Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Recharging Batteries

Growing up I remember being told do not sit and cry about it- get up and do something about it. With 3 girls- I've heard my mother's words leap from my mouth so many times I've lost track. And so many of these things were probably legitimately cry-worthy. Many were not.

Yesterday was rocky from the beginning. Kiera as part of the performance ensemble, participates in a traveling educational program funded by Kaiser Permanente to encourage healthy eating habits and exercise called the Amazing Food Detective. She loves it because she gets to act. The trade off is she has to miss school and we have to get her where she needs to be. It's not earth shatteringly complicated, but we do kinda have a routine down and when I am feeling crappy it is very difficult to be flexible. So at 10:15 the night before- still not having received the "show time" email- I made her go to bed and fell into bed myself. Phil had to be to work early so I knew we'd be up by 6 to check the email- but surely the report time couldn't be too early or they would notify us.

Phil got up and I rolled over- he kissed me- it was 6:10. Why does that always happen? On saturday mornings I am up at 5:30.  School mornings- just a few more minutes. Kiera is already up and brushing her hair. She looks forward to this. I go down and check my email- showtime is 6:20. I start laughing maniacally. maniacal laugh maniacal laugh. Of course. Even if we left the house right now- right freaking now it wouldn't happen. I send the director a text. Part of me wants to crawl back in bed- make Kiera snuggle up with me and watch tv all day. I need a mental health day.  She would never do it. I'm torn between trying to help her and stopping the madness. Phil looks at me and the concern is tangible. My stress level is rising and I feel physically ill. I will take her. He tells me. He doesn't have time, there's so much he needs to do- I didn't want this. I didn't want him to have to do this. Yet he does because it's important to me because it's important to her. But I am just too tired. Emotionally. Physically. They are out the door before I can summon the energy to intercept her. It doesn't matter, it's time to get the other girls up and ready for school.

I have several family members and friends going through some really tough times right now. Things that make me so unbearably sad at times I can barely breathe. All I can do is send love and let them know I am thinking of them. I feel like it's not enough.  Inefficiency and people not respecting and valuing time really get to me right now. I don't know if it's because of all the hard things swirling around me, experience or if my patience has just finally worn thin. The day goes on- I take a walk and visit with my nephews and their nana. I rest because the girls have a later rehearsal and I already feel worn down. I spend an hour assembling a lasagna then we end up grabbing happy meals because I didn't have enough time to heat it up. It's silly, I know. But I am tired. You never make good decisions when you are tired. Or sad. Or stressed.

I drop the girls off at rehearsal and take Bella to the park. She plays and I walk back and forth until my joints argue that it's time to stop. We sit in the car and read. And nap. At 8:35 pm, I get out of the car to go get the girls and one of the other kids informs me that they are just finishing up and will be out shortly. I get back in the car, it does not start. I try again. nothing. I remember the back light was left on the other day. Ohhhh nooo. no. One by one the cars around me leave. I don't have the energy to smile, wave or call for help. The car battery is not the only one that's run down. My internal battery is dwindling. I call Phil.  He asks some insanely easy questions. Like is it in park? I may have tumors in my brain but I haven't completely lost my mind. Did you press on the brake? Oh- well shit why didn't I think of that- Kiera was currently on the floor peering into the fuse box to try and tell me if there was anything amiss- yes i fucking tried the brake. never mind, I hung up. I watched the last of the cars around us leave. Except one van which I think someone might be living in. I'm not sure. This is the perfect Halloweeny serial killer set up. I sit there and tears are just streaming down my face. I don't even want to move. I've heard of this phenomenon. People just shutting down. The girls are quiet. The sense the cracks forming in the facade of mom. I know sitting there and doing nothing will not help but I think my battery might just be depleted. I know how the car feels. I'm relating to a vehicle. This can't be good. Whenever did sitting there and crying about it solve anything. I just can't get it to stop. I can't get the car to go. I just feel so invisible. So ineffective. It's not a wrenching sobbing thing but my eyes are leaking and they won't stop.

