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Monday, December 26, 2011

Clean machine

Okay so the good news is, my chemo is officially over (waiting out applause...) but the not so great news is I am left with a very exhausted, dehydrated, slow moving, fried body.  Skin is that of a reptile, hair is curly (yes curly -I am rockin' the total Jew fro) and the steroids have added a refreshing water insulated coating over my body that it didn't need...water weight is for sissy's.  So after reading Kriss Car's Crazy, Sexy Cancer Diet I learned a few things.  I am going to juice myself - again - for the entire 21 days of cleansing.  I expect to be a cantankerous, moody bitch so my apologies in advance.  When I did the juicing for five days I LOVED how I felt but the holidays and a crappy lot in timing kept me from going, I am more empowered than ever now, post latke.  Costco is first on my list today for fruits and veggies.  This also calls for dry brushing, meditation and colonics...hold up...no thanks.  I can't meditate, I just wind up thinking about sex or bills and dry brushing makes me feel like my mastiff and a colonic?  Interesting in idea but will thoroughly fall flat in practice (for me - afterall, this is about me, right?)

So I am going for broke - a full juice cleanse for 21 days with some very limited raw foods for munchability.  All raw foods, all organic and I hope to blog about this each day so I can look back over the path.  I have recorded in my mind the hell I am about to experience...headaches, bloating, fatigue, insomnia, nausea, skin breakouts and irritability...so duly noted except that's what chemo offered.  No surprises here.

My goal is to kick this off tomorrow - yes, before the new year so I can get the early onset of hell out of the way before I head back to life.

So here I go - in prep mode...did I mention NO COFFEE?  But I can have caffeinated green tea until the caffeine headaches subside.  Yay.  I think.

Stay tuned...this cancer fighting thing moves forward into Phase 2.  Only good juju is welcome.

Happy New Year.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Breaking Dawn...

So this is really the deal.  I have my new juicer/blender/pulvarizer and I am up on my green smoothies...three down, all good, feeling vegan.  I am removing as much processed food and sugar as I can without being an obnoxious tree hugging paper eater and I am adding Bikram Yoga to my repertoire.  Tonight was my second shot at it and I am proud to say, I still suck but I didn't pass out so this is a good thing.  My friend Amy Gold - for those who don't know her - is among my most down to earth friends.  She is as real as it gets and you either love it or you hate it and I love it.  She is, however, very intimidating to do hot yoga with because she's a very sexy sweater and makes each pose look like she was born doing it where I am a hot, sloppy mess behind her trying not to pass out with the grace and eloquence of an elephant on roller skates, but I digress...

As it begins I unravel my mat to see SMITH emblazoned across the top next to butterfly stickers and realize, I have Olivia's resting mat from kindergarten.  I make it work but Amy has no part of that and retrieves a spare one from her car (who carries TWO yoga mats?  Amy does.)  Shortly into the session, I am smokin'...got my breathing down, looking good, a little glisteny and posing like a champ.  But what is that smell???  10 minutes later, not so much...breathing getting harder, sweat pouring into my eyes, posing not quite as elegant but I am hanging in there.  30 mins in, Amy is giving me the countdowns...5 more poses...okay I can do his except 5 more yoga poses is like 10 more football minutes.  It's never what it sounds like and at 110 degrees, in five more poses I can expect to be a puddle of toxic waste on the floor.  At some point in a very bent over move, my prosthetic breast drops out and rolls onto the floor...  Now I can add humiliation to my heaving and dehydrating and my friend Amy lovingly reminded me that if she had seen it, she would have laughed her ass off.  See what I mean?  You love it or you hate it...I love it, even then.  What is that smell???  Now I'm about an hour in and I am a pile on the floor.  Trying to breath without passing out...instructor said through your nose - WHAT?  If I could cut a hole in my neck to bring in more air, I was willing - through my nose, whatever.  I bury my face in my towel covered mat and I realize that smell I had been smelling for an hour was MINE.  Someone or something had peed on my towel and it has dried so in 110 degrees, hot urine is wafting up my face and I am obsessed with people who are right up on me (really crowded class) thinking the boob chucker peed her pants.  So my chi is gone, my yoga buzz has been replaced with wondering which of my two preschoolers or two dogs peed and never told me or even better, how did it wind up in my linen closet, folded disguised a laundered towel???

Okay so now I am really losing it...I'm over an hour in, in sitting poses, watching the lotus that is Amy who is signaling to me only two more...liar.  Two more before we start the breathing and that sucks because I can't breathe how I want - I have to do this Lamaze thing that causes my boob to jiggle and slide over to the other one across my now sopping chest.  Lights are brought down...it's a sign we are now ending.  Oh my gd it's nearly over.  Now we are laying down...my gd we really are done.  90 minutes.  Holy shit I did it.  Nice man brings me a frozen lavender towel...it's the moment, the feng shui of yoga - I have arrived - I am buried beneat this frozen goddess of linen.  Cool air is coming in, I am done.  I can't move, I am now half liquid but I am done.

Hobble to the car and make plans to meet Amy again on Tuesday.  What the hell...



  

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Crazy yes, Sexy no...

