Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Teachable moments...

Last weekend we went to the county fair. Almost immediately upon walking in and into the barn area, while looking at the Watusi cow (have you seen one? They are awesome!) a little girl in a wheelchair rolled up next to us. Jack loudly asked (because he's 4 and the only volumes a 4 year old knows are loud, louder and whispering so quietly that I can't hear) "What is that wheelchair for?" At first I cringed a little inside, as I know most parents do, and then I took a breath and said "Baby, she hurt her leg so she needs help to get around" and that was that.
But as I thought about it, I'm glad he asked and I'm glad I responded. Because then I started to remember two summers ago...when I had no hair and was pregnant out to there. And people stared and looked away and ignored me. I would have been happy if some kid asked why I didn't have any hair, and their parent took the time to explain it to them, or even told them "I don't know baby, why don't you ask the lady yourself?" An honest question asked and answered, no matter how uncomfortable the parties are, is a million times better than a silent stare.
Jack knows that I have scars all over... I haven't hidden them from him because I wanted him to know mama has ouchies, but they are healing and will eventually get better. He knows that mama has been "sick" before. I don't want him or AR to ever be afraid to ask about people's differences but I also want them to understand that those differences are completely okay, that everyone has their own scars, their own abilities, their own normal.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

My side venture...sanity helper...same diff...

I have so many things waiting to be written but it's just so hard to sit down and write lately. Partially because it's slightly uncomfortable, partly because some of the things I want to write about are difficult to get out, and partly because even though I am still under restrictions and have help with the kids I'm still trying to do too many things in a day. And here is one of them.
This is probably a shameless plug but whatever, it's my blog. :) Even before I was laid off a few years ago I liked to do crafty things. Jack's birthday and the holidays offered limited opportunities. Then I was laid off, then pregnant, then diagnosed and my time was consumed by a new baby, and more doctor's appointments and procedures then many people can even imagine. So when I was done with active treatment, when AR was a little older and more independent (which is the ONLY thing she is these days, highly independent, you'd think the kid is 21 years old and not 21 months old!), I started to look for a small something to fill my time with again.

My Mickey Mouse Clubhouse Birthday post has remained pretty popular on pinterest, and I love to do certain crafty things, so I started up Moose Country Crafts to provide me with something to do! I love to make rustic, simple things so if you want to take a look, that would be awesome. You can also always follow me on Facebook, or on Instagram @moosecountrycrafts and twitter @moosecntrycrfts.


Thursday, July 3, 2014

the house

Sorry it's been so long, I promise to update on the whole surgery process. I've been a little slow lately...recovery is not quite as bad as I anticipated but it's still frustrating and slow...as it should be for such a large, long operation.

But this is where my thoughts lie today. I believe I have mentioned before that I have been in the process of cleaning out my grandparents' house over the past couple years. And that if you have ever been responsible for such a thing you understand why it takes such a very long time. Anyway, while involved in this process, I've not had much time for feelings about it, other than getting it done. I've had a baby, had cancer, a bunch of "life" has happened while I've been in this process. And frankly, there were such bad feelings around the house in the last few years - my grandfather's dementia, having to evict my uncle and the preceding and following strife around that whole debacle, my grandmother's decline, the increasing deterioration of the house - that frankly, I just wanted it over with, done and gone.
But now that it is done, now that the papers are signed to put it up for sale, now that I looked on realtor.com this morning and saw it listed...now it's real and now I feel it. And now, like I suspected would happen all along but didn't want to admit, now it breaks.my.heart.

It's the place that raised three kids and many animals over the past 64 years.

Adding on to the original 2/1 house.
My mom and uncles

It's the place that when I had dreams when I was little and they took place "at home", that's where they were, not in the crappy apartment where I lived.

My first Easter Sunday with my grandparents
It's the place where I spent the majority of my childhood, where 90% of my childhood memories live, where my name is still carved in the cement of the driveway, on a small square between the sidewalk and a dilapidated fence built by my pop pops hands.

JLC 1983

It's the place where I could walk to the next block over and go to the house in which my grandfather was born, where my aunt (his unanticipated twin) was placed in the warming oven of the stove because she was so small.
Some unknown holiday dinner
Halloween circa '84?
It's the place where I learned to roller skate down the sidewalk, and almost lost control of my bike going down the steep hill at the top of the street, it's the place where I learned about crushes on boys (my friend had a crush on one of the neighbors grandsons - I still thought boys were icky and had no idea why she would do that...funny enough, that boy and I are still acquaintances)
It's the house in front of which most of my "milestone" pictures were taken - baptism, holidays, graduations...

Christmas of some unknown year
It's the house in which my grandfather built all of the kitchen cabinets, which will likely be torn out and tossed away.

It's the backyard where all of my childhood pets are buried.

The graveyard resides in the back left corner

Suburbs anyone?

