Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Wednesday's Child


Yes I know it's not yet Wednesday but this is the prompt for the 100 word challenge this week. Just that - Wednesday. A good choice when you think about it. We've got Sunday as the Sabbath Day (or Saturday where I live), Monday starts the week, Thank God it's Friday, Tuesday (used as a pretty girl's name) is when you're just getting into your stride and by Thursday you're almost home and dry. But Wednesday? Well precisely. Do pop over to Julia's to read more entries.

 





Wednesday's Child

In our Nursery Rhymes book, Wednesday's child was full of woe. I knew why. I was Wednesday's child. There are two little fairy-folk standing with Wednesday's child who were my twin baby siblings. QED. 

There are four girls in this rhyme who are wearing pretty dresses and have ribbons in their long hair. Wednesday isn't allowed long hair and her Mummy makes her wear trousers. She looks like a boy. 

Years later I found out that I had actually been born on Tuesday. "What made you think you were born on Wednesday?" I answered my mother honestly, "because I looked like a boy."


Picture from Hilda Boswell's Treasury Of Nursery Rhymes.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Every Silver Lining Comes At A Price

This past week has been the worst one yet this winter. I've been laid up with a bad chesty cough, sinusitus headache and blocked nose (think industrial glue), and possibly a low grade fever - the cold pastey type. I'm very tempted to call it flu but I had flu once in which I basically died for a week and took three months to completely recover. No, this was not that (TG), this was the worst cold this side of being flu.

Every day since last Wednesday I have taken DD to nursery, come straight home and slept until pick-up time. Of course not every day as we had Friday/Saturday in between. On Friday we got home from nursery at 1pm and I just let her play until about 11pm. This was a good move because she then slept until 10am on Saturday morning - considerably shortening the day.

I lay on the sofa and helped with puzzles as they were brought to me. For some reason the puzzles never made it back into the boxes afterwards, let alone back into the cupboard. But one day soon I will go through the carpet of puzzle pieces in the living-room, sort them and put them away.

More serious was the fact that I had to cancel some lessons and didn't do many many hours of work on the computer - none of which I will get paid for. I also mentioned last week (somewhere) that I had two exams to prepare for tomorrow. If I'd not got my act together by this morning (which thankfully I have to a small extent) I was seriously worried about my job.

However, every cloud etc. etc. Yup, down 1.8kg in a week (almost 4lbs). That makes my four week loss a very acceptable 4.2kg (9 1/4lbs). In a way I'd like to wait until Wednesday and see if I can report 10lbs lost in January. But it's never a good idea to get too neat with these things - a neatness like this in dieting is rarely repeated and the cost was too high. I don't think the lemontea with honey diet, supplimented by two slices of toast and butter in the evening, the occasional yogurt and a slice off your daughter's apple, will sell any books. I hope I will not be repeating it any time soon.

Read the other MUMenTUM entries from Liska at New Mum Online. And please feel free to join the blog hop yourself - if you've something to say about struggling with that Mum Tum. I've also linked to Tea And Sympathy over at All About The Girls - because I deserve some.

Friday, January 27, 2012

LifeCircle 4: The Five Year Plan

I could just play it safe - in five years time I want to be making enough money to cover our expenses and have some over to put aside for holidays and other treats.

Or I could think big - in five years time I want to be.... I don't even know what I want. But surely the sum total of my dreams and aspirations for the future cannot be to merely be making ends meet plus a few treats?

I don't want to limit myself by committing to option one but, on the other hand, I don't want to look stupid by announcing that I want to marry a prince, be a bestselling author, and living in a Manoir in the South of France. If that is indeed what I want, but I'm not sure that it is.

There are some lesser goals I could concentrate on - I want to have completed my 30 years of voluntary contributions in order to get my basic British Pension when the time comes. Well that's exciting.

I want to have maintained my Fabulous at 50 weight and figure (which I haven't achieved yet but fully intend to by the said landmark birthday).

Apart from that I really don't know. I would love to have savings of a nice size but I honestly don't know how practical that is as a single mother with no childcare back-up. Would I like to be in a serious relationship? Well I've got this far on my own. From experience, love and romance does seem to pop up every few years. While it's great to have the company and share some of the burden, it's also kinda nice being a free spirit.

