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Monday, August 25, 2014

SURVIVOR! 42 years! #SisterhoodoftheTravelingPinkSweater

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This is my friend Mary.

Mary is a 42-year survivor of breast cancer. That, of course, is not how I got to know Mary.

Mary was Charlie's preschool teacher when he was 4 years old. Then she babysat for my kids one summer. When she was changing jobs, I helped her with her resume. And from there, we became friends.

She is funny and sarcastic and like a member of the family to us. And, most importantly for this post, she is tiny enough to fit into the pink sweater.

I am blogging tonight as part of the #SisterhoodoftheTravelingPinkSweater, a project that brings awareness to the cause of breast cancer.

Through this project different bloggers will wear (or style) the vintage pink sweater that Mary is wearing. It once belonged to the first resident of Riley Towers in Indianapolis!

Back to Mary. She was just 21, a newlywed, when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. She said her cancer was caught at the earliest stage the doctor had ever seen. She underwent a radical mastectomy and was cancer free. I asked Mary if she ever thinks about her own breast cancer.

"It was such a long time ago," she said. "I almost forgot I had it."

Maybe you know someone who fought breast cancer. Maybe it's something you can forget. Maybe  you think Mary is just too fashionable to be ignored. Read on...

You can be a part of the #SisterhoodoftheTravelingPinkSweater project in several ways:
  1. Visit the #SisterhoodoftheTravelingPinkSweater website and read more of the stories that have been contributed.
  2. While you are at the website, make a donation to the Pink Ribbon Connection, a local organization that provides underserved women emotional support, bras, wigs, prostheses, and education needed during breast cancer diagnosis, care and recovery.
  3.  Say a prayer of thanksgiving that Mary -- and thousands of other women -- are still here today despite their breast cancer fight. Then say a prayer of remembrance for those who found their cure on the other side of life.
I'm pleased to introduce the next woman to enter the #SisterhoodoftheTravelingPinkSweater, my friend Nikki Capshaw. She is a single mother of three, a certified medical assistant and one of the hardest-working people I know. You can learn more about Nikki at Domestically Single.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

It's a big year around here.

'Tis the season for back to school and at our house that means two major milestones. This is Annie's senior year and Charlie's freshman year of high school. Honestly. I'm not sure I've settled into the reality of that quite yet.

I'm not at all melancholy about it, although I will own up to thinking "how did that happen already?"

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But I'm so excited for them. Annie is knee-deep into college visits and SATs and senior privileges like eating lunch on the lawn and red polo shirts. Charlie has spent the summer working out with the soccer and basketball teams, has earned a spot on the JV soccer team and may or may not have already asked a girl to homecoming. 

 photo a389d3ee-5894-4360-af16-7645dabc5d9e_zps553eeaa3.jpg I'm so enjoying watching them becoming the people they were born to be. They are both such good kids (not without fault, surely). I look at this picture of them -- taken on the first day of school on Friday -- and I can't help but feel a swelling in my chest. This is really a fun stage of parenting for me to be in. I'm clueless about enough that they can tease me, but I'm up front and honest about enough that they can trust me.

Letting go of my control freak tendencies has been something I've been working on for the past year or so. That's coming in handy while parenting teenagers. I have confidence in the way we've raised them and in their ability to make good choices -- something I remind them to do, thanks to my friend Ann. That's not to say that I don't make use of the "Find my iPhone" app to keep an eye on them from time to time.

They are not going to the same high schools. That's really no surprise to me. Annie's school fits her perfectly. Charlie's fits him. They are only in high school one year together, so we will manage. (Would someone please remind me of that in about 3 or 4 weeks when having 3 kids in 3 different schools seems like an overwhelmingly crazy idea?) While I think it would have been fun for them to be at the same school, I know we've chosen the right school for each of them.

