The Hamptons

Thursday, May 19, 2016 by  

The Hamptons, beach house, beach, oceanside, ocean, Bianca Tyler, The Let's Talk Mom (22)In the 16 weeks since Phillip’s surgery, we’ve been back to the hospital 24 times including a 3rd full-body MRI and chemical injections. (To see the full story, click here: Kicking Cancer) By the end of March, Phillip’s PSA level was tested 4 times, and on each occasion the reading went up!! Having had the prostate removed, the PSA level should be undetectable. When the 4th result came in showing an increase of 77% from the first post-surgery reading, we were really unnerved.

So Phillip surprised me with a weekend house in the Hamptons. The Atlantic was our backyard! If you squint, you can see the kids looking for shells by the water’s edge in the photo above       . The Hamptons, beach house, beach, oceanside, ocean, Bianca Tyler, The Let's Talk Mom (6)

He wrote on his blog (Phillip’s Journey), “I wanted my wife to have some down time, as she has been carrying the burden greatly. The Hamptons, beach house, beach, oceanside, ocean, Bianca Tyler, The Let's Talk Mom (24)For those of you who know her, you know she loves deeply and has deep emotions. This journey has been tough on her, and I wanted her to unwind more than anything. I
didn’t realize how much I needed this, too. 
We spent the weekend in an idyllic beach home with glorious weather. We chilled, played board games, grilled fresh salmon & steak, we talked, we walked, we flew kites, we gazed at the ocean & listened to the breaking surf, we delighted in the laughter of our daughter & her friends playing in the sand, running down the beach, rescuing overturned horseshoe crabs, and we reveled in the pure joy of beach life.

The Hamptons, beach house, beach, oceanside, ocean, Bianca Tyler, The Let's Talk Mom (25)And the really good news… my latest blood test last week shows that my PSA is now undetectable. So, 40 rounds of daily radiation begins in June, then another round of chemical injections, and my plan is to have kicked it to the curb by then….Cancer out!”

To think Phillip was again worried about me when it is he going through all this agony! How incredibly loving, how completely appreciated!! This weekend was the respite we all needed.The Hamptons, beach house, beach, oceanside, ocean, Bianca Tyler, The Let's Talk Mom (4)

The Hamptons, beach house, beach, oceanside, ocean, Bianca Tyler, The Let's Talk Mom (1)The children made s’mores before watching family movies and Darling played her latest instrument, a Seagull Merlin she just stenciled.Seagull Merlin, stencil, stenciling, Bianca Tyler, The Let's Talk Mom

Smoked salmon for breakfast & chocolate-dipped strawberries at lunch. The Hamptons, beach house, beach, oceanside, ocean, Bianca Tyler, The Let's Talk Mom (13)More kite-flying, even by my Mom, exploring the Bay, The Hamptons, beach house, beach, oceanside, ocean, Bianca Tyler, The Let's Talk Mom (16)and proper burials & prayers for horseshoe crabs that were found washed ashore. The children crafted their own crosses from beach wood and sea grass. The Hamptons, beach house, beach, oceanside, ocean, Bianca Tyler, The Let's Talk Mom (18)a

The Hamptons, beach house, beach, oceanside, ocean, Bianca Tyler, The Let's Talk Mom (2)The Hamptons, beach house, beach, oceanside, ocean, Bianca Tyler, The Let's Talk Mom (21)    A little bit of shopping and a The Hamptons, beach house, beach, oceanside, ocean, Bianca Tyler, The Let's Talk Mom (3)REALLY windy ride back on the ferry completed the long weekend.The Hamptons, beach house, beach, oceanside, ocean, Bianca Tyler, The Let's Talk Mom (14)a

bright spot flowerThe Bright Spot – We all feel rejuvenated! The Hamptons, beach house, beach, oceanside, ocean, Bianca Tyler, The Let's Talk Mom (29)

Especially Phillip, he looks fantastic!!!!

The Hamptons, beach house, beach, oceanside, ocean, Bianca Tyler, The Let's Talk Mom (15)Thank you, my Love!The Hamptons, beach house, beach, oceanside, ocean, Bianca Tyler, The Let's Talk Mom (30)


Hand me a Volleyball!

