Sweet Potato Biscuits and Christmas Thanks

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I have been itching to write a blog entry for over four months now.  My brain can’t handle all these thoughts if I don’t write them down!  However, life stepped in-a second reconstructive post-breast cancer op in mid-September and an overseas move thereafter made it a little difficult.  I am back on track, though!  I spent 7+ weeks without Sacha and my girlies while I waited for my final op in the DC area and then I pretty much sped out of town on a plane to El Salvador.  And during those 7 + weeks, I slept for all of you Mamas out there who are sleep deprived.  In honor of you all, I took several naps and tried my darndest to sleep in past 6 am.  But years of being dragged out of bed by my early-rising kids took a toll on me and for the most part, I couldn’t freaking do it!  I was so used to dragging my weary, cranky ass out of bed to take care of a scared, vomiting, or yelling child that I just plain old couldn’t sleep in.  On the other hand, though, I laid around a WHOLE lot.  In honor again of the Mums/Moms/Mamans out there who are NOT doing just that.  I was a pretty good couch potato for those weeks.  I watched a whole lot of crap tv and thoroughly enjoyed it.  I didn’t have anyone bugging me to turn on the Backyardigans or a soccer match (kids and Sacha) and I zoned out to Andy Cohen on Bravo, a whole lotta Real Housewives (I know, it’s sick) and quite a bit of Top Chef or Chopped.  Pretty much, I watched Bravo or the Food Channel the whole time.  I was supposed to get this blog entry out after Thanksgiving, but it has now turned into after Christmas.  Oh well, more talk about yummy food, right?

So, in this holiday season, I am just plain old grateful.  Grateful for my three beautiful little nuts, thankful for a husband who puts up with me and thinks I am beautiful, appreciative for my parents and sis and her gorgeous family, and glad for my amazing dear friends and rockin’ extended family.  And here’s a tad bit more about all that makes me stop and think just how lucky I am-

  1. I love my kooky family.  Kids-I am grateful for my three year old, Remi-Roo or the Rooster.  I love her little puckered heart-shape lips and her cheeky grin.  Her cherubic face and that baby-soft strawberry blond hair.  I love the fact that she is bilingual-French and English, and that she knows to switch language effortlessly depending on whatever language the person speaks with whom she is talking.  And that she is now chattering away in Spanish, too.  I love that she adores to dance and she is expressive in everything that she does.   I try to take a deep breath when she throws her (regular/hourly?) tantrum because she does not have her hair perfectly braided or her third wardrobe change for the hour isn’t up to her standards, she can throw ‘em down like no other.  But I have a new tactic.  I just tickle her incessantly until she starts to laugh.  Hysterically.  She has no choice.  Kind of like my sister, Holly, when we were little.  I would use all out down and dirty war tactics with her in the form of tickling.  She was putty in my hands and still to this day, she resents just a wee bit that I am not ticklish.
  2. Mia.  My bunny girl and my biggest sis.   Even when she wants my attention at almost eight years old.  “Mum.  Mummy!  Maman?”  She tries all three names when she can’t get my attention.  She is attentive, artistic, whip-smart, meticulous, hilarious, caring, sassy, and slightly bossy (like her Mum?).  Her lovely brown eyes and her beautiful golden-streaked brown hair with those sun-soaked highlights that most women dream of.  I love the fact that when she gets excited, she still bounces around.  And she cracks me up.  She is one funny little nut.  I am also waiting for the day (soon!) that she will be smarter than her old Mum.  Seriously, this kid doesn’t miss a thing.
  3. Zo-ster/Zote/Zozie/Z-My sunshine girl.  Butterfly fairy gal.  Almost always a smile and a twinkle in her baby blue eyes.  And those freckles.  Those gorgeous curly locks.  Her infectious giggle.  And her endless ability to injure herself.  I don’t love that, of course, but I just adore her.  She pretty much was thrown from a horse and just a tad tramped by that same horse on our recent trip to Honduras, but that girl, oh that girl, she cried a little and then got up and got right back on the darn horse again.  And within 15 minutes, she was laughing and giggling again.  She could teach me a few things about life and letting go, that’s for sure.

I love my girls and their distinctly different strong personalities.  I am the luckiest Mama in the whole world.

