Friday, August 31, 2012

Labor Day is not my favorite weekend.

In many ways it seems like a lifetime ago. 

But in some ways it feels like just yesterday. 

I received a call from my brother. My mother, who only a week before was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma, had been moved to ICU. You need to come back to town he said. I would make it this weekend. 

My mind begins reeling. 

I was still trying to process how we were going to handle her cancer treatment. She had been there to care for my father when he was battling lung cancer. Which one of us would step up to care for her?  I had visited her in the hospital and had been there for the diagnosis. My mantra since hearing the diagnosis: It's a marathon, not a sprint. 

I was mentally preparing myself for the marathon. 



And now my brother was telling me to sprint back into town. 

He did say she still recognized him. Recognized him?!?  Why was he even telling me that?! Of course, she recognizes him. I saw her a week earlier with my kids and we talked and joked, having absolutely no idea it would be the last time she would see my children. 

I am not a sprinter. 

I have never trained for sprints. 

I was training for the long-bout-with-cancer-then-recovery marathon

I left the family the next day and drove the three hours to Houston. I walked into the ICU prepared . . . to discuss treatment options. To consider all those things you realize you need to discuss when you have a 70+ old parent with cancer.  After having already lost one parent to cancer five years earlier. 


We were not able to discuss anything. She did not recognize me. Or rather, maybe she did, but she could not communicate other than to groan. Her eyes saw me. I saw life in her eyes, but that was the only communication that remained. 

This wasn't a marathon.

It was a fifty yard dash. 

And I was unwillingly thrust twenty-five yards out from the finish line. 

My sweet hubs wanted to come be with me. I said no. Not yet. I wouldn't acknowledge that it was the end. Someone was going to have to tell me that to my face,  despite the fact that I could hear the ragged breathing I recognized as . . . the end. 

That someone came that evening. 

He spoke in medicalese {legalese is a word, shouldn't medicalese be too?} but all I heard was "I'm so sorry." He was such a gentle, sweet man I didn't take out my anger on him. Instead I went directly to the chapel and told God what I thought of this "fifty yard dash plan". 

I was angry and not afraid to tell Him.

I am not a sprinter. Why was he making me sprint?!

The ICU staff didn't move her or otherwise attend to her near as much the next day. Nor did they complain when we had four or five people in the room, blatantly disregarding the two visitor maximum. 

Her stats continued to drop. 

I finally called the Hubs and blubbered: I need you here. Now. 

He made the three hour drive. 

I met him in the waiting room and walked him into her room. As soon as we entered the room, I could see the finish line. I called my siblings and her minister into the room. 

We prayed over her. 

We said goodbye. 

The sprint no one wanted to run . . . ended Labor Day weekend 2009.  

Last pic of my mom with my duo - July 2009

Monday, August 27, 2012

Dinner this week.

Well, this happened this morning. 

And I enjoyed every single minute of it. 

Right up until Sunday around four o'clock. 

And then I was just done and ready to have a free minute to myself. 

So today - the first day of school - came just in time. 

And while I'm not entirely organized yet, I have done just enough planning and prep to have a a few yummy back-to-school dinners up my sleeve. 

I'm going to let the roasted cherry tomato cappellini stand alone -- no protein added.  I'm starting to cut animal protein from our meals at least two nights a week.  The corn and avocado salad, however, will be served as a side with our "crispy chicken" -- yes, fried protein to make up for those protein free meals.

Baby steps.   

It's bound to be a busy week. And I'm secretly still hoping we'll continue our lazy-dinner-after-late-afternoon-swimming routine.

But probably not.

So, on the crazy chance that I'll need to actually cook more than two nights this week, I also have all ingredients on hand for a favorite stand-by:  pesto orecchiette with chicken sausage. But after that, I think I'll need a break from all the routine and structure.

Baby steps.

So, what's on the back-to-school menu at your house? 

Friday, August 24, 2012

Friday funny.

Maybe this simply appealed to my often repressed geeky side, 
but I nearly spit my peach/kale/banana smoothie all over my computer. 

Naturally, I had to share.

Here's to hoping you spit something hideous on your computer too! 

via LikeCool

Happy weekend! 

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Triumph Over Kid Cancer Foundation

19-year-old James Ragan is a student at Rice University, golfer, and founder of Triumph Over Kid Cancer Foundation. James is currently battling osteosarcoma, a type of cancer that starts in the bones, typically during adolescence. 

