Friday, February 28, 2014

Live: Local & London

My favorite thing to do with Oldest Son and Youngest Son is to share new learning experiences with them. Both boys started going to the symphony and musicals at age two. They have always been attentive and enjoyed our many outings.

Tonight we did a couple things we have never done before:
  • We saw the live production of War Horse from London's West End
  • We attended a live broadcast of a theater production in a Cinemark movie theater
It seems wrong to type "horse puppets" however that is exactly how the life size horses are portrayed. The puppeteering is genius. And the story telling set in World War I combined with Celtic music is fantastic. During Intermission we were also treated to an interview with one of the directors and the author of the book, War Horse, along with a short behind the scenes film. I would, of course, have loved to be in London's National Theatre but it is a modern marvel that we can watch this artistry from our local movie house.

In 2005, Oldest Son (age 4), Youngest Son (age 2) and I did go to our collective first theatre production IN London. We saw Chitty Chitty Bang Bang at the Palladium. The whole experience was magical especially when the car literally flew over our heads.

And now we are able to attend Youngest Son's local productions since he is a novice of musical theatre. Last weekend, we proudly watched Youngest Son in RCT's Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat ...
Youngest Son (in middle) takes a bow as Benjamin.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

The Sound of Homework

Oldest Son hangs his cap on his backpack as he gets ready to study for his math test.
The grass stain on the knee of his baseball pants reminds me of the little boy.
Oldest Son is in 8th grade and Youngest Son is in 5th Grade. The are both in a private Middle School with substantial academic demands. Each child also has various extracurricular interests in which they are passionate thus they must plan their homework around these activities. Our afternoons are often filled with the Sound of Homework.

Each child is at his desk either writing or reading or studying. A small bowl of pretzels slowly empties. Youngest Son still has an occasional question for me. Oldest Son is way beyond needing my help.

The Sound of Homework is the sound of independence. It is a silent, steady rhythm.

Youngest Son busy with history.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Breasts Begone

I have found a great Breast Cancer resource with the moniker Flat & Fabulous

FlatANDFabulous Public Page

FlatANDFabulous Closed Group

Copied from the Closed Group Page
This closed group is for anyone who has undergone a mastectomy and is now living the flat and fabulous life! (did you choose not to have reconstruction? did you have to reverse your reconstruction? are you contemplating it?) whatever the case, we are all-inclusive and would love to see you here ♥ Many of us can understand the day to day issues we have to deal with. :) We can figure it out together. We are open-minded, supportive and most importantly, UNCENSORED! So feel free to open up and let off some steam or express yourselves in any way you need to! We do not judge or discriminate! We believe in embracing each other and accepting each other's differences! No matter what! ♥

For anyone who fits this description OR is newly diagnosed then Flat & Fabulous is a valuable information and support resource to access.

Another resource is 

My experience has shown me that the standard avenues for gathering information are lacking for women to consider a breast free option when choosing a breast cancer treatment plan. Reconstruction is not even an option for all women thus it is imperative that they understand what to expect from the beginning. Then, there are those women who fall into the deconstruction category which can be an especially tortured journey.

There are definitely decisions to make from the get go that can ease what is already a stressful life moment and life threatening time for many. The medical community does not seem prepared to provide thorough and transparent information. My opinion is based on my own experiences, talking with other women, reading about the journeys of other breast cancer survivors on the Internet and trying to find my own information on the Internet.

We live in the information age! Pictures, statistics, surgical options, etc. should all be readily available from our medical community. Women should not have to rely on Facebook pages, discussion boards and personal blogs - as wonderful as those resources are.

Unless we are educated, we cannot be an advocate for ourselves.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Valentine's Commuter Family Style

Youngest Son's hand made card for Commuter Husband and me says "Thank you for giving me great opportunities in life."
Traditions sometimes just happen thus we have the Valentine's Day Kiss Trail. Every February 14th morning, Oldest Son and Youngest Son awaken to a trail of Hershey chocolate kisses. They gather their sweet loot and follow the trail to tokens of their parent's great affection ...

Youngest Son pushing his Kisses in a pile for easier pick up.
Youngest Son's gifts include Superman book, Nike socks, LAX shorts and fancy brownie mix - themes hitting many of his passions! 
Mommy with Commuter Husband was generously bestowed with the traditional flowers and candy and mushy cards. Oldest Son's hand written  message to Mommy is the best. 
Oldest Son gets Pop Tarts (which we NEVER buy) and the books he so loves. This special edition of  The Lord of the Rings is fabulous.
Commuter Husband really made out this year with a new iPad Air - he was stunned. And, the boys were on holiday and Commuter Husband took a vacation day!

