Tuesday, July 31, 2007

My Surreal Life: A True Reality Show

It was an awesome weekend. Following a central development retreat on Thursday and Friday in Pinehurst (or near there, there is Pine everything in that part of the state), I drove four hours to Asheville for the weekend and spent the time being taken care of, lovingly, by Barbara and Jacque. We paced ourselves gently on Friday PM, eating an in home dinner with a few friends. Then Saturday we went to Blowing Rock to have spa day at Westglow! Ahhhhh. It did not start out perfectly, I was informed upon our (slightly late due to bad directions) arrival that my therapist had called in so they only had a male available. Would that be a problem? I thought about it for a minute and realized it was. I am just not comfortable having my body massaged, exfoliated, and poked at by a guy. So I took a deep breath and said yes. I wasn't angry, just clear. It was, so how might we work it out? The first treatment was cancelled (body scrub, I could live without that one) and the rest was re-arranged a bit, so after a delicious spa lunch, my two hour hot stone massage (complete with lovely stretching in a nice passive way, assisted by the massage therapist) and my facial with complimentary foot and head rub (ahhhhh) were done by women. I was in heaven, truly lovely to have my otherwise lumpy and toxin ridden body treated so well. There is something about hot stone massage that I just relax into, it is very therapeutic for both physical relaxation as well as mental!

We listened to the soundtrack of Hairspray on our drive home arrived home after 7:30 PM and I was content to be a couch critter, reading my summer read du jour. Sunday was mellow again, and Barbara and I made time to discuss the future planning that she is involved in (she is going to be the person who manages all things financial for me on Sofie's behalf, after). This discussion was necessary and important, but periodically, I kept having these short lapses into surreality. I am planning "as if" I don't have all the time in the world. Because, most likely, I don't. But I still find myself going into some weird moments of denial or disbelief as I imagine not knowing my daughter at 10. Or seeing her through the trials and tribulations of middle school and high school. (ground rules include family time as a priority, dinners together most school nights, no tattoos at all until at least 16, then if she really wants one, if it is tasteful, and not in a highly visible area....and what about driving and a car? And college. I want to be there to proofread her applications. But reality check: I have this cancer, and it is growing and the odds are not all that great. So I have to plan, really clearly and with intention and trust that she will be fine. But it is very hard. And not at all what I had imagined my life with her to be.

Thank you, Barbara and Jacque, for taking care of me this weekend, for the spa stuff, for all of it. Sometimes, I just need that, to be totally in someone else's hands. So I don't have to think about things. Or do much at all. And thank you Jamie, for being with Sofie, so I could.

Today was the second chemo of this first cycle of the fourth drug. Following that? Last week went pretty well, the drugs did their jobs and kept the nausea away and when I pull (gently) on my hair, so far it is staying put. I picked up the medical recertification form that my work needed (it has been about a year since I submitted one). Last time, the certificate had a more short term approach: complete chemotherapy in August, should be able to return to "normal" full time work by mid-October. And I was! I was back to normal. Only it wasn't to be a long view on that.

This time, the diagnosis said it all: Progressive Ovarian Cancer. Time frame unknown for treatment. Time frame unknown for limitations due to treatments, low counts, etc. I have been struggling with labels lately. I was fine last year with cancer survivor, even cancer patient while the treatments were being completed. But now it is harder. Am I employed full time? Yes, technically, but I cannot really be counted on for a full day and frankly, my heart and mind are just not there, even when I try. I am thinking, more often now, of the to do list for my life. Summer is flying by, how is that possible? Have I spent enough time with Sofie this summer? Not really, there is never "enough time" but yes, we have spent some good times together. And she doesn't need me hovering over her. She plays just fine by herself, thank you. And loves camp. It does make her tired, so evenings are kind of mellow for us. The bedtime ritual of singing to each other ("have beautiful, colorful dreams", a song of our own creations) and snuggling or rubbing her tummy are precious. Sometimes that is when the tears come.

