8.28.2013

There's a Grandma in my Bones

photo by Little H, age 4

I’m 31 years old. Sort of.

I mean, I've been alive for 31 years. But I’m an awfully lot like the 60-70-somethings I occassionaly attend a restorative yoga class with.
I roll up in my CR-V, car seats and cracker crumbs and all, and squeeze right in with the Cadillacs and Mercedes, parked ever so slightly crooked in their spots. I inevitably meet my instructor at the parking ticket machine and once again help her through the process of purchasing an electronic parking pass. And, also once again, I attempt to dissuade her from saving the receipt until kingdom come because I’m pretty sure “technology” is in fact not going to fail her and result in a retroactive ticket she doesn't deserve.

As we make our way from the parking lot back to the yoga room, there’s a lot of chatting and slow ambling. I want to speed things up and get us started. Actually, I generally want to speed things up the entire 1.5 hour class.
There is a lot of sitting, breathing, and stretching. Did I mention it was a yoga class? Anyway, not my favorite way to spend 90 minutes. I rarely break away from the responsibilities of my job and my two young children to do anything by or for myself. This is holy time I don’t want to waste. (And, okay, I'm kind of a Type A personality.)

I don’t like meditating. I have found that I breathe just fine without devoting thought to it. And I prefer my stretching to be a warm-up for some sort of strenuous exercise to follow. But I come here because I need it, because I know that it is good for me. It helps my troubled body feel a tad bit better, even if only for a few hours.
So much of me wants to be outside running, to be fast and free. To be 31. But that’s all in my head, because my body fits right in with grandmas around me. You see,

    * Inflammation rolls around in my hip and rib joints, making me ache and creak and move gingerly.
    * I lack hormones and thereby the ability to regulate my own body temperature appropriately. To compensate, I habitually under-dress and am cold 95% of the day, because the other 5% is flashes of torturously hot.

    * I take a medication (to help keep the cancer away) that causes bone density loss.

    * And, the water balloons on my chest and chunk of lymph nodes cut out of my underarm really put a damper on my agility. High impact exercise is generally not reasonable.

So, like I said, I fit right in here. I am a 31 year old, trapped in a 70 year old body, that is actually 31 years old.
We’re stretching slowly from side to side. We’re balancing. We’re breathing.

(Sigh.) I was never a very good runner anyway.

 





8.22.2013

Special and Not-So-Special Occassions

 


My husband and I recently celebrated our 10-Year Anniversary.

We awoke on this momentous, romantic day to the screams of our daughter at 6 AM, who had just face-planted after discovering she can climb out of her crib. The rest of the morning unfolded with a bath for a pee-soaked 5-year old who had wet the bed, and some general morning-scrambling in my attempt to arrive at work promptly.  
I forgot it was our anniversary.

Then my husband handed me a latte (a Friday treat we always engage in), gave me a hug – with our daughter trying to squeeze in between and our son hollering from the TV, "Can somebody make me breakfast?"
"Happy Anniversary," he said casually.

"Oh ya, Happy Anniversary," I replied.

That's just the way life is sometimes, right? Or for normal people it is anyway. Even momentous occasions get an "oh yeah." And that's okay. Granted, we did get a fantastic weekend away to celebrate earlier in the month, so NO complaints here. But even if we didn't, that would be okay too.
His hug makes me happy. The waking up to another good day with my family - to a good relationship with my husband - makes me happy. Oh, and the latte helps too.

 
10 years ago, we were young kids, blessed by the generosity of our parents with a beautiful wedding and garden-reception. It was simply fantastic. All of those people we love gathered together for days of festivities; a year of planning well-executed into enjoyment, comfort, and memories; the beauty of the event… It was truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience for us.
"Wouldn't it be great if we could have the reception with everyone again, every anniversary?" I mused to my husband.

"No. Because that would mean I would have to go to a bunch of those every year" replied my effusive, sentimental man.
Last year was The Chicken Sandwich Anniversary, as we celebrated our 9th year of wedded bliss by taking our 2 kids to Chic Fil A for dinner and watching them play in the enclosed play-area. And we all enjoyed it too. (Hum, maybe we should have gone again this year...)

Every beautiful and special thing does not have to be celebrated in a beautiful and special way. More often, life is simple. The joy is found in a content, thankful attitude – in a chicken sandwich or a hug and a latte.
So today, here's to good marriages. And, here's to the specialness of the rare, really big celebrations in our lives - and the rest of the time, to celebrating big things in little ways.




