"The most wasted of all days is one without laughter." ~e e cummings

Sunday, June 21, 2015

a visit to Jamestown Settlement

We have Big Plans this summer: We are going to (finally!) check things off the To Do lists we've been adding to for the past few years. We are so lucky to live within driving distance of so many places that hold environmental, cultural, and historical significance...many of which we've never been to. This is the time to start exploring them: the kids are still young enough to go along with our summer plans instead of making their own, but they're old enough to have the stamina and the attention span to make these trips worth it...and relatively easy.

So we were off on our way to Get Out and Do The Things...what better place to start than right where our country began?


On Saturday, we visited Jamestown Settlement, America's first permanent colony, near Williamsburg, Virginia.

We entered the building, purchased our tickets, watched a quick introductory video, and were eager to get started. Before we could get to the heart of the tour, though, we passed this super cool temporary exhibit with British military uniforms from throughout history....from the time of the British colonists in America all the way up to present day warfare in Afghanistan. It was worth a stop.

He read every word on each sign.
Cutie with armor from James Fort 

The museum itself was amazing. We learned all about life in the early 1600's in America, Africa, and England and how the lives of these three groups of people converged in Virginia, in a way that would ultimately shape the foundations of our country. We learned about the men and boys who boarded the fleet of three ships (the Discovery, the Godspeed, and the Susan Constant) in England in late 1606. We learned of their harrowing 4+ month journey from England, to Africa, through the Caribbean, and finally to the coast of Virginia in April 1607.


And then, it was time to jump into history and explore life in the settlement for ourselves.

There were three areas to explore around the Settlement.  
We started at James Fort, home of the colonists:


Throughout the Settlement, people in period costume provided stories and information about life in Jamestown. The first man we met was a leather-worker. We watched as he prepared the leather and twine and he answered the (many) questions my kids had for him. (He also listened patiently as Evan and Max regaled him with facts and trivia that was, at best, tangentially related to what he was actually talking about. "You know, gunpowder was actually invented in Ancient China." "A baby fox is called a kit!")


We explored a church, shop, forge, and several residences... 


We played ring toss in the yard...


...and we played with cannons, too. As you do when in a Fort.


And if you're going to be playing with weapons, you'd better protect yourself.


We left the Fort and walked through the gardens, heading toward the pier where two of the ships were docked.

We climbed aboard (a replica of) the Susan Constant. Okay, disclaimer: I am NOT a boat person. But I am a Brave Mommy. I took a deep breath and walked the plank (fine, it was a ramp) up to the boat. It was tiny...especially considering that 71 people spent more than four months on board. 


The kids had fun exploring the cabins (and calling to the people below deck...)


...but I was feeling extremely claustrophobic. So I hurried on through the self-guided tour and made it back to the pier. Sam and the kids took a quick peek on board the Godspeed, but it was even smaller than the Susan Constant, so I took a pass. (Kinda Brave Mommy?)

From the dock we continued on our way through the third section of the Settlement: 
the Powhatan Village.

Evan studied Native Americans in school this year and Max is practically a Pocahontas expert, so I knew this area would be a hit. The best part of these recreations throughout the Settlement is how hands-on it all is.

The kids practiced scraping the deer hide...


...digging out a canoe...


...grinding corn meal...


...and getting up close and personal with the wall decor...


There were several yehakins to explore...


...each filled with pelts and shells and bones to feel...


...and nets, traps, pottery,  clothing, and jewelry to talk about...to inspire little minds to really imagine what life would have been like for Pocahontas or Chief Powhatan.

Like in the Fort, there were costumed employees giving demonstrations, asking and answering questions, and really bringing the scene to life. 

Resident Chef

Arrowhead Expert
It was a great day.
We had seen it all...had a picnic lunch...visited the Gift Shop...and all with three happy kids in tow.

But the day wasn't over yet.

Oh, no. We had timed our return trip home to coincide perfectly with Beach Traffic. We needed to find an alternate route to avoid the highway and...as luck would have it...there was one!

