9/14/10

I'm moving...and you're invited

After a hiatus, I'm thinking of getting back on the saddle. You can find me here.

5/18/10

I'm thinking of moving

Not in real life...we are here in Bingham Farms for keeps! How can a person move when she has so many things in the ground and so many plans for herself, her husband, and her children in this one spot!

No, I'm thinking of moving to a new blog.

I love this blog. It saved my sanity at a time when I had a LOT to work out. It connected me with strangers who became my friends, it made friends out of my acquaintances, and it even brought me closer to my closer set of friends and family members. I could never have dreamed up the advantages that blogging provided me with during my chemo year (and beyond).

However, when I set up this blog as a way to talk about my breast cancer and disseminate information, I chose to have the title be my name. I couldn't think up anything snappy (still can't), but also saw the value in making it simple. If people wanted to know what was going on with our family in the middle of the cancer year, they could look it up pretty easily. Try a few variations of Pam Lucken and blogger, and you could find me! It was a great tool for me when I was sharing information that was good to share.

Happily, my life isn't really about my own breast cancer story anymore. I don't have news to share with a bunch of people at one time. Unhappily, though...I feel like I have some bigger issues than my Stage I Invasive Ductal Carcinoma (not to encourage it to come back bigger and more deadly...I'm hoping it will stay a non-issue!). I'm doing just fine...but the cancers that have affected my life that are NOT my own have been harder for me to deal with than my own was.

I'd like to keep (or more appropriately, start, again) writing. I love the format of blogging - draft, hit "publish", and never look back! I don't mind sharing my stories. However, I'm not sure that I want that person who is coming back for a quick visit, hoping to see that this breast cancer survivor is still doing well, and have that person then be immersed in my latest types of therapies. (For that person - I AM doing well! I am living...I am regular...I am cancer-free, as much as anyone knows if they are cancer-free or not.) Curiously enough, in an age when everyone is blogging, self-promoting, social media-ing - I feel like being more anonymous. I'm not sure that the stuff I will be working on next will be appropriate for light chatter in the pickup line...I don't want people to shy around me like I might be fragile (I'm not)...I want to end this blog and say:

I am doing so well...THANK YOU for being with me on my journey! I am so grateful for your company!

Who knows what is ahead...good things, I am sure. I am sure I will keep (or start, again) writing - just maybe in a place that seems more safe for me. (And I know the internet is not ever safe...so in choosing this medium I am not entirely "safe" from whatever...but I want to make a fresh start and see what kind of good work I can do next.)

And...if I am NOT lucky, (as sadly, too many breast cancer survivors are) and if I need this blog to share about issues that are impacting my health and the future of my family, then I'll come back! Let's hope I don't need it.

4/22/10

P.S.

I ADORE my chickens. They may not be that cute, but they are totally, totally precious. Who would have ever thought that $3.50 of bird (that is how much they cost as baby chicks) would be so affectionate, so funny, have so much personality?

I don't care if the whole world thinks I am crazy or weird...everyone should have chickens. They are good for the soul! (Well, not everyone. They are a bit of work...but there are some big payoffs - like the way they snuggle and fall asleep when they are cozy in my lap! Or the way they all come waddling over to see me when they are walking around in the garden - all 8 of them! Who knew I would be such a good mama bird?)

Also, Bill is making the most outstanding chicken coop. I'm so proud of him.

Hello lonely blog; or, when it rains, it pours!

SO much for my fun Ikea job! It may go down on record as being my shortest-held job in all of my history...1 month of employment.

Surprised? Me TOO! I would never have taken the job had I known exactly how much work was in store for me (not all at Ikea, either). It took awhile between my interview, when I learned about the position and discussed it with Bill (who at the time was not superbly busy at work...as he had not been for roughly 1.5 years!), and my hiring date. In between those dates, Bill DID become superbly busy as work (yay for the Martec Group, what a sigh of relief)...so busy that he hired me to do some work for him.

Imagine my surprise when I went from being a stay-at-home mother of 3 kids, to working 40 hours a week between two jobs!

Imagine my pain when my husband was even busier than ever...making it impossible for him to always step up and be superdad if my schedule was a little full (pick up this kid from practice, come home a bit early so I can get to this appointment, etc.).

Imagine how freaked out I became when I realized we have no break in busy-ness in the imminent future - PLUS we soon add 3 nights of soccer practices, 2 days of games, girl scout meetings every 2 weeks, and soon after that, 5 nights of swim practice a week!

Add to that the fact that my very nice manager discovered that the other two people that she was training (who already work at IKEA) were not as in love with the position as I was (it was pretty busy and involved lots of running around the store, perfect for busy old me)...leaving her with lots of hours on the schedule to fill (which I never planned to be able to fill).

So Mrs. Lucken and IKEA parted ways too soon...which is actually quite fine. Nice manager set it up so that I could go back anytime that I want to work there again. I bought a few cute things. I had a nice little jumpstart and got out of the house. I realized I'd rather be a slave to The Martec Group, like my dear husband, because of course they pay better than retail.

The only sad news is that I am stuck in my house MORE...and it is DIRTIER as I am working on this stupid computer all the time! Not so good for my psyche, but oh well. It's good for the bank account, and for the self esteem. It has also forced me to not volunteer for each and every single opportunity that comes up in the kids' schools, which is kind of a bit of a good break. A person can totally sign her life's hours away to the schools, if she is generous with volunteering as I can be. I like helping, but sometimes I feel like it is now totally expected of me, instead of being something nice that I do to help out.

Next, my darling mother-in-law has decided to renovate our home as her latest project! (If you saw her house, you would know why she is not renovating her home...it is already glamorous and perfect.) SO, I am sitting at this computer while my stuff is all over the house, except in the laundry room, which is being revamped. The Lucken family without a laundry room/mud room is a very sad sight. Our garage is trashed (has a refrigerator, a laundry sink, a washer, a dryer, 8 chickens, stuff I still haven't unpacked since we moved here, and all of the random things that once lived in my laundry room, strewn about in disarray as we prepared for this project). I have to somehow paint the laundry room so that I can put the washer and dryer back in it tomorrow (soccer uniforms need to be cleaned for the weekend!). We are still in the middle of our chicken coop project, and there is wood all over the backyard like we are hillbillies. Oh yes, and I have 11 shrubs to pick up on Saturday, and 3 trees, and STILL HAVE TO MAKE SPACE TO PLANT THEM! And DIG THE HOLES! And GET THE SOIL! And the trailer (for getting the soil) needs to be returned Saturday!

Finally, I have to spend the weekend getting ready for the launch of another project with Bill's work...

oh yes, and I have three kids.

SO now, do you see what I mean by "when it rains, it pours?"

I can't believe I am actually managing all of this craziness. I think the half of a pan full of magic cookie bars is what got me through today, though.

Yikes!