It's the shed where I spent hours upon hours watching my uncle (not the one we evicted) work on his motorcycles, sitting on them, pretending I was flying down the highway.

Mom getting ready for a dance
It's the house where my uncle tried to teach me to ride a small motorcycle, where I took the corner down the driveway a bit too fast one day and dropped the bike (going all of what, 10 miles an hour?), where my mom freaked out, scared me and I subsequently never rode a bike again.

The motorcycle riding uncle, 1969

Random card game

My grandmother

It's the street down which my uncle tried to teach me to drive a stick (didn't work, had to learn it on my own, on the rainiest day of the year).


My uncle with Arlo
It's the backyard where I helped my pop pop garden, plant, build, create.

My pop pop's work shed
It's the back bedroom where I had my first kiss the summer after 8th grade.

It was the house where on a Saturday morning when I was 5, I learned what loving your animal until the end meant when our dog Arlo was taken to be put to sleep, with my mom and uncle crying all the way there and back.
Arlo and Horatio
It's the house where so many of my cousins, aunts, uncles, etc. visited over the years, when so many of the other family houses had dissipated.

One of the few times in the past 25 years my grandmother allowed the fireplace lit

It's the place where, in the living room, my grandfather took his last breath less than 500 feet away from where he took his first one.

My grandparents
It's the house in which, while cleaning it out, I am 100% certain that there were multiple times in which my grandfather and uncle made their presence quite known and scared the bejeezus out of me.

It's the place that when you're driving around the neighborhood after being away for many, many years, taking the back way out of the shopping center, and you don't really remember the right way to go but your steering wheel just follows what your hands do, which are turning without thinking, and you feel the way back that you've taken a million times before, that you apparently could truly do with your eyes closed.
For all intents and purposes, whether I wanted it to be or not, it was my touchstone. I will likely go back up to the house one or two more times and once, for certain, I will sit in the living room, by myself, and cry. And say goodbye.

Monday, June 16, 2014

A Roiling Boil...

Do you ever have so incredibly much going on - good or bad - that you just feel like you are in a bubbling whirlpool? I'm in the whirlpool. Between my very long and scary surgery tomorrow, Jack turning four, my baby girl just changing immensely every day, my grandparents house, a house that I pretty much grew up in, being almost emptied and up for sale....I'm just overwhelmed. They aren't all bad changes, but they are big life changes all at once and my goodness, for someone who does not like change at all, well...I was driving home from my grandparent's house this weekend, singing loudly with my Mumford and Sons and streaming tears - some happy, some sad, some grateful, some freaked out.
So now I will try to go to sleep until 5 am tomorrow morning when I get ready to go to the hospital, and kiss my sleeping babies heads, and get ready to put one of the big life changes behind me.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

My little man

Somewhere, somehow...in a mélange of blinks of an eye and interminable days, you turned from this small helpless baby to my little man. You are so steadfast and determined - you do not absorb, move, learn, react, engage, until you are ready to. On the other hand, you are so incredibly full of energy, sometimes to a frenetic extent, that you continue to grow my patience quota daily. You are sassy, and so very sweet. You are hilarious. While you are full of a pre-schooler's disregard for others at times, you show moments of such sweetness and kindness - moments that you don't know that I see - that you make my heart balloon.
Oh my heart, I love you so very much. I am beyond thankful every day that I get to continue to enjoy the privilege of hearing you call me mama. Happy happy birthday my love. 

Thursday, May 29, 2014


So, I'm sitting here at 11:59 pm, which if you know me, is ungodly, watching the season premier of So You Think You Can Dance (umm, yes, I still harbor delusions that my few years of ballet in grammar school will translate into, I don't know, admission into the Old People's Ballet Company? What of it?) writing out a list of things that I have to get done in the next three weeks. Before I have the big big big surgery, on June 17th. This one is keeping me awake. This will be my 5th surgery (in my life, not because of the cancer), and it will be a doozy. Almost 8 hours, likely 5 days in the hospital. Six weeks of pretty ugly recuperation. Dealing with a 19 month old who I cannot in any uncertain terms, lift for 6 weeks and who loves to be picked up by mama multiple times a day.

And this one sort of scares the crap out of me. Yes, I've wanted this surgery forever - yes, I was completely theoretically prepared for it. But now that there is a date and a time...holy crap. Because you know what? Yes, childbirth can kill you and cancer can kill you, and hell, getting in your car can kill you...but surgery can kill you right.then.and.there. And this is elective...there is no medical reason to have this surgery, only my own vanity and comfort. I'm putting my own life at risk and putting my family through a large period of disruption...for my vanity? Does it really come down to that? I know it's much more than that and I know I have absolutely no reason to feel guilty and I know it will be a distant memory soon but you can't help but to think. And then maybe I need to remember, like everyone else has been , some wise words by a woman we lost today...
Yes, this all has changed me - mentally, physically, emotionally - but I need to remember that I should be damned if I let it make me feel guilty for wanting to feel somehow whole again; to somehow, after the Frankenstein scars from this surgery fade, feel semi-comfortable in my own skin again. I am worth it. I deserve it. I will have it. It will be good.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Check in

Sorry, I've been holding my breath as I always do when I have a scan and I received the all clear today, so now I can breathe again. Couple posts in the works and have also been working on reopening my Etsy store (Moose Country Crafts on etsy and facebook) aaannnd as I've talked about, getting my grandparents house reaaaaaalllly close to the market. Basically I have been keeping myself busy trying not to think of getting results! Be back soon!

