Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Forever Ours

Quincy - Forever Ours
Even for the little while, you were small but mighty.
The squirrels are all yours now girl - go gett'um

This was the second December in a row we had a terribly hard decision to make. Our beautiful dog Quincy was suffering greatly from bad disks in her back. Last Christmas we literally had hours to make a decision about whether to spend $4000 on surgery or $300 to put her down.

We choose the surgery, and the bills, and the care, and our beautiful dog. And we were so glad that we did. She recovered quickly and we took it easy but come Spring time she was ready, itching, and raring to go. And she did!!

But we noticed in November the signs we may have missed the last time warning that there was  an impending problem. We immediately took her to the vet. We tried several rounds of steroids and kenneling. She responded pretty well the first round, but still seemed to be in pain. The second and the third time just seemed to be putting a band-aid on broken back.

She was suffering, she was in pain, she wasn't living a life any of us would want for someone we love. It was the hardest decision we have ever had to make.  And yesterday was the hardest thing I hope I have ever done.

But I'm a new person, right? 4.0! Not the 70's me, or especially the 80's me (not a good version- too much hair), or even enlightened 90's me. This is 4.0, Well 4.5 actually but stop counting!

Only yesterday I wasn't. Yesterday ripped away all the hard work I've done to change my feelings, beliefs, reactions. Yesterday I was stripped down to the DOS version and left to function.  I was left confused, stunned, helpless to make sense of anything. And scared. So scared. The only familiar part of the DOS version is the panic. I'm in panic mode.

I've been lying awake most of the night asking Why? Why? What if? and begging for help. And this last time that I was jolted awake I didn't hear Why? I heard Because - It's time you put your money where your mouth is. It's time to walk the walk. Your faith is being tested....and you are trying to fail.

I asked for Angels - am I being guided by Steve Jobs? "Back out of DOS - you have Windows 10 fool. Use it! Look at the technology that I have created, for goodness sake you have iOS 8 on your phone. Don't go backwards kiddo, don't look back. Remember your goal,"

Remember my goal.

Yesterday was a test of faith, and I am trying to fail. I do not accept failure anymore, because I know that I do not have to. I am bigger, badder, and stronger and I worked too damn hard for it. I fought kicking and screaming for those changes in each version.  And 4.0 was the baddest. I said hearing you have Cancer was no big deal, and physically it wasn't - but mentally it was hell. Waking up in the middle of the night questioning everything I thought about death.

Today is a test of faith. Everyday is a test of faith - just not on this level. And I wasn't doing quality testing. I was getting lazy.  Well, as my Angel guide Steve Jobs would say:

"Sometimes when you innovate, you make mistakes. It is best to admit them quickly, and get on with improving your other innovations."

Well then, time to get on improving on Me 4.6. Goodness knows I need to be ready in time for Christmas.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Put a little Hope in your life....

Every morning I get a note from the Universe. OK. Well, it's not actually the Universe and I received them for probably three years before I met the man who writes them. In that three years, you don't know how many times the message in that email was so on target, so fitting, hit the nail so hard that I would SWEAR he was in my head.

But before I met him, he was The Universe.  Meeting him made all the difference. I almost stopped getting them I was so disappointed. He's just a guy. A nerd. He could be me! I so wasn't looking for me. I was looking for greatness, for inspiration, for hope.

I know that there are still a lot of people reeling from the election. There was one common thread among all of us that no one but Trump picked up on, hope.  Hope. It's that simple. Lower middle class, upper middle class, middle middle class - the majority of this country. What are all of these people looking for besides the winning Powerball numbers?!


How is it that so many people have lost hope, faith, trust, confidence, and inspiration that a message so devoid of substance but filled with hatred resonated?  Why is it so hard for all the "experts" to figure out?

I was in the car with my two boys the other day. Usually one of them quickly changes the radio station from NPR but today they stopped for a moment.  We all listened to the news regarding the Referendum vote in Italy. They asked questions and I explained what I knew about the situation.

Then my ten-year-old said, " Mom. They are always telling us at school that we need to work together. We have to do projects and assignments and choose new partners so we learn to work together. Didn't any of these world leaders learn to work together? Because every time we talk about politics it seems like no one is working together to solve these problems."

So simple, yet so hard. When did we decide that we were all in this alone, fighting for the only spot at the table? When did we all lose hope that there are more than enough spots, if we all work together?

It is my Hope this Holiday season that for at least for one day - everyone can put aside fear, hate, and hopelessness. That they can turn off all media especially social and connect in a real, human, and vulnerable way to those around them. To look, listen, and feel. Really feel with our hearts. Maybe then we can make a real connection that can impact and inspire, connect and conquer.

There is more that makes us the same then makes us different.  There is more that unites us then divides us. There is more greatness among us and inside us and more hope then we realize.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Is it all genes?

Have you ever had those moments as a parent when you realise it's all your fault?

It's ok, I need a moment too....

Over the Thanksgiving weekend, I was able to enjoy family but also to relax, watch, reflect. And there were those moments of - Oh God! That is all me.

As I watch my mother struggle with memory loss I try to remember that Alzheimer research is saying it's not written in stone, it's not all in your genes. But it doesn't feel that way.  I see my Grandmother more and more in her every day and then I find myself holding my breath.

My thirteen-year-old son is such an amazing young man and yet I watch him do everything just half way. If he doesn't get something right the first time he shrugs and walks away resolved that he is no good at it and then I find myself holding my breath.

I am 45 years-old and I still have trouble speaking up for myself, making time for myself, finding a passion or a hobby even and pouring my heart into it. But perhaps that is not entirely true? Literally. as I am writing this (which is why I write obviously) a little voice in my head yelled "Wrong Buzzard Breath!" You have your people. But I find myself holding my breath.

I pour my heart and soul into my people. The problem with this is that people don't always know that they are getting your whole heart and soul - and they didn't really ask for it - and they may not want it.  I know that I do not want the responsibility of being someone's only reason for living. Look at all the cool stuff out there in the world!! Who throws all those eggs in one basket?

Me. That's who. I don't show my son how to be anything but me - and that's scary. I guess I thought by pouring my whole heart and soul into him I could make him everything but me. HA. Time to re-read Brene Brown, huh? I thought that I could override the genes without any hard work. Sound familiar?

