My rock <3
My rock ❤

We arrived at the hospital just before 10:00 AM, where I checked in and waited to be taken back by a nurse.  Holly arrived right behind us, and Lorrie arrived from Oklahoma City shortly after that.  I am so blessed that my three best friends in the world were all there beside me – beside US – on this day that would change our lives forever.  The only thing I had said that I wanted to wake up to was my wife and these three best friends – and they all made sure that it happened.  This meant the world to me.  Kim wasn’t there by the time I got called back, but she arrived before I actually went into surgery.  

“Fall Risk” – I should have one of these every day of my life

When I got taken back, Erikka went with me and stayed while I changed and went through all of the typical pre-op routine.  They made me wear bright yellow socks with rubber grippies on the bottom (like the socks we put on Harrison), as well as a bright yellow bracelet that said, “FALL RISK” on it.  I can’t really be offended, because on a good day I am typically a fall risk…hahahaha.  The girls all thought it was pretty funny though when they came back….but they know me, too.  After the socks and bracelets were on, then the nurse put my IV in.  I asked for the “calm down” drugs, but she said that I would get those after I talked to a few more people.  Pretty soon, the no-nonsense anesthesiologist came in and went through all of the same questions that the first and second nurses had asked.  Lorrie didn’t like him because he didn’t have a sense of humor when she asked if he was going to share the “good stuff” with her.  He WAS all business, this Mr. Personality.

Mr. Personality...aka the Anesthesiologist
Mr. Personality…aka the Anesthesiologist

 After he left, then the OR charge nurse, Marti, came in.  She was awesome, and had on a cool pink surgical hat – all except for the Texas A&M logos on it.  We all loved it, especially since it was Wear Pink for Tanya day, and everyone we knew was wearing pink, including all of the beautiful women that were with me at the hospital.

Pretty soon, all that was left was signing the boobs away and the good drugs. Yes, I said sign away the boobs. Each person that came back asked me all of the same questions: full name, date of birth, allergies, what procedures were we doing. Then they gave me paperwork giving them permission to lob off my left and right breasts. Somewhere in there they gave me a small bit of something in my IV to “relax” me, and I apparently started talking to my boobies – telling the left one that it was rude for trying to kill me, and apologizing to the right one that it had to be put down all because of the left one. This was high comedy I hear! After he gave me that first little bit, I I remember saying, “Oh I don’t feel ANYTHING!” and soon they were kicking the girls out to take me back. I remember hugs and kisses from Holly and Lorrie, and lastly from Erikka – and that’s all I remember. I don’t remember the trip through the halls of the back hallways into the operating room. I went OUT.

Marti - the cool OR charge nurse with the cool pink hat (except that A&M nonsense)
Marti – the cool OR charge nurse with the cool pink hat (except that A&M nonsense)
Talking to my left boobie….telling it how “rude” it was…LOL

Hours later, I am in a private room, being awakened by a sweet nurse in pink scrubs; surrounded by Erikka, Holly, Lorrie, and now Kim, too.  I vaguely remember asking what time it was, and it was much later than I thought it should be.  

Erikka trying to talk to me as they woke me up
Erikka trying to talk to me as they woke me up

The surgery had gone smoothly and not taken any longer than it should have; I had been hard to wake up (which is typical for me after any surgery).  I remember looking at Kim and saying, “Hey!  You’re not wearing pink!”  It’s funny where the brain goes when it is in an altered state!  I was so out of it, but was SO thankful for the nice little anti-nausea patch that they had put behind my ear just before I went into the operating room.  I had a drain coming out of each side of my chest, and was wrapped in a compression bra.  I remember looking down and putting my hands on my now flat chest, and thinking, “Oh my God, they’re really gone!”  Then I was in and out of consciousness for the next few hours, while my wonderful and amazing friends stayed and watched me sleep or hung out in the waiting room.

Lorrie and Kim just before they left for the day...I was still pretty out of it
Lorrie and Kim just before they left for the day…I was still pretty out of it


Soon, Lorrie would need to get back on the road to Oklahoma, and Kim would need to get back on the road for Ft. Worth.  Holly was going to stay for a while and keep Erikka company and have something to eat with us.  I don’t think that any of them know how grateful I am that they spent the day in hospital waiting rooms for ME, and for my wife.  They will never know, and I could never repay, the blessing that they all were for staying with Erikka and making sure that she kept it together instead of being sick with worry and fear.  After Kim and Lorrie left, I slept for a while more while Erikka and Holly went and found some decent dinner – Subway.  It was so nice to finally be able to eat!  And something that I LIKE!  Shortly after we ate, Erikka needed to leave and go pickup our little Peanut from my mom; and Holly decided that she would stay for a while and keep me company.  I kept dozing off, in and out of sleepiness, so I finally told her to go ahead and get home and rest.  I was good for the night, as long as I had my anti-nausea patch and sweet little pain med button that I could push every six minutes.  