In five years time DD will be 8 and in 3rd grade. I think I'm just looking forward to life being easier as she gets more independent. Being able to invite friends for dinner again because I'll have the time to clean the place and cook without having to stop every five minutes to play puzzles. A sleepover once in a while when I can go out for the evening without paying a fortune in babysitting fees.

So what do you do if you don't know where you want to be in 5 years time? We are supposed to also write about 3 years time, and then one year. Sorry Kate, the best I can do this week is to say that next week I want to feel better as I've been sick all this week. Maybe when my head is clearer I will be able to come up with some worthy dreams.

Monday, January 23, 2012

The Biscuit Diet

It was a good MUMenTUM week this week, you can tell because I'm getting my post done early instead of giving myself an extra day to lose a bit more weight. Week 3 saw a loss of another 800g (almost 2lbs) which makes a grand total of 2.4kg (5 1/4 lbs) in three weeks. Hooray. To celebrate I'm also linking up to Kate Takes 5's Listography for the first time. This week's theme caught my fancy - with the emphasis on fancy as I'm not eating any of my Top 5 Biscuits - just drooling. Btw - the Listography is also a blog hop but I'm committed to dispaying the MUMenTUM linky and I think two on one post may get confusing - sorry Kate. So just know that the links below are for weight loss stories not biscuits. The biscuits are through here.

MY TOP 5 BISCUITS

1. Squashed Fly Biscuits. You may know them as Garibaldi. Whatever, either you love raisins or you hate them. I love them and could eat a whole packet of these in one sitting, or even standing, easy peasy simple pimple.


2. The classic Chocolate Digestive. Expats have people bring them out and invite friends round for tea on the promise of a real chocolate digestive. Perfection in a biscuit no less.



3. Actually I'm not a chocolate person at all. I usually go for the caramel toffee option (if there is one). I really did discover stroopwafel (syrup waffles) in Amsterdam, long before they had them in Starbucks. I thought I'd died and gone to heaven. Then I discovered that one stroopwafel contains an entire day's calories. Continue like that and I would be dying and going to heaven sooner than intended. So now I see them in the supermarket, aknowledge their presence and move on to the cottage cheese.



4. Merba Apple Pie Cookies made with the Famous Strudel Recipe. You know, the Famous one that tastes like Strudel? They come from America and I buy them in Israel. I joke about the advertising blurb but the thing is, they really do taste like apple strudel. And they look crumbly enough that I have been known to take them out of the packet, put them in a tupperware and take them as a gift to a dinner party. Well I never said they were homemade... although I never said they weren't.


5. For our fortieth birthdays, four women who had been little girls in primary school together went for four days to Paris. One of the highlights of our trip was tasting the macaroons in LaDuree. I don't know how many flavours they have but the shop is a rainbow of colours and every colour a different flavour. We ordered 12 macaroons of assorted flavours ("Surprise us.") and cut each one into quarters. Think of that scene from Harry Potter when they're sitting on the train trying all the every-flavour jelly beans (only not the nasty ones). It was quite magical actually.



6. Oh, are you only allowed 5 on the list? Sorry it's my first time, I didn't know. Next time. My friend Sharon makes Golden Syrup Oat Biscuits. Golden Syrup is hard to find in Israel and it's expensive. However it does pop up occasionally. The trick is to buy it when you see it and give it to Sharon as a present. Clever eh?



So what are your favourite biscuits now or from childhood?

Saturday, January 21, 2012

IVF: Don't Test Early

It is about time I continued with the IVF Journey, especially as I left you after my first IVF return of four embryos (of various grades) and about to begin the notorious 2WW again (2 week wait - not Second World War).

June 2005

The bits of paper they'd given me to bring home told me to take 2 Estrofem a day, continue with the folic acid and to vaginally apply 8 Uterogestan (for in the morning and four in the evening). These are basically thick cream enclosed in a thin plastic spherical coating which dissolves quickly. If you think this sounds like a country you wouldn't care to visit, you'd be right. It's as inconvenient as it's unpleasant. Nuff said.