4/5/10

The Easter Bunny must be very tired

The Lucken children were really amazingly spoiled this Easter! They were included in an Easter Egg hunt in my sister's neighborhood, which was unexpected and mind-blowingly fun. The Easter Bunny left them baskets (including the standard garden gloves - how thoughtful! Did the Easter Bunny hop through our yard and say, "I think that 3 budding gardeners live here!" haha) PLUS a multi-step scavenger hunt leading to a few extra presents. (Another aside - The Easter bunny is a gifted poet! Her iambic pentameter is flawless!) Grandma Sybil loaded them down with adorable presents, Aunt Julie brought over the cutest things which she sought out and purchased from multiple easter-themed collections at area stores, Aunt Perry brought them a cute little bag of treats...our house is trashed with Easter presents, candy wrappers, and plastic eggs.

Oh yes, I should mention that in my first attempt at (co) hosting Easter (my sister cooked almost everything, because she is amazing), we had two Easter Egg hunts. One for big kids and one for small kids. Total number of hidden eggs = 160

Today, I definitely feel like I overdid Easter, but I think that is understandable. It was our first Easter without my Dad and his annual beloved Easter Egg hunt, and also our first Easter with Julie in town, so we thought it would be a good idea to change a little (or a lot). Added to the crazy Easter festivities was Katie's family birthday party on Friday night, which was also pretty big (23 people) and fun, and I am tired! I went all out for my little family - I can't imagine how the Easter Bunny must feel!

--------

In the same vein, the Easter vein, I really want to remember the other things that I did this Easter that were maybe more meaningful and memorable.

For the first time, I was able to take my children to Church on Easter Sunday! (The Easter Egg hunt and brunch were always early at my Dad's house, as Dad and Nancy liked to go to the cottage afterwards). I felt so nostalgic, seeing my 3 nicely-dressed children at Mass - more than anything, that reminded me of my childhood (well, that plus the fun scavenger hunt and presents - I had enough time to do that this year and that really reminded me of my thoughful mom who loved holidays). There was something about doing these two things from my childhood that made me feel like my parents were right there with me, celebrating Easter with my family. We may not see them, but they were right there in Mass with us - my Dad singing the songs, dressed in a tie, with my Mom, probabaly tired from the shopping and the scavenger hunt planning, happy that her three children are happy, making sure they are dressed properly and understanding the true meaning of Easter (I had even read the Stations of the Cross to my children and we observed some solemn hours on Good Friday). I was sure I felt them in our traditions which I was carrying on with my children.

In case I needed a little confirmation that I was doing the right thing, Mass started with an opening hymn that popped into my head when we were looking at our Easter baskets (and then it was in all of the Lucken heads, as I was singing it over and over for fun)! They all looked at me like I was magic when they heard it in church. And THEN, the offertory hymn was "Morning Has Broken" - the hymn I chose as the opening hymn for my Dad's funeral. Emma was sad, but I explained that it's meaning was perfect for my Dad then, the way it was perfect for Jesus now - the suffering was over, it was a new and beautiful day.

I looked at my little family, and the tears rolled down my face as I whispered to them - "I am sad your grandparents are missing this [being with my kids as they grow up], but I am so happy because I feel like they are HERE."

3/30/10

A very good life

I'm reflecting on something my husband said yesterday...something that is so TRUE. He said that we are doing everything we can to surround ourselves with LIFE - we have a totally insane and very alive Red Dog; we have an enormously fluffy and playful Black Kitten-Cat (fat like a cat, aged like a kitten still); we have 8 baby-adolescent chicks. I'm growing about 100 plants in my house because it is too cold to put any of them out in the garden. Everywhere we look, it is life, Life, LIFE!

All of that life and liveliness starts to get to a person, and you just can't help feel the enthusiasm. Hope romps around the yard for hours like that old, unwanted green toy of Dagny's is the best thing she's ever seen (though she's just about used every last bit of it to pieces). Nixie New writhes with affection and coziness like she never believed she could be so happy! And the chicks - they are always stretching their little necks to see "what's that? where are we? what is the giant unfeathered mother hen bringing us now?" The plants stretch themselves out like there will never be anything to stop them from reaching the sky.

And THEN...the kids! How fun it is to do geometry with Emma...we are finally doing some problem solving and teaching at home that doesn't put a mommy to sleep. She got a bigger girl bike, and now she looks little again (she was looking so gigantic on her first big girl bike). Katie turns 8 on Friday! and we are starting a new adventure together as a Brownie and her Brownie Troop Leader Mommy which I expect to be so fun for us. And, Nathan! He skipped learning how to ride a two-wheeler on his bike (the one that has training wheels we could have removed) and in about 1 day, learned how to ride Emma's now-outgrown bike. I didn't even have time to teach him, to get sore running around the neighborhood hunched over and holding a bike, time to cajole him into trying again...after a few tries with Bill, I "helped" him and I couldn't even keep up (and I know how to run, too!) He was going around the circle into the driveway, off into the street, riding like he was born doing it.

I will admit, that if I mention my pets or my gardening obsession to plenty of moms at the kids' schools I get "that" look - like I am crazy, maybe dirty, and certainly strange. Let's face it, not too many people in this area run out to get 8 chickens or consider it a terrific evening (not to mention it an accomplishment) if she pulls up 700 small buckthorn plants and has a wonderful bonfire.

However, let me just say that if you are in my situation in other ways, it is very liberating to do whatever you need to do to surround yourself with life, love, and your hobbies (life - chickens, love - being around and with my kids so much, and by staying at home, being around my husband so much too, and hobbies - 700 buckthorn in one night means I can plant so many things this spring and summer)! I'm glad I'm beyond worrying about what people think about me! It's so non-traditional, but what a very good life.

Overheard from Nathan

"I call that Dark Guy? The guy with the dark hair, dark clothes, dark everything? I call him Dark Vader."

3/24/10

My room smells like breast cancer, and...joy?

On Monday morning, after my family members were all off pursuing their various educations and professions, I walked into my room and I was taken aback with a huge sense of deja vu. It was quiet. It was clean. Bill had left on the air purifier (which had in recent months taken up residence in Emma's room). Most importantly, the light was just exactly the same as it would have been two years ago when I was in that same room, recovering from my mastectomy (daylight savings time, still no leaves on the trees, sunny but with no snow on the ground to make it shocking...). I was taken right back to those early days of my breast cancer.

It was almost a nice familiar smell and scene - the peace of kn0wing I was on an upswing (in one way - the cancer was cut out, and I only had one way to go - up and out of everything) mixed with the fear that I still had some hard things in front of me. I think remembering that upswing - feeling it, in that instant - gave me some hope.

Sometimes I feel like grieving is a cop-out. How can missing a person, missing being a daughter, and the pain of hard memories actually cause a person to be as "off" as I feel like I often am? Am I just lazy, and making excuses for that? I have a hard time feeling like it is OK to be "off", and I have a hard time believing that I'm not always going to be a little wrecked from all of this. I have not really been so certain that I could be on an upswing, any time soon (though I tell myself it will come, I'm not sure I always believe it).