Maybe there are some genes we can override and some that we can not. I don't know. But I do know that it is time for me to get to work. And get more baskets.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Confessions from a C+ Mom

My sister-in-law gave me the coolest gift, knowing that I write about everything, she found a journal for all my Awesomeness.  Knock Knock I'm kind of Awesome Journal
I sounded very arrogant for a minute there didn't I? 

Every day you grade yourself, and being that it's an Awesome journal your choices are A+, A++, A+++.  So the other day as I was writing down something that my youngest did and my poor reaction I reached the - Hey grade yourself - part and thought. Ugh. Where are the C's? 

That's kind of what I would give my parenting. A solid C+. In the comments section of my parenting report card it would say, "Needs to be more focused and consistent, work on communication skills and temper, could play better with others and be cooler."  

Most days I feel like I am not teaching my boys anything other than curse words and worry.  I don't make anyone go to church, or do chores regularly. I do not enforce a strict bedtime and I no longer stand guard while they brush their teeth. (Or retainers, ugh. FYI - make them brush their retainers or they grow things, gross things.)

I am consistently inconsistent and a total pushover. I never really understood being grounded so I don't even bother with that one. Maybe they just need to be older for it to work, I don't know? I'm afraid to take away their electronics because I would put them somewhere "safe" and then totally forget where and we may never see them again. Kinda of like the cordless phone that went missing in our house three years ago.

What do I consider an A+ parent? I guess those people who have great kids AND they are great too. They have a full-time job still workout and throw great birthday parties, coach the sports, can help with homework, get everyone to church, volunteer in Niagara, dole out creative discipline, and bake their own bread.

I'm exhausted just typing it and all I can think is - "Try Hard's!"

Maybe I am the only one who looks at my kids and thinks WOW, You did not get that from me. I am so incredibly proud of my boys. I can definitely give them and A++. Way to go boys! Now put yourself to bed will ya' Mommy's got a date the couch and a glass of wine.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

You can be anything you want to be....except the President.

It's funny, 8 years ago my friend who teaches in an inner city school saw her students light up for the first time after an election saying things like - "I wanna be President." But after this election, she had to stop the class and reassure her students that there were laws against slavery in this country and that as American citizens they can not be shipped back to Africa on a boat.

How sad.

Strictly speaking of only these things. 1. How he ran his campaign and 2. The public persona that he projected, it makes me want to say to my children "You can be anything you want to be - except President of the United States."

How sad.

What makes me sick about this election is that it felt like Junior High all over again. The bully won. The liar, the pot stirrer, the rich kid won. He was called out on several points in the 60 Minutes interview and it was so typical. Pretend he didn't say it, change the subject by telling another lie, and then abuse the questioners.

How sad.

I've told my kids from Day one - Life isn't fair.  My older son has struggled to be a part of a group, make friends, has been bullied, and made fun of for his appearance. Now that he is in Junior High he also gets pushed away for not having his own computer, phone, and for not being on Instagram, Snapchat, and more. He's been very aware of who the popular kids are since grade school and now gets upset by what they get away with because of their money and status. But he stays away from them for their crappy behaviour and bad attitudes.

How sad.

They make fun of kids with special needs, they terrorize anyone who is not like them - white, rich, Christian, and they don't believe the rules really apply to them. If anyone dares to stand up to them or call them on this behaviour they strike out at them using every available weapon to a 13-year-old. Starting outrageous rumours and lies and spreading them through social media.  When they don't get their way they call foul, fraud, unfair because nothing is ever their fault. Does any of this sound familiar?

How sad.

Even though life isn't always fair or fun there are some things in our house that are non-negotiable. Be kind and respectful. Treat people the way you want to be treated no matter how they are acting. Be humble. Everyone you meet has something to teach you, be open to learning.
Be Happy. It's good to feel lots of  emotions, but every day you have a choice, why not be happy?

This election took away that last thread of hope I held that maybe, just maybe - if you work hard, follow the rules, and preserve you can be anything - even President of the United States.  And that most people are good. But I am open to learning, so prove me wrong Trump. Please.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

What scares me most?

My boys are 10 and 13. The election has not only been a hot topic around the country, but around our house.  I'm impressed my boys are more political savvy than I was at their age, perhaps even still. Because I am not a very political person I worried that I wouldn't know how to guide them in understanding the system.

Then I decided that it didn't matter. Maybe figuring it out on their own will make them understand it better than I do. Most of what I know came from parents, grandparents, teachers, news outlets, and cynicism!

Like most things in our house, I asked them to take it in from all sides and from many sources. We talked about all the candidates - ALL of them. Why some are allowed in the debate and some are not. We encouraged them to ask questions and listen to the answers. To gather information, process it, and form their own opinion.

What we didn't do was tell them who to vote for or who we were voting for, not until the last minute. That is one thing I was taught that I do hold on to. Never ask people who they voted for.  My grandparents would be - heck they were appalled at a  lot before they died and this would set them over the edge. I can just hear my Grandpa Jack now, "First rock music and now this!"

The election is over and it is not the candidates who scare me - it's us. We the People.

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

I hope that this resurgence in political interest does not end after this election because your candidate won or lost. I hope that watching everything that politicians say and do does not end because the debates are over. Because what scares me is not the people in Washington DC, but the people that put them there.  My Uncle Chris one of the smartest people I know is very politically savvy and he taught me this. This government was created For the people, By the people. You have not only a voice with your vote but a responsibility to your future.

What scares me the most are not the candidates. What scares me the most is people giving up their power. That would cause these great men who risked their lives to build a new country - to surely turn over in their grave.

In Congress, July 4, 1776.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

Friday, November 4, 2016

Go ahead and Steal it!

I was in a hurry the other day because I had about 30 minutes to run into two stores grab what I needed and get back to school to pick-up kids and get them home before 9:00 p.m. I dash through the food store because, sadly, I know it like the back of my hand. 10 items 3 three minutes - YES!

I didn't pay close attention being so late at night I went directly into the only open check-out lane not realizing that I was behind a woman who was unloading her second cart of groceries. The checkout girl was scanning as fast as she could, the bagger was bagging as fast as he could, but to no avail. The items just kept piling up right along with my frustration. Had she pulled out coupons I think I would have gone ballistic.

