Mix it up Monday – Leftovers for Lunch

Yeah, I’m late with this. Monday is practically over – well not really but over half anyway. It’s been a day where I burned myself on cookie sheets and splattered spaghetti sauce everywhere so writing about food didn’t sound like something I wanted to do. Oh well. It’ll be mostly pics anyway because it’s too cold to type.

Last night I decided to try calzone dough in the mixer and it worked fabulously! But, I’ve made them with the girls for years and there’s something about kneading the dough that I missed. I guess we’ll see if I stick to the mixer for this particular recipe or not.

Calzones are the one thing I have lots of pictures of for the cookbook but the girls decided this time to make extra big portions so they could take the leftovers in their lunches today. Since that fell under my goal for mix it up Monday, I said great, let’s double it.

So we did. I used the Calzone Napoli dough recipe from Above & Beyond Parsley (yes, that book again) with the crushed tomato sauce recipe from American Pie by Peter Reinhart. I use the Neo-Neapolitan dough from this cookbook when I make pizza and it rocks!

The fun part of this is the girls always do their own thing. I give them each a ball of dough and let then do whatever they want. Within reason – they don’t get to throw it at each other or anything.

D3 isn’t a fan of red sauce so she just spreads her dough into a round cake pan and tops it with layers of pepperoni and pounds of cheese. I’m not kidding, I have to cut her off on the cheese! This is her masterpiece:

Pepperoni cheese bread anyone?

 

D2 decided she doesn’t like hers to be rolled up. She wanted a little sauce and mostly cheese. We forgot to buy the red peppers she wanted so she settled for the hidden pepperoni or two.  It was kind of like a pizza without using the pizza stone. Not real appetizing looking but she said it tasted great. That’s what counts right?

is it a pizza or an unrolled calzone? is there a difference?

 

D1 opted for the rolled up look with a seam down the center. She’s a sauce and cheese girl. We use a blend of parm, mozzarella, asiago, romano and provolone. They all love fennel too so that’s what you see on the top. She once told me my stomach after surgery looked like the seam of a calzone when the sauce leaks out. TMI?
 

That's a lot of fennel!

 

I love making these with the girls. They’ve been making their own since D2 was 2. I have pictures of her standing on a chair by the counter piling on the cheese in her New Year’s Eve hat. She’s ridiculously cute!

I had cracker dough rising last night too but lost interest so I put it in the fridge to slow down the rising until this morning. That’s what I burned myself on. I think they’re supper yummy. Sometimes the girls like cheese and crackers in their lunches (if they last until tomorrow) so if that works, expect that to be next week’s post.

Have a good rest of your Monday!

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Weekend Musings

Things I’m learning this weekend:

  • Tie dye duct tape makes everyone happy. The kids put their creative minds to work and I don’t have to listen to them argue.
  • Toilet paper on the vanity instead of the roller for the 168th time can truly send me over the edge.
  • We really do have somebody named “Not Me” living at our house – just like Family Circus.
  • He or she is the one responsible for the toilet paper NOT on the roller.
  • It’s best not to handle lavash cracker dough if you’ve recently touched a freshly painted bird house.
  • Acrylic craft paint is not edible.
  • Letting SG drive to do errands is another thing that can send me over the edge!
  • Even though I’m thrilled SG is shoveling and I’m not, the sound of the steel shovel on the driveway makes me think the back of my head may explode.
  • Everything irritates me today.
  • Even though I lack the proper body parts, it would seem I’m still capable of PMS’ing.
  • On weekends, I most resemble that guy in the parade who follows the horses and cleans up their crap.
  • A nice BIG glass of Syrah helps everything unless I leave it sitting around – then SG drinks it.

Hope you all are having a great weekend! Tonight I’m making calzones and I have cracker dough rising. Guess what’s on the agenda for Mix it up Monday?

Tooth Tales

Wow, I don’t know what to write about first. Do I tell you how I killed the tooth fairy? Or how I sunk to a new low and played the cancer card at the pediatric dentist? Or maybe how SG called the tooth fairy names?

It’s a veritable smorgasbord orgasbord of bad parenting topics to cover this morning.

Let’s start with how I felt so guilty about forgetting to get the girls in for 6 month cleaning (it turned into an 18 month cleaning) that I immediately started making excuses for D2’s cavity when we walked into the dentist’s office.

They said “Good morning, how are you?”

And I said, “I’d have gotten her in sooner but I had 2 surgeries in 8 months and then I started a new drug that makes me really tired because well, I have cancer. Do you like my new headband? It covers my bald spots. You know, the ones I didn’t try to hide so I’d look worse? Did I mention I have cancer? Because I’d have totally gotten her here sooner if I was at all healthy. But I’m not.”

