Monday, June 22, 2015

Summer Fun

So we are working our way through our Summer Bucket List! Besides what has been crossed off, we did some things not on the list as well!

We went to the zoo! Sat in the splash zone for the dolphin show and got soaked! We also rode the carousel, ate bison burgers, saw the penguins, and shopped for a special toy.

Last week was Connor's last night game for baseball.  My mom and dad had promised a cool ice cream treat to celebrate, so after the team won (yay!), we headed for ice cream!  They have these cool tables where you can play chess while you wait.

We went to the Farmer's Market and had lemon shake-ups! It was pretty hot yesterday, so then we headed to my uncle's for some swimming.  My parents also found a nifty wagon at an estate sale, so they bought it and hooked it up to my uncle's riding lawn mower. Instant tractor ride!

Of course, it was Father's day too. The kids saw some fun stuff at the dollar store earlier in the week, so after Connor's baseball game, we went shopping!  Fireworks and silly spray were at the top of the list. (Keith was thrilled ;) )

This week, the twins turn.... SEVEN! I cannot believe it. I am off work for a couple of days, and we've got a couple of adventures planned.  Daddy started a new job, so he can't play with us during the day, but we've got evening fun too. :)

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Are you there, God? It's me, Sarah...


a particular attitude toward or way of regarding something; a point of view.

Last week, I called my mom with a medical question. I had kneeled down on Colin's bed as I was tucking him in and was met with a sharp pain in my knee.  I looked down and my knee had begun to turn purple and swell.  We decided it was just a broken blood vessel (a really big one apparently). I said "What are the odds of me getting a broken blood vessel from just kneeling down?" She replied, "What are the odds of you getting kidney failure?"  

Haha, good point. I laughed at her comment.  Because it's true - I don't seem to have good odds. I've always said that weird things happen to me. I can't help it, I attract weirdness.  And I am ok with it. Sometimes I enjoy it, other times, I wonder why me? 

The 2nd opinion doctor told me I had bad luck.  Not only do I have a normally benign hereditary disease that only progresses to kidney failure in 5% of the patients, I am also in the extremely small percentage of people that it happens to in a short amount of time. I went from being fine in November to kidney failure in February.  A big name doc at a big name Chicago hospital had never seen a case like mine progress like this. 

After my diagnosis, as I was trying to sort things out and figure out how to start the transplant process, there were times I asked God, "WHY ME?"  I was angry with Him. I was upset. I wondered if He could hear me. I asked to be cured so I didn't have to deal with this. Because dealing with this is pretty stressful.  Especially when people around me are more concerned with how this affects them. I get a lot of that. I'm tired and cranky and hopped up on steroids that make me fat in my stomach and face (I am totally obsessed with this, I can't help it. I'm vain.)  I wondered if God could hear me since obviously he wasn't curing me. Many people (including me) believe that everything happens for a reason. Although this time I was stumped. Why me? Why now? 

But over time, I began to put things in perspective. It's not cancer, I tell myself. There is a cure.... a new kidney. Will I have to do this again in my lifetime? Hopefully in 20 years. Which means I will live a long and (mostly) healthy life with the first new kidney I receive. I'm not the typical kidney failure poster adult.  Google it and you see images of unhealthy old people, lying in a hospital bed. That's not me. 

This is me. Me and my boy at the zoo on Saturday.

I parent full time. I work full time. I go on with my life as though I am totally healthy, but I'm not. And thankfully I have the option at this point.

I found out today a friend had cancerous tumors removed.  I could be living his life, but I'm not. I have a friend who could be miscarrying. I could be living her life, but I am not. On Sunday, I watched a man beg for change on a street corner. I could be living his life, but I'm not. Minutes later, I watched an ambulance fly through the intersection, sirens blazing.  A car drove quickly behind them, flashers on. Thank goodness I wasn't living that life, watching a loved one pass possibly pass away while on the way to the hospital.

Instead I'm living MY life. And it's a pretty good life, kidney transplant pending.  

Why did this happen to me? I honestly don't know. But my perspective on it is this: maybe this is all happening to me because I can deal with it and someone else can't.  

And I think I am okay with that answer.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Summer Vacation? Not for Me

It's started.  The Instagram pictures from the moms doing all the fun summer-y things with their kids. Or the Facebook posts stating that vacation just started, and they are already ready for kids to be back in school. The check-ins from the pool. The fun with squirt guns.

I don't know what that's like. You see, I don't get to be a stay-at-home mom. I have to work. And by have to, it's not so I can live in a big ole' nice house. It's so I can pay a mortgage on a house that's actually more than the house is currently worth thanks to the recession and the neighborhood in which we live in.

