Monday, October 7, 2019

I am a lousy patient!

Or perhaps I should have titled this the "impatient patient."  I am patient about a lot of things.  Traffic. Children. Relationship issues.  Taking time to heal?  Not so much. Last Thursday I had some surgery for removal of basal cell skin cancer. it was between my nose and eye.  I had it (ahem) about a year before I decided it was not eczema, or dry skin and yes, I probably should check it out.  A biopsy indicated that it was cancerous, but it was the "good" kind that moves very slowly.  The Dr assured me that i could even wait another 6 months for surgery if i wished to.  Instead, I opted for this October appointment, figuring that it gave me 4 days to recover and that i would be back at work on Monday.

As I lay there listening to him stitch me up (for the record that is the grossest sound I have ever heard!) he proceeded to tell me he wanted me to pretend I had the flu. . . for the next week.  His little vision was me lying abed watching TV.  For.A.Week.  I said that even when I have the flu I don't have the luxury of lying abed for a week. I have 4 kids at home with a variety of needs. I have a job. I actually have 2 jobs as I do piece work at home.  He was not amused.

I said I could compromise with 2 full days of rest Thursday and Friday (in part asI all ready went into this experience with a migraine and trust me the surgery didn't help that any) I would rest till 5 p.m. on Saturday but then was going to a birthday party with the kids at a dear friends house who I was not going to disappoint. And Sunday I could rest about 1/2 the day.

Angry surgeon scowl, but he finally agreed that since I sit behind a desk I probably was not going to die if I went back to work today.  I also promised not to do the grocery shopping as i am not supposed to lift anything heavy, and that I would empty the dishwasher by kneeling or squatting since I am not supposed to bend over.

So that is what I have done. I have an impressive black eye and  band aids galore covering the 3 inch incision but really, I am good.  Thursday the external stitches come out and then I probably can ditch the band aids.  Right now I tell people I am trying out different looks for Halloween!

I realize that not wanting to lie there is likely a problem with my personality.  But i have never been a lay around kind of gal.  I wasn't raised that way and I think it is way too late in life for me to learn that dubious skill.  As an example of my lack of lay-around ability, we are headed to Florida in November for 2 weeks.  My friend and I have planned a trip every day except for Thanksgiving. And that day we are hosting Thanksgiving for our 2 families and another family we know who will also be vacationing down there.  Doesn't everyone think dinner for 24 people sounds like fun?

And I won't forget to pack the sunscreen!

Friday, September 27, 2019

Cancer and Rocks

My SIL is fighting breast cancer. In some ways she has a good prognosis.  It is stage 1 and it was allegedly discovered very early.  That does not make it less frightening.  Especially since because the cancer is not estrogen based she still needs chemo and then radiation. And she had to have surgery to remove the tumor. And surgery to insert a port. Due to preexisting conditions, this fight is harder on her body than even it would have been without it. Emotionally it is hard as well because the diagnosis came when she was the same age as my MIL who did not win her battle with cancer. In our heads we know that this is a different fight.  The situations are not the same.  But it does not always feel different.  This convergance of emotional pain has also made my wife a bit distant and less able to be present for her sister. 

I have been trying to support my SIL as best I can.  We text back and forth a lot.  I send her silly bitmojis. I mobilized the kids to send cards periodically.  Then she called me and told me about a healing garden at the cancer center.  There is a large shallow bowl filled with rocks that have been painted with pretty designs and empowering words or quotes.  She wanted to take one from the bowl but found out that you were supposed to make one and replace it with one of your own.

My SIL is not crafty and she asked if she could take one and just bring it back when she beats this thing.  Of course they said yes.  As she was telling me the story she said that she felt bad doing that and that it was hard to choose the one she wanted as there were two that really spoke to her.  I said how about if I made her two rocks and she could replace those in the healing bowl and then she would get her two favorites. 

She loved the idea and texted me what she wanted on the rocks.  At our campout with church we were at the ocean.  The ocean always speaks to me of strength and healing and change.  This beach always has lovely rocks so the kids and I found 6 rocks so she could choose the ones she liked best.

I came home, worked on her two rocks and texted her the pictures. She loved them so much she wanted to keep them.  So thankfully I could do another two rocks!  Tomorrow these will get mailed to her and she should get them early next week.  I may be the fist person who mails rocks!  LOL

It is  a small thing but our lives are made up of many small things.  If this small thing brings someone a smile or comfort for even a moment I will be so grateful.

