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The rants and recipes found here are solely mine.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Back to School Blues

He's got em bad this year. Not only is it back to school time, but it's back to a NEW school.

The back to school blues. There's no way around it. The countdown is pounding through his head nonstop, I can see it. 8 days to go. Pull all you can from them. Trying to stop time just seems to make it go faster.

I don't like it either. In fact, I'm finding, the older he gets the less I see him. I can feel already the pull of independence that's unavoidable. That drive that they all have to make life their own. Who am I to get in the way?

One day, he will be leaving this house and striking out on his own. And that day is getting closer and closer.

This step into middle school is just one more step away.

I love watching him stretch his wings and fly, don't get me wrong. But, a part of me misses his toddler hand in mine as we navigated the dangers of the grocery store parking lot. I want to stop strangers as they wander with little ones firmly in hand and say, "Freeze this moment. It's so fleeting."

If I'm doing my job right I will be giving him roots and wings and that's such a bittersweet balance.

When the bus leaves next Tuesday and I close the front door and will be fully alone for a few minutes, I'm sure I'll shed a few mixed tears. Missing him a bit, yes, but also happy for the independence and the happy newness that he'll find at his new school. Worried tears (will he remember his locker combination?) mixed with nostalgia for my own sixth grade year of reading romance novels and discovering Bonnie Bell lip gloss (Lord, help me if he does the same.)

Then I'll wipe my eyes and go celebrate with the girls. Back to school brunch to toast surviving another summer will be most welcome. None of us will admit it, but we don't want to be alone that day.

I'm finding that he needs me in some ways even more than when he was tiny. The needs are stronger, bigger, more emotional than the mere physical needs of babyhood. Sometimes the amount of patience that I must summon forth are so deep that I cry a bit for the effort. They grow bigger and so do their problems. The sting of rude teachers or classmates, the confusion of navigating this complicated age of starting to notice girls, but at the same time not noticing them. And the bumps and curves of the roads of friendships. I sometimes wish I had a script to follow so that my words would come out right and healing.

This is a new chapter and the pages are clean, for now. Twelve years old in just a few days. How did we get this far so fast?

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Are We Done Yet?

I don't want to write about real life right now. You ever feel like that?

We've had a rough summer. D's health scares. Family drama that I don't dare set into print. A young cousin gone forever. Another very ill family member. The stress of living amongst continued house projects. And all the other various stresses that have rocked us this summer.

It's affected my health and caused a terrible flare up of my disease. I'm on day 15 of continuous, mind-numbing, head exploding, pain, with no relief. I talked to my doctor's nurse yesterday and she said, chill out, girl, you've got to find a way to just chill. Easily said, right?

So, I'm trying. I'm trying very hard to ignore the bathrooms that need cleaning and the laundry that's not doing itself and the to do list that has created it's own zip code. I'm not programmed that way. Type A? Yes. Perfectionist? Yes.

I can't help it and those traits are why I've been successful in many things. God works in mysterious ways, doesn't He? Perhaps he sent this disease to me to knock me off those tracks.

When the pain of my disease really gets to me, I'm not real positive. I get gloomy and think a lot about how I'm letting my kid down because I should be super mom and be taking him to art museums and parent child pottery classes (like those things would fly with him!). I dwell on the fact that we haven't done enough exploring this summer and that we really should call a friend and head to a local lake for fishing or swimming or whatever. That he shouldn't have to worry about having a sick mom and trust me, I've perfected my mom's fine smiling act to the point that I can switch it on the minute he walks into the room, so that he's clueless.

The hardest part about having this disease is that it hasn't killed my will to want to do more, be more, see more. The drive in me to work, play, see, and do has never disappeared. I look at my calendar and realize that I lose almost half of my life to this disease, sometimes more. And it's hard not to dwell on the unfairness of it all.

A little while ago, my doctor had to write a note about how I'm not able to work as a registered nurse because of this illness. Seeing this in black and white was more than jarring. It actually stopped me in my tracks and hit my chest hard and sudden, the realization was so raw and sore. He once said to me, "Be content with making your home a happy place for your family. Be content with less and you will find more." I know. I KNOW! He's so right, but I want to feed the homeless and start a nonprofit and protest the war and work towards universal health care and paint my house and make a quilt and learn to sculpt and volunteer at church and write a book and organize my closet and have a party--all in one day.

Deep breath.

Having an invisible illness is hard. You look fine, but you feel awful and you try to explain it all to fall on deaf ears because you might smile. Because if you smile, you must be fine, right? What they don't realize is how much you had to reach deep down inside yourself to pull from that amazing inner strength you've accumulated, just to get up and dressed and stumbling through the pain to life to get to the point where they see your smile.

This is a jumbled, makes no sense post, I know. I'm frustrated, I'm hurting, and I can see no relief in sight. I'm thinking a lot about life and what I want to do and how I want more than anything to be outside of this pain. Do I dare even post this?

The Internet is a beautiful thing. Through it I have met and shared with people who live as I do, with a debilitating, invisible illness. Every once in a while, I feel almost good enough to not think for a few moments about my health. And when that happens, I think about the days I had before I got sick when I didn't think EVER about my health. I just hummed along in the bliss of feeling fine, taking it for granted. Those were the days. And I didn't even know how good they were.

I promise. Less gloom next time, but until then, say a quick prayer for me to whatever you believe in. I'm finally, after 9 years of this crap realizing that asking for help isn't a bad thing.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

I See Snowflakes

The forecast is for snow. (And I'm totally stealing this fantastic idea from Heidi over at The Johnson Family Tales, thanks girl!)