The sort of funny thing was,  this woman was not in a hurry.  She was regaling everyone within ear shot of what she does in her Free Time.  Um, shop for a zombie apocalypse?  The list of things I despised about this woman was mounting with each scan let alone her babbling on about all her Free Time.

Who has Free Time??The dead, the retired, Federal employees? (Just teasing love you all!!)  And is it really Free? Free from what - someone yelling MOM, MOM, MOM, MOM. Free from chores, carpool, work, sports, technology, fighting, campaign commercials? 

I think I started to giggle out loud because I got the look. Oh, you know the look. The one you give Grandma at Thanksgiving dinner when she suddenly asks someone if they are pregnant? When they clearly are not. That look you'll get from a good Southern woman just before she says to you "Bless your heart."

But I couldn't help but wonder if there really is such a thing as Free Time? Mine feels a lot more like it's Stolen.  When I am reading a good book, which I love to do, I can't stop thinking about the laundry piled in the basement, the dishes piled in the sink, or the pee piled on the floor around the boys toilet,  And it's rarely if ever free from MOM, MOM, MOM, MOM.  So it dosen't really feel like free time because the amount of guilt that comes along with it makes it feel more like it's stolen.

Time that really feels earmarked for other things, however I am choosing to ignore that fact. So I stood there giggling to myself in that crazy lady way that you do when you are starting to get a little hysterical. And you need to use the bathroom. That is when I decided that if there is one thing it is OK to steal, it's time.  There should be no guilt in stealing time to read a book once in a while when your children are old enough to help with the piles or laundry, dishes, and pee that they created.

So go ahead Mom's - steal away - you have my permission. But FYI, it doesn't mean anyone in your house will actually help with that laundry, the dishes, or the pee they are too busy enjoying their Free Time.

Friday, October 14, 2016

A message to my first boyfriend....

Dear Kirk -
I am so sorry to hear of your passing. I still can not believe that you are gone. My heart goes out to your wife and son, and to all your family. The loss they must feel right now seems unfathomable.

Hearing of your accident made me take a very long hard trip down memory lane. It's been 33 years since we met! That's a long time.  I haven't thought about JR HS (unless I had to) and even then I think I blocked most of it out.

What has been most interesting over the last week thinking about you, us, everyone is how much you touched my life that I never noticed before. I want to thank you for that. I want to thank you for a lot of things, Kirk. I wish I could thank you in person. Why didn't I?

I don't remember the exact day that you walked into my life, but I do remember the smile. I was a scared lonely 7th grader walking home alone every day.  Until the 4 Musketeers came along.  Heidi, Teresa, Scott, and Kirk. The girls said Hello and invited me to walk with them, but you just smiled. A smile that literally went from ear to ear. With your bowl haircut and thick glasses and your Football Jersey if I remember correctly.  I was terrified of you all, you were a group, you were happy, your were friends, and I didn't know what any of those things were.

You taught me all of it, and more.

It wasn't long before your group of 4 became 5 and we were officially "going together". I know how much it hurt Teresa, but I also knew that you were not interested in Teresa like that, and you and I had a connection. One that would be hard to break in the years to come.

Remember all those days after school in Heidi basement with you and Scott trying desperately to get one of us to pee our pants laughing? And Scott trying desperately to get Heidi to kiss him. I remember hanging out in your basement also which felt so edgy because your bedroom was down there, but there was always a parent or one of your little sisters nearby.

Watching you with your sisters was amazing to me since I had an older brother who had three little sisters also - you two were nothing alike.  You loved them all very much and it showed, most of the time.  It was cool to watch you play with them, especially Nicole who was maybe 6? She would bring dolls, or My Little Pony's or whatever she was playing with at the time.  Somehow it always morphed into a battle with GI Joe but it still made them all laugh.

I will always remember your laugh. It was genuine, and hearty. When I think of Laugh loud, long, and often! I think of you. Making people laugh was your ultimate goal and you would do anything to get it. The more they resisted the harder you worked, the sillier you got, the crazy the faces, dances, and words.

Oh your made up words! I wish I would have written them down. You were always making up words to use.  The best part was how you used them so confidently and regularly that all of your friends started using them too.

Our Jr High break up was what my sons would call Epic today. It took me a week to figure out what it was though, and I only figured it out because you blabbed all over school what you did. I'm giggling just picturing you dragging the phone into your bedroom and shutting the door. Then calling my house, asking for me, and waiting all anxious and shaking with the pause button down on your Boombox and the cassette tape in the exact right place. When I answered you played Burn Bitch Burn by KISS into the phone and then slammed it down. I couldn't understand a word so I just shrugged and hung up. Not at all the reaction you were hoping for I know! Don't worry I got mad a week later when I heard what you did.

It would not be the last of us though, not by a long shot.  How many times did we officially get back together and break up? I was thinking 4? We went to a Homecoming together right, and sock hops after the football games. We almost went to Prom - that is still EPIC you stinker!! I can not believe that you dumped me two weeks before Prom and took someone else. And I took you back after that too!

Oh Kirk. My heart hurts. It hurts for your son who I am sure has the same twinkle in his eye that you do, it's called ornery. You gave the word new meaning.  But you were never afraid to be yourself. You were never afraid to be different - very different. In fact you revealed in it.  You idolized Jeff Spicoli and were the first person in the Midwest to call everyone "Dude" and talk like a surfer.

I will never forget, I think your senior year, we were not dating at the time (imagine that) and I was coming up the stairs to Senior Hallway for a math class. As I was getting to the top of the stairs I hear chanting and stomping and howling laughter.  When I rounded the corner there you were doing your best Native American Snow Dance in the hallway with everyone watching even the teachers.  I swear it wasn't 20 minutes later it started to snow and everyone in school heard you holler "WOOOWHOO!!" You did it.

How you loved to be outdoors.  I think you loved cold the best, snowskiing, hockey, snowmobiling but how many hours did I spend driving a boat for you and my little brother? I think you learned to Barefoot behind our boat.  All those times at your Grandparents cottage on the lake.

Do you remember the card I got for your HS graduation? OMG! Was that not perfect? I think it led to another reunion for us if I am not mistaken.  You had gotten into some kind of trouble and lost your driver's license and I found a card that said something like "Congraulations on your Graduation." and on the inside it read, "That tassel will look great flying in the wind from your ten speed bike." You  were mad but you laughed and tickled me.