All we had to do was to get onto a ferry.

Yup. Another boat for Brave Mommy to "happily" climb aboard and "not-at-all-nervously" ride across the river.

It actually wasn't that bad. This was my view for most of the 20 minute ride...


...and this was it for about two of them...


We happened to pass the third boat from the Jamestown Settlement, the Discovery, as it was cruising the river.

Perfection.

Lesson Learned:


It was hot and sweaty and almost three hours of walking, but the kids had a blast. That's some pretty high praise for a day trip. Plus, I love the idea that we're taking advantage of this historically rich place we live...staying, playing, and learning local. What could be better?


Jamestown Settlement? CHECK! Next stop...I'll let you know!

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Why I Talked To My 8-year old About Charleston

Horror, sadness, and hopelessness gripped my heart, as it did to so many others, as I read the news this morning. Horror at the gruesome nature of this act of terror. Sadness for the victims and their families. Hopelessness for the state of our country...that this violence and bloodshed and hatred is becoming commonplace.

I was filled with these emotions...but not fear. In the wake of today's massacre, I am not afraid for my own safety, nor for the safety of my children. I am not so naive to think that nothing bad could ever happen to us; surely terrible things happen everyday. But I am white. I live in a comfortable, upper-middle class neighborhood. I am not afraid. But so many mothers' hearts were filled with fear this morning. Because they are black.

I thought of the conversations that were happening in the homes of these mothers this morning. Heartbroken mothers telling their children, again, that they have reason to fear...just because of the color of their skin. In 2015. In the United States of America. They have a reason to be afraid. They had a reason to talk to their young children about the nine lives that were taken, so tragically, so horrifically, last night.

And because they did, so did I.

Racial hatred and violence is not a "black America" issue. This is a "human being" issue. One that we have to acknowledge and address. My children, because they are white, do not know the fear that some of their classmates and neighbors know and, while I'm thankful for that, I'm not okay with that. I'm not okay with my children not knowing that racial violence in this country still exists. I'm not okay with my children thinking that We Have Overcome. We haven't. But someday, we can.

This morning, after I wiped my tears and busied my 3- and 5-year olds with a water table on the patio, I sat down next to my 8-year old.

"I want to tell you about something that happened in Charleston, South Carolina last night," I began. "It's a scary and sad story, so if you want me to stop, just tell me. If you have any questions, you can ask them whenever you need to."

I went on to tell him what happened...just the facts as I could piece them together from the various news accounts I'd read. He listened, making eye-contact the entire time, which is rare for him. He was really listening.

I continued, "I don't know why this young man did this horrible thing. I don't know what thoughts were going through his head, but I can tell you this: For some reason, his sick brain believed that he was better than the people in that church last night. He believed that their lives did not matter as much as his own life....he thought that the lives of black people do not matter. I want you to know that they do. ALL lives matter. It doesn't matter where you live or how much money you have. It doesn't matter if you believe in God or what language you speak. It doesn't matter what color your skin is. ALL lives matter, every life is important. And this sick, sad, hate-filled man took away nine Important Lives."

Because he continued to just look at me, wide-eyed, I went on...

"Listen: I'm sad today. But I'm not scared. I think, if I were African American, I might be scared this morning. And that's why I'm telling you this. It's not fair that some families have to be scared today just because they are black. I hope that, someday, that fear will go away."

He nodded. And looked down...deep in thought.

"Do you have any questions?"

He shook his head. I'm sure, in good time, as is his way, the questions will come. Regardless, the conversation will continue.

***

I talked to my 8-year old about the Charleston terror attack because:

--he recites lessons learned from school with words like "a long, long time ago...back in the olden days...black people and white people were treated differently. But Martin Luther King Jr. fixed all that when he gave his speeches." It wasn't that long ago, and little has been "fixed."

--I wanted him to see me cry for the nine people who were killed: men, women, husbands, fathers, mothers, sons.

--he's not too young to know that All Lives Matter. Black Lives Matter.