Wednesday, May 18, 2016 by  

Well known for its particularly high satisfaction rating by patients, I am no exception with my bilateral reduction mammoplasty (photo taken next morning): 

With the initial look at my dressing upon waking in recovery, I was simply delighted with the white bralette, my first ever. I felt like someone should hand me a volleyball so I could head to a California beach straight away!

Over 3 hours & hundreds of internal stitches later, Dr. Chang Soo Kim ( & his amazing team removed nearly 1,500 grams! Find a 3.3 pound weight and put it on a chain & wear it around your neck over your lungs and tell me if you don’t want to rip it off by the end of the week! Not only did Dr. Kim give me the breasts of a 20-year-old, but I could suddenly breathe effortlessly again!!


I don’t blame breastfeeding, I don’t blame aging & I certainly don’t blame weight loss.







Life started out normal…



And then, what on Earth happened?? I mean, seriously, look at my little neck…


No matter how little I weighed, I was still a DDD+.                 Not pleasant when the rest of my body was wearing a size 4.
 It translates into neck & back pain, underwires digging into soft skin, and bursting

I had never experienced a surgery that would alter my appearance. Between fun, function & fashion, the twins had served their time well.


But enough was enough. Deemed a medical necessity, I was grateful it was fully covered by our insurance. So grateful!! All $91,234.43! 

Unless you’ve not been able to bounce on a trampoline with your kids or run through Costcos without getting black eyes or lay on your stomach at the Chiropractor’s or zip up your coat without pushing past the bust roadblock or comfortably enjoy a massage or if you’ve rested your twins on your wrists climbing the stairs or slung your mammaries into the massive nylon cups of a minimizer or released them at the end of the night only to swing like tube socks with golf balls or if you sleep on your side with a pillow just for your top boob or find it difficult to buy a pretty little outfit with straps or take a deep breath without holding up your center bra wire or accidentally hit the delete button with your breast when you’re reaching over your keyboard, then you may understand. Millions of women do. This surgery is life-changing!  


And those shocked by my decision only proves I was a master of camouflaging my DDD+ girls with the perfected fashionable slouch, wearing baggy blouses, and, as countless women know, subjecting ourselves to breath-defying minimizer bras. 

Dr. Kim & his team were incredibly kind. I even asked to pray before surgery, something I’ve never done before and really didn’t even know what to say, but Dr. Kim held my hand and his team gathered around and I felt safe and cared for and the next thing I knew, after “Amen,” I was waking up in recovery feeling lighter & breathing easily.

The only unusual part of the day was standing with Phillip shortly before surgery in the pre-op room and the doctor used a special surgical Sharpie pen to mark my skin for the incisions. Ewww. I tried not to picture what those lines really meant.

When it was time to go home late that night around 10pm, Phillip helped me change. Gown off, we both looked down for the first time and were excited and pleased. No drains. No ugly bandage wraps. Just a little white satin bralette. I felt so adorable. I felt 20 again. “You look awesome,” Phillip exclaimed. Cool!

I dreamed of finally buying a pretty bra with a lovely pattern or wearing something strapless for the first time. When I got home, I wore a cozy PJ top I have never been able to button before. It was exciting!

Interestingly, if anything could go wrong the weeks leading up to surgery, it did. But it wasn’t going to deter me.

I had partially torn my meniscus and was in physical therapy 3 times a week in February. Phillip just recovered from another intensive cancer treatment surgery (The Journey) through February & I was drained. My Mom tripped 10 days earlier and I was making the 60-mile roundtrip to her house daily to care for her. Then Mom (Tribute to Mom) fell the day of my surgery and injured herself even more. My sister & niece both have bronchitis and my daughter broke her foot in gym this week prompting us to immediately cancel the friends’ homes where she was to stay during my initial recovery. As if that weren’t enough, I haven’t had my period for a year & the night before surgery it came on with full force & was relentless all week. Then a fluke March blizzard delayed my follow-up visit to the surgeon. One thing after another, but you know me. Nothing would stop me & so it is done.

I came home that night, got in bed, put my feet up, snuggled our 3 kitty cats & haven’t moved much since. We inflated a triple-decker queen air mattress in our room with pretty aqua sheets & a pastel butterfly comforter for my little Darling, 
and we’ve been cozying up watching The Flash, enjoying tea & scones, and letting our Boys deal with the chaos in the real world while she & I focus on our *Healing Party.*

(And Mom has Visiting
Angels now).

