Ready for Summer!

May 27, 2011

Susan May 2008, post-surgeryHere at the WhyMommy house, we are totes ready for summer!  We have our flip flops, our summer t’s, and our rashguards all out and ready for action — and this weekend we get our first taste of the lazy hazy days of summer.

What’s a rashguard?  I was asked that twice this week, so I want to show you.  You can see the general look in the picture at the left, one of a very few that we took after my double mastectomy, when I was nervous about going to the beach with the beautiful people.  I had lumps and bumps everywhere after surgery — except in the places you’d expect.  But I wasn’t ready to give up on the beach or the pool forever.  In fact, we were headed to the beach to relax and recuperate!  After some conversation on twitter and the blogs, we came up with this solution — and now, I’d recommend it for anyone who’s tired of feeling overexposed at the pool.

A rashguard is like a t-shirt made of swimsuit material.  You can get them fitted to your body for serious swimming or looser (unisex style) for additional coverage of post-baby tummy or post-mastectomy scars.  I *adore* the rashguard look and the ease of which the kids and I can get ready for the pool – there’s no struggles with vast quantities of sunblock on their pale tummies and backs anymore, or worries about missing a spot, because except for their limbs, neck, and face, they’re covered!  We can be ready in a flash — everybody throws on board shorts (the boys) or bikini bottom (ok, that’s me) and their rashguard t, and we’re off to the pool!

Ah, summer.

This post inspired by Curvy Girl Guide’s Project Real – National Swimsuit Confidence Week!  Real women all over the internet are donning swimsuits and showing the world that it’s ok not to be perfect or to look just like the models in the catalogs.  The project is popping up on blogs all over and has even been covered by Marie Claire!  I’m not part of the campaign — I’m just a fan!  Let’s get back in the pool! 

… better than I deserve.

May 26, 2011

Susan, happy with friendsYou know those folks who when you say “hey, how are you?” in greeting, answer “better than I deserve!” and you never quite know what to say?  Yeah, me either.  But today, that’s all I can say about the week.

Laughter and margaritas (happy, Kristen?) in the country on Saturday, work on Sunday, finished chapter on Monday, dinner with book club/moms club moms on Tuesday, tea and chocolate date with Jessica and Jean and Kristen and KATE FROM NEW ZEALAND on Wednesday, t-ball for Widget, Mom’s full attention for Little Bear, and today there’s chapter research and lunch duty for Widget and party for Bear and then the summer starts to begin in earnest.

And we’re good.  We’re so, so good.  The kids are delicious, and I’m back to “parenting” instead of just “managing” to hang on in the madness of the end of the school year.  Finally.  We don’t always do amazing things in the afterschool hour, no, but we do some days, and the other days we just play near each other while mommy works or gets down on the floor and plays with the boys.  Because I can right now.  I’m in a good period, and even preschool pickup doesn’t tire me out completely.  I can do it AND play when they get home, if I don’t exert myself with the chores in the morning.  So we’re in a routine now.  Write in the morning, lunch with Bear, write in the early afternoon, pick up and play with kids, easy dinner, put kids down, and then work again before a dip in the pool.  What an amazing life.

And spending so much of it with friends lately?  So wonderful.  I am so lucky.  You know, this is never the life I would have asked for — but it has so many good parts, and laughing with friends and playing with children and quiet time with my husband make the rough parts easier and the easy parts full of joy.  And there is so very much joy.  Jessica’s baby Alice, for example.  I held her again yesterday, and she makes my heart sing with promise for the future.  She is so loved, by her parents, by her siblings, by her bloggy mama aunties — and goodness will follow her.  I can tell.

As Kristen likes to tease me, suunshine and rainbows follow me everywhere.  When I hold baby Alice, they multiply.  She is such a blessing to her family and friends!

In other news, the pool is finished (oh, floating in it is heaven — my hip slips back into place, my aches are soothed, and just for a little while I can forget my limitations), the sunroom surrounding it is being shingled (when the guys show up, they do great work!), and yesterday I bought new plants at Johnson’s Nursery.  PERENNIALS. 

Think about that one for a moment!

The picture on this post is from yesterday’s tea and chocolate date.  I love the full picture so much but we all have different levels of privacy for this blogging thing and just like I don’t post pictures of my kids (which makes posts like this week’s happiness look way too self-centered — sorry about that!), not everyone likes their picture on the web.  So I keep pictures of book club, anonymous and pseudonymous bloggers off the internet, but I do keep them in my heart.  Maybe you can tell from the cropped picture above how happy I am to be with friends.  Trust me when I say their smiles are big and bright too.

So how am I doing?  Better than I deserve. 

And I’m so, so grateful.

If you have a moment to pray or cheer another cancer warrior on, could you please lift up my friend Jenny?  She is battling her tumor Gertrude again, and the Xeloda is hurting her, like it hurt me last Fall (luckily for her it appears to be working!)  She blogs at Get Out Gertrude and twitters as @jaydub26.  Thank you.