Lesson Learned:
Gun control. Mental health support. Love. Peace. Kindness. Is that too much to ask?

Saturday, June 13, 2015

My First Time: A BlogU Recap

Over the past month or so I'd given myself the same morale-boosting pep talk dozens of times: "I know it's scary, but you can Do This! You can learn from experts! You can talk to people who are passionate about the same things you are! You can FIND YOUR TRIBE!"

I was preparing myself mentally and emotionally for my first Blog Conference. I was about to step out as a Blogger, to begin this new chapter in my life as something more than just Mommy. It was my debutante ball of sorts, but with less High Society and more Middle School Awkward.

I was scared to death.

Besides the worry over the talking and the listening and the learning and the networking keeping me up at night, I was also nervous to leave my babies. I'd never spent two nights away from my kids. I knew they'd be fine without me. I'd miss them more than they'd miss me, but still: It was going to be hard.

Then, after weeks of worry and nervous anticipation, it was the first weekend in June and I was there on a small, beautiful campus in Baltimore, ready to Get Schooled, ready to Take My Blog Beyond, ready to find my Tribe. Ready...or not.

I started the first afternoon by attending an informative and helpful workshop on Writing and Editing. Taught by experienced bloggers, writers, and editors, it was a crash course on when you may need to hire the services of a professional editor and what you can expect the process to be like.

I headed from there over to a class called Mastering Pinterest. It was exactly what it promised to be: A How-To course on the secrets and tricks to conquering the Pinterest algorithm to drive traffic to your site. Taught by the Queen of Pinterest herself (she must be, she's a Pinterest genius), the course provided real-life tips on making your posts pinnable and your pins searchable. It was great ready-to-apply information that could make a difference in your blog traffic immediately...if you're ready to Master Pinterest, that is. I have an account. I think I've pinned five things and they're all my own articles. I know that's not how you Do Pinterest, but I don't get Pinterest. I don't want to get it, yet I furiously scribbled notes during the class, believing that to be the Blogger I want to be, I'd better figure out the Pinterest Beast, and fast.

I left the session feeling completely overwhelmed. Add to that the fact that I still wasn't sure how, exactly, one goes about "finding her tribe," and the fact that I stayed up way too late listening to brilliant writers read the best of their best, and the fact that I woke up way too early for not having a 3-year old in my bed and two bigger boys whispering in my ear that "It's morning! Let's go downstairs, please, Mommy! Now, Mommy!" and I just lost my shit.

It was 5am on Saturday morning, with most of the weekend still stretched out before me, and I sat on my bed and cried. I called my husband: "I don't belong here! I don't want to Master Pinterest! I don't wanna find my tribe! I already have one and I miss you guys...I want to come home!" Sam reassured me that he and the kids were, somehow, managing to survive in my absence and that I should NOT come home. "You'll be glad you stayed once it's over," he said. "Just stick it out and don't try to be something you're not. If you don't want to Master Pinterest, you don't have to. Just try to have fun."

So I put my brave face back on and went to breakfast.

On Saturday, I learned a few things:

I don't have to Master Pinterest. I don't have to build a Facebook community or have a Fans of my Blog Page. I don't have to become a brand....but if and when I choose to, I'll know what to do and how to do it. All I have to be is authentic. That's it. That's enough. The women who organized the conference and who taught us what they've learned about Blogging as a Business, Making Money as a Writer, using Instagram, and Building Your Book from an idea to a hard copy you can hold in your hands, know exactly what they're talking about. These women are smart, driven, hard-working, and highly accomplished. They're inspirational and supportive. They're also funny as hell.

I learned that I don't need a huge tribe to feel supported. I need a small circle of real friends. (I found some!) I don't need a million page views a month or for an article to "go viral" to accomplish my goal. My goal is simply to write. I learned that, if I want to write for an audience, I need to write and write and write and to submit and submit and submit. I can do that. I want to do that. I don't have to do more than that...I don't have to BE more than that.

But I'm keeping my notes on Pinterest...just in case I change my mind. That shit was gold.

