Monday, October 29, 2007

Mini Apple Is*

*(Mini Apple Is...the way Sofie would say Minneapolis for it to make sense to her)

Sofie and I are back from our whirlwind trip to Minneapolis. We had a great time. She and Zander were fast friends, although at some point she didn't quite "get" the antics of a three year old. The constant shouting "NO!", the bossiness, the possessiveness. I just had to explain that she was just like that when she was his age...and sometimes she can still possess some of those traits! They worked it out. When Zander took his afternoon nap, Sofie and I chilled out, too. It was a good trip, except for the pesky stomach bug I acquired sometime Saturday and am still dealing with the effects as I type this. Bleech.

Our flights to and from Minneapolis were about as easy as I've ever experienced flying. We actually arrived EARLY at both destinations. We spent about an hour in Chicago's O'Hare airport where Sofie had some energy to burn, so I had her run around paying special attention not to run into anyone. She did that for about 15 minutes, then settled down for me to read a Scooby book to her. We got on our connecting flight to Minneapolis, then arrived 1/2 hour early there, too. So, after getting our luggage and taking the tram to the rental car building, we were off to Kim and Cindi's house. The return flights were just as easy, with on-time flights all around. Easy traveling. Sofie amused herself with animals, drinking cups and gummi worms...don't ask!

Sofie was greeted with a welcome bag from Zander. The bag had Scooby Doo on the well as all things Scooby on the inside! She's now the proud owner of Scooby socks! Zander and Sofie were off to play in the great play area they have downstairs. Poor little Rowan, who's 10 months old, just couldn't keep up with the big kids. After awhile of playing, we settled the kids down and all were ready for bedtime.

After the wee ones were asleep, Kim and I sat up and chatted for awhile. Catching up. Just reconnecting. We talked about all that's happening and going to happen. As a mom, Kim could really identify with the grief and sadness that Debra is going through with regards to Sofie. It was sweet to see her so empathetic about this. She and Cindi are such good people...and dear friends.

Saturday morning we were welcomed with a hearty breakfast of biscuits and gravy(made with 1/2 and 1/2!!!), eggs and fruit. After filling our bellies with good food, Kim and I walked with the kids down to, as Zander says, "the blue park." We had so much fun! My photos are posted on Flickr for you to enjoy.

After lunch, the little ones took a nap and Sofie and I snuggled on the couch watching, you guessed it...Scooby Doo. I dozed on and off while she enjoyed her cartoons. When Zander woke up, they played...had a little altercation about a snake, then Sofie and I took a little outing to a great toy store. It was just what we needed, a little Mommy/Sofie time. Upon our return, we ate a quick dinner, then got dressed for the Halloween party.

Sunday brought a day of illness for me. I won't gross you with the details, but needless to say, I was not feeling well. Kim took Sofie and Zander to the YWCA for swim time, then Cindi joined them a little later after Rowen woke up from his morning nap. I enjoyed a bit of alone/quiet time. Although I'd rather have been swimming than feeling the way I did. I napped, then they came back, I was still napping so while the little ones took a nap, Kim and Sofie explored at another park. After the little ones woke up, I heard a rousing game of "tickle tackle" in the basement. Not sure what's involved but there was a ton of laughter!

Later in the afternoon, I got up, showered and everyone headed out to ChuckECheese. I tried to eat for the first time that day...bad decision. I promptly threw up when we returned. The kids snuggled down for Madagascar and popcorn, while I packed and called it an early night.

Sofie and I needed the time away and had a great time thanks to Kim and Cindi. I think from the pictures, you'll see she did.

This is my favorite picture of the weekend:

Friday, October 26, 2007

Out of town

Sofie and I are heading to Minneapolis for a fun weekend with Kim, Cindi, Zander and Rowen. It'll be a fun packed weekend with a Halloween party thrown in for good measure. I'm sure I'll have pictures and stories to write about upon our return. (It's a full moon, so here's crossing fingers for uneventful travel!!)