I was to return in two weeks time for a blood test. This time I couldn't resist buying a home pregnancy test from the pharmacy. It was negative on the twelfth day. However, on reading the printed material that came with it, I learned that the drugs I was taking could interfere with the results. And what's more, after IVF they suggest waiting even longer for a more reliable result. I wanted so much to believe it but I was now more anxious than if I hadn't taken the test.

Two days later I went back to the hospital for my blood test. I had to go anyway to get a renewed prescription for Estrofem and Uterogestan. "Call at 10.30 for the results," said the nurse. "Good luck." The nurse was hopeful, after all it was IVF so there's no reason that it shouldn't work, right? I still didn't feel anything but, on the other hand, I still didn't know what I was supposed to feel.

The negative home pregnancy test weighed on my mind though. These things are pretty reliable. If they say you're not pregnant then you're probably not pregnant. I didn't need to use the prescription for more Estrofem and Uterogestan. I made another appointment to see one of the doctors and start again.

Friday, January 20, 2012

LifeCircle 3: Taking Action

For this week's LifeCircle assignment we are asked to take two problem areas from last week's Drawing A Line In The Sand and commit to two courses of action for each. The tasks we set for ourselves should be SMART - Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound. Not too challenging but not too easy.

My two lowest scores were for time-management and finances (which is closely linked to my career which, as I wrote, needs developing in a way that generates more income). So here are my commitments in the areas of Time and Money for the next two weeks:

1. Time and Money. I commit to meal planning for the next two weeks in order to save time and money. (This includes not eating extra stuff throughout the day because I'm bored.)

2. Time. I commit to getting up at 6.30 every morning. Here's the rational - I take 30 mins to dress, etc, and wake DD at 7am. We leave for nursery at 7.45 (she gets breakfast there) and I am back home to work from 8.30. This gives me a full 7-hour working day. It also means that DD is ready to go to sleep at 7.30pm, giving me the evening to myself. This wasn't happening when I let her (us) sleep until gone 8 of a morning. Also we can do the morning thing without the stress of being late.

3. Time and Money. I commit to restricting my blogging to the evenings and to using those 7 hours during the day for work related activity.

4. Money. I have just finished a job teaching English for the winter matriculation exams which were last week. I commit to re-joining three English employment websites and searching them every day for suitable work. (I also need to update my CV).

These will be my actions for the next two weeks. They're all SMART and I hope I will be smart too and stick with the programme.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Five-Minute Cheese'n'Olive Flatbread

Pizzas, flatbreads, whathaveyou was the directive from Big Chief Recipeshed, a.k.a. Keith from Chronicles of a Reluctant Housdad. I never met a carbohydrate I didn't like so anything with cheese and dough has got to be a winner. I absolutely adore pizza and we have it (homemade and healthy of course *polishes fingernails on lapel*) just about every week. There are some fabulous pizza recipes on the linky and even a vlog. So with all the pizzas linked up, I obvioulsy had to go the flatbread route.

Sitting round bonfires is a national sport in Israel. We sing, tell jokes, smoke  and eat...lots. We do that whole Beduin role-play thing with black coffee in glasses and we make pita bread. Now the thing about campfire pita is, it's delicious - chewy, smokey, sprinkled with a bit of salt and za'atar (dried hyssop and seseme seeds). And the other thing is that it takes five minutes to make. You mix some flour, water and oil, make a dough, roll it out and fling it onto an upturned dustbin lid on the fire. When it's dry enough to start sliding off it's done.

When I see recipes for pizza dough with yeast that requires proving (or is it proofing?) and relaxing and waiting a few hours between each stage, I think of the campfire pita and want to ask, "why?" Ok, I know why. But I also know why not and here it is...

Friday being shopping day, this is what I found to work with: white cheese (I think it's the same as quark), flour and some olives. Later I added salt, pepper and olive oil.


I put 2 heaped spoons of the cheese in a bowl with about 1 cup of flour, salt, pepper and some olive oil.
Then I formed it into a dough (adding some extra flour to make it malleable) and pressed it out into a round shape about the size of a side plate and 1cm thick.
I sliced the olives and sprinkled them over the top, folded in the edges like making an envelope, and pressed the dough out again (this time with the olives inside - clever eh?) back to the side plate size.

Into a hot oven for about half an hour et voila!