Lesson Learned:
I did it. I saw the boundaries of my comfort zone and I stepped over the line into uncharted territory. I defined my goals: I want to write. It's as simple as that.

One of my favorite lines of the weekend came not from a session but from the lunch table: My friend Jen said (and I'm paraphrasing here because I had put my notebook away), "If you're going to be a writer, you're going to have to hustle. Might as well hustle for something you're passionate about." I'm not passionate about becoming a brand. But I'm ready to hustle for my writing.

I'm glad I went. I'm glad I stayed. I'm glad Nickelodeon hosted the Saturday night party because, damn: I haven't danced to Sir Mix a Lot or The Bangles in way too long.

***    ***    ***

This post has been syndicated by WIRL Project.

"WIRL Project is an edgy blogging and microblogging platform where real people confess and share life and what it’s really like (WIRL)." 

You can find this post here, but spend a few minutes checking out the site. You're going to like what you see. 

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Time Out: In Pictures

It started as a simple request: "Max, before you go upstairs to play, please clean up your project area."

He'd been working on another one of his books: we print out pictures of whatever characters are in his book (Lalaloopsies, Strawberry Shortcake, My Little Ponies, whatever). He cuts them out and glues them into a stapled-paper book, then dictates a story for me to transcribe. He's made over twenty books and it's his Most Very Favorite Thing To Do Ever. This book will be based on the "Sugar Rush" racers from the movie Wreck-It Ralph and there were pictures of the girls and their go-karts and tiny scraps of paper E V E R Y W H E R E. Also, glue smeared on the table and crayons, pens, and colored pencils strewn about all over.

And it was nearly dinnertime. I hate it when the house is a wreck and I'm trying to get dinner on the table. I can't breathe. I feel claustrophobic. Sam had just gone upstairs to play World War II with Evan and Molly and Max wanted to join them. As much as he wanted to go, I needed him to clean up his area even more. It wasn't too much to ask.

But these days, by that time of day, it was. He's tired from late nights and early mornings. He's worn out from a full day of cooperative and outdoor play. He's talking about "end of preschool" and "beginning of Kindergarten" stuff constantly. He's hanging by a thread, that deep-feeling, sensitive kiddo of mine.

He furrowed his brow: "No."

I stopped what I was doing and looked him in the eye, "Max, I know you want to play, but you have to clean up first. There will be time to play after you clean up, but not if you waste time now. Get busy."

"NO! You can't make me!"

Oh, yes I can. And, you, my boy, need to take a break.

"Go sit on the steps."

"NOOOOOOO!"

"Yes. Five minutes. Cool down."

And then the defiance and the attitude and the yelling continued to escalate until he had earned himself a 15-minute cool-down instead of five. And then he kicked Molly's milk cup out of her hand and collapsed on the floor in a puddle of Big Emotions.

I carried him over to the steps, handed him a notebook and a pen and said, "Fifteen Minutes."

He glared at me one last, dramatic time before accepting his fate.

At the end of his Epically Long Time Out, we talked. He apologized to me (for the yelling and the defiance) and to Molly (for the kicking and the milk-spilling), I sat with him while he cleaned up his mess. Before he went upstairs to join the game with Evan and Sam, he snuck into the office. He returned and handed me an envelope. Inside were the drawings he made during his Time Out:

Max is Mad

Max is Mad and Max is Yelling at Mommy

Max has to Sit on the Steps While Daddy, Evan, and Molly Get to Play Upstairs

Now Max is Sad

Mommy is Thumbs Up, Max is Thumbs Down

Lesson Learned:
He talked to me about these pictures and I assured him that, even when he is Mad Max or Sad Max, he is still Thumbs Up Max. I love that he can express his feelings so well. I love that he wears his heart on his sleeve. I love that he Feels the Big Feels. I just can't wait for this endless transition to kindergarten to finally be over...not that I'm wishing away our summer before it even begins...it's just that the worries and anxieties of Starting Kindergarten are so hard on these tiny little people. (And their Mommies.)