You tickled the hell out of me. Where did that memory come from? I hate being tickled and you thought it was funny to watch me jump and squirm and run away terrified that you would get me.

Oh Kirk. What happened. You are the Man of Steel.  When I heard you had a motrocycle accident I thought for sure it would be another story to add to your collection. You were a great story teller. My goodness the stories you collected over the years.

I can not imagine the pain your wife and son are going through. My heart aches for them and your family.  You will be so sorely missed.  I know that our journey was not meant to be together, but I am truly sorry that we drifted so far apart. I'm sorry that it took me so long to realize how much I owe you for the person that I am today.

I don't even know how to end this letter, maybe I will just leave it open and keep typing forever and that way I don't have to break up again.....

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Einstein, Mali, and tests....

It's finally almost Fall but most schools in this country have been in full swing for a while. Some are on the tail end of the first semester. One thing is for sure - they have all gotten their testing in.  My 5th grader was MAP testing in his second week of school.

Because testing will fix everything. Right? It must be what we all believe because there is no group fighting school testing.  There are no outraged mom's picketing the PTA chanting "Hell to the No! Testing must go!"

There should be.  I have yet to see the test results that prove that test results fixed the problem.  I did just now finally receive my 5th-grader's 4th-grade test scores. Thank goodness! I was waiting on pins and needles for those to make sure he was on grade-level.

It's an election year - and while I do not want to discuss that- we all know that Education will be dissected by each candidate.  Common core will be brought up yet again as both the Sinner and the Saviour.  No child will be left behind to STEM for themselves.

There is a lot of talk about Education in the news this week.  Some of the interviews I have listened to have brought me to tears while others had me hopping mad. Each with its own worth. But every time the topic comes up I am reminded of what Albert Einstein said "Everyone is a Genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live it's whole life believing that it is stupid."

Taylor Mali, a Teacher and amazing poet writes in a moment of brilliance something like How can a chicken give birth to an Eagle.  Well my friend, it can not. And a cheeseburger can not fall to far from the apple tree. And a fish can not climb a tree. But a school can get funding from their test scores.

Friday, September 9, 2016

How do I look?

It's a dangerous question to ask when you live with all boys. Even more dangerous when you already know that you are pushing the boundaries of fashion pulling out a ten-year-old skirt and wedge sandals that you accidentally bought in the Junior Department.

I don't own a proper bra anymore because, well just because. I could own one but I don't like shopping and bra shopping seems even more hideous than regular clothes shopping. Also because most of what I have purchased in the last thirteen years since my children were born was an after thought at Target.

Even though I have started working part-time there was not a huge need to add to my wardrobe and certainly not anything all fancy nancy.  I work in a basement! Usually without human interaction at all so I guess you say I'm channeling Bob Cratchit in work and fashion.

That won't fly tonight though as all four of us from work are being treated to dinner by the boss at one of the nicest restaurants in the midwest. I've been quietly fretting over this all day but seeing as I had other more important things to do, like. Oh hell! I was just to lazy to go to TJ Maxx and find something.

So here it is zero hour and I have got to get out the door.  I've had my hair up, then down, then half up and half down.  I tried to put on make-up but it's been so long my eye shadow is too heavy and how was I suppose to know that was not for my eyebrows? Seriously, I've changed six times I still look like a very old very sad hooker.

I made the mistake of asking the boys, "How do I look?" to which they politely replied....You look beautiful Mom. Their wives will thank me.

Sunday, August 28, 2016




noun  bal·ance \ˈba-lən(t)s\

Simple Definition of balance

  • : the state of having your weight spread equally so that you do not fall
  • : the ability to move or to remain in a position without losing control or falling
  • : a state in which different things occur in equal or proper amounts or have an 
  • equal or proper amount of importance
Source: Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary
Such a simple word - a simple definition (it even says so). The second line is my favorite. I think it is truly the definition of life.
To remain in a position without losing control or falling.
This is my goal. Whether that position is wife, mother, employee, daughter, or dog owner my goal is to remain engaged and balanced in that position without losing control or falling. I've come to appreciate not being in total control of a situation, being mindful of the space that I am in, and trying to be present enough to feel whatever the moment brings. 
But somehow the self doubt still creeps in that perhaps I am not doing all of that in the moment. That I have am falling short or losing it.  The goal seems so simple. As simple as the definition. Just stay balanced.
Yet it's not. Balance is not an easy pursuit however I feel the word is everywhere.  Is it the Universe sending me a message? Is it just a current Buzzword? Is it because I am searching so desperately for it?  Balance seems to be everywhere and nowhere all at the same time.
 Let me know what you think.....maybe we can find it together. Namaste.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

The menu's are back! Just in time for school.

I can't believe that summer is almost over. This is our last week. Soccer is is full swing. Where does the time go? I know the boys are anxious to pack a lot into this week - so knowing dinner is already planned is a load off my mind.

Last Week of Summer Menu

click the link above

Monday, July 18, 2016

I think diapers were easier

No one tells you when you become a parent that the hardest part will not be 3 am feedings, projectile vomiting, or dirty diapers.  It won't even be keeping their fingers out of their mouth or repeating yourself 150 times.  And it certainly won't be strollers, pumpkin seats, or Baby Bjorn's.

When your once beautiful baby boy turns 13 years-old, you will long for the days when it was only dirty diapers, two naps, and feedings every three hours.  That bedtime routine of potty, brush teeth, read books. I'll take it!!

It just seems like there was a lot about parenting that "they" forgot to tell. I don't remember life before 5 really, nothing before Kindergarten so I kinda felt like I was flying blind for those years. But after 5 I though - Heck. Been there, Done that!  I got this.

I don't got this. I was never a 13 year-old boy.  I wasn't a darn good 13 year-old girl.  That was definitely a dark time for me; hormones, brooding, mood swings. Wait, maybe it's not so different? Anywho, when situations arise I try to remember what it was like when I was that age and how my parents handled things. Then I mix myself a stiff drink, call the psych hotline, and do the exact opposite of what my parents did.

