Our not-so-normal normal summer days

Jul 18

Our not-so-normal normal summer days

A few days ago I decided to bring the girls with me to chemo this week.  It is such a regular part of my routine: weekly for the vast majority of the last sixty-three months.  Both of my beautiful girls have been there many times before but usually for pop-in visits, blood draws, shots, or some other shortish appointment.  Little children in the hallowed ground of the Chemo Room is always a wonderful thing for the atmosphere.  They are so beloved!  This is the first time in a year either of them has come for a full treatment, and I’m glad for them to share the experience with me. Before we left I told both girls to look nice, which in our house is not a super high standard of dress code, but dress codes are also rare.  I asked them to pack a bag of things that could keep them quietly occupied while we were there.  I instructed them to talk to my friends and look them in the eye, and, you know, demonstrate some basic level of polite conversation and manners.  Please, Lord!  And I told them they could each have one (and only one) snack from the plentiful snack offerings while we were there. Greta, adorably, tucked in her shirt to her skirt and requested a fancy braid for today’s outing.  She also accessorized with jewelry and requested “sparkles on her eyes”, wherein I dab some of my gold shimmer powder from my makeup on her eyelids on rare special occasions.  In her bag she packed Blue Baby (don’t ask about our doll names, LOL) and a myriad of things to keep Blue Baby entertained.  She also packed her audiobook PlayAway that we got from the library on Saturday.  Basically they are single book MP3 players; they require a single AAA battery and headphones and you use the little buttons on the pack of gum-sized device to listen to a story.  I got her one that has three Louis Sachar books, including Sideways Stories from Wayside School (nine hours of content).  She is LOVING it, and has spent several hours each of the last three days listening to it.  A major non-screen win, and great for her auditory processing.  I listen...

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The mattering kind

Jul 03

Today my house reverberates with the sounds of children at play.  This is summer. My two are ten and six, but the thundering stampede of feet in and out and up and down reveal that there is a full herd of small people thumping around our property today.  The faces change as they finish swim practice and dance camp and leave for baseball and cookouts.  I love the impromptu doorbell rings and back door knocks, and that when I look up out my kitchen window there is a full volleyball game going on with all the neighborhood kids.  I bring them popsicles because this is summer. They made their own breakfast this morning, which is not new; they have long been capable in that arena.  (Hunger is a great motivator.)  However, the novelty that they also now clean up their own breakfast has not worn off. I measure my energy and intent for the day and put my Fun Mom hat on.  My lists were checked off in the days prior (thanks to helpful friends), so I’m primed for this. I help Greta and her friends get out all of the art supplies they want and smile to myself as I listen to them chatter.  And where is even one of the twenty pairs of scissors we own?  And they find the box of beads from the basement.  And they raid the recycle bin.  And why are we out of aluminum foil? I ask Maren and her friends if they want to plan lunch and dessert: find a recipe, get dropped off that the store to shop for ingredients, prepare it, and clean up.  Their faces beam with enthusiasm, and I give them snippets of advice about recipe-choosing (add “easy” to the search bar) and leave them to it. I sit down, and note again that we’re in a new stage.  Because, I’m sitting.  I’m not trying to keep a toddler from painting the walls, I’m not talking to anyone about the potty, and no one puts non-food items in their mouths.  Pinch me.  The ten-year-olds make a grocery list, take inventory of the pantry, and run it by me with a swell of responsibility and pride.  The six-year-olds have taken their craft...

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Race Day

Jun 19

Last year a friend did a triathlon, and it inspired much talk of triathlons and general life fitness talk.  Brad was intrigued (as was I!), and so for Christmas, I ‘gave Brad a triathlon’.  By that I mean I signed him up for a local triathlon that was taking place on Father’s Day, and gave him the time and permission to begin the significant training process that it takes to build endurance in three disciplines.  I organized logistics, created space for training, opened up my heart for the commitment, and bit back my own selfish jealously as he tackled the challenge.  I have been so proud of him during this season: he’s a stud.  He has worked so extremely hard and been so disciplined in his perseverance: such an awesome thing to witness.  A new definition for triathlete you may not have heard: an athlete who doesn’t realize one sport is hard enough! Much of the winter and spring has seen Brad stealing out of the house before sunrise to swim, bike, or run.  It’s been inspiring to watch him learn to swim laps for the first time in his life, to translate his CrossFit fitness gains of the past several years into racing fitness, and to combine workouts in ways he never imagined.  He has become enamored with cycling, and I’ve prayed more safety-on-the-road prayers over that bike than I can count. I decided that we should cheer on Brad at a level that compared to the epic cheer squad he coordinated for the 2015 Queen Bee half-marathon that I ran.  I sourced some amazing signs from a friend-of-a-friend and they were epic.  (Thank you!) You’ve got this! Run the race with perseverance! Swim! Bike! Run!  Beer! Inspire and be inspired; it’s race day! Do one thing every day that scares you.  CHECK! My daddy is my hero! We agreed that the spectators would wear red and white in honor of the alma maters’ of our competitors (U of Wisconsin and Miami U).  Chief Sister took my minions out for cheer gear the weekend before.  I had a tank top made that read “my husband rocks”.  Obviously, Brad and I take our encouragement game to high heights on occasions...