Lord knows what else I would have come with up had they actually commented on the delay in cleaning appointments. That was a new low but it worked. I may use it again.

Then, first thing this morning, D2 walked up to the kitchen counter, put her tooth fairy box with the tooth in it and said “You forgot to give me money”.

I said “No, the tooth fairy forgot. I’m sure it was the bad weather on the east coast because you know, she goes there 1st since it’s later. I’m sure she’ll make it up to you tonight!”

SG said “That tooth fairy is a stupid son-of-a-bitch!”

We’re classy parents that way. This is even better because he doesn’t ever swear around the kids.  But man, that damn tooth fairy really pissed us off.

In all honesty though, when our tooth fairy started giving scratch off lottery tickets, the gig was pretty much up.

I followed all this up by zoning out this morning when the kids were getting ready for school. I didn’t give D1 time updates to keep her moving – because you know, 14 yr olds can’t tell time on their own. Even with a nice watch on her wrist.

So by the time she was at the front door saying “mom, can you hand me my lunch box please?”, I had to say “I don’t think that’s going to buy you enough time. Your bus is at the corner.”

She tried to use  the tried and true “but I was making my bed just like you want me to” card. It doesn’t work as well as the cancer card.

It was a nice drive down in the fog.

I don’t know how June Cleaver did it.

Is This The Part Where She Hates Me?

If you’ve been around lately, you know that we’ve been making the rounds at high school open houses. D1 will start high school in the fall and we were trying to decide where she’ll go. The decision has been made and we’re feeling really good about it. Now we’re entering the part where she’ll go to an all day orientation and where we need to fill out the registration and course selection papers.

This is also the part where she gets super excited and where the reality hits me and I head off into “oh shit, my baby is starting high school” land.

Let me repeat that – MY BABY. IS STARTING. HIGH SCHOOL!

How the hell did that happen?

Last I checked she was running across the park to the ice cream man. Ok yeah, she did that was last summer but I’m thinking more about when she toddled towards the ice cream truck in her pink tennies. Not when she yelled, “hey mom, I need money”.

I’m thinking about when she was wearing arm floaties in the pool instead of trying out for the swim team.

I’m excited for her but I don’t know the first thing about parenting a high school girl. Honestly, high school girls scare me a little. Ok, a lot. They’re all cute and cliquey and drive and like boys! Well most of them. Some like girls and that’s ok too but I’m rambling.

See how freaked out I am?

The biggest thing I remember about high school girls is that they hate their moms. That’s right. They do. I don’t think I did but I know my sister did and she was a first-born too. Hell, she’s still not all that fond of her.

What if D1 decides I’m really not all that? Does anybody say “all that” anymore?

See? I’m already an uncool dork. I’m doomed. I’m going to completely screw up her life with my hysterics and nerdiness.

Then all her college money will go to therapy and she’ll write an autobiography trashing me and I’ll have to hide from the neighbors. It’s one big snowball effect you know. I might as well hide now.

The good news is there are a few of her friends going to the other high school that I’m kind of glad she’s getting away from. But who else will she meet? Who will that charming percussionist be who wants her to sit in the back of the bus with him on band trips? I’m in no way projecting there.

Is it weird that I’m relieved that when she watches National Treasure, she likes the nerdy sweet side kick guy instead of Nicholas Cage? I worry about all the dating, broken heart crap ahead of her.

My mom dealt with it by saying “well in 20 years what will it matter?” In the end she had a point (a bit) but 20 years wasn’t on my radar then. I was upset and needed to deal with it then. I hope I’ll find a way to handle this uncharted territory without bringing my own old high school baggage into it.

I know what she’ll go through will be uniquely her experiences and I hope like hell they’re good ones! And that I don’t send her off the deep end into motherhatingville.

I kind of think I’m not off to a very good start after the weekend of eye rolling and tears we just had. Thank God we have SG as a buffer with all his sainthood and patience and shit.

I can do this. High schoolers have to be easier to deal with than cancer. Don’t they???

Made With Love

Today I made fudge. Something I don’t normally do unless it’s Christmas time and something that really shouldn’t merit a blog post. But as I was stirring, so much came into my mind and it needed someplace to go.

I made it with D2’s help because she asked me to. She wants to give it to her friend who has been gone from school for 3 weeks but is coming back tomorrow. It’s her favorite and D2 wants to give it to her to let her know we’ve been thinking of her.

You see, she and her mom and little brother were in a car accident on January 6. Her mom passed away 6 days later.  This poor sweet little girl is 10 and just lost her mom. In the eyes of my 10 yr old, taking some of her favorite treat to her at school might help her get through the day.