My neighbor just had her tenth child. Wow. 10. Teenagers. Well, maybe it's easier to deal with when you are still changing diapers? Or easier not to deal with when you are changing diapers.
Que sera,sera.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Re-Posting - Check this out! Pass it along

Love Week At Mindvalley

Several years ago, we decided that Valentine’s Day shouldn’t just be a day for lovers – so we planned a takeover that resulted in Love Week – when everybody gets to experience some love and appreciation at the workplace. And because love and appreciation lead to happiness, it boosted our productivity dramatically.
So why shouldn’t all workplaces prioritise happiness? When you make love and care part of your company culture, you create an environment that encourages and enables employees to bond and connect with each other. Various studies have proven that friendships at work, on the contrary, boosts producvitity and company growth.
Love Week takes place the week before Valentine’s, for five days of amazing giving and receiving at the office. Each person plays a secret angel and “a human” to somebody. Before Love Week starts, everyone draws a name of someone to be secret angel to for Love Week, without revealing their identity.
Studies have shown that what correlates with happiness at work the most is the social support you receive. But it gets better. A further study finds that providing social support generates greater productivity in the long run.
Love Week is a culture that enables and encourages the act of receiving and giving social support and appreciation; it’s been the most engaging annual culture in Mindvalley that’s increased productivity and forged stronger friendships among employees in our company.
  • A 2008 Gallup Consulting study concluded that employee engagement is a force that drives business outcomes, and engaged employees are more productive, profitable, customer-focused and safer.
  • According to Shawn Achor, author of The Happiness Advantage: The Seven Principles of Positive Psychology That Fuel Success and Performance at Work, 95% of people who provide no social support at work have no work engagement. True work altruists [those] are about 10X as likely to be highly engaged.
  • Tom Rath, the author of the best-selling Vital Friends: The People You Can’t Afford to Live Without, found that people who have a best friend at work are seven times as likely to be engaged in their job.
  • Another study by Gallup Consulting discovered that 75% of participants who had a best friend at work planned to be with their companies for at least another year.

How Does Love Week Work?

  • Everyone adds their names to a hat and then each person draws out a name (at random), regardless of gender or rank. The name you draw is your Human, which makes you their Secret Angel.
  • Your duty as a Secret Angel is to show love and appreciation for your Human throughout Love Week in creative, mysterious and secretive ways (check out our tips below). You do this anonymously!
  • Follow Mindvalley’s updates on our Facebook page and Instagram or Twitter feed at @mindvalley!
  • Show the world how much love you are spreading. Share photos of your Love Week experience on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook using the hashtag #SpreadLoveWeek.
  • Remember that while you are a Secret Angel, someone else is also being a Secret Angel to you. So you too will be receiving love and appreciation from him or her all week long :-)
  • Your identity as a Secret Angel should only be revealed to your Human after Love Week ends.

Suggestions And Tips For Your Love Week

  • You don’t have to spend lavish amounts to show your Human love and appreciation! It’s always the thought and effort that count. Surprise them with their favourite coffee, decorate their desk,
  • While you can be generous and spend on gifts, Love Week doesn’t require cash! Create a Spotify playlist, send them empowering quotes, set up a temporary Tumblr account dedicated to them or create a customised Pinterest board of their goals and interests.
  • Collaborate with other Secret Angels! Send another person to serenade, give a quick massage, deliver a gift, or recite an embarrassing poem or on your behalf.
  • Can’t get your entire company to participate in Love Week? Do it just within your department or with your team.
  • Bring Love Week to your community, family or a society/club that you’re part of. Love Week isn’t just for companies and even be done virtually! Just get creative and innovate ;-)
  • Turn Love Week into your own personal campaign! Perform random acts of kindness to a stranger, volunteer at a local community or even show the environment some love and plant a tree a day.
  • Be your own Secret Angel and make Love Week a week of self-love and appreciation for yourself – head to the spa, take an hour off to golf or treat yourself to that must-have that you’ve been eyeing for a while now.
  • Remember to share photos of your Love Week experience on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter all week long using the hashtag #SpreadLoveWeek.

Monday, May 30, 2016

I'm sorry for your loss, but......

It's crazy to think the last time I even sat down to write anything was Mother's day. (I think I might have sent that from my phone while ruminating over another possible concussion)

Soccer takes over our lives in May. This week we will endure soccer tryouts, an event that I despise, and wrap up the 2015-2016 soccer season. We officially finished our regular season after heading to the "Big Dance" for U13 soccer. President's Cup. The boys made it to the Quarterfinals!! WooWhoo!

They lost the first game Saturday morning, but I can not tell you how proud I am. If you saw this team in the fall you would be too. They have come a long way and each player has grown so much this year it's amazing to watch.

After the loss, we had a two and a half hour drive home. I was begging the soccer gods to make my husband mute. Praying that he would not start as soon as we got in the car "Well if you hustled a little more, stepped up to the ball, that last goal...."

I've learned to shut-up and listen. After a loss when the boys would get in the car and start in on "The ref's sucked! No one played defense - I can't play two positions, the goalie didn't..." I would get mad thinking - #1 Don't you be THAT kid! and #2 Just wait a darn minute- there is no I in Team it says so on that motivational picture on every office wall since the late 80's. And #3 no it's rarely the ref's fault. 

The next thing you know we were all mad and after screaming at each other we would ride home in silence. My heart would hurt. My brain would be racing a mile a minute about how to fix this.  Until on day I kept my mouth shut. I said, I'm sorry. I maybe added, that does suck. I hate it when that happens. But mostly just, I'm sorry.

Somewhere in the last 13 years it finally dawned on me that my kids just need time to grieve. Duh! I know it's just a soccer game - so do they. When I just shut-up and let them have 5 minutes to vent and I acknowledge their loss they bounce back a lot quicker.

We have all suffered the loss of a loved one. What if after that loved one passed away at the funeral people came through line and said to you "I am so sorry for your loss, but if he wasn't an alcoholic he might have lived longer. You know you could have done a little more about getting him to stop drinking. Well, anyway - good effort, you tried, better luck next time."


Please so not repost on Facebook as the insane mom who thinks each soccer game should be mourned as a tragic loss. Just using an example we can all relate to-but let's face it people, when we were kids very few of us ever heard of select sports let alone were in a tournament at nine years-old. 

