Trying to get back in the game . . . . .

Well here I am after taking a brief hiatus.  To be honest, I wasn’t feeling that great.  I will just get that out there.  No need to sugar-coat.  I was starting to get depressed (which of course is normal) and an already hard situation seemed to get even harder.  I didn’t know that was possible.  This situation has definitely challenged my marriage.  I miss my old one.  So does he.  Big sigh for me and Ryan.

The doctor’s don’t have a ton of answers for me, which puts me in this floating bubble which if you know me, doesn’t cut it and causes a lot of discomfort for Ryan and I.  We don’t feel very secure right now.   I also have so much more fatigue this time around which my energetic body is just rebelling against and just makes me mad.

Even with all the support I have been given (it is truly, truly, amazing,) I am going to admit that sometimes it isn’t enough.  I want to know that I am going to be okay. I want to hear it from a doctor.  I have to rely on hope much of the time and that is a scary thing when you are a person like me who needs answers.  This is my life here.  I have to realize that doctor’s do not have all answers and all we can do is not over-do the personal research and find a team of physicians you can trust and confide in.

My friends have been offering their support whenever they can.  They know I would rather be enjoying myself instead of going to a doctor’s appointments every five minutes (which they have to drive me too).  I am so sorry this post isn’t about my recipes or cupcakes, but cancer SUCKS and I needed to vent big time. The positive news is that the cancer in my brain has reduced and that is very good news.  But then we have all these other cancer-ridden areas in my body to deal with.

And then my little mini-me, my poor, poor Ella Mae.  She went from coping so well to this unfortunate situation to this being very, very hard for her.   In addition to going through the terrible-two’s, she is very concerned about her mama.  It breaks my heart.  Please everyone, let her know that her mama isn’t going anywhere.

Thank you for listening everyone; I promise to have a yummy recipe next time.  xoxo

Toddler Fun in Sacramento

Much of my time since Ella Mae has arrived has been spent figuring out what to do with this energetic child who gets bored very easily. She has been this way since birth. First, it was swing, Bjorn, Maya Wrap, Baby Einstein play mat, bouncer. This was until about month 3. Month 3 we removed the bouncer as Ella Mae was too big and got to add in the Baby Einstein Exersaucer and Bumbo (lifesavers).  This kid needs to see what’s going on!

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But really, her favorite was the Bjorn (she would probably still try to get in at this age) and the swing (she slept in it until month 4 as she was a fussy little thing). Even my dad carried her around in the Bjorn.

My sister is now the happy recipient of all these wonderful baby inventions as she just had a baby herself.

So yes, this does appear to be toy overload for such a little baby. We called them “stations”. Our friends called our living room a baby parking lot.

So here we are, Ella Mae is now 2 years, 8 months, and she is still the adorable, (very) spirited (like mom), drama-queen she has always been.

So what do we do for fun now that we have a walking, talking, opinionated toddler? Lots of stuff! Luckily I have a wonderful childcare provider that Ella Mae loves and goes to on Mondays and Tuesdays and she just does fun, inspiring activities with her kids. We’re talking crafts, huge backyard, trips to the zoo and train museum. Carin is just wonderful and has been a huge support for us. Ella is with Grandma on Wednesdays and Thursdays and she enjoys those days very much. My dad (Nonno) helps on Fridays and takes Ella Mae to gymnastics which has been so good for her as it is teaching her to take turns and follow directions.

So here’s what we do with Madame if our backyard/front yard isn’t cutting it on the weekends:

1. Ride the ponies in Land Park by Funderland

2. The zoo

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3. Tiny Tots park in Land Park

4. Art Beast

5. Southside Park

6. Fairytale town

7. Go play at someone else’s house (new toys and mommy gossip time)!

8. The park by Naked Coffee House on 15th and then gelato at Hot Italian (personal fav).

9. Walk with the wagon around Old Sac to look at the horses and carriages (minor horse obsession).

10. Funtastic in Elk Grove (the Natomas location closed much to my dismay).

11.  The Children’s Museum (off Zinfandel) – does get crowded so go either early or late.

Bike rides were a huge part of our weekend/weeknights until I got sick again, so that’s been a hard adjustment. Very, very sad face. The three of us enjoyed them very much as we would bike past the river and go through downtown and just enjoy being outside. The trains we would sometimes see would be an added bonus for the littles.

Sacramento has been great as far as having fun, age-appropriate activities for the tots. We have a lot of fun and it’s so funny because Ella Mae and I are just so similar because we just love our outings and need to keep busy.  Hmmmmm.

Thanks for reading, happy Monday!

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Normal girl, not so normal life.