Sunday, September 15, 2019

First and Last Campout 2019

We left home to clear skies and lovely crisp temperatures on Friday.  This was a much anticipated camp out. Partly because in a strange confluence of events it was our ONLY camp out this year.  Partly because this camp out at a retreat center in Maine with friends from our church and a neighboring church is an important launch to the Religious Education year for my kids.

Chet had a hard time on the trip up.  He was more frenetic than is typical and Rob was unable to come with us.  That may have played a role in Chet's behavior because whenever you deviate from the expected routine, his behavior decompensates.

 Also, the retreat center has instituted some new policies.  Some of those meant that Chet could not assist as a "porter" carrying people's bags to their rooms and showing them the room locations.  However, I had prepared for this and reminded him over the past three weeks about how this had changed.  It was now a staff job etc.  So during the time he would typically help others, he and I played a variety of card games on the porch of the dining hall and watched the moon rise over the waters.

Thankfully we also took a long beach walk as a family as the weather was lovely on Friday.  (note foreshadowing for Saturday's weather!  LOL) We also looked for small to medium sized rocks oval and smoothed by the ocean.  My SIL is fighting breast cancer and she recently spoke with me about healing rocks at the center.  They are painted with images and sayings that make the visitors to the center feel loved and strong.  She had taken two and knew she had to replace them, as that is their policy. She does not do crafts and had offered to bring back her two rocks when she no longer needs them.  I offered to paint two rocks for her and she has chosen what they are to say.  I hope the goddess guides my hands as I am not the most clever of painters and this is important to me. 

We found a variety of rocks that we screen shot to her so she could choose the ones she likes.  We also wrote her a message in the sand and sent that to her.  Her prognosis is good but the road to health is going to be long and challenging.  Despite hearing "stage 1" it is still scary.  And due to family history and aspects of her cancer, she still has to have chemo and radiation.  She shaved her hair this Saturday and sent me pictures. We texted while I was at the camp out.  I hope it helped  and that she could feel my love and support even though I could not be with her that day.

Friday night was cold.  We definitely felt the icy fingers of Lady Autumn as we lay in our tents.  It was 45 degrees when we woke in the morning.  Thankfully I am a bit of a veteran to this camping gig and had packed well and warmly.  The kids had argued bitterly with me back at home when I was gathering warm things. I think on Saturday they realized that Ooma might still know a thing or two as we were more than prepared!  (laughing again)

The whole of Saturday was cold and rainy off and on.  There was a bit of beach walking and lots of game playing and talking.  You know, I could choose to be angry that my only camp out had cold temps or I could find happiness in time to read, and talk with friends and play games.  I chose the latter as did the kids.  Chet had lots of kids who wanted to play Magic the Gathering with him so he was set literally for the day.

Saturday night was the talent show and bonfire with singing and more conversation.  It was late when we got to bed but I woke early as usual and joined friends on the beach for a short yoga session.  My yoga has improved over the years.  My balance is still less than what i wish it was, but it is better than a year ago.  My new class, while not necessarily feeling like it physically challenges me, has taught me more flow of poses and a sense of searching for quiet inside myself.

Of course today, in the capricious way of things, the weather was warm sunny clear and lovely.  However we had also learned that KC's close friend just lost her dad very unexpectedly.  (car accident)  He was trying to support her long distance and feeling somewhat emotionally worn himself.  Rather than prolong our day, we broke camp and headed home.  I was missing my wife, and i also knew I had 8 loads of camping wash to do, the tent to set up again and dry when we got home etc.

And so, the rest of the day has been spent cleaning the equipment so it is ready for next year, doing laundry so the work week can start smoothly, and remembering the sound of the ocean when I lay in our tent these past two nights.  I will miss that perhaps the most I think.

It was the kind of camp out that left me feeling very connected to my network of church friends, and also very aware of the fact that fall is truly here.  I watched red leaves skitter across the sand as I walked the beach.  I saw brilliantly scarlet sumac and gorgeous golden rod.  There was no denying the wheel has turned!

Friday, September 13, 2019

Hello Fall!