What I am saying is I personally struggle with what to say to my sons after a loss, especially after they make it to the Big Dance and lose their first game, just as I struggle to find the words to comfort anyone grieving or hurting. So I've learned to just say,,,,,, I'm sorry.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

To all the Soccer Mom's out there....

Happy Soccer Sunday with Mom's.  I know. We have two in soccer and today we are split up because one is at a tournament right now hopefully bringing home a Trophy. And the other is getting ready for a game. Whoever decided May would be a good month for Mother's Day did not have boys in soccer.
(or Baseball, I hear those mom's are all at the field also. Happy Baseball Mother's Day to you!)

For all the sports Mom out there today whether on the Pitch or the Diamond here is a my gift to you.
A Concussion Evaluation questionnaire to keep in your sports bag.  Number two son came home from yesterday's game saying he was "evidently" hit in the head by another player.

How do you get hit and the head and not know it?  This is the dramatic son so don't think that I called 911 or that my husband, who was in charge at the time, was completely lacking. My husband is making the "faker" face as I am asking my son some questions.

Information on concussions is ever changing and I thought it was helpful after seeing an actual concussion evaluation from the Concussion Clinic at Children's Hospital.  It looked rather like a DUI test.  Not that I have had one, but I have seen COPS in my lifetime.  The following .pdf is the mental evaluation or questionnaire that can prove very helpful to parents or coaches if you are A. on the field or B. have crappy insurance like us and afraid of a $1500 bill from Children's unless you really need it.

Remember this is only the mental evaluation and there should also be a physical evaluation as well.  According to many websites and the exam I witnessed (remember think DUI).  
You are looking for issues of balance, tremors, stability.  Stand on one leg, close your eyes, put 
your head back, now touch your index finger to your nose.  Balance on one leg eyes closed arms out.

I am NOT a doctor. Just a mom. But there is nothing worse than being on the sidelines and watching 
your child get his bell rung and wondering - how bad was it? Should he come out - stay in? Should
I go to the ER? We are told to sign a wavier before every tournament - but no one ever gave
me solid information on how to asses the situation when it happens to my child.

Good Luck. Happy Mother's Day - well as soon as sports are over.

Friday, May 6, 2016

Teaching nothing and everything

Little did I know that all those hours I spent at Mama's house were teaching me a valuable lesson. Something I think about a lot lately.  I feel like being busy is a badge of honor among my generation. Particularly woman. Dare I say it - Stay-at-home-Mom's.

I realize that I may have just raised blood pressure 110%.  I know that busy people do not want to hear that being busy is another way of numbing. Turning off all those big feelings that come creeping in when we find time to do - nothing.

My mother was the busiest. Mama was not.  She lived six houses away and I could see her back porch from ours.  I spent a lot of time going back and forth between our houses. Mama taught me doing nothing is the key to everything,

She always had time to play dolls, catch butterflies, count buttons, color a picture, teach  me how to sew, write a poem, plant flowers, and make Eggo's and ice cream for lunch.  She kept very busy and she would tell me all about it! But it never seemed to be the kind of busy that got in the way of everything else.

Monday was wash day and had been since she was on the farm. There was only two of them and I laugh now at how much work went into maybe 10 pairs of underwear, one bra, and two sets of overalls. My grandfather didn't leave those on the farm either.

Wash took all day. Because there were other must do's during the day, for example: watch Phil Donahue and listen to hog prices before Service and Music. Lunch was at noon. And nap time every afternoon. Dinner was at 4. Bedtime at 7:30 pm.

The other must do's taught me something. To make time for something that feeds your soul, something fun, something with no value to anyone but you - make time for the people you love.There are days I look at my boys and wish that Mama and Papa lived around the corner. The best I can do is try to teach them myself that sometimes doing nothing together is everything.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Happy Easter! again....

Happy Orthodox Easter

This week's menu includes our Greek Easter celebration dessert - if you want more Greek Easter recipes let me know.  It is my favorite of Greek Holiday's with even more wonderful food!!

Menu Week of May 2nd 2016

Friday, April 29, 2016

Bad people don't need a law in place to break it....

Even though I am sometimes accused of living under a rock I am aware of what is going on in North Carolina, Mississippi, and now evidently, Target. Potty talk is all the rage.

At an aftersschool event the other day I went to use the restroom.  As I was washing my hands a mother said to me "I'm just sick over what's happening at Target, aren't you?"  I was so confused. I wasn't at Target, was I? She must have seen the deer in the headlights look on my face because she said - "You know about the bathrooms." Crickets, crickets, crickets


She went on, as if I was provoking her with my blank bewildered stare. "Well, I just think now anyone who wants to go into the restrooms and {start whisper} take pictures {end whisper} can!"

Wait, seriously? Am I on a hidden camera? Do you think that bad people have waited decades for someone to change the law so that they could break it?

I did my best to stop gawking because at this point I was afraid she would call 911 thinking I had gone brain dead during the conversation. So I smiled and said - that doesn't worry me at all - and I started to walk away.

She was polite, she said "Oh, OK, so you don't worry about it" or something to that effect because that stopped me. Hell yes I worry! I worry about my children, your children, human kind in general.
Bad people are Bad people and they do not need a law in place to break it, or a Target to stalk.

Does being Trans-gendered make you Bad?  NO!  I really can't go on and on about it, because I just don't think this is something that is all that complicated.  It's a restroom, there are stalls, I don't watch other people take a dump - do you? Then what do you care what parts they have or use or need.

But I will say - WASH YOUR HANDS!!

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Hey - I got one right!!

If you haven't signed up for Curious.com I highly recommend it. And this morning it proved I was right - about chores! My children have recently been on a campaign to get rid of their chores. For many reasons, none of them new.

I hated ironing. I still do. Perhaps because growing up my father was a Real Estate Agent. He dressed up everyday. White shirt and tie. Also being that he was OCD it meant that he didn't just have 9-10 dress shirts, he had 100's. Literally.

As punishment for goodness knows what because I rarely got in any trouble (insert hysterical laughter here) my mother, who must also hate ironing, would send me to the basement to iron.  Our basement was a dungeon. It was not finished like other families I knew. It was concrete and storage and a hole in the ground where the bathroom should have been. It had those small slits that were suppose to be windows, 6 ft off the ground. Great during a tornado but when the house fell in around you - how the hell were you suppose to get out! It's not like we could live down there for days there wasn't any food or water - well except for the hole in the ground where the toilet was suppose to be.

