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Reasons to Live Friday #5

My Reasons To Live Friday is all about taking what you’ve got, and making the best of it.

This week started with a visit from some cousins from Germany that we had never met. Here’s the family tree- try and keep up:

My mom’s mom’s brother’s son is her first cousin. He got married. Had two little boys. Ten years ago, he committed suicide after both boys were diagnosed with Muscular Dystrophy. His wife Kirsten has raised these boys by herself, with not an ounce of help from his side of the family. Thankfully she has her own friends and parents that can help.

The boys and their mom, Kirsten, and a good friend Ulrika, came all the way from Lubeck, Germany. They rented a van and will drive down to Disneyland to see the coastline. They flew in to Seattle and had just a couple days to visit, so we squished as much time in with them as we could.

Benjamin is 16, his MD is advanced to where he is in his wheelchair all the time and uses a laptop that is voice activated to do his school work. He has limited arm function but can use his hands to hold a knife and fork or his cell phone.

Jonathan is 14, his MD is advanced also to where he is in a wheelchair. On top of that he also has Autism. He can still write, but next year will also get a laptop to help with school work. His arm movement is limited as well. He uses his hands for holding his fork, but his mom cuts his food for him. He insists on using a fork, even for pizza! I don’t think he likes his hands messy.

Their entire days are spent in wheelchairs. They need help to the bathroom, getting dressed, and eating. This will only get worse. Google Muscular Dystrophy- it’s not pretty. Eventually their organs will shut down. Their loss of muscle function decreases exponentially now that they are in wheelchairs. MD is a sonofabitch disease. To suppress symptoms you need to be active. The more active you are, the more you delay the onset of the disease. But eventually it wins, and your activity level decreases, thereby it takes over more aggressively.

Their bodies are starting to atrophy. They seem so little, so skinny. Their shoe sizes must be the same as my kids. Owen would ask, how much does he weigh, or his legs are so skinny. Owen can relate being a skinny guy himself. He’s self conscious of his skinniness (only because kids point it out to him, argh!) and now he can appreciate the fact that he will get stronger and bigger, despite his skinniness. Whereas Benjamin and Jonathan will not.

Within a couple hours of the kids hanging out with each other, you wouldn’t know that they had just met and don’t speak the same language. Benjamin can speak a lot of English. Jonathan does not though. He doesn’t speak much at all. He is quiet and to himself. You could almost forget he is there, he is so quiet. And of course, he is so still. But Owen and Emma didn’t let him go forgotten.

How a 9 year old boy can spaz out, make funny faces and arm farts to complete strangers and feel completely comfortable in doing so, is beyond me. Jonathan was in giggles in no time. Owen brought out his iPod and he and Benjamin took turns playing RocketBird, over and over again while Jonathan watched happily. He never wanted a turn.  The squeels of delight and giggles of camaraderie were  becoming infectious! At every mealtime, the iPod would come out either while waiting for food to be served or waiting for others to finish. When Owen started making silly faces and sounds, Jonathan would make his enjoyment known.

I came to learn that first night when they needed to go back to their hotel, the reason Jonathan wasn’t saying goodbye, wasn’t out of shyness or having his virtual social wall up, but that  he didn’t want to go! He was having so much fun, he didn’t want it to end. His protestations were so quiet and also in German, so I didn’t quite understand until my mom told me later.

I can’t describe to you the feeling that filled my heart watching my children get along with their cousins. Not showing any boundaries, any limitations. Then after our time together, both my children expressing how much they enjoy them, how much they want to see them again.

Emma had to spend the next day at rehearsal so it was just me and Owen to go to the EMP (Experience Music Project) in Seattle. For the next few months one of the exhibits is the movie Avatar. With props, costume pieces and documentaries from the movie. When I told Benjamin this, his face lit up. “That’s my favorite movie” he exclaimes. I shared this with James, oblivious to it’s deeper meaning. When he looked at me and said, ‘of course, think about it’. DUH. The main character in Avatar is in a wheelchair! Tears came to my eyes just then as it hit me.

During our outing which included a ride to the top of the Space Needle, I tried so hard to get a little nudge of response from Jonathan. He would smirk and look away. It was hard to take his picture too. But eventually I could catch him in a moment of silliness with Owen.