Then I walk into my breast cancer bedroom - that quiet, clean-smelling scene - and FEEL something again...or then, yesterday, for just a teeny-tiny instant, while I was running on my treadmill, I felt one flash of my joy. Both sensations were so quickly gone that I can barely believe I felt them - but I am so grateful for those flashes.

I think they mean that the girl that I am when I am at my best might still be here, somehow. Could I manage to catch that upswing?

3/23/10

This is why I wanted this dog:

EXUBERANCE!!!!


Also, though she has a whole acre to explore, she prefers to play right next to these kids.

OMG! They are happy and not fighting!!!!!!

3/22/10

Picture fun!

Just a few pics of a great excursion with my Bear...

Who wants this plant...


It's my first of what I imagine to be many plant giveaways, on my gardening blog... One woman just cannot garden this much without giving some of it away!

Go to onenewleaf.wordpress.com for details.

I'm not sure I can resist any longer...

I was going to try to keep some of my absolute weirdness on my other blog (which I haven't fully established yet), so as to save any of my breast cancer readers from thinking poorly of the person I was (and am) pre- and post-breast cancer! I have also been wondering if it would be better to keep all of the weirdness NOT connected with my name (i.e. not on pamlucken.blogspot. com), but on another site.

However, it is also time to face facts - the weirdness is me! And if I keep shying away from spewing the weirdness on the world wide web (ha ha - isn't it funny to think of it that way? Remember when we didn't know what to call the the internet - the web, the net, online, internet, whatever?), I'll never write on here again...and my memory of what happens in my day to day life is thus gone, which is a shame. (My other blog is fine and all, but I'm so used to this one...)

I thoroughly wish I was one of those wonderful mothers who records her children's childhoods with journaling, and scrapbooks, and constant picture-taking, but I'm not. I waste my time wrestling with them, and ignoring them while I try to exercise, or garden, or thinking of what activity I have to do next (email the class to remind them of some activity? Plan a girl scout meeting? Set up a playdate for Nathan?). It is a good thing that at least some of these activities include them (the things I have to plan for and communicate with others), and it is also a good thing that THEY have good memories (esp. Emma - she is my child who remembers to wear a "green" shirt to her Green Committee meeting, that it is "crazy hair day" etc. I notice it later and am so proud that she is more ahead of herself than I am.)

I am not one of those mothers, though...and tears did threaten when a lovely HR woman at IKEA regaled me with the precious story of her journaling of her 2 year old son's first "Momma". Emma has a baby book and a calendar and a scrapbook, Katie has a calendar (first year, like Emma), and half of a baby book, and Nathan has a first year calendar and a giant box of memories (the girls have these too). "Here, precious son, make your own scrapbook, I don't have time!"

Bad mommy. I WANT to give my dearests everything, I just never make the time. Bad mommy who doesn't prioritize well.

So you see, I need this blog! It's easy to do while I walk away on the treadmill. I remember things while I am exercising, and WHAM! I can write them down!

For example, I want to remember how I was putting Emma to bed last night...or reputting her to bed, as the case might be. She has totally learned to take advantage of her mother and father's absentmindedness and she has found that as long as she gets in bed and turns out the light, she can then turn her light back on in about 1 minute and read until it is WAY TOO LATE! So I was reputting her to bed, and it was exactly like this...which I know about because the Kay family has brought the joy of Sesame Street back into my life (and into the life of my children. We can now all reference numerous Sesame Street moments which we never actually saw on the show...we've only seen them on youtube with Matthew.)

I was singing, not this song, just a gentle and yet strange song of my own creation, and giving her nice pats on her head, and then I would -in a flash!- pull her covers up and leap onto her to tuck her in (in the middle of the song I was singing, to surprise her). She would scream (isn't that such a good thing to do, when there are 2 other children already asleep and a husband who is trying to sleep - make your 10 year old scream?), and tell me to do it again...and again...and again. At the end, I said, "Now, have you been put to bed with the respect you deserve, having been my daughter for 10 years, 3 months, and 19 days?"

She smiled sweetly and said, "No. Only after you do this 10 more times." Meanwhile, Dagny looked at me with a look that said, "Are you DONE yet? I'm ready to go to sleep, woman!" and Katie came storming upstairs to demand the same mistreatment (which she got, later, because she was the lucky child to share the menopausal suite with me last night).

How great that this was all happening at 10:30pm, on a night when I told Bill that the kids could NOT watch The Amazing Race! It's already 8:40pm!
They need to go to bed early! (They did watch a dvr'd episode, prior to this "bedtime"...and see, that is the problem! I try to be disciplined with bedtime, but if I am overruled even for a second, I can no longer keep up that fake-disciplined facade.)

SOOO...good. I'm glad I will remember that weirdness now. I'm also glad that now Bill knows I kept Emma up until 10:30pm, since he was the one to deal with her crankiness this morning.

And with that, I'd like to make a warning...I have much crazier weirdness to report. Such as this:



and that's only the half of it.

3/21/10

My personal trainer

Wii Sports has become my new personal trainer, but not for the reason one might think...
(And here is where I would be posting a picture of Nathan playing Wii Sports Resort while I walk or run on the treadmill...but it didn't work and I have no patience today!)
He has NEVER been so happy for me waste away the minutes exercising as he is now. The key is to make it sound like a treat - "Do you want to play Wii Sports while I exercise?" and to totally save such activities for only during my exercise time!

3/19/10

Goals for this glorious spring

I'm getting ahead of myself (as always)...first of all, it's not even spring yet! Secondly, who knows if the upcoming spring will be glorious (weather-wise) or not. However, one thing is totally awesome about this post...Mrs. Lucken is planning for something IN ADVANCE, instead of jumping into it head-first as is more typical of said woman. Yay!

So here are my goals - all thoughts geared towards solving my biggest spring problem - gardenlove:
  1. Keep running! (Usually I either injure myself gardening or I'm too tired to do it after hours in the yard.) How to accomplish this goal: run in the morning. Yikes. Seems impossible, esp. once school gets out (swimming is early for Emma, and I have not yet proved successful at being an early riser). Still, a goal's a goal, right?
  2. DO NOT GET INJURED! Or more likely - DO NOT THINK THAT I AM INJURED! All of these hours of heavy labor can make a woman sore (no you don't have cancer in that rib, you just pulled something). How to accomplish: Miracle Balls (do you have these, they are awesome!), yoga, stretching, less yard work, more running (hoping running makes me tired and takes up at least an hour when I would have been gardening).
  3. Do not neglect children! Yes, horrible Mrs. Lucken has been known to say "sure, in a minute" ALL DAY LONG to her poor children, forcing them to forage for themselves in the wilderness where all they can find to eat are cereal bars from Trader Joe's. How to accomplish: take breaks to provide snacks (also good for goal #2), good meal planning (instead of forcing husband to make all dinners from end-of-March until snowfall), use of crockpot, plan to do fun activities with them (also good for goal #3).
  4. Take more pictures. I've been avoiding this like a petulant child. (See previous post.) Case in point: Nyx! She is gigantic! Fluffy! Fat! Precious! And I have NO pictures of her kittenhood. How totally crazy. (And by the way, I just can't write her name down as Nyx anymore. I am taking the creative license to switch it to Nixie. Or Nixie New, as we call her, or New Cat, or Fluffy Cat.) This is also a great goal as I love to look at my garden pictures later....and I also have 8 new pets whose astonishing growth would be fun to look back upon later.
  5. Keep up with email, and DO NOT NEGLECT TO CALL MY SISTER! Darling sister in Evanston may go through serious withdrawl if I get lost again in gardenlove and do not keep up with the phone conversations. And she gets mad, something none of us want to have happen!
  6. Write more on my garden blog...for fun journaling I can look back upon later. This is another fun activity that should keep me from overexerting myself outside...