Monday, May 18, 2015

Welcome to the Jungle...I mean...the pool

As a lifelong card-carrying member of several different Neighborhood Pools, I have had 35 years of experience observing a unique subset of our society; suburban moms, finally let out of their school-year cages, enjoying the freedom of Summer Break in their natural habitat. They are The Pool Moms.


No longer a mere observer of this culture, I have been accepted as one of the tribe. I've been a few of these moms in the seven summers I've spent as a Pool Mom. Which one are you?


The Swim Team Mom
This mom does not come to the pool as a leisure activity. Oh, no. For her, the pool is Strictly Business. In fact, Swim Team Mom doesn’t even bother to wear her bathing suit to the pool, as she is far too busy to go for a swim. She is running the snack bar or posting meet stats. She is making sure all Time Keeper positions for the upcoming meet have been filled (and she has your number if they’re not). She is making sure no casual pool user is using the lap lane for Marco Polo, as it is to be used solely for lap swim. She knows all of the life guards by name, and when she calls one of them, you’d best come running, son.


The Baby Pool Mom
Still in her private bubble (or, in this case, a literal fenced enclosure) of toddlerhood, this mom comes to the pool for Adult Conversation. Sitting on the edge of the Baby Pool, with her feet submerged in 12 inches of water of debatable pH balance, this mom can watch as her child attempts to empty the entire pool by dumping one tupperware container at a time onto the pool deck, while finally interacting with another adult...any adult. She is not picky. She will happily strike up a conversation with anyone else who enters the Baby Pool enclosure, including the life guards who come in to “check” the pH levels.


The Mom of Many Small Children
With a baby on her hip; a toddler in water wings, a life vest, and a floatie at water’s edge; and a preschooler splashing around with a pool noodle nearby, this mom’s not here for relaxation or adult conversation. Actually, she’s unlikely to engage in any conversation other than shouting reminders towards her children: “No, no, no! Stay here! Diving boards are for big kids.” or “Stop splashing your brother!” or “No, we’re not going to the snack bar.” or “I really wish you had told me you needed to use the potty while we were in there with your sister three minutes ago.” This mom has another motive in shlepping her kids (slippery from excessive, unevenly applied sunscreen), the toy bag, the towel bag, the diaper bag, and the snack bag to the pool each day: Nap Time. Ah, yes. There is little more cherished reward for a hard morning’s work at the pool than simultaneous afternoon nappers.


The Mom Who Thinks The Life Guards Are Babysitters
If you’ve ever been to a neighborhood pool, you already know this mom. This is the mom who also brings small children to the pool but, unlike the Mom of Many Small Children, she mistakenly believes that, once on Pool Property, they are no longer of her concern. Her children run on the pool deck, raid other people’s pool bags, take pool toys out of other children’s hands, splash with intention to annoy, and demonstrate otherwise obnoxious behaviors. The Mom Who Thinks The Life Guards Are Babysitters is in a chair, under an umbrella, reading a magazine, completely unaware of the havoc her little monsters are wreaking.


The Mom of Independent Swimmers
The Mom of Independent Swimmers enters the pool carrying a small tote, which holds only a book, a bottle of sunscreen, a water bottle, and a single towel. But she’s a Mom. Where’s the rest of her gear? you wonder. And then you see it: Her children are Carrying Their Own Shit. They drop their things onto a row of lounge chairs and then, she settles in with her book while the kids go off to swim. At break, the kids climb out of the pool, dry off, grab a snack out of their own bags, and (with a gentle reminder from Mom) reapply their sunscreen. This is Neighborhood Pool Nirvana. This is the Pool Mom the other Pool Moms watch, longingly, hoping to someday emulate.  