But the labels. I am now "living with cancer" on a daily basis. But am I dying from it? I choose mostly to say not now (yes, I know we are all dying every day, but you know what I mean). But do I want to spend six months, a year, working when I could/should be home at 3:10 PM to greet my daughter and help her get through her homework earlier? Isn't that what is more important? I have to make choices, maybe not today, but I am obsessing about them a bit too much these days. No crystal ball exists to mark a date or a timeline so I can work out the details. I am trying hard to be OK with all this, to listen to my heart, not my pragmatic head, but I don't have a lot of answers. If Lifetime (television for woman and gay men) was doing a reality show of my life, they would see me in overwhelm most days lately. Sorting through piles of stuff, papers, etc and trying to organize it for the future. Whatever that is.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

New Day, New Chemo

On Tuesday this week, I had the first dose of the new chemotherapy. For those who are counting, this is the fourth drug or drug combination since April of 2006, when the first
"preventative" chemo cocktail of Taxol and Carboplatin was served up for six cycles. Then came Doxil (the one where preventing the weird side effects had me icing my hands and feet with icepacks three times a day and fearing stoves and toasters and hot showers). Fortunately, no side effects manifested. Not so fortunately, the Doxil did absolutely nada. But it did come with a great purple gift bag, which I still use, filled with lots of fun stuff. Then I was on Gemcitabine (Gemzar) and Gemzar with Carbo combination. It seemed to be working, the all important numbers were going down, nicely and the belly pain stopped for a while.

Then, at the last treatment of cycle six (with no real end in sight at that point), my white blood count dropped too low to treat me, so a treatment was skipped, then we were on the cruise. When I came back four weeks had passed, and those numbers had elevated a bit (gone up 8 points) but I was told no worries. Within the zone. To be expected.

At the clinic visit, I told the new fellow that I was feeling the belly pain again, and mentioned that my left hip had been hurting for over three weeks for no apparent reason. As I described in the previous blog, the path led to the CT scan and then to pulling the Gemzar/Carbo drugs and switching me to the newest in the drug arsenal: Topotecan HCL (also called Hycamtin). Topotecan sounds like an exotic tropical parrot or a native American tribe from Upstate NY.

(By the way, the hip CT was negative for cancer, I had an X-ray the other day, no results yet, but the pain seems to be subsiding since I had that fall last week...go figure!!)

So the newdrug (Google it, I did) is one that is given to women when the first and second line ovarian cancer drugs don't seem to work or stop working. It is a quick infusion treatment, lasting only half an hour after the pre-medications are administered. So I can be out of there by noon or before, if I get an early appointment, after camp drop off.

I took this on Tuesday, and other than being really sleepy (from the "relaxing" medications they drip in first) and then taking the anti-nausea drugs and steroids, I am finding myself tonight, feeling fine. Pumped a bit on the steroids, so I am awake at nearly 11 PM, which was not the case previously, but doing OK. Trying to fight the munchies that come with the steroid pop.

I am trying to be optimistic still, and hoping this one will stop or at least slow down the progression of the disease and buy more time. At the same time, I am trying to accelerate some of the things on my "to do list" of getting my affairs in order. It's just me, being pragmatic again, but with a bit more of a motivation. So getting it all together, step by step.

Sofie is getting excited about going to Camp Kesem at the end of her summer vacation. This is a free camp for kids who have a parent (or in her case, parents) with Cancer, run by volunteers from Duke, UNC and other places. It is a week of sleep away camp, her first time away from home for more than an overnight. She is a little anxious about missing us, and mostly worried that she might be teased for bringing Yang Yang, which is what her blankie is called these days. But we are all reassuring her that all the kids there have a Mom or Dad with cancer and they will be bringing their blankies or stuffies too. And the instructions from camp even said this!

I will miss her for that week, but I hope that she will be able to articulate her feelings to people who might share her worries. She and Jamie have talked about whether she thinks I might die (at this point, she says she doesn't). She just knows I get really tired and crabby some times from treatment. But today, the steroids helped me be able to push her on a special swing device at the park for a while. Sometimes I understand what Barry Bonds might have been thinking *if* he actually took performance enhancing drugs. They do make me feel more like superwoman.

So tomorrow, back to work. I have a one and a half day Central Development retreat near Pinehurst NC (where there are all sorts of famous golfing places evidently). After the retreat ends on Friday, I am heading to Asheville to see Barbara and Jacque and on Saturday --- Spa Day! It was to have been a celebration of ending chemo in June, but I am still looking forward to it so much. A whole day to relax and feel pampered.