Jonathan is on the left shying away from the camera, Owen, and then Benjamin

Their mom doesn’t want the pity. She says coming here to the States is so nice because of all our accommodations for wheelchair access and those with disabilities. She told me that people in Germany are of two groups- the type that constantly want to pity you, or the kind that want to ignore you. Americans treat them like anyone else. They don’t feel so ‘different’ here.

Spending the day with wheelchair bound folks really makes you think how easy life is to be WITHOUT wheelchairs. At the Space Needle, the observation deck is separated by doors with a small set of steps. One of these doors had a wheelchair lift. When we got there, it was OUT OF SERVICE! So Kirsten and I did the old stroller method. I was at the bottom of the wheelchair by their feet, she was at the top and we hoisted those suckers down those stairs. Good gracious she needs to be strong and well to look after her boys! This is why she has a friend come along.  It truly takes a village.

Benjamin has hopes to come here often and maybe live here. If I could give them the gift of time, I would. They do not live their lives as if they are set with only a certain number of years. They dream and plan like teenagers do for their future. They don’t complain, they don’t wallow.

As much as I want to see them again, it pains me to think of what they could be like in another year. And then the year after that.

I am so incredibly grateful for the time we had with them this week. My kids are forever changed. They have new cousins they love and want to keep in touch with. They have a new perspective on how easy their lives are. They want to go to Germany soon too. I do too.

My Reasons to Live Friday is pretty simple. Each day is a gift. Open it like a present and make the most of it!

Peace and love.

Yoga gabba gabba

I went to yoga last week and again this week. First time in years. To a class, that is. I do yoga stretches at home all the time. Apparently, not like this instructor does though. She worked me, and worked me good. This must be how taffy feels in Atlantic City getting pulled all over the place while people watch for fun.  The best part-  I didn’t pass any gas. Whew!!

Yoga is such tricky shit. You are trying to get your body to look like Jennifer Aniston, but in the meantime, you know that you really should be there to get your heart and your mind like Ghandi. Then you feel kinda bad thinking to yourself, ‘how many of these sessions will it take to look hot in that LBD I saw at Nordstrom?” Because really, we want to feel good, but we want to look good too. Is that so wrong? Not only do I think of Little Black Dresses, or cute new sandals, my mind trails to all kinds of thinking while in Ohm pose. Like, ‘what’s for dinner, what does Rick Astley look like these days, did Joanie really love Chachi’. You know, important stuff like that.

I carry a lot of tension, pain, hormones, whatever, in my lower back. Carry it like a pack mule down to the Grand Canyon. Geeze, what is the matter down there?? Yogi Nancy really s t r e t c h e d  it out of me. I love it when I’m downward dogging and she comes over and just pulls at my hips a little more to the ceiling. Oh sure- cuz that’s so much easier now!!  I’ve been sore for a couple days, but in a good way. My back felt great the next day. I know now that stretching is probably going to be key to my quality of life even more so than running or strength training. How in the heck do I get so wound up down there? I mean, I’m not doing any heavy lifting, I wonder if it’s my posture, the way I sit when I’m driving in my pimpwagon (minivan)?  Oh wait, I know- it’s this damn couch I’m sinking into while blogging and on Facebook all the time!! Anyway- my hips are tight. Super tight. Like I need Maksim Chmerkovskiy on Dancing With the Stars to Samba the knots out – kinda tight.

At the beginning of class our Yogi said something to us that really stood out to me. She was talking about a term- I have no idea the Indian name for it- but it means ‘non grasping’. She talked about not holding our pain. Not grasping at things in life.  When we grasp, our hands are closed, and they aren’t open and ready for the next thing.

Huh.

I am always trying to grip so hard on to things to hold them dear to me. I never thought of the idea of ‘not grasping’. She says when you are grasping constantly, you don’t appreciate the ‘now’, what this moment has for you. You are grasping and it traps you in the past. Let me explain. Like a dog that is happy to go on a walk. Dog isn’t thinking on the walk how dog needs to go home and do chores, cook dinner, or write blog, dog is just happy to smell stuff and watch squirrels. Dogs don’t grasp apparently.

I thought of what I’m grasping.

Maybe I am grasping pain. We always reference something to our past. “Gosh, last year when I ran that 5k, my hips didn’t hurt the way they do now.” OR “Last time I went out late with friends and danced on the  bar, I didn’t get so tired so quickly”.

I grasp onto my parent’s aging.

