Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Sometimes I just need to run...

It's almost a primal instinct when the urge arises. I'm not really a runner. I'm active yes, but I think there are people who are natural runners, and then there's the rest of us. (Though my friend Nick argues that all humans, by design, are runners.) But I find that sometimes at the change of the seasons or at times when my life is all crazy and lacking in order...I need to run.

It was cool today, 50 at best, but calm and sunny. So this afternoon I set out on my favorite route that after a few short blocks leads me out of town into the surrounding country side. Fields. Pastures. Farm houses. Cows. The gentle roll of the hills. I feel at home on this road. The simplicity of putting one foot in front of the other sooths my soul. No gizmos or gadgets, just me and nature.

Sometimes I need to run to get away from thinking. Other times I need to run to have time to think. It's not about the pace or the distance. The approximately 4 mile trek usually takes me an hour, give or take, depending on the day and how often I slow down just to enjoy my surroundings. I return home feeling tired, occasionally a little sore, but always more at peace, more centered, more grounded.

No sarcoma update to pass on today. Hopefully we get good news from TX tomorrow after testing is finished. I continue to send up prayers. Right now that and hope is all I have.


Monday, April 28, 2008

Sarcoma Update...

The update of the day is...there's not much to update. Jason's day today was filled mostly with paperwork and initial meetings. The pathology report won't be finished until tomorrow, but When I talked to Jason tonight he said his doctors were very optimistic based on the information they had received thus far. The tumor was small (2 cms at it's largest), caught early, and superficial. All point towards a good prognosis.

Tomorrow will bring more consultations following the completion of the pathology report. Wednesday he'll have a CT scan, chest x-ray, and leg MRI. Unless the tests uncover surprises, surgery to excise more tissue around where the tumor was removed will be scheduled for next Tuesday and because of the size of the tumor (again unless tests reveal unexpected findings) he shouldn't need radiation. Recovery from surgery could be painful since some muscle and tendon tissue will need to be removed as part of the safety margin, but he should retain normal levels of functioning in that leg. (Maybe not normal for Jason, but for the average Joe...normal.)

So we wait. At this point it looks like I might be boarding a jet plane for TX this coming weekend to be with Jason next week for surgery, a night in the hospital, and the return trip to Austin. While not my first choice of reasons to go visit him, I can't wait to give him a hug and tell him I love him face to face. It's been hard having so many miles between us this past week. When we were kids we often had to share a bedroom. Even when we moved into a house where we each had our own room it wasn't uncommon to wake up with him snuggled by my side after sneaking in during the middle of the night. I have a feeling, now as adults, I might be the one sneaking into his room in the middle of the night for the comfort of being close to him.


Thursday, April 24, 2008

Meet Edward...

Edward is a free spirit who loves adventure. His love of nature and the beauty found in the world around him inspires him to be an activist for the environment and the communities of which he is a member. While Edward loves to travel, he never forgets his roots and always comes home to those who he loves, and who love him.

Edward is the mini sock monkey I crafted as a travel companion for my brother Jason. (Lexi suggested the jingle bell necklace and button belly button.) His name was chosen in memory of our grandfather, Edward Reitz. A kind, generous, loving farmer who shared his passion for the simple wonders of nature with his grandkids. He passed away 14 years ago next month, but a little piece of him lives on in the many lives of those he touched.

Those who know him know my brother is somewhat of an adventurer himself. Not in a dangerous, thrill seeking way; just in a loves to experience life kinda way. He's very much like Edward. After almost a year of planning Jason was all set to fly off to Italy at the end of next month for 5 weeks of sight seeing from the seat of a bicycle. My hope was for Edward to tag along and to hopefully share their adventures on his very own blog. But sometimes plans change.

Today I shipped Edward off to my brother in Texas to accompany him on a very different type of adventure. On Monday Edward, my brother, my mom, and various friends and loved ones will be heading to Huston to the MD Anderson Cancer Center. Four days ago my brother was diagnosed with a soft tissue sarcoma. In one simple word, cancer.


That single word nobody ever wishes to hear in regards to their own or a loved one's health.


That single word that suddenly brings a lot of things in life into perspective.


That singe word that immediately makes your heart ache at the thought of the loss of a loved one.