It felt really, really, really good to start this leisurely day with tangible expressions of how much we love each other - our tradition celebrating family love.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Defining Moments of the Past

Nature. Nurture. Who we are is a complex weave. I am at mid-life which has prompted me down a path of reflection and prediction. What should the next half look like? If I want to make changes then it will take grit. That quality I have in abundance; such an abundance, I have decided it can almost be destructive - almost. Resilience is the twin. Resilience is something that accumulates with each showdown with adversity. I recall two such moments.

Conceived in the Summer of 1964
I am 13 years old and I am in the car with my Aunt. We did not talk about my mother often so I do not know why the topic was broached. Aunt casually mentions my mother got pregnant before my parents married when she was a senior in high school. It was 1964 for my young parents. What?!%$ Aunt truly feels terrible. She thought I knew.

How would I know? No one ever talked about my mother to Brother and me. Had my mother lived, I would have probably figured it out when anniversary and birthday celebrations did not sync up. As it turned out there were no anniversaries to celebrate and frankly my own birthday celebrations were spotty.

Did it matter? Does it matter? Of course not. But I felt a shock go through my soul at age 13 and I could not stop my adolescent eyes from tearing. Add another layer to resilience.

The Accident of 1969
The timing of the next moment of knowledge is not so clear. At some point as a teenager, I asked exactly how my mother was killed in that car accident that included Brother (age 16 months) and me (age 4.) My mother was driving the Volkswagen Bug that ran under the back end of "an old bob-tail truck loaded with plywood. It had broken down on the overpass ... it did not have the protective bar on bed of the truck that would have prevented a car from going under" 18 wheeler. She was decapitated when the top of the car was sheared off. My grandmother was the relater of this awful information to me. My feelings when told this? I think I had more of a numb feeling likely attributable to the resilience already accumulated.

On that day in 1969, I was "standing" sitting next to my mother in the front seat. I know I was conscious after the accident from what I have been told. I suspect I saw her die. I have absolutely no memory of what actually happened.

These two events gave me life and changed my life. Every single day of my adult life, I am amazed at my fortunate life. It still surprises me. I now have this gnaw for something even bigger ... destructive or inspiring? I am not sure yet.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Risky and Restless

I am a risk taker. We teach our children to take risks. Nothing ventured nothing gained - right?

I did not think of myself as a risk taker when a young adult. But I was - I can look back and see that now.

There is a restlessness about being a risk taker - like an itch that never really goes away. Inner peace and calm seem illusive.

No grand conclusions on this topic ...

Sunday, February 2, 2014

1 Month Post Op from Clean Up Surgery

Cloudy 32 degrees
Lavender North Face powder jacket
Turquoise running shoes
No sports bra
2 mile run
1 Month after Clean Up Surgery

I am glad I had the last Clean-Up Surgery. It was the right thing for me to do. Plastic Surgeon has released me for all exercise. I am applying Aloe Vera as he suggested to reduce the scarring. The scar is big but not too frightening.

I am healthy and I am comfortable in my body choices, my sexuality as a woman and my outward appearance. While my body is certainly aging, I hope I can live the next half of my life appreciating that I am here on this earth at any age.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Family Tragedies, Twists & Turns

This post may need a family tree to follow ...

Families share a history. Today I attended the memorial of my great-uncle on my mother's father's side.

The Tragedies

  • My mother was killed at age 22 and when I was 4 years old.
  • My grandfather, her father, die when he was 44 years old and I was 9 years old.
  • My brother and I grew up in several different homes with various configurations of related caregivers.

A Twist of Good Fortune

As children, we were toted to family reunions and gatherings which provided us opportunities to know my mother's half-siblings, uncles, aunts, cousins and extended family. It was great fun - swimming, playing, tennis, games, 42 and lots of food. The last one I attended was when I was around 12 years old. Fortunately, these old fashioned family get togethers left a lasting impression. 

I never called the great-uncle we honored today uncle - not sure why. My child's eyes saw him as a vibrant, funny and outgoing guy. He would tease the kids in that way that kids beg to stop; but, the kids really savor the playful attention.

A Turn

Our living situation took a turn in my teens and then I hit my twenties and, for whatever reasons, I never went to another family reunion. I am now 48 years old.

Recent Turn

Facebook reconnected me to a 2nd cousin that I knew during my childhood. Turns out we are like minded and he is an intriguing person. 2nd Cousin invited me to the memorial of his father, my great uncle. I went today. 

"Oh, you are Cheryl's daughter."
"This is OL's granddaughter."

I have not seen most of these relatives in over 35 years including my great-uncle. But it is okay. I loved seeing them today especially my step-grandmother whom I have always admired. There is no way to capture missed years nor would I want to try. However, I did appreciate the moment. 

These occasions are always bittersweet. Saying goodbye to loved ones is hard thus we gather family and friends around us. This sharing of a mutual space for even a few short hours is good.
A picture I never saw until today. My half uncle and aunt flank me (in the stripes) and a cousin is in back. Thanks so much to 2nd Cousin for posting. I believe this is winter 1969.