So my fatigue has taken a turn for the worst.  I am exhausted most all the time and I can't seem to get enough rest or sleep to make it even just a tired day.  Yes, chemo is cumulative and yes, 12 months of injected poison will take its toll but am I doing all I can to help?  err...no.  I teach four year olds four days a week in preschool...I adore them, they keep me laughing and in many ways they keep me going but the situation can also be life sucking and I struggle with whether I am cheating them in my fatigue but that's a work in progress and giving them everything is my goal.  My own children have me from sun up to long past sun down and they can also be energy vampires - they deserve more than they are getting.  My husband is my safe place, my sanctuary and yet even he, in a simple conversation, can break me down because sometimes just finding enough syllables to form a word is challenging.  So I review...am I eating what I need to be?  No.  Am I doing all the exercising I said I would be doing?  No.  Am I sleeping enough?  Enough?  Well...okay, am I sleeping?  Yes.

So here we go...Crazy, Sexy Cancer Diet.  This granola guru has the answers she says.  I need a whole foods plant based diet and a lot of yoga. She came back from stage 4 cancer with living this way...whatever, I don't do that kind of tree hugging thing but I AM willing to give this a shot.  Just buying the book meant I was open to it.  Giving up Diet Coke is a definite but giving up coffee?  um...I'm pissy already just thinking about it.  And no...green tea is NOT equally satisfying.  A spinach smoothie does not taste like a milkshake and fresh broccoli steamed lightly enough to preserve enzymes is not a fulfilling side dish so let's just be honest before we begin.  If I need to do this, I will but I won't do it under the notion that I will enjoy all the raw food has to offer.  I will be open to feeling joyous later about it but right now I reserve the right to bitch.

I bought my super powered Vitamix blender wondering if a day spa with all the trimmings...about the same price, wouldn't be more fun but I digress...yes, once it arrives, I will be smoothing my way to health.  I am totally committed to doing whatever I have to do...and I will begin right after Thanksgiving.

I mean c'mon...let's be real here.  No stuffing?

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Suck it up babes...

Okay so parent teacher conferences were yesterday...well I am a recovering "my kid is perfect" mom.  After 16 years, I get it...my kids make mistakes...big ones and it's my job to help them be less entitled and more humble.  I take it seriously.  I have friends - lots of them - who make it a point to praise their kids for waking up, showing up and wearing a shirt and pants in the right order.  I spot it because I was it...I made sure my kids knew every day that the world was happy just because they were born.  A disservice?  Um...yes.  A better lesson?  Suck it up, you will be fine.  I told my daughter every minute of her life that she can be anything she wants...well y'know what?  She won't be a rocket scientist- math is her deficit.  Is it kinder to let her think math is the problem and NOT her or is it better to help redirect her to where her talents will flourish?

I know someone whose daughter cried after an interview at a fast food restaurant because the manager cancelled and rescheduled and then was late causing her undue stress at her first job application process.  It caused me to wonder...am I that mom?  I have taken pride in providing my kids soft landings and I will be that mother until the last breath of life has left me but I am also here to remind them that people suck, animals die and life is a bitch...a real bitch and letting them out into the world with the notion that they will be embraced and praised for walking upright and breathing involuntarily isn't kind at all.
Just because I have the four most amazing children ever doesn't mean everyone else thinks so...in fact, everyone else doesn't think so and that's probably the best lesson they can learn.

A history teacher that is part Nazi, part Amin, part sadist has my daughter for an hour a day.  He's an eye rolling ass with a disdain for kids...no question and in my conference with them yesterday, it became very clear to me Maddie isn't his favorite. (what??? gasp!).  But y'know what?  I wanted very much to petition to remove her from his class.  She can't do anything just right enough for him and she hates it.  Every part of us wanted to fix this.  We chose to take the harder role...he is not just Maddie's teacher, he's a window to difficult people with which she can peer through and learn from.  Welcome to the rest of your life Maddie.  He's your father in law, he's your boss, he's your neighbor.  We are your advocates, We are your best allies and I am your bodyguard...if he is abusive, I will go totally LA on his ass and never stop until he's fired but if he's difficult, challenging and harsh...well, put up and shut up.  He can ask you to jump in a lake and you can come home to tell us about it, but you better be wet (Joseph's favorite parenting lecture).  I don't like it...not one bit and I hated telling her we decided she would stay in this class.  I was actually physically uncomfortable saying it...I could feel my heart pounding.  She was upset, begged for us to reconsider and then at the end of our call agreed it won't be easy but she will do it.

I found more satisfaction as a parent in her resolve to face it down than run away from it.  I find myself on better footing and Joseph and I both agreed this was the right thing despite our desire to hold her to our bosom as we face the storm in advance of her.  I'm proud of her.  I always am.  Even when she screws up.  Almost especially then.

In the interest of full disclosure, I put the Nazi on notice...you fuck with my kid, I will be your worst nightmare.