I don’t want them to get older. I don’t like when I hear my mom talk about how she is slowing down, or my dad is slowing down. I’m grasping on to the time in their lives before cancers, before hip replacements, before they were too tired to get on the floor and play with the kids. Thankfully, my kids are older now- we don’t play on the floor- much. Owen likes to hang out with Oma sewing or reading. And both kids always like to sit at the table to enjoy a cup of tea and a jam butty with their Odaddy. So really, no one needs to be moving much. Right?

I grasp on the times when my children were little and sweet and innocent. When their cheeks were pudgy and their knuckles had little fat indents.

I grasp on to the early courting days of my relationship with my husband. He used to bring me flowers every month. We used to go antiquing on weekends.

People say kids today are so busy texting and on Facebook. They are grasping on to the past of when there were no cell phones, no computers, no XBOX, no Kindles, no GPS.

Yeah- that might be true. I make sure my kids ‘unplug’ from time to time.  I am NOT a strict no TV mommy. Don’t give me too much credit.  But here’s what is cool today in the here and now- kids can treasure hunt using satellites, they can text their mom that they will be late for dinner since their coach kept them late at practice, they can strategize through puzzles on Portal 2 in case they work for the CIA when they grow up (okay, I threw that last part in, but I can’t do diddly squat on Portal 2 and my 8 year old has it mastered.) I can’t even fold a map these days- so thank GOD for GPS. Right?? Our state can issue an Amber Alert that can be spread through social media outlets within minutes. Kids have the chance to be found the same day. Not to be lost forever with their picture on a milk carton.

I will try to open my hand and not grasp but think of the following:

  • my parents are here, they are wonderful people that sit and listen and make me feel important, special and loved. I don’t necessarily have to DO anything with them to enjoy them.
  • my children are humorous, independent and growing up to be pleasant people. Actual persons. Just like I intended. They will one day leave the nest, I want them ready to fly. I can’t have them stay sweet and peachy fuzzy chubby forever. Which makes me break down in sobs sometimes and want to climb in their bed when they are off at school and stick my nose in their blankets to just get their sweet smell.
  • maybe my husband doesn’t bring me flowers hardly ever. But I was living in an apartment in those days. We didn’t have our babies yet. The future seemed so vast and daunting. Now I know where I am meant to be.  I wouldn’t change today for anything and where we are now. And we don’t need any more antiques.

Hold your hands open to what is. To the now my friends. Oh SNAP! I am turning into Gandhi. Maybe my enlightened self will just accept my body as it is and go get that dress at Nordstrom anyway….

Namaste.

 

I have it really good.

But that doesn’t mean I have it easy.

Does anyone have it easy? I mean really now. Life is a struggle. There is probably a very small, hmm, can we call them the 1% of people, who have few worries. If you relate your worries to your finances I guess.

I figure, if you are a loving, warm blooded human- you have worries or problems.

Here is why I have it good. And yes, I’m an appreciative type so I will focus on the positive for now. ‘Bout damn time I stop complaining about PMS and cellulite anyway.

