25 meters

Jun 25

Ahhh, summer. Maren is having her first experience with being on a swim team.  She had her first “race” this week.  As she in the youngest class of swimmers, there are older swimmers in the water to help her (them) along if necessary.  The man sounds the horn, and all the 6-and-unders line up.  None of them are brave enough to get up on the starting blocks, and they all look simply adorable in their mini team suits and their goggles.  Maren jumped in from the side of the pool (next to the block), and swam her very best free-style (with a fair amount of doggie paddle) down the length of the pool.  When she finished, she climbed out, received a lollipop and a rainbow participation ribbon for her efforts.  I greeted her at the end of the lane ready to congratulate her on her first 25 meter swim.  She spots me, and rushes over as she clutches her candy and ribbon.  As she reaches me, she immediately bursts into tears. “Mom!” she said through her sobs, “That was so HARD.  I didn’t fink I was going to finish it.” “Maren, you did it, I’m so proud of you.  That was awesome.  You were awesome.” She looked at me through her tears; she was choking on her emotion.  “But it was so hard.” I’ll never forget that face; she was so indignant that it has been so taxing.  It wasn’t exactly fun in the way that she is used to having fun.  I grinned at her, squeezed her tight, and said, “But you did it, sweet girl.  You. Did. It.” Ten minutes later, she was all smiles and showing off her ribbon.  She’s still unsure about whether she liked it, but she is, most definitely, proud of herself.  And that is a Mommy Moment that keeps bringing tears to my eyes when I think about it. I was an athlete and I remember that vivid point-of-exhaustion that Maren hit on Tuesday night.   Lips are blue, legs are shakey, heart is bursting, lungs are burning.  Maren is right, that feeling does make some part of me want to burst into tears.  But, once the shakiness passes, in comes that...

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These days are happy days

Jun 12

These days are happy days

As I tumble through these first weeks of summer, I have so many thoughts, and I don’t even know where to begin. It is fantastic to have Maren around all day, every day.  I realize how much I’ve missed her during those short 2.5 hour days of kindergarten.  Yesterday while I folded laundry, she made a fairy house out of a shoebox.  She made her own 3D furniture out of paper, she cut holes for windows (and breathing), and it was all her own idea.  I love this kid.  She comes up with ideas like this daily. Greta has moved into a new stage; she has developed her imagination, her communication, and her creativity.  It is awesomeness that Brad and I would like to bottle.  I love this little girl.  She’s obsessed with the purses and the small bottles of hand sanitizer.  She trots around with her purse and asks anyone who she deems worthy, “Woodju wike some hansanasizwer?”  She is so fun, and funny, at the same time. Brad had a lot of vacation the past two weeks, and now that he is back at work this week I miss him.  The girls and I have our rhythm and routines during the day, but everything comes together when Brad is with us.  I love my family. This summer I am breathing in God and all He has given me.  Brad and I are filling the calendar with all the fun things we have planned for this season.  I’m noticing Maren’s new freckles, and that I need to just sit and just snuggle with her every day.  It’s her love language.  When I put Greta in her crib for naptime and bedtime, she gives me a big hug and says, “I wud you Mommy.”  Then she waits for me to say, “I love you, too Greta.  See you after you sleep,” before she lays down to go to sleep.  Melts my heart. These days are happy days.  I. Love. My. Life. The quiet reminders of just what I have overcome are always close at hand.  I have the scars and the memories and the t-shirts that are the talismans of my cancer journey and they illuminate the blessings in...

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May Chaos

May 30

People.  Did you know that when your child(ren) hit school age, the month of May becomes a lot like the month of December?  Lots of awesome activities and celebratory occasions and picture-worthy events.  Sometimes, I think it should work like this:  “Maren, do you want to go to XYZ activity or do you want to eat dinner?  Because at the moment, I really do not feel capable of taking you to XYZ and also making dinner.  Choose ONE, honey.” Humbly, I only have one school-age kid, and she’s only at the school for 2.5 hours a day, so I’m not even entirely sure that counts.  Seriously, I put her on the bus, go to the gym and the grocery store with my two-year-old, and then go right back to the bus stop to pick her up.  Her teacher, given the amount of knowledge that Maren has acquired during those 2.5 hours per day this year, probably makes dinner and takes all three of her kids to XYZ, and ABC, and LMNOP with no problem-o.  (Her teacher is amazing, and Maren had a sensational year of school.) Am I the only mom out there who did not know about the May Chaos?  It’s not to be confused the December Chaos (obviously, it’s not cold out). I am choosing to love the moments amidst the chaos. Greta has two band-aids perpetually on her knees.  She loves (LOVES) her shoes, and she is constantly changing pairs, taking them off and on, and, of course, doing it all i.n.d.e.p.e.n.d.e.n.t.l.y.  She often puts them on the wrong feet which leads to an increased number of “crashes” as we call them, or “cwashes” as Greta calls them.  I’ve found that she cries less over the skinned knee than she does over the injustice of Mama fixing her shoes to prevent the “cwash.”  So, I bought more band-aids and she does what she wants with her shoes.  She is highly adorable and she will tell you all about her injuries.  Often, she says, “Oh, man!” or “Bummer!” or “Holy moly!” when lamenting over her wounds.  She’s awesome.  She still gives strangers the cold stare, but she is super chatty if you catch her in the right...

