Friday, September 12, 2014

A Disney Trip Ending

Eight days in the land of Mickey Mouse. 
Eating extravagantly. 
Drinking cold drinks until your brain freezes. 

Soaring on roller coasters that looped and made us scream. 
Riding a tower of terror and laughing about it. 
Seeing princesses and a bear who adores honey. 
Traveling to various countries all in the blink of an eye. 
Marveling that my daughter rode a waterslide that even grown men wouldn't attempt. 

It was hard for me to leave Disney World. 
Where your day is greeted by singing and dancing, streamers and fireworks. 
I could see that every day of my life. 
And I doubt it would get old.
There's a joy when you take your young children to a special place like this. 
Yes, it's expensive. 
Yes, it's touristy. 
Yes, it's hot and you sweat in unmentionable places. 
But, when your five year old wants to ride It's A Small World over and over and you see her beaming like this...

You have hope. 
Is she marveled only by the costumes and songs?
Or is she a future ambassador of global unity?
Well, when she's done taking a selfie, I'll let you know...

Monday, September 8, 2014

A Disney Trip Middle

We have stood in so many lines to see so many different Disney characters I believe my husband's knees gave out around 2:45 today. 
His knees!
They gave out!

The heat in Florida is like oven heat. 
I'm used to something else, I guess. 
Corn reduction/woodland greenery heat?
Anyway, it's probably intensified by all of the concrete I've been surrounded by since last Friday. 
The rain comes every single day. 
My friend Mark from high school, who now resides in Orlando with his hubs Tom, sends me a radar rain report daily in my FB messages. 
Luckily, and we aren't always in that camp, we've missed many of the huge downpours. 
We've been in restaurants. 
Or shows. 
But, we have had to pull out the umbrellas and ponchos and my rubber CROC sandals have been a godsend. 

Sunday, September 7th. 
The 4 year anniversary of Zoe's cancer diagnosis. 
She spent the day at Epcot in Disney World. 
Oblivious to the date. 
To the anniversary. 
She was instead engulfed in fun with Princesses.  
She traveled to Japan, France, and England. 

She went to space and soared over California. 
She celebrated life and the fact that she still had hers. 
As our day ended and we walked to the shuttle to head back to our resort, she literally was signing and dancing in the rain. 

Oh, and I had some orgasmic French Macarons. 
Heaven in a box...

Friday, September 5, 2014

A Disney Trip Beginning

We've been at the Wonderful World of Walt for a day and a half so far. 
It's rained a lot so it's a good thing we have ponchos and umbrellas...

Besides rain we've also dealt with...
A crabby-ass five year old who sneers when you ask to take her picture just about anywhere. 

A grandma who doesn't want to ride anything but wants to watch you ride everything. 
A crabby-ass five year old (same as one above) who begs to ride Expedition Everest three times and cries three times.
A grandma who forgot her umbrella and the sunscreen in her room. 
A crabby-ass (you know who) who doesn't ever want to fly on a plane again.
But I'm not walking home, kid. 

There's also been this...

 And this...

And La Fou's Brew. 
And Mickey pretzels. 
And dancing in Africa. 
And a safari through the savannah. 
And my oldest daughter saying "I'm so glad we're here!"
And that crabby-ass five year old declaring "this is THE BEST RIDE EVER!" while floating along in a boat through It's A Small World. 
What a magical day and a half it's been. 

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The Rules Of Play

Standing around on a primary school playground, you learn a lot. 
About boys. 
And girls. 
About who's sensitive.
And who's not. 
Those that aren't sensitive display something else. 
A tough exterior. 
A "you can't try to be nice to me" exterior. 
I won't let you in. 
And in reality, those kids are the ones who are the most sensitive. 

They are the boys who run around pushing the others. 
And you want to scold them and tell them to stop misbehaving. 
Because they are old enough to know better. 
And then you see the ketchup on their face. 
The sweat rolling into their eyes. 
Their freckles and baby teeth. 
And you remember...just a kid. 
This is just a kid. 
Who needs more guidance. 
Who needs someone to show them the right way to behave. 
To not use hands in anger. 
To use hands to give high-fives. 
There are some boys who live in a household with only brothers. 
And rough housing is the game of the day. 
Every day. 
They don't know you shouldn't put a girl in a headlock. 
They don't know the smaller boys don't like to be pulled around by their thumbs. 
Maybe no one at home tells them "stop that."
So, a playground supervisor carries more than just a whistle. 
I have to carry around compassion. 
I carry my ears as if they are as large as an elephant's. 
Trying to hear all. 
Deciphering what is fun play versus cruel play. 
My eyes catch girls in a huddle. 
Whispering and looking at other groups of girls. 
And I make my way over. 
And learn that so-and-so called someone else chubby. 
So we talk about hurt feelings. 
And not speaking to other girls with such disdain. 
And I make these kids, all of them, apologize face to face to one another. 
The rough houser, the tattler, the name caller. 
We talk it out, we look at each other in the eye. 
Then we high-five it out. 

Thursday, August 21, 2014

What Makes A Cause Worthy?

I never really thought about cancer in children before September of 2010.
As any parent, I wished upon stars and crossed fingers that my own child would grow up healthy and happy and not ever, ever, EVER get sick. 
But that was as far as my concern went.
Until my child looked ill. 
And my mom gut spoke very loudly to me one weekend and said "something is very wrong with my daughter."
Then, wham-bam...our lives forever changed. 
And I became aware. 
Aware that childhood cancers are horribly underfunded. 
That the American Cancer Society donates less than 1 penny for every dollar that's donated to childhood cancers. 
That childhood cancers are the leading cause of death by disease in children. 
And there are many childhood cancers. 
Brain tumors. 
Bone tumors. 
Kidney tumors. 
I could go on and on with this list. 