It's a scary word. Suddenly part of my daily vocabulary. It's interesting how at first you don't want to accept this new reality. But then slowly, as soon as you start talking about it openly, it starts to loose it's grip. The fear starts to fade. Loved ones come together to provide support and suddenly your all set to go into battle. A strong army of hope ready to do whatever is necessary to make sure this is one time cancer isn't the victor.

Many tears have been shed, many phone minutes logged. We're in that waiting phase. Almost as hard as getting the initial news. By next week we'll have a clearer picture of what we're facing, of where this adventure will lead us. I have total faith that the path we head down on Monday will lead us in the best direction possible. In my head, in my heart, there is no other option.

I love you little brother. We're going to get through this.

Make sure Edward behaves at the hospital. No monkey business. (OK, maybe just a little.)


Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Fun Night...

Friday night was the annual PTO fundraiser at Lexi's school...Family Fun Night. CRAZY!

What is it about face painting that makes even the littlest kiddo happy?

(These pictures were taken at the end of the night. Can you tell the girls were winding down a bit?)


Thursday, April 17, 2008


A couple weekends ago we visited the Blank Park Zoo in Des Moines. 60 degree temps. Sun. Everyone was excited for the warmer winter following a long snowy winter. (Humans and animals alike!) The lemur cage, one of the first habitats we encountered, was full of excitement and activity. This little guy however just sat calmly, soaking up the sun. Just meditating quietly. Pondering the current state of affairs of his world. We got a kick out of his calm quiet demeanor in the middle of such frisky cage mates. We even extended a little Om in his direction.

(Unfortunately my little point and shoot refused to focus on anything but the fence...I should have had Remy there, then I could have adjusted focus myself. But that's totally off the subject!)

Today I myself am quietly pondering. We're in the process of gathering some financial information in hopes of refinancing our house. A little debt pay down and some funds for a new roof, gutters, and siding are in our dreams. So today I open up past year's tax documents to print out copies for the bank. That's when it hit me...for the past 4 years our income has steadily DECREASED. Small amounts the first couple of years which were a result in fluctuations in my small business income. Not a big deal. Then there was the significant decrease the year I stopped working full time. Expected. But this last year our gross income was a full $25,000 LESS than on our return 4 years ago! In some tax brackets $25,000 is a small drop in the bucket. In our tax bracket, it's a SIGNIFICANT amount. I'm not sure that's how things are suppose to work in life. More education has been obtained (and more debt). More responsibilities. Yet less income. Doesn't seem to add up correctly no matter how I do the math.

Our life and our happiness is in no way dependent on the numbers. However there comes a point when the stress of trying to do more (or even maintain the status quo) with less does start to have an affect. The numbers explain why I'm feeling spread as thin as a piece of onion skin each month when I sit down to pay the bills and budget what's left for basics like groceries and gas for the remainder of the month. (Especially with how much the cost of each has risen this past year!) The light has been turned on. Things are clicking.

I have a feeling change is in our future. Like it or not, sometimes it does just come down to the numbers on the page.


Wednesday, April 16, 2008


Brea and I took our lunch out to the backyard for a picnic today. Afterwards she played in her sandbox while I lounged on the grass, in the sun. I couldn't resist documenting the moment with my phone camera.



Sunday, April 13, 2008

Spring Cleaning...

We started spring cleaning the yard today. The sun was shining, it was NOT raining, and the temp was just into the 40s...about as good as it's gotten thus far this spring. Lexi found this awesome leaf.

I'm amazed that it made it through the winter in such good condition given it's fragile state. Of course, I had to get the camera out. I've posted some shots from today's photo session on flickr.

Being that it was sunny, yet still cold (especially in the wind), Brea got to sport both her new sun glasses and her new stocking cap. What a goof.


Thursday, April 10, 2008

Not for me, at least not right now...

I've been pondering my quest to turn Vegetarian a lot lately. (Well, technically Pescetarian since I was still eating fish.) It kinda all came to a head in my mind the other day when Lexi asked me, "Mom, why do some vegetarians like you sometimes eat meat?" Yeah mom, explain.

In the past 3 months I can probably count on one hand the number of times I've consumed a meat item. I haven't missed it and have been happy to discover some new foods that I love. Granted they're mostly all "meat substitutes", like Morning Star's spicy black bean burgers, corn dogs, and breakfast sausage patties, but tasty is tasty! I do sometimes worry that with my busy teaching schedule and need to fuel my body that I've been heavy on the carbs and a little light on the protein. For the most part I've felt good, but not really any different than during my carnivorous days. I mean there are professional athletes who successfully maintain a vegetarian diet while meeting their nutritional needs, so I know with a little focus and attention balance is possible.

