Friday, April 26, 2013

Planting for the future

Yesterday was ANZAC day and the temperature dipped to a chilly -2 degrees. The freeze sets in on ANZAC day like clockwork. Usually we would roll out of our toasty beds, wrap ourselves up to the hilt and attend the dawn service at the National War Memorial...but my flu had morphed into a raging middle ear infection and we have a toddler who has no concept of the term 'quiet' and would have certainly screeched at key moments like the Minute's Silence. So...no dawn service this year.

About 9:30 we decided to drive to the National Arboretum just over the other side of Lake Burleigh Griffin, have a coffee and let the boys have a run around in the sunshine. It was a completely gorgeous day and I was damned if I was going to let my stupid earache ruin a public holiday for us so off we went.

 

 

The National Arboretum was the vision of Canberra's designer, Walter Burleigh-Griffin, one hundred years ago. It only recently came to life and is still a work in progress, with trees being selected from the United Nations 'Redlist'. The view was beautiful and it was so nice to sit and imagine how the landscape would look in twenty years when all those endangered saplings had been given a chance to grow into a forest. I really love the long term vision...planting today for future generations. We've really lost that in today's society...everything is instant gratification. Hurrah for WBG and his foresight!

 

 
The boys had a great time exploring.
 
 
And we got to enjoy all the bonsias in their brand new home.
 
 
Best part about the morning though...
 
 
sitting at the top of the gigantic grassy slope and watching the boys and their Daddy running, rolling and rollicking down the hill along with all the other kids and their Daddies. People were flying kites, walking dogs, sliding down the slope on homemade grass toboggans.
 

 

It really was blissful...until my ear infection made me want to topple sideways, so we went home and I spent a leisurely few hours at the local ER where a lovely Dr gave me the good stuff to sort it out.

Happy Days!

 

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Chemo #3

Gahhhh, I've been trying to fight off the flu for the last couple of days but it got me on Monday night.

Timing couldn't be worse with a plummeting white cell count one week after chemo. It was inevitable I suppose, my boys have had it for the past week and all that Harry and Jack want when they're sick are 'Mummy Cuddles'. I'm determined to stay out of hospital as much as I can help it, so instead of rushing to the ER when I spiked a raging temp at 10pm, I shivered and shook my way through the night in the hope that my fever would break and neutropenia wouldn't set in. And it worked...eventually...about 4am.

I've been pushing myself through the days to try and keep up with the boys. They are rather energetic little dinosaurs so occasional snatches of rest between occupying them, refereeing arguments and attending to their needs are coveted indeed.

Mind over matter helps...forcing myself to take the boys to the park yesterday was a good thing. Fresh air and sunshine lift the spirits even if the body is weary. I keep telling myself that I'm feeling so much better and it keeps me going until hubby gets home which is when I collapse in a heap into bed.

Despite the sneezles and wheezles I think I'm physically doing ok one week post chemo. Round number three was so much better than the previous two. Was typically fine during the treatment, felt very queasy about an hour after it finished and then lost a day somewhere, tucked up in a quiet single room in the acute section of oncology, conked out on sleeping pills and ondansetron. I was home from hospital after two days, feeling nauseous and tired but very much able to manage. I am so glad that my body is adjusting and responding better as time marches on.

Emotionally it was a challenging week. I appreciate the staff in oncology but I really don't want to be in there any more. One of the women I spent two weeks sharing a room with passed away a few days before my treatment. It filled me with such sadness. I'm glad that I made the effort to visit her and gave her the headscarf I'd promised her. Don't put things off people...just do it! She was just ten years older than me, with two teenage girls. I thought about her a lot on Monday night and the fear of dying really got to me...the fear of not being here for my boys...the fear of wasting away in a hospital bed...the fear of my family seeing me reduced to a skeletal mess, completely helpless. It was a very black feeling.

I am so very grateful for my lot, and I will give it all that I have to not end my final chapter like that. It's why I'm so determined to push on and be as normal as possible, no matter how cruddy I'm feeling. I'm grabbing onto every simple, normal moment with my kids and my husband. I want to surround myself with my friends and family and cherish life for what it is.