Lily is jumping up and down waving. Phil is here. My knight in shining CU armor. He pulls next to us the kids are all gathered around learning how to jump start the new car. He looks at me and notices the tears- it's really not a big deal buddy- he tells me. And I know that but I can't turn it off. I just can't. The tears won't stop. It's not the car, or fatigue or any one thing. It's the collection of hard things swirling around and I just can't. Not tonight. Tonight is done. Tomorrow will be a new day. A new start and hopefully my battery will recharge. But not tonight. Tonight the tears just flow. For the family who are struggling with this god damn disease, for the friends who are fighting for themselves and their children, their parents. For the loss of the ability to plan and supreme frustration with others who refuse to when it is so easily at their disposal. For the loss of independence by way of exhaustion.

The car stalls again. We finally get on our way. He's running low on gas so Phil heads to the gas station. Kiera's hand is on my arm. I hope they understand someday it wasn't about the damn car. I am perfectly capable of dealing with a lot but somehow in that moment I was tired and didn't want to and watching the cars one by one around me drive away to their lives, their dinners, their futures was the loneliest feeling in the world. So it's times like these that I don't usually share. They happen. They aren't my favorite times but they are important. I wasn't alone. I was never alone. It just felt like it. Now to focus on recharging the batteries.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Days 20 and 21. Cut to the end.

The last few days of a cycle, I feel pretty good. Its a mad rush to do all the things that I want/need to do. Sometimes it's just cooking a dinner that's not hamburgers or pizza. Sometimes it's prep for the next week. Sometimes it's sitting on the couch watching football while my husband folds laundry. And now it's been a full week into the next cycle and I don't really even remember what happened day 20 and 21. It's kind of Groundhog day. Usually I get some intense anxiety and sadness going into the cycle. Dreading feeling icky. But then I remember why we are doing it and I keep busy.

Bella helped me put out Halloween decorations.  Oh the girls had rehearsal and we went out for an appetizer dinner after. Phil was overnight shift again and that seemed like a fun dinner diversion.

Monday, Lily and I got our hair cut! That was the big thing we did. Not that big but important. My hair is awesome. I think back to all the years I wanted curls so badly and paid to have one disastrous perm after another. When Lily's hair got crazy curly, I always kind of felt that in a way- I got my curls. But now I have my own and they are pretty crazy. And I don't care if they don't lay right or I have a frolicious day. I throw some mousse in it- scrunch and away we go. Getting a haircut was tougher than I thought.

My barber is great. He gets that I'm a no fuss kinda girl. So I was surprised how painful the "are we growing it out or cutting it today?" was.  It felt too much like PLANNING. It shouldn't be hard- I'd LIKE to grow it out, BUT I don't know how long I will have hair until we might have to take another chemo detour. So do I want to spend time in that "awkward growing it out " phase or just keep it kind of easy and short? The cool thing is I am at that point. I'm where it's a little long to be tamed but too short to be pushed pulled or pinned back cohesively. But I also am no fuss no muss. But it would be nice to grow it out and pull it back again. And well I have a Lily- people seem to like to goofy curls. I know I appreciate them.

We compromise on a bit off the back and a general shaping with the plan to let it grow out and if it gets annoying, I can always make another appointment. After that we met the in laws for lunch. I like random opportunities to take cute pics of the kids.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Day 19 of 22. Show-ing off.

This is one of those days where I spend time blogging and it disappears and I want to scream because I don't have time for this....

Saturday- The big show. Sleeping Beauty. I didn't have high expectations- after all it was a traveling week long camp done in 4 days. But I was really pleasantly surprised. The girls had fun and would do it again - so that tells me everything I need to know!  The Memorial Theatre is old, but keep up pretty well with real seats and air conditioning! 

Kiera- Fairy Godmother
Bella- Musician
Lily- Cook
 We are so lucky that we had some good support in the audience- aunt, uncle, cousins, grandma, grandpa and even some of our Raptor Ohana.

After the show we went over to lunch by the water. 

Phil, Phillip and Lily took grandma and grandpa for a tour of the squadron and to the UH football game. The girls had some self directed quiet time. You know its been a busy week when....

Bella went to play with her cousins, Kiera and I went to see her friends in the Tempest. A tough show- but the kids did great. Half way through Kiera leans over- do you understand a word of what they are saying? I laugh- not so much- and I even studied this in college. But it was really well done! and then we fell into bed....

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Days 17 and 18. of 21. Groundhog Days.