Chemo this time will be three weeks on and one week off. It makes it seem like it is every week, pretty much. I lose track of the weeks, the months. I cannot believe July is nearly over. It seems like summer just started. My work week starts, stops and starts again, I feel like I am not accomplishing much.

In the months to come, I have to see how I feel and then make some decisions about working. If the treatments continue for a long time (as they have suggested they might), that is going to make working anywhere near full time impossible. I love the Health Sciences Library and my colleagues, but they deserve more. My boss has been tremendous all through this, but my body won't get better, and at some point, I have to decide what to do, what is best for me, for them, for the whole unpredictable situation.

Meanwhile, July brought upon it a new period of meeting my deductible and co-insurance cap before they start to pick up the costs for most of my treatment stuff. So not looking forward to the out of pocket costs, thank goodness for the generosity of so many friends who have contributed to the Friends of Debra fund. It is helping support me for all this extra stuff, including the hundreds of dollars of prescription co-pays, the acupuncture, therapies and yes, the massage which really helps with stress, body pain, etc.

More to come as this path continues. I feel like a Wikipedia entry full of information about ovarian cancer drugs, not to mention my opinions about them. But all of this is worth it if I can buy extra time for a life with my family and friends.

Love to you all.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Under The Weather

It is July, the heart of summer weather here in the southlands.

I just have to write a short comment on the weather and my relationship with it. It has been in the 90's for the past couple of days since we returned, hot, humid, you know the drill. But I find that I am doing much better this summer. I notice the little breezes and today, when it is quite muggy out, I also feel more comfortable, in my little summer skirt, than I have years before. What's up with that, really? Have I put the weather in perspective too? My Subaru is usually over 100 degrees when I get in to it from being at work (it is parked on the deck in an uncovered spot). Even so, I am surviving and thriving this year. I never thought that would be possible.

I dread the possibility of hair loss from the new chemo, but I am pretty sure I won't do much in the way (if anything) on wigs. Too hot in August. So I guess I will get used to bald again if it happens. There is a 50/50 chance (which I think is the drug company being non-committal). Anyway, I looked kind of OK before with short short hair or even bald. It is more how I feel at work. I know my colleagues will be fine, it is donors and that sort of meeting that I feel less comfortable in. I don't want the meeting to be about me and the cancer, when it should be about them and the Library.

I am also under the weather emotionally, these past few days. Since the CT. I feel overwhelmed by all sorts of little things (like laundry, making supper, piles of "stuff" and the like). I finally cried on the way to work this AM, while listening to "Seasons of Love", the song from RENT. I asked Jamie for the CD, since Sofie likes the song and knows some but not all of the words. This is a song that says so much of what I believe to be true, that it is about love. In all its varied expressions.

I need to do more crying, but not right now, I am at work and have three meetings in a row today. So I will defer the tears for a bit.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Funny Cruise Moments

It is going to be hard to summarize all the great moments (and the just wonderful normal moments) on the cruise, but let me provide a few bullet points for your amusement!

Several days into the cruise, Sofie was standing on the big bed, naked, facing the mirrored wall. She had played in the sun, carefully coated with number 50 sunscreen, for a few days now. "Mom" she said excitedly. "Which one?" we asked. "Both of you". "Mom, I have a picture of my bathing suit on my body". Her tan was pretty impressive. And all four of her bathing suits were exactly the same style, different colors, so the imprint was clearly of that style!

Another day, as I was laying out my clothing, I picked up my underwear to put it on. "Mom, those are some pretty big panties" she said. Kids, you gotta love that honesty. She sometimes forgets that the whole world doesn't know all about her. When Sher, a new friend (friend of Ellen LaPointe's who I met on the cruise with her daughter Max), asked Sofie what she wanted her to bring from the buffet for her lunch, Sofie responded "what I like" as if everyone should simply know that. By my count, she ate hot dogs every day for the entire week from the Kids Cafe. And she ate huge piles of bacon and sausages for breakfast.