Their teacher told me she’ll be sitting between D2 and another little girl. In a “safe supportive place” where she can gradually re-acclimate to the routine of school.

Her little brother is in 2nd grade. We’re sending enough for the whole family.

I don’t know why, even at 10, cooking is what we do in times of grief but I know we’re not alone in that. D2 and some other girls decided a week ago that when she returned, they would each bring her something that might make her a little happier. That’s when D2 came home and told me she needed fudge.

I didn’t hesitate to say ok. If there is anything at all that can help, even a favorite treat, then I’m on it. Partly because it gives my own kiddo a sense of helping her friend when nothing will make the situation ok.

She called D2 a couple days after her mom passed away and I think it helped them both.

There were quiet moments, typical 10 yr old giggling moments and I guess everything in between. But in the end, when they hung up, there was a little peace that only a friend could give her. She had someone to confide in about how the truck driver that crossed into their lane and hit them yelled afterwards.

In the eyes of a scared 10 yr old alone with her brother and her injured mom, he was yelling at them for wrecking his truck. She’s dealing ok but it’s the accident and her mom’s scream that are staying with her. It’s going to be such a long recovery and one she and her brother shouldn’t have to face at such a young age!

I’m proud of D2 for the way she’s handling it. How there she is for her friend even in little ways. I can’t imagine how hard it will be for her and her little brother to go back to school but I’m glad they’ll be back among friends. Kids who love them and will be there to listen, or just play. Who will support them as they try to find a new sense of normal.

My oldest daughter has been through this twice with friends. Each of those girls lost their moms to brain cancer. One in 4th grade, the other the summer before 7th.

I don’t know why this keeps happening. Moms are not supposed to leave. But as I watch my girls support their friends I’m amazed how kind and brave they are. Braver than I am!

There is nothing that will make a loss of this magnitude ok so in the absence of the perfect remedy for their pain, we cook. And when we make it, we put in extra love.

Mix it up Monday – Mmmm Breakfast!

Today I’m on orange zest overload. Which is actually a good thing because I love me some zesty orange glaze on my breakfast rolls.

I’m pretty sure I said I was going to concentrate on non-sweet things for lunches but my other goal in this baking thing was to make before-school breakfasts a little quicker and easier for Science Guy. He’s sort of taken over that part of the day because I move at the speed of a very tired sloth in the mornings. Which is to say, not at all.

So last night I decided it was time to do the whole make breakfast easier thing and found a recipe for Citrus Bows in one of my favorite cookbooks Above and Beyond Parsley. This is a book I’ve had forever and it also has my favorite recipe for calzone dough! I highly recommend it if you can find a copy. I think it was an anniversary present from my parents in 1994.

Can I just say I’m in love with the dough hook on my mixer? That’s sounds more than a little warped but I love not having to knead dough. Although, here is where I should admit that when I got to the kneading phase pre-mixer and post-hand/foot syndrome, I called for backup. SG and D1 are both old hats at the feel of the perfect dough.

The fun part of this recipe was trying to tie knots in the dough. As you can see by the picture, it was pretty loosely interpreted among my helpers. We had twists, bows, knots, pretzel shapes and even a couple oddly wrapped little balls but that was ok because it was fun.

So here you go – I give you a very poor picture of Citrus Bows. Can you smell the orange zest? 2 tbls in the dough and 1 in the glaze. Our house smelled great!

Mmmm...want one? Please ignore the well used baking sheet.

Hmm – I just realize that last week included the pepper cheese pretzels. I promise that next week I’ll do something that doesn’t involve tying dough.

When There is no Cure

Yesterday I was reading Susan’s post at Toddler Planet talking about a clinical trial she’s just entered for breast cancer (Susan I hope it’s ok that I linked to you?). Anyway, she’s starting a new combo drug trial – one of them is Nexavar which I’ve been taking since April.

She said she’s having to change her perspective from a treatment that cures to a treatment that “keeps her alive”. It’s not an easy thing to deal with. I can’t stop thinking about what she wrote because it’s what I went through almost 5 yrs ago, and if I’m being honest, what I still go through today.

She has breast cancer, I have gastrointestinal stromal tumor – 2 very different cancers – but the fact that our treatments are over lapping speaks to the new direction of cancer treatments. The targeted therapies.

People who aren’t taking them don’t know about them. It’s NOT traditional chemo or radiation. There’s not a set 12 round time frame sort of thing because there’s no end to treatment. It’s a daily pill forever, or until we develop resistance.

It’s not what people are used to and in my experience, it bothers them. 

When you tell somebody you have cancer they automatically ask about a cure. We’re programmed to put all the emphasis on that one word – cure.