I never said I was good at this letting go shit.  I just said I did it.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Cleansing during insomnia

Okay so why is it I am my most insane in the middle of the night?  I am like one of those creepy weirdos who stay up at night with secret habits...I am my MOST vulnerable at night.  I notice my stretch marks, my thighs, my wrinkles, my bad habits, my obscene addition to caffeine and I start researching all kinds of things - on the menu today was a 21 day cleanse...yes, cleanse.  Two shakes a day, a million supplements and a brown rice powder soup...um, rice powder...not even rice itself. For the girl who bitched the ENTIRE day of Yom Kippur because I could not have coffee, I think THIS is a good idea?  Well yes, in theory.  Don't we all want to feel younger, stronger and thinner?  Don't we all want amazing skin (I mean c'mon, Gyneth Paltrow endorses it...how bad could it be?), don't we want unlimited energy, nine hours of sleep and a clean colon?  And for only $500 you too can have this...along with 21 days of hunger, headaches, fatigue and bad skin while you "detox".  Only I can think that's an interesting proposition.  I tried for ONE day to forgo cream for non fat milk in my coffee and made a face to anyone who watched me and yet 21 days of rice powder soup and colonics I find attractive?  I was even encouraged to take the healthy eating and clean lifestyle quiz to see if I have any unhealthy eating habits or addictions...for this I need a quiz?

So I think maybe I can try a pre cleanse cleanse...veggies, fruit, weaning off coffee...but no, not this girl - boring.  I like it all or nothing baby.  And then I consider my schedule.  Can I start AFTER Halloween?  Seriously...Joseph and I have had a yearly ritual since having kids.  We trick or treat, we put everyone to bed, we rifle through buckets.  I call it Mommy Tax.  They pay it and I don't care if they like it.  I would sell everyone of them for a frozen snickers.   So then I consider post Halloween - I could be "clean" in time for the Thanksgiving carb parade.  Hmmm...So how serious can I be?  Placing my cleansing diet around holidays whose sole purpose is gorging...??

I think for a busy mom of four it makes sense although admittedly I am attempting it figure out how I can cleanse and still have coffee.  I can't find that part of the diet yet but I'm looking.

I might even blog about it.  After a few days on a cleanse I should be a sobbing, shaking, miserable mess in need of love, sugar and caffeine.  Perfect.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

If I Were a Rich Man...

Settling into the Jewish holidays for me means shopping, eating, entertaining and lots of whining from the kids about how many hours we are in synagogue and how much we can't eat on Yom Kippur.  I get it.  It's not easy being Jewish...let's face it, we do a lot of stuff - especially over the high holidays.  I can do most of the fasting without complaining but I would give $500 to the first person who can get me a diet coke.  Caffeine is the great nemesis.  So as I am shuffling about from one sermon to the next in very uncomfortable shoes and a dress I would rather turn into a set of cotton pajamas, I realize I can't place my head where it should be.  Am I grateful? Sure...I just faced a lot from a personal place...am I pissed?  Well hell yes...I don't deserve Cancer.  Am I overwhelmed?  Uh...yeah...see above but overall, I am supposed to be feeling something and I can't get there.  I'm trying - I tried all week but it's just not that magical place I see in my dreams.  In service today - yes, I am on the computer during Yom Kippur...I'll cover this next year...we move in like cattle, book in hand, caffeine headache, blisters from my new shoes we stop to wait for the Rabbi to finish so we can enter the sanctuary.  I see Maddie reach for a tallit and pause...closing her eyes, taking a deep breath, whispering the prayer as she places it lovingly over her shoulders and prepares to enter.  Then it hits me.  It's why I am here.  It's why I have always been here.  Tradition.  It's the gift we give to our children...the gift of a legacy, an identity, a place, a belonging...it's home.  It's nearly 6000 years of tradition - watered down a bit, not so factory new but as she placed the prayer shawl over her shoulders, she became one with millions of people, at that moment, who do the very same thing.  My relationship with Gd is fussy - we fight, we don't talk and it will be what it is but what the holidays mean to me is tradition.  It's the challah on Shabbat - it's never changing.  It's the family and the food and prayers and the candles...it's blessing my children over candle light on Friday night, it's bringing them to the Torah for the first time at their b'nai mitzvah, it's handing them over to their betrothed under the huppa, it's eating bagels on Sunday morning, it's making caramel apples over Rosh Hashana...it's what they expect, it's who they are, it's how we do it and it's our gift to them...tradition.  It's what Tevye sang about in Fiddler on the Roof and it's what I feel today.

I went to synagogue this morning hungry and irritated about the parking but left with the gift of why we are here and why we have always been here.  It's for our children...L'dor v'ador.  From generation to generation.

Watching my girls read the prayers, smile, yawn and occasionally giggle out of boredom I am good.  I am good because they are home and when they are home, I am at peace.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

43

43.  Fourty Three.  It's really something.  I can review my life in so many ways...I can place value on it based on money, status, kids but in the end, I really am just happy.  I've blogged before about arrival and it really is a place I enjoy.  Arrival means I no longer care about things that don't matter.  Vanity?  You mean for a girl with only one breast and no hair for most of last year?  You mean hips and stretch marks  - permanent trophies of childbirth?  A bit of failing vision?  Slightly deaf?  A creak here and there when I get up too fast?  But with all of that, I see clearer than I ever have, hear joy and block out toxic sound and getting up fast means I am chasing someone...likely my little boy, and I am fine with the creaks.

So while my body may not be that of a 20 year old, my mind and soul are that of a sage.  The girlfriends I have in my life are truer and more dear to me than I have ever had.  My home, when full of people is full of warmth and when I crawl into bed at night and insomnia gets me, I crawl into bed with my children because I know watching them sleep will be something I won't be able to do much longer...