  1. My better half-Sacha.  We just had our eleven-year wedding anniversary on December 22nd.  We were in Honduras and our day was filled with chasing little girls, everyone interrupting each other and chaos as usual.  We were all dirty and muddy and occasionally cranky and there was little talk of our anniversary.  However, we were all together and we visited the ancient Mayan ruins of Copán as a family.  I mean, c’mon, how much better can you get than that?  Sacha puts up with my temper and my impatience and my other (little!) foibles.  He is the best Dad around and he will sit for hours with the girls and play princess with them and walk out covered in sequins and frills and pink.   And he doesn’t mind at all.  Plus he makes me laugh.  Always has and always will.  He is the smartest guy around as well.  His love for history and global affairs is impressive and what makes him even more awesome is his humbleness. Even if he irritates me (and we do a pretty good job annoying each other!), I adore my guy.
  2. My parents-I love them and miss them and it never gets any easier to be on the other side of the world as them.
  3. My big sis, Holly.  She has three incredible kids and I am missing seeing her kids grow up.  That stinks.
  4. Bosom buddies-I have met some truly awesome women in this whole process.  We have an immediate boob bond.  I was lucky enough to meet my dear pal, Chantale, in the waiting room of my plastic surgeon post surgery.  I told the story before in an earlier blog entry but in essence, Chantale came into my life when I needed her the most.  I was just a few days out of surgery and she had been in my position a few months prior.  We immediately connected.  She is now a dear friend for life.  We have even compared boobies post-op.  I mean, you just have to, right?  I have met or heard of so many women in my position.  And being in this position plain old sucks.  But having so much support out there has made it so much more manageable.  Boob blogging friends, too.  Love the blogging world.  Hate that cancer has brought us together but I am grateful for the result of new friendships and bonds.  And for the support in the most difficult of times.
  5. Tennis lass.  Or ass?  I am so thankful to be playing tennis again!  I have already met some fabulous women on the courts.  I just started playing again about six weeks ago and it feels good.  I definitely have to work on my chest muscles (they don’t exist) but it’s kind of crazy, I think my backhand is actually better post-op.  Maybe I am just so excited to play again?  I even got some new tennis gear and yes, I am a lady of leisure who wears the cute little tennis skirt and matching top and I am wearing them unabashedly because I CAN.  I am just about to get myself a tennis visor as well.  Oh yeah!!!!  And on the days where I feel like my body has aged 10 years in the last six months, I can feel a little bit better about myself.  And I can pretty much still hustle all over the court and run my ass off like I did before.  With two sports bras on to keep everything in place.  Even in my tennis skirt.  In several different colors.
  6. Girlfriends.  I will never stop saying this.  My girlfriends spread out across the US and on all ends of the globe ROCK.  From my oldest pals to the friends I just made playing tennis, I am so thankful for these connections.  When you are a global nomad like myself and move every couple years to another spot on the world map, you tend to hold your closest friends VERY close to your heart.  My oldest school friends , UK school friends, high school friends, my UMass pals, friends from Grenoble, Peace Corps (rocks!) friends, DC friends and my dear pals from St. Andrew’s, Cairo girls, Senegal pals, and now El Salvador friends.  And moving around so much, once you DO make a great friend overseas, that person is connected forever.  From the time I was a kid traveling back and forth from CA to the UK, to studying in France and going to the east coast for college, to my Peace Corps days in Cameroon, to living in the DC area, to moving to Egypt, then to Senegal, then back to DC and now on to El Salvador, my best friends have been there for me.  Showering me with love and support from all of the places that I have lived and loved.

10. Chocolate and peanut butter.  Whoever put the two together, I love you a little bit too much.  Peanut butter M & M’s have gotten me through a lot of cranky afternoons.  And the joke in our family is that I pretty much share everything with my kids and Sacha.  Apart from desserts.  Then I don’t share.  I will make you your own dessert but don’t try to touch mine.  And I might need some time alone while I am indulging.

11. No cancer, new boobs-I’m still wrapping my brain around the whole cancer thing.  It’s only been six months since my diagnosis and things happened so quickly, my head is spinning.  It still amazes me to think that I am already a cancer survivor at the ripe old age of 39.  I mean, WTF.  12.  On the other hand, I am incredibly grateful to be in this position.  The cancer was found early and I am now moving on with my life, only six months later.  It’s still such a huge idea for me to wrap my brain around.  Just six months ago, I had no clue this all was about to go down.  Now here I am in El Salvador and I am a survivor.  Our move here was only delayed, in the end, by about six weeks for Sacha and the girls and by two months for me.  So crazy.  So freaking lucky.

I didn’t want to have more children.  However, I wanted to have the choice.  Cancer took away that choice.  I realize now that 100%, I won’t be having any more children.  I was actually the one between Sacha and myself who didn’t want any more kids.  I was just too darn exhausted!  But this all seem so final.  And the thought that my breasts, which once nursed my three little babies, are not mine anymore, it’s an emotional thought.  I obviously shouldn’t have any more children.  39 years old, three healthy little girls, I am terribly lucky to have them in the first place.  But now it’s kind of like the cancer made the final decision for me not to have any more babies.  And I hate that.  I shouldn’t mess with fire at this point-if I got pregnant again now, I could be risking the cancer coming back.  So it’s a no brainer. I look at close friends who wanted babies and couldn’t have them.  And I feel guilty for even thinking about wanting more.  But then I can’t because of that darn disease.