The night was uneventful, and Erikka was back mid-morning that next day.  Over the course of the morning and early afternoon, I had lots of visits from nurses, as well as a Breast Cancer support staff person, who brought me some things to take home.  I also had a visit from an occupational therapist, who came and showed me some arm exercises to do three or four times per day when I got home – those were tough that first time!  The last visit that I was waiting for was Dr. Garner, after she got done with her surgeries for the day.  I didn’t think that I was ready yet to go home, but rumor was that she would probably send me home if she thought I was doing well.  

Late in the afternoon, Dr. Garner and her P.A. stopped by to check on me.  After she checked my sutures and drains, she deemed me to be doing great and said she was sending me home.  She did sit down and tell me that there were at least seven lymph nodes that had been cancerous, and they were still analyzing them all.  She said that based on that and the size of my tumor, I would likely be categorized as a stage 3 – which upset me quite a bit for the rest of the afternoon.  This was not the news that I had been hoping to hear.  

Off to home we went.  It felt good to be back in our bed.  Erikka tucked me in before running Noah to my mom’s for a long weekend, and I fell asleep again, thankful for our amazing family and friends who had gathered around us for this major occurrence in our lives.  I go back to the surgeon a week after surgery, and hope that she takes out one of these miserable drains, if not both.  Then I will find out more information, and probably find out about the next step:  chemotherapy.


I Hate You, Mom

As seen this week on (3/28/2012):

So life has been buzzing along over here at Dodd-Hise Paradise at breakneck speeds it seems.  Noah had his twelfth birthday, and seemed to go from loving, sweet kid to alien creature, yelling at me and such.  But I will get to that.  Harrison just turned five months old last Saturday – oh my God!  Five months old!  She is doing so much, and a lot of things well in advance of when she is supposed to hit those milestones.  First she was rolling over onto her back, several weeks early.  Then she rolled from back to tummy, like, almost two months early.  She started blowing raspberries at us, which is absolute GREATNESS.  She’s trying really hard to sit up by herself, but just not quite there yet.  Yes, our child is an absolute genius – you don’t have to tell us…we know this.  We’re going to start sign language with her soon, and she will soon move into her big girl carseat – big, exciting stuff, huh??  In the next few weeks we will be filing the petition for adoption and get THAT ball rolling – so she should be legally mine in the next few months!  That will be a whole new series coming up, so be looking for it!

Houdini has figured out how to get out of her bouncer straps….and very proud of it!

Now back to Noah. My goodness. As I have written about before, he has been having some school issues, with grades and apparently some bullying. So okay, we can deal with that. He had a good week home with me for Spring Break, with a trip to Bass Hall in Ft. Worth a few days before his birthday to see the Broadway production of Young Frankenstein. On the day of his actual birthday, he wanted to go to Main Event for bowling, laser tag, and games. We invited a couple of my sorority sisters’ kids to come, and we were soon there, having a great time. So here he was, finally twelve years old. His birthday came and went, and then it was back to school as usual. Oh dear Lord baby Jesus. By the end of that first week back, I had already gotten an email from a teacher regarding Noah’s work, and the lack of its presence in his (the teacher’s) hands. On Friday, after he came home, he told me that he had homework that was due on Monday, in one of the classes that he has been doing poorly in. So while he wanted to do his homework over the weekend, I wanted him to go ahead and get it done on Friday night. He did half of it and decided he was done and going to go to his room to read. This prompted me telling him to go back and finish, as well as Erikka – all to no avail. He ignored us both, saying that he could do it the next day. I finally got to the point where I had had enough, so I went into his room and took his Kindle away (new birthday gift – possibly a big mistake on my part). Let’s just say that he wasn’t happy. He blew up! He started yelling and screaming at me, and I just kept telling him that he couldn’t read on the Kindle until he decided to finish his homework, whenever that was. He yelled some more, started crying, and finally told me that he hated me. Oh my. He hated me. I felt that pain in my heart that I did not remember experiencing before. Had Nicholas told me that he hated me? I couldn’t remember. I turned around and walked out, went to the kitchen and told Erikka what he had said. I almost cried. But instead, I turned around and announced that I was going back in, to take something else away. Well, THAT turned things a little uglier for a few minutes. I walked in and proceeded to take away his other big-ticket birthday item: the new, red guitar. Ohhhhh the screaming! He then started ripping the pictures off of his wall – that HE had drawn. I looked at him and said, “um, this doesn’t hurt ME you know. You are the one who worked hard on those drawings. And you are the one who will have to pick up the trash and throw them away.” I didn’t know what else to do or say, so I left again, handing off the guitar to be stashed.

But ever since I picked him up yesterday afternoon, he has been great.  Very loving, very huggy, done his homework, doing what he is supposed to do.  I’m telling you, the mood swings are CRA~ZY!  There is no way that I could have been like that at twelve years old!  My mama would have snatched every hair out of my head!  I’m already a little scared of when Harrison gets hormones…yikes!  But I have survived one kid telling me that they hate me, so I guess I’m a little ahead of the game, eh?