My kids are spending their summer vacation with grandparents, not parents. We will try to cram in our loads of summer fun on the two short weekend days we have off, in between baseball games and grocery shopping and laundry. This summer will be different as well, since I don't really have much time to take off.  I am trying to save my vacation time for whenever I have surgery, so that I will have at least a couple of weeks of paid time off.  In fact, since I have no idea when I am having surgery, I am trying to cram in a whole summer's worth of fun into the next three weekends.... just in case.

I'm sure it's tough to be home with the kids in the hot weather, day in and day out, without much of a break from them.  But it's also hard to leave every morning, knowing that your kids are out having great experiences without you. All those experiences that you really wish they were having with you.

So be grateful for the summer vacations. And I'll be grateful for the weekend. 

A deep dark poem

Before I was a Pinterest-crafting, blogging-about-parenting mom of three...before I was the very patient wife of an endurance athlete, before I had my own house that I am required to clean every day so that it doesn't look like a scene out of Mad Max...

I wrote poetry. And it was deep and dark. And I liked it that way.

There was something about becoming a mom that made me feel like I couldn't write that way anymore. Or if I did, someone would find my poetry books and think something was wrong with me.  So I locked that creative piece deep down inside, and let the words just die inside.  Yet somehow they didn't die. They continued to build, to grow, to gain a power of their own.  Recently, whether it be all my health stuff going on or something else, I find that I can no longer lock those words inside. They have a voice of their own and need to be shared.

Darkness swallows up the light
The winter night's magical rush
Takes an unwielding turn

The wind whips through her hair
But she does not move
The power begins to build inside her
Increasing intensity with each stroke of lightning
Ripping through her body 
And striking the ground

Dressed in white
She stands out in the black of the night
Not even the moon is brave enough 
To show itself
She rises on the bleak hill
Raising arms to open up
The never-ending search for thrills

The power courses through her veins
The words are barely spoken
And like the whisper of the wind
The flames dance like a token

The amulet, it burns so bright
The jeweled dagger hits its mark
And with a glance up to the skies
The spell now forever done

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Book Review: Hell on Wheels

If you are looking for a super fun mystery read, I highly recommend Sue Ann Jaffarian's Odelia Grey series.  Odelia is a plus-size paralegal living in California who finds herself attracting more dead bodies than she knows what to do with! 

Hell on Wheels is book 9 in the series. This time, tragedy strikes a friend, and Odelia and her husband, Greg, quickly are tangled up in a new case. Did you know there was a sport called quad rugby? It was very interesting to read about.

After witnessing a murder on court, Odelia and Greg work together with friends to clear a friend's name. As the body count rises, so does the humor. Ms. Jaffarian's witty dialogue make the book a success.  And Odelia's boss, Mike Steele, has a mystery of his own.  (It's also nice to see how that story pans out! Finally some happiness for Mike!)  

While you may have an inkling on who the murderer is, this isn't one where you can predict early on who the prime suspect is. Also, there is quite a bit of scary excitement at the end - which didn't do well for my heart as I hurried through the last section of the book. All in all, a great book!


Monday, June 8, 2015

Father's Day Gift Ideas

My husband always lucks out - the kids make Mother's Day gifts for me at school.  I, on the other hand, must get creative and come up with something for him every year.  I won't say what the kids are going to do for him - in fact, since he reads my blog sometimes, I won't even say if the idea is listed below! But for you fellow moms out there looking for ideas, here are a few things I came up with to help!

Make a memory jar!  Fill it a few favorite pictures of dad and the kids for a lasting memory.

Help dad out by giving him a choice. Make him some coupons, such as helping out with yard work, free snuggles at bedtime, car wash, or an undisturbed nap!

A DIY-treat jar! Yum!

For the coffee drinker - all you need is a blank mug and some painters pens!

For the Disney fan

For the Handy-Man Dad!

Friday, June 5, 2015

Foodie Friday - Grandma's Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp

I remember as a little girl, Grandma L picking rhubarb fresh from her garden and eating it.  She made rhubarb everything! When I was 5 months pregnant with Connor, we moved into our current house.  The day after we moved, there was a giant snowstorm, my grandpa died, and Keith came down with the stomach flu. I was hoping that wasn't a sign that we should not have moved.  That spring, we noticed lots of green things growing on the side of our garage.  One of the "plants" ended up being a nice crop of rhubarb! 