As I was walking the dog yesterday, I stopped to talk to a neighbor who'd just moved his son into a rental home for his sophomore year of college. We talked about how quickly the kids have grown. I could close my eyes and see Annie, at 17 months old, running through our then-empty home on move-in day. Charlie wasn't even a glimmer then.

And now, here they are. High schoolers. A senior! and a freshman. I didn't even see it coming. Gosh. I love these kids.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

I survived 6-hour Ebola

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I survived Ebola, the 6-hour kind.

Ok, it wasn't Ebola, but about this time yesterday, you couldn't have convinced me otherwise. It started unassumingly enough in the morning at work. I felt like junk. Fatigued. Achey. Then after a light lunch of yogurt and blueberries, the egg burps arrived. I hate those, all their foul-smelling, nasty tasting, sulfuric disgustingness. So, then I felt like junk and smelled like rotting eggs. 

After work, Annie picked me up to take me to parent orientation night at her school. On the way, she said "Mom, did you fart?" 

"No." I wasn't about to tell her that smell came from my mouth, not my butt.

She dropped me off and I chose a seat in the middle-ish of the room. Despite the air conditioning, I was sweating buckets and kept dragging the back of my hand across my forehead to wipe the sweat away. As I sat listening to the principal and other administrators address the parents of returning students, I wished to heck that I had chosen a seat way out of the way of other people. The egg burps kept coming and I kept my lips tightly pursed together, not wanting anyone to wonder if I was sitting there blatantly flaunting flatulence. The more I swallowed the burps, the worse I felt.

After the presentation, I was more than ready to go home. But, I was catching a ride home with another parent and there was an information fair to visit. I stood in a few lines, feeling my stomach bloat by the minute, desperate for some water or, better yet, my bed. I took a sip from the drinking fountain and prayed that my ride was ready to go. 

"Oh, I need to do one more thing," she said. I hadn't let on that I was feeling rotten, so she had no way of knowing. "Sure," I said, as I spied some peppermints in a bowl. I grabbed one, thinking the mint would settle my stomach. That is when everything went, well, Ebola-riffic.

I put the peppermint in my mouth and immediately that pool of saliva that comes right before you throw up made its appearance. I ran to the bathroom, hit the first stall and didn't know which end to put down. I opted to sit, having had plenty of experience breathing through nausea when I was pregnant. As I practice my best "please, please don't let me throw up" breathing, my liquified insides drained. And then, it happened.

There was no breathing through this nausea. I tried to get up and swing my head to the toilet, but the result was a very art deco-ish swirl of vomit that coated the side of the stall and the wall behind the toilet. I could only think to pray that a.) there was no one else in the bathroom and 2.) that I did not have diarrhea or vomit dripping from my clothes. 

Thanking my lucky stars that my clothes had been spared attack, I got some wet paper towels and cleaned up what I could, though the result was no where near "clean." I left washed up as best I could, went out to alert the school staff that cleanup was needed in stall #1 and prayed that my ride was ready to leave. Thankfully, she was. 

I worried about getting sick again on the way home. I didn't mention anything to my friend, feeling bad that I was going to be placing my germy self in her car for the next 20 minutes. Instead I tried to make conversation and was silently thankful that my friend is a nurse, in case something unspeakable did happen.

I got home, dropped everything and took myself straight to bed. Which is where I stayed for about 3-1/2 minutes before I was assaulting our own toilet. And that's how it went for the next several hours. Time was a blur. I couldn't fall asleep, but I couldn't read or use my phone. I don't believe I have ever been that deliriously sick in my life. Eventually, I gave up trudging back to bed after getting sick and instead laid on the bathroom floor. 

By 1:00am, the torrent of bodily fluids appeared to be over. I awoke this morning feeling like I'd been run over by a garbage truck with a head that felt like it was in a vise. I called in sick to work and spent the rest of the day sleeping with intermittent periods of answering emails from work. 

And now, 24 hours later, I'm bravely attempting a baked potato, watching Cinderella on DVD, and sharing this story that you probably wish you hadn't read.