The Absentee Mom
There will come a time, believe it or not, when your presence at the pool will not be necessary. Your newly-a-teenager will ask for a ride to the pool, where she is to meet her ten closest girlfriends (and some boys, too). You will drop her off, yelling a hurried “Don’t forget your sunscreen!” after her. You will look through the fence as she walks in without you and see the sweaty, harried Moms of Small Children as they slather sunscreen on wiggly little bodies and chase toddlers away from the edge of the pool. You will see the children who are whining about being too hot, too wet, too hungry, or too bored. You will see the look of exhaustion on their mothers’ faces. On witnessing the familiar scene, you will be filled with two equal emotions, two competing thoughts: “I remember those days. [sigh] It went by so fast,” and “Well! Looks like I’m just going to have to go home and watch my DVR’d Daily Show and drink my coffee All By Myself.”

As for me, I have taken my place alongside The Pinball Moms. With one kid playing in the shallow section, one kid practicing his cannonballs and dog-paddling in the 4-foot section, and one kid mustering up the courage to jump off the diving board, we are in constant motion. We are bouncing from one end of the pool to the other, monitoring our children’s safety while making sure we catch every jump and dunk and paddle (“Yes, honey! Of course I saw that! You were so brave!”). We are amazed by how big and independent our little fishies have already become, but damn: That lounge chair and a book look really good right about now.

Lesson Learned:
'Tis the season, Moms! Can't wait to see you at the pool!

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Mohs Surgery: A Farewell to Skin Cancer

If you're going to get skin cancer, I recommend basal cell. It's the kind of skin cancer that is diagnosed with a casual "and here we have some basal cell skin cancer" from your dermatologist. It's also the kind of skin cancer that can be treated, quite effectively, by an outpatient surgery called Mohs Surgery.

Then, once you schedule your surgery, I recommend having your child's kindergarten orientation scheduled for the very same day. It will help keep your mind on other matters during the surgery, such as I hope he doesn't cry. I hope I don't cry. It's okay if he (or we) cry, rather than the fact that your face is being dissected and placed under a microscope.

Thursday morning, with my parents in charge of the kids for the day, Sam and I went back to Advanced Dermatology for the procedure. We got there early (of course we did), and were back in the office before my 9:30 appointment time. I took this as a very good sign.

I explained to the nurse that, though I understood that Mohs Surgery may take several rounds and many hours to complete, I was really hoping to get home by 2:30 so I could bring my 5-year old to Kindergarten Orientation. She nodded understandably and said, "I'll let Dr. N know. Now, if you're going to need Plastics to come in and close, we'll have very little control over your schedule. He may not even come in until 1 or 2, but we'll get you in with him as soon as possible."

Plastics. Plastic surgery. Because they were going to be cutting into my forehead.

"Unless, of course," the nurse continued, "Dr. N thinks she can close. She'll always leave noses and lips to plastics, but if she can get a clean line, which is likely on a forehead, she'll do it. She's an excellent closer. Just keep fingers crossed that we don't need to go in there more than once."

I crossed my fingers and exhaled a grateful breath that my *just* basal cell is *just* on my forehead.

She applied a numbing cream, which was to ease the pain of the forthcoming shot of anesthetic.

When Dr. N came in, she talked again about the procedure:

Step 1: Remove the tumor-containing tissue.
Step 2: Thinly slice the tissue and place on slides.
Step 3: Analyze under a microscope to determine clear margins around all edges and layers of tissue.
Step 4a: If margins are clear, close the wound.
Step 4b: If margins contain cancer cells, repeat steps 1-3.

I could be out of there in a couple of hours....or at the end of the day.

She injected the anesthetic into my forehead and left the room. I could feel the numbness spread out from the injection site, down the left side of my face, up the left side of my scalp. "It feels so weird," I said to Sam, "like I have a bubble in my forehead pushing the skin up."

"Oh, really?" Sam responded, noncommittally. "Hmm."

We talked about other things, mostly Max and Kindergarten, until Dr. N returned.

She got right to work. She covered my eyes with a cloth and spoke quick, quiet directives to the nurse. Sam stayed in the room and watched the whole thing. I could feel pulling, some pressure, and some scraping...but no pain. It was uncomfortable, though, like getting my wisdom teeth removed; I could hear enough to make me feel like I could visualize what they were doing. It wasn't pretty.