These are the days it hits me. The I feel pretty good days that signal it's almost time to do another round. Fall break got busier than planned for me not planning anything. I think I've spent more time on base in the past 5 days than I have in the past 5 years. Each day thinking- I'll do this and that and such and then the day just kinda disappears. Running errands, stealing Phil for lunch.

Wednesday night it caught up to me. The running around like a normal Jen. By the time we were due at soccer I was tired. Like hit a wall tired. Phil and I got home about the same time and we threw together pasta for dinner. By the time we were done eating, my stomach was rebelling. I think about everything I ate wondering if it was something but really nothing major. I think it was my body just saying enough is enough.

Thursday I dropped the girls off at rehearsal and then just made some calls. I notice that Lily has a doctor's appointment tomorrow. I call our end nurse to see if we can switch hers and Phillip's appointments. She doesn't see the appointments in the system at all. We figure it out- put Phillip in the morning and I tell her I'll call to reschedule Lily. Phil had some time between meetings so I wandered over to the squadron to grab him for lunch. We sat at the golf course and watched planes taking off. Even though it's been busy- I like that I get to see him during the day before we both get too tired.

We discuss the next day. Somehow I need to get Phillip to a 9 O'clock, 2 hour appointment and the girls to rehearsal by 10. Well he is 16 now. He has an ID. I decide that I can drop him off, he can get checked in- I'll drop the girls off then go back and be there for the second half of the appointment. It will have to do. Phil offers to go pick Phillip up- which doesn't make sense since- once I drop the girls off I can go- the biggest thing is I had to cancel a coffee date. But I know how hard it is for him to break away from work now.

I get up early Friday and am texting with a friend who asks- wanna Skype? Her son has been battling cancer for years and the latest run has been throwing roadblock after roadblock in front of them. I wander downstairs and fire up the Skype- we chat, sometimes through tears, she gets her laundry folded- I'm directing children in this well thought out morning plan. I hate to hang up, but am glad we had a little while to chat.

I rally the children. We drop Phillip off at Tripler- traffic was again in our favor- gotta love break- I throw some cash to him and tell him to grab some breakfast before he checks in. We are on the way to base when the girls realize they forgot bags to put back stage. Phillip texts me that they don't have an appointment for him but they will squeeze him in at 10. Of course- that actually works better for me- but i feel like I am running around in circles. I tell him to get a bigger breakfast and I'll meet him by 10.

We stop and grab 3 bags, I drop the girls off- they are early so I wait a few minutes until a responsible adult arrives then I head back to Tripler. This is feeling like Groundhog day. I sit and wait with Phillip, we are called back shortly. The valet said they are closing at noon- but if I wanted I could just pick up the keys by then. I wonder if we will be out of the appointment in time- even though she is squeezing Phillip in, his doc is thorough. She is being shadowed by a resident and I debate if I want to knock off some general healthcare tasks or enlighten him on LFS. I decide to multi task- I mention Phillip has a plantar's wart that needs taken care of- would it be too much trouble while we are here? Not at all- does he need a flu shot too? Phillip starts to protest- I just had a shot. Yep different vaccine bud. No but I just had a flu shot last year- his eyes are twinkling. He knows they are an annual deal for him. Oh yes- that would be great. What about labs- yeah we probably need labs. When all is said and done he was jabbed 3 times and frozen with liquid nitrogen. His A1C is up- it's kinda a big picture of what his blood sugars have been doing. This means we have to play with his pump settings and insulin ratios a bit. Not a huge deal. Plus he's back in wrestling- it was bound to happen.

It's a bit after 11:30 when we finish- pretty efficient. We stop by the pharmacy and grab his insulin. We then go to Oncology to do my bloodwork. Hopefully this will save me a couple hours on Tuesday.  Oh yeah- Monday is a holiday- so we get an extra day. So I guess this cycle has 22 days. The receptionist says they are full to have a seat. I hand Phillip the parking stub and tip- tell him to go retrieve the keys then stop by the lab and get his blood drawn. He nods and ambles off. They call me right away and I get vitals done and head back to the chemo bay. Friday is a different crowd- I don't recognize anyone. I sit and wait for my turn. Phillip arrives just as Cindy is accessing my port- I don't think it makes him queasy but it bothers him- I can just feel it. We talk about lunch options.