I thought I was too tired…

May 22, 2011

just a field of buttercups

… to meet up with Stimey and UpsideBackwards Kate this week, but I went anyway and had a wonderful time with Kate, a best-friend-I-just-hadn’t-met-yet, and Jean, who I adore and admire and puts up with me whenever we can remember to get out and playdate.  We three talked and talked like old friends, which of course we are, thanks to the wonders of the internet, blogs and twitter, and we noshed on Whittiker’s dark chocolate and kiwifruit (not “kiwi,” we were told by the Kiwi, and thankgoodness that got straightened out right off!)  Kate brought wonderful New Zealand picture books for my boys and chocolate for us all.  (I brought nothing, because I’m a bit of an idiot that way, although I did consider stopping along the way and picking up Rita’s to share — but then reconsidered, because I think it’s actually Italian ice, even if it is a Maryland-ish treat.  Oh, drat, where was I?)  It was a lovely afternoon, and we took a picture of us all smooshed up together to treasure and remember it by.Susan Niebur May 2011

… to go out after dark, while Daddy read the kids to sleep, but I went anyway, bolstered by your encouragement, and I got an awesome haircut Thursday night.  It’s wet right now, since it’s morning and all, but I’ll post a pic asap.  I really like it — it’s on the long side of being really short, and it’s just perfect.  Oh, wait, here’s one if you don’t mind a little (lack of) cleavage and visible radiation burn:

… to rewrite that chapter for my book, but I stayed up late too many nights at the computer and I now have actually written the story of Stardust.  And I’m happy with it.

… to playdate with R and her girls, but it was absolutely wonderful to sit and talk and look at the forest, to swing the children endlessly, and to play baseball with my boys and her girls.

… to babysit earlier in the week, but of course I wasn’t, because they’re BIG KIDS NOW and L and Widget and Little Bear just played and played and were angels together.  Silly me.

… to take Widget to soccer practice, but I went and sat in the sun with my friends C and M, and we had a wonderful time watching the kids play and Widget score SIX GOALS and C2 coach and afterwards she told me that my son was really good at soccer.  Which was awesome.

Susan Niebur, midair -- on Kristen's rope swing… to go to Kristen’s yesterday, but OMG it was fun and we were so busy talking and laughing and eating and swinging from the GIANT ROPE SWING IN THE SKY and squirting Redi-Whip in each other’s mouths and laughing and cuddling the littlest one (he is so yummy!) that the iPhones just sat on the table (if we weren’t taking pictures as the Mamarazzi – like the one on the right that shows E swinging SO FAR off the ground!) and we didn’t tweet once.Kristen's rope swing

… to make a picture album earlier this week, but it was not that hard at all, and I’m setting a goal to make another one this week featuring good times we’ve had with friends, because really, isn’t that a major part of growing up?  I am really excited about this and hope I took enough pictures along the way to remember the incredible mix of playdates and parkdates and museums and field trips and just playing in the back yard together with so many wonderful, loving friends.  Four years ago, I had my worries — but I’ve tried to cover the worries with love, and it’s working out, you know?  All in all, it’s been a good childhood, and I want my kids to remember all the wonderful good times we’ve had together.  It has been a GOOD childhood.

… to leave the house, but look what all I would have missed.

Field of buttercups

A Grocery Store for Tigers

April 23, 2011

When the kids caught me resting in bed again, I made light of it and invited them to watch a little tv with me.  We clicked through the channels and found nothing that we both wanted to watch, until we saw that Discovery was airing an old-school nature documentary.  Intrigued, we paused, and C joined me as we re-introduced the children to the wild beauty of a nature flick, tigers, gazelles, herons, and all. 

We watched the beauty of the savannah and the tiger leaping majestically through the air in final pursuit of the gazelle, landing with a thud as he broke the weaker animal’s neck and began to feast.  Then my children protested, stunned at the violence of the wild, asking “Why, Mommy?”  Why did that tiger chase the deer, Mommy?  Why that tiger EAT the deer?

Oh, my child.  My sweet, sensitive, sheltered children.  I’ve protected you from the harsh realities of cancer and death for so long that somehow I’ve neglected to teach you about death, and now you are 4 and 6 and shocked that animals must kill other animals for meat.  I remembered to teach you that death exists, as we bought guppy after guppy and talked about fish eating other fish, but your sensitive child minds never made the leap.

So we snuggled in and watched a little more and talked about it, your father at first making light of it, answering, “Because tigers can’t go to the grocery store!”  We laughed and snuggled and broke the hard facts to you gently and at the end you understood that tigers hunt to provide food for their families and for survival, and that we can be sad for the gazelles but happy for the tigers, because they got to feed their baby cubs.

And what you took away from it was fascinating, proclaiming after the movie,

Mama, when I grow up, I open a grocery store for tigers.

I chuckled and hugged you and told you that was a wonderful idea, for it was, and I was so proud of you for thinking of it.  For facing the problem head-on and for answering the violence that you saw with a creative, non-violent solution.  And so we all four agreed that when you boys grew up, we would move to the savannah and open the Niebur Family Grocery Store for Tigers.  Even though we knew full well that you would grow up and understand and lose interest in the meantime, we supported you two, and we took you seriously, and we wanted to help you change the world, to make it just a little better for the gazelles.