And just like that--summer was gone.  The air is crisp and cold tonight as I write this.  The moon rides high and full in the sky.  Part of me is still mourning the passing of summer. It will always be my favorite time of the year.  The warmth, the long hours of day light, the bird song are all special to me. I have saved up the memories to pull out and smile over during the cold days of winter.

But for now, like the grasshopper, we are busy!  Fall is fun too because there is just so much going on. I love being busy and I love that we like to do lots of things in the fall.  This weekend we are camping with our church in southern Maine.  It is a special time where the kids reconnect with friends and the adults gather and socialize.  The food is good, the company is fantastic and there are miles of beach to walk and enjoy.  There is yoga on the beach in the morning and I may even do that this year.  My yoga abilities while not stellar are a lot better than they used to be.  I would at least not embarrass myself. We leave tomorrow around noon and will return on Sunday.

Church begins the following week, although Elisabeth's coming of age class has all ready launched.  Rather literally actually as the first event was a canoe trip.  This will be an exciting and transforming year for her.  I can't wait to see how it unfolds for her. I have been lucky that all my kids have had this experience and it has without a doubt changed each of them profoundly.

Our city fall festival is coming up and the kids spend the day there helping the table that the dance school has and dancing at the festival.  This is another fall highlight for both kids. They love to be ambassadors for the dance school and to have the day down town with their friends.

Things have changed this summer.  It wasn't just the plants growing profusely in our gardens. or the rooms of the house during the seemingly endless house renovations.  Our kids have grown and changed as well.  Both KC and Elisabeth are increasingly independent.  They are adept at making plans and getting details so things will happen.(although ironically, Elisabeth excels at this a bit more than her brother.)

We are no longer the centers of their worlds.  As I told someone the other day, I am no longer the center of their universe, I have moved to one of the middle planets.  We are loved, and I know that, but as it should, their focus is moving outward.  We are not the first person they tell things to sometimes, and the things that occupy their world are wider than decorating for fall.  But they are both amazing kids and I am so proud of them and so very lucky to be their mom.

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Yoga adjustments

I started going to yoga a couple winters ago with my friend.  She knew of a local hot yoga class.  It was a very cold winter and she said why not try it; I would at least be warm for an hour a week.  LOL  I did and I liked it.  The class was what was called Yoga Fit.

Anyone who knows me in real life knows that I am kind of  very competitive.  I love being pushed hard.  I love trying to beat a book time or my personal best when I hike.  I like to sweat.  So this yoga class was a good fit.  There was a lot of sweat. A lot of pushing.  A lot of core work.  And though my balance was awful my flexibility was awesome so I did well overall.  People were friendly and I kept going, long after my friend moved on to something different.

Life happens.  My yoga teacher's relationship ended. She decided to sell her house (where she had her studio) and bought a small condo. While she is actively looking for a new studio space, there have not been hot yoga classes this summer. 

Summer is also the time I usually take zumba classes at the dance school. But that teacher is on maternity leave so that was also not happening.  I do work out with an on line program but I am a social person.  I really look forward to these times for chatting and connecting with others. So I started looking around for classes.  None of the zumba classes fit the times I had available.  I still have to get kids to things even in the summer and my wife still works in the evenings, so there are specific date and time windows I can do something.  So I sadly crossed off zumba but found a yoga class literally down the street.  At a day and time that I could absolutely do.  Off I went.

Initially I was underwhelmed.  No one was friendly.  Seriously, NO ONE said hi when I walked in. They all kept talking and I had to wait 15 minutes before I could ask where to pay, introduce myself etc.  Not the greatest start.  And this was not a yoga fit class.  This was, what I sarcastically called "woo woo yoga" when I got home and told my wife about it that night.  It felt like everything was about breathing. 

Um, I know how to breathe. I've been doing it for 60 years.  I wanted to twist and bend and work my core til it trembled.  Instead we moved gently, stopped to breath.  Moved gently while we focussed on breathing.  Put our hand on our centers while we breathed. . . you get the picture I hope.  There was a song you were invited to sing at the beginning of class and the end of it. Except no one teaches it to you. 

But because there was no other class I could go to that fit my schedule, and because I am stubborn, I kept going.  I figured there is always something to get out of an experience and I was determined that this was going to happen. 