I'm just looking forward to the change of scenery and spending quality time with good friends.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Prepping for our trip

Since we've been having an unusually warm October, I felt I needed to prep Sofie for the fact that Minneapolis is not having an unusually warm October! What this truly means is NO shorts!! Yes, it's the end of October and we're still having weather warm enough for shorts. During the summer Sofie's biggest complaint is how cold the restaurants are. She's thin...not one ounce of fat on her bones...she gets cold pretty easily...and she's not very nice about it. Of course when offered a sweatshirt or something to warm her chilling body, she summarily rejects them. She's much happier whining about it. But I digress.

I wanted her to be aware of the pretty drastic temperature change for our upcoming trip this weekend. She didn't seem concerned and was in fact very pleased that her Scooby Doo costume was warm and fuzzy. Okay, maybe she'll be fine with natural cold...maybe it's the artificial cold she doesn't like. I mentioned it snows a lot in Minnesota. She beamed. The girl loves snow. Something we have so very much lacked the past few years. I, too, love snow. I've always dreamed of living in a place that's cold and snowy. (I'm sure those of you who have lived in places like that think that I'm crazy and that I'd actually hate it!) I have to disagree. I'm happiest when it's cold. Again, I digress.

Last night, after lights were out and I was lying in bed with Sofie. We were talking a little of our upcoming trip. I keep drilling her on the names of the people we're visiting. She loves that one of the little boys is called "Z"...that made her laugh. We did the Name Game song with all four of their names...hopefully at least one of the names will stick...she's not really great at names...she sometimes forgets names of kids in her own class. After I drilled her a little more, she pops out with the funniest question. "Mommy, do they speak English there?" Where do kids come up with this stuff? So, I had to help her visualize where, on the map, Minnesota was. That even though it borders Canada, it's still part of the US and yes, they mostly speak English there!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Clarity has arrived...for the time being

Sometimes I don't write because what I'm feeling or going through is intensely personal. Too personal to share, especially on a blog. If I need to share, I usually do with a few select friends in an email or conversation. I've been doing that a lot over the past few days. I had some insights and realizations over the weekend after having an appointment with one of my more spiritual advisers. I won't go into all we talked about, thus the preface in this entry. However, I will share some insights.

As I've stated recently, I've been feeling in limbo...caught between two places and not wanting to give up either. These two places consisted of two physical spaces as well as two distinct roles. The physical spaces, as you know, consist of my condo and Debra's house. Should I move in now or later...after, after? Should I keep going between two in limbo? Should I figure out a happy medium that works for all of us? The two roles that I've been playing are clear, too. Caretaker of Sofie and caregiver to Debra. Both roles, even on the best of days are exhausting. Throw into the mix that I have a full time job that I'm skating on thin ice on and that just adds to the strife I sometimes feel.

As someone who tends to nurture by nature, the caregiver and caretaker roles are fulfilling and make me feel useful in a rotten situation. With that said, one important person is falling to the bottom of the to do list...ME!! To some, that may sound selfish. However if you really think about it, I need to take better care of me in order to better care for my family. Taking better care of me involves simple things like eating better, moving more and keeping tabs on my core feelings. Currently, exhaustion is a core feeling I'm having. Okay, I realize exhaustion isn't really a feeling...however it is effecting how I am in the world. So to work on the exhaustion will involve dealing with some internal feelings. Finding my clarity and purpose for the next however long we have is important not only for me, but for Debra and Sofie, too.

One bit of clarity that I had this weekend...and have discussed at length with the role that I'm really intended for. What I realized was I'm best being utilized by being a caregiver/mother to Sofie. That's not to say that I'm not going to be a caregiver to just means I have to prioritize better and others will have to step in as this process continues. I trust that Debra has such a deep and wide circle of friends that she will want for nothing as time progresses. I can't, nor do I want to trust that the same will happen with Sofie. She's becoming my responsibility more and more and I need to focus on her to make sure she comes out on the other side of things feeling loved, supported and cared for.