Personally, my favorite Sofie tale is when we were walking to the kids pool. We saw another mom, looking a bit harried, who was pushing one kid in a stroller and chasing after her five year old son. She kept calling his name and asking him to stop running. He acted like he had not heard her (sound familiar, parents?). She finally yelled at him and did the counting thing: One, two....he stopped. Sofie took it upon herself to go over to the mom and tell her "My mom yells and does that counting thing too, and I don't like it". Great Sofie, out me as a yelling mom to a stranger. The other mom and I exchanged knowing looks.

The cruise food was irregular. The buffet offered countless options, most of which did not really appeal to me. Too many cooked hot food for lunch with sauces.

Dinners, however, were another story, three of the evenings, we had dinner at Aqua, offering a five course menu (the last course was cheese, which we never had any real interest or room for).

We had a great wait staff team and on our last night there, we gave them a big tip for treating us so well. From our very first meal there, when Sofie consumed three portions of beef wellington to the last when she ate two sirloin steaks, the food and the service were wonderful. The other speciality restaurants were more disappointing: the Tepanyaki place (like Benihana) was hard to get a reservation for, we finally did and then our guy seemed to be a trainee, and didn't do the fancy knife throwing around stuff like his partner (who faced the other table). The food was OK, and not too expensive (extra cover charge of $20 pp), but not really all that.

The Italian place was not a cover charge, which was good, since the food was mediocre and the service erratic. The Sushi place was better, Sofie asked for sushi one night and I took her, there was a $15 dollar cover but they did not charge for her. She ate more than I did, as that night we had other plans for dinner.

The shows, as I mentioned before, were great. The last night we saw Andrea McArdle and other r families crew and staff sing Annie. Someone kind of narrated, and the choral version was a 45 minute great show. We were up in the balcony with Laurie and I ended up sitting next to Andrea's husband Ed with wiggly Sofie on my lap. He was great about it and Sofie seemed to like the singing. I thought I had seen the show when I was about 15, but then I did the math, the show opened in the late 70's and I was hardly a teenager. Memories of youth are fading.

Since I said these would be funny moments, I will close with just one great image, that of my daughter swimming in the general pool or hot tubs, in her snorkel mask and tube. I would read and look up every so often to scan the horizon. That snorkel gear helped me locate her every time! Sofie enjoyed the free ice cream cones that were available by the pool on a daily basis, as did we all.

I miss that cruise already. Today I had to get a salmon bagel with capers and onion, tomatoes and cream cheese, like the daily breakfast I had for the whole week.

Oh, and because it was a gay cruise, don't you know that on the costume nights, the boys especially went all out for themselves and their kids.....great and creative costumes from their regions (the winners were the Brooklyn bridge, I think). And we just had cute t shirts. Next time!!!

Cancer Sucks

I just heard back from Teri, who kind of read me the radiology report from last night's CT scan. The "good news" is that it (the cancer) doesn't appear to be in the left hip, so not the cause of the pain I have been having. Meaning it is not in the bones. Which of course, is very good news.

The less good news but the news I kind of suspected for the past month or so is that the tumor is growing on the liver, there appears to be one more (teeny) lesion there and there is more "activity" in the peritoneal cavity.

They are going to likely put me on another (this is the fourth) kind of chemo, one called Topotecan or Hycamtin, if you desire to Google it. It is for those of us in the unique place of having failed original and secondary treatment options. Yep, that is me, someone for whom failure is not a pretty or acceptable word, failing all over the place. It was daunting to read the link. Anyway, it clearly states that the goal of treatment is not remission (or cure, that went out the window a while ago), but rather to slow progression of the disease. Slow it a lot, I hope, I have a seven year plan and this is only year one of that.

The other day, I was trying to recall all five stages of Kubler-Ross stages of death and dying. I got to four and could not conjure up the fifth one (but I Googled that today). It is especially odd for me, as I did my graduate work on that topic! But that was centuries ago. I haven't cried yet, I want to but the tears won't come. I am more annoyed. But this set of feelings also makes me want to purge out stuff again, so perhaps I can make a slight dent in the mess in my office. Who knows?