We fought the fight with our daughter. 
Watched her change and then return to us. 

And we are considered lucky. 
Because she's still alive. 
She looks normal now. 
She didn't lose a limb. 
She can walk. 
She didn't lose her sight.
She doesn't "look" like someone who has had cancer. 
And in our glory of having a child who has survived a disease that we never envisioned her having, we thought we would give back. 
So we have tried to get a license plate to support childhood cancer research in our state.
The state of Illinois.
The Land of Lincoln. 
The state where Abe Lincoln, one of our country's most beloved presidents resided. 
The man who changed the pages of history by signing the Emancipation Proclamation. 
And a man who lost three children to disease. 
A man who may have cared about our cause. 
Because when you lose a child or have a sick child, your perceptions change. 
To lose hope for a young person's future, in my opinion, is a great human travesty. 

I think most people forget that they themselves were once children. 
That they once represented someone else's hopes and dreams. 
And if an adult doesn't have children of their own, the idea of a child getting cancer seems too foreign to imagine. 
We have tried and tried to spread the word about our license plate campaign. 
To raise awareness and funds.
And it's not going anywhere. 
And I'm shocked. 
I'm shocked that people don't care. 
I'm shocked that when we are at an event (with our flyers and huge cardboard license plate) that's full of kids with cancer and their parents, we are ignored. 
Ignored by the very people who should understand our cause. 
I have heard people say they are just too busy to send in their form for a license plate. 
Umm, okay?
Writing a check and addressing an envelope will take all of 7 minutes, tops, out of your day. 

I'm so happy to see this ice bucket challenge that's raising millions of dollars for ALS. 
A horrible disease without a cure that robs people of their happiness and their futures. 
Just like childhood cancers. 
The diseases that kill kids before they have begun to live. 
At age 2. 
At age 7. 
At age 12. 
At age 17. 
I have had to watch my daughter fight and fight. 
And I want to give back. 
But others don't care I guess. 
And it's bewildering to me. 
Especially when we are surrounded by other parents whose own family have fought childhood cancer. 
When they avoid us and our license plate paper. 
As if we are giving out cancer. 
Instead of hope. 
If we can't get these people on board, I fear we will fail. 
And it breaks my heart. 
And my daughter, Zoe, has cried because no one is getting their form into the state. 
I don't say these things to make people feel bad. 
I just speak the truth. 
What's in my heart. 
And while my heart is heavy by the lack of response from people in the state of Illinois, I know one thing. 
I know we have tried. 
And I will focus on what my friend Sue told me recently. 
My friend, who last her nephew at the age of 7 to cancer. 
Sue told me that she thinks Zoe is destined for greatness. 
Now that's something to give me hope. 
That's something I can count on. 

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

A Golden Opportunity

Many moons ago I had a child.
Then another one. 
And when I had those children I was that mom who stayed at home. 
To nurture. 
To feed homemade goodies. 
To swim with on a Tuesday. 
But both of those kids are in school all day now. 
So, I got a job. 

After 9 years of being a stay at home mom, I am employed again. 
Nothing fancy. 
But just enough for me. 
Enough for me to be a part of society again. 
Enough for me to earn a little cash. 
Enough for me so that I am still making my daughters their breakfast in the morning and I'm still picking them up from school. 
Ladies and gentlemen, I'm a playground supervisor at the primary school. 
I got a whistle. 

Gigi started kindergarten on Friday at the primary school and it didn't go too well. 
She's much improved and has now proven to herself that she CAN make it through the long day without mom. 
And it doesn't hurt that she gets to see that mom at lunch and recess. 
It has helped mom, too. 
I get to see that she's happy. 
I make sure she's eating her lunch that I so lovingly prepared for her a few hours prior. 
I get to laugh with her on a daily basis. 
She and I are tight. 
It's the best job I've ever had. 

I'm meeting a lot of neat kids, too. 
We laugh and joke and I tell them it's going to be alright if they cry. 
Because they miss their mom. 
Or if they've fallen down. 
I'm everyone's mom in a way. 
But at the end of recess, I know that only one is mine. 
The fantastic blonde that all of the kids follow around. 
And I get to wear my whistle with pride now. 
Because my amazing friend Leigh sent me a lanyard covered in gold ribbons. 
Gold ribbons represent childhood cancer. 
And my daughter Zoe was attending this same primary school 5 years ago when she was diagnosed with leukemia. 
She is a thriving 4th grader now. 
And I don't need to hover over her like I did when she first got sick. 
Now I get to hover over her sister. 
But in a good way. 
Because our life is ordinary again. 
And I'm loving it...whistle and all!

Friday, August 15, 2014

Being Five

Gigi went to school today. 
Today was the first day she left home and was alone without her sister around (like when she was at summer camp). 
Today she had to leave her mother and father and become a full time student. 
And it was hard for her. 
Very hard. 
She has a lot of anxiety with new situations. 
When she's put in an alien environment. 
She threw up her chocolate milk this morning. 
She twisted up her dress with her hands when I tried to take her photo on the porch. 
She felt twisted up inside herself. 

It's hard to grow up. 
It's hard for someone like Gigi. 
Who had a sick sister and who had to give up her mom and dad for a time because the hospital beckoned them. 
Time will heal all of her inner wounds. 
And she'll someday be able to face new challenges as well as her sister does. 
Because she's a brave girl. 
I know she is. 
Even if she's still not too sure.