In this video, James shares his story, his thoughts on the future direction of CPRIT, and how investing in rare and orphan cancers should be a bigger priority. James's story was a front page feature article in the Houston Chronicle on Monday, August 20, 2012.

He is an amazing kid man and has blessed the lives of so many. I share this with you to raise awareness but also because it is near and dear to my heart and the hearts of so many that I love!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Helen Gurley Brown Quotes.

Helen Gurley Brown, who died last Monday in New York City at age 90, was the legendary long-time editor of Cosmopolitan magazine. I cannot claim to have been a follower of hers during her lifetime, but while reading about her after her death, I became more and more intrigued by the alleged originator of the notion that a woman could “have it all.” 

According to all accounts she was saucy, charismatic, and alway a champion of female empowerment. And while I am not certain I agree with her on all accounts {"If you're not a sex object, you're in trouble" - contradicts the notion of female empowerment in my eyes}, there are a few quotes that immediately resonated with me: 

“Beauty can't amuse you, but brainwork—reading, writing, thinking—can.” 

“What you have to do is work with the raw material you have, 
namely you, and never let up.”

“Money, if it does not bring you happiness, will at least help you be miserable in comfort.”

“Never fail to know that if you are doing all the talking, you are boring somebody.” 

Friday, August 17, 2012

Weekend words of wisdom.


I tend to agree!  

I've been busy in the kitchen this week channelling my inner {albeit amateur} Julia.  

More on that next week!

Until then, I wish you all a wonderful weekend 
of indulgence in that you love most! 


Tuesday, August 14, 2012

No more summer glow.

I realize you all may tire of hearing about my blissful summer vacation in Hawaii and how much our kids enjoyed camp in North Carolina. So, I'll skip the post where I talk about how lovely it was to be away with the Hubs for two weeks while the kids were at camp. It is getting a bit much, even for glass-is-half-full-me. And quite frankly, the blissful summer spell is wearing off a quite quickly. Reality is settling back into my pores and diminishing my summer glow.

Apparently, after the blissful summer getaways comes the late-summer reality check: 


When you leave the house for weeks at a time things have a way of stacking up and cluttering every surface in the house. The pile of bills, mailings, notices, and bank statements to which I returned is harrowing. I threw out every single magazine without even a glance. Piles of paperwork remain, which is quite surprising given that the vast majority of our bills arrive via email?!?  So what is all this stuff?! I'm considering trashing it all and starting fresh.  They will just bill me again, won't they?!


I am a huge proponent of renting houses when traveling for any length of time. I prefer eating food I prepare {at least some of the time} and packing lightly and laundering my own clothes. I realize "packing lightly" is a relative term which we will not now debate. Suffice to say, I do laundry regularly when away for longer stays. In fact, I am fairly certain we left North Carolina with suitcases full of clean clothes. Additionally, the kids' clothes were washed at camp. They should have only had a few days of dirty clothes each. Sadly, 'tis not the case. A leaky cooler was placed on top of my suitcase rendering everything inside a wet mess. Lovely considering 100+ degree temps through which we traveled on our way home. Ewww.

Ditto the kids' trunks. All clean, right?!  Until, that is, they threw their last pair of dirty clothes, sandy shoes, and wet towel on top and then hermetically sealed that baby for the road trip home. Double ewwww. 

The resulting mound mountain of laundry is still taunting me. I actually think I can hear it now:  "Amy, you cannot wish this pile of laundry away. And the moldy smell is not getting any better sitting in the hot laundry room." 

Someone send reinforcements. 

Home repairs. 

Have I mentioned before that my house is in a constant state of repair or need repair?! Probably so as it consumes a good portion of my time and attention scheduling and otherwise dealing with the constant stream of workers who pass through these doors.   

When we returned from our recent sojourn we discovered our kitchen sink was inoperable. Actually, the sink itself works just fine, the offending object is actually the faucet. I have never given it much thought, but a kitchen without running water is fairly useless. The Hubs suggested dragging a hose inside to help rinse the dishes. Thanks for that, babe. Instead, I enlisted the kids who filled pitchers of water  from the bathroom to keep next to the sink. It was our own version of Little House on the Prairie living.  

But wait, there's more! 

A sprinkler in the front yard apparently died. Dead sprinkler during Texas summer = dead grass. Lovely. 

I'm not done yet. 

The vines growing on our house and guest house were issued their own zip code while we were away. They are no longer vines, in fact, but large trees growing on the side of our house and cutting into the stucco facade. They must come down. Of course, tearing them down is not the problem. That's easy - cathartic even. But now, the house must be painted. Or alternatively, remain as it is looking like a haunted house of horrors.  