I also look at my girls who are so little and I wonder if the cancer was there when I was pregnant with my wee little Remi who is only just three years old now.  And how we wouldn’t have had her if I had found out about my cancer right before we decided to have another baby.  Then I wouldn’t have my sweet pea Roo.  I sat with her this afternoon and she lay down on my chest and she breathed in while I breathed out and we were breathing in sync.  At least I can feel that.  And I have three lovely little girls.  I am so lucky!!!

Something that is not moving?  At all?  My boobs.  These girls are locked and loaded.  They feel pretty normal (uh hum, to the touch), although I am totally numb, which is the weirdest feeling because I spent several years breast feeding my girls in total which anyone who has ever nursed a baby before knows that there is a LOT of feeling going on there, especially when you are getting the shit beaten out of your boobs by an eight pound little cherub.  However, they look totally different.  And awesome.  They are waaaaaaay perkier than they have been in eight years since I starting having babies and my babes sucked the life out of them.  On the down side, it’s still an odd feeling to have something in me that isn’t fully mine.  It feels like I am carrying around some extra dead weight in my chest.  Kind of like that feeling when you are nursing a baby and your boobs are engorged and they feel heavy but at the same time, I can’t really feel them.  It’s the strangest non-feeling sensation.  I also continually have dreams that my boobs have deflated.  Whoa.

 13.  Boob brain-I am grateful for my half-brain.  That I can walk into a room and MOST of the time I remember why I went in there in the first place.

14.  Tea time-I am grateful for cups of tea (sent from my Mum in England) and five minutes of peace.  Even if it’s at 5 am.

15.  Crap reading-I am grateful for US and People magazine overseas.   Yes, I read them.  Should I say that I like the Economist here?  I totally admit that I love to read magazines that have no substance when I need some down time.  I always use the excuse when we live abroad that I need the connection to home and to American/pop culture to Sacha.  But last year when we were in the DC area for a year, I kept up my subscription.  Oopsie.

16.  I am grateful to find most everything here that I need to make a yummy Thanksgiving and then Christmas dinner.  Okay, well, I can’t find Italian sausages for my homemade stuffing and I AM going through Trader Joe’s withdrawls, but I can pretty much find a substitute for everything that I need.  I am grateful for ideas on Facebook for substitutes from my friends and family around the globe as well.  And yes, I need to join Pinterest for recipe ideas.

So, here I am, on Christmas night.  I sit here appreciating the quiet as the girls are snuggled in bed and Sachie is in bed as well, (poor thing), feeling under the weather.  I think back on Christmas days as a child with my parents and sister and I can only hope to give my children the same sort of loving memories.  And looking back on our quiet, cosy, family-oriented Christmas today, it looks like we are on our way.Image

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5 responses »

  1. Happy Holidays, Tara, to you and your family. Great to hear from you! BTW, Gary and I are now living in Charlottesville. I’m loving having my daughter nearby to call, text, or visit (along with Rich who we are crazy about).

    sharon

  2. Tara, It’s a Wonderful Life…………….as long as it’s with you! Great read and looking forward to a “Boob” Report in five years! They will feel mo better!
    As always, great blog! ! love your love of life!

  3. Hello Tara, toujours un plaisir de te lire (même si je ne comprends pas toujours toutes les nuances de ton texte) Moi aussi j’aime beaucoup ton amour de la vie. Tes filles ont beaucoup de chance d’avoir un Maman comme toi qui cerne aussi bien leurs personnalités et les aime aussi fort. Sacha a de la chance aussi ;-))) Continue surtout à prendre soin de toi.
    Et que 2013 soit plus serein pour vous afin que vous puissiez continuer à vous épanouir à San Salvador
    Nous vous aimons très fort
    Warm hugs
    Karine et compagnie

    • Karine! On vient tous en Belgique cet t, mais en aot. Est- ce vous serez l? Probablement au dbut du mois. Dis moi parce qu’on va tout faire pour essayer de vous voir! Gros bisous, T.

      ________________________________

  4. Me encanta leer tus articulos, me hacen reir y solo te imagino contando la historia….Diosito los ha bendecido con esos 3 regalitos que cada dia estan mas lindas…Los queremos mucho y esperamos verlos pronto. Todo lo mejor en este ano nuevo y mucha salud, amor y felicidad. Besitos para los cinco

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