I am torn about going to work, my brain is just not with me, but I will try this tomorrow, I guess. For half a day perhaps? I just don't know. I feel like I am pretty checked out of other things in the world right now. I want to see movies that make me laugh (but recent Netflix choices are Letters from Iwo Jima and Flags of Our Fathers, not exactly hysterically funny stuff). Perhaps I should sneak out on opening day and go see Hairspray. Yeah, that might be exactly the ticket . I think it opens tomorrow or Friday.

Sofie will be ready for pick up in less than one hour, so I have to sign off now. I am now rescheduled for chemo the next three weeks (this new one is three on and one off, three on and one off). The side effects "might" include all the usual suspects plus thinning or loss of hair. Now the dilemma, do I cancel my haircut appointment for next week if I am about to lose my hair anyway? Doesn't seem pragmatic to spend $50.00 on haircut for no reason! Probably I will. But will wait a day for that!

Yep, cancer does suck. Just when I am in a rhythm about treatments, as I was in recently, all hell breaks loose. And once again, the cancer is in charge and I am just an audience member.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Family Pride

I forgot to write this, but Jamie was asked to do a "guest blogger" piece on the Family Pride website (their Director Jennifer and much of their staff was on the cruise and did several workshops).

I also wrote a response, below. But better for you all to visit the Family Pride blog and read it yourself.

I am so proud of this blog piece.

I am the “other cancer mom”. I wanted to add a few things from my perspective. Other than our door which announced to any and all (on the ninth deck, at any rate), our status as women with cancer, I made a decision on this cruise to be “cancer free”, meaning not to bring it up with anyone who did not already know. That was a wonderful break from what has been over a year and a half of having cancer kind of take over my (our) lives.

I also want to congratulate Jennifer and Family Pride for the workshops and for their work in general. I just finished reading the lead article in last Sunday’s NY Times Magazine on donor eggs and the ethical issues that are prompted by this type of decision. After reading it, I just might write my first ever letter to the editor. What it comes down to, really, is that Love Makes a Family….and the other issues, to tell or not to tell, really surprised me. Our community has been dealing with all sorts of reproductive issues for decades. We get to deal with the meaty stuff, the “who is the mother” part in areas that simply reject second parent adoption or with people who won’t accept it. How can someone even consider that concealing the truth might be “better” for their child? Oh, and did I mention that most or all of the people in the article are heterosexual, so they don’t have to deal with what the legal system in our country thinks about their family. They assume, and rightly so, that the child they bear with donor eggs will have all the legal rights of any other child. Of course they do.

Telling the truth about our lives, being out and public and pro-active and assertive with schools, camps, doctors, therapists, just about everyone, is, in my opinion, the only way to make our lives real. I would never consider lying to our daughter about her origins. She is adopted from Eastern Europe and has known this since she was not quite three. You answer questions with honestly and make the answers age appropriate.

She tends to be kind of invisible as an adoptee, since she is not part of a transracial adoption. As an older mom, I am sometimes (all too often!) asked if she is my grandchild. She doesn’t look anything like me, if anything, she more resembles Jamie. But the important thing is that she knows her story. And that she has two moms. She knows that you don’t have to look like your parent(s) to be part of a family. The first week I moved to North Carolina, while opening my bank account, she “outed” me to the bank teller by simply stating “I have two moms…and a bug bite”. She tells everyone that she has two moms. I dread the day someone tells her that having two moms is bad.

Our children are loved beyond measure. On the cruise, I was moved sometimes to tears, just watching gay dads with their babies. I guess I am kind of used to the moms, but seeing so many dads was joyful. I want Sofie to grow up in a world that celebrates family and love. Family Pride will help us get there.

Not Knowing

So after the bliss of several treatment free weeks, and a vacation, I feel physically pretty great. The only problem has been this persistent pain in my left hip area, for about three or so weeks. At first I thought it was from sleeping "funny" or perhaps from the massage I had before I left for vacation, but it would not improve. It made going up and down stairs on the ship hard to do. Fortunately there were elevators, but going one floor up or down made me feel weird.

Today I went to the Oncology Clinic and was scheduled for chemo, as per usual. I had gotten my bloodwork results yesterday, the CA-125 was up 8 points, but that was nothing to worry about they said, I had been off treatment for nearly a month, due to the low white count last time and the trip.