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Hamster wheel

Jun 12

When my parents dropped my middle sister and I off at summer camp for a week in the ’80s, she had to buy my baby sister a hamster as a consolation prize. We must have been pretty awesome to be around if Baby Sister got a pet as compensation for missing us.  Ha!  (Actually, the truth is my middle sister is the nicest ever.  I, however, was pretty mean to my siblings.  To their credit, they have (mostly) forgiven me.) Yesterday we dropped Maren off at week-long summer camp, and Brad, Greta and I all wanted to stay there with her because it looked so fun.  It’s what I like to think of as old-fashioned summer camp: zip lines, horses, water slides, the camp blob (google it if you don’t know what that is), no technology allowed, a dining hall, campfire every night, and making friendship bracelets.  Camping runs deep in our hearts.  My grandfather was a camp counselor in his youth, some of my aunts and uncles still go camping for as many of their vacation days as they can muster together, and my generation maintains the strong ‘live outdoors’ genes of our people.  We thrive on adventure.    Maren is having an awesome time as I type, and we are having extra one-on-one fun with the G-meister at home.  Also, to be clear, Greta is absolutely not getting a hamster.  Or any pet at all.  Don’t get any ideas people. Continuing to work backwards, on Saturday Brad and I took advantage of the girls spending the day with my sister.  He and I cleaned the garage together, an epic feat.  Kind of like the villain in Harry Potter (He Who Cannot Be Named), our garage has been in a state of chaos for literally years (The Problem Area of our house).  We hauled out All The Things, we hosed down the garage, we took many, many things to the curb postitioned next to a large “FREE” sign, and we put the essentials back in.  I even took down and washed the blinds on the windows.  Brad even did the dry-wall repairs necessitated by Flood #3 from a few years ago.  He’s awesome.  ‘Twas a good, big project to swipe...

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39:59

May 16

I really have been bothered by missing my 5k-in-40-minutes goal from my last run.  Those seven seconds have been chomping at me. So, in a fit of braun-over-brain this morning, I decided to go for another neighborhood 5k run late morning today.  Not that there is every really a *good* time for me to do it, this was certainly not optimal.  Less than 24 hours after chemo.  I had to take a nausea pill before I left, so I clearly wasn’t feeling good.  It was hot.  In the plus column, I had my normal smoothie breakfast, which is probably a decent pre-exercise meal. Sidenote worth sharing: I’ve had good success with prepping freezer baggies of smoothies in quantities of 8-12 and storing them in the freezer.  Basic recipe I’ve been using (with some variation): 1/2 cup of berries, 1 banana, handful kale, handful spinach, tablespoon chia/flax seed, pinch broccoli sprouts.  Each morning, I just put 2 cups of water in the blender, dump in the baggie, blend, and go.  It feels a lot more efficient than making them one by one, and it’s filling enough to be a meal for me. I ran.  I gritted it out with consistent pacing to finish in 39:59.  I barely made it, and therefore I’m so relieved I did.  It was HARD, people, so I’m damn proud of it.  However, here’s to hoping I’m able to make some gains in the fitness arena so that I feel more like an athlete and less like a cancer patient.  More muscle, less breathlessness.  I’m both, but I’d really like to wear one identity over the other, you know? So, I’m praying for fitness health, cancer health, lifestyle health, relationship health.  All the things, right? These last two runs have reminded me of that gritty, tough girl I was in my youth.  There wasn’t a challenge I wasn’t up for and working hard physically was my style.  I like that...

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