  • I am a stay at home mom. Yep, I said it. Proud of it too. I ADMIRE WOMAN WHO WORK AT PAYING JOBS TOO! so there. I am just happy in MY shoes. Don’t judge me for not ‘working’. That’s bullshit. I work all the time. I volunteer too. Which is working for free. So that means, I do two jobs and don’t get paid. I raise my kids and I volunteer. Bam.
  • My husband is a good man. He really is. I give him crap. He can’t load or unload the dishwasher or put his socks away. But God bless him, he works hard for his family and puts us FIRST. Which in my book, is what makes a man a man. He loves us, even if he has shitty communication skills. He trusts me. He let’s me be me. He lets me have fun with girlfriends, blog about shit, fill our home with beauty products and copious amounts of tea. I love tea. He doesn’t give me a hard time for going vegan-ish. He even secretly is trying it himself.
  • My kids are healthy. Gee whiz. I can’t say enough how this makes me feel warm fuzzy and guilty as hell all at the same time. Yeah, I know. I’m pretty effed up to feel guilty about healthy children. But between the friends I know whose children have suffered through cancer or the families I know with Asperger’s and Autism, I feel like I dodged a bullet somehow. Now, if that cannon were to fire in my direction one day, I would maybe change my tune. But I really appreciate my children and all the milestones they’ve accomplished.
  • I have great friends. I have great ‘real’ friends and great ‘virtual’ friends. I’ll explain. I have girlfriends that I have known for years, have been there for the births of my children, my wedding, my ugly shoe phase in college, my bed rest during pregnancies, my children’s baptisms, at the bus stop to be there when I couldn’t, for carpooling, for birthdays, coffee dates, dinner dates… the list goes on. I also have friends who I have never met in my life. They see me only through my blog and my Facebook blog page. They give me accolades and validation that I feel I don’t deserve sometimes. But I always appreciate it and drink it in. Because it feels so damn good to get appreciated!
  • I have complete use of my faculties. Okay, this might not last forever, and except for the slight tinkle when I laugh, sneeze or jump on a trampoline- I am so grateful to be upright and functioning!! I am not 600 pounds lying in a bed for a forklift to take me to the doctor. I do not need a wheelchair or a speak n spell device like Stephen Hawking to communicate. I can go for a run. Play with my kids. Dance a spaz dance to LMFAO. Cuz you know I do!
  • I don’t have to go to a well for water. Gosh darn if I don’t complain about chores on a daily basis. And wouldn’t it be grand if the cat would just poop in the toilet instead of the litter box? But really? I have machines that do most of the work. Water comes magically out of a faucet. The washing machine beats and spins my clothes until they are clean. All I have to do is fold them. Although, by the length of time they sit in laundry baskets in the hall way, you would think that was the hardest task in the world.
  • I have freakin’ Amazon Fresh delivering groceries to my door! Yes- people. I can sit in my $100 Lululemon yoga pants and buy organic kale at my computer and it comes the next morning. The beauty of the USA people!

Now let’s not get all mistaken by this sunshine and unicorn post. There’s shitty shit going on in the world. Even in my neighborhood. I buy supplies for needy kids at my son’s school. There’s a frickin’ SWAT team in my city today, actually because some asshole shot at someone in a home. This ain’t Beverly Hills folks!

But I’m going to smell the roses, AND the freshly ground espresso. I’m going to try and be happy that I CAN cook dinner for my family because I have the food and the appliances to do so. (although sometimes that shit gets so old…)

Yep. That’s my Mr. Rogers post for you today. Won’t you be my neighbor? Remember, he always sang- “It’s such a good feeling, to know you’re alive…” Sing it my friends!

The present. I keep waiting for it to be gift wrapped.

If you are depressed, you are living in the past. If you are anxious, you are living in the future. If you are at peace, you are living in the present. -Lao Tzu

I usually post with frivolity or rants. I’m not one to wane all philosophical. And can I just say, those Easterners have a corner stone on the inspirational posts. Must be all the zen-ness. Ghandi, the Dali Lama, Confucius…

This quote made me think of The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein. A beloved book of mine growing up. When I would read it to my kids, I would cry at the end. As much as you like it as a child, you never realize it’s importance until you are a grown up. You need to live  the years of maybe some regret, some lack of perspective. Some selfishness. To realize opportunities that passed you by. To realize people maybe you didn’t appreciate as much as you should have.

So today, I will enjoy the present. I’m going to enjoy it even if it comes in a Target plastic bag or a paper lunch sack. Not all presents come wrapped like Martha Stewart demonstrating the beauty of paper made from pressed wild flowers. Maybe the present is wrapped in the Sunday Comics section. I like to imagine it in a Cartier ring box. But that’s okay. Sometimes it’s just a ratty old gift bag Aunt Edna has re-gifted many times over.

However your present comes to you today, make the most of it.

“The clock is running. Make the most of today. Time waits for no man. Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. Today is a gift. That’s why it is called the present.” ~Alice Morse Earl

Happy National Mental Illness Awareness Week.

Okay, so I’m a few months off. It was actually back in October. But don’t you think every flippin’ week should be Mental Illness Awareness Week? What about National PMS week? Oh wait, never mind.

My mom gave me an article from the New York Times Magazine (“All the Rage” by Ayelet Waldman) that flipped a light bulb on in my head like a dark attic lighting up for the first time in years (insert blond jokes here, if you will). It was about a woman’s diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder II that was really her body needing SSRIs (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor). Chemicals in a woman’s body that metabolizes Progesterone the week before Aunt Flo and that is what causes our roller coaster mood drop. So she wasn’t Bipolar at all, just really PMSing! BAD!  Apparently, we also go through mood shifts right before ovulation when our luteinizing hormones surge- aka estrogen. Apparently, these really fuck up our brains . Yeah, no shit!! I’ve discussed my PMDD and Dysmenorreah before with you.  I’m not going all WebMd here, just making some realizations that might help me and help us all.