I mentioned to the new fellow (a very young looking woman, Dr. Jewelle) that I had this hip pain. She stepped out of the room after her exam of me and was gone a long time, talking to the other doctors (my doc was out of town, but Dr. Secord was there for this appointment). I was reading and she popped her head in to let me know they would be back soon.

After another 15 minutes or so, I started to worry a bit. And just like that, the whole team arrived. They were concerned too, and had already cancelled the treatment. I have a CT scan this evening to see if the lesion (which feels larger to my touch and theirs) is truly growing and to see if there is anything in the hip area.

It is not like my brain has not already gone there, is the cancer in the bone now? Is is not working even if the numbers have been going down nicely.

I have to wait and the waiting is so hard. I don't know what the next steps will be. They discussed new chemo regimens, etc. Oh joy, another, which will be the fourth for me. I have to get used to all new side effects yet again. But bottom line, I am not ready to give in or give up to this. I don't know why it seems to be taking the direction it is, but I am not ready!!!

I want to scream this from a mountaintop. I have sort of been working with a seven year perspective, enough time to get Sofie through primary school, into middle school, etc. So I will await the results of all of this and pray that they can "manage" this too. My body does not seem to be cooperating very well.

We will be going to supper at Whole Foods this pm, I am not in the mood to cook. Or eat for that matter. But Sofie will be starving, she started Camp Riverlea yesterday, this is the camp that she loved last year and the one that makes her sooooo tired.

I will post more, as soon as I know more. Keep me in your thoughts.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

The Blog from the Boat

This is the first day I have visited the Internet Cafe here on the Norwegian Dawn. Which says a lot, since our cabin is on the same corridor as the cafe! It has truly been a relaxing time so far, from a lovely first evening of Broadway show music to tonight, when we plus Laurie and Maya (friends from CA) went to have dinner together, Teppanyaki style (like Benihana). There is a big party tonight on the private island, but we have heard the rumors about the bugs at night, so we are declining. Sofie and Jamie are on board, "exploring" parts of the ship. We spent the whole day with her today, no Kids Crew (her request) and she swam, swam, swam for several hours earlier, then lunch and then we took a family nap. It has been like that, doing things that make us happy, but not going crazy.

We disembarked at Key West yesterday, it was HOT and humid and full of tourista stuff. I remembered my first Olivia cruise, where I loved riding around on bikes, but that was in February or March and I had forgotten that part. The weather was so hot that we ran in and out of tacky souvenir stores just to cool off. Had a key lime slushie and a key lime cupcake (theme developing here) and Sofie picked out a very lovely snow globe to bring home. And then we got back on the ship.

One of the best features for kids here is the Kids Cafe, where they serve themselves and also can sit at the little tables (with or without parents). My knees tried it one time, but that was it, I could barely get off the stool!

This is truly the way life should be in terms of families. There are lots of gay dads with babies, many kids of color with Caucasian parents, and all sorts of assorted aunts, uncles, grandparents and more. All with a Broadway flair thanks to Rosie's passion for all things Broadway.

Sofie has been quite assertive about what she wants to do, gets outvoted occasionally when we want to see an evening show or go to a workshop. She told Jamie that the world was "this much" (arms opened wide) about her and "this much" (fingers showing about an inch of space) about us. Uh huh.

We are at sea for a few days and then this magical time will end, all too soon. I have another book to read and more tan to work on. I have spent the time here hardly thinking about cancer at all, I don't talk about it to folks although our very fabulous decorated door, thanks to Jamie's creativity, has been viewed by many. But I had decided to be mostly "cancer free" in my time here and that has been great.

OK, I will post more completely when we are home. Meanwhile, hugs to all, especially to Ellen and I will share more of the silly, fun stuff later.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Lucky Sevens!