Olivia said to me I am the best mommy in all the trees and Jack said I was his best girl...Maddie reminds me every day while I should be proud and Ava bases all of her decisions from a moral angle...at 23 my life was just starting and now, 20 years later, it's cooking at full heat.  While my body isn't factory new any longer, I wouldn't have it any other way.  Well to be honest, I would have it exactly the way it is but with folded laundry.

Happy birthday to me.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

it's finally here...

Well it's finally here.  Five years ago when we were sitting on the floor with Olivia, barely a few months old, screaming with colic and wondering how it will EVER feel when we are away from her for a few hours and here it is.  Kindergarten.  We brought her in today for open house; new dress, new smile, new friends...to meet her teacher.  Saw her name on the wall, in a purple circle, sealing the deal.  It means from here forward, she belongs to someone else for the day.  Mr. Depalma.  I hope he's kind.  I hope he's loving.  I hope he adores her with the same passion we do.  I hope he sees the fire in her eyes and the light in her mind as he opens her world.  I hope when she comes home to us, she is full of ideas and dreams and opinions about her day.  I hope she finds within herself everything she can be.  Along with good manners and picking up her toys, I hope she sees her full potential...I hope she looks in the mirror and sees the wide eyed, freckle faced little girl I see with her hand on her brother's shoulder but her mind on dinner.  I hope she always likes rainbow sprinkles and Hello Kitty and her big sisters.  I hope her tinkerbell lunchbox makes her smile and her new shoes remind her of all the laughing we did at Stride Rite.  I hope she walks along side me to school with a sense of pride about herself and a dance to her step.  I hope she never stops creating her own music and her own way of looking at the world and I hope, more than ever, she never stops believing.  What we view often as sassy and assertive is our beloved Livvy - who never stops doing anything her way.

And as I put her to bed tonight, counting down the moments toward Kindergarten, I hope she knows how much we adore her...not just love her but like her.  Truly like her.  And as much as we adore her, like her and know her, it is with all the love in our hearts that we bid the best of luck to Mr. Depalma...because he's going to need it.  :)

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Secrets to a happy marriage? Vision...

A couple of ladies were discussing happy marriages in the elevator (we women can talk anywhere) and I overheard one say it's about communication.  The other objected and said its "totally about commitment".  My old rabbi used to say it's about attraction.  Can't communicate or commit to someone you aren't attracted to.  Well I can't speak for others and with one divorce under my belt can hardly take to the lecture circuit but I can say what has worked for me and Joseph and it's vision.  It's the curious way I look the other way when he's ten minutes late...everytime.  I have become an expert on the diverted glance away from the clock.  Okay so a few times I might tap my foot or sigh heavily but really, I am just releasing.  Kinda like an over inflated tire. 

When I wear his socks (okay I do but I can't help it...I just like them) and he brings it up, every freakin' time, almost as if he's irritated but not entirely...vision.  I remember when I was really sick, he put those very socks on my feet while I was sleeping.  I never told him I knew he did that but I recall it often.  He calls me a blanket hog and shares stories of him riding the edge of the mattress at night  as I take to the center of our king size bed as though I'm commandeering the SS Smith and yet, I know when the nights are cold, I can feel him covering me up.  I see that through the jokes...Vision.

The night I had my mastectomy surgery I woke to find him curled up in a chair, in the PAC U post surgical unit, asleep, after telling the nurse he wasn't leaving me regardless of hospital rules about post op.  I see that moment in my mind when he's scooting me over at night complaining about having no room.

So for me...it's vision.  It's being able to see those moments admist all the chaos that is our life.  It's never being crazy at the same time.  It's learning that hindsight isn't always 20/20 and wearing corrective marital lenses are as important as wedding bands...commitment is lovely, communcation is necessary and attraction is critical but in the end, if I can walk around in his socks and he can be ten minutes late and we may find that irritating beyond belief (and I do), I can close my eyes and see the guy who never lets me get cold and realize I am more at home than I have ever been and then I look the other way.


 

Monday, August 1, 2011

The art of death and dying...

At a shiva this week it was very hard to not let a friend's grief become a springboard for me to look at my own.  I mean, c'mon...how self absorbed could I be?  My friend Sue, while mourning the loss of her mom and offering such beautiful memories to share, had me wondering the very thing we likely all wonder...can they hear us?  I'd like to think they can.  I'd like to think the times I stop to recall those who are no longer here, "know" I am pausing in their honor...or do they just really prefer I move on down the road, letting them be?  It's nice to be thought of but how much is too much? 

I lost three babies...one at six weeks and two at 22 and 23 weeks.  Being a card carrying member of the miscarriage club isn't something I share often but it is a badge of courage for having survived it.  Once you have delivered a baby you aren't bringing home, the fabric of who you are permanently changes.  That baby takes a part of you with her and maybe at that moment, both of you agree to never speak of this again.  It took me a very long time to embrace those losses...to wonder...to demand an explanation...to go toe to toe with Gd and frankly, I never could.  I think he knows I'm still not speaking to him but on some level, I'm sure I will make my peace with it.  I may never.  I deserve to know why I was forced to give birth to two babies who were taken from me.  I just deserve to know.  But at the shiva, I couldn't help but wonder...