But what if there isn’t one? What if your cancer isn’t curable? It leads to so many uncomfortable conversations. My father-in-law whom I love dearly always says “well, when you get off those drugs……”

I don’t have the heart to honestly tell him that when I’m off the drugs, it will mean there are no more options and I’ll be wrapping things up here. I’ve tried but I think he blocks it.

But it’s ok not to be cured. As much as having cancer can be ok. Targeted therapies have replaced incurable with treatable. Stable is good. When I began the first drug, Gleevec, I was literally filled with cancer. If there was tissue in my abdomen, it had mets on it. My PET scan was not pretty.

By my first CT scan 3 months in, after my daily magic pill, every last one of those little fuckers had shrunk by at least 30%. We were headed in the right direction.

Before my magic pills, my cancer wasn’t even treatable. The prognosis was 12-18 months and the only option was surgery as needed – if the tumors were resectable. That’s why I’m ok with not being cured, even though I wish like hell I was. But man it’s still so hard to explain.

People still ask me if I’m done with treatment yet, if my cancer is gone. I have to tell them that no,  it’s not gone and never will be. They don’t know how respond.

I’m living with cancer in my body – I’m permanently contaminated. I know it’s there because I’m reminded every time I take a pill. I can see the discomfort on their faces when I say that. (Well I don’t say it exactly like that.)

It used to bother me that I couldn’t  just do the traditional chemo & radiation thing. Then I watched so many others go through it – the carpet bombing of the entire body with poisons – and I was glad that I’ve, for the most part, maintained my quality of life. Even if I have had rough side effects.

Targeted therapies are designed to attack only the cancer cells. It’s like they go in and flip the “off switch” on tumors that are constantly “on” and feeding off our bodies. If they can shut off the power to the cells, ideally they’ll shrink or become stable. Less life-threatening, which is really all that matters right? The key words though are “just the cancer cells”.

With Nexavar, it’s designed to cut off the blood supply that feeds the tumors. Others like Gleevec are that off switch kind of thing that for me, turned the tumors cystic until they went away, shrunk or at least stopped growing.

But, the cancer is still there. I know one woman who has over 30 tumors on her liver alone. She’s been like that for almost 10 years. She was one of the first GIST patients in the Gleevec clinical trial and somehow she’s still on it. She’s never developed resistance. She’s seen two of her children go off to college when at one time she was in hospice.

They don’t work like that for everyone but I guess my take on it has always been to take each drug for as long as they’ll work. To squeeze as many years out of each treatment as I can. Yes, it still bothers me, a lot, when we lose yet another person off the GIST support site. But I’ve had to remind myself that I’m not them. I’m still here and feeling relatively ok.

When I first started this process, Gleevec was my only option but Sutent was about to be approved.  By the time I developed resistance to Gleevec (after 3 years) and had new tumor growth, I had more options. Research is like that, when they have success with what was once an untreatable cancer, the research money comes in a little easier.

I’m on option #4 now because 2 of them didn’t work at all. It’s been a rough year and a half since Gleevec resistance but #4 has worked for 10 months. It’s been long enough that option #5 was FDA approved and maybe there’s a #6. Another drug went from a clinical trial number to having an actual name last week. I’m ridiculously informed. I can’t help it.

When people ask me about a cure I have backup info to make them feel better when I say “no, it’s not curable – but it IS treatable”. It also makes me feel better.

The real beauty in all this is that these drugs were originally developed to treat other cancers. Gleevec was a leukemia drug. Nexavar is primarily a liver and kidney cancer treatment. Sutent is used to treat advanced kidney cancer. The fact that Nexavar is now being used for breast cancer only brings more attention to it. Research money going into one cancer can later be applied to another!

Rare cancers like GIST can be ignored except by the small number of people personally dealing with it either as a patient or caregiver, but the more these drugs are used to treat multiple cancers, the more we have a chance at getting the research dollars to keep them coming.

For the patient, it gives us more time. It turns our cancer from a fatal disease to a chronic illness. For how long? Who knows, but I’ll take whatever extra time I can get.

Sure I’m pissed off about it occasionally – who wouldn’t be. But you know what? If I’m here to bitch about hair thinning, foot cramps or too many hours spent in the bathroom, I’m also here for band concerts, birthdays and wedding anniversaries.

I may even get to be here for graduations, weddings and grandbabies!

It’s not a cure but it’s pretty damn close and I’m mostly ok with that.

Now if I could just get others to be ok with it we’d be set!

Update PS – I do still reserve the right to bitch and moan. Just because I’m cool with it today doesn’t mean I won’t go off the deep end when I reach my actual 5 yr cancerversary – cuz i always do. Or when the Nexavar stops working.