Make it stop!

Sick kids. 

As soon as the camp adrenaline rush wore off both kids began coughing and running a fever. Today Little Miss Thang added a stomach bug to the mix. Fun!

I'm so excited to add "sanitize every household surface" to my list of things to do. 


It's starting -- the daily barrage of emails requesting time, more time, and then just a bit more time. School doesn't start for two more weeks; apparently we cannot wait for that formality. 

So I suppose, as the picture perfect summer comes to an end it is only fair that my haired reality should once again reign supreme. 

Reality - check! 

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

North Carolina summer camps.

I may be a Texan, but I've spent the last few weeks in North Carolina and am officially adopting it as my summer home.  If you've ever spent summer in Texas you would not blame me. Not one bit!  

The original impetus for this summer relocation was my desire to send my children to summer camp somewhere a little further from home. I wanted them to experience a different landscape; not to mention cool evenings and daytime highs short of the the triple digits!

Last summer Little Miss Thang enjoyed her first camp experience in North Carolina. As expected, she thrived and begged to return! So we quickly went to work finding a similar experience for Boy Genius. Thankfully {after turning to the Internet} we were able to find the perfect spot for him nearby.

My kids love camp, both their sleep away camp experiences and day camps they've enjoyed through the years! Art camps, sport camps, academic camps, and residential camps -- we've done them all!
camp, North Carolina summer camp
Boy Genius clearly loving his North Carolina camp experience. 
If you live in North Carolina or, like me, simply desire to relocate for a few glorious weeks each year, you'll find a comprehensive listing of day, residential, and specialty camps in North Carolina at Carolina Summer Camps

You can also check out the city specific links below:

Asheville Summer Camps, Cary Summer Camps, Charlotte Summer Camps, Durham Summer Camps, Raleigh Summer Camps, Greensboro Summer CampsWilmington Summer Camps, and Winston-Salem Summer Camps.

So, anyone want to join me next summer?

Monday, August 6, 2012

The mysteries of camp.

It was now a full week ago that I dropped my duo at their respective camps. In the week that's past I  have heard very little from either of them. 

I did receive a "I'm having a great day, I hope you are too!" letter from Little Miss Thang. And Boy Genius wrote to tell me he liked the french toast. 

I enjoy these little bits. They make me giggle. And quite frankly, I'll take pretty much anything I can get. I scour thousands {no exaggeration} of pictures each and every day searching for a smile. Two smiles a day and I'm quite stable. Pleasant even. And occasionally I hit the jackpot and see more than my share of happy faces.

Nonetheless, it all seems more than just a little bit mysterious.
I think Boy Genius is in this circle. Somewhere. Maybe.
You see, I've sent my kids to live with strangers for two {long} weeks.

I assume they are happy.

I assume they are eating more than Skittles and biscuits.

I assume they have each made a few friends.

I assume they enjoy their activities.

I assume they are actually resting during rest hour instead of writing me detailed letters.

I wouldn't have sent them if I wasn't fairly confident it would be a good experience.

But yet, I remain befuddled by how it all works without me?

Who decides what they wear each day?
Boy Genius has clearly not found the 15 shirts I packed as I've yet to see him pictured wearing a shirt at all. And Little Miss Thang has worn the same swimsuit every day from what I can gather. We packed 5. 
Who reminds them it is chilly in the morning and they need a fleece {clearly we are not in Texas}?
Again, clearly no one as far as Boy Genius is concerned as he is now a shirtless wonder. And Little Miss is pictured soaking wet on numerous occasions. Hello, wear your slicker?!?
Who tells them to eat some food, any food, to fuel their little bodies?
Boy Genius did mention the french toast. So in the past 8 days I'm certain he ate one meal. Great. Little Miss Thang is most certainly living on biscuits. 
Who tells them to brush their teeth for more than 15 seconds at a time?
Thankfully I have no proof this has or has not occurred. If anyone has a cavity on our next visit, though, I'm blaming it on camp. Not on my watch. 
And who in the world is brushing Little Miss Thang's crazy hair?
Her very thick blond hair is a beast to say the least. It certainly requires patience and perseverance when brushing. She has no patience. Or perseverance when it comes to glossy locks. I fear the nest that will result after two weeks without a good brushing. 
Without me there, how do they survive at all?

And, if I'm at all honest, all signs indicate they are doing quite a bit more than just surviving.
In her element. 
Shirtless wonders a plenty. 

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