 

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

A little slice of heaven on Crawford

I live in a typical New South Wales country town...although it is a little unique, some would consider Queanbeyan to be another suburb of Canberra. Technically we're just over the border of the ACT but we're closer then some of Canberra's northern suburbs. A whopping 15 minutes to the nation's capital city. Best of both worlds really. I love our local park, our local swimming pool, the library, the schools and country community...all with city benefits a hop, skip and jump away. Like a lot of country towns, when we first moved here the cafe scene was dismal, the town was run down and worn out. If you wanted a good coffee you had to drive into Kingston or Manuka. How things have changed in the last 6 months!

Hello 4th Seed!!!

(Photos of this gorgeous hole in the wall are from 4th Seed's Facebook page)

The Royal Hotel has had a huge makeover and been brought to life again and with it, one of the main streets has been rejuvenated. Tucked into that hotel is a gorgeous little espresso bar...my new favourite coffee haunt! We stopped there on the way to the park this morning to give it a go. I'd been eyeing it off for the last two months but a little thing called cancer got in my way. Baby it was well worth the wait!

It is so nice to have a first class cafe in my own little town...a beautiful little place to indulge in caffeine, sweet treats and amazing, AMAZING food! 4th Seed is something I would expect to find in Melbourne, it's THAT good!!!

Today's treat...chilli chocolate, hazelnut and chocolate orange macarons with a damn fine flat white...enjoyed in the Autumn sunshine while the kids played in the park. Happy dance xxx

 

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Loved

I woke up this morning to this...

My beautiful Harry had decided that it was a Mummy Day today which warrants breakfast in bed with a freshly plucked rose from the garden.

I was feeling wretched when I woke, but then I turned and saw my big grown up boy beside me and he said, " Mummy, I think you're the most beautiful in the world and I want you to have a special Mummy Day".

I burst into tears at those sweet words.

So we snuggled into the covers together with the tray balanced on our laps and tucked into Mummy's Breakfast and Harry told me how he was going to be a Safari Man when he turned eighteen.

And in winter we would go to the Snowy Mountains with his cousins and go sledding and build a snowman again. Blissful chit chat!

Loved, so loved.

xxx

 

Friday, April 19, 2013

Brrrrrr...

Autumn is well and truly here...the backyard is covered in fallen leaves, we're rugged up in scarves and beanies and there is a big fat crabapple hanging from the neighbor's branch.

Lovely!

 

A little Maggie Beer to bring some cheer

I have always adored Maggie Beer's recipes. Have always jealously coveted a chance to go to her Farm Shop in the Barossa. She is laughter and family and friendship and feasting all rolled into one. I adore her preserves, quince paste, verjuice and icecream....ooooooh the icecream!

I faithfully peruse Maggie's Harvest whenever I have preserving to do. Especially when the fruit in question is a little out of the ordinary. Lately we've been harvesting our cumquats and a dear friend delivered two beautiful bags of fragrantly sweet quinces. So, the night before round #3 of chemo I set to work on some cumquat marmalade.

Step one: Quarter these gorgeous golden orbs, removing the pips, then cover with water and soak overnight.

Step two: Measure fruit into a large heavy based pan

Step three: Cover with the same soaking water and cook until tender but still intact

Step four: Add the same number of cups of sugar as there was fruit then boil rapidly until the mixture is set. To test place a spoonful onto a cold saucer and leave in fridge for a few minutes. Push with your finger - if it wrinkles it is set. Spoon into sterilised jars. Voila!

Note: I was a little too impatient, being that it was the night before chemo, very late and I was very tired. So my marmalade was a tad runny...more like a deliciously thick fruity syrup, perfect for drizzling over icecream, popping into pastries and spooning onto buttery toast. Yum!
Next on the agenda...Quinces.
Some slow roasted with butter, brown sugar and verjuice and some turned into pretty bottles of jam.

 

Monday, April 15, 2013

Look Good, Feel Better

I had the privilege of attending a Look Good, Feel Better workshop at Calvary Hospital yesterday. What an outstanding program, run by a group of incredibly inspiring volunteers and supported by the Cosmetics Industry.