Honest verdict: It is delicious but it's not chewy at all. It's more like a soft cheesey pastry than bread. It would make a great pizza base though.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Last Night Of First Year

Tonight marks the last night of my first blogging year. I started this blog on Wednesday January 19th 2011 with The first Question About Daddy. A modest little post about a subject I thought would be huge. It's still on my Popular Posts list but slipping slowly towards the bottom.

Funnily enough, DD and I were dancing to a song from her Hanukkah CD last week, that we'd danced to at the Hanukkah party at her Nursery School. It's a song about families and the teacher had invited all the children to get up and dance with their mummies and daddies. As we danced in our living room, she suddenly said, "DD hasn't got a Daddy."

"No." I replied, "DD's got a Mummy."

DD agreed, "Yes, DD's got a Mummy."

And that was it. So I guess she knows and that's her reality for now. I'm sure she'll have all sorts of emotions and questions about it as she gets older but that first post was about the first question. I didn't even use my prepared and rehearsed line as it wasn't even necessary to make the point.

I could write loads more about what a fantastic year it's been for me in the blogosphere, where I've been, where I'm at, where I'm going with it all (who knows?), who I've met, friends I've made, things I've learned.... but I think I'll leave this as another modest little post to reflect the full circle of my first blogging year.

Happy Blogiversary to me.

Monday, January 16, 2012

I Will

 MUMenTUM, with Liska (New Mum Online), week 2. The fact that I'm posting a week 2 is an achievement in itself. Most of my losing weight efforts last 3 days tops. So after the spectacular 1.5kg (>3lbs) loss of week 1, I am proud to announce that in week 2 I dropped 100g! That's about 1/4 of a pound (not even).

I have no more to add to that other than I will try harder this week. I will not be giving up on this.

I will be turning 50 in September and I will be fabulousand... Before that, however, we will be going to London in the spring to spend time with family and friends. I will want to buy clothes. I will. And there is a long hot summer before September during which I will have to take DD to the pool and the beach. I will have to wear a swimsuit. I will want to enjoy the whole experience rather than dreading it. I will.

I will do my fellow #50Club members proud. JazzyGal and Looking For Blue Sky, both in Dublin, I will stand tall(ish), slim and glam with you both.

I will.


Saturday, January 14, 2012

LifeCircle2: Drawing A Line In The Sand

)The first LifeCircle assignment from @kateb is to complete the wheel of life below, grading yourself from 1 to 10 (10 being completely satisfied) in each category. I tried it on a couple of interactive sights and the resulting shape (when you join your scores) was a pleasant sort of conch (which I admit I tidied up a bit for the sake of aesthetics.) It's supposed to show where the kinks in the smooth wheel of your life need pumping up or ironing out. I don't totally get it as you could have a perfect wheel of discontented 1s - not a happy place to be in but certainly smooth enough to roll along. Anyway, I'm not technical enough to reproduce my efforts here so instead I'll give you a run down (literally) in words.


Romance/Significant Other 10 - Just kidding :)

Fun and Recreation 9 - As I wrote in my Introduction post, I am where I am at the moment and my fun is close to home. This is how it has to be for a while and I'm fine with it.

Friends and Family 8 - I'm blessed with both but the family bit is long-distance for most of the year so no physical support there such as back up for childcare, holiday meals together, etc... However, as I'm not relocating to London yet this isn't somethng I can change.

Environment 7 -  I have a nice home which I own jointly with the bank and I could easily do with spending quite a bit of money I don't have on improving it. However, I am so thankful that I don't have the insecurity and expense of having to rent. I live in a lovely area of Jerusalem and were Jerusalem situated in the English countryside just outside London my cup would be full.

Health 6 - Thank God, but I do need to lose weight and do a bit of stretching, etc...

Career 5 - I have one but I need to develop it in a way that generates more income. This is quite urgent.

Personal Development 4 - This is the area I want to concentrate on so that I'm in the best position and ready to do whatever it is I have the time and freedom to do in a few more years.

Finance 3 - A bit dire at the moment but DD goes into the state education system in September which is supposed to be free-ish.

See my conch? I'm only missing 2 and 1. Incidently, you can choose any categories for your wheel of life. So to use up the numbers and for the sake of a perfect curve...

Time-management 2 - The word procrastination comes to mind.