The reduction was a huge decision, no pun intended. No woman goes into such a major surgery without having given it a great deal of thought. 4 girlfriends went through it and offered words of wisdom. Recovery was quick and, thanks to strong meds, relatively comfortable. (Phillip’s med chart >         for me.) No stretching, no pushing, no pulling, no lifting, no standing upright for a long time. No driving for 2 weeks.

For a busy Mom, it’s actually quite nice to stay in bed for a while.

My gals still “under wraps” as I enjoy a lovely salmon dinner in bed. Phillip has brought me every culinary delight this week & is keeping me on track with infection & pain meds around the clock.

My husband & I met with Dr. Kim a week later for the unveiling. Phillip says the Redesigned Twins are “spellbinding!” Ooh! (blushing). We’re happy, I can breathe & long necklace ornaments will never be bobbling off the center wire of my big brassieres again because those parachutes are all in File 13!


(Warning: Graphic photos ahead intended for mature audiences only)

We visited Dr. Kim yesterday, the one-week checkup since surgery. To be honest, I was afraid to look down & see stitches when the doctor took my bandages off. That’s when Phillip gave me that beautiful compliment above. But today was Day 9 and I seriously needed to shower so this would be my first meeting with my girls.

Phillip helped me take off the tight bralette and gently peeled off the gauze bandages. I just
stared at myself in the mirror for the longest time. I mean, just really stood there and stared. What looked back at me was the most beautiful set of healthy, perky twins with an upturned point you would only see on a mannequin and think, “Yeah, that’s not for real.”
But it was real… they were staring back at me in all their glory. 100% all-natural me, just less of me!! I simply had to share this beautiful ending to this long-awaited decision in my life. At the risk of my father spinning in his resting site at the idea of my gals going uncovered on screen, I’ve made sure to find pretty little flowers to cover the tips.
Since launching this story a few days ago, I have had countless women who have gone through reduction email me and say they wished they had done it earlier. That’s exactly what went through my mind, too. But I’m glad it is done now. 
The Bright Spotbright spot flower – Thank you, Dr. Kim, for your wisdom & your artistry. Your work is outstanding and you and your team are the very best and have made me feel light & amazing. 2 things that make Dr. Kim stand out from the rest – he doesn’t like to use drains which I’ve heard are painful to remove a week or more later. And he uses a special technique to help save sensation after healing. 
As my OR nurse who later wrote to me so perfectly said, “Wishing you a “B”eautiful recovery, “B”ring on the new “B”ras and “B”athing suits!”  

Dr. Chang Soo Kim ~ Click: GCSurgeryandLaser 203-920-1444  


As one friend who has been through this aptly put it, “Your lady bits are tender now. Drink tea, binge watch & recover.” Good advice & someday soon I’ll be able to lay on my stomach! Photos below of my loving Support Team!! Daily our furbabies skillfully demonstrate how to just lay around & chill.
I would like to thank everyone who is been so encouraging & wonderful especially in helping to pick up our Darling from school, or bring her home after track, or to and from dances, sleepovers & movies, or brought me to the doctor for stitches cleaning/dressing changes or sent goodies or brought dinner, you know who you are & I’m grateful.

Thank you, in particular, to Nayer, Samara, Maria, Anitta, Emily, Melissa, Aimee, Cheryl, Chloe, Mighty Medina’s, Jane, Stephen B., Rose, Ann, Cathy, Sue, Lorine, Julie, Hannah F., John Z., Billy & Shannon, Luz & Lisa, Suzanne, Barry & Sara, thank you all!! Your actions meant a lot!

UPDATE: 1st Summer!

I find it funny that when I’ve run into friends these past two months, the 1st thing they say is, “Hey, how are your boobs!?” So here’s an update: It’s been 4 months since undergoing this major surgery & this major change in my life. It took weeks to drive or even lift my arms above my shoulders. But with each passing month, I’m just happier and so thankful to feel light and look like a normal person in clothes. And it’s not just my new clothes…I’ve been able to “closet shop!” So yes, everything feels different and new because fabrics hang properly now.