That's it for now, folks...I'm typing this while I do my warmup walk on the treadmill, and it's time to start "running". Progress reports to follow!

3/10/10

THANK YOU!

Thank You all so much!! I managed to raise $300! It means a lot to me that I got to help with saving other people lives. Now I know that I helped to make sure no one goes through what my Mom and Aunts had to go through. Thank You.
Emma

3/9/10

a note from Emma

This is Emma Lucken writing to say I am doing Jump Rope for Heart. I know that most of you donated to my sister (rats I never get to Jump first ). You don't have to donate but every little bit counts. I am jumping for my mom's mom who as you know died when my mom was a kid, and I have always wanted to meet her. I am jumping because I don't want anybody to have to go through what my mom and her sisters went through. So if you want to donate click on this link: Jump Rope for Heart Thanks!
Emma

Dear Dad





Dear Dad,

It's hard to believe that this was us just a year ago: trying to have a good time in Roatan despite the terrible diagnosis...but still together.

It's harder to believe that this is my life now - with no you. I hate to whine about it...but it seems so unfair to me that our historian, our photographer, is gone (and of course, and more, that my father is gone). I don't see my children smile as widely anymore as I saw them smile in pictures you took...and I know that I feel different, ungrounded. I'm having a really hard time taking things seriously, with this feeling that life is so fleeting.

I'm never far from the pain, and from the memories. December: "A year ago we had our last Christmas being someone's children, being together as a family." January: "A year ago, Dad was diagnosed." "These were the days we spent learning everything we could about pancreatic cancer." February: "A year ago we were trudging through the snow in Bayfield and sliding down the hills." March: "A year ago we were celebrating Bill's birthday together in Roatan." "A year ago we were returning from our last trip together." I'm getting farther and farther from those though.

And even the good stuff causes me twinges - Noah's first haircut! Natalie looking so big and happy in her new backyard! Matthew's 2nd birthday party, at his house in Evanston, surrounded with family and friends. Katie will be making her first communion this year...and we're doing it all without our photographer, and without our biggest smiles.

However, dear Dad, I know that life isn't fair. I also know that I was gifted with a pretty good life, in the scheme of things. Yes, there is plenty of shittiness, but at least I am tough enough to handle it (or prepared enough - what's the phrase - tested by fire?) - MOST days.

So anyway, my progress report: I am not the all-A student you raised when it comes to grief management, but I am at least passing this class. I started running again (and that makes me cry, to tell you that! I would guess you can run again, too, now that your legs are not all ruined)...I'm not any good at it AT ALL, but I'm trying and not giving up for once. I'm not allowing myself to be intimidated by the runner that I used to be, and I am starting from scratch. It's like Fitness '93! I made a whole plan for myself and I'm sticking to it, and recording my progress and all. I may even cry myself through the Peter Cottontail Run, without you, just for old times sake...or maybe I'll bring Emma and teach her about how you used to drag me out and make me miserable while you sang that song the whole way. Or maybe I'll bring Katie and she can make me miserable and I'll feel the same way I used to feel (she won't be singing, she'll be berating me for making her do it, but the end result will be the same).

Next: I'm starting a Brownie troop for Katie tomorrow. You probably would not feel this is such a great thing - you'd prefer I was not always doing kid stuff...but I'm telling you anyway. I'm hoping for a whole new wholesome adventure and more special time with my precious and most dangerous child. (Dangerous for me, because she has my same bad temper and we can make each other crazy.)

I guess the point of all of this is, I'm trying to force my life to go on. I'm trying pretty hard to engage, even though sometimes I wonder if any of it is worth it. Losing you, and maybe also losing that role - "daughter" - still hurts an awful lot...so much that my other roles aren't quite filling up that spot (though I try pretty hard with the "mother" role...and the "aunt" role helps too). Maybe these new adventures will help me pass the time and one day I will look up and not feel that hurt quite so much.

Anyway, Dad, I'm sorry for the times that I didn't appreciate you as I probably should have. I should have probably worked less hard on my "mother" role over the past 10 years and worked harder on the "daughter" role - because it seems I wasn't ready to be done with that role yet! (And everyone knows, you can always mother harder...it is a neverending spectrum, motherhood.) Hopefully you know my intentions now, though, and know how much I loved you, even when we didn't always understand each other.
With love,
your daughter,
Pam

3/8/10

Sometimes...

  • I can't really believe that I am a breast cancer survivor.
  • It seems so weird that such a womanly disease was written into my DNA...I feel like I am the least womanly person around (and don't mind being this way, either!).
  • I think it is funny that now I have so few "girl parts"! No real breasts, no ovaries, no periods to deal with, etc. So I guess I fit better now with who I always thought I was.
  • I can't believe I had chemotherapy for breast cancer.
  • I can't believe I am lucky enough to not be having it now!
  • I can't believe I found a lump.
  • I can't believe I was lucky enough to find it in stage 1.
  • I can't believe this will be my 4th 3-day!!!!
  • I can't believe I was lucky enough to find this event in the first place...I just love walking for 3 days straight (if I loved it when I was bald and with only half a reconstructed chest, you know I really love the event).
  • I can't believe we have 29 team members! With more on the way...
  • I can't believe I have no living biological parents.
  • I can't believe I am a parent myself.
  • I can't believe spring is really coming...I'm almost frightened by the prospect.
  • I can't believe I was once late picking up Emma from school because I lost myself pulling dandelions in my yard!
  • I can't believe I counted all the dandelions I pulled that first summer - 3300 (I did them in batches of 100, thus the late pickup).
  • I can't believe I am on my 2nd generation of pets.
  • I am amazed to have such wonderful women to call friends...
What are your Sometimes...?

3/3/10

OOHH Look at this pic I just found

The Lucken family mushers! This is what I did on my 2 year anniversary of my breast cancer diagnosis:


You should do this project with your boy (and your dogs)

(look closely, I'm no photographer - Pinecone birdfeeders!)

It's a winter favorite in my house...unfortunately, the VERY NEXT MORNING after I set out these cute pinecone birdfeeders they were gone!!! Very, very, hungry raccoons. Luckily, it is so fun, I plan to do it again.