Apart from picking up some nifty tricks & tips to deal with no eye lashes or brows...I also picked up a bag filled with the most fabulous array of skincare & makeup products. Everything from Dior, Clarins & Dermatalogica to Rimmel, Max Factor & Avon. What a treat! The headwear tute gave me some great ideas. I popped into the Heads Up store at the hospital and bought a very 1920's inspired Great Gatsby hat and a great little charcoal turban.

Until yesterday I'd never entertained the idea of a wig. All feedback I'd come across were that wigs were hot and itchy. But I modelled one for the group...a gorgeous auburn bob with a heavy fringe. Loved it! Am now thinking how fun it would be to get one blonde, one auburn and one chocolate wig and do my own experiment to find out which colour really has more fun!

I really enjoyed the light hearted atmosphere, there was plenty of giggling and chatting, jokes about drawing on angry eyebrows or aiming for the drag queen look. By the end of the session I'd also made a new friend and we're hoping to catch up for a coffee in between chemos. Hey, I have a chemo buddy...woot woot!

I heartily encourage everyone to recommend LGFB to any friend or family member who is currently undergoing or about to undergo chemo. It's such an uplifting experience!

 

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Be bold, be beautiful!

I'm a sucker for colour and this season I'm drawn to bold rosy hues. I found a couple of gorgeous scarves today following a delightful brunch with my beloved Rach at Urban Pantry. My headwear collection is rapidly growing...here are just a few of my favourites.

 

I figure that I might as well make this a fun and somewhat fashionable venture. In fact I've never felt so bold when it comes to my wardrobe choices. To all the gorgeous women out there...here's to being bright and brave and beautiful!

 

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Making hay while the sun shines

 

I love feeling normal. Well...as normal as one can be when bald and walking about with a picc line hanging out of one's arm. There have been moments during the last couple of days when I forgot that I had cancer. Those moments were when I was busy in the kitchen with my four year old, making pancakes and preserving our chillies and tomatoes. Cooking is such a joy, so incredibly satisfying...good for the soul as well as the belly!

I love that Harry has developed a passion for cooking. He wears his little paper chef's hat, pulls up a chair and gets stuck in with such gusto. Yesterday, while stirring a pot of tomato sauce he turned and said to me, "Mummy, you know that I'm a real chef don't you!". And indeed he is...a true foodie...from patch to plate he invests himself, understanding what it is to patiently wait for seeds to germinate into seedlings, wait for the rain to fall, wait for trees and bushes to bear fruit, wait for veges to fatten and ripen in the sun. The pride that glows from his face when he has harvested a crop that he has helped plant and grow is precious.

I have always hoped to raise my kids with a healthy knowledge of food and a passion for making beautiful meals to share with loved ones. I think we're heading in the right direction.

 

Monday, April 8, 2013

Pooh sticks

My boys make for two very high maintenance patients. They've both been miserably sick but the tears, tantrums and tandem night wakings have been wearing us down. Yesterday we took them on an impromptu drive in the country to the nearby town of Yass for a lazy Sunday lunch and play in the playground. The drive to Yass was lovely but just ten minutes after arriving at the playground Harry kicked off yet another tantrum and Jack soon joined in. We pulled the pin and headed straight home...with both of them screeching in unison. It was a loooong drive back!

Today we began implementing the systematic ignoring of poor behaviour. We've unintentionally encouraged Harry's incessant whining and tantrums with our responses and it crystal clear that its attention seeking behaviour. I am worried about Harry, there is a sadness that he carries now. He seems to have lost his spark and resilience. Jack of course, is simply following in his big brother's footsteps. Monkey see, monkey do. Its a fine line between giving extra comfort for all the stress and upset that the last few months have entailed...and indulging too much. Guilt has played a big part on my behalf. Guilt for turning their once very stable little routine on its head and guilt for being away from them for such long periods.

So...let's see how we go. Another lesson in patience for me.

In an effort to break free of the monotony of being stuck at home, I also decided to systematically ignore all the housework today and took the boys down to our local park to sail leaf boats in the pebble creek. It was a gorgeous day for it and I'm really glad we were out enjoying the sunshine. I am relishing the simple moments with my boys. Watching them both peering over the bridge to see whose leaf boat would come out first was precious. Just like Winnie the Pooh & Piglet playing Pooh Sticks. Such moments are what I treasure most.