I lost a boy and a girl - the first baby was too early to tell.  I later delivered a boy and a girl.  Buddhist ideology would say they came back to me...I like that, it brings me some relief.  It doesn't replace the pain - hardly - it just makes a nice, neat bow with which to wrap up the two most traumatizing events in our lives.  If they aren't here with us and are somehow up, somewhere...maybe they will hear me when I say, I don't think of you because the pain is so immense I can't do it without losing my footing.  Maybe that's selfish.  Isn't that kind of what a shiva is?  For the one left behind?  Using my friend's grief as a way to reach out to my own losses felt wrong but as I go back over it in my mind, perhaps it gives me a way to reach my friend on a level playing field while also offering a backdoor window with which to peer in longingly at the souls who passed through my body and my life but left entirely too soon.

We aren't supposed to bury our children.  It's wrong.  Widows/ers are people who have lost their spouses, orphans are children who lost their parents...there are no words for parents who have lost their babies.  It's so unnatural, words have yet to define it. 

Perhaps I am touching upon the healing...perhaps I am still really angry...perhaps both.  In grief, if you do it right, comes awareness.  And through that awareness you embrace a newer model of you.

Monday, July 18, 2011

What's a smart woman like you doing at home?

I used to wonder if that's what people thought...when we made our decision to stay home with our kids, we didn't take it lightly.  It meant giving up a lot of things...A LOT of things.  It also meant taking in a few things.  I love every second of it - well not every second but for the most part, it's my life's work and I am proud.  For some they have no choice - for those who have a choice and choose to work, my hats off to you and I give my love and support to my working sisters.  For those of us who live in regret - both working and at home moms...I salute you.  We all do.  But...that being said...an open comment to a family member who took a few stay at home shots at me, if you live in regret because you work, let's talk about it...do not belittle my work.  I take it very seriously.

There's an interesting tug of war between working and at home moms.  Most of my working friends don't feel it - some do but most are very happy with their choices.  Many of my at home friends miss the office and commeraderie (and money) but all in all, are very happy at home.  Then there are the few that can't shake it off.  The ones at home because they feel they have to but are miserable and the ones at work because they need the money or the status and miss their kids.  I remember...I remember heading to work, as exciting news was, and getting the call that Maddie took her first steps...in daycare.  It made me physically sick.  Four years later, there I am, covering 911 and putting in 14 hour days - temporary yes but 9/11 was the grandmama of all news stories for producers...and hearing Ava on the phone at two telling me about her toys...or books...never could tell but it was her voice that I still hear in my head. 

I put in 15 hour days...I invest in my kids, I am truly present...I feel that volunteering in their schools and book clubs, reading and playing and being with them is my job.  I am proud of my work.  I am also sad when I watch the news and wonder if the team producing the Casey Anthony trial was as riled up as I was...I kept wishing I was back in the newsroom peeling myself up off the floor and figuring out how to headline it while keeping the gasping out of the anchor's voice. 

So my sisters in motherhood...we all work, we all bust our ass and we all live in some kind of regret because we can't do it all...the key is going to sleep at night with peace in our head and in our heart and if not, figure out how to get it and opening up with the truth is far more effective than firing a shot.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Origin or Choice?

I heard it said a long time ago we have two families.  Our family of origin and our family of choice.  Clearly my family of origin has some significance in my life but we hardly see them and my younger kids couldn't spot them out in a line up.  Then we have our family of choice - the amazing friends who have come into my life and my home and my spirit; helped me raise my kids, feed my soul, borrow my car, shop, live and laugh with us.  Every major decision has me asking them what they think - the sisters in my life who don't share DNA.  It's a great feeling to have this.  It's a connection I have craved since I was a little girl.  Growing up in my childhood home had its moments but connection wasn't among them.  We were actually quite disconnected - a blood line but no life line.  To feel safe to sob, laugh, be silly, make mistakes and grow out loud is a place I am at today.  I called it arrival before and it really is but when you arrive, isn't it fabulous to have someone waiting?  Isn't a finish line only exciting when there is cheering? 

I have sisters and brothers that I invite into my home and my life who adore me, love my kids, remember important things and say delicious things about wanting to see me.  There is so much self introspection that comes from growing up and part of it is realizing you want to be wanted and I do.  I spent a friend's 40th birthday celebration with women I not only admire, I truly adore.  Strong, loving, smart moms who took care of me when I was sick and celebrated with me in recovery.  It's a deeply rooted feeling of security to have that.  It's nice to be wanted.  It's nice to have someone just happy you are here.  I have a friend whose parents fight - seriously fight - about who gets to spend more time with their grandchildren.  I have no idea what that's like but I do know that may be me one day.  My poor children will be begging me to leave.  Maddie just said she sees herself with her children one day, coming to a family vacation home on all the holidays with her siblings and their kids.  I see that too but I am most happy she sees it.  I want her to feel wanted and to feel desired by her family. 

I feel success as a mom when I see that her family of origin may also be her family of choice.  Then I realize I have done it and she can leave realizing whoever said, you can't go home again, never had me as a mother.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Not Guilty...

Seriously?  Everytime I find myself very proud of our judicial system, a sucker punch of a verdict comes flying in from the back.  Not guilty.  With over whelming evidence, a long list of witnesses and a truck load of lies, Casey Anthony walks free as early as this Thursday.  I suppose this nation found the only 12 people who think duct tape over a child's mouth wasn't convincing enough?  That all mothers who lose their children have hot body contests and lie to police?  I'm not a lawyer, I'm not a witness, I'm not even a resident of their town yet I found myself drawn to the child whose murder will never be resolved. 