And it did.  Gradually over the course of the summer I have come to enjoy this class.  I still don't know the opening song (though I did learn the closing one) I have managed through my very persistant overly friendly nature, to get people to talk to me.  (I have no idea why that is so important to me but it is)

I have learned that being more gentle and focussing on breathing is not a bad thing.  While I don't have that burn I crave at the end of class, I usually do feel a lightness and a feeling I can not quite describe.  It has been worth it.  There is something to learn from every experience even when it is not the experience we thought we wanted.  My summer yoga sessions end next week because after that our fall schedule will make it impossible for me to come. But I am glad that I had this opportunity and I am glad I kept myself open to finding the worth within it.

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Garden glories

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The most intensely purple hydrangea!

Early in the spring our side yards are so sere and bare.  The land looks depleted and I despair of it looking nice.  Sure I know there are a billion hosta that will come up. But it is my wife who loves the hosta,   Me?  Not so much. I love color. I crave it like some people crave chocolate when they have PMS!  LOL  And the reality is that we have precious little time to really garden.  Weeding is at best hit or miss.  And a lot more miss than hit.  Yet somehow, this happens!  A riot of blooms. Color for weeks!  Stunning phlox, hydrangeas and sunflowers.  The echinecea plants had a spectacular year too.  Ferns made a verdant soft counterpoint to the color. Spirea bloomed with abandon.  I have a couple of rose plants and they did well.  My trumpet vine decided it was not dead after all and bloomed its heart out!

I am storing up all this colorful goodness. I know that we are on the ever darkening side of the wheel right now.  So I share these pictures and memories so that I will be able to look back in the depths of December and remember summer.
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A riotous display of phlox
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Sunflowers are one of my faves!

Monday, August 19, 2019

KC decorates!

KC has been working hard on the decor for his room.  It has honestly been a couple years now that he was mulling over color palettes and styles. Creating pinterest boards and wish lists on A*mazon.  He informed me that his room would have a feel of Broadway with his personality shining through.  he was right.   He chose a deep gray, nearly black, for the bottom half of the walls. This is actually old panelling.  The top 1/2 of the walls he chose an off white with a touch of creamy yellow. Actually maybe only a hint of yellow.  It is not a combination I would have chosen because I like really intense colors, but it is really stunning.  He has a two windows and an open doorway which have burgundy black out curtains. 

So the wall repairs have been done. The ceiling repairs done. The paint applied.  And KC has begun to purchase the items that will help make the space most truly his.  He chose some floating shelves and this engendered a great deal of conversation.  Our upper walls are all lathe and plaster so floating shelves don't have tons of support despite using mollys or toggle bolts.  However he was clear that nothing heavy would be on the shelves so we put them up.  I did not know exactly what he wanted to display.  KC is my guy who has always saved momentos from all manner of things.  Here is one shelf;No photo description available.
I asked him about the shelves.  He told me a story about them.  One is a tiny Wiggles car that was on his birthday cake for his wiggles birthday party.  I think he might have been 4 that year.  He has one of his Robeez baby shoes, his favorite bath toy from when he was tiny (a frog that squirted water) and his grandfather's compass.  In KC's words, it shows his progression from infancy to guiding him into his future.  Sheesh.  I didn't think about thinkgs like that for my room when I was 15 I assure you!

I don't have a picture yet of his second floating shelf but he devoted that one to his Coming of Age experience and church and his Youth Group experiences.  It too looks amazing.

Theater is a big part of his life.  He loves musical theater and while he has not starred in any yet, i expect at some point he may explore this. He has many friends in theater and he found this cool and inexpensive grid to hang playbills and favorite pictures:

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Then he decided that he wanted pictures of his roles in the dance recitals.  He had a character role last year and will have one for the next 3 years so he found inexpensive frames at IKEA and created this:
                                         Image may contain: indoor   If you can't read the  wooden sign it says "I hope you dance" and he bought it on a mission trip last year.  The top left frame is filled all ready; it has his picture of his role as Don Lino in the school's recital.

There is more to come--he has ordered a rug in burgundy with gold accents.  He has also gotten a bookshelf that I'll write about some other time when I regale you all with our maiden voyage to the land of IKEA! For now I am just smiling at the fact that my son seems to know himself so well and has such a vision of what needs to be in his space to give him joy.