The plan was to head to the NEX and get lunch, him a haircut and shop a bit. It's almost noon. I'm tired, he is a bit restless. He asks if we can just do panda express. Sure. After 3 pokes and a wart freezing- he can have whatever he wants. You don't want to go to the NEx do you? He shakes his head. Ok- you want me just to take you home. He nods- if it isn't too much trouble. It occurred to me that Kiera has AFD(Amazing Food Detective- it's a healthy eating, exercise platform for Kaiser- they tour around doing shows at schools) rehearsal at 3, he has wrestling at 3- one of them would be late. It makes sense to take him home-even if it is an extra trip- it alleviates some stress. I am starving- I forgot breakfast in the rush. I have that- I spend my morning at tripler and running around headache. He offers to drive so I can eat. Oh why not. It's pretty much bumper to bumper traffic anyhow.

We get home, I lay on the couch for 10 minutes, pour myself a coffee and head back out the door. Groundhog day. I get the girls, drop Kiera off get home and Lily and Bella are at each other. Lily seems more tired so I send Bella over to her aunt's house. Lily throws a fit. A preteen- I hate you why do you hate me so much kind of yelling fit. It's all I can do not to strangle her or roll my eyes. Leave the drama on the stage princess. She stomps upstairs and slams the door. Normally I would correct this behavior but I am just too tired. I lay down on the couch and stare at the back of my eyelids. I hear her ranting and ranting upstairs. It gets quiet- I open my eyes and she is trying to sneak out the door. Nice try - go back upstairs. More stomping, more yelling, more slamming.  The next thing I know I hear the phone. Shit- I fell asleep- 7 missed texts, 5 missed calls 2 messages. It's only been like 20 minutes! Kiera is done early. I go upstairs, Lily fell asleep. I wake her carefully- and tell her she can go to her cousins now. Ok, she hugs me and skips out the door.

She spends the rest of the night giving me hugs. I grab Kiera who has plans to go to a haunted plantation with her friends. Not thanks- I say- life is scary enough on its own. Plus Phil texts me that he found a treat my friend recommended.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Day 16 of 21. Playing Around.

Last week my sister in law sent me a link to a theater camp this week on base. It's a traveling Children's Theatre Company from Missoula. They are doing Sleeping Beauty.  We don't really have any major commitments this week- I was going to schedule haircuts and dental cleanings- but held off to see how this played out.

I look online and there is good info on how the audition works, what to expect, and roughly the time frame. They travel around to different bases, doing these workshops for free for military kiddos. It's a great program, they have their routine down. It also seems to keep our afternoons free for already scheduled activities. Compact and efficient- this is how we roll. Ha. Not usually but it's what we strive for!

This weekend though- I finally get the call from physical therapy- my referral is in and I can start back therapizing. I normally do Tuesday mornings- but auditions are at 10- Phil overhears and points to the schedule- he is overnight alert Tuesday- he offers to take the girls. This is big- because he has sworn off all things drama related. But then I realize he is counting on going into work while they are auditioning, it will be interesting to see if it works out.

I finish therapy at the time the auditions start and text Phil to see how it looks and if he want me to relieve him. He simply texts yes. Ugh- he has to go into work. I head to base. The kids are just finishing counting off as I get there. 104 kids for less than 50 spots. There are gonna be quite a few disappointed kiddos. I'm not sure where mine will fall. I'm actually pretty impressed with all the kids- military kids are used to being uprooted and introducing themselves, reinventing themselves at times. McGuyvering through all kinds of new cities, schools, cultures. It shows.  Even some of the tiny ones have these big booming voices.

I'm nervous for the girls. Hopeful for the opportunity. Lily gets singled out and moves lines. I think that's a good sign. I just don't know.  I'm worried Bella won't make it and I'm already planning activities we can do while the other girls are in rehearsal. And then I get mad at myself for being a crazy drama mama. Lily heads down the aisle. She is on her way to the bathroom and I keep myself firmly planted in my seat. The urge to go and chat with her is strong but I resist. I'm gonna let them be them. If nothing else- this already is a good experience. The directors are encouraging and really explaining to the kids what they want. It is very straightforward. I like straightforward. There are a lot of politics everywhere. It gets old- these guys are here to bring theatre to kids and you can tell they enjoy what they do. I'm sure a week in Hawaii has it's perks too!