The other bit of clarity was about moving in with Debra. I don't think that will best serve anyone...especially Sofie. As time progresses I think both Sofie and I will need a place to go for respite. What better place than my condo? A haven that is already familiar and safe for both of us. As Debra's disease progresses, she'll need more assistance for her daily living. In order for that to happen, there needs to be a place where those who are visiting and assisting to rest and find their own retreat. In a house with only one extra bedroom, that extra space should be reserved for those caring for Debra. I continue to spend most evenings at Debra's house, assisting with homework, bath and bedtime. I even stay and hang out with Debra once Sofie is snug in her bed. I'll continue to do that as long as it works for all of us. Unfortunately at some point, they'll need to be others stepping in to be with Debra while I concentrate more of my energy on Sofie and her well-being.

As I've always done, I trust that the universe will provide those people to be there for Debra...allowing me to fully focus on Sofie. She and I will have our own grieving, processing and moving through all of this. I know we'll get through it and be okay on the other side of things...I'm just not necessarily looking forward to some of that journey.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

A day of purging and clearing out

Today I spent the majority of the day going through old boxes dividing them into three piles...donations, keep, trash. Amazing how you become less attached to things as you got through stages of your life. Stuff has a way of overwhelming me. I get stuck, energetically and physically, then the piles become less and less manageable.

My dear friend Tracey encouraged and supported me, both physically and spiritually. Sometime earlier this week we had a chat about what she could do to help me with that state of limbo I've been feeling. She offered to help me start packing the non-essentials in my condo in preparation for whenever I need to move to help Debra or to parent Sofie. Because it packing and cleaning overwhelms me, I was resistant. Tracey doesn't give in that easily though. She can be very persistant by taking charge and making a plan. Since it was short notice, no one else was available to help out.

The first part of the day I tackled the piles on my own. I bagged up 4 large garbage bags of clothing to donate to Goodwill. I had started going through my personal effects when Tracey arrived. We ended up taking 8 boxes of crap(well, not all of it was crap) and whittling away to 2 boxes that I kept and the majority of it I donated, gave away to friends or threw away. I'm exhausted, but my room feels so much lighter now. I still have a long ways to closet is next! I'm trying to create a space where Sofie and I can take respite when needed or where we can come when Debra needs more quiet times.

I'm still amazed at how much stuff I've accumulated in the past years. I'm really in a place to minimalize and get rid of more things. Goodwill and Craigslist, here I come!!

Halloween article

A few weeks ago, the new editor for Q-Notes, the LGBT community newspaper for NC posted a request to our local family group, Triangle Families. His request was simple, he wanted to know what LGBT families were doing for Halloween and if safety was a concern. I replied to his request, and lo and behold made it into the article. Now the secrets out of the bag as to who Sofie and I are going to be on Halloween!! Let's just say there's Scooby Snacks involved!!

Friday, October 19, 2007

Friends of Wind River Newsletter-first edition!!

Please enjoy the first edition of the Friends of Wind River Newsletter lovingly created by Dave and Shannon, retreat facilitator's extraordinare!

This is from the folks who did the retreat I so very much enjoyed. I think you'll see a familiar face on the newsletter along with some of my words of wisdom. :-)

Exhaustion and limbo

In what can only be explained as emotional exhaustion, my life is becoming quite overwhelmed at the moment. This perpetual state of limbo is probably the most difficult period in my life. I need to be settled...somewhere. I need routine that doesn't involve moving between two houses. I go to bed tired and I wake up even more tired. It's constant. I need it to stop!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Overload in Pink

I've tried to hold it in, not blog about it, bite my tongue. I just can't anymore. This is not meant to offend my friends, family and others who have dealt with Breast Cancer. I respect that they have fought or are fighting this thing called Cancer, too. It's really more of a dig at the "corporatization"(is that even a word?) of a single illness. I'm guessing folks felt this way about AIDS in the 90s, but this whole pink thing is just rubbing me the wrong way!

