Thursday, October 25, 2007

Fire in So. Cal

The fire that's closest to our home is the Santiago Fire. We saw it on Sunday on our way back from Tamecula wine country and it's still burning. We are also close to the fire near San Clemente. Air quality is very poor so the kids had been kept in door from Monday through Wednesday. Today, the whole school district is closed and we will know more about school situation for Friday later tonight.
It's so sad to learn that this disaster is caused by an arson. Many homes destroyed and fire fighters injured.

I'm praying for rain. Lots and lots of rain to distinguish all the fires we have in Southern California.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Good for another year

I went for my follow up mammogram yesterday and hubby went with me. I was nervous all morning and finally we face the music together. I felt stronger when he's besides me.
I had a different mammogram technician this time and she warned me that it's going to hurt more because the area where they saw a change in density in the area near my chest and it's not an easy area to squash. Next year, I'm taking some Advils before the torture process.
Tech: "We want to capture a really flat area and hopefully you don't need to do the ultrasound"
Once the Xrays were taken, I went back to my little dressing room, still wearing my little gown and waited for the Dr.'s interpretation of the Xray. I flipped through the travel magazine for a long time and decided that I want to visit Europe and Japan before I leave this earth. I came across a page about San Antonio Tx. It showed a happy couple enjoying the River walk. I've been to San Antonio in August and it was hot, humid, nothing as serene as the picture. Could the pictures about Europe and Japan be misleading also? hm...
After a long ass wait, the mammogram technician told me that the ultrasound technician will come and get me when she's ready.
"Holly crap, that's not a good sign."
After more waiting, the ultrasound technician came, took me to the examining room and started the examination. She said that everything looked normal to her but she took some pictures and let the doctor make the final call.
After more excruciating waiting pain in the room she said that everything is normal and nothing to worry about. I'm good for another year.
When I shared the good news with hubby, I felt the weight came off his shoulder too. He was puzzled why it took me so long where as other ladies came in and out quickly. It's because I had to wait for the Dr to interpret my result on the spot.
I'm so.. thankful that my twins are good for another year. After the test, we celebrated the good news at the South Coast Winery Restaurant in Costa Mesa. I had the seafood pasta and it was creamy and tasty. Plenty of muscles, baby scallops, shrimp and fish. Hubby had a steak sandwich and he said it was OK.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

5 grains of Sand

On Saturday, I got the unwanted letter from the imaging center asking me to make a follow up appointment for further testing on my right breast (mammogram and ultrasound). Even though the technician had prepared me for this possibility, getting it still made me worry. Logically, I know worrying isn't going to help the situation so I tried to distract my self by keeping busy with the kids and reading.
The fact that October is breast cancer awareness month, I'm reminded of the test, when I'm at the store, in the gym, and can't escape from reality.
On Sunday, I was picking up some milk and as I was checking out, the cashier asked if I want to make a donation for breast cancer research.
Me: “ Sure. I just had my mammogram done last week and I’m hope these scientists find a cure soon.”
Checker: “ I’m going in every 6 months. They found calcium build up in my breasts and @#$!%^&$$ tumor @#%*%$%. Early detection is the key.”
Me: “Definetely!”
After she mentioned "calcium built up", I felt like Charlie brown and stopped registering what she came out of her mouth . My mind wondered off to my own uncertainty, what would be come of me? Will I be in her shoes?
I shared this calcium built up conversation with hubby and he tried to keep things in perspective and reminded me that we are lucky to have the imaging center that has the high-resolution digital X-ray system. It's better to know now than later.
On Monday, I talked to one lady to make sure our insurance covers the cost of 2nd mammogram and she shared her breast cancer experience with me. I'm share with you my dear reader because it’s important for us to understand the significance of mammogram.
A while a go, S went in for her annual mammogram and they found five tiny cancer cells the size of a grain of sand. She had the option
  1. Get a lumpectomy to remove areas where these cells were found but there’s still 30% chance that the cancer will return.
  2. Remove the whole breast and 0% chance that cancer will return.
She chose the brave and safe path and removed her whole breast. When the cancer was autopsied, it was 11 days old. She was very grateful for early detection and able to take care of it. We are ask to do self-examination regularly; however, there's no way in hell I would be able to detect 5 grains of sands. By the time it becomes a lump, who know how old the cancer cell is then?
After I got the letter, I did some more research on the subject and found this informative website that shows the differences in Xray between calcification and cancer cells. The Xrays are toward the bottom of the page.

Let's hope this episode of my life is much ado about nothing.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Time test part II

Danielle's teacher emailed me and her reply wasn't so helpful. Her solution to my inquiry is this one summary page in her homework binder that shows hints on how to help our kids with math for the whole year. As far as time test 1 & 2, she said the concept is counting on. So for counting on we get a line liner explanation on that paper, not enough details so I know what I'm suppose to do at home. She also mentioned that the time test should not be a high pressure and I should not worry and assure her she will eventually pass. I guess she could take the same test 10 times, statistically, you will eventually.
My goal is to pin point the concept she's not learning so we're more efficient with time instead of going over the things she already know.
I emailed her back confirming what she was referring to as far as counting on.
Me: " You mean addition of X+1 or +2 or +3 where X can be any number from 0 to 21?"
Teach: " I don't have the binder in front of me so ask Danielle to bring her binder to me tomorrow and I'll go over it with her"
That was a surprising reply when I was expecting "counting on" is being taught in class at the moment and she would give me several ideas off the top of her head on how to review the same concepts at home.
That same night, I forgot to give Danielle instructions to bring the binder to her teacher so as expected, the teacher did not initiate to show Danielle the page she was referring to in her email.

