Wednesday, September 28, 2011

In Which I Express Myself to Cancer

Dear Cancer,

I hate you.

I hate what you have done in my own life, and I hate that two other lives this week in my little corner of the globe were snuffed out by you.

It is your fault that these other children will grow up without mothers. It is your fault that my little boys could so easily become those children. It is your fault that those two husbands are now widowers, and I hate you so much because I have horrible dreams that my husband could be that, too. I hate you because you break families apart...good families, who love each other and love God.

I am just so mad! I am furious that you exist in the first place, and even more angry that you are so evasive. You should be cured by now, and even prevented. How are you still able to elude sophisticated medicines and scientists? Why do you insist on sneaking up on innocent people and invading their bodies? Why can't you just leave us alone?!?

I despise you for making me sick, for making my hair fall out and then come back curly, for making me ration my energy and activity so I can be "normal" again, and for making me the object of pity and sympathy. I hate you for making me work so hard to figure out and trust my God--and sometimes to even question everything I have believed for most of my life.

I choose every day to beat you. I decide over and over again not to let you win. But you and I both know that you are very powerful. You have the advantage. If you decide to attack again, there's nothing I can do to change your mind.

Tomorrow morning when I wake up, I will feel--just like I do every morning--scared. But then I will choose--just like I do every morning--to not let you beat me. I will fight; I will trust.

Hear me loud and clear, Cancer: You suck. I can honestly say that I wish I had never met you. GO AWAY.

With as much sincerity as I can muster,


Sunday, September 11, 2011

Ten Years

Where were you when the world stopped turning on that September day?

On this day ten years ago, I had three years of marriage behind me and we were eagerly expecting our first child. I was at work on the morning of September 11, 2001, when the news began to circulate in our office that something in America was very wrong. We turned on the television set in the city manager's office and a group of us stood there, too horrified to believe that what we were seeing could be real. I saw the second plane crash into the World Trade Center and I saw live images of those towers imploding. Thoughts of the magnitude of the loss of life overwhelmed me. I remember that I called Hubby at his office to make sure he was aware and safe, and I took a call from my mom. I spent my lunch hour that day sitting in my car listening to the unbelievable details on the news wire.

I raced home at the end of the day and planted myself in front of the TV. Hubby and I ordered Chinese food for dinner. As much as we wanted to, we couldn't tear ourselves away from the terrible pictures that meant that life in America would never be quite the same. I remember that I put my hands on my belly so I could feel Baby Goliath move and kick. I cried so much--for the lives that were lost that day, and for the new life that I would soon be bringing into the world.

In the days and weeks to follow, I remember the flood of emotion I felt as the country--MY country--began to rebuild. I remember how colors and ancestry and political parties became irrelevant, because all that mattered was that we were all Americans. I remember the flags and the yellow ribbons displayed. I remember feeling so very proud to be an American.

My boys weren't even alive before September 11, 2001. Life post-9/11 is the only life they've ever known. Hubby and I have never talked with them much about 9/11...not because we don't think it's important, but because we don't know how to explain to our children that there are evil people in the world who want to hurt us because we don't think or act like them. And because we don't know how to answer questions about thousands of innocent lives lost and a good, just God who loves everyone. But this past spring, when U.S. forces killed Osama Bin Laden, the questions started. And what I was afraid of is exactly what happened: they asked questions that I didn't have answers for.

What I do know, though, is that I want my boys to grow up to be men who love God, love people, and love their country. Today is a day for Hubby and me to remember, and for us to teach our sons to take pride in the life they have in the United States of America and to mean what they say when they recite the Pledge of Allegiance. Because we are indeed one nation, under God, with liberty and justice for all.

Oh! thus be it ever when freemen shall stand

Between their loved home and the war's desolation

Blest with victory and peace may the heav'n rescued land

Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation

Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just

And this be our motto: "In God is our trust."

And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave

Oer the land of the free and the home of the brave!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

And They're Off!...Now What?

The day I've waited for and dreaded has come and gone! Look:

The three little cowboys have gone off to school. They walked into their new school on the first day together, and each one had a great day. In fact, pretty much every day so far has been a great day! According to Goliath, if "some dummy hadn't invented math, school would be just about perfect for me."

