"Mom left something off the kitchen list. It should say that we have to make sure the sink is clean, too."
I LOVE that child.
As I was bent over adjusting my bike, another rider (whose daughter has played soccer with the TQ) walked in with a guest. The guest introduced herself to the teacher as, "Janice".
I looked up. The woman's guest was her sister, currently living in California.
The sister and I had gone to the same high school and both did field events for the track team.
TWENTY years ago.
In Germantown, Tennessee. I lived in Germantown less than a calendar year, but remembered Janice who was someone who was kind to me, offering training pointers and rides to meets and practices.
And, despite being an all star/all state athlete who was a senior when I was a sophomore (and not an outstanding athlete at ALL), she remembered me, too.
It (kind of) made hitting the gym (as opposed to the sack!) worth it.
Part of my "back to school" training is taking time to teach him some basics. This week we began scripture memory work for his Cubbie class. It's taken multiple daily sessions, but as of today, he'll chirp the Cubbie Motto: "Jesus Loves Me!" and the key verse, "God loved us and sent His Son. --1John 4:10". Sometimes you have to strain to understand him, but it seems a little bit of a miracle to hear the Word from the mouth of a child we weren't at all sure would ever be intelligible.
I've also gone back to basics with my older children. Review is the way that the school year starts, right? I've decided that I'm going to leave them without excuses in the area of household chores (that we've already trained them in!). Instead of a nagging aggravated mom pointing out issues, this little checklist now hangs in the kitchen for them to self-assess.
Have I REALLY Finished Cleaning the Kitchen??
1. Are the counters and table clear of all dishes, towels, cooking implements and food?
2. Have the counters and tables been sprayed and wiped down? Did I MOVE objects to clean behind things?
3. Is the stainless steel (microwave, fridge, dishwasher) free of marks and/or fingerprints?
4. Are there visible splotches on the woodwork, walls, back splash or floor that need to be wiped up?
5. Have I VACUUMED the hard floors downstairs? (Brooms are for quick clean ups only) Did I MOVE things when I vacuumed? Did I shake out the rugs?
6. Is the dishwasher set to run later?
7. Does the trash need to be taken out?
8. Have I turned out the lights?
Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men,
For extra credit, a back to school essay question: Is Heather a charter member of the Mean Mommy Club? Discuss.
We're a bit damp and have discovered some house problems we need to work out before a real storm hits but, by and large, our immediate area was unscathed.
The county where my husband works was probably the hardest hit (12 inches of rain, street flooding and power outages). Between telecommuting due to high winds on his drive to work and plant closures, he's only been into work two full days this week. His next Friday off is now a make-up work day. We've all enjoyed having him around so much this week.
The kids were out of school Tuesday (postponing the first day of preschool as well) as a precaution and the school board cancelled classes today as well, despite the fact that some lonely rays of sun have finally started creeping through the clouds. Some of the schools in our district suffered damages, so I guess they thought it was easier to close all the schools down than simply doing selective closures. Soccer was also suspended for the week, so evenings have been blissfully quiet and low key around here.
I'm taking advantage of having the kids home to elicit some (a combination of paid, unpaid, and downright bribery) labor. Our house should be bright and shiny within an hour or so! Hopefully, this will free up the weekend from some of the more mundane chores and open things up to do something fun (like hit the big denim sale at Old Navy and shuttle TQ to a ref job). Or, perhaps it will dry out enough for us to machete down the lush jungle formerly known as our yard.
After four straight days, we're all more than a little weary of the rain. I'd like some "straight up" sunshine and less of the Florida liquid variety. Now there's something I never would have said while living in Phoenix....
The unremitting grey hasn't helped what has been a pretty melancholy week on my part. I've seen my daughter start high school, my baby start preschool, seen the return of my hairdresser curse (long story for another day), AND I've been hard at edits for the book. I had no idea how emotional rereading my own story would be. Hearing that one fellow cancer blogger is gone, and that another's sarcoma wasn't responding ideally to chemo, has added to the blahs.
I think I'm ready for a less "fey" weekend....
house guest", Achilles, is a good sport. He provided quite a bit of entertainment to the Princess, the Little Guy ,and one of the neighbor kids this afternoon!
EJ was the first to leave the house this morning. Thanks to county budget cuts, his middle school starts at the crack o' dawn (the old high school start time). I'm SO thankful for his mellow temperament. Besides rolling with the EARLY bus appointment, he was also one of the 150 or so kids at his school whose schedules were "eaten" in a computer glitch this morning. He spent most of the day in the media center, contentedly reading waiting his turn. He finally made it to his assigned class the last half of the last period of the day! Since he's not always one to look on the bright side, I was surprised when he pointed out to me that "at least I got all the classes I asked for!"