Today is 07/07/07 and today we all got on the boat. It was a bit chaotic but also similar to lines at Disney, long ones. Our luggage was left with the red tags on it, and will be delivered later. Sofie's swimsuit is packed in the carry on bag...she is determined to jump in and swim right away, we have been telling her for weeks about the kid's pool and the water slides! We are a bit overwhelmed I think, by how big the ship is, but it is beautiful and we have a great room. We have a little balcony, overlooking the port right now, but soon, we will see ocean and maybe dolphins! Space is small and efficient, but there is plenty of room in the closet and dresser drawers (all three of them) for our stuff. I hope I have not brought too much. Laurie and Maya are right across the hall, they don't have windows or even portholes, so Laurie asked for visitors rights to our balcony. Of course, it looks perfect for reading and relaxing. This evening is the first show, a Broadway revue type thing. I love that stuff, I cut my theater teeth on Broadway shows as a kid, so I am ready and excited about it. Rosie will host. I have no idea at this point how visible she will be on the cruise, in the HBO documentary "All Aboard!" she seemed to be out and about a lot. I will try to keep notes on this fabulous vacation as it unfolds. Jamie has brought great stuff to decorate our door, so our lives will be an open book for the room stewards and everyone on the ninth level. The staff here are so nice, and they not only make up the room, they have nightly turndown service. Ah, vacation.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Truly, Really on Vacation

We are in NYC, at the Manhattan Club, right across the street from Carnegie Hall! I still feel like an educated tourist, but I am liking it here much more than I recall from summers as a high schooler coming into Manhattan.

We are spending two nights here before boarding the Norwegian Dawn, our cruise ship!!! We are beyond excited, Sofie is too.

Sofie and Jamie went to the Central Park zoo today, to see penguins Roy, Silo and Tango from her book, Tango Makes Three. And I took a lovely tour of this facility. I would love to come to NYC more, now that I live on the East Coast. Perhaps I will do that, in the future.

We are chillin' right now, and then I am taking Sofie to Times Square to the giant Toys R Us, and then....to see her first ever Broadway play, Mary Poppins. We got two free tickets, Jamie is visiting her friend Bec tonight, so we are taking this little risk and going. Worst case, we leave before the show is over if she is exhausted or tired. But I hope she will love it as I loved going to theaters when I was a kid. I want to share the experiences I loved with her.

Sofie is still a challenge to travel with. Her restaurant manners are still terrible, as evidenced by lunch today...at Veslelka, the Ukrainian place on the lower east side. We actually had a great meal, very authentic, and she loved the beef stroganoff. But her wiggling got to me somewhere along the meal. Jamie and I shared our food, perogi's of all sorts and soup (cold borscht for me, yum) and a small blintz with raspberries for dessert. We were stuffed and happy. No dinner will be needed tonight!

We even had a celebrity sighting: Chole Sevingny from "Big Love". By the end of the meal we were sure it was her, although she looked younger and more "ordinary" than on TV of course.

OK, it is time to get out the door, so this is it for today. Will keep up the blog during the cruise and post after we return to land.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

How I Celebrated the 4th of July

Last minute packing! Actually, the re-arranging of things, one switch of shoes, one more look for my beach/water shoes (to no avail, where the heck are they?) and a lovely BBQ lunch outside with Deb, our current house guest.

Sofie has made her toy choices, I had to set some limits on the stuffed toys she wanted. But she has some that she loves (snakes (2 ), foxes (2) and a tiger (1). Also art stuff, a box of UNO cards and of course, blankie. Unwashed and disgusting as usual, the way she likes it.

Doubtful we will need lots of toys, I am sneaking in some of her reading practice books and one chapter book for us to read to her. We should have plenty of fun stuff to do, plus swimming to keep her happy and contented.

We might go to FAO Schwartz in NYC, if we dare. Or the giant Toys R Us, but mostly we plan to be mellow, eat NYC foods (pizza, real bagels and of course, Ukrainian, doesn't everyone eat that?). And we are excitedly looking forward to Saturday at noon, when we can board "our ship" and begin this cruise we have talked about for months.

I feel positively blessed today, a perfect day, not too hot, slight breeze, a wonderful friend visiting and I am packed. Well, mostly.

Bon Voyage to us. We hope to take lots of photos and write in our blogs (but will publish them when we are back, since it is expensive to access the Internet on board). If we dock and happen to see a Starbucks, well, then maybe. If the wireless is free!

Yay, we are so excited. Can you tell?