Supplies

Smiles

Seed

Share
Share some more!


See how cute?

The birds will love you - and they are hungry after migrating! We saw thousands of birds mid-migration in Nebraska as we drove home on winter break.

If I was not just now catching up with my pics taken over the past two months, you would have seen this much earlier...like mid-January, when we actually did this project!

Look at my invitations!


I had NO business spending much time on these invitations, with all that I have to do. However, I have been hoping for this girl scout troop for such a long time and I have such high hopes for it! It seemed like the extra effort and intention was worth it tonight.

You're not blown away? That's ok...they're so Mrs. Lucken - a little bit cheap and a lot resourceful. I made these invitations with little pieces of ribbon I have been stowing away in my house for years, along with these recruitment fliers from gssem.org (there are five to choose from - I used them all and just used whatever ribbon I had to match). I had to marry the two pieces of paper together somehow, because my busy husband most likely did not want to be messing around with the copier 1) at his work and 2) on his birthday...so I was just fancying up something that had to be what it had to be.
Still, I think the little extra effort is cute - it meant something to me, and it was a fun thing to do with my daughters. (Anything that has me sitting in one place for a period of time is good, in my family's opinion!)

P.S. - I put the ribbon on the side because I wanted everyone to flip the invite text over to see the Girl Scout flier on the back (and not ignore it)...this way, they see a little bit of the graphic on the other side and are teased to see what it says!

The word that strikes fear in every mother's heart

SPRING!!!!!

Oh, the days of mud, and more laundry (is it possible?), and SO MANY SCHOOL ACTIVITIES IT MIGHT MAKE A PERSON INSANE are nearly upon us! And with it comes something far, far worse, in Mrs. Lucken's world.

Today alone (and it's only 1pm!) I sent out fundraising emails, set up a parents' meeting for the new girl scout troop I am starting, sent out an email to our wonderfully large 3-day team about a team meeting I'm hosting in my fantastically dirty fixer-upper-that-hasn't-been-fixed-up-yet house this Sunday, volunteered in Katie's class for an hour, MADE 4 PHONE CALLS (not to my husband and/or sisters - this is amazing as I avoid the phone like the plague. If you have been called by me in the past 10 years or so, consider yourself one of the smallest minority in the world!).

I still need to put together two baskets for two classrooms' Fun Fairs/Blast auctions, I'm in the middle of at least 10 loads of laundry, need to make invitations for the 35+ girls who we are inviting to join this Brownie troop (please, don't all join it!) and need to make a birthday cake and dinner for my birthday boy husband, before I pick up the girls from school.

All of this marks the beginning of the uptick in activities that happens every spring (shhh! it's coming, don't tell all the moms of school-aged children!)...which would be fine, except for what is happening outside.

It is about 40 degrees outside and SUNNY right now...and the forecast is similar for at least 3 more days this week. That can only mean one thing - Mrs. Lucken is going to lose herself to the yard! I've already been out there chopping things down in my woods like Laura Ingalls Wilder and Almanzo. I don't know where I'm going to put all the stuff I'm about to rustle up - buckthorn, dead things, etc. - as the fire pit is about 7 feet tall from Monday's escapades outdoors.

Oh SPRING. I love you and yet...yikes. So much to do, so little time!

2/11/10

Katie's Jump Roping for Heart!

Katie loves this day, (JUMP ROPE FOR HEART!) and has been asking and asking her delinquent Mom to post information about this for at least a week...I told her that since this year we have a big fundraising job (fundraising for both Mom and Dad to do the 3-day...yikes), we wouldn't be pushing a big campaign.

A special anniversary changed my mind.

Coincidentally, today Emma is the exact age that my sister Amy was when our Mom died. At around 11am today, I will be breathing a huge sigh of relief that I am still alive to mother Emma...and then I will start down the countdown to the day when Katie is the exact age that Julie was when our Mom died. (8 years, 5 months, and 16 days...on September 18th of this year Katie will be that age.) I've been hoping and praying to mother my children past all of these special anniversaries, and then to go on mothering into the new frontier (what would it be like to mother, or have a mother, past the age of 12 years, 5 months, and 12 days?). I can't wait to find out!

And so...

Jump Rope for Heart! In Memory of Grandma Cathi

2/10/10

The EC is on the front page of the Eagle

With a little bit of a lie, by the way...
The district will not really be saving $200,000 if they cut the 2.5 instructors at the EC...because:
  1. The only full-time instructor is at the top of the pay scale...and has tenure. She'll just move to an elementary school and bump out some other wonderful teacher at an opening salary. So whatever her salary minus the new teacher's salary is what they will be saving...not her whole salary.
  2. The other 3 people are part-time parapros...
  3. I am certain there are other ways for the Environmental Center to make money and help pay for itself...and I feel it should. These cute little fundraisers are only the teeniest part of what I think we could do for this little Environmental Center. If it weren't so hard to reach these stupid board members, I'd be telling them this myself.
Anyway, I am not falling off the deep end with the EC, kids. I do really like it (as I like any marginally run-down piece of property - note my house). It has so much potential. I'd hate for something so close to my house and my children's school to become a run-down eyesore. AND, I have a growing passion to teach other children (not my own, they are already sick of me and my passions...I need to find a new audience) to love the environment and gardening, etc.

Plus, it is fun to have a project.

However, I may just have too many, says the woman who just came back from Girl Scout Training, the woman who just applied for a fun part-time job, and the woman who is getting ready to teach her three young ones how to ski. (Other projects of late: cleaning up the rancid sewage problem in my basement, reforming my Irish Setter who has a death wish - she wants to be killed by my rage, volunteering my ass off at schools, trying to get into shape again - because I eat too much chocolate to make my ass really go anywhere, and making ridiculously wonderful fabric gift bags for no discernible reason at all.)

Buy plants AND Support the BEC...it's a win-win situation!

Here's a great fundraiser to help the BPS Environmental Center...hosted by Flower Power fundraising. I'm going to start some shopping right this minute...please check it out!

The prices seem reasonable, and the BEC will earn 50% of your purchase.

2/9/10

My (selfish) next step! and later...why I am lucky

Here's my (selfish) next step in the Save the BPS EC campaign...to host a perennial exchange at the Environmental Center this spring!

It was my quiet and secret wish and goal to start a perennial exchange (and then, a garden club...or find a garden club, but I kind of wanted to start one as then I wouldn't have to go find one myself). I've been thinking of ways to get this started, and it seems like the EC would be a perfect place to host this. Plus, the timing of it (this spring) goes well with the goals of the Friends of the BPS EC committee - to spread the word about the EC. It goes well with MY goal for the BPS EC, too - to make it more community-friendly.

I got the OK from the leader of the Environmental Center today...now what?

.................
As an aside, I think I am filling up my plate sufficiently these days. It's all SO GOOD for me, helping me to find my favorite things again, keeping me busy, keeping me around people (if you pick the right people, they can be so inspiring, so energizing, and so wonderful - they just help to pull the good right out).

