Sunday, October 31, 2010

And I looked at the screen in disbelief

Because it couldn't happen to me? Hasn't enough happened to me? I just came back from New Zealand feeling the best I have in years but facing a very difficult decision of having to put my 17 year old severely disabled son with MR and autism into full time residential living because it was becoming unmanageable at home. I mean we have been living with pad locks on our doors for years now and my almost 13 year old son had no social life and he deserved some time. My 17 year old is mentally 2 at best and it was eating me alive. In the way that only a mother could understand. His entire life, every day I made every single decision of his day. What he would wear and dress him, what he would eat, where he would go, all of his educational decisions...the works. Now suddenly I was faced with someone(s) else doing that and my home falling silent from his various sound affects. He cannot talk, but he is far from quiet.

So I go away, clear my head and come home to take on this huge challenge before me.

Then something else happened. Something I didn't see coming, nor did I expect. I don't smoke, drink, do drugs and I have no family history. My history thus far included giving a tiny bit of help that I could to this powerhouse of woman named Joan, whom at 70 was now a two time breast cancer survivor. I think we laughed more than we did anything else, but isn't laughter the best medicine? This was early in October and I had no idea what was going on with my body. Joan was taking on a whole town and organizing a Pink Walk. I was in awe of her. Having been an event coordinator myself, I was so impressed and I think I was looking at myself 30 or so years down the road. I adored her, she was just so much fun to be around.

This past Monday night I went out with a friend and met up with an Angel Psychic. I had some questions lined up, but before we could get started, she said "We need to talk about your health, specifically your breast health." I kinda looked at her baffled but listened as I have learned to listen to those who are speaking to her, my angels. I have a lot, I need a lot! She gave me info specifically about my left breast and suggested I get a mammogram, soon and we went on to other topics. I had no idea how soon that would be.

The very next day I was surfing the web, and on our local on line paper there was this nifty little thing you could sign up to remind you to do your monthly exams (which I already did, but brush ups never hurt) , get your yearly mammograms and check ups, had some tips, recipes and it included three main symptoms of breast cancer. One was drainage from the nipple. I said "Huh, I use to get that for some time after breast feeding, wonder if it still does that?" So while doing my self exam I tried to extract (you breast feeding moms know what I mean there.) Nothing on the right, went to the left and dammit, blood came out. I froze. I literally froze.

OMG, I have never had anything like that come out of my breast before! Dammit, my doctors are closed! I got in when my doctor returned to the office on Thursday as I was having no of this business with a fill in after 16 years of us tactling everything from autism and abusive husbands, and had him give me the full work up on an exam and showed him the bleeding. He didn't like it and thought he felt something on the underside of that breast. I said "What? I cannot feel a thing." Fact of the matter is that often women don't feel anything early on, which is why after 40-41 you start going every year for a mammogram. Ironically I was scheduled to go next one month, since I pushed it back by two months for my trip. Which really is not a big deal since my base line was normal five years ago and I am in a low risk category.

My doctor asked me if I could get a mammogram and an ultra sound that day (this is Thursday now) I said HELL YES! And off to the nearest imaging center we went with an opening.
I was told on the spot there was a nodule, it was not a cyst and they didn't like it because of the bleeding. Strike 2 on the bleeding thing. I call my family doctor back now hysterical in the parking lot and he tells me he is going to call me later that night with a name.

By 8:30 p.m. he calls, but I am pretty out of it from crying most of the day. I am just in shock. He said he will be calling me in the morning with her name and number and I am to call to make an appointment. Next morning I get a call instead, they made the appointment for me, and I am to be there by 1:30 p.m. I am now going to the Helen H. Graham Cancer Center and I am scared to death. But I have angels among me who are pushing and making sure I am getting where I need to go and as quickly as possible.

I go and meet up with the breast surgeons assistant and she says "I'll be honest, I don't like the bleeding either, but most nodules we fine are benign." Strike 3 on that bleeding thing...I am now beyond terrified. I look at the screen in disbelief for the first time and I didn't like it. There it wsa, this dark black circular THING. It was an unwelcome and unwanted invader in my body and I wanted it out and fast. They were hoping this coming Monday that I would get my biopsy, but I have to wait till the 9th and I get all the results in on the 16th. Apparently business is good at the cancer center. So I must wait till the 16th to know what my future holds. I know it holds at least a surgery to take that sucker out no matter what it's attitude may be...I did not invite it and it is leaving. My attitude is piss poor as far as it is concerned.