I just add it to my long list of "WTF's" when I die I have to pass over on a memo.  I think judgement day for a lot people will be an interesting experience but for me, like a CNN reporter, I will be doing the interviewing.  I have a lot of questions and certainly more comments.  When Gd and I meet, I will be asking him to get some coffee...this may take a while.

I hear karma can be a real bitch and I hope she's Casey's new roommate.  On second thought, I hear OJ is still single...there's a match made in hell.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Calling...

I used to think callings were what nuns got.  A call from Gd on the bat phone that means you need to move but I think I have one.  I think I've had it for a very long time.  Foster parenting.  Child advocasy.  Timely now?  Not even a little bit but how can you refuse a pull you have had for over 20 years.  I can't.  If Cancer gave me anything it's a new set of lenses.  One where I can weed out the toxic, bring in the good and realign myself with what I need.  I'm not a fantastic parent.  I can't impart the best advice on younglings - I can barely take care of my own at times but there is something about a child in need that puts it all in perspective.  I can love them.  I can feed them.  I can help them heal themselves.  I can give them family and tradition and support or at the very least, a warm, safe bed and hot meals until they are ready for more.  I can show my children the world is huge and sometimes unkind but we, not only as Jews, but as people can help.  Will it be crazy at times?  Chaotic?  Busy?  Not fun???  Well yeah...of course...so is life.

The kids are on board (more kids!  more fun!  more noise! ) but what we do know is we have a lot of love to give and a bed and that's all we need.  Time will come, space will avail itself, life will open up, our hearts will soar.

I do believe if we do the right action, the right thought will follow so here goes...it will be hard, gut wrenching, heart breaking, life filling and likely fun too...it's giving the gift of love and family and how can that ever be wrong?

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Arrival...

At a very dear friend's fourtieth birthday celebration it came up...what does this new decade mean to you?  What does 40 bring to you?  At 42 I feel I can answer certainty but then to be honest, I don't know that I care if I don't.  Arrival.  It means I have arrived.  I am officially the person I am.  Some wardrobe changes, a tweak here and there, a nip and a tuck but overall, this is it.  This is as good - or as bad - as it gets.  For me it's liberating.  It means I can admit to not liking to cook when everything thinks I should love it.  It means adoring my girlfriends and sunbathing in their acceptance of me with every quirk and glitch I bring to the table.  It means saying what's on my mind and in my heart without fear of exposure but with that comes responsibility to filter - something I didn't always have operating in full capacity. Just because I feel it, doens't mean I have to say it...and not saying it, doesn't mean I don't think it.  I just means I care more about being happy than being right (or argumentative...which in my life, is the same:)  It means having a bullshit detector that never runs out of batteries.  It's the narrowing of expectations and defining of what really matters.  It means letting myself be who I am and not making excuses for what I'm not.  It means seeing myself the way my kids too. 

It means laughing at myself because it's 330 in the morning and we leave on a cruise in four hours, I have slept less than three but I'm such a head case I can't sleep until all the laundry is done.  Yeah - I love that about me.  Embrace it friends, it's who I am and anxiety happens to be the soup of the day in my life.

I used to joke that I couldn't wait to be at a place where I don't care what people think but the truth is, I care a great deal...we all do but in the end, what I think has slowly crept into first place and I am really pleased to see it. 

Arrival.  It means I am working on myself every day, wincing in the mirror, reading enough health and diet books to open my own section at Borders, knowing what I'm good at and what I should officially leave behind, making room for peace and that cherry bookcase I wanted, moving toxicity out and opening the door for more good ju ju because in the end, no matter what, if this is what it is, it is really okay and that is what it means to me, to have truly arrived.

Friday, June 17, 2011

The Little Buddhas

I've heard it said the days are long but the years fly.  No truer words were ever said.  It's like labor and delivery...that moment is excruitiating and exciting, painful and meaningful and then it's over...as fast as they are here, it is gone and all of the sudden - they are 15, 11, 5 and 3.  There are times I can't get over how they view the world...so naive, so innocent, so sure of themselves. 

My favorite Ava moment was when she started fifth grade - the very one she is leaving now - and told me about Holly.  Holly was her friend.  Her new, favorite friend.  Holly only liked to swing even though Ava liked to climb and run.  They were matched in everyway yet the playground forced Ava to swing if she wanted to be with Holly.  She never told me anything other than how much Holly liked to swing and would only do that.  Ava didn't mind, she never voiced any objection but I used this as a teaching moment.  I felt it best to express to Ava how it was okay to ask Holly to do something SHE liked to do.  I was teaching Ava compassion for herself - to also tend to her own needs but Ava seemed fine where she was - swinging with Holly.  I wouldn't let it go.  It was my responsibility as a parent to mold this person into not becoming a martyr...memories of my own upbringing :)

Then I went to back to school night.  I met all of Ava's friends' parents and had a chance to view this world through Ava's eyes and see what kind of kid my kid likes.  And then it happened...I met Holly's mom.  A sweet, smiling lady walking up to me with an arm extended.  She had heard so much about Ava she wanted to meet me - sure, I thought but even more eager to meet Holly, I shook her hand and told her that Ava, too, loved her daughter.  Ava ran from my side to greet Holly who walked a few steps behind her mom.  Without missing a beat, Ava scooted kids out of the way and walked beside her friend...Holly with her walker.  Y'see Holly has cerebal palsy.  She smiled at Ava and Ava back at her.  And then I saw it all...Holly would swing because it's all she could do and Ava didn't mind...and never said to me she was disabled because Ava never saw it.  In Ava's world, Holly was her friend and they would swing and Ava was happy.  It was sympatico.  And at that moment, I became the student and Ava, the teacher.  If only I could see possibility over limitation...swinging over climbing.  I realized Ava needed no teaching moments from me.  I actually needed to sit down, shut up and open a notebook while Ava took to the lecture circuit.  Ava saw only her friend and her friend saw acceptance in Ava.  It was the marriage of a perfect moment between them.  I was breathless with both pride and shame.