Maybe it's because Debra is losing the battle with Ovarian Cancer. Maybe it's because there are so many other cancer's out there that need funding. Maybe it's because it's just over doing it on so many levels. I'm sure there some deeper meaning about why this is effecting me so much, but I don't have time to reflect on this. So instead, I'll just write about it.

On Tuesday, I accompanied Debra to her Gyne/Onc appointment. After standing there listening to all the things that are going wrong and listening to options to give her better quality of life and hopefully extend that life, I just blurted out to our nurse, "Are you guys as sick of the pink stuff as I am." She smiled and confirmed what I had been feeling since the end of September. You see, this all started with a little activity scheduled at work. Fortunately, I was at my retreat...with at least 4 breast cancer survivors!

Apparently, the company that makes Lee Jeans sponsored a National Denim Day to encourage folks to wear jeans(how convenient) and make a $5 donation to support breast cancer research. My employer took it even further and allowed anyone donating $20 to wear jeans the entire month of October. Initially, I was pleased that we were participating in something that was raising funds for cancer research...then I realized it was only for breast cancer research. It made me incredibly sad that breast cancer is getting so much press when Ovarian Cancer seems more likely to kill a woman.

Am I wrong to be upset? I hope not. I hope this feeling is seen as valid and not petty or bitter. Like I said, this isn't directed at the people who are affected by breast cancer, just the corporations who are trying to make a buck all in the name of a disease. I've recently been made aware of sites such as Think Before You Pink that "...calls for more transparency and accountability by companies that take part in breast cancer fundraising..." and points out corporate "pinkwashers." Pinkwashers are companies that give money to Breast Cancer causes while simultaneously make products that contribute to the disease.

Please continue to donate to whatever causes you feel are appropriate for you. Do your homework first and make sure the money is being spent wisely.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Sitting Still

I've recently joined a website called Crazy Hip Blog Mamas, this posting is part of Collaboration Wednesdays. Occasionally, I'll post and link back to their site based on the topics for the day. I joined for a few reason, but mainly it's nice to have something to prompt or inspire my writing!

Today's Writing Collaboration is Sitting Still:
Sometimes it’s in the quiet of it all that we think the most. Sometimes it’s during those moments of solitude that cause things to fall into place.

What do you find when you sit still?

One thing I know, I'm at expert at sitting still. Unfortunately, sitting still in the physical sense is much different than sitting still in the mental sense. The latter is a much harder place for me to be. I'm a thinker, I ruminate and process internally, so that mental stillness is rare. On those lucky occasions when I have that mental quiet, feelings are the most common thing to emerge. Stillness evokes tears, smiles, laughter, crying. Interesting, the place I am most still is my shower. Maybe it's the water that allows the thoughts to wash away, opening the door for those emotions to creep in.

Sitting still just provides rest or sometimes it allows me to enjoy the beauty around me. Sitting on the banks of the Eno, stopping and listening to birds chirp or squirrels play in my parking lot, being stuck in traffic but listening to a favorite tune and singing at the top of my lungs, cuddling a cute girl and rubbing her back while she falls asleep, or simply being present in a conversation. All of those are times I know I'm sitting still.

What do you do when you're sitting still?
Just as activity beats the cold,
and inactivity (stillness) beats the heat,
Purity and stillness can heal the world.

 -Lao Tzu

I wish Purity and Stillness were all it took to heal Debra. I'd sit on her for a decade and recite something pure around the clock if I felt it would help.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Awakening...a lesson in Chinese Medicine

(For those waiting to hear about Debra's visit to the doctor today, you'll have to wait for her version of the story. It's not my place to share that information before she gets a chance to write her own thoughts.)

For the past few weeks, I've been waking up at 5a, like clockwork. I remembered from a previous acupuncturist that in Chinese Medicine there's something called the Meridian Clock that is useful in acupuncture and other types of Chinese medicine practices. I won't even attempt to explain it, however, I'll make the connections that are appearing for me. Bear with me as I try to explain what my roommate/acupuncturist explained to me on the way out the door this morning. Here's a very condensed, confusing explanation of how the Chinese view the body and it's connection to seasons, emotions and other things. Maybe this article will help.