I am SO GRATEFUL to friends, to family, to God...for sticking by me when I am so down, and confused about why I would even want to be alive, and antisocial, and suffering. I knew I would come out of my misery SOMETIME...I always do, but I am always afraid and nervous about what friends I might lose in the process of my misery. I seriously did lose high school friends during my college summer miseries...probably lost some college friends during my post-college miseries...lost some friends during my post-death-of-mom miseries way back, too. So I have been wondering, in the back of my mind, who I would lose during this post-death-of-my-dad-antisocial-behavior-period/misery. It was/is inevitable...I only have so much energy, and I have been trying so hard to just keep it together for my little family.

So if you are still here, and you don't hate me!, for whatever emails I didn't send, whatever phone call I didn't return, whatever thank you note I didn't send, whatever thing I messed up, whatever irresponsibility I was responsible for (!) - THANK YOU. I feel myself coming out, a bit, and if I still have you as a friend...I know I am lucky.

2/8/10

Saving the Environmental Center...

IF you are interested...here are some things YOU can do to help!
  • Send your child to camp during Winter or Spring Break at the Environmental Center! (This link takes you to the Community Ed webpage, where you can then click around and find out about the other days of the camp.) The thought is, if the camps fill, that is an indication that we have a resource here that is used and worth saving.
  • Pass on the word that the Environmental Center will be closing...chances are, people don't know that it actually is planned to close. The Environmental Center and the nature walks at the Environmental Center have been part of the good experiences had with Birmingham Public School children for generations...people will be sad to see it close and want to know about it.
  • Attend a board meeting. I'll be there! (It will be my first time, but I'll be there!)
  • March 23-24 are tentatively scheduled to be "Community Conversations" regarding the budget...plan to be there!
  • Have your child's class write letters to the school board, telling them to Save the Environmental Center! (I've already asked Katie's teacher...a good idea would be to have this become part of the Valentine's party this week!) Bring those letters to the next school board meeting!

Mrs. Lucken is contemplating a grass roots campaign

I'm contemplating a grass roots campaign to save/help the Birmingham Public Schools Environmental Center...which is something so clearly over my head, it's not even funny!

However, I love the Environmental Center, I see so much potential in it, and I'm crazy about anything green (meaning plant life, nature study, etc.). I really, really, really, so much, do not want to see it taken away from our school district and our community. I have not been totally engaged in the activities of the school board as they find ways to trim and cut and make the school district's budget leaner in these hard times, but I did find out that the plan for 2010-2011 is to cut the $200,000 environmental center program. (This cut is essentially the salaries of the teacher and her 3 parapros at the Environmental Center.)

So far today, I have spoken with Barbara Pepper, who is said teacher at the Environmental Center. She alerted me to the "Save the Environmental Center" blog someone set up (don't be fooled, it's only maybe one person behind this campaign so far...so I can tell they need me, even if I have no skills in managing grass roots campaigns). She mentioned there is an email address, as well: savethebec@gmail.com. By emailing that website, I'll be able to get some "talking points" to use when I go to the board meeting at the end of this month (what? Me talking at a board meeting? Yikes.).

I've also spoken to my cohort in all of this (didn't know that you were, did you?)...and we are brainstorming.

If any of my faithful readers have any interest in working on this little campaign, email me! I don't know what it will entail. I have no idea what I need to do to turn the Environmental Center into something that is truly fancy and a wonderful asset for our community and our school district...but that is a dream I've had for awhile. So stay tuned for more info from this crazy woman and her crazy dream.

2/4/10

new things on the horizon

Dear Dad,
Don't worry, I'm not always as morbid as I was yesterday...but it is good to be morbid once in awhile - or to at least have a moment to think about what I have lost, what I miss, what I wish I had. It opens up the flow of emotions and then I can think of what I have, what I can look forward to/work for, and what fun there still is to be had.

I am also very thankful for the burst of sunshine that came through the clouds just as I was finishing up yesterday's post! (LITERAL sunshine, as well as figurative!)

Yes, there is much to be thankful for - and top of the list is my family (the family that I still have). I could never have imagined my sister living down the street and offering to watch my little Nathan as she does! I could never have imagined that I would spend hours a day on the phone with my other dear sister...and then, I could never have imagined the wonderful relationships my little ones have with my own aunts. Yesterday, I was surprised to see my Aunt Perry, stopping by my house with 4 WHOLE BAGS of canned goods to donate to the needy...after Emma emailed the family to ask for help with a canned food drive at school. Emma was JUMPING around the house, squealing and saying, "I have the best aunts!"

So see, there are relationships to cherish, and relationships to form, and cement.

I know we'll be ok, soon. Spring is coming (figuratively, and literally - the garden will be restored to me)!

Love,
Pam

2/3/10

This is why we didn't talk about it...

Dear Dad,
Today I was dusting rather compulsively, albeit quickly, and I accidentally knocked down a folder on my bookshelf. Out fell cards, and pictures, and pages upon pages of memories people had shared with us over the first few days after your passing. Though I have not much time to clean my shambles of a house before Nathan's friends and moms arrive, I took a few moments to read, and now, a few moments to write to you.

I was so angry immediately following your death, dear Dad, that I didn't fully appreciate your career, or the impact you made on this region and the world during your time here on Earth. I was SO angry, feeling that you had chosen to spend the precious time that you had with your career instead of with us. Now that I look back, I realize I shouldn't have been angry with you...you did spend time with us. You did put your family first, if we ever needed you. No, we did not get that time together that I was wishing for, and hoping for, and praying for, and waiting for - time to talk about your life, your wishes, your hopes, your prayers. We didn't get the chance for you to spend some good - or great - days out on the boat that summer, watching Emma jump off the side (and probably Katie and Nathan now, too), watching Natalie and Noah take their first boat rides with their Bubba, and watching darling Matthew with his precious, precious smile take more rides, showing the rest of them how to do it. It wasn't your fault, though, that we didn't get these moments - it was your stupid cancer's fault.

I remember how upset I was that you didn't want to talk, during that last week or two, and now I am sorry that I was ever upset with you about it. I always realized that you were in pain (maybe didn't know how much), and busy dying (I realized that was where you were headed, I just didn't know how soon)...but I couldn't understand how the emotions involved with what you were going through just wouldn't come out. How, knowing in your head that things didn't look good, you just couldn't or wouldn't talk about it.

I think I know now, Dad.

Looking back, I think you probably knew exactly where we were headed, as a family...down the road of loss, and misery, and sadness, and grey days that don't end. You probably could not bear to even think about it, much less talk about it. Whereas I was saying to the rest of us, "we can do this...we'll have the rest of our lives to put ourselves back together, we just have to help Dad now and worry about ourselves later"...you remembered how hard that is.

I was only 12 when we lost mom...and when we lost Grandpa and Grandma and Uncle Mike in those few years before her, they weren't my parents and my brother. Only you knew our road ahead - young parents, with no parents of our own to guide us, or love us, or share these memories of parenthood with us, and no time to even cry (without freaking out the children), or stay in bed for months, or go crazy and sell everything and travel the world like nomads until we find our joy again. We have other people to be responsible to now, others to love while we still carry this heavy, miserable grey load around day after day.