Ironing in the dungeon was like that scene out of Johnny Dangerously. (If you have no idea what this means, go to Netflix and watch it, the movie is hysterical.) There were not a few white shirts, there were huge, over sized laundry baskets overflowing with white shirts. Had they been any other color it would have looked like the prison laundry room. Unpainted concrete block walls, overflowing laundry bins everywhere, enough dirty underwear to bury you alive and that was just Dad's. Don't get me started on what laundry for five kids looks like. Oy vey!

Why then do I make my children do chores? Because spending that much time in the dungeon ironing taught me a valuable lesson - what doesn't kill you makes you strong enough to win an arm wrestling contest against your eight grade teacher. That's a story for another time.....thank you to Curious.com

Give the gift of chores
Take out the trash! With so much pressure for children to build their resumes and get into good colleges, household chores are a thing of the past. In a recent survey of 1,000 U.S. adults, 82% reported having to perform household chores as a kid. But only 28% say they require chores of their own children! Other priorities--like learning new languages, playing varsity sports, and joining clubs--have take precedent. Many parents apparently view time spent on chores as wasted. This is ironic since, according to decades of research, chores are actually a proven indicator of success--emotionally, academically, and professionally. One study followed a group of children through their 20s, and found chore-performing kids to have good relationships, be self sufficient, and achieve early career success. In other words, parents who do everything for their children are actually doing less for them. Hey kids, where is my newspaper!?

Learn more about this Curio:
The Wall Street Journal: "Why Children Need Chores"
The Australian Business Review: "Children need chores to teach mastery, responsibility""

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Parent like a Pirate -the T Notes

I recently read a book called Teach Like A Pirate by Dave Burgess and loved it so much and took so many notes (not really that unusual) I thought I would share them (the unusual part). My thanks to the Pirate Dave for a wonderful and inspiring book. Enjoy.

Parent like a Pirate - T Notes


Sunday, April 24, 2016

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

This dinner was a HIT!

Does anyone else ever feel like Babe Ruth when they find a dinner where there is nothing left?!

It hasn't happened in so long and the funny thing is we have been having Taco Tuesday for so long that everyone looked at me like I was nuts for putting anything else on the table last night.

Ahhhhh, but I did and they were glad and it was all gone. I will not go into detail about the ways I changed it, because that makes me crazy when people write, I liked this but I changed this and this and this and.....Then you made up your own thing!

Enjoy - Happy Hump Day!

Crispy Ginger Pork with Cucumbers from Woman's Day Magazine

Recipe for crispy ginger pork and cucumbers .

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Sports Parents

In light of the upcoming Soccer tournament weekend I thought I would re-post some blogs on not being "that" parent.  My opinion - Shut up. Your kid knows you are there and that is good enough. Don't coach, don't cheer, and especially don't yell. Just shut up and enjoy.

A view from the bleachers

The only words you should say!

Today show segment

Friday, April 8, 2016

Menu - It's BACK

Menu for the Week of April 4, 2016

What is all this for??

Did you ever have one of those moments where you wonder- What is all this for, anyway?

That what this year of better blogging is alllll about.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

" I'm not so good with advice but..."

"can I interest you in a sarcastic comment instead?" Friends - Chandler Bing

I have always felt more comfortable writing than talking....where I can read, reread, look at it, say it out loud, fix it, revise it, edit it, or DELETE it. When faced with an emotional or confrontational conversation I tend to either put both feet in my mouth or clam up pretending I never heard the comment.

When I was turning 40 it was one of the things that I wanted to magically appear after I blew out the candles on the birthday cake.  I would make a wish for the perfect prelection and PUFF. Never again would I suffer from the extreme embarrassment of saying something really stupid after someone reveals something personally emotional or upsetting. Or worse looking like a deer in headlights. Having no no response at all except for my mouth hanging open.

It didn't happen.  But I have been working really hard to think before I speak even if it takes me a little longer or a few try's to get it right.

The other night at the soccer field was no exception. I usually workout while the boys are practicing. We pay a lot of money for someone else to coach soccer I see no reason for me to micro-manage them. On top of the whole-not knowing a thing about sports.

Any who, one of the Dad's was also walking and we fell into step together and conversed about the team and the hope of a much better season and Spring Break.  We discussed our non-vacations and frustration about having a game on Easter Weekend.

I tried to say I shouldn't be too upset seeing as we are not deeply religious people, but for me it's more about respecting our time as a family.  I appreciated the coach we had one year that said his order of importance was "Faith, Family, School, then Soccer." This Dad said he agreed. Not that he was deeply religious either considering he was one of the many boys hurt by the church scandal.

You know how you hear something, but you do not hear it? It's like, Wait What? I wasn't ready for that - for so many reasons. We were walking around the pitch, it was a Tuesday night, and this is a guy. I personally have rarely seen that level of vulnerability, honesty, or openness from a man.

I just nodded. We kept walking. I offered my opinion on the Church's more than Epic Fail in handling the scandal.  My inability to support a church of all places that could ruin lives in such a heinous way and take no responsibility. It's an emotional subject - obviously. I didn't want to get so emotional that I said something stupid or worse - hurtful. But I also somehow wanted to I guess acknowledge his pain and apologize. I just wasn't sure how.

His response was wonderful. He said it's not that I don't have faith in God, it's that I no longer have respect for the institution.  Wow. After all that he has been through, to be able to separate the good from the bad.  It's admirable. Makes me look like I kinda threw the baby out with the bath water, A?

To this Dad - and to all the men that were so horribly wronged by the very institution that was suppose to love, guide, and protect them.
I am truly sorry.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Food for Thought with this week's Menu

I was thinking about this menu endeavor I have taken on this year as I was cooking for a few hours on Sunday.  I made a favorite Big Fat Greek Meal and thinking how nice it is to sit down to something we all love and look forward to, no matter what.

My mother, on of eight, is at the top of the ladder. So growing up we had lots of cousins, Aunts, Uncles, and family around for every event. Birthdays, first communions, holidays, new arrivals, every occasion was marked with food - Lots of Food.  A lot of that food was made by my mother.