Over the years, but especially since Grandma has been gone, I like to pretend I'm a baker. :)  I've tried my hand with jam and bread - both turned out yummy!  But my favorite is her rhubarb crisp recipe.  However, one of the ingredients is strawberry gelatin - which unfortunately has food dye.  We are a food dye free home, due to Colin's intolerance of it and Keith's clean eating.

So this year, I adapted the recipe to my new "All-Natural-ish Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp"!  Well... Keith adapted it. It was his idea to use fresh strawberries instead of the strawberry flavored gelatin. ;)  So after I made it, I served it at our annual Memorial Day picnic.  There were no leftovers.  I consider that a success!

To Make:
Set the oven at 350.
Grease or butter an 8X8 pan
Layer: 1 cup of diced rhubarb, 1 cup of strawberries (diced, then smashed up in a bag - don't you love my cooking terminology?), 1/2 packet of dye-free gelatin, 1/2 cup of dye-free organic yellow cake mix.  Repeat.
Melt 1/2 cup of butter and pour over pan.
Pour 1 cup of water over pan.
Cook for one hour.
Enjoy while warm!

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Life Is Short: Pick Your Battles

From the time my children were little, the amount of parenting advice that one can find on the internet has quadrupled (at least!).  It's easy to scroll through my FB feed and read up on many different ways that I "should" be parenting.  What's best for my kids, according to 80 other mom bloggers, doctors, HuffPost, friends, family.... you get the point. The newest thing I see is how to have a schedule-free summer! Great! Although that totally conflicts with what my children's teachers have advised - we must work on math and reading skills so that the kids don't forget them during the less than 90 days they are off for break. So now what do I do? Make them work on math or let them play in the sprinkler? Well, I guess it doesn't matter - I work full-time and don't get off for summer break. 

I can convey my thoughts to the grandmas who will be hard at work this summer, taking care of my children, but in the end, I just want my kids to have fun.  My thought is less structure is better. I want my kids to read because they enjoy it. And they do! Connor has also taken up drawing, mostly Minecraft ideas, but he's super creative with it. The twins live in their imagination, especially Keira. She is always creating worlds for her many dolls and little figurines that she loves so much.  Colin loves his superheros, and the boys will play-fight as long as I let them.  Every night, after the lights have been shut off and they are supposed to be asleep, I find them with books in the beds, trying to read what they can in the last twilight of the night - desperately trying to see those last words before their rooms are encased in darkness as the sun sets. 

There are other pieces to this parenting puzzle as well.  My husband finds it necessary to argue with the children over what seems like everything.  He gets frustrated with my laissez faire attitude on some of the smaller issues that seem to arise with the children. I don't see the point of fighting with a 6 year old (or two).  This has always been my thought process. Although once confronted with my own mortality as I wind my way through this kidney failure process, I find that more often than not, I choose my battles even more wisely.  Life is too short to fight with Keira over the shorts she wants to wear or the fact that Colin wore Santa pajamas out to eat the other night. 

I have certain rules of course - no flip flops if you want to go to the park. But when Keira fills up a purse with random items just so she can take it out to supper with us, who am I to tell her no? Hell, my purse is also filled with random crap and I take it with me everywhere.  Colin - my sweet little sensory boy - doesn't like the feel of most clothes on his skin.  I've adapted (because as I tell others - I am the adult and it's easier for me than for a 6 year old). If he wants to wear his pajamas out, then he can. It saves me a meltdown later on. My kids are the ones running through the store, acting crazy anyway - what does it matter how they are dressed?  Connor, who has already shown how well he takes after his father (in both attention span and arguing), is addicted to Minecraft and his kindle. Yet he is accustomed to us saying no over and over again when he asks (for the 70th time in an hour!) to play. 

Life is short. I find myself saying this a lot. The stark truth of my life is that without a kidney transplant, I will die - probably within 3-5 years on dialysis.  Now, of course, that won't happen, because I will get a transplant and be fine. (I have a surprisingly positive outlook on all of this, despite the direness that some people seem to be inflicting on me.)  But even with a transplant, I could get hit by a bus a day later.  And if that were the case (the bus incident, not the kidney one), how will my children remember me? As the mom who constantly said no and argued with them because they didn't do things exactly how I want them to? The one who has to butt heads with them over every little thing? What makes me the ultimate decision maker (other than the fact that I grew them in me)?  My children are their own independent wonderful little beings that I hope will grow up to be just like me.  That can't happen if I try to control each and every piece of their lives with what I think is the best way. 

So I am happy to let them live their little lives, filling purses with crap, wearing pajamas in public, and wandering around in their Minecraft-induced haze. Because in the end, I want them to remember the love I gave them more than anything else.