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The Lost Lost Tooth

May 22

Maren lost her first tooth last week.  Then, she lost her first tooth.  Let me explain. Maren has had a wobbly bottom tooth for several weeks; we predicted it would be out before the end of school.  Last week, as she came in to say goodnight to me, I said, “Maren!  When did you lose your tooth?” In perfect teenager-speak, she said, “Mom, I didn’t lose it, it’s right here.”  She’s pointing at the hole in her mouth where the tooth used to be. “Um, Maren, your tooth is not there.  You lost it.  Where do you think it might be?” She runs over to the mirror and sees for herself that she is, in fact, toothless.  She immediately starts looking at the floor around her feet.  She drops to her hands and knees and begins crawling back down the hallway. “Hey, Maren… didn’t you just brush your teeth?” “Yes,” she says, still crawling on the floor. “Do you think maybe it fell out while you were brushing?” She stands up and looks at me and says, “Well, there was actually something hard in my mouth that I spit out because I didn’t know what it was.” It’s all I can do to not burst out laughing at this point.  The kid feels something hard in her mouth, spits it out, and doesn’t even investigate what it might be? We go together to the bathroom and look at the sink.  “Well, Maren, I have some good news and some bad news.  The bad news is that I think your tooth went down the drain.  The good news is that I know just what to do.  Did you know that the Tooth Fairy accepts notes of explanation?” When I was a little lass, I lost a tooth.  I put the tooth into my tooth pillow underneath my big pillow and went to sleep.  In the morning, I excitedly checked my tooth pillow and found… my tooth.  The Tooth Fairy must have had a busy night, or so said my mom.  The next night, we repeated the same thing, and the next morning… still the tooth.  My mom said the Tooth Fairy must be really extra super busy, and perhaps we...

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Reconstruction

May 21

For the 6% of you who are hoping I’m going to discuss post-Civil War politics in the U.S., you are going to be sorely disappointed. I’m talking reconstruction, as in breast reconstruction. Let me first clear up the misconception that reconstruction after breast cancer equals a boob job.  No, people–not the same.  There are lots of reasons it’s different.  Consider building your dream home; you have to work within the lot you own, but you can do what you want with the house–that’s a breast augmentation, or boob job.  Next consider restoring a building after a fire, but you can’t use any traditional materials and you have to keep the original floor plan–that’s breast reconstruction.  The former is ideally designed, the latter is patched together.  Comparing the two is really not fair.  Each are beautiful in their own right. I am a candidate for reconstruction, wherein a plastic surgeon would create new breasts for me.  I haven’t yet met with a plastic surgeon to discuss what type of reconstruction is best for me.  There are several different types of reconstruction: implants or donor site tissue (back, belly, butt or thigh); often a combination of these is recommended.  There are also lots of physical factors for the surgeon to consider: body shape, donor site tissue viability, body fat percentage, radiation burns, surgical scarring, and skin tightness/thickening.  If and when I meet with a plastic surgeon (or two), I expect I will get a very specific recommendation about what type of reconstruction would be best for me given all of the aforementioned factors.  Also, different surgeons use different techniques, so that element comes into play also. Why haven’t I done reconstruction yet?  Well, I had to have a bi-lateral mastectomy to cut the cancer out (August 2012).  After that, I had to have radiation therapy to nuke the cancer site (September-November 2012).  Radiation continues to impact the skin and tissue for six months after treatment, so this month (May 2013) is the first month that I could potentially be eligible for reconstructive surgery.  Some breast cancer patients are eager to get on with it: they want their “new breasts” and it is important to them.  Other breast cancer patients are more...

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