On the meridian clock, 3-5a represents the lungs, while 5-7a represents the large intestine. I'm teetering on that line just between both. According to my acupuncturist, that means both systems are working hard. Ones the Yin, the other the Yang. For clarification, the Lungs, in Chinese medicine represent grief. Can I get a big, DUH?!? Furthermore, the most predominant emotion in Fall guessed it...GRIEF!! This article, or part of an article is the best explanation that I've found for this topic.

I find it amazing how the body is connected to what's going on in life. As Janet(acupuncturist/roomie) said this morning, my life is really reflecting what's happening this Fall with our extended Indian Summer. I'm in a state of constant flux. I don't know where I'm living from one moment to the next, although I own my own place. So many ups and downs. Well, at least I know my body is processing the grief I'm feeling. A little poke with some needles this week will help move things along and free up some energy to allow for reinvestment of that energy.

It goes without saying to please continue to keep our little family unit in your thoughts, prayers, or whatever you might choose to do. We appreciate it and can really feel the love.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

A cure for what ails you...Sofie time!

Well, I'm in less of a funk now, after spending the day out of the house doing fun things with Debra and Sofie. Unfortunately, I think a little funk will be with me for awhile, but I'm okay with makes things real.

A few weeks ago, there was a horrible apartment fire in Carrboro. 14 units were damaged or lost and all of those people were displaced with nothing to their names. Being the altruistic person she is, Debra has tried to help out a couple of the people that were involved. She was notified by other employees of their needs, so we both figured out ways to help them. Since it's becoming more apparent that we'll be combining households sooner, rather than later we started with "like" items. A Cuisinart that we both own and a crock pot since we both have one. Yesterday a lovely graduate student came over to Debra's with a friend and a pick-up truck. Her needs were simple, but we offered more. We gave her the aforementioned items, however her biggest need was a bed. So without hesitation, we gave her the furniture and bedding from the guest bedroom at Debra's with a comforter from my place thrown in, too. It's so much better to give to someone in need than selling your things.

As I put Sofie to bed last night, she wasn't sleepy. More in a chatty mood. Sometimes when she's not tired, she wants to play before she goes to bed. I gave her that option but she chose to try to go to sleep instead. I turned off the light, lay beside her and she turned into Ms Chatty. We lay in her bed talking about a range of topics for another hour or so.

I'm trying not to read more into what she does or says than I should, but sometimes it's hard not to do that. She picked out the books for me to read last night. One of them was the pared down version of one of her favorite kiddie movies, The Land Before Time. This is a movie where the main character, Littlefoot, loses his mother to a T-Rex battle early on. The mother remains in spirit, heart and even clouds to guide him to safety. Symbolic? You tell me. I just know that when Debra's having conversations about death, even before her own illness, she used Littlefoot's mom AND "the circle of life" from Lion King to help Sofie understand death. It's worked...she spouts that stuff back to us and has for a long time. Since she's such a lover of all animals, I figured she'd be vegetarian. When having the discussions about eating meat, her response has always been a firm, "It's the circle of life, mommy." I'm sure that'll change because everyone I know has gone through a vegetarian least once in their life!

Last night's sudden chat fest seemed to be more out of a need for connection, safety or a unaware sadness. Whatever is keeping her chatting and connecting with me, I don't mind. It's sweet when she tells me what her worries and joys are. Last night she was trying to describe daydreaming to me. She didn't have the word, but was very aware of when it happens. I gave her the word. She's aware of the connection to that and her "concentration pill."

Sofie told me last night that she often has to re-do her math because her concentration pill makes her go through her work too fast. I told her math was never my strong subject and I struggled with it, too. She seemed surprised, yet relieved to know that I had struggles in school, too. I guess you never think about sharing struggles with your kids...but I do that often to make her struggles authentic to her. I want her to understand we all have/had our struggles but we also work(ed) through them. She also confirmed what I suspected...she loves science. It's her favorite part of school. I told her that was my favorite subject, too. We chatted about what we like about science. Her connection is's the animals. Mine was more about the cool experiments we did. I think she'll like that aspect when she gets in higher grades.