So here it is Halloween, and the last day of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. I cannot express enough to everyone out there to get your mammograms and do your monthly exams. Also check in with your doctor about anything strange looking about your breasts or change in them. Don't be embarrassed. Because I gotta tell ya, I would have stripped for anyone and everyone without hesitation if they were going to help me. All I could think about were my kids. No question is a stupid question, not asking is stupid. And don't think you are safe if you have no family history and live a low risk lifestyle. It can happen anytime to anyone. One in 8 women they say. Not great odds. I really didn't see this coming and I always have kept up on my girly health maintenance. I wasn't there, and then it was.

I am just hoping and praying that this sucker is benign and they will take it out and I will be on my merry way. Will I feel like I worried over nothing if it is? NO. I have a family I am responsible for and it's my job to worry and make sure I am OK. If it's not benign? Well, we will worry about that part after we get past this first part.

So, that is why I stopped with the pleasant blogs on New Zealand and I have lots more to tell, but I have had this bit of a hiccup in the road and need to deal with it. Which I am, full steam ahead. So Think will save your life.

Monday, October 25, 2010

And the winner is....

Last week I announced my dear friend Dancing Mooney was having a sale and a giveaway. I just wanted to do a quick follow up and let you know who the fabulous winner was since this is an Estian that I never met before.

She is The Charm Lady and her shop looks rather interesting. Anyone who knows me knows I love my charms and pendants. It's my big to Have It Sweet's Fleur de Sel Caramels. (Another day...but oh my!)

Dancing Mooney writes: " TheCharmLady is our lucky lady today, who's won her choice of
Sugar Body Polish and matching Soap from my shop. She is an Etsy artist that makes really cool jewelry, and is an amazing photographer as well, along with being a fantastic mom
{I can only tell by her blog!} and so much more!"

I found several pendants I liked right away, it was hard not to find something I liked. It was a fun shop to visit and I never would have known about it if it was not for Dancing Mooney's contest!

Anyway be sure to visit Dancing Mooney. You can read up on her shop and her wonderful soapy goodies. She also has jewelry and collages too! You can find the post here. I am quite sincere when I say I have been using her products since she has been making them and I truly love them. I am also always so excited when she comes up with a new scent or product, she works so hard to get it just right. I have very sensitive skin and her soaps always work for me so well.

I have two other soapy ladies I use for different reasons and I will reintroduce them soon.

Why so soap crazy you ask?
Well, it is something we all need and use.
It is consumable and does not go to waste or to your waist.
It can and is an art form for many which makes it a LOT of fun.
It makes a great luxury gift and it will not be left laying around collecting dust.
It is something someone will use and get a great deal of pleasure out of. So you can always go back and refill that item for the next holiday or birthday or what have you.
Many of the soap makers on Etsy use only the best ingredients and not all of that nasty stuff that is in the soaps you buy in the stores. Once you start to use hand made artisan soaps, you find your skin no longer gets itchy and looks and feels better.

Coconut Bar by Dancing Mooney

So, that is why I am a bit nutty in the soap department and support my equally nutty soapy friends who show no end to their creativity. I just love it. It's good clean fun!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Before Ohakune there was Omaru Falls for my Birthday

Sometimes words just do not do justice for some of the things you get the privilege to witness. I had a very special birthday.

Omaru Falls - New Zealand

It was a bit of a hike through some bush, flooded fields and a swollen river over this rope bridge. Fun stuff!

The look on my face when I first saw the falls

I know, I am a complete sap....

I didn't have much to say while I was there. I was in awe and just sat there taking it all in and taking a lot of photos, in between wiping away my so called water proof mascara!

A very very special birthday that I will never forget!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Dancing Mooney is having a sale and a giveaway!