It is horrible, Dad, but you knew it would be...I'm sure of that. I didn't know it would be so horrible - the loss, the memories, the missing parts of myself (you and Mom), and so much, watching my children grow up without you. How much I would love to tell you, and Mom (not just talking to myself, like now) about Emma! How she loves her family, your family - your brothers, your sisters-in-law, your nephews, your niece...how she counts on them and thinks of them and they make her feel safe and proud of herself. I wish I could talk to Mom about my little middle child - the shining star who sparkles and then just as easily explodes...so much emotion and creativity and intelligence in that skinny little body. And Nathan...he is a boy you could really love - he's funny, like you, and crazy, and smart, and can make anyone laugh.

But you, of all people, would know the burden this is...the joy that my children loved you is now my misery that they miss you, my worries that the loss of you is too hard for them, my concern that I won't be able to keep it all together well enough so that I can raise them properly during these precious years.

And believe me, I am now probably happy that I didn't know HOW MUCH sadness was coming my way. It's a different kind of loss, and grieving, when you are 36, with no parents, with young children of your own. It's not at all fun.

So, Dad, it's ok that we didn't talk about it.

Love,
Your daughter always,
Pam

2/1/10

A picture of bag city


This is from 2007...thinking back, maybe I did get a chance to make a few bags between that Christmas and the Christmas of 2009, because I think I had a few more bags under the tree. (The wrapped presents are from Santa...he doesn't have access to my bags.)

Don't you see how cute they are? Ha ha, crazy city over here.

1/31/10

crafty eco girl finally makes more fabric gift bags

I'm not as ecologically sensitive as I once was, which is amusing as the entire world seems to have finally caught up with the furor that was afflicting me back in 1991-1996 or so (with aftershocks felt to this day, but I'm not as cutting edge as I was then...).

Flashback to a young junior in high school, moving bags of used paper to our new house, because my Dad offhandedly remarked that someday we'd be able to recycle paper. I saved it under my bed until I found a place to recycle it (college...once they started recycling paper at U of M in the computer labs.) This same girl saved paper from her apartment in Chicago years later, and forced her poor boyfriend to bring them back to Michigan to recycle them for her! Poor boyfriend/husband. He's getting me back, though...whenever he is mad at me, he throws paper into the trash can (when he is certain I'll see it.)

Yes, I compost. Yes, I garden organically. I even compost my stupid guinea pig's waste...and did the same with my rabbits for years (now that I have a giant yard, this isn't so difficult as it once was). I even once bought a worm composter to compost my dog and cat waste, but that was too yucky, even for me...and so that experiment was very short-lived. I try to pack my children's lunches in all-reusable items, I bring bags with me to all stores almost maniacally, etc.

But I'm not as ecologically sensitive as I once was...I take too many showers. I wash too much laundry. I use too much electricity. I drive my children everywhere when they could just as easily take the bus, just to save them 15 minutes here or there. I feel a little guilty, esp. when I consider how crazy I used to be. I'm chalking my slippage up to motherhood, the accumulation of stuff, and maybe even the fact that it's all so mainstream and in-my-face now that I have to give myself a break or the sheer guilt would be too much.

However, I do have a crazy adoration of my fabric gift bags. They are easily one of my favorite parts of the holidays (thus, crazy). I just love pulling them out every year, shoving the gifts for my family inside, not needing to buy gift wrap, not needing to worry about wasting tons of paper, seeing the cuteness under the tree...and every year I wish I had more of them so that I could use them for every gift I give.

Life with 3 children during the holiday season doesn't always permit such luxuries as pulling out my sewing machine and crafting. Even after the holiday season, I never seemed to find the time...but with my youngest now 4 years old, I have a bit more autonomy in what I do when we are all hanging around the house at home.

And thus, finally, after wanting to do this again since the winter of 2002 (when Katie was so little, she could sit in a chair while I sewed...the last time I really made bags...) - yay! I made some more.

I use remnants, or fabric I have collected over the years, and ribbons I save from wherever I find them...and my sisters have been saving me things, too (navy/white bags are remnants of my sister's curtains):






**I make them big, I make them small, I make them medium-sized, I make them giant-sized. I only have pictures of the smaller ones so far as I am not a skilled photographer of bags!
And by the way, I'm still teaching myself how to sew...but this is an easy way to figure it all out!

1/29/10

I am giving myself an award...a really big one

This was a huge day for a girl who can go comatose, occasionally, when faced with too much to do:

  • 8:45am -Take kids to school, remember "Tacky Day" for Nathan, drop off cleaned toys (who just volunteered to start a "toy washing program for her son's preschool...oh yes, that was me)
  • 9:00am - 10am -Come home, quickly clean house, including guinea pig cages (yes, cages...a friend came to school all allergic and so I volunteered to take her guinea pig until she found a new home for it. So I was cleaning a cage of a guinea pig that wasn't even mine...)
  • 10am - Drop off deposit for Nathan's new school next year
  • 10:10am - Return library books
  • 10:15am - 10:55am - Drive to the mall, buy gift certificate for Emma's teacher who is going on maternity leave
  • 10: 55am - 11:25am - Rush to Emma's classroom, throw "you are going to be leaving for maternity leave" party for her teacher, complete with scrapbook, coordinated by some crazy woman (me), with baby and big kid pictures, notes from all the kids, pieces of advice for parents, etc. (Yes, I worked on that for a week straight)
  • 11:25am - Walk Emma to her friends' Dad's car...she's off to a playdate
  • 11:40am - 11:55am - Pick up Nathan from school, along with a whole bucket of new toys to clean
  • 12:05pm - Pick up Katie from the bus stop (half day)
  • 12:10pm - Feed kids
  • 12: 45pm - Answer phone, it's Katie's friend. Does Katie want to come for a playdate? Well, how about you come here?
  • 1pm - Put on clothes to walk and get Katie's friend
  • 1pm - 3pm - Supervise playdate, while cleaning toys for preschool and monitoring dumb dog
  • 3pm - Into the car, drop of Katie's playdate
  • 3:10pm - Drop off Katie at Julie's house for "movie Fridays"
  • 3:20pm - 4:30pm - Drive to Pick up Emma, socialize with her friend's lovely mother
  • 4:35 - 5:30pm - Drive home, home for 4o minutes
  • 5: 35pm - 8:05pm - Take Nathan to new friend's movie watching party
  • 8:05pm - 8:35pm - Leave, drive to pick up Katie
  • 8: 54pm - Write this
  • 9pm - Put kids to bed
I can't even believe the amount of activity and socializing for this basically antisocial girl. I must really, really, really, really, really love my kids.