1 - Nothing I can think of. I am actually very blessed with the gift of contentment. Or it could be the curse of inertia, in which case it's an extension of procrastination. Yawn - I'll figure it out tomorrow.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Cheesey Cornbread Pie

Pies this week! (Go check out Recipe Shed for a whole selection of them.) I love pies, I could eat an old boot if it were wrapped in pastry. However, I couldn't find a good recipe for Old Boot Pie and anyway, I really wanted to look for something a little different. You can put almost anything between two pastry crusts and it's a pie by definition. But what else is there? Well I found a recipe for a pot-pie with a cheesey cornbread lid. It was with a hot chilli filling and called Mexican. I'd love it but I'm cooking for a 3yo so I dispensed with the Mexican element and came up with the following. I'm very excited to be sharing this, it's delicious and satisfying in a vegetarian meaty sort of way.

Cheesey Cornbread Pie

Select a variety of pulses and vegetables for the filling. I happened to find garlic, a potato, some aubergine, frozen sweet corn, frozen chick-peas, onion, frozen green beans, and some red pepper. You will also need tomato puree or crushed tomatoes.


Cube the vegetables and saute the vegetables (and pulses) in cooking oil. Then add the tomato puree (or crushed tomatoes) and salt, pepper, and soy sauce to taste, a generous tsp of onion soup powder (or a stock cube), and a cup of water (maybe 2 cups I can't remember). Let it simmer for about 15 minutes while you make the cornbread topping.

Mix in a bowl: 2/3 cup cornmeal, 1tbsp flour, 2tsp baking powder, and 1/2 tsp salt.
Beat 1 egg with 1/3 cup milk and 2 tbsp corn oil.
Pour the liquid mixture into the dry mixture and combine to make the cornbread batter.

Put the filling in an oven-proof dish (I made 5 individual pies each measuring about 1cup) and top with the cornbread batter. Sprinkle grated cheddar cheese over the top.


Bake in a pre-heated oven at 220 degrees for about 30-40 minutes, until golden brown on top.



As I'd made individual pies it was easy to go round the edge with a sharp knife and tip the pie upsidedown onto the plate. This meant that the filling was on top of the cornbread and it soaked up some of the gravy. Also it was an easier and delicious way to eat the cornbread and filling together.


Yum!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Mile High Meltdown




Acted, Aeroplane, After, Aghast, and Aquamarine, plus the usual 100 words. Pop over to Julia's Place to read the other entries to this week's 100 word challenge.






DD stood in the aisle pointing towards the exit screaming, "HOOOME! BEEED Mummy!"

"Is she always like this?" asked the snooty cow in the aquamarine twin-set.

"I don't know, I don't usually force her to stay up till 2am."

Seeing my expression Snooty Cow tried to backtrack. "I-I-I meant on aeroplanes," she stammered.

"She's two - she's  not exactly a frequent flyer."

I acted aghast but actually I was beyond caring. When your 2 year old has a meltdown on an aeroplane at 2am there's little you can do.

After a while I persauded DD to sit on my lap and she eventually fell asleep.


Post script: Taochild has written a critique of this 100 word challenge entry which you can read Here. Thanks Taochild, I love it.
And you can read a critique by Snellopy here. Thank you too.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Auditing My Soul

I promised Liska at New Mum Online I'd join the MUMenTUM blog hop this week. Of course I'm not doing it just for Liska - although why not? She's a nice person. Seriously though, those of you who read me know that I'm up for big changes this year. Here are the reasons:



1. I turn 50 in September and feel the need to be somewhat more sorted than I feel at the moment.

2. Impending trip to London to see family and visit The Harlequin Centre in Watford for the first time in over a year. All those relatives and clothes shops would be unbearable at my present [over]weight.

3. Happy, healthy, blah, blah, blah...

We have a saying in Hebrew: cheshbon nefesh. It's what you do at major milestones or crossroads in your life. It means taking account of your soul. In other words introspection. Weighing up what you have achieved, where you are, where you would like to be, are you happy, what changes need to be made, etc... Approaching fifty is a major time for cheshbon nefesh. And I'm into it big time. (Even though I am only able to make small changes at the moment as explained on my LifeCircle introduction earlier this week.)