So the past few weeks have been a whirlwind. My chemotherapy has been decided and will start this Tuesday (very, very, glad), and we had our appointment with UCSF. We have also decided to keep our appointment with UCD as well, which is next week to obtain further information possibly about clinical trials should my brain be able to accept them. At this point, I am very tired of doctors, appointments, etc. but I know I must keep moving on for the sake of myself and my little, precious family. I miss my old life though, because I feel the same (albeit 50% less energy), but my new job is to get better and I need to remain positive no matter what news I receive. Ughhhh. It can be hard to keep it together sometimes though. My back has been really hurting which has been a drag and sometimes I feel like I need a Rascal to take me from point A to point B (kinda joking, kinda not). It really depends on the day and how much I do, how much sleep I get, etc. It has been a whole new life not being able to drive.

Wowzas. In a million years I would never expected this,

So, this is my new normal. I miss my old normal that included happy hour, Bunco, exercising, and gasp! my beloved job. But I have started to adjust and know I am doing all this for myself, my precious baby, and of course Big Ry.

I still have been having good days, thanks to my family and my girlfriends, and still managing to make a colossal mess of my kitchen, which is always a good sign. My Sweetie Cheeks cookies have officially been picked up at La Bombe in East Sacramento which has been a source of pride for me.

This week’s culinary adventures have included a Chai tea made from scratch, a Marscapone pasta with fresh cherry tomatoes, my beloved juicing (was brave and added broccoli!), and some fun neon-dyed white rice for Ella Mae which I took inspiration from Art Beast on K Street in Sacramento. They had a nice big sensory table she loved filled with different colors of rice that she kept calling “sprinkles”, so how could I resist? Not sure where we will have Madame exactly play with this new mess, but she will be pleased nonetheless.

Ella Mae and I had a good afternoon yesterday despite the 106 degree heat. Which should be illegal by the way.

She took a nap, which was super weird if you know her, (but she has been super busy with all the fun people taking care of her, and I got to take her to Art Beast http://www.artbeaststudio.com/ all by myself (Ryan took the time to have a couple beers at The Golden Bear, which he was more than happy about. We had a great time. It was nearly empty with the air conditioner on with the exception of two nice moms and their tots, and I met a nice mommy who lives in West Sacramento too. It was just so nice to spend that one-on-one time with Ella Mae because I was having a decent day and could devote all my time and attention to her in a really mellow environment. And what 2 1/2 year-old doesn’t love that.

Of course bedtime was a bit tricky because of the dang nap (we’ve got Madame on pretty good schedule here) so after an hour of trying to rock her to sleep, Ryan stepped in and took care of business much to my happiness.

So I’d like to share the sensory “sprinkles” recipe that Ella Mae enjoyed so much at Art Beast:

http://totallytots.blogspot.com/2011/02/simply-made-how-to-dye-ricepasta.html

And the Marscapone pasta with fresh cherry tomatoes my family was raving over:

http://www.yummly.com/recipe/Pasta-With-A-Cherry-Tomato-And-Mascarpone-Sauce-Recipezaar

Thanks for reading everyone, and Happy Father’s Day. I will be taking my man out for sushi and he is so excited that if he had a tail, it would be wagging.

Take care, everyone.

A Pretty Yummy Foods guest post by Melissa Vanni!

Hi!  My name is Melissa and I am the writer of Pretty Yummy Foods, wife to my handsome husband and mother to four very silly little boys. Christina and I go way back and I remember that nobody looked cuter in Birkenstocks and tie-dye than she did in high school.  When she asked if I wanted to share something on her blog I immediately said “Yes!” I then asked Christina what she would like me to share and she replied “Anything you want – just don’t talk about cancer.” Fair enough I thought, and if you know Christina at all, you would know that her spirit is the exact opposite of what cancer is. Where cancer is angry, unwelcomed, and brash, she is kind, loving and full of grace. I completely understood why she wouldn’t want to be associated with such an ugly intruder, so I instead turned my thoughts to what does remind me of Christina. Because of her baking addiction I had to make her cupcakes, and because of her sunny disposition they had to be lemon (her favorite). To help make these cupcakes unique I decided to throw in a little rosemary, and just like my friend Christina these pretty little cupcakes totally brightened my day!  So here’s what you’re going to need for a dozen cupcakes!

For the cupcakes:

1 1/2 cups of flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 stalks of fresh rosemary, finely chopped
1/2 cup room temperature butter
2/3 cup granulated white sugar
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup of milk (not shown, oops!)

For the glaze:

1 cup of powdered sugar
the juice and the zest of 1 lemon

In a medium-sized bowl whisk together your flour, baking powder, and salt.
In another larger bowl cream together your sugar and butter with an electric mixer. To that gradually beat in your eggs and vanilla. Now with your mixer on low add in your flour mixture and milk. Lastly fold in your rosemary with a spatula.