I'm amazed at the changes that are going on with Sofie right under my nose. Through all the crap that's happening in her life right now, she's remained a very compassionate kid. She loves to help out. The other day I accidentally spilled a big glass of iced-T at Debra's. Sofie was in her room when she heard the commotion. She ran out and without missing a beat said, "Mommy, go lay down, I'll clean it up!" When I didn't...because why *should* I, I was feeling fine and I made the mess...she demanded no less than 2 more times, "MOMMY, go lay down! I'll clean up the mess!!" So I removed myself from the situation and let her handle it. She moved the chair back to it's place and was so proud of herself. This kind of thing is happening more and more with our little one. She's such a great'd I get so lucky?

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Fall funk

It's Saturday morning, a beautiful sunny crisp Fall day(finally!!) and instead of being being happy about the change in weather, I'm in a funk. I've been up since 5am for no apparent reason other than my head is spinning.

Fall is my favorite time of year. It always has been. It's the time of year when the hot weather that I detest goes away, leaves fall become beautiful colors and fall off trees. It's the time of year we prepare to go deep within. Fall typically makes me ecstatic...I'm having a hard time feeling the love this year. I know it's situational and maybe if I'd get my butt outside and enjoy this lovely day, my mood will change.

I am heading out soon. Going to Debra's to then head with them to a birthday party for a kid friend of ours. That should raise my spirits.

I'm sure my blog will be full of ups and downs for the next bit of time. Rollercoasters R Us.

Friday, October 12, 2007

It's OUT!!!

The surgery went great. The port is out without a hitch. Very easy procedure. I was barely sedated. Had a great team working on me. Very funny yet professional trio of a nurse, radiology tech and surgeon. The recovery nurse was somewhat of a hard ass, but I'm guessing that's her job!! She told me I couldn't email for 24 if!! Guess I shouldn't be blogging either?!?!

Earlier in the day I made sure Sofie knew how important and what this procedure meant. I even brought home the port to show her:

Purple extravaganza

I needed to make sure she knew how important this was and what it meant...I'm better, no longer sick! We "high fived" prior to me leaving yesterday morning so she'd "get it." I think she did!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Port removal

On the heels of the bad news we received yesterday, I'm sharing good news. I'm having my port out in a few hours. My mom drove up from Charlotte and we're heading over to Duke soon. This is a very good thing and I'm really playing it up as so for Sofie.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Protecting our children

With all that's going on in our lives, I've been somewhat clueless to what's happening in other people's lives. I feel pretty disconnected from many friends, especially friends with children. I've been thinking about why that is...other than the obvious time constraint issues. Are people avoiding us? Are we avoiding them?

This all became clearer for me recently after a friend was telling me how the blogs Debra and I write are affecting her relationship with her daughter. After spending nearly all day with them, I began to ponder on the drive home how all this is going to effect the children in our lives. Since focusing so much energy on how Debra's death will effect Sofie, I do understand what other parents must be going through.

Some children have already experienced a death of a family member or someone close, but most have not. So I find myself wondering, "How will this be for kids that know Debra through church, school, friends, family?" I realize it's not our responsibility to make sure your children aren't traumatized. I just wanted to acknowledge that I know it's hard for you, too. At some point there will be a lot of kids who aren't going to know how to deal with the news they've heard. I know each one of you will do what's best for your I will do what's best for mine.

For those with children reading this, I have a great article that I can share that's about helping children cope with grief and loss. A well laid out article. Let me know if you're interested. (cybrarygrl at gmail dot com)

Tuesday, October 9, 2007


I'm happy with my life. I have a great kid, lots of cool friends(new and old) and a family that loves me because of who I am, not in light of who I am. So for that, I am grateful.