Mostly my pondering comes from, I'm not sure, laziness I guess. It's hard figuring out healthy well balanced meals with my weird schedule and my family's varied dietary preferences. Don't get me started on what a challenge it is sometimes to eat out or at other people's houses. And there's a part of me that questions whether it's really that much healthier to eat processed vegetarian foods than a plain ol' baked chicken breast?

So, after much thought, I've decided NOW is not the right time for me to attempt this switch. I just don't have the focus and energy. That doesn't mean I won't continuing making healthy, responsible choices or that I'll go back to eating meat at every meal. In fact I'm sure I'll still choose to be meat free during a lot a meals, something that was common before this under taking. But it does mean I'm not going to stress about it so much. Let's be honest here; I have enough issues with food, I really don't think I need to be adding to the stress!

Failure? NO.

Conscious choice? YES.


April Showers...

It's gray, cold, and rainy outside.

Brea has decided it's the perfect weather to curl up with a good book. Just some light reading.

I tend to agree.

(Yes, these are her favorite PJs. And yes, she tends to stay in them all morning if we're not venturing out of the house.)


Tuesday, April 8, 2008


Disclaimer: This post is simply an expression of thought, not a complaint!

Brea loves to help me with the dishes. (Notice the candy bracelets...they make her smell fruity. Fun!) Her job is to take the clean silverware items out of the basket (once I've removed any sharp knives!) and hand them to me so I can put them away. She simply hears the dishwasher open and she runs in shouting"Me help!". I wish at 33 I could find the excitement in doing the dishes that she has at 2.

Sometimes I miss going to my old job. Not the job so much as much as the sense of accomplishment. I miss working on a specific project (or more realistic projectS) and then once completed, checking that item off my "to do list" and moving on to the next project.

I'm not a huge list maker, but I kinda have a mental "accomplished" list. I find it hard to check things off that list in my day to day life. At home all my "to do" items are things that need "to doed" daily or weekly or monthly. Dishes. Meals. General house tidying. Balancing the check book. Paying the bills. I'm sure you're familiar with the general list. Even in my work there's not really a chance to feel like I've completed a project. I go. I teach class. I do it again in a few hours or the next day.

After a while it all just gets kinda boring. The next meal comes around, which means dishes are dirtied. The mail comes, which means new bills and junk mail to be sorted into recycling. My life feels like a non-stop cycle of sameness and never do I really get to check something as DONE off "the list".

While I don't necessarily want to go and find a job outside my home (especially not full time) I often wonder if something part time or, better yet, freelance, something with a list of projects that can be accomplished, would help scratch my itch. But doing what? I like to write, but don't necessarily think I'm good enough to freelance. I like to take pictures, but again, I don't necessarily have the knowledge, skills, and equipment to get paid for them. Hmmm.... Interesting thoughts to ponder.

And now it's time to go tend to an item on my revolving "to do" list.


P.S. It's snowing...


Big news at our house...Brea pooped on the potty Sunday night! Now I realize to some this might not necessarily be blog worthy, but it was very exciting as a parent. Pooping on the potty was a big deal for Lexi when she was potty training. Brea's willingness to do so, and be so excited about it, is just one more example of how different our two girls can be at times! I in no way think this is the start of potty training, she just turned 2 for goodness sakes, but it's nice to know she's kinda getting the idea that the toilet is for more than setting your toys on (yuck...I really do try to discourage this!) when you have to wash your hands or see what mommy is doing in the shower.


Thursday, April 3, 2008


It's snowing.


I'm so done with snow for this year.

DONE I say!

My poor little crocus...hope they have their mittens on.

On a completely unrelated and happier note...check out my cousin Nikki's blog. She had her baby on Tuesday!!! Happy Day! I want to go to Denver!


Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Brea turns 2...

My baby turned 2 last week.

Parties were had. Songs were sung. Candles were blown. Gifts were opened. Cake was eaten. Giggles, hugs, and fun.

Brea is pure sunshine. She brings so much light and joy to our lives. It's hard to believe she's already 2...yet hard to remember life before she joined us.

Happy Birthday Monkey. I love you bunches!!!

More pics of the festivities are posted on Shutterfly.