The surgeon explained the outside stitches would heal at their own pace and then I could use scar tape across, down & under (left photo) to lighten the marks once the wounds closed. It works very well. He explained, however, that the hundreds of internal stitches are different – they are made of a slow-dissolving material that takes months to dissolve while the soft breast tissue heals. I accidentally pulled out 2 of them when I peeled off the scar tape to shower. Owww! Those stitches were tough & thick like a clear nylon fishing line. Believe me, I peel much slower now!!

In the end, all is wonderful and summer in spaghetti straps is a dream realized. (You can still see the dents in my shoulders above from all those burdensome years…well-endowed ladies, you know what I’m talking about!)

Who knew 32 years ago when I asked my parents if I could paint my walls – I think they thought ivory or yellow or something! – that I would paint this picture…check it out – my gals look like that painting!

The Bright Spotbright spot flower– As I mentioned above, it’s 100% all-natural me, just less of me!!!



Who is Hofinger?

Wednesday, May 4, 2016 by  

Our son loves his car! L-o-v-e-s! Yup, that’s him playing in the snow.

He worked hard for it and earned it completely on his own. It used to be black. Last year, this high performance baby came home white ~ satin pearl matte wrap. That all sounds lovely but what I think is really neat is his appreciation for the fine craftsmanship of this Mercedes-Benz AMG.

AMGs are hand built by one specialty engineer. It’s known as the “One Man – One Engine” philosophy. When our son saw his 

engine was signed by Thomas Hofinger, he had the signature made into a slate grey adhesive that proudly – yet subtly – adorned the corner of his black hood. He had the signature remade when he changed the car to white.

One day, a father who was at an event we attended started a conversation with my husband who was wearing a baseball cap with the Mercedes logo on it. They started talking about cars when the man told him he worked for Mercedes. My husband said our family has enjoyed the brand for decades and showed him a photo our son took of his car with the signature. “Oh, nice to see how much he loves his car, why don’t you give me your address, I’ll send him something.” We thought a cool Merc key chain or pen would be a nice surprise for our son especially after all his hard work. 

Time passed and life continued its routine. Then about a month later, a large cardboard envelope arrived in the mailbox. We all nearly fell over! A letter & photo of Thomas Hofinger saying he was “honored and stoked” to see his name on the hood of our son’s beautiful AMG!! It was just so cool!! And so unexpected!! It made the car come to life even more. “Let her roar and soar!”

In my story, “Encourage & They Will Excel” (click: Excel), I explain my husband’s & my belief in not “pushing” our children, but rather encouraging them with an array of opportunities & unconditional support. When our son, an Operations Director at a national company headquartered in NY, said he wanted to start a photography business, we were excited for him. He invested in a great camera, lenses, Flickr, and we supplied accessories, tripod, URL, etc. 

He has a passion for cars and wanted to center his photo art on that industry traveling weekends to car shows and enjoying time with his car buddies. Our son named his company Geared Photography – decidedly apropos. 

Fast forward a few years of hard work and his pics have been seen in lots of cool places including DriveTribe, the new website for The Grand Tour.

To see some more photos, click: Geared Photography. (Please note: A friend of our son’s is nicknamed Saucy – he’s a fellow photographer & car buff, too, and the 3 photos he took of our son are watermarked accordingly.)

 bright spot flowerThe Bright Spot – Watching your kids grow up doing what they love!

Our love for Mercedes runs deep ~ my father in his cherished Adenauer long ago. He’d be very proud of our son’s diligence. Miss you, Daddy.


The 1-Eyed Teddy Bear

Monday, May 2, 2016 by  

The point of this story need not identify of the owner of the 1-eyed teddy bear, but rather WHO this fellow is made all the difference in saving our son’s cuddly animals.

The man actually cannot be identified because he is a secret agent on a very significant level. He is close to our family and we all adore him but we keep conversation limited to family stuff, old friends, or school happenings. He signs his holiday envelopes as James Bond. It’s all very cool in a surreptitious kind of way, the “secret” in secret agent makes it sound so hush-hush, and the undercover missions we are never allowed to know about are wrapped in clandestine mystery. All very exciting, so what does this have to do with stuffed animals?  Proud of our son, strapping young man, England, Abercrombie & Fitch

Our eldest is a strapping 24-year-old dude with beer posters in his room and a steady girlfriend at the helm.