They are running the 3rd and fourth round of lines. Kiera gets moved. I think that is good. I have no idea. We are new to this. They do round and round and round of row row row your boat- I told the girls there probably wouldn't be singing- I know I'll hear about this. Lily gets picked with another girl to sing together, alone. They get moved back a line.  I have no idea what this means. I can't believe people do this for a living- the stress alone- aaaaagh.  They are back in Kiera's lines- running lines and ask them to sing the word sing. All the girls pick high notes. Kiera has a bit of a deeper voice- she doesn't go high but she uses vibrato. Right there. All those voice lessons- she just pulled out a tool to set herself apart- even if she doesn't get a role- I'm proud that she stuck to her and didn't try to do what they all did. Bella asks to go to the bathroom. She waves at me as she skips by. When she returns they have shuffled the lines again and her spot is gone- I'm pretty sure the director just sits her down where she asked him. . We can go to the BX and maybe the commissary. We could even head over to the NEX.

It is so hard when people make plans around us and we are still week to week. It's hard when there is the clock- constantly ticking in your subconscious. We are Constantly triaging and prioritizing and finding a way and letting things go and letting normal go and realizing there are so many roles you will just never fit in because of the cards you are dealt. Committing to a production that might run in 3 months is a stress- the planning. I can totally handle this,  a one week chunk. It's not even a full week.

They send the kids offstage and it's about the time they said they'd be wrapping up. Sticking to schedule? This is new and different. You can already spot THOSE parents- sneaking closer with their iPhones ready to film every second.  I'm in the last row hoping my heart doesn't pound out of my chest and there aren't tears to deal with. It's a drama camp for the love of all that is good.

The first group is called up- it's the tiny kids. So cute. They move on to the next age group. The call Lily- she's a cook. One down. Oh that probably means Bella didn't make it. We could go to the park, or watch the jets take off. Wait did they just call Bella? They called Bella. She's a musician! She's beaming- she didn't think she made it either. Then they are on to the next group. They call Kiera- she's a fairy godmother. They call up the leads and there is much crying in the audience.  So many little kids. The directors encourage them all to continue to audition. Parents are already buzzing- there aren't enough roles, there are too many roles, some are following their children around in video mode. We have 20 minutes before Kiera needs to be back for rehearsal- I also have to rearrange my board meeting which I will no longer be available for. We grab Kiera a burger and call Phil to see if he can break away for lunch- he cannot- but we can join him for lunch. Some days that's a huge win! So we go grab burritos and hang out with him for lunch. It was one of those exhausting days that totally didn't go as planned but turned out ok. It could have gone either way. I'm grateful things kinda sorta fell into place today.

Day 15 of 21. Pieces of Paradise.

We live in paradise. Although the definition of paradise in our house changes rapidly. Paradise is clean scans, a snuggle on the couch, a warm breeze, a good night's sleep. The weather this year has been really strange. It is also weird for me to think that we've lived here for a decade. This year I'll be here as long as I lived in Colorado and Ohio. Each one of these places holds a special piece of home.

One of the good things about drill weekend is the off Monday after it. Especially when it's not a chemo Monday! We just laid there in bed as the sun came up. A piece of paradise- the sun beams in through the window in our bathroom- the color is so warm and happy- it is sunshine.

What do you want to do today Ferb?

Would you be up to going to the beach? Phil asks. Do you think the girls would want to surf?

Beach days are usually reserved for social functions and guests- it feels utterly luxurious to consider it when the honey-do list is so long. But as last night reminded me- sometimes you gotta just have fun. Let's do it.

Getting ready for and cleaning up from the beach is usually my biggest deterrent. Especially after spending the previous day cleaning- but that is just the thing- there is a lot of sand in paradise. I slather the girls in thick sunscreen- I've decided the spray on kind are just crap. Convenient yes, but between breathing in the toxic chemicals and the less than stellar coverage(you still have to rub to get it even) and the fact that one can lasts about 1 trip to the beach in our family- I'm over it. We all look rather aboriginal.

It's a beautiful morning. Fluffy clouds. Some rain clouds hanging on the horizon. A pretty decent break. I don't surf. It's one of those things that doesn't appeal to me. I love that the girls give it a go.  They jump right in the water and are playing in the waves- great body surfing waves and they are tumbling around like clothes in the washer- somehow finding that feeling to be enjoyable. I miss the flexibility and rubberiness of youth. I am happy though to sit there and vicariously laugh through them. It is a wave of paradise.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Day 14 of 21. Date Night.