Thank you Ms. Waldman for a candid and eye-opening piece.  Could we have your article printed on boxes of Tampax please so everyone gets this information?

I should just call my blog the Freakin PMS blog, I know! I seem to always write about it. Well, there’s a lot of mommy bloggers out there writing about diapers and shit and they don’t call their blogs, ‘the diapers and shit blog’. If there is one called that, please send it my way, cuz that’s probably some funny stuff.

So where was I? Right. Complaining. Again. More like, enlightening you all on your own vicious cycles. Ohh, wouldn’t that be an awesome name for an all girl indie-bitch rock band- The Vicious Cycles!! Okay, if THAT already exists, then I want to know and buy their single on iTunes.

I feel like everything in my life is related to my hormones. The good days, the bad days. The productive days. The please-honey-don’t-touch-me-you-mother-fucker-asshat days, to the -gosh-you’re-the-sweetest-husband/father-anyone-could-ever-want days. To the I’m so strong and awesome when I work out, to I’m so fat and gross and pathetic. Anybody else relate?

The woman in the article said she kept a journal of every week of every month and recorded her sleep habits, irritations, moods, etc. She saw patterns develop and could anticipate what hormones were doing what when. She knew what anxiety medication to take, what hormone therapy to take when, when a glass of wine was helpful (not everyday as you might think!) and when she was most productive, and least effective. She knew when to anticipate the honey badger days, or the honeymoon days.

I guess what really inspired me was how much she took control of her situation. Not just laid around feeling crummy, home in her bathrobe with a half-melted pint of B&Js Americone Dream opened next to her on one side, and a bottle of vodka on the other. And just happening to check Google calendar and ‘oh whaddya know’, notice the date. Sound familiar? Too familiar. No kidding.

The article even mentions having your husband in on the process and when you are about to go all honey badger on him over the dishwasher or credit card bill, he looks at the journal and realizes the week, writes down his misgivings, and saves them for when you are in a good mood. Nice husband. Not sure all will want to play by those rules. I’m going to have a dry erase board in my bedroom color coded like the kids’ after school activities and car pool charts of my moods, sleep patterns and irritations each week- so he’ll know when I’m heading into my honey badger days. Maybe I’ll find one on Pinterest that someone has crafted themselves.

Oh dear god, please don’t tell me THAT exists too! Someone came up with a Flow Chart on Pinterest?? Get it?? Flow chart??

I crack myself up! (Must be a good week.)

And there’s something else lurking around the corner. My daughter will be 12 soon. 12. We know what THAT means. James is clearly relieved we have only one daughter. He’s already outnumbered with just me. I know, I’m a freakin’ force to be reckoned with. When Emma comes along, OH BOY…Satan’s Exacta.

Did you see Modern Family? You know what I’m talking about- “Satan’s Trifecta’.

Modern Family ‘Monsteration’ episode

Thanks Amazon. This makes menstruation look fun for sure.

A happy uterus is a...happy uterus? Are MY ovaries purple too?

well of course there's an app for it!! This is for conception, not mental health. I might try it anyway.

Oh- don’t be an asshat and forget to vote. Scroll up and click on the Circle Of Moms badge and vote for me. Thank you!

German cooking is more than Schnitzel.

What is it with food reaching into our souls?

I’m not a food blogger, and I don’t have beautiful pictures of food to go with my words that compare to a Bon Appetit spread.

But I wanted to share my mom’s talent for bringing us around the table in gastronimic harmony. My brother flies in from Chicago to have roast goose and Yorkshire pudding. My kids want to stay the night at her house just so they can eat ‘Oma’s food’. She’s the pied piper of her kin.

Mom was taught the old fashioned way. Put in the kitchen as a young girl in post World War 2 Germany with her Tante and her Oma. She watched, stirred, sliced and learned. She watched her Oma snap a chicken’s head off for Sunday’s dinner. This chicken was her pet at some point. But hey- this is post war, you’ve got to eat.