JazzyGal and Looking For Blue Sky, both in Dublin, have started The #50Club (notice the snazzy badge) for all us 1962 babies. (Feel free to join if you fit the description.) I'm already feeling better about the big five-oh knowing that I'm in such good company. And I think a lot of insightful writing will come out of it that just might tip the balance from shell-shocked (how can this have happened so soon?) to OK (new decade new opportunities/experiences/confidence/whatever).

So first step is to conquer the mum-tum, again, along with all the other flabby bits. New Year's Eve found me making the annual pledge and this week I lost 1.5kg (just over 3lbs). Don't cheer yet, it's a mere drop in the ocean. However, every drop counts and I've run out of ways to continue with this metaphor. More importantly, will I be able to post my very first blog hop linky? Watch this space...

Monday, January 9, 2012

Women Dancing Towards Change

So here's what's happening in Israel. We are in the midst of a religious war between some sectors of the ultra-orthodox (known as Haredi) communities and women - including women from religious but non-Haredi communities.

It started as a gradual and largely unnoticed eradication and exclusion of women from public display - no women on poster adverts in Jerusalem, segregated buses in orthodox areas where the women have to sit at the back, separate performances of concerts and shows for men and women. Not everywhere and not all the time. But in certain very religious neighbourhoods and with more and more frequency. And recently it's been creeping over the invisible religious borders into middle Israel. Several Religious State Schools (supposedly non-Haredi) had Hanukkah concerts for children and Mothers only as it's not modest for men to hear the girls singing.

How can this happen in a democracy where the Haredi sector makes up no more than 10%? The government has given so much power to religious leaders in return for their votes that it would fall if they broke ties. How many religious leaders are there that their votes carry so much weight? I'll explain with a story...

A few years ago I was working in an office of a company who were very pro employing orthodox women whose husbands studied Torah all day in Yeshiva. These women bring up the (usually many) children, run the home, work full time and, as I said, their husbands study. One day close to a general election we were all discussing who we supported and who we were planning to vote for. A few of these women said they didn't know yet. Fair enough - there's a lot to consider right? However, this comment was followed by: My husband's rabbi hasn't told us yet. He's telling us tonight. I was shocked, but this is how it is.

Bet Shemesh is a small town about halfway between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. Driven out of the ultra-orthodox neighbourhoods of Jerusalem because of high property prices (and rents) and lack of space, Bet Shemesh has seen a big increase in its Haredi community over the past decade. And some of them are becoming more and more religiously extreme.

The latest incidents have seen religious women being spat on and verbally abused because thay dare to walk the streets with elbows or ankles showing, or in open-toed sandals. We're not talking skinny jeans and vest tops here - just not Taliban enough for the extremist zealots. And it's escalating because the religious leadership are not speaking out against such behaviour which 1. conveys that they secretly agree with it and 2. makes the extremists more bold and demanding.

Working, tax-paying and rate-paying, army serving, Israelis are angry, we've had enough. To try to impose their laws on non-Haredi Israelis and to become violent when they don't comply is the last straw. It is literally biting the hand that feeds them. Last Friday the women of sane Bet Shemesh made a stand against the eradication of women from public life. I keep going back to watch it and it has me grinning every time.



Saturday, January 7, 2012

Ladies Who Lu...mpect 2

Back in September 2011 I wrote:
My good friend, DancingInTheRain, is a career woman, a mother, a wife, a sister, a daughter, a friend to many, a writer, and a dancer. This is her story:
It was actually only the beginning of her story and we were left wondering what the impending test results were going be. Here's what happened next:
Take it step by step I was cleverly advised by other ladies who lumpect (LWL). And so on to the next step.  Radiotherapy.  Not that the previous steps were as straightforward as they sounded at the end of my last post.  ‘lumpected and then relumpected’ is what I wrote.  Well it would have sraightforward if they hadn’t actually lost what they were looking for.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. The first lumpectomy was actually 2 operations in one.  They start by injecting your boob with turquoise dye. This cleverly works its way into the underarm lymph nodes and stains blue one or two of those very lymph nodes which would have become cancerous if the cancer would already have spread.  They whip them out, test them on the spot for cancer and if all is good (remember, ‘negative’ in the vernacular) they sew you back up again.  If they think the lymph nodes are affected then they remove a whole bunch of them and start worrying about the rest of your body. Fortunately the lymph nodes were clear.