Family cleaning day. It's what we do on drill weekends if there is time. I bribe my kids to get them to clean. I know, I know, you need to get them used to chores and what not as it is a part of life- and they do chores. More often than not they suck at it. Then I have to go back and redo it. Which sometimes is more work than doing it in the first place. But this is one of the things I am working on. The goal was to get the downstairs clean. 

I create a post-it with each kid's name on it and they each get to pick one aspect of cleaning they are willing to do. The rest of the chores are assigned. Bella is pretty much half-assing her way through. Lily usually sighs repeatedly and very dramatically but I whispered to her there might be Starbucks in it for her if she doesn't give me grief. I explain to Phillip for the 300th time, the appropriate way to clean a bathroom and that yes bleach will ruin clothes. I had preemptively sprayed all surfaces with bleach to ensure disinfection. Yet the bleach dried by the time he got there- so I grab a bottle and spray again- and I realize the smell is off. Oh hell- it's the ammonia based cleaner. How'd that get in there? I explained to Phillip- who has a keen interest in science- why we don't mix bleach and ammonia. He automatically asks about the pee in the toilet- you know because pee has ammonia in it.  Flush the toilet. But what about on the rim? AIM BETTER! 

I reward the good little cleaners(not Bella) with overpriced coffee beverages which is supposed to help with their productivity. Apparently it makes them wrestle in the backyard. So I tell them to clear off all the patio furniture and clean the lanai. Kiera and I are relocating items to the garage when it occurs to me my car hasn't been washed since Phil's new job took effect. Kiera looks at me- You want me to help wash the car? Can I pull it out of the garage.?Unlike her brother- this one is interested in driving. Phil at one point during the 7th grade told her if she got straight A's in high school he'd buy her a punch buggy. (VW beetle) She has the mint green color picked out and everything. 

The car was gross. Like really gross. I made Bella wipe everything down- and then have Kiera wipe it down. I keep an eye on the clock knowing the girls have drama rehearsal at 3. We get the car done just in time to grab a snack and head out. After I drop them off, I take inventory of all my achey body parts. It is most of them. I'm tired. I know Phil will be tired from working all weekend, but this is one of those times I think it's important to work at relationships. And by that I mean get away from the kids. I send Phil a text that we are going out to dinner just us. No kids. Cuz I am not cooking. I have enough time to shower when I get home and go back and get the girls. No one notices that I'm showered. Usually they immediately want to know where I'm going if I bother to shower. 

I throw some mac and cheese on the stove and they are doing the happy dance. They love mac n cheese. I really should make it more although I question whether or not it is even food. It is convenient. No one is on to me yet. As Phil walks in, Lily looks at me, not eating and dressed and says- wait a minute- are you going out? Yes yes we are. 

We talked and talked and it wasn't interrupted by singing or farting or arguing over who is better at whatever. I wish date night was physically possible more often, it reminded me why date night outside of chemo dates are important. Sometimes we make dinner and don't call the kids until we finish eating. But we feel guilty because we don't get that many everyone around the table meals either. sometimes in the day to day running around and stress and chaos I forget for a minute how much I like the guy I married. I get upset because I miss him and I see how hard he works and sometimes it really affects my mood. It's a different kind of busy than the newly married, learning your way around life busy. It's a different kind of busy than new baby or toddler busy. I schedule appointments to keep healthy. I keep the kids healthy. Sometimes you gotta keep your heart healthy too. I don't know if we'll be able to squeeze more date nights in, but I hope we can try!

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Day 13 of 21. Snacks.

Last night we went to the Kroctoberfest. Octoberfest at the Kroc center- local community center.  Well Phil was detained at work and Lil Phillip hurt his back wrestling all 3 sisters at once on the stairs- so he decided to sit out the festivities.

I knew from the parking situation that the island effect would dominate this event. There aren't a lot of activities and if the word "free" is anywhere on the advertisement whether or not it is directly next to the word food- Hawaiians will be there.