I can't explain just how much his writing has given to so many in the cancer community. While I'm so glad that he's free of pain, I feel like a beautiful voice has been silenced. I'll miss its resonance over my morning coffee.
This is completely uncharted territory for us. We've never sent a child to preschool. It's only two mornings a week, and I know he's going to have a blast, but new things--positive or negative--are always a bit trepidatious for me.
One of the things I've been working on with the little guy in preparation for the school transition is becoming more independent in his toileting. We were in Chick"aFay" for story hour the other day and were going through the routine: potty, adjust clothes independently, wash hands, "Hooray! That's how big boys who go to school do it!".
Miss Carolyn, one of the hostesses, was tidying up the bathroom, and was sweet enough to take the time to praise him for completing his routine (She's a retired preschool teacher!) and even gave him a card for some free chicken to snack on before story hour. So far, a good start on his skills for the day.
Fast forward past story hour (books, action songs, and craft), and a nugget lunch with his siblings and buddy. He's in the play land when I hear, "I NEED the baffroom!" and see a streak running past me.
I just caught him before he dashed into the men's room, redirected him to the ladies, and supervised the errand. MY hands weren't washed before he had dashed back to the beloved play land. Maybe a little too independent there, but it had been a busy morning, and I was willing to let it go.
I came out, checked the playground to see that all was well, and went back to my salad (no french fries, Beck!) and conversation. I must have been a little too absorbed in showing my friend the book proofs, because I glanced up to see my son, naked from the waist down, running towards me.
When he saw me, he turned around and repeated the Pooh Bear run back to the ladies' room. The good thing about fourth child grace (or spending the previous week on a very European beach?) is that I was laughing too hard to be appalled at my son's public nudity. Thankfully, most of the people there were laughing pretty hard, too. I thought one older man was going to hurt himself, he was so amused.
Turns out that the little guy hadn't quite finished the job the first time and had dashed out of the play land to heed the call a bit too late. He had taken himself potty and even washed his hands, but didn't want to put his Cars undies back on in the state they were in. So, he decided to come and check with Mom to see what he should do. Not a bad chain of decision making, when you think about it.
However, we should probably work on the streaking thing...at least before he's off to kindergarten in a few years.
Lord, there are days when I feel like I can't BE thankful enough for the gifts of grace, time, and humor. Thank you for people who extend grace instead of taking up offense, for little people who make us laugh, and for the maturity afforded by time that allows us to laugh hardest at ourselves. I'm so grateful that I'm NOT called to be independent from You, but dependent. Otherwise, I'd just be walking around naked all the time...and it wouldn't be cute or humorous!
I say "for now" not because I have any sense of impending doom, but because (just keeping it real, folks), I've been treated for a rare and aggressive form of cancer that tends to favor metastasizing to the lungs.
I also say "for now" because I tend to think individuals that have never personally experienced cancer expect for the rest of us to maintain a relentless degree of positive thinking.
I'm not nay saying being positive...there were times in my own treatment where a "fake it till you make it" smile was what got me through the day. But no one can be positive all of the time.
For those of us that have been there, we know that recovery means that cancer becomes less and less a part of our everyday lives. I don't think about my cancer constantly, but I am never without reminders.
My scars may be (slowly) fading, but the cloud still lurks, ever so subtly at times. That persistent cough I had several weeks ago...could that be lung mets? The stabbing pain that pops up at the end of long days...surgical adhesions or something more malicious? Is my intermittent alexia leftover from the chemo bombardment (do you know that my system STILL hasn't fully cleared the noxious stuff??) or just the result of being a somewhat harried mommy of four? Is life feeling pretty good at the moment....what could be lurking around the corner?
Funny, in Cancer World (thank you Leroy Sievers), the newbies stand out above even the most chemo and radiation battered combatant. They wander around the center, fumble through the system, and well, they don't yet get it.
"She's awfully friendly", I hear stage whispered about sweet Margie, the clinic receptionist who knows the names of all of my children, stops me to hear the latest news on my way out the door, and hands out hugs to all of her "darlin's".
"Well...", one of the nearby veterans says, "she's seen a lot of us through quite a bit".
They'll get it soon enough. They'll understand why someone would ask for a specific tech to start their IV (God bless you, my brother Phillip!). Or how despite seeing hundreds of patients a day, Laura at the lab knows exactly how your hair has changed in the last four months. Or how complete strangers can have uplifting and encouraging--but NOT relentlessly positive conversations in the hospital halls and end up corresponding with one another.
God willing, someday they'll also understand how despite utter exhaustion and four kids at home waiting to be fed, a day at Moffitt can be a really, really good day.