This came to me last night as I asked, ordered, begged, and threatened my boys to come into the kitchen with me while I made The Big Fat Greek Meal. (never happened) I was thinking of all the meals that my mother prepared for 20+ people on any given weekend.  A full family holiday party was easily over 50 people with out of town family flocking in.

But as I cooked I wasn't reminiscing so much about the food, or special recipes, or hours of prep work made fun or festive by gathering all of the generations in the kitchen to cook together. There was just food.  There are certainly things that my East Coast Cousins attribute to their Ohio visits. Grandma's Potato salad, BBQ Beef,  Macaroni salad (with Old Bay Seasoning), Cheesy Potatoes, Easy Lasagna, and of course Strawberry Barbe recently renames Strawberry Crack.  My mother acquires the recipe somewhere and for the life of her still can not remember.  She brought it to exactly two events when it became so famous that everyone was asking for the recipe. When she gave it to about the 10th person without a name on it they said, "You should just call it Strawberry Barbe" and we did for 25 years.

When I think of the bond that food has and the power that it holds I want to make sure that my boys know that feeling. The joy of turning a simple box of cake mix into the best Star Wars Birthday cake EVER. Of watching people's face light up when they see their favorite food on the table.  Of healing the sick of body and sometimes of heart with something you just threw together.

The next time that you are in a food rut bust out your Grandmother or Mother's recipe's....or your own. Just cherish the love behind the food that makes it the best thing you've ever had.

Menu for March 14th

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

The Non-winning essay

It didn't win but it was great to have skin in the game - thank you to everyone who read all 62 revisions. Love you!
2016 Erma Bombeck Essay Contest Entry

“I Married It”

Being from the Midwest and having strawberry blonde hair, blue eyes, and the last name Pimenidis, I often get the question, “Where’d you get a name like that?” That’s a great story.  It’s a modern day I Love Lucy except he is all Greek with olive skin, dark hair, deep brown eyes, and a loud passionate personality.

I transferred from a big university to a small college to pursue a degree in education. One night desperate to finish a paper before it finished me I went into the computer lab.  After spending an hour trying to figure out how to use the computer and another two hours trying to type it with two fingers I was nearly finished.  When suddenly this, this, Greek comes busting through the door of the computer lab. A relatively quiet computer lab, except for all the buzzing, clicking, whirring, and humming of 90’s computer machinery.

He yells from the door, “Hey everybody! How’s it going?!” I was speechless. Oh, but it didn’t stop there. He proceeded to go around the room and talk – loudly – to everyone.  Totally miffed I huffed and puffed and sent my paper to the printer.  Then I stormed out of there bewildered. Who did that man think he was anyway!

He was the kicker for the football team and I was the “transfer” student from the big university.  He was the Big “Greek” on Campus and I was the uptight, off campus education student just trying to graduate.  It was a small school which meant our paths often crossed and soon I called him the Geek and he called me the Bitter.

Well, several months later after I had returned from a visit to my former University to see sorority sisters and catch up with friends there, I was sitting in the lobby of our small college classroom building.  I had a newly acquired button on my school bag that simply read “GO GREEK"

He immediately came over to where I was sitting and said, “You gotta give me that button!” I was in a pretty good mood so I said “No way, I don’t even like you” smiling and hugging my backpack playfully.  To which my future husband replied, “I’m the Greek, everybody likes me. You have a beautiful smile you know that? I see you around, but I don’t see you smile much, you should do that more often.”

I’m not sure how, but those few words, that simple compliment was enough to sway me from hater to dater.  It was the first of many Humphrey Bogart moments.  That’s why whenever someone asks where I got that name, I just smile and say – “I married it.”

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Menu and Calendar

It's been a beautiful day and a busy day. Both things are good.  Here's to a week where I may get some writing done!!

Menu for March 7th

365 Resolutions here we come!

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Leap Year is Here - Happy Birthday Leap Day Babies

Last Week is a total blur....my best friend's tongue cancer surgery was Monday. It went really well and after 6 days she is finally home recovering.  Believe it or not I still made a menu and even cooked all the meals on Sunday last week. I just never got anything posted.

But we did try a new recipe - Cuban Pork Sandwiches. I included the Crock pot recipe for the pork this week. The boys got creative with the leftovers and I was so impressed they get to make a mash up meal once a week now. (Like the way I worked that in!!)

Here's to a week of R&R - Rest and Recovery!!

Menu for Leap Day Week

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Happy President's Day Week and Menu

I'm just wondering if future generations will continue to celebrate Washington and Lincoln on President's day??

Menu for Week of February 15th

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Menu for this week....

My son's junior high basketball team made it to the second round of Tournament play!! Yeah

Menu for Week of February 8th

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

February Resolutions Calendar

 Happy Groundhog Day everyone!

I'm not sure how many the kids did this month!! Bet you can guess though.

Who do you call when your Best Friend has cancer?

I find myself making more lists than usual these days and that's hard because I LOVE my lists. One set for me, one set for my best friend.

Who do you call when your best friend is diagnosed with cancer?

Julie is absolutely astounding. She is the most patient and kind teacher I know yet as she has always taught in the inner city she has a "take no crap" attitude that let's students and parents know not to mess with all 5'4" of her.  She is a single mom of three children and has been since she announced she was pregnant with their third child and her husband promptly walked out. They are amazing children and it is all because of her.  Her daughter who is 18 has physical and developmental delays and has spent a better part of her life in Children's Hospital - over 60 surgeries in her lifetime.  All of this, Julie has handled, on her own.

But you don't handle cancer all on your own. It doesn't work that way and we all know it.  Because at this point it has touched all of our lives. We all know someone who has had surgery, radiation, chemo, or hospice. I wish it wasn't this way.

After I won the Cancer Lottery someone asked me to write something about my experience and present it to a group.  I couldn't bring myself to do it. I felt like a cheater using the words Cancer survivor to make others happy when what I really felt like phony.  I had one surgery, got new boobs, and I was done. There was nothing to survive - no gut wrenching, energy sucking, hair losing, body poisoning chemo and radiation.

If cancer is a race - I ran the sprint and won. And when my friend called to say they think I have cancer I fell to my knees and begged God to please - let it be a sprint! Because who else do you call when your best friend has cancer?