Line a muffin tin with paper cups and fill those cups with your cupcake batter.

Pop them into a 350 degree oven for 18-20 minutes, or until a wooden toothpick inserted into a cupcake comes out clean.


A little sweet and a little tangy. Kind of reminds me of someone I know….  Enjoy!
Note from Miss Mamaknowszest:  Check out Melissa’s lovely wealth of recipes at her highly popular food blog at:
Thanks for reading!  Take care.

My man can fix things. Thank God.

So Big Ry can fix things. Thank God. With a capital G. We are talking building, painting, hanging, lifting, drilling, anything. Yes. It does take a little while to actually get a project done. And maybe a little nagging on my part. Ahem. Sorry. But it’s awesome. Just wanted to give Ryan some props cause he has been doing a great job supporting me and I know it has been rough.

He built our fence. He puts Madame’s toys together (man they have so many parts. So many tiny, little, missing parts). He does plumbing. He put in our stove and oven. All these things that would cost a million dollars if we had someone else do it. But I’ve got my (affectionately called) grumpy old man to do all these things. And he’s good at it! Not sure what we would do without him.

Ella Mae’s new kitchen

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Veggie Boxes


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Front Yard Fence


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So Ryan, props to you. Thank you for all the hard work you have put into our family and our home and Madame and I just love you so very much. We are going to get through this. It will be hard, but we will.

Arguing with my Reflection.

So.  We kinda had a hard night last night.  I have been doing pretty well so I know it was totally expected and normal.

I was basically arguing with myself in the mirror.  It just didn’t look like me.  It was the first time I had taken a good hard look at myself in about a month and I just couldn’t believe what I saw.  I am so, so banged up.  I guess a little like a soldier.  Not like Christina at all.

I have been through hair loss so I am actually a little used to that, but goodness, my hair used to be so beautiful.  I have a huge bruise from the port on my left shoulder.  I have a long scar on my tummy from the shunt.  I have a tube on my head from the shunt as well (but that should be covered when my hair comes back).  Weird to the touch though.  My right breast is different from the left one because of the lumpectomy.  I have a large scar around my armpit from the lumpectomy as well.  My face is really swollen from the steroids (normal).  Sigh.  I remember being smooth and tan and scarless.

There is a picture I keep on my nightstand of Ella Mae and I right when she turned 1, and I was so very sad last night I didn’t look like that picture anymore.  I look the exact opposite.  The photo was actually taken the day before my lumpectomy about 18 months ago, but it is lovely.  The light is just right, my hair is shiny, and Ella Mae has the silliest smile on her face.  It’s perfect and one of my favorites.  Even though I am just (sort-of) healthy and but (very) happy to be with my little girl.

I am learning to be gentle with myself.  But it’s so hard!!!!!  I had a very difficult time last round because I gained almost 30 pounds from treatment.   That’s a lot for a gal who is barely 5 feet tall.  The steroids they have you on for nausea plays a huge role in that. I worked really hard to get about half of it off (bike riding, circuit training, Zumba — the weight didn’t want to move!) and now it all may just come back.  I know in my heart this is the least of my worries.  I just want to live.  But I am girl, a a bit of a vain one at that, so this is hard for me.

But, I am still finding joy in things I love.  My Madame.  Baking.  Crafting. Socializing.  So I am grateful for these things that keep me busy and happy.

We had a really good doctor’s appointment today with my Oncologist in Woodland so I am pleased.  Chemotherapy may start next week, the doctors at UCD, UCSF, and Dr. Alali just need to coordinate the right cocktail for me to start infusing.  My questions were answered and I feel satisfied for now. We are actually starting the treatment of the spine cancer tomorrow, by way of IV infusion.  So that is great.  I feel like we are moving in the right direction.

Thank you for listening everyone, and thank you for the continued support, love, food, and well-wishes.  Take care.

So Let’s Talk Boys

So I’m married. To Big Ry. My snoring, beer-loving, chauffeur, good father of a man. He also fixes things. Yes.

We got married last July at The Peasant Club in West Sacramento (eat there this week — we are talking homemade ravioli) and my meticulous friend Erica planned it all. She should her own TV show. Seriously.

It was a wonderful evening and I am still thinking of how much I liked the table linens.

Our honeymoon was 4 days in Carmel. My favorite. Beach, shops, hiking, and eating everything in sight pretty much filled up our days.

So what are Ryan and I doing now. It can be hard. Most days are good but some days we are like WTF. How the h@$ll did/can this happen? AGAIN! Ryan worries about me. I worry about him. We worry about Madame. So we all hug. A lot.