Everyone is aware of the situation with Debra, that all goes without saying. It sucks, I don't like it one bit and I'm going to miss her like crazy when she's gone. Todays contemplations aren't about that either, but of course that situation is having it's effect on thoughts and actions.

I had a fitful night of sleep last night. I couldn't get to sleep and when I finally did catch some zzzzzzzz's, I kept waking up. I must have had quite the dream time with lots of processing going on. I know this because when I woke up I had the stark realization that there's a benefit my employer provides that I may get to use. It's paid parental leave for up to 8 weeks for the "primary care-giver" in an adoption situation. In the situation that will be coming up, hopefully later rather than sooner, I will be the primary care-giver who will be adopting Sofie. I've spoken with our HR people and they confirmed that I would indeed be eligible in this tough, albeit unique situation. The HR person also pointed out that I'd probably be eligible for the adoption assistance benefits, too. She very kindly reminded me of our Employee Assistance Program for help getting through the difficult times ahead.

This realization made me appreciate more(not that I wasn't already) the perks and benefits that I'm afforded by my employer. I know major illnesses can be detrimental to the bank accounts of people. I feel so fortunate that that added anxiety was never part of my journey with my Cancer. My benefits were excellent and I felt supported throughout the entire process. I've recently met families who've become bankrupt because of their illnesses. What is wrong with this country that it allows that sort of thing to happen! I'm not jumping on a soapbox here, I'm honestly curious how a country's leaders and residents can let it's citizens suffer so.

I've also been thinking about my needs and how to honor and achieve them. I've been thinking about this since returning from the retreat a few weeks ago. Mainly because everyone asked me what I was doing for ME during this time. They acknowledge it was a crazy situation and all prayed (or whatever) for Debra. However, they were huge catalyst in making me realize I need to take care of myself and my own needs, too. If I take care of my needs, I'll be better prepared to help Debra and Sofie in the ways that I want to help out. I'm so thankful for the insight I've gained since the retreat. Once again, I'm starting to listen to myself and that always feels good.

Monday, October 8, 2007

What kind of reader are you?

Inspired by Terrance over at Republic of T, I did this quiz. It's pretty right on for me.

What Kind of Reader Are You?
Your Result: Literate Good Citizen

You read to inform or entertain yourself, but you're not nerdy about it. You've read most major classics (in school) and you have a favorite genre or two.

Dedicated Reader
Book Snob
Obsessive-Compulsive Bookworm
Fad Reader
What Kind of Reader Are You?
Create Your Own Quiz

A great kid named Sofie

I promise I'll write more on my retreat experience, but this isn't an entry about that. This is an entry about what a great kid Sofie is and about what a hard time she's having with Debra's illness.

Homework started this past week for our dear Sofie. She's not a big fan of having to do work at home since she works so hard during the day to get her classwork done. Being super nerd that I am, I was kind of excited about the new way homework was being organized and presented to the lower elementary kids at Sofie's school. All the kids in each grade level 1-3 were given a binder with the entire years homework enclosed. For 2nd graders, homework consists of spelling, reading and math. It gives parents the chance to prepare a little more for homework.

Purely by accident, I introduced SchoolHouse Rock to her. We were "high fiving" when I continued on with counting in FIVES. (I actually hadn't realized that this was part of her math homework!) As I was saying, "5, 10, 15, 20..." the SchoolHouse Rock segment of Fives popped into my head. Since my video collection of these are actually video tapes, I figured we could find them on You Tube. I was correct in that assumption, so we watched a few online. She enjoyed them. If she only knew how much I relied on those to learn things like the preamble to the Constitution, the reason for the American Revolution, and how a Bill is introduced and it's path to becoming a law! Now many parents of my generation are using what we loved as kids to educate our own children. It's even cooler that they get 24/7 access when we had to wait until Saturday morning. The wonders of DVDs!!

Sofie's still lacking some basic self confidence around many aspects of learning. From what I've been reading, much of this is tied to the ADHD as that is one of the "signs" in girls. She is noticing that her "concentration pill" (Debra's term, not mine!) is helping her get her work done during each day, allowing her to participate in Fun Friday. Hey, everyone's gotta have goals!