Last night, I was preparing dinner in the kitchen and I asked Danielle

Me: "How was school today?"
D: "Good."
Me: "Did anything exciting happened in class?"
D: "Not really.."
Me: "Was there any tests going on?"
D: " YES, we had our math time test and I think I know what I did wrong. I made the mistake of 7+? =.... Hmm. I can't remember it now.."
I was all excited about her revelation which could be a false alarm
Me: "Did you pass?"
D: "I don't know, we didn't get our test back yet."
Me: "Ms. B didn't have time to grade them?"
D: "No. Parent volunteers grade them, not Ms. B"

That's one of the missing puzzle piece to solve my riddle. It explains the vague reply I got when I asked her for the specifics. She didn't grade the tests so she has no idea what concept my child is or isn't learning. We're going to have lots to talk about during our next parent teacher conference. It's not easy being a teacher so I'll help as much as I can.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007


Danielle gets math time tests twice a week. In theory, reviewing her addition flash cards should help her with passing these tests. Last week, she passed the 1st test on her 1st try and that helped built her confidence. On 2nd test, she got 35 out of 36 so I wasn't too concerned. When I asked her if the teacher reviewed the test with her and she said no. The test got thrown out so the kids can't memorize it and she's not aware of the mistake she made. During our homework time, I make up a mock test with random numbers that adds up to be 21 and gave her 3 min to finish the test. With my test, she had 10 questions left after 3 min was up and she got frustrated and cried because she could not finish the test in time. I told her that my test may be harder because I knew she's able to solve the easy ones. As long as she did her best, I don't care how many times it takes her to pass the test.
Yesterday, she took the 2nd test again and also scored 35 out of 36.
Me: "Was it hard or easy?"
D: " It was easy."
Me: "Did you have extra time at the end to check your work?"
D: "I did check my work and it's all right."
Me: "It's hard for me to guess what we need to work on not knowing what you missed."
D: " May be it's my hand writing because I had to go really fast and I usually take my time to write neatly but not during time test."
Me: "You may be right. Can you write a little neater next time?"
D: "Yeah. I know I can pass test 3 because all the numbers add up to ten"
Me: "I'm sure you will pass this one too once we figure out what concept you've forgotten from 1st grade. "
Me: " Remember you did time test at 1st grade and you went all the way to 19?"

I emailed her teacher to asked for some recommendation on how to help her from home. I know she can do the math; however under pressure, mistakes happens.
Why can't the kids move on when they get 97% correct? The principle may know the answer.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Mammo techonology

I got my mammogram done today and the technician was very proud of the latest and greatest digital imaging system they have instead of the film type mammogram system they had 6 months ago. I asked the technician what were the advantages of the digital vs. film version. Instead of saying the machine was able to generate higher resolution images, she said " It's like regular camera vs. digital camera or better yet regular TV vs. HDTV".
Digital or not, the intensity of crushing of the boobs are the same. I was hoping that the machine doesn't require boobs to become pancake before taking images but that ain't going to come true any time soon. She also warned me that I might get a call from the radiologist because of the higher resolution images so I should not be alarmed because they rather error on the safe side than vice versa. I pray that my twins are happy and in good health
October is breast cancer awareness month so I'm wearing the pink bracelet and got the pink bow pin that I'll put on my jacket.
I'm in the middle of reading Kafka on the shore and I'm more into the book now than before. Unexplainable weird things are starting to happen and two stories starts to merge together. Listening to this book opens up my desire to read more about Greek tragedies, really think about metaphors and irony of real life vs. fiction.

Note to self:
1st appointment is better than last appointment of the day. Shorter wait and staff members are still fresh= more friendly, less grouchy. Arriving earlier than appointment time also help since there will be surveys to fill out. NO Deodorant please.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Going to bed early

On Saturday, around 5PM, we went over to Secondo’s friend JJ’s house to play and I had to give them 15 minute going home warning around 6:00 PM because JJ goes down at 7PM. Both girls love going to JJ house because Danielle likes his dogs and Secondo likes his toys. Danielle was protesting
D: “ Why do we have to go home so early? It’s one hour before 7PM.”
Me: “ Well JJ has to get ready for bed at 6:30”
D: “ So we have 30 min to play instead of 15 min?”
Me: “We have 15 min so JJ’s dad has 15 min to get ready to put JJ to bed.”
We ordered Pizza for diner so I was able to use Pizza as the incentive for them to leave JJ’s house.
We took the kids to the park on Sunday afternoon and met up with her friends from school for a play date. When we got home, hubby gave the girls their baths and Danielle announced that she’s going to sleep at 7 PM so I asked her why.
D: “ This way I can get up at 5 AM and have more time to get ready for school.”
Me: “ That’s fine with me.”
She actually got in bed around 7:30 and she said that it took her a while to fall asleep but when I woke up Monday morning at 5:30, she was already up and was reading in her room.
Hubby and I were hoping Secondo would go to sleep early but she went to bed at her normal time.
When she got home from school Monday afternoon, I asked if she's tired and she said no but she'll go to bed early still. After a quick dinner, we went to her piano lesson and she fell asleep during the short drive to her teacher's house. I think she was tired and didn't play as well as she could have if she was fully awake.