My early memories of food also consist of porridge. Porridge is what we called it growing up and what my parents call it. My dad is English, maybe this is why. I always felt like Goldilocks, but I never thought it was ‘just right’. I didn’t like porridge as a kid. But that’s what we had Monday through Friday and you ate it. No question. I couldn’t wait for the weekend when we could have cold cereal. But now I realize as an adult. My parents make really good porridge. It’s funny what you think is gross as a kid. But get used to. Then go off to eat it somewhere else and then realize, ‘hey, this is really gross, they don’t know what they’re doing.” So now I appreciate my parent’s porridge. A pinch of salt. That’s their trick. Not everyone knows this.

The majority of my memories of my mom’s cooking are good (minus the zucchini or cream of mushroom crepes she made when I was 5). Her cooking is the kind of cooking you come home for. The kind of cooking holidays center around. My German mother would make a pizza every Saturday night. She would start with making the dough. There would always be sausage on it and sometimes mushrooms, which I would only appreciate when I was about 15. I picked them off when I was 6. We would eat pizza and watch the Muppet Show every Saturday night. It didn’t need to be Italian, it was just damn good crust made by a German. She’s mastered pie crust, tart crust and bread crust. We like crusts.

Christmas was roast goose that she would flame with a splash of brandy before my dad would carve it. Oh, and my dad can carve better than Chuck Norris. I’m certain. If there was an Iron Chef carving contest- my dad would win.

Red cabbage simmered with apples and vinegar. So German. So good with goose gravy. Goose gravy that she would make for days before with all the giblets and whatnot that comes inside the carcass in that little paper baggy that 80% of Americans throw away, I’m sure. Mashed potatoes mashed only to the brink of fluffy. Not too much so they get gluey. Another mistake of most cooks. Cream, butter, onions. The trifecta of all good things made in the kitchen. Julia Child style.

What’s strange is my mom can cook really good Thai food too. How funny is that? She rarely makes (make that never) speatzle, she says it’s too much work to make. She doesn’t do schnitzle much either. But everything she does has her signature. The signature of decades in the kitchen and knowing what the heck you’re doing. She can make gravy that is rich and dark and poultry that is tender and not cooked a minute passed to the point of dryness. White meat that doesn’t need the gravy. But to not pour it over everything would be a crime because the gravy is so good.

Making Christmas dinner at my house this year, I was searing the prime rib to put in the oven; and I felt confident in my abilities. I thought, everything I do in the kitchen is because I watched my mom, ate her food, asked her questions and now I can do the same for my family. It’s really a bonus when I teach her something she didn’t know. Maybe she just pretends she doesn’t know to make me feel good. I stepped aside though for her to make the Yorkshire pudding and the gravy. Why try to paint Monet when Monet is standing there with a paint brush?

I think people who can cook well,  have an intuition, an instinct that can’t be learned from books or classes. I think they are people in day to day life that listen, care and are compassionate to humanity (except Gordon Ramsey, he blows this theory wide). How else would they know to fluff a meringue to perfection, slice plums for a cake, season green beans like summer in a bowl? There’s a nuance that is captured between the food, the cook and who they cook for. It might be love. Yes, it’s love for sure when it comes from mom.

Yep, that's mom and me slaving over the dinner. WIth Champagne.

Ahh, the sublime Yorkshire pudding. An English staple perfected by a German. It's not really a pudding, more like a pancake. Leftovers taste good in the morning with syrup. Who am I kidding? What leftovers?

Have you hugged your monkeys today?

There used to be a bumper sticker that read, “Have you hugged your children today?” Kind of silly when you think, well, of course I have! But maybe the day has gotten away from you, you’ve been at work, meetings, running them back and forth to their practices, and low and behold, it’s time for them to go to bed, and have you really, I mean REALLY hugged them?

Today is the day for the Anthony Strauss funeral. I will not be attending for a number of reasons. One being, I’m sick. Nothing like a sinus head ache to go with the ugly cry. I send that family my prayers of support.

The post I wrote last week Heartbreak and Parenting. There is not one without the other. has been my MOST visited post ever. Obviously it hits a nerve with so many of us.

I’m often stuck betwixt the sublime sentimental, and the irreverent ridiculousness. But today is really a day for sentiment.

There is nothing worse in life than a child’s funeral. It goes against life’s order.