I have a few Etsy vendors whom I am very loyal to, and they earned that loyalty through great customer service, great product and just being great individuals. I have many of them listed on my links sections down below there on the right. Not everyone there is an Etsian, but they are all great folks.

No messed with, no fragrance, real honey, oatmeal goats milk soap.
This girl's best friend facial bar.

Dancing Mooney is special because I made my very first Etsy purchase from her and well, we have been an "item" ever since. I am totally hooked on her soaps. I have three lovely soapy ladies. I know that seems a bit ambitious, but I have them all three for very different reasons and they all three make very different products. I like to think of Dancing Mooney as my "lady soap." Very elegant, soft, pretty and oh so good on my skin!

Sweet Pumpkin Spice Goats Milk Soap
Imagine pumpkin pie with whipped cream...a Thanksgiving Day must have!

To celebrate her 2,000th sale she decided to have a 20 percent sale in her shop and even better a give away on one of her new and fabulous products.....her sugar body polish.
Who doesn' t want to smell edible and have glowing kissable skin at the same time?

I'm game!

She was kind enough to send me a sample while in the final stages of development on this new product. I got to try the ginger/peach. As a friend of mine would say "Oh my Lara!" It smells of fresh peaches and the ginger only enhances the fragrance.

The consistency was perfect and after a week of using it at the bathroom sink my cuticles were is salon perfect condition.

I gave her a 10/10 for the new line. Then I start to ask what flavors she was going to start making!

So here is her ad for her sale and contest to receive a free bottle of her sugar body polish. Good luck and happy shopping!

P.S. I highly recommend the Kona is out of this world!


And now a word from Dancing Mooney....

Hey Everyone!

This week I reached the 2000 sales milestone in my shop, and I couldn't have done it without the support of all of you!

Thank you all so much for encouraging me, inspiring me, and giving me the strength to keep moving forward. ♥

This weekend I am holding a Give-Away on my Blog, to say thanks to all my loyal readers and followers.

And, I'm having a 20% off SALE in my shop this weekend as well, which includes everything in the store! Soaps, Jewelry and More!!

Have a wonderful weekend, and thanks so much again for all of your continued support!

Look forward to hearing from you!


Stay tuned more adventures in and from New Zealand to come!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Off and running in Auckland, Traveling Pendant and Rugby

As you see I am home from New Zealand and WOW what an adventure! I had the privilege to travel alone, no husband, no kids....just me.

I arrived at the Auckland airport. I am exhausted, jet lagged, on the tail end of a bloody vertigo trip, in a strange country, get off the plane, through customs, exchanged my money and out the door to the nearest Goodwill to find some second hand clothes as I was traveling with a single 15 pound bag. Yes ladies, I traveled around the planet with a single 15 pound bag that included my lap top and boots. I only needed a few extra tops and the second hand shops came in handy. I HATE checking in bags and carrying around extra crap I don't need. Some folks thought I was restricting myself by packing this way. I found it rather liberating to have the "less is more" mentality. The less I had to keep track of the better. I loved it.

Off I go to what will be "home" for the next few weeks. On the way there I recall my mouth hanging wide open as we travel about the country side to get home and I just cannot believe what I am seeing. Green, much green. Mountains, hills, beautiful skies. I think I am going to like it here.

I was set up in a very nice and comfortable room that even has a kitchen with the works. So long as I have tea and a dry bed I am good. I wake up later with my computer set up and an offer to eat....Rugby in Hamilton the next morning for two days...I have not a clue about Rugby.

Again I find myself gawking at the landscape and this becomes the norm for me while I am there. Interruptions in conversations of me saying Omg, look at that" were eventually expected and ignored as time went on.

It is slightly wet and cold. Alright I was freezing my ass off, but this seems to be rather tepid weather to the locals who are walking around in shorts or even no shoes while I am dressed up and looking something like Chubacka.
Me the Eskimo, and yer typical Kiwi.