I was just as nervous as they were on the first day--maybe even more so. We had met all their teachers, purchased all their supplies, and ordered the backpacks they wanted. A side note about those school supplies: I finally wised up this year and bought the wrap packs. For the last four years I've nearly killed myself trying to recreate what I loved doing with my mom: picking out all of the school supplies and crossing things off the list and shopping for new clothes. With the boys, it was a beating. Boys just don't care. So I saved myself the heartache and frustration and just went with the PTA deal. It was the smart thing to do.

Where was I? Oh, yes. The first day. Not only did we start at a brand new elementary school, but Baby is a big kid now. My first thought when I woke up that morning was, "Today is our last first day of kindergarten." How did we get here?!?

He loves it. He doesn't seem to mind being away from me all day. He likes his teacher, all of the specials classes, and the playground. He loves the penguins that his teacher collects, the reading fort in his classroom, and his locker. He even likes homework (and he takes it very seriously). The only thing he doesn't care for at kindergarten is the kid that sits beside him because "he is not a good listener." On the 2nd day of school, Baby came home and announced that he had a new best friend at school. I asked what his name is, and my boy said, "I don't remember." Ha!

How about this guy? He's a proud 2nd grader. Get this...once upon a time, his teacher had ovarian cancer. That's no coincidence. Luckily, she no longer has cancer. Instead, she has a newt and some fish in her classroom, and that's all she needed to win Little Middle's heart.

And this big 4th grader. Oh, the worry leading up to that first day! But turns out he needn't have worried much at all. He already knows several kids at school--one from flag football a few years ago, one who played on his kindergarten baseball team, and another little boy who he used to pal around with in preschool! He totally gets that God is taking care of him. His teacher couldn't be more perfect for him. She has a very cool, laid back personality, and from what Goliath reports, her classroom library is the best in the building!

So the boys are happy and thriving. Now what? The truth is that I'm having a bit of an identity crisis. Of course I don't sit around pining for them all day (well, I did on that first day, but I've gotten better), but it's so WEIRD. The house is quiet and still. There are no fights to break up, milk to be poured, or snacks to be fetched. All I've done for nearly ten years is have small people underfoot, and now I have all this T-I-M-E. I run errands. I grocery shop by myself (much easier and economical than going with the kids). I clean house and do laundry. Slowly, I am figuring it out. I have been invited to a mom's prayer group specifically for our elementary school. I have plans to have coffee with a neighbor who I'd like to get to know better. I have tried a few new recipes and last week I even went to see a movie! Maybe it's time to do a few Allyson things instead of a lot of Mommy things.

One of the things I love to do is teach, and not a moment too soon, preschool started back up yesterday! It was so strange to walk in by myself--I've had at least one little cowboy at preschool with me for the last eight years. The day went about as smoothly as a first day of preschool can go. I have delightful four-year-olds who are smart, curious, and a little noisy. I can't wait to see their eyes light up as they discover new things this year!

Baby really wanted me to have a good first day, so he helped make my lunch. Smile.

In other random H-family news, Abby Dog's 13th birthday quietly came and went. We didn't throw a big party, but her cousins Lucy and Moose were here visiting and we managed to make her feel plenty special. She is now 91 in people years--elderly by any standard. The boys occasionally ask me if she's going to die, to which I retort, "Of course not."

Little Middle hates spelling words, but still loves his Legos as much as ever! He nearly emptied his substantial Lego box building this skyscraper last week:

God and Mother Nature finally showed us some mercy here in North Texas with temperatures that were less than 100 degrees. On Labor Day, I took Little Middle and Baby out exploring in the "forest" behind their school. That water bottle Little Middle is holding contains a lizard that he caught. It is so gross and ugly, and right now it is in a box on my coffee table because LM was able to persuade me that he will get cold outside at night. Ick.

Goliath couldn't go on the adventure because he spent the weekend in bed with a lovely strep throat/sinus infection combination. And I would just like to say that no adventure compares with that of going to a pediatric urgent care clinic on a Sunday afternoon. Now, in spite of incessant hand-washing and mouth-covering, Hubby seems to have caught the germs. I'm trying not to inhale too deeply around here.

Now I'm off to get a head start on dinner. Ham and cheese pie is on the menu tonight. The only thing better than Southern Living is a good friend who reads it and passes along the best recipes!