The second part of the operation is the removal of the lump itself.  After undergoing a weird and agonizing piercing procedure you enter the operating theatre with one, two or three wires sticking hedgehog like out of the affected breast.  The idea being that the surgeon digs inside and cuts out the diseased part which should be located between the wires. In my case, I think he was put off by the turquoise nipple because according to the pathological report of the removed specimen, there was still a bit left in.  All the invasive part had been removed but…. a bit of the high grade stuff was still there.  Tip: Good idea to remove all the ‘hg’ because it has a tendency to metamorphose into ‘invasive’ given time.

Well they had indeed warned me of a 50% chance that a re-lumpectomy might be on the cards.  What they hadn’t warned me was that although the pathology lab would diagnose any remaining cancerous cells after the first op, they might also, by mistake, grossly mess up the specimen.  Meaning that it simply wasn’t clear whether the bit of lump that was left was at the top, bottom or one of the sides of the residual hole.

The surgeon was somewhat at a loss.  Scalpel very much at the ready but not sure where to aim and not keen to perform a needless and totally unexpected mastectomy (full breast removal) in order to catch a few roving cells. Patient (me) certainly not keen to have a mastectomy just because the lab had made a mistake and ‘it might be a good idea to be on the safe side’.  Now was the time to call in reinforcements and the Heads of the Breast Oncological Department and the Breast Radiation Unit officially joined the team hunting for the elusive lump.  Tension was rife and the waiting seemed interminable.

The powers that be decided that an MRI scan should do the trick.  MRIs are uncomfortable and noisy and extremely claustrophobic – especially if you have recently had operations on your breast and underarm, not to mention a slipped disc.  Results indeed suggested the presence of unwanted cells and a re-lumpectomy was performed. Mr Surgeon and my dear Hubby ensured that the resultant specimen was delivered to a more reputable pathology lab (between them they smuggled the ‘body in the bag’ out of the hospital) and a long 3 weeks later we were informed that some pre-cancerous cells had been removed.  However, the high grade cancerous ones which we had been looking for were still lurking in one of the ducts.

The surgeon insisted there was nothing left to remove - but the pathology results had shown otherwise.  Fear (on my part) and indecisiveness was in the air.  Appointments with various oncologists only enhanced the tension. The threesome reconvened and agreed that a strong dose of radiation would kill off anything that might still be around. No need for more surgery.

And then they changed their minds.  A mammography scan would determine the need for a re-re-lumpectomy.  But after 2 painful operations there was simply no way that my sensitive, still-turquoise, distorted breast would subject itself to being squeezed mercilessly between 2 platters in order for the scan to take place.  The surgeon agreed with me and mayhem ensued – dissension in the ranks at the weekly departmental committee meeting. 

Special permission was eventually given for 7 weeks of daily radiotherapy (with weekends off for good behavior).  With 250 daily patients, and the same number of personalized radiation treatments, it takes a while for the doctors, physicists and technicians to prepare each individual technical program which includes simulation sessions and tattoos.  One missed angle and the radiation hits your heart or lung - an unpleasant, long-lasting side-effect.  But the waiting was difficult.  It had been 5 months since the original diagnosis and I was becoming more and more scared that the detected, yet still unremoved ‘hg’ might that very minute be metamorphosing and invading. 

Now more than 5 weeks into treatment, although I am suffering the expected side effects of local soreness (imagine sunburn in a very sensitive place – ouch!) and extreme fatigue, the hospital team of doctors, administrators and radiologists are simply fantastic – not to mention friends and family who undertake the daily 1 hour+ journey to ferry me to the hospital – since the original slipped disc/degeneration of the old backbone is preventing me from driving myself. 

Step by step is the mantra and, talking of steps, it is these same friends and family who have been there for me every step of the way.

I have an appointment next week with the oncologist. I am expecting only good news and will be dancing all the way there.  I’ll let you know……
DancingInTheRain

Friday, January 6, 2012

Here's One I Didn't Make Myself

This week's Recipe Shed is all about healthy food. A very good way to start the new year. It's quite hard to think of healthy food in the winter as it's not the season for salads. The obvious answer is soups. I live with a 3yo who doesn't do soup brilliantly yet so it would be a waste for me to make it as we eat together. However, last night I went out to S's for the annual Winter Soup and Sweets Party (she does a summer party as well). The soup was minetrone.