Yep, please disregard your weather person. They aren't really that reliable anyway. Let them prattle on about 90 degrees and heat indexes and humidity that will curl even the straightest of hair.

We've got blizzards a comin'. And we mean right here and right now.

DQ has partnered up with Children's Miracle Network with a great deal. Buy a Blizzard treat and at least a buck (if not more) of the proceeds will go to your local Children's Miracle Network Hospital.

Now that's a great deal. Details here.

Now, run, don't walk to your local DQ. Do I really have to convince you to buy ice cream?
(On a side note, I just realized that in only 3 months, the white stuff will most likely return to mighty Minnesota. I'm already a bit panicked.)

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Thinking the Worst and Finding the Best

My how time flies.

Our baby cardinals have left the nest. When we saw the empty nest we were terrified that a predator had eaten them for a quick snack.

How pessimistic we were! Time for an attitude change.

Optimism is the required attitude for life. It is much easier to delve into darkness, isn't it? We humans seem to have a high aptitude for complaining.

I recently read an article about a family that took a pledge to be complaint free. Needless to say, this was a difficult task. Ultimately, what they found out through the experiment was that some complaining was OK, a life of negativity, not so great.

On closer inspection, our baby cardinals were now perched on branches next to the nest. How funny they look, wobbling and bobbing, trying to be big. Momma and Daddy cardinal were not so happy with our close inspection, but I risked blindness by beak to take a few shots. I couldn't resist.

Soon, they will fly away and I'll be sad, I'm sure. It's only been five days since we discovered the nest. So much has happened between then and now. Look how far they've come.

I can't help but see the parallel of this small family with my own. Young One is leaving the nest, wobbling and bobbing and trying to be big. He's driven, by nature, just as our feathered friends are. Who am I to hold him back? It's bittersweet, but fly baby bird. Fly.

Friday, August 7, 2009


With the ring of the phone, life can change.

Remember the movie Erin Brokovich? Played so brilliantly by Julia Roberts, who won an Oscar for her performance, Erin fought for those terribly affected by the carelessness of big corporations. This movie hit me very hard because I have cousins affected by similar situations.

Raised in Arizona, on a "plume" of toxic waste, Barb didn't know her body was turning on itself. Her brain cancer, discovered many years later, actually mutated her genes. Unknown to her, she had passed this gene on to all three of her children (who in turn will pass it on to their children, and so on...) All three kids, who lost their mother when they were very young, have fought the cancer. They've had more brain surgeries than anyone should be allowed to bear.

Her youngest was found, collapsed on the floor at his Grandpa Jim's house. He is brain dead, on life support, and the family has gathered around his bedside to say their final goodbyes. Beau is twenty five years old.

All of this because of corporate greed and carelessness.

This situation is so sad, so wrong, and I'm at a loss for words, which is rare for me. Last night, I sat on my front porch watching the normalcy of my neighborhood pass by. Kids playing, a distant radio, and the smell of some amazing BBQ coming from one street over. I rocked in my chair and I wondered at how fragile it all is.

I watched my son playing with the neighbor kids, then tossing a football with his dad. I can't imagine losing that. I know I would go insane.

We sat around the dinner table earlier in the evening. I was obviously distracted, but put on that face of "mom's fine" that we all pull out from time to time. The clouds were starting to gather, we were expecting late evening rain. The air was cool and calm. A bright red Cardinal had been serenading me for the last few days. I wondered why he stuck so close to our house. As he sat in the Hydrangea bush next to our deck, singing and chirping, we heard a slight echo to his song. There in the bush was a nest. He wasn't singing to me. He was singing to his babies, two bald, big-eyed creatures with beaks wide open, looking for warmth and love and food from their dad.

Their small birth, their newness of life, they gave me peace. Circle of life.

I hope that Beau is with his mom, shining in Heaven, pain and symptom free for the first time in his short life. I hope he's running with the angels and surrounded with love.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

My Favorite Day
In My Backyard--Up the Gunflint Trail

Junco Lake and Stream

No makeup or hair allowed on camping vacations.

Just a glimpse of a rainbow. I think we were at the end.

The Gunflint Trail. The only hint I'm going to give you about the location of our secret campsite!

Junco Lake. A short schlep from the country road to our campground.

Morning bliss. This was my view over my Kona coffee. ahhhhhh

My boys.

Our favorite time of day. Sitting by the campfire.

One of our neighbors.

Another neighbor. The Minnesota State Bird, the Loon. He (she?) visited most nights.

There's nothing better. A good view, a good book, and a comfy seat.

Paintbrush flowers.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

My Favorite Day
In My Backyard--Lake Superior's North Shore

The Big Lake!
He doesn't fall for the "throw rocks in until the lake is filled" anymore. Bummer!

North Shore Coastguard Station, Grand Marais, Minnesota

At the tip of Artist's Point. I bet he didn't realize there was a seagull behind him.

Artist's Point

A couple of beach bums.

North House Folk School's Hjordis. I love this organization.

Another peek. It's just too beautiful.

Grand Marais Harbor.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009


Who needs electronic entertainment when there are frogs and minnows and crayfish (translation crawdads, crawfish) to catch?

Monday, August 3, 2009

Happy Homecoming

Doctor ordered rest is not received well. So, Dr. Wifey had to step in. Where do you take a Type A workaholic to rest? Yep, where there is no cell phone reception.

We had a blissful week of family togetherness in the Northern Minnesota woods.

Here's a little peek. The last one is where I am now. Call 911 if you don't hear from me in a few days. I may be trapped beneath Mount Laundry.

Taking a little time to play with words, to play with food, and just to play!