8.19.2013

Family Game Night

I am a fan of simplicity.

As my advocation for carnival avoidance may imply, I like to spend time with my family in the simplest of ways. Walks and bike rides, books and the backyard, crayons and bouncy balls fill our time together. Of course, the occasional movie theater or theme park trip peppers our adventures. The idea is not so much avoiding ultra-exciting activities but rather cherishing the quiet, everyday ones as well. (Did I just use the word "quiet" in relation to time with my children?)
 
The hour upon hour of time at home together is generally the stuff our days are made out of - and character is created within. 
 
At times, we can all use reminders to enjoy our children by enjoying simple activities with them. And certainly, most of us also welcome new ideas for our repertoire of such activities.
 
So, as the thermometer is creeping upward and the clock seems to be slowing into a progression of lengthening summer evenings, my family has occasionally gotten creative with a few ideas, perhaps worthy of sharing:
 
 
One evening, I took all of our mason jars out of the cupboard and placed them together in a large basket. A shallow box would also work. Admittedly, I have a lot of jars - for good reason, (as you may recall from here.) But you could start saving your recyclables to build a small game-worthy collection. Any small balls work for tossing; we used ping pong.
 
They bounce all over the place, in and out of the jars. It's just the right level of difficulty to keep all ages interested.  
 
 
 
On another afternoon, my husband fashioned a target board out of cut recyclables and a piece of a cardboard box. We tossed bean bags and shot Nerf guns into the targets.
 
Keeping some semblance of score - with a nice, cool dessert as the reward at the end - added inspiration on both instances.

 
 




 
Other posts you may like:
 
http://lovelywithaside.blogspot.com/2013/11/no-stuffed-animals.html
Plushie Hatin
http://lovelywithaside.blogspot.com/2013/09/childhood-crush.html
Playground Love
http://lovelywithaside.blogspot.com/2013/08/wedding-anniversary.html
Special and Not-So-Special Occassions

8.13.2013

A Lot To Scream About

Somewhere amidst the last couple of months of growth, my daughter learned how to scream – or as I like to call her in those moments, my husband’s daughter. (Although, if I’m being honest, that’s probably more my personality than his.)
She often screams when she’s hungry, when she’s done sitting in her high chair, when she’s tired, when she’s tired of playing with her brother, when no one is playing with her… She screams; you get the idea.

To Sassy’s credit, she has had 6 teeth pop through her gums in the last two months. And she does have a 4 year old brother pulling her around or holding her back most of the day. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve told her brother, Little Boss, not to tie a rope around her ankle, just in the last week.

As I’m witnessing the dwindling of my baby girl’s passivity, I sometimes want to pat her on the head and say, “I understand.” Other times I’m tempted to set her on the back porch and walk away. In my better moments though, it’s empathy that prevails.

Life is hard. And sometimes it’s really, really hard.

In the last two years I have been diagnosed with two pretty horrendous diseases – one of which causes pain and immobility daily, the other of which required extremely severe treatment, and still may kill me in the end. It’s been no picnic.

A normal, predictable world of challenges and joys has been replaced with a sad perception of harsh reality, as so often accompanies pain and trauma. As Sassy knows, there really is quite a lot to scream about.

Of course, my goal as a parent is to teach Sassy and Little Boss to grow into people who can not only manage their emotions but also see beyond themselves. How will life ever be beautiful if they can not learn to look beyond their own plights and interests to the needs of others, and to the hope of God?

So while I may hug my screaming daughter close and whisper in her ear that I know how she feels, eventually I will set her down to figure it out on her own - as she will need to so often in this life.

“You’re okay,” I tell her. And myself.




As originally published here:
 

8.09.2013

Remembering Her Start

Sometimes it's good to remember what you came from.

My daughter and I recently visited my radiation oncologist - the (earthly) man I credit with saving her life when my radiation treatment and astonishing pregnancy intersected.

She and I have visited once before, shortly after her birth, but her celebrity status in the office has not waned. From the receptionist Cathy, to the nurse Ellen, to the variety of technicians in the back, they come forward to marvel at the miracle that she is.

She toddles down the hallway happily, her chubby legs in their classic wide-stance as they amble her forward slowly, as though she’s surfing on her own feet.

After several outings that involved hot and/or dirty floors, I’m finally remembering the new necessity of squeezing her chubby feet into shoes – bright pink sequin shoes this morning. (They make me think of a peppy old lady in a puffy-painted sweatshirt. But one shouldn't complain over a wardrobe of gifted clothes.) A matching bright pink bow holds back her silky, brown hair as she smiles at her audience. Her arms are outstretched to do their part in the balancing act of walking and her little wrist is hard at work as she throws off waves of greeting to her audience.

