School schmool

Aug 25

School schmool

My favorite first-day-of-school picture is a little, erm, non-traditional. We did the whole front porch photo thing, but really Greta and I were just so very sad as we watched the yellow bus drive away.  Greta was wailing that she wanted her sissy, and I was nostalgic about so many things I don’t even have the words. I vividly remember watching Maren and Greta playing in their nightgowns in the basement until lunchtime on the first day of summer.  They were so smitten with each other, with free time, with play, with whimsy.  I was so smitten with the whole darn scene.  Perfection, I thought.  We filled the summer with what I remember as my own childhood icons: puppet shows, Uno, swim team practice, blanket forts, Lego cities and popsicles. School brings good things: hustle, bustle, structure, new friends, organization, crisp new things, growth, challenge.  It’s all good.  Maren and Greta love school; I loved school.  It’s all good. There’s still just that ache as my baby steps away: she’s growing.  She’s off.  She’s on her own.  I’m so proud of who she is. But there’s also the big-I-missed-you-hugs at the end of the not-really-that-long day.  Those hugs are some of my favorite hugs. On the very first day of school, Brad had a brilliant idea: “Let’s go to our local amusement park when Maren gets home.” So we did.  Homework, schmomework.   We whooped and we hollered and we threw our arms in the air.  Well, I did.  Apparently Maren hung on for dear life. Greta has grown enough that she, too, is now tall enough for her very first roller coaster ride.  It’s called The Beastie in our house because that’s what it was when I was a little girl and why do they feel the need to re-name the rides?  Greta loved it.  So much so that when we finished she cried, “Again, again!” and so we did because there were no crowds.  Can you see how proud she is that she’s big enough?   And later the girls rode the Whip It’s.  It’s my favorite ride to watch them on because when they whip around the corners they giggle in that out-of-control hysterical kind-of-way.  Little...

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LIVING

Aug 19

LIVING

Last week we were on vacation. It was a vacation gifted to us.  The cycle of love was pretty epic actually. The cycle started with a pretty awesome person named Karen Wellington.  She was diagnosed with Stage IV breast cancer when her children were littles.  She was a favorite patient of Dr. Wonderful’s for ten years.  From everything that Dr. Wonderful, her widower, and her son have told me about her, I know this for sure: Karen and I would have been friends had we been able to meet.  She did her days well and she lived a vivacious and full life.  Her husband told me about how, while sitting in Dr. Wonderful’s office, she took a fresh-off-the-presses lab report and balled it up and tossed it in the trash can, and then asked Dr. Wonderful a non-cancer-related question.  She focused on the LIVING, hence her memorial foundation’s name.  Karen was my kind of girl.  I aspire to live as well as Karen did. My mom the Rozzinator and I were both nominated as recipient through the Karen Wellington Memorial Foundation for LIVING with Breast Cancer.  A friend from elementary school nominated me, and a co-worker nominated mom.  Love comes from the most unexpected places sometimes. The Karen Wellington Foundation for LIVING with Breast Cancer was established in 2007 in the memory of Karen Wellington. Karen inspired so many people in the way that she continued to live her life during her ten year battle with breast cancer.  Even after her diagnosis at age 30, Karen continued to live her life to the fullest every day. To carry on her legacy, the Foundation honors women and families LIVING with breast cancer by sending them on vacations, relaxing spa days with a friend, lunch or nights out on the town.  We know there is a cure out there somewhere, but in the meantime, the Foundation gives women something fun to look forward to, often amid a calendar filled with doctor appointments, chemo treatments and surgeries. The Foundation reminds everyone how important it is to take time to really appreciate LIVING. –www.karenwellingtonfoundation.org The spectacular folks over at the KWF connected the dots and contacted us asking whether the Anderson family and the Mathie parents would...

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VIP

Aug 04

VIP

    It was a great day in the oncology office, as usual.  I’m still being high-fived by the staff for my excellent June results: echocardiogram, tumor markers, cell search and blood panel all looking stellar is cause for big celebration and oncology folk celebrate whenever possible.  I love good results and I’m grateful that my summer medical complication is isolated to my toe.  I can handle that, people.  I can handle that. There was happy chatter and banter in the Chemo Room again.  My nurse began teasing me when I got up for my second(?), third(?) warm blanket–telling me that only one blanket is allowed.  I shot back: “Nope, don’t forget: I’m VIP around here!”  Everyone laughed at the ridiculousness of the statement.  The room, the nurses, the patients, these are my people.  I call it my hallowed ground.  I’ll be bringing my girls in with me on Friday while I get my shots.  I love sharing my hallowed ground with my daughters, too. Another newbie was in her chair, getting her first chemo treatment.  We gave her the spiel about helpful things: wigs–or lack thereof, head-shaving, nausea remedy, and general, “You’ve got this!” talk.  She blinked in surprise that she didn’t get much of her book read.  She probably won’t bother bringing a book by her third or fourth treatment.  We talk each other through treatment and never run out of things to say.  We laugh, we joke, we catch up.  It’s like real life book club: we are the characters. As I drove away from my appointment, I mulled over what to do with the evening.  Once again I chucked the responsibilities list.  After I picked up cheerful girls from Phenom’s house, I said, “Who wants to go to the pool?”  Right there I created my own little fan club, two littles jumping and cheering like mad.  Just like that, I’m VIP for the second time in one day. Whilst they changed into swimsuits and packed up pool toys, I made some pool dinners and packed a cooler.  We ended up staying for hours… right through sunset.  They were so cheerful and happy as they played with each other, with me, with their friends.  They invented...

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Focus

Aug 01

Focus

        A project I’ve been working on for a while is my word wall in my little office space. As a writer — one of the new ways I choose to describe myself — I love words.  I think words can have a lot of power and I wanted to surround myself with words that matter to me and to my family. I’m not very good with home decor projects or crafting in general.  I’m really good at ideas, and shopping for supplies, but I’m always a little bit (or sometimes a lot) disappointed at the final project.  I really, really wanted to love my word wall, so I’ve let it sit and sit and sit and thought and thought and thought about how I wanted it to look and function.  I was afraid of it looking cluttered and junky, afraid of it being too matchy, and afraid of it not being matchy enough.  I decided to go with the picture ledges on the biggest wall so that the design can be fluid and change with time/season/whimsy. I’ve had art leaning in various corners of the room for an embarrassing number of months.  Seventy percent of what’s in the room was gifted to me–something that gives me great joy.  It’s framed love.  Another twenty percent are pieces that I’ve owned since pre-cancer but they worked their way into the room, so this really was not an expensive endeavor.  It was more of a mining for treasure project.  My favorite part of the planning was an impromptu art evaluation with Maren when she and I were cleaning her room one day.  We took down all of the art in her room: every hang-able thing that she’s accumulated over 7 years.  Most of it was chosen by me, but as she gets older, she creates and brings in her own pieces that matter to her: birthday party canvases, hand painted things, school projects, even a street vendor piece from our NYC trip that she wanted for her room.  We laid out everything on her floor… it covered nearly all of it, and she took everything she didn’t want–nearly half– into the hallway.  I was relieved that everything that...

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