… 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.


April 26, 2011

Dandelion, taken by Louise DockerAs we set off on our early morning walk, Little Bear scooting along on his tricycle and 6 year old Widget on his bike, the sky was blue and clear, the weekend’s rainclouds just a memory.

Four year old Little Bear stopped and plucked a dandelion in full feather, saying, “I wish for a dog!” “Me too,” cried his brother. Me three, I said, and we blew the fluff right off that dandelion so enthusiastically that a seed or two landed in Little Bear’s open mouth. Sputtering, he recovered his dignity and we continued up the hill.

At the top, Widget picked a second dandelion, asking me first what I wished for, if I could have anything in the world. As we had had a little talk about cancer that morning, preparing him for an upcoming class for kids of parents with cancer, I was honest with him, kneeling down and telling him my wish for many more years together.  “Me too!” said Widget, and he asked “What do you wish for, Bear?” “A dog!” said Bear, oblivious to the topic at hand, focused entirely on the Chow we’d passed earlier.

We blew that dandelion out fiercely, taking care to avoid Bear’s face this time, but one must have floated back our direction, because as I heard Widget explain what had just happened to Bear, I had to wipe something from my eye.  Such little bits of children they are, to deal with such big topics, but so strong.

My sadness disappeared quickly as I heard Widget explain, “We wished for many more years together, Bear. Maybe even a whole lifetime!”

The sun was shining as he pedaled away, and the birds sang happily above.

28 hours

March 30, 2011

Hiking in the woods with Widget, following paths where they lead; never once stopping to catch my breath

Taking Little Bear out for a bike (trike) ride as dusk begins to fall and the streetlights turn on

Writing late into the night, comparing policies, reading papers, churning letters into words

Smiling at my husband as we turn off our computers for the night; jobs well done

Inspiring young minds at preschool, them clutching planetary telescopes with chubby fingers

Two hours of skee ball and air hockey at the children’s arcade

Lunch out and Target, laden with summer shovels, buckets, cars, and noodles for the pool

Squirt guns sans water aiming and firing like high pitched blasters, because my kids don’t know guns

Shovels pressing into dirt that doesn’t yet know it should be springtime

Bikes and trikes; soccer balls and peals of laughter filling the air as the daddies and mommies next door come home from work

Playtime with neighbors and petting the poodle who lives down the block

Cuddles and laughter and cheese and cracker snack that I cut myself, with fingers that no longer peel

Cartoons and Daddy and snuggled and time for bath, my little ones

and how different these days are becoming from February, when I often could only write


Today, there is hope and love and little boy giggles. Thankfulness and praise. and confidence that I can have a good day again tomorrow.

Bloganthropy and Lymphedema

February 28, 2011

A little bit of good goes a long way.

A couple years ago, two women named Rachel and Robin created a new product – a compression sleeve that they and their friends would be willing to wear to control their lymphedema, swelling in the arms caused by the removal of lymph nodes during a mastectomy.  They started a company called LympheDIVAs; Rachel’s brother Josh and their parents continued to improve the product and market it to other breast cancer survivors after her death. 

Carole lost her cousin Crickett to metastatic breast cancer too, but instead of wailing at the universe, Carole and her aunt Bonnie set up a foundation to help other breast cancer survivors feel good about themselves again.  Carole sent an email offering help to survivors, and one copy landed in Sue‘s in-box. 

Sue forwarded the email to me, offering me the opportunity to be pampered a little, because she knew I was suffering from chemotherapy again, and it touched my heart.  My heart was kinda busy, though, because my physical therapist Jonelle had mentioned casually while working on the lymphedema in my arm that it was so great that I was wearing a lymphedema sleeve to control it — many of her patients couldn’t afford one.  When I arrived home and checked my in-box, there was the opportunity to make a connection and to fix this wrong that lay on my heart — to help others have what I have, the opportunity to control this medical condition at home, without weekly trips to the physical therapist.

Three phone calls later, Josh and Carole agreed to provide donated lymphedema sleeves to patients in need, and the lymphedema sleeve project was on.  The problem then was how to make people aware of the opportunity, so Sue and I sent a couple emails and a few tweets and then The DC Moms and twitter friends and blog friends and friends of friends stepped up to help, to spread the word, one tweet, one post, one update, one person at a time.

I wrote a post, Sue wrote a post, Minky wrote a post, and the news gained traction.  Over 100 people tweeted the links that week.  150 people shared a link on Facebook.  Over 40 bloggers added their posts to ours, in attempt to saturate the internet with the news, so that a woman in need, searching for help to afford lymphedema sleeves or other post-mastectomy gear, could find it. 

Kristen, Jessica, Amie, Joanne, Marty, Victoria, and Elizabeth then put their money where their voice is and donated $1/comment on their lymphedema post.  Others went to donate so that additional sleeves could be bought as needed, and before we knew it, $1518 had been sent to Crickett’s Answer for Cancer by over 20 people, and 36 new breast cancer survivors were helped in the first 40 days.  

On Friday, the project was recognized by Bloganthropy, with me named as January’s Blogger of the Month.  Thank you, Bloganthropy, but the award really belongs to all of the bloggers who helped saturate this part of the ‘net with notices that there is now help available for breast cancer survivors who need but can’t afford compression sleeves to control their lymphedema. 

