"All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us."
Gandalf, The Fellowship of the Ring, J.R.R. Tolkien.
"If you wish to be happy, think not of what is to come nor of that which you have no control over but rather of the now and of that which you can change."
Oromis, Brisingr, Christopher Paolini.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Better late than never

I've been thinking of making a blog entry on this topic for weeks now. April is Cancer Control month.

Cancer has been very present in my mind over the last few months. My FIL was diagnosed with prostate cancer at the end of last year, and has had ongoing skin cancer issues for years. Luckily there was no metastasis, so he didn't need any treatment after the prostatectomy.

Last month my MIL was diagnosed with breast cancer. A lumpectomy removed the primary tumor, but there was metastasis to a lymph node. She is looking at a long sequence of treatment; chemotherapy, radiation and hormonal.

My father was diagnosed with Waldenstrom's Macroglobulinemia a few years ago. Unlike prostate or breast cancer, there is no surgical tumor removal possible for this rare cancer, but by making some significant lifestyle changes, he has managed to improve his blood tests extraordinarily.

Obviously, cancer is not completely understood, and there are risk factors outside our control. What can we do to prevent cancer? Here are a few major factors:

Maintain a healthy body weight. Cancer is yet another one of the health problems associated with being overweight. WeightWatchers is a great place to start.

Eliminate or reduce alcohol use. Women should drink no more than one drink per day, men no more than two. One study I came across linked consumption of 3 drinks per day to a breast cancer risk equal to that of smoking a pack of cigarettes a day or having a first-degree relative with breast cancer. 3 drinks a day sounds like a lot until you consider that for their purposes 4 oz of wine is considered one drink. There has been a lot of media attention lately on the health benefits of red wine, but it's much healthier overall to get those antioxidants from dark grapes or other food sources. AA has helped many people overcome drinking problems.

Don't smoke.

Avoid excessive sun exposure. Wear sunscreen and a hat, and avoid the midday sun.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Life happens

It's been a busy couple of weeks, and I seem to have gotten out of the habit of blogging!

DD1 got a place at Coral Academy of Science for next year. We are thrilled! Assuming everything works out (I'm a little gun-shy after our 1st grade fiasco with DS), it will be wonderful having the older two attending the same school. DD2 starts preschool three mornings a week next year, so I'll be sans children for 12 hours every week. Right now that seems like an eternity, but I'm sure the time will fly. I will probably do some coursework online so that I can go back to work at some point.

On April 17, DD2 turned 3. In our family the birthday person always gets to choose the menu for dinner. I always think it's interesting to see what the kids want. DD2 chose sugar snap peas, raw carrots, and homemade macaroni and cheese, accompanied by chocolate milk. Desert was baked pears with custard sauce.

Her "big" birthday present was a bicycle. Neither of the other two kids have had a bicycle this young, but DD2 is very coordinated and was having a difficult time keeping up with her siblings on the trike. She rides the new "big girl bike" very well.

DD1 had her school Spring Sing that Friday evening. Unfortunately I don't have any decent pictures, as the grandmas in front kept standing up. DD1 gave three performances -- singing with her Kindergarten class and Spanish class, and playing recorder with both Kindergarten classes combined. It's always a fun event.

My ILs were in town, so we had a birthday brunch for DD2 that Saturday. She chose the menu again; banana-blueberry mini-muffins (recipe from Cynthia Lair's "Feeding the Whole Family") and fresh berries. The rest of us also had omelette, but DD2 doesn't much care for eggs. For the second year in a row, we had a panda birthday cake (from the Cake and Flower Shoppe).

On April 22nd, DD1 had her first (pre-Primary level) RAD examination/presentation. She was very excited and had a fun time. We made a real occasion of it; DH bought her roses, and I took her out to lunch (at Josef's) afterwards.

We went camping this weekend. Most places around here are still closed, so we went down to Washoe Lake State Park again. No snow this time, and just a little wind. Lots of exploring, bike riding and general relaxation. Good times.

I came back to Reno on Saturday morning for the YMCA summer camp signups. DS went there for a few weeks last summer and had a great time, so we wanted to be sure he got into the camps he was interested in. I stopped by the house to grab a couple of things, and found that a picture had fallen during the M4.7 earthquake on Friday night. Not a big deal, except that the picture in question was hanging at the top of the stairs and fell all the way downstairs. There was glass all over the landing upstairs, all the way down the stairs, and all over downstairs. It certainly scatters well on a hardwood floor! The frame broke, but the picture is intact, so we'll be able to get it reframed.

We've had quite a lot of earthquakes in Reno in the last few weeks. I was in Safeway on Thursday afternoon when two (M4.1 and 4.2) hit a few minutes apart. I was in my freshman year at Stanford during the Loma Prieta earthquake(M7.1) of October '89, and this was nothing compared to that, but the jars and cans coming off the shelves was a bit nerve-wracking. I couldn't believe the number of people who just stood in the aisles with things falling around them! This morning we were woken by a M4.2. Current Reno earthquake info is available from the UNR Seismology lab.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Time flies

Last Saturday DS made his First Holy Communion. We had something of a gathering of the clan. My ILs, my parents, nephew (almost 10) and niece (7), my youngest sister, BIL and their two kids (almost 3 and 2+ months) all came into town for the occasion. After Mass we had a party at Brick's, one of our favorite restaurants here in Reno. It's only a couple of blocks from church, too. A good time was had by all. They let DH and me in the door on Tuesday night, so the kids can't have been too bad!

My parents, nephew and niece have only spent a couple of days with us in Reno since we moved here in 2003. We chose DS' First Communion date so that they could spend some time -- it fell at the end of their kids' spring break. We didn't do much in the way of sight-seeing, but we had a great time. The weather was beautiful, the kids played nicely, and we caught up with my parents.

Yesterday my MIL had a lumpectomy for breast cancer. Everything went well, but it's been a stressful couple of weeks since the diagnosis. My FIL had surgery for prostate cancer in December, so this is something of a one-two punch!

So far I've lost 20 pounds on Weight Watchers. Last week I earned my second "I lost 10 pounds" ribbon, and the week before that my 10% key chain. Rather than aiming for a long-term goal right away, when you join WW you're automatically aiming to lose 10% of your body weight. When you reach this goal, you're awarded a key chain in the shape of the number 10 (and you get to decide upon your long-term goal). Other milestones earn you a charm for the keychain. It might sound cheesy, but I get a good feeling every time I pick up my keys!

I had a weight-loss related victory today. Before Easter I bought a couple of new outfits at Chico's. I've lost enough weight recently that the skirt I bought was too big. Today I had a little time to myself, so I took it back to the store to exchange for a smaller one. In the meantime I received a $25 off coupon that I was able to apply towards the new skirt. Cha-ching!

We heard the results of the Coral Academy of Science lottery. DS made it in for 3rd grade, but DD1 didn't make it for 1st grade. Apparently they draw the youngest grades first, so by the time DS was in, it was too late for her to get sibling priority. Right now she's second on the waiting list, so hopefully she'll be in by the time school starts in the second week of August. If not, I guess I'll be homeschooling her!

Next school year has the potential for big changes for me. DD2 will be starting preschool three mornings a week, so if DD1 gets into Coral, I may have an "empty nest" for 12 hours per week. I'm having visions of aerobics classes, and some online coursework. (I'm so long out of the workforce that I'm basically unemployable at this point...) Time will tell.