I have heard of rugby, know of rugby, know its something like American foot ball crossed with soccer, but from there, I have no idea how the game is played. I am lost. Not only am I lost....I am still walking around jet lagged and remnants of a vertigo attack I started to get before I left home were still with me, albeit letting go. This was still making me very tired and disoriented no matter how hard I was fighting it. At some point you have to stop fighting it and just give in. I found myself waking up in the van with no idea of the time and almost forgetting where I was. I am grateful to have been left in the care of some lovely folks such as Aroha (which means Love) whom was as lovely as her name indicated and kept me out of trouble. Like wandering into the middle of a field while the boys played. She also introduced me to chocolate covered pineapple toffee of sorts. I love her.
Mmmmm Chocolate covered pineapple toffee....Aroha yer killing me! lol!

"Hey, let's take a shot for the traveling pendant!". I grab my hat (Thank you Julie!) and I grab the pendant (Thank you Kelly!). This is real life and undoctored so here it is. Just as it was, the traveling pendant in Hamilton, New Zealand at the finals, Rugby Tournament, last of the season. It is spring and I am still amazed I am there despite all the discomforts I know I am going to pull through and be fine, I just need a bit of time. I had no doubts whatsoever!

I am sure my state of being was more amusing to everyone else watching the "silly American girl" than it was to me trying to figure out the game. Oh well, just so someone got something out of it, even at my expense. Amusement is amusement.

By day two of the event I was kinda getting the swing of what was going on, although I was still finding myself falling asleep. The cold wet weather was not helping me snap out of the funk I was in. I did manage to get some photos.

This was my favorite shot I captured. I am not sure what this move is but it happens fast and is pretty amazing to watch as they throw their team mates up into the air to block the ball or catch it. This happens in just seconds. Still not sure what is going on there. Either way it was fun to watch.

A few of a team who won their game, not the championship, but did a fine job winning what they had in front of them and ending off a good season. They were all fired up.

I was even asked at the end of the day to take the team group shot, which I must say after wrangling up the cheeky teens I managed to get several shots. My favorite was the one where I got them all to give me a bit of a battle cry and give them permission to get wild. It truly is my favorite of the whole batch. I had tight quarters I was to the left, cows to the right...everyone has these problems with group shots. Right? I was honored that they asked me to take the shots. Truly. I was the out of town gal and they handed me the camera. That was a lot to be trusted with.

Finally back home, a warm shower, into my really warm cozy bed and I pass out till the next day and the next set of adventures. Ah skype I can call home and see my son's face. How wonderful. I tell him of my adventures and show him pictures from the day off. Sip my mint tea and then drift off to sleep. What a better way to end the day.

Now off to the next set of adventures...

Saturday, October 16, 2010

I'm Back & Lean Dog is looking good!

I'm back from a long hiatus in New Zealand and I am feeling good! Nothing will put you back in the game better than clean air, water, gorgeous green hills, mountains, toss in a few dead volcanoes and caves with active sink holes, blue waters and island hoping, breath taking beaches with sand that glittered in the sun, rugby tournaments with cheeky teens and waterfalls....lots and lots of water falls. Did I mention I was on top of Mount Doom from Lord of the Rings? You could not look left or right without getting b*tch slapped with beautiful. It was impossible.

I was also fortunate enough to meet some really incredible folks. From Joan, a two time cancer survivor who was taking on a breast cancer walk on her own in her town. To a couple (Pat and Diana) who ran charters on their boat out of Auckland. So many lovely folks and so little time!
I am almost feeling homesick now.

If you want to catch up on my NZ adventures or just my daily shenanigans, check me out on facebook.

So back home and back to business! Right out of the gate is Lean Dog who wanted a new look for her shop. I love working with Lean Dog because she has so many vibrant colors to work with. And of course I want to use ALL of them. :) Fortunately she gave me a palette she wanted and I went sniffing through her shop for stuff to sample from. Oh the drudgery of having to look through so many pretty things.

She wanted something seasonal, so I came up with this and it was a home run for her on the first hit.

Just click above to get whisked away to her
fabulous funky friendly shop!

Her cute little matching avatar.

She is having a huge sale with 15% off of everything in her store. So do check her out!

I will try to do some catching up with my posts in the days to come. I just had to spend some time over the past several days catching up on sleep and trying to reset my schedule! Jet lag was an understatement!

P.S. Yes! The Traveling Pendant went with me on my adventures and there will be stories to come!