When my doctor arrives, I scoop her into my lap and watch as the 60-something, childless man smiles at her and touches her hand. She giggles and shows her first sign of bashfulness by tucking her face into my chest.
 
"This man saved your life," I want to whisper into her ear.

She was a tiny little pea, in her first stages of a questionable development when I was being treated here. Prayer after prayer from that back, radiation room was answered. I squeeze my thumb into the palm of my hand just thinking about it -
 as I used to each day, laying on the table under the beams... picturing God wrapping his hand around her, protecting her. As He did.

It’s been a year and a half since I finished treatment - a well-spent year and a half of changing diapers and picking out little shoes, of watching her and her brother grow. 


I hug her tighter than usual as we say goodbye and I have the incredible privilege of slipping back into a life of normal, with her.

8.05.2013

Rabbit Ownership

 At the risk of sounding insensitive, I admit that I do not understand rabbit ownership.

Why would we suppose that housing any small animal in a cage for the duration of its life would be a beneficial arrangement for said animal? And what are the return benefits to this caged confinement called pet-ownership? Looking at it? Petting it on occasion?
Like I said, I do not understand.

Perhaps I am simply being unpleasant. That my neighbor’s rabbit, caged a few feet from my bedroom window, wakes me up every night and morning is quite possibly clouding my judgment.
After all, I owned a rabbit myself as a child. It used to hop all around my room, leaving little back pellets, and to my father’s disdain, chewing holes in the corners of my bright pink carpet. Then one day, my bunny escaped from the second-story balcony where I often left him/her (?) to roam whilst I was away. (Even as a child I understand the cruelty in keeping an animal caged around the clock.) Wait a minute, I’m having an epiphany… I’m realizing that my father just might have had something to do with this miraculous bunny escape. He was known to “free” an inconvenient pet or two during my childhood.

I should call my father. Or maybe I shouldn’t; he would be too much of an ally.
Around 4 AM, when my neighbor’s floppy-eared critter starts moving things around in its cage and, from what it sounds like, running on some kind of squeaky wheel, all manner of plans goes through my mind. Who knew a rabbit could be so loud?

Mostly, I decide I’m finally going to go knock on my unfriendly neighbors’ door to tell them (again) that yes, whoever decided it was okay to build houses as close together as ours should be shot in the toe, but perhaps their backyard would be a more appropriate place to house their critter.

And when I’m more tired and less charitable, I imagine quietly creeping outside in the dark of the night and loosening the cage door. Run free, little one! You were never meant to live out your life in a cage anyway.

(I am a bit of my father’s daughter, aren’t I?)

Well, I don’t follow through with either plan. I just quietly stew over the pointlessness of owning a rabbit, every morning, around 4 AM.

And so yes, I have decided that ownership of non-domesticated pets is selfish – not even because it is inconsiderate of your neighbors but because it is inconsiderate of the pet itself. If you have a goat in your pasture or a chicken in your coop, I commend you. If you rescue dogs or cats from shelters, here again, I applaud you. (If you keep a fish in a tank, I think nothing more of you than to marvel at your dedication to keeping the bowl, aquarium or tank clean.) But if you have a small animal caged for your pleasure, I wonder, do you love animals so much that you can’t help but own one? Or is it that you care so little for the animal that you own it – valuing your access to it over the quality of its existence?

Well, whatever. Catch you very early tomorrow, little rabbit. (No pun intended, I promise.)

8.02.2013

10,000: Here's to You

The page count on this blog has just ticked its way past 10,000 views.

In the blogging world, this is a relatively small number for the 8 months since its inception. Or so I would guess, anyway; I actually have very little idea what goes on in the “blogging world.” Which perhaps speaks for my numbers in many ways?
Given that my goal is not world fame or even a blog-supported income, I'm pretty happy. I am deeply honored that anyone clicks to come here ever. Amidst the endless sea of information at our fingertips, that anyone takes the time to read my stories is surprising. Every day, it’s surprising.

After each post, I’m convinced the views are coming from accidental hits. But there you are again, numbers rolling forward in a slow but steady encouragement to continue to sit down late at night and share.
The satisfaction I get from a story well-told is big in my small life. And the feedback of inspiration and encouragement shared is, well, lovely.

So, thank you 10,000.