Who I was changed at that moment.  From that day forward, I pledged to Ava to look at the world and at people differently...through the eyes of my 11 year old who saw her friend as someone who wants to swing, not someone who can't do anything else.  Possibility over limitation.  Who knew?

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

17 Days...

Funny how things wind up easier when we tag a number to it.  Everything seems palpable when we can name it...nail it down, make it fit.  I leave in five days on a cruise.  School is out in four days.  Camp is in two days. Something about the number is soothing I suppose.  Well there is a theory that says a habit is formed in 17 days.  Not two and half weeks...that sounds like a light year...17 days.  It's my commitment to myself to eat better, work harder, get healthier, live cleaner and manage my cancer free status...beginning with a 17 day journey.  I can do this.  I'm fairly certain after beating Cancer, I can do just about anything.  I grew up a Vegan.  Seriously...it's hard to believe after seeing me tear into a ribeye like a monkey on a cupcake but we were very LA and with that came our Earthy, nutty mother and Vegan lifestyle...basically I was tofu when tofu wasn't cool.  We had to buy our food from health food stores that ran on wind panels and solar heating from guys who looked like Jesus and sold us our grains in paper bags with giant fans overhead keeping everything cool (and I suspect the bugs away) and local farmers which I still like to support.  Through the years, my reach for processed and frankly, easy food has gotten out of hand.  I admit - I find a glass of wine and take out Chinese far more appealing than bottled water and organic mung beans but let's face it...time to give my life an overhaul...and I will.  It's time to make my health a priority and show my kids that Subway isn't a weekly staple to the Smith menu.

So when I return in 13 days, I will begin my 17 day journey toward health with a book called the 17 Day Diet...to ease the burden, I shall speak only in days.  It's the little things.  For today, I can do this.

Writing to you live from Panera...signing out.

Mix tapes

I have always known children are noisy.  Screaming, fighting, even talking...they are just loud little creatures.  How many times a day do I say, "okay...shhhhhhhhhh".  It's actually part of my hourly vocabulary.  When they are asleep or away, the sounds are deafening.  The quiet is so loud, it's hard for me to enjoy sometimes.  Honestly.  I am someone who just can't be content with the gifts, eh?  But it's true.  Quiet in my house means something's going on...if they are awake and it's that sound of nothing, that is a five star alarm.  It means someone is painting on the walls with my lipstick or holding the dog hostage or on a search and seize mission in my room.  But there are sounds that will remain in my mind forever too...we forget the screaming, we dismiss the crying in our memories and we selectively edit out the Target tantrums but there are the sounds we hope to remember always. 

The peculiar light tap step my son does coming down the stairs in the morning...I recognize him by the sounds of his feet hitting the stairs in pattern.  The deep breathing my little girl does when she sleeps in the car.  It's an inhale and exhale dance that belongs only to her.  The way my Ava talks to herself and reads out loud at night using character voices when she's sure she's her only captive audience.  Even the singing my oldest daughter does when she is plugged into her itouch and doesn't realize her singalong concert is loud enough for us all to enjoy.  The way my son answers questions to the children's shows and smiles in pride when he's right.  The loving way my daughter soothes my son when he's upset and the way she sends him on snack missions by coaching him with what to say to me to gain said food.  The gasping and giggling when I'm reading a favorite story and the slurping and smacking from a well designed ice cream sundae.  The botched up lyrics of Old McDonald...listening to my daughter talk to ants on the pavement, coaching them back to the grass.  The sighs of my son when he's calm.

It's the sounds of my home...the hit list of the Smith house - carefully edited.  The songs I can play over and over in my mind for when they fade out of memory...the sounds I hope to never let go of.

The eternal mix tape.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Ding Dong the Diaper's Gone...

I honestly thought I'd be excited.  And I am.  No more diaper bag.  No more embarrassing blow outs in the middle of a restaurant.  No more cramped diaper changing tables in places I wouldn't eat at much less get my child naked in and not enough sanitizer in the world to fix the bathroom floor changes, over clothes and jackets when a table isn't available...not that I ever did that...much.

But it's a rite of passage.  I passed the baby aisle today and had a moment of sadness...no bottles, no food, no wipes or creams and now...finally...the last to go...no more diapers.  I couldn't wait for this moment - after four kids I could build a diaper island with what I've gone through in waste but I just see this as the end of a era.  It marks the end of "baby" - the end of pretending I didn't notice that his diaper is hanging to his knees in fluid because I just sat down.  Proudly powdering and pampering a new tush and then the blueberries kicked in; praying that wasn't my kid that shut down the pool after a swim diaper malfunction.  I don't mourn it...I just realize it's an ending and like any mother, I am prone to missing the things we never thought we'd miss.