As we got out of the car, we noticed movement along the curb. There was a mass exodus of caterpillars. It was a very strange sight. Big ones, little ones, green ones, brown ones, fuzzy ones, ones with the weird stubby legs. The girls were fascinated until they realized all the dots on the road were little caterpillars who didn't make it. The security guard actually laughed as he ran over them and they collectively gasped in horror.

We get inside the festival and make a bee line for the petting zoo. As we wait in line, I study the map and offerings. It's your usual fare- bouncy houses, carnival games- not the fancy kind- the toss a ball into a hula hoop kind. There is a bizarre pvc cage game that the line isn't to bad for. We will head there next. The petting zoo- although nice is a bit of a tease. There are about 3 dozen chicks and one girl who tells each kid- you can only pet them with one finger. One finger. I wish Phil was here. The jokes are bouncing around in my head.  My SIL arrives with her boys- I feel like a Debbie Downer because my sensibilities are offended by extensive lines for silly carnival games and the sheer number of people here. The cancer clock is ticking in my head- is this how you want to spend your time. It's such a fracking nag- but always there. You could be doing this- you should be doing that. Then I try to lighten the heck up and realize that I am spending time with the girls and that counts. 

I forgot that Bella will wait her butt in line for days if she wants something. One trip to Disney, the line to see Rapunzel was insane- but she was determined. The other kids went and rode rides and we waited and waited and waited. And how her little face lit up when she saw Rapunzel- well it was worth it. When Bell says she needs to go spin the wheel- I look at the line and say- really? Yep. SO we wait and we wait. I have her read the items on the wheel. Things like cookies, slushies, free guest pass. As we wait in line they announce they are officially out of food except kettle corn. It's 7 pm- I don't know what that means- and we are waiting in line to spin for something to wait in line to get the something (mostly food items)you just spun for. This could end poorly for us. 

We are one away from spinning when Lily and the others join us. Bella spins. She gets another spin. She spins again. It lands on free guest pass- he hands over the pass- It feels like a major victory. I let Lily take my spin. She also gets a free guest pass- I don't have to wait in line for food that is gone. I drag them home, after all we have an early soccer game in the morning and I am responsible for snacks. 

Somewhere over the past 11 years of parenting kids' sports- I've become really jaded about the blasted snacks. I am so over potluck, I.Can't . Even. So for an hour game- does a kid need a full brown bag lunch afterwards? Last week no one signed up. I in a fit of delirium mentioned to one mom I might try to bring. Well as usual- life got away from me. I sat down Friday night and decided I was not going to make myself insane- I had nothing around the house to even throw together- which says a lot because only 5 kids show up for the game. So I go online and sign up for the following week's game. Hoping others would see that and understand. In all fairness the game was an 11 o clock game- meaning we'd be done at noon- which is lunchtime- I'm not providing lunch for the team. Another team who is fundraising to go to Florida was selling musubis so one of the other parents bought one for each kid. It worked out. I felt judged. The team mom came over to talk to me. I threw down the cancer card. Sometimes you just have to. I sit in practice listening to how busy everyone is with their 2nd and 3rd kids and trying to get everybody to their activities. It's a full time job and they have to rely very much on their husbands to help transport kids.   I didn't bring snacks because I didn't make it to the store because I chose to nap so I 'd have enough energy to run my kids to their after school activities and feign this normal existence. I'm succeeding because unlike last time Bella played - I am not bald forcing people to actively ignore that something big is going on in our lives. And guess what? Last week everyone busted butt after the game because no one wanted to stay and help ref. Who reffed? Kiera. The team mom was awesome and supportive. 

So this week they got an orange and a granola bar and a gatorade. And I'm still not one of the cool moms and well that's ok. Bella won't remember what we brought for snack- she will remember that I was there. 

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Days 11 and 12 of 21. Trying to Rebound.

Things get busy. There is just so much to do, always. I have moments during the day that I think- this is it- this is today's bright spot. Then it gets buried under the things that have to get done.

I've been spending a lot of time on nonprofit work. It's one of those things that I think- I'll sit down for an hour and then go for a walk. Well 3 hours later I am halfway done with a project and well I think I can finish it by time to pick up the girls.

Thursday I made a lunch date with my sister in law and my nephews. We are so lucky to have them near by. Growing up, I spent my childhood with family near and adolescence far away from family. I love that my kids can hang out with their cousins. Bella doesn't feel like the baby anymore and takes pride in helping with the lil ones. I had an extra hour until school pick up because Lily was trying out for the basketball team, so we sat by the beach and just talked.