---
p.s. - I think this tetanus shot hurts more than my bilateral mastectomy. Just kidding...but that gives me an idea...don't I have some vicodin around here? ha ha

1/25/10

Today by the numbers

Minutes spent driving family members around (Emma to school, to car dealership to pick up Bill, dropping off Bill at work, picking up Nathan, picking up Katie and Emma): 243 minutes

Piles of dog poo picked up in the yard (since the snow has melted, before new snow comes): 49

Kisses bestowed upon a 4 year old: 100

Hugs bestowed upon same 4 year old: 20

Times same 4 year old was lovingly thrown onto the bed: 12

Times I said, "OFF, HOPE!" - unable to count that high

Brownies that were sent in the mail: 12

Brownies eaten by me: 2

# of Brownies I wanted to eat: 5

Hours I spent working on a teacher gift today: 3

# of girls from Emma's class who helped me with the teacher gift today: 6

# of parents who offered help today with teacher gift: 4

Exercise, in minutes: zero :(

Family dinners, and brownies in the mail

Let me just, right here and right now, say how wonderful it is to have my little sister situated so conveniently close by, here in grey old Michigan.

I remember dreaming about our future lives, and telling her, 10 years ago when she was packing up to move to California, to find a good place for us to live. It was always my dream to have all of my loved ones right down the street from me...and I have always been willing to make that dream a reality, as much as I could. (Thus, settling here with our little ones, despite a rabid desire to live somewhere else...so they could know their grandparents and aunts and uncles and cousins...)

11 years ago, I SO thought we would be relocating, me somewhere with my sister to follow, or the other way around...and then came Emma and so we stayed put...and now...HOW AMAZING that after moving away, here comes Julie back to Michigan with her little ones in tow, and dear Tyler, too, of course.

Can I say how wonderful it is to see my little sidekick running to the door to open it for us? To have to monitor fights between my sidekick (Natalie) and Nathan, because now they are growing up together and don't always want to share (the novelty of each other's presence is gone)? How much I love going to Costco and picking something up for Jules...and how much I love impromptu family dinners?

I may not be all back to my most cheerful and sunshiney self, but I am here enough to know how lucky I am to have the Gibbs family living in Michigan.***

(And I'm lucky they chose my favorite real estate agent to help them find a house, because she sent brownies in the mail to me today. How can a person not love brownies in the mail?)

***and we're lucky to have our guest "suite" empty again, for impromptu visits from my other most wonderful sister and darling nephew!

1/23/10

Loving new friends...and old

Tonight I went on the greatest walk, with a new(ish) friend...and what fun! She knows the neighborhoods even better than I do, having grown up around here, and had lots of good tips and pointers. A cut-through here, pre-school advice there, where they took their daughter skiing, etc.

I am positive that walking with friends is one of my favorite activities. The time just flies by, I learn so much, we spend so much time laughing. Now if only I could get my 3-day friends to start walking in the middle of winter like this wonderful new(ish) friend...

AND...I think I have another new friend in the making - how lucky am I? The circumstances of this new friend-in-the-making are going to make any of my walking friends of the past 3-ish years laugh - she emailed to see if anyone wanted to start a girl scout troop for Katie's grade. This is HYSTERICAL to me...I have spent about hundreds of hours of my life agonizing over this decision, trying to find a co-leader, whining about the girl scouts and their rules which prevented me from doing this without a co-leader...and here she has been all along! Our daughters were never in the same class, so we never crossed paths the right way until this week/this email. (I've seen her around plenty, though...she's one of the handful of moms I ALWAYS see volunteering at grade-wide events.) So, I can pretty safely say, with all the time we are going to be spending together, I either have a friend-in-the-making, or an enemy-in-the-making (not that I would ever mind her, she is such a darling of a person...she may just find me a little annoying after awhile).

Now, to gush about my old friends...it feels like some 3-day fever is starting, and I am so excited to have some of my old teammates signing back up. The 3-day is my very favorite weekend of the year, and to spend the weekend with some of my very favorite friends is my dream. I could go into paragraphs of rapture and exclamation points for each one of the women who are walking (again, for the 4th, or 3rd, or 2nd time...and for the women who are walking for the first time)...it is going to be so, so, so wonderful. Spending time with those women is worth every fundraising moment, every training mile (which as you can maybe tell, is one of my favorite parts of the 3 day, too). Just imagine my happiness if I could get a few of the other favorites to sign up...hmmm...how can I bribe them? :)

1/13/10

Catching up...and resolutions

I'm resolving to spend less time being sad...not necessarily as a New Year's Resolution, but more as an I-am-wasting-my-life-being-sad-and-that-is-stupid-resolution.

So, I'm trying my best to catch up on some of my emails, my procrastinations, my responsibilities, my cleaning, my organizing (the latter two because it makes me feel so good, clears my mind and helps me focus), and my pictures.

As such, I thought I would share a picture which is making me laugh today - my insane dog tried to get into the garbage, and look what happened to her (notice wagging tail):



It didn't stop her from trying to get snacks from Noah's high chair/lunch:



And now, off to my Impromptu Trip of the Day: the Zoo. (Yesterday's Impromptu Trip of the Day was sledding...twice! Once, with Nathan, and then again later with the girls and Nathan.)

1/3/10

A love story

My sisters and I have spent quite a few moments over the past few days reading love letters that my parents wrote to each other throughout the years of their marriage. One can totally get lost in the history there...and it is fascinating to read both how things were, and how things are the same. Here is my Dad, writing to my Mom in the early 70s when he was in Basic Training as an Army Reservist; so much of it is history, but so much of it feels like the present too. I recognize so much of myself in those letters - here is my young mom, freaking out on the phone because my young dad had to leave things a mess to get to basic training(how many times have I had that same phone conversation with my boyfriend-turned-husband, made a big fuss over something because I missed him?). Here is my young dad, pining away for his young wife with the intensity of young love that I remember so well as a 23 or 24 year old, when a love like that was the whole world, or all I wanted from it.

It just all makes me wonder...how much of who you are is determined already by your own biology? Here are my knees, showing up in the 1940s under my grandmother's dress. Here's my hair color (and of course, though you can't see it, here's my mutation, too). Here's my crazy mood swings, showing up in letters before I was even born. Here's the same way I love, and argue, and the things that I worry about... (though I know so much of this is probably universal...I just recognize it so much in my Dad's prose, or my Mom's.)

It's been enlightening, reading their letters, and hearing them talk once again. I see my Dad's handwriting being formed...hear his signature phrases...and my Mom's as well. It's kind of nice, but I'm also a little afraid to really pour myself into those boxes and those letters. It makes me miss them...and though I BELIEVE that they are happy, and complete now, and together, I feel sorry for what they lost. How sad to love so hard and then to lose your young wife! And then also, how sad to miss the opportunity to spend time with these guys, the 2nd generation of your love:




And I know...how lucky to have found that love at all. How lucky to have been that happy...and yes, they are still with us in a way. But I know that for at least one of these grandchildren, it's not enough to just believe they are still with us. She'd rather have those grandparents on this earth with her - and I have a feeling that the other 5 will feel that way someday, too.