Thank you, friends.  Every day, your actions remind me that there is indeed good in the world.  Here are the posts that were written in support of this effort, and tweeted ’round the world:

Aimee: http://smilingmama.blogspot.com/2011/01/surviving-in-style-free-lymphedema.html
Amie: http://www.mammaloves.com/2011/01/wanna-join-an-army/
Amy:  http://teachmama.com/2011/01/new-for-us-friday-help-for-cancer-patients.html
Ann Bibby: http://www.care2.com/causes/health-policy/blog/-blogger-reaches-out-to-breast-cancer-patients/
Becky:  http://www.morebirthdays.com/blog/featured/the-power-of-one-helping-fellow-survivors/
BlogHer (Mel): http://www.blogher.com/start-out-your-new-year-helping-great-project?wrap=blogher-topics/conditions-ailments&crumb=32399
C. Mom:  http://www.lacaramamma.com/2011/01/06/can%E2%80%99t-afford-lymphedema-sleeves/
Crunchy Chewy Mama: http://crunchychewymama.com/index.php/when-a-friend-gets-cancer/
Dr. Kathleen Ruddy: http://breastcancerbydrruddy.com/2011/01/25/recycling-information-help-for-lymphedema/
Elaine:  http://connorandhelen.blogspot.com/2011_02_01_archive.html
Elizabeth: http://halfchangedworld.com/2011/01/for-whymommy/ Florinda: http://www.3rsblog.com/2011/01/for-whymommy-help-for-cancer-survivors.html
Garza Girl: http://www.garzagirls.com/2011/01/24/f-off-cancer/ and http://www.garzagirls.com/tag/whymommy/
Ilinap: http://www.dirtandnoise.com/2011/01/breast-friends-and-a-39-mile-walk-in-the-park.html
J.J. http://caffeineandaprayer.com/2011/01/09/lymphedema-sleeves-real-help-for-breast-cancer-survivors/
Jane:  http://jane.whiteoaks.com/2011/01/08/lymphedema-sleeves-demystified/
Jessica:  http://aparentinsilverspring.com/2011/01/a-parent-in-silver-spring-on-cnn-how-the-story-changed-how-im-changing-it-again-for-cricketts-answer.html
Joanne:  http://www.punditmom.com/2011/01/princesses-fighting-cancer
Jodifur:  http://jodifur.com/2011/01/cant-afford-lymphedema-sleeves.html
Justice Stacey:  http://mamalaw.com/2011/01/cant-afford-lymphedema-sleeves/
Khara: http://babymammachronicles.blogspot.com/2011/01/help-for-breast-cancer-patients.html
Kim: http://www.sheposts.com/node/859
Kristen: http://www.motherhooduncensored.net/motherhood_uncensored/2011/01/whymommy.html
Lara: http://chickennuggetsofwisdom.com/2011/01/24/no-princess-fights-alone/
Leticia:  http://www.techsavvymama.com/2011/01/no-princess-fights-alone-join-army.html
Liz: http://www.thisfullhouse.com/reviews/2011/01/good-causes-cricketts-answer-to-cancer.html
Lynn:  http://organicmania.com/2011/01/07/helping-those-who-need-it-most/
Marty: http://canapesun.blogspot.com/2011/01/lymphedema-sleeves-for-every-survivor.html and http://canapesun.blogspot.com/2011/01/lets-all-be-copycats-raising-money-for.html
Mayberry Mom: http://mayberrymom.com/2011/02/04/on-not-fighting-alone/
Mel: http://www.stirrup-queens.com/2011/01/322nd-friday-blog-roundup/
Michele: http://scrapsofmygeeklife.com/everything-else /cant-afford-lymphedema-sleeves/
Michelle:  http://www.wifeandmommy.com/cant-afford-lymphedema-sleeves/
Minky:  http://dialmforminky.com/2011/01/need-help-affording-lymphedema-sleeves/
Mod*Mom: http://www.momblognetwork.com/%5Btermpath-raw%5D/lymph-edema-sleeve-giveaway-12000
Robin: http://noteverstill.blogspot.com/2011/01/rare-psa-lymphedema.html
Robin: http://wwwmylifeasitis.blogspot.com/2011/01/cant-afford-lymphedema-sleeves.html
Sam: http://www.momblognetwork.com/%5Btermpath-raw%5D/help-our-friends-support-crickett-s-answer
Stella: http://imstell.wordpress.com/2011/01/06/advocacy-and-lymphedema-sleeves/
Thien-Kim: http://www.imnotthenanny.com/2011/01/cant-afford-lymphedema-sleeves-new-help.html
ThisFullHouse @ Wellsphere: http://www.wellsphere.com/parenting-article/for-whymommy-give-cancer-the-virtual-bitchslap-it-deserves/1325109
UrbanMama:  http://spa.typepad.com/mamas/2011/01/index.html
Vera: http://breast4healing.amplify.com/2011/01/25/361/
Victoria: http://www.themummychronicles.com/2011/01/copy-cat-for-cancer.html
Wendy: http://wendyharpham.typepad.com/healthy_survivorship/2011/02/help-for-patients-with-lymphedema.html

This effort was recognized by writers at the American Cancer SocietyBloganthropy, BlogHer, Care2, Mom Blog Magazine, and ShePosts as being an exciting community effort.  Thank you all.  And if I missed your post or it hasn’t gone up yet?  Let me know.  I’d be thrilled to add even more!