My friend’s son’s funeral a few years ago had a beautiful video presentation of his life. There wasn’t a dry eye in that auditorium. I’ll never forget the opening song to that video, from The Dixie Chicks, Godspeed, a lullaby to a little boy. It really says it all:

Dragon tales and the “water is wide”
Pirate’s sail and lost boys fly
Fish bite moonbeams every night
And I love you

Godspeed, little man
Sweet dreams, little man
Oh my love will fly to you each night on angels wings
Godspeed
Sweet dreams

The rocket racer’s all tuckered out
Superman’s in pajamas on the couch
Goodnight moon, will find the mouse
And I love you

Godspeed, little man
Sweet dreams, little man
Oh my love will fly to you each night on angels wings
Godspeed
Sweet dreams

God bless mommy and match box cars
God bless dad and thanks for the stars
God hears “Amen,” wherever we are
And I love you

Godspeed, little man
Sweet dreams, little man
Oh my love will fly to you each night on angels wings
Godspeed
Godspeed
Godspeed
Sweet dreams

Godspeed little Anthony. Bless and keep those who love and miss you.

Dedicated to Ashley

It’s been two + years my dear friends, the Lefkows, have endured a battery of Leukemia treatments for their little girl, Ashley. I’ve blogged before about cancer since I know many who are fighting cancer, have lost the fight to cancer, or have lost a loved one to cancer. So this is for Ashley and her journey. Normally I would say, “Hey cancer- knock, knock, mother f****r”, but this is about a 6 year old girl so I will keep the swear words to potty talk only.

Hey Cancer, you’re a poopy headed, boogery fart-face that needs to go down the toilet!

This week marks the end of her treatment, the end of daily chemo pills and weekly/monthly  trips to Children’s Hospital to access her port. The end of a lot for her mom and dad and big brother. But the start of something wonderful. Life as it should be.

I remember September of 2009, the text I got from her mom, my good friend Christin- it said, “she has Leukemia”. My knees buckled and my head started to swim. I have no idea what they were going through on that day. I can’t imagine getting that call from the doctor. Immediately they began her treatments, surgeries and making Children’s Hospital in Seattle their reluctant, second home.

There were late night fevers and trips to the ER, oh, on Christmas EVE mind you. There was the ongoing and whole summer of surgery and C. difficile. If you don’t know what it is- Google it. Nasty stuff. There was the steroids. Which was like having a pot smoking teenage wrestler in your house in the middle of the night with the munchies- 2 am nachos, sliders, ramen noodles, scrambled eggs, hash browns and waffles, for a SNACK!

The good thing about something awful happening to your life is that there’s a bunch of people that will come to help you. The Lefkows used all their connections and community that was there for them and turned it into a foundation to help others. Within months after starting treatments at Children’s, they began Ashley’s Team. A non-profit that gets video games, dvd’s, iPods, and other games and toys of entertainment for patients and their families. It’s not research, it’s not ground breaking medicine, but it makes those 72 hours, 12 hours or even 4 hours, that much better for everyone involved with the treatment of a child. Can you imagine what it’s like sitting in a hospital for 8 hours while your child is waiting for test results and you have their siblings with you bored out of their minds? Me neither. And God help me that I never do.

They used their company, Bacon Salt to promote a Bacathalon fundraiser that raised thousands of dollars for Ashley’s Team! It was a crazy bacon-eating contest, tricycle riding obstacle course of madness and Makers Mark, but hey- it worked!

Ashley today with blond, luscious locks, and her new kitty, Payton.

Little girls should be able to play, to wear their hair long and pretty in braids and pigtails if they want to, instead of wearing non-itchy fleece hats on their bald little peach-fuzzed heads.  They should get to go to a playarea or a birthday party without worry of infection.  They shouldn’t  have to worry about the sore on their leg that’s gotten infected. (oh that’s a whole other story!) But there’s millions of families dealing with this very crap. And for that I am truly sorry.

The blessing of Ashley’s story is that all her treatments at Children’s worked with textbook effectiveness. They can gratefully say she is cancer free. Which is like telling Leukemia it’s a poopy-headed fart-face. See ya Mother Fucker. Oh crap- and I was SO NOT going to swear!

But for today, it’s hooray for Ashley and her family of Christin, Dave, and her super awesome brother, Dean (7) to say- We did it.

I love you guys.

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If you want to contribute to Ashley’s Team check out their website www.ashleysteam.org

Families need financial help for uncompensated care, if you’d like to help with this you can donate to www.miraclehouseguild.org

If you’d like to check out Bacon Salt, they’re pretty cool too. www.baconsalt.com