Served with parmesan, croutons and pesto to put in the soup or on the sour-dough bread sticks that were also on the table with butter, of course. A glass of red wine and so far so healthy.


Desserts included an apple cake, a cheese cake with cranberries, brownies that were almost liquid chocolate and date and coconut truffles. I didn't put sugar in my coffee though.


As I didn't make the delicious soup and as you can find Minestrone Soup on google, I'm not actually going to post a recipe. Think of it as more of a Recipe Suggestion Shed. :~) But do click here and see how others have been more pro-active than I have on this one.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

LifeCircle: Intro

A few months ago @kateab from The Five Fs blog started LifeCircle. I fully intended to join in and benefit from the group life coaching course, coming out the other end with all my dreams and ambitions well on the way to fulfillment. The first assignment was an overview of the different aspects of our lives, taken sepaerately and each given a score from one to ten. I balked. I didn't want to share the exact state of my finances and my romantic life with the world wide web. With the new year, Kate has restarted the LifeCircle and I still wanted to do it (btw, anyone can join, just follow the link). This time, with more understanding of what is to come, I thought about how I could  make it work  for me and still keep my (selected) privacy. This week we are asked to introduce ourselves.

A wise person once told me that there are times in your life when you are ready to get up and do, move and shake, etc.. And there are times when you just have to be. As a single mother with a 3yo, I am in one of those 'needing to be' places. However, there are plenty of things I need to prepare, while I am being, so that when the time comes for me to 'get up and do' I will be ready.

Today met R in the street as I was walking home from the supermarket. I always admire how R gets dressed every day. Obviously I don't walk around in my pyjamas but pullng on a pair of trousers, a jumper and running a brush through my hair doesn't constitute 'getting dressed'. I complimented R and she admitted that it takes a lot of effort but that in her job (an estate agent) she has to. Well I have to too, if I am going to look and feel like the woman I want to be.

And all this grooming takes time - something that I can waste with professional aplomb. So I guess some anti-procrastination work is in order and finding the motivation to use the minutes productively.


In a book about being elegant and sophisiticated on a small budget the first directive was to be slim. As the book said (it was many years ago and I don't have a reference), it is much easier to look elegant in crisp jeans with a simple white shirt and some shiny accessories if you are slim. Overweight people have to pay a lot more money for a similar effect. There's a lot of truth in this. So, apart from all the health reasons (obviously), this is my third area of concentration.

In addition, I want to achieve small goals (some of them listed on my Day Zero list) towards being ready (as described in New Year's Eve) for the moving and shaking when the time comes. In particular I think it will be helpful to define precisely what I would ultimately like to do and where I would like to be so that I'm at least moving (or shaking) in a straight line towards it.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

You Can't Be A Mother

The 100 word challenge this week is to write from the perspective of the woman under the arrow. I immediately knew what my subject was, it's something I see a lot in Israel. I meet women like this and it breaks my heart every time. I took my title and the final line from this article. Read it to find out more. Then go to Julia's Place to see the other entries.



When I have second baby I must follow sister and leave the Philippines for work. Daughters, like cousins, live with grandmother. I send money.

Being Santa's elf is fun job. Most elves are Vietnamese and Thai but we get along fine. Hardest time is Christmas. Not only it is busy season, obviously, but it is emotional hard.

I go down chimneys on Christmas Eve and see many children who wake up in morning and run to mother's bed for cuddle. It is very hard. I am also mother, but you can't be mother when you are not with your children.

Monday, January 2, 2012

My 2012 Mood Board

I've already written a New Year's Eve post in which I describe my almost spiritual approach to the magical night of fresh starts and new leaves. But then I came across, at notSupermum (it's a Blog Hop so go and see some of the others), the idea of expressing my focus for the coming year as a mood board. I couldn't resist. Except for the family picture, all the others are from Google images.
Our family.

European parks with trees and water.
 
Healthy vegetarian food.
The suppleness, the grace and the lightness of being.

A place to work and time to revisit favourite
books in uncluttered elegance.