I remember- I think it was 5th grade maybe 6th that I tried out for the basketball team. Well I wanted to try out, we had practice during PE and I jumped to grab the ball and came down on Paul's foot. My ankle buckled, I heard a crunch and felt pain. By the time I got home it was swelling. A trip to the ER got me an Xray and a boot- I chipped a bone.

Then in 7th grade I was going to try out for the basketball team with my friend Kim and they day of tryouts got violently ill. Like barely made it to the nurses room. I went home, a week later was diagnosed with mono and that concluded my attempts at any sort of WNBA career. It wasn't likely. I found volleyball which much better suited me considering my disdain for running.

So 5th and 6th graders here can try-out for basketball and volleyball at school. They practice and then do a goodwill competition at the end of the year. The thing is there is no practice before tryouts. SO Lily- who vaguely remembers watching her brother play and hasn't really played basketball decides she wants to try out. Of course we gave away our basketball years ago with the hoop after getting written up repeatedly by the homeowners association. They don't seem to mind the guy down the street who runs a bar out of his garage- but basketball hoop- they gotta shut that nonsense down. Lily wants a basketball to practice, but there are just not enough spare hours for me to run and get one. I tell her to practice dribbling with any one of the semi flat soccer balls, volleyballs or beach balls that are littering the yard. She stomps off.

Lily goes to her tryouts and informs me that they have to go see the coach on Friday and find out if they made the team. Mind you- I don't think it would do anyone any harm to have extras on the team and try outs down the road- but again I don't have the time or energy to rule the world at the moment so I have to let others do what works.  On Friday morning I get the call. It's Lily. She sounds so tiny and sad my heart immediately breaks before she even gets the words out.

I didn't make the team.

Well no shit there were 2 flipping practice/tryouts, I want to tell her. Instead I tell her how proud I am of her for trying and giving it her best and that there is always next year and if she really wants to play we can figure out a local team or something. In the back of my mind I think- WTF. Our after school activity is booked. something would have to give- but it's activity and good for her- we try to encourage that. mother beach.

I gotta go. Her voice cracks.

That's what they don't tell you before you have kids. They can't tell you, you just have to experience it. When your kids' heart breaks. Your heart breaks. I've heard people say- it's like a piece of your hear is taken out and gets to walk around outside your body. You still feel every scuff, every kick when it gets knocked down. And then you try to help mend their wings and hope you will get to feel them soar.

I sit feeling defeated. Really this isn't a big deal, but it doesn't feel that way in the moment. Phil is flabberghasted- he figured she had a fighting chance because of her height and her insane ability to rebound. And I had almost completely forgotten his nickname for her - round mound of rebound. He stopped calling her that as she got older because he didn't want to hurt her feelings or affect her body image. But she, like Sir Charles surprised us time and time again with her ability to rebound through chemo and this time will be no different. And like I do every other time things don't fall in place, I wonder what is waiting for her on the horizon that is better than this-because something is bound to be on it's way.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Day 10 of 21. Chasing Rainbows.

Always rushing. Always somewhere to get to. Always running behind.  As we pulled up to the stoplight on the way to soccer, Bella spotted it. A rainbow. She is on a constant quest for her pot of gold.  She did a project on Ireland and she read the legends. She believes the leprechauns hid the gold. I didn't ask how the leprechauns got to Hawaii.

It's so bright! It's right there! I can see the end!

If we go on a quest to find the end, you will be late for practice.

I'm ok with that.

I take a right into a neighborhood, hoping we can get a good view by the park. It's getting brighter.

I take another turn on a back road . The girls are chattering- it's so close. We can make it.

We reach the end of the road. The rain starts. Lily suggests getting out and holding the umbrella over me so I can get a picture. The rainbow fades.

We get in the car and Lily looks crestfallen. What's wrong?

If I was faster you could have gotten the picture.

Eh, who cares- did we just see the most amazing rainbow together?


Do you remember how bright the colors were?


Then whether or not I got the perfect picture doesn't matter because it is perfect in your memory.

Lily Kay Monkey

Lily Kay Monkey
November 2008 Photographed by Shelley Detton (7 Layer Studio)