After only several minutes, Dr. N completed the removal of the first round of tissue.

"Would you like to see it?" the nurse asked.

I looked at Sam. "Do I?"

He came over for a closer look. I'd put him in a tough spot. If he said no, I'd think I looked like some sort of horrible zombie with brains spilling out of my head. "Uh, yeah, sure..."

I reached out my hand for the mirror.

Pro Tip: If a nurse offers you a mirror post-facial surgery, don't take it. Whatever you're imagining doesn't compare to what you'll actually see.

That "bubble" I felt on my forehead? That was real. There was a hugely swollen lump on the left side of my forehead. Huge. Like, an inch high off the surface my forehead and three inches in diameter. Then, in the middle of the huge lump, was the surgical site: It looked exactly like it would have if Dr. N had taken a melon baller to my lumpy forehead. I kid you not. In fact....I never did look at her tool tray...maybe she did.

I almost threw up.

Instead, I found some words: "Holy...Oh my...That? I can't...That's on my forehead? I can't...Oh my god that's...I can't believe that's MY FACE?!" They weren't very eloquent. Finally, I managed, "I just hope there's no more basal cell in that face."

She bandaged me up, sent me to the waiting room and sent my cancery forehead to the lab.

I sat there, trying to read, but watching the clock tick closer towards Kindergarten Orientation.

Finally, the nurse called me back.

With a silent smile and thumbs up, she greeted me at the doorway.

"You're clear!" she announced.

"Dr. N's amazing," I said in relief.

I opted to let Dr. N close, rather than wait for Plastics. Plastics may have lowered my chances at a scar with a skin graft, but I wasn't interested in that. And I'm not worried about a scar.

Getting the stitches wasn't terribly uncomfortable: I was able to have a conversation with my favorite Doctor/Nurse duo while they pulled that crater on my face into a straight line.

And when I looked into a mirror this time, I wasn't so shocked. A two-inch long Frankenstein stitch-job across my forehead is no match for what I saw the first time. Besides, in pulling my skin together to close the gap, I lost some wrinkles in the left side of my forehead! For Free!

The recovery has been easy, too. Aside from needing Tylenol post-surgery, my head has felt fine. As for the scar, I'm working on my Story: Injury sustained when rescuing a baby from a burning building? Bar brawl? Nah, I'll stick to the original...my SPF PSA for life.



Lesson Learned:
The day after my surgery, I read about a study out of Sydney that found a lower rate of non-melanoma recurrence in patients who had previously had non-melanoma cancers (like me) when they had taken Vitamin B3 supplements after their initial diagnosis.

The timing of that finding was quite helpful. Thank you, Australian Cancer Researchers!

Oh, and as for Kindergarten Orientation....there were tears. From both of us... But that's okay.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

DIY driveway racetrack

Now that I'm on my third 3-year old, I find myself pulling some old "Entertain the Cranky Kiddo" out of my back pocket that, once upon a time, were rare flashes of genius in my overtired, over-caffeinated brain. An old favorite that finds it's way back to the front of my mind each spring is the Driveway Racetrack. All you need is a couple of sticks of chalk, a wide open space of concrete or blacktop, and a kid who needs to run out some energy.


We add some breaks in our track. 

Here you have to stop and smell the flowers.
("They jus' smell like nuffing, though, Mommy.")


Here are our Tippy Toe Bridges.
You have to tip-toe across so as not to wake the sleeping troll underneath.


Don't get wet as you jump on rocks across the pond!


This took less than ten minutes to create (Molly directed while I chalked. The boys will likely add their own obstacles when they get home). She was non-stop for the next twenty minutes running the track, walking the track, hopping the track, and holding my hand as we followed the track together. Once, she was a dinosaur, chasing me along the track and later, she was my baby dinosaur and I had to teach her the way.

Lesson Learned:
Get outside. Get moving. Get creative. This has got it all.