Saturday, after a long day including a play date, scootering in the park and dinner at Sharon and Tracey's Sofie and I had another one of those "Mama Jamie/Sofie moments" discussing what's going on with Debra. We're in car after leaving the dinner party when we get into a conversation about something I can't recall. The talk evolved into Sofie making the statement that included, "when Mama Debra finishes treatment." I replied, "Honey, Mama Debra is never going to be finished with treatment." (I know that's not true, but didn't want to go into the discussion of what actually will happen if and when Mama Debra stops treatment.) "Whaaat? Whhhhyy?!?!" was her emotional reply. I could literally hear the pain and confusion in her voice. I teared up thinking of the best way to answer this plea. In my strongest, most confident voice I said,

"Honey, we don't want Mama Debra to be finished with treatment. She's having treatment to try to keep the Cancer out of her body."

"Mommy, Mama Debra has had Cancer TWO TIMES!!" she replies.

"Actually honey, it's the same Cancer."

And then in a rambling that I know was too much information, I tried to explain how Mama Debra's body just isn't responding to the treatment and how most people do, but a small percentage don't. I reiterated that my body did, so I'm okay.

Sofie got really quiet. I looked in the rear view mirror and saw a sad, confused girl. I asked her if this made her sad. Quietly, she responded, "Yeah." Then in the way that kids do, she changed the subject to a benign topic.

She had a pretty fitful night of sleep that evening. I wonder what she dreamed about?

My girl is taking care of herself the best way she can. I'm doing all I can to support her in this journey. I know we'll all come out okay, I'm not looking forward to the last part of this ride.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Retreat wrap up

This past weekend I was very fortunate to be able to attend a wonderful Cancer Wellness Retreat in the foothills of NC. From my perspective, they were as much in the mountains as they needed to be. Shannon and Dave, the retreat facilitators have a beautiful home and surroundings that they lovingly shared with us. I came home with many wonderful memories that will stay with me and let me know there's more to life than chaos.

The main house surrounded by nature.

I enjoyed much time sitting by the creek.

This particular retreat was designed for those who have had or those who have cancer. We had a wonderful balance of those being treated and those who have completed treatment. On a funny side note, upon receiving my application request Shannon took a look at my blog...which is always in my email signature. She didn't read much of it and to be honest I wasn't very clear in my email, so she quickly became under the impression that I was the caregiver to Debra and not a cancer patient/survivor myself! She told me she had to figure out how to delicately tell me the retreat wasn't for caregivers, but folks who had cancer. After receiving a very kind email back from her, reminding me the retreat was for cancer patients, I responded and informed her that I had, indeed, had cancer too!! I'm so glad the clarification happened and I was treated to a wonderful weekend in nature.

One of my favorite activities was walking the grounds of their home. Dave had placed thoughtful, funny, encouraging signs for us to encounter on our outings. Sofie had asked where I was going, so I explained that I was going to an adult version of Camp Kesem. She beamed and said, so you get to play all weekend?!? So naturally I thought of her when I encountered this sign:

She was somewhat disappointed when she asked if we'd had a food fight and my answer was "No." I did tell her of my other favorite activity, painting with watercolors while sitting on rocks "in" the creek! I added that we were going to get some paints, head to the Eno River and paint ourselves silly. She was more excited for me after that! I guess I did have the eyes of a 7 year old.

Another perk that's coming out of the retreat is a possible new play date buddy. One of the attendees actually lives very close to me. She has a son who sounds like is cut from the same cloth as Sofie. We're going to try a play date and see if the kids get along as well as the moms did! We drove to the retreat together and I can honestly say we didn't stop talking until we arrived at our destination. She was amused that I "Googled" her to find out if we'd be compatible to ride 4 hours in the car. I was just making sure she hadn't published some manifesto against homosexuality or the likes. Luckily she hadn't, so we had a fun time driving and chatting. I think the kids will get along great. I'll let you know how it works out!