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Mother's Day 2014

Mother's Day now, to me, is not a day to be feted. In fact, oftentimes I'm so frustrated and disappointed in my own mothering skills that the last thing that I think I deserve is any sort of congratulations in the matter. What it does represent is a day to be so thankful that I was gifted these two beings. I don't always remember this in the throes of another dinnertime where Jack is refusing to eat or when AR decides to scream and cry for half an hour because I don't give her the 300th cracker before lunch, but I am well aware of many fellow cancer ladies who have been stripped again of one of the most basic of human rights - the choice of whether to have children or not -  as a result of this completely unfair siege.
This is a day to thank God again that I get to be here. A funny thing about Mom's with littles who have gone through this fight - while most other people (and I do NOT in any way begrudge anyone this, it's just a difference that I have noticed) talk about their bucket lists and places they want to visit and things they want to do (and yes, I am not in any way saying I still don't see myself sitting in my little coffeehouse at the end of the street in the Salzburg Altstadt, sans kids, sometime soon), we make deals with God about time. And not time for us, time with our kids. I can't count how many of us have told each other that we have tried to bargain with God by asking "Please just give me 5 more years so I can get them into elementary school" and then "Please God, can I just have 10 more years because then they will be in high school" etc etc etc. Things that don't occur to other Mom's swarm our brains every.single.day. So these holidays, Mother's Day, birthdays, etc., are not just holidays, not just breakfast and flowers and cards -  they are milestones.
 I don't need to know how much they love me - I desperately need them to know how much I love them.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Happy Cinco de Mayo!

How time passes so quickly I have no idea. I write something then turn around to write again and find it's been over a week. Amazing. Anyway, just a stop in on this May 5th to show a tribute to my own familial Cinco de Mayo...
My Mexican Nana (my great-grandmother) and my French Pops who joined forces to create a whole bunch of dysfunctional family members! I didn't get to know them much...Pops died quite a few years before I was born. I knew my Nana but she was sick and bedridden which is a bit of a scary prospect to a 3 or 4 year old. She died when I was 4 and as any good Mexican family would do for any occasion, her after-funeral reception was filled with tears, laughter, fighting and lots of alcohol, not necessarily in that order. But these two people raised 5 kids in a house that, from my memory, had to be less than 800 square feet (we bemoan having 4 people in our 1280 square foot house quite often). When my grandfather and his twin sister were born, my aunt was so tiny that they kept her warm by putting her in a cigar box in the warming oven. Their 5 kids went on to have 14 grandchildren, 20 great-grandchildren, and 7 great-great grandchildren so far. Their house still stands on the next street over from my grandparents house. They are remembered.  Salud!

Sunday, April 27, 2014

You keep living.


A facebook "breast" friend of mine posted this the other day - it's from "Call the Midwife" (I watched a few episodes and it was very good but I didn't keep up, do any of you watch it?)...anyway, I have no idea what the context of the quote is but it about absolutely perfectly describes what I've been going through, and probably most anyone who has gone through some traumatic event.
You just keep living until you are alive again...you keep going every day until you don't see that black veil behind you because you are just too busy to even think about it. And then you keep living until you don't see that black veil because you are too happy in this moment to think about anything ominous. And you smile because you realize that you haven't been able to feel and embrace that happiness in a long long time because you were terrified to... because if you let your guard down and think that things may just be okay, that maybe you don't have to worry every single minute of every day, that if you dare to have the audacity to plan ahead, to dream again, to recklessly believe that you are actually okay - that that moment will be the one that invites shit to walk right back in the door. You keep living until one day you don't internalize and personalize every bad story that you hear, and you hear entirely too many of them in this club. You keep living until someone offhandedly saying "Wait until she's a teenager" doesn't make your heart shatter - because you know you will be there to suffer through it and you will cherish every fight coming your way. You keep living until there are more and more minutes and hours strung together in which you actually improbably forget that you have had cancer. You keep living until there is a day when you feel pretty again, when someone looks at you, like they used to, and your first thought is not everything that is wrong and scarred and mangled underneath your clothes but what is still present in your face and your eyes and your smile.
You keep living until one day you realize that you do have permission - you have a right - to feel alive again. I'm not there yet, but I'm working on it.