Siberian tiger, blue-eyed tiger, white tiger, little boy, stuffed animals, cuddly animals, The 1-Eyed Teddy BearRewind about 14 years and here was a kid with a ton of stuffed animals, some from babyhood, others won at the amusement park, many from the big glass box with the grabber handle thingie at the diner. An admirer of big cats, one of his favorite was a huge white tiger with sharp blue eyes.

For a long time, my husband felt our son needed to unload his cuddly animals. I’d protest seeing the quiet sadness in our child’s eyes. The subject came up at significant milestones, like award ceremonies, moving from elementary to middle school, etc. I understood my husband’s point of view: he wanted to make our son grow up, be a man, get tough. I understood my son’s point of view: at that time he was still an only child and he wasn’t ready.

Then one year we visited Washington, D.C. and James Bond invited us to stay in his homThe 1-Eyed Teddy Bear, Steiff, Steiff teddy bear, old bear, loved bear, teddy bear, James Bond, James Bond's bear, James Bond's teddy bear, teddy on the bed, revered bear, revered teddye. He was away, as usual, and he couldn’t say where he was, except that he would leave the key for us under the mat. Under the mat?!? He lives with all this enigmatic secrecy but leaves the house key under the mat!

It was very exciting to walk around his home. Medals, awards, Christmas cards from the presidents over the last 20 years, and as we walked upstairs to pick out our rooms for the night, there, in the middle of the master bedroom, sitting proudly atop the big bed, was a 1-eyed Steiff teddy bear with a worn nose, an untied yellow bow & fur so loved-off and cuddled, it was a treasure to behold.

It was also ammunition to ward off any more attempts to clear out stuffed animals from our son’s room. “If James Bond can keep his teddy bear, so can I!” 
Tiger, Siberian tiger, blue-eyed tiger, students, enrichment program, enrichment school program, teacher with students, teacher and students and tiger, centerpiece of classroom, buddy for reading
So that was that. More than a decade’s passed and on his own, our son has donated his stuffed animals along the way – but that’s the important part of this story – it was on his terms, his timing and his choice of where they went. The huge white tiger is now the centerpiece & reading buddy in a fantastic enrichment school.Toys, princess dresses, dresses, playroom, play room, donation, giving (4)
I never take anything from my children without asking them. Together we donate what they choose to give up when they choose to. It teaches them to let go, to give to others and to stay organized. (Little One sorting>>)

Toys, princess dresses, dresses, playroom, play room, donation, giving (2)There is a marvelous organization called YoungLives which helps teenage mothers. Every 3rd Wednesday, the young mothers meet at a church in Norwalk, CT to learn about God and their children, plus, they can choose items they need that people have donated.

When our daughter was ready to donate her toys or princess dresses, etc., we would bring them to the church and she would see firsthand the children light up with joy as they pickedBarbies, mermaids, singers, butterfly fairies, butterfly fairy, Barbie mermaid out what they would like. She saw a little     2-year-old boy dive into her Elmo chair exclaiming, “That’s mine, I love this chair!” And little girls picking out sparkly dresses. Or Barbies. Or unicorns.Toys, princess dresses, dresses, playroom, play room, donation, giving (1)

The children were happy and it made our child well up with joy to see the kids’ faces light up while new life was instantly breathed into her cherished pieces. It deeply linked giving to pleasure. You can check out organizations in your area like YoungLives, Birthright, Hopeline or any organization that benefits a cause you believe in. We’ve also donated her crib, baby furniture and Pack-n-Plays.

Child donating stuffed animals, child donating toys, Africa, orphans, FedEx, FedEx box for donation, kindness, thoughtfulness, readiness of a child, giving

Our daughter has given up lots of her cuddly animals, even packing & sending many huge boxes to Africa.

The Bright SpotTM bright spot flower – The exciting thing about the missionary we shipped her stuffed animals toOrphans, stuffed animals, given with love, children snuggling new animals, Africa, love, swells our hearts is that they sent back photos of orphan children cuddling her animals! A fine day, indeed. Again, on our children’s terms while reinforcing a life skill of giving as a pleasure.