I am also trying to give Ryan a bit of space here and there. He needs it like any sane person. Leave him alone in the morning when he drinks his coffee and watches sports. (Me, I am pretty much a social butterfly unless it’s bedtime.) It’s hard for me because the steroids I’m on result in a lot less sleep (hence the early blog posts). But he really cherishes the morning time so why not. We make it work because we have to and doing such small things for your spouse can make all the difference. He lets me bake all day (and even helps clean up sometimes) and makes little mention of my retail therapy and I give him some very necessary solitary time.

That’s all for now ….. Thanks for reading.

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A Day in the Life of my Madame President

Oh what it would be like to be two and a half years old. Probably pretty awesome. Ella Mae has a wonderful in-home daycare called Little Sparrow she goes to all day on Mondays and Tuesdays. It’s the best place in the world. “Nanny” is a true angel and is the most nurturing caregiver I could ever ask for. We are talking darling crafts, huge backyard, and super fun activities. Madame talks about her friends there all the time. It’s lovely.

On Wednesdays and Thursdays E hangs with her “Gamma” (Ryan’s mom). Loves it. Renee does so much with her and I’m so appreciative. The park, bounce places, The Children’s Museum, it’s great.

And on Friday Madame’s precious Nonno comes over (my dad). Her favorite. They are so funny together, like peas and carrots (except she won’t eat either of these). So maybe like chocolate and vanilla ice cream. They just play all day. Pony rides, park, gymnastics. It’s wonderful.

So I’m exhausted all the time now. Blah. Super mommy guilt. Its bad and I struggle with the fact it’s going to get worse when chemotherapy starts. But I am so grateful for all these wonderful people to step in and take care of my little handful of a mini-me when I am unable.

So I get my baby on Saturdays. But it’s hard because I can’t drive anymore. So my friend Bridget takes us in tow with her 2 year old Ava and we have a fun play date. The girls are fancy princesses together. Last week was pony rides and Tiny Tots in Land Park, and then a fun lunch with ice cream at Burr’s in East Sac. So lucky. The little girls were obviously very pleased.

Sundays we go to my parents. For swimming and a yummy parental supper. Madame is ecstatic about swimming in their pool. Me not so much, but I’ll go in. And that’s what Nonno is for.

Let’s see. We have been blessed with a good nighttime sleeper (mind you the child stopped taking daytime naps at 18 months old and will not sleep in stroller or carseat) so our bedtime is between 7:45 and 8:30 p.m. Bath is at 7 sharp. Every night. Very strict mommy. I am still able to bathe her and rock her before bed so I cherish this ritual very much.

So, I know Ella Mae Maxine has a good life. She’s social like me and a very passionate toddler. Surprise.

I would to hear about other toddler days/routines, comment if you’re up to it! I’m very interested in learning about other activities that are fun and engaging for kiddos around two/three years old so please share!

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The Spirit of Kindness

My sweet, sweet friends. What would I do without you. You take me on trips, spa treatments, errands (I can’t drive now!), and hold me when I cry. You make wonderful meals and just LISTEN. You made a me calendar to organize this mess. You dont judge my retail therapy. You help me with Sweetie Cheeks. What did I do to deserve such sweet love and nurturing?

Not to mention the outpouring of support found on Facebook and my heartfelt blog. It’s overwhelming sometimes.

But it carries me. I’m so lucky to have these women hold my hand to keep me from falling. They are so special and selfless. I have found my angels. I hope they know this.

I hope everyone had a great weekend. Aside from my port being put in, I sure did.

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Sacramento Yummies.

So in the spirit of my love for yummy food, I would like to share some Sacramento restaurant recommendations (if you haven’t been to these places already!)  So delish.

BREAKFAST/LUNCH

ORPHAN (Fresh, excellent variety.)

http://www.orphanbreakfast.com/

LUCKY CAFE (Best omelets and waffles!)

http://www.luckycafesac.com/

LUNCH

Cafe Rolle (Decadent French fare, friendly service.)

http://www.caferolle.com/

DEVINE (Sandwiches and the best gelato you will ever eat — made in-house.)

http://www.yelp.com/biz/devine-gelateria-and-cafe-sacramento

LUNCH/DINNER

TRES HERMANAS (Good service, yum Mexican food.  Very satisfying and flavorful.)

http://www.treshermanasonk.com/

DINNER

PRESS BISTRO (Great service, fresh food, great tapas.)

http://thepressbistro.com/

DESSERT

La Bombe Ice Cream — Buy my cookies!  I think in a couple weeks!  Their menu is just lovely and so sweet.

http://www.labombeicecream.com/Desserts_Sacramento_CA.html

Enjoy everyone — I know I do!   Please take care.