Not that in fourty years, when I'm changing Joseph it won't bring back memories but let's just say, it may not have the same magic.

Onward and upward.

Friday, June 10, 2011

When life hands you lemons, clean your fridge with them...

Overwhelmed just doesn't cut it.  Not that I am complaining - okay maybe just a little...having so much going on and actually feeling it means I am alive and no longer under the chemo coma but it still has its moments.  Maddie being sick, Joseph struggling with job interviewing, a house that is about to be condemned by the board of health, three VERY busy kids with cabin fever and a desire to be at the pool every forty seconds and at some point, I need to get back to the gym.  With all this, I am declaring a truce with my life. Back off or I will seriously freak out.  If I get up earlier than normal, I am caught with a teen ager who needs history help, if I say up a little later I am met in the hallway with a preschooler who "can't sleep" and if I sit down for just one second, I am caught with a husband who sees his sitting wife and mistakes that for full attention.  I am happy to be all those things - just maybe not all the time.

So today - it's too much.  I am tired.  To begin to get some control back, I cleaned my refrigerator.  Scrubbed, cleaned and sparkling.  Looks brand new.  I am so proud.  So excited and so relieved.  One small corner of my world is in order.  It was my 45 min contribution to my mental health and frankly I liked it better than the eliptical.  So when I feel overwhelmed, I will head to the fridge to gaze and recollect.  It's my glory.  My happy place.

My life.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Their Dreams are Mine...

One of the most fascinating things about having a teenager is watching them evolve.  One of the most challenging parts is sucking your tongue back into your spleen when they do it in a way we don't like.  Okay don't like is harsh...don't agree with?  Don't feel comfortable with?  Hmmm...think is a bad, hideous, death inciting idea?  Yeah.

So what I can honestly say is this.  And I have learned this from you - other parents, who by the way are the BEST source of therapy, information and support.  Forget the books, skip the classes...grab yourself a few moms and a margarita and you will learn more parenting know-how than Dr Spock offered in his entire life.  But I digress...I watch my teen and tween fight, sweat and bleed their way into their own identify.  I watch it with pride.  Afterall, I taught them not to drink the kool aid and find out for themselves what life is about but I also suffer a little on the inside when it's not how I would do it.  Gasp. 

I had a rabbi once tell me something that I am holding on to.  Teenagers will crash your value system.  Tear it down, walk away from it and leave the home with their own set of ideals.  And then it happens...they form a family, raise their children and suddenly begin to build their own value system and the shocking but maybe-not-so part of it is...it will look alarmingly like yours.

So there ya have it.  I bite through my tongue until it bleeds, I smile, I hang on tight knowing these brave, sassy little people need to fight their way up the food chain without me behind them with a compass and hachet to ward off predators.  But I also realize I have exactly what I wanted...a young woman who won't conform, refuses to back down and despite my desired off switch, won't stop moving forward and onward.  So there she goes - tall, proud, smart and sassy in designer jeans.

But I can really do without the eye rolling.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

11 days...

11 days until we leave for our cruise.  Right now I'm breaking up a fight between That's Mine and Its Not Fair...my two playroom buddies.  I've never met them but I hear their names so often I'm sure they live here.  I love the idea of a family cruise...I'm thinking about it every second and have since my first day of chemo when Joseph told me it would be our time to celebrate kicking Cancer's ass...but I also hope the Job Gds smile down on Joseph with an offer that will make our cruise go from wonderful to amazing...I'm also a mother who readily admits chasing Jack and Olivia through a cruise ship without making them walk the plank is NOT my idea of a good time.  With camp I get to enjoy them and they get to enjoy themselves and at the end of the day, they get a sun drenched and relaxed mother.  Showing them the sand and sea on the islands is very exciting for me...I do love new things and sharing those with them but my apologies in advance to the serene tropical fish who find Turks and Caicos' peaceful...

With all the hunger and poverty in the world, it feels like chewing on broken glass to say a cruise may not be as relaxing as I had hoped...I sound ridiculous even saying that but it's true.  Dear Gd please let an offer land in our mailbox before we leave...oh and do something about hunger.  Yours Truly, Dawn

Well My Life Is Ruined has joined the fight so I'm off to take all five of them to the playground.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Launch...

Well why not...after battling breast cancer and raising four kids it feels only natural I feel I have a lot to say - and a lot to learn.  A little about me...I'm a no nonsense mom who adores and loves my children with wild abandon...even when they suck.  I like a challenge except when I think I'm being picked on by Karma the bitch and then I complain...badly.  I love the gym when I'm there - it's just the GETTING there that starts the profanity.  And I hate cooking.  Seriously hate it.  I even hate hearing about your cooking...but I like cookbooks.  A lot.  Don't ask.  I married a super hero.  It's true.  I love that guy...cape and all.  I'm kinda a slacker mom but I like a clean house.  I just enjoy a relaxing household and it's far easier without my yelling.   I hate Cancer.  She's a wiley life stucking disease with no sense of appropriate timing. 

So I'm hoping in doing this I can preserve the memories of my kids and their lives and the daily release I get from oversharing the details will keep me from starring as the doe eyed would be grandmother on 16 and Pregnant.