Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Map Time

The license plate game. 
Didn't we all play this as a child when we went on long road trips with our family?
When everyone piled into the car. 
The car that may or may not have had working A/C. 
DVDs and streaming movies did not exist in my childhood. 
We didn't even have computers that could print off coloring pages or lists of things. 
Coloring books, pads of blank papers, and my mom's handwritten lists got us there in a remotely sane fashion. 
When we drove to Florida from Illinois my brother and I had our imaginations to get us there without driving our parents bonkers. 
Which may not have worked when, as soon as we got to the ocean, my dad locked the keys in the car. 
He had driven right onto the sand and we all hopped out in true Griswold family stye and he forgot about his keys in the ignition. 
At least he had it in Park. 

But, my mom did try to keep us occupied on long road excursions. 
She would make lists of things for us to look for and mark off of the paper she had handed us at mile marker 57. 
So, I would fashion a blanket around my side of the backseat and over my head. 
I would briefly roll the window down to tuck the end in. 
Briefly, because if the window was down too long my mom would yell "roll that window up!  My hair is flying all over my face!"
I would have my backseat tent area all set up. 
And my brother better not get into my space because I wasn't afraid to scream. 
I would have my list in my lap looking for...
red barn
truck pulling boat
blue motorcycle 
cloud shaped like a tv...
And when that game was over, my mom would whip out her list of states. 
We were to look for their license plates as my dad rolled along the interstate. 

In this 21st century world my kids get to grow up in, they don't understand hours of boredom. 
They have car DVD players. 
An iPad and portable DS game players to keep them thoroughly occupied when traveling across the great U.S. of A. 
But, I do want them to look out the car windows. 
To see America's landscapes. 
To see the giant roadside stand called Boomland. 
Where you can buy fireworks, snacks, AND home decor. 
To see bridges and cotton growing in the field. 
To see the mighty and marvelous Mississippi River and the churning Gulf Coast. 

I was pumped when I caught a Today Show segment pre-summer for a website called Mr Printables.
They had a map of our country with the names of the states and so I decided on a revamped version of the license plate game for our summer adventures. 
We traveled to all over Illinois, Southern Michigan, Northern Indiana, Western Tennessee, and Eastern Missouri. 
Each time we saw a license plate from another state we colored it in with a purple crayon. 
Traveling in Indiana afforded us the opportunity to see many plates from Canada. 
The highway that travels through Northern Indiana and on to Detroit leads right to Canada. 
So we got to color in the top of our map which, for us, represented another country. 
We found 40 states during our summer travels. 
We even saw a Washington DC plate, which I've never seen on the road that I can recall. 
We had friends visit our farm from Vermont, but they had a rental car with Ohio plates. 
Go figure. 

We never saw Massachusetts
New Hampshire 
South Dakota 
do western staters ever leave home?
Or Alaska and Hawaii. 
I don't think I've ever seen a Hawaii license plate on the mainland, but I was certain we would see Alaska. 
Darn it. 
Maybe next summer. 

Monday, August 31, 2015

Swimming Into My Last Post

It's the last day of August. 
My kids go to school in 8 days. 
We are going to have a very hot last week of summer. 
We haven't been in our pool lately because the weather has been cooler. 
It's as if Mother Nature has decided that the Pramuk girls need one last hurrah before they start their jobs. 
We have told our kids that school is their job while young. 
And we expect their 100% effort and participation. 
So, as it's the last week of summer here, before the big Labor Day holiday this weekend, we swam today. 
And, as always, mama had her camera out. 

Thanks for reading my month of posts. 
I did miss a few days, but got most of my thoughts covered. 
I have found that when I do a challenge like this, I do write more. 
It's never as hard as it seems. 

Saturday, August 29, 2015

At The Big Kid Store

Zoe got some clothes from the teenager store yesterday. 
I know!!!
It's craziness!
She's going to be 11 soon. 
And she got some Gap jeans in a size 14 recently. 
She has pretty long legs. 
As we were walking around the outlet mall yesterday with grandma, she asked "can we go to that store next?"
That store being Aeropostale. 
For teenagers. 
And hip young adults. 
I didn't think we would find much for her. 
Yet it turned out to be the best shopping deal we had all day. 
As soon as we walked in I saw a tank top with dream catchers on it. 
Dream catchers are her current obsession. 
And it was only $5. 

Hmmm, could this be her new favorite store?
She could fit into XS tops and S leggings. 
She's learned, from her budget conscious mother, to head to the back of a store first to the sale racks. 
We found the most awesome fish shirt for $2. 
For a shirt with fish on it!!

She was excited to find things she liked that fit her. 
She even declared at one point "I'm in the big kid store!"
And that reminded me that even though we were in the teen store, she's still my little girl. 

Thursday, August 27, 2015

"New" Hair Goes To The Salon

My daughter got a haircut today. 
Which is just a normal thing for most people. 
But for us, it's a momentous occasion. 
It's her second haircut and she's 10 years old. 
And it's the first haircut with her "new" hair.

After getting her first haircut at the age of four we never thought that it would be the only haircut that her original hair would have. 
Her golden brown hair. 
It would be gone a year later. 
She would wake up with it all over her pillow after a night of sleeping. 
Brushing it was out of the question. 
It would make her cry. 
It would make me cry for her. 
I collected some of it as it fell out. 
It's tucked away into an old cigar box on a bookcase in the kitchen. 
I call it her "first" hair. 
Chemo caused her hair to fall out three different times. 

Her oncologist said having hair loss twice during 2 years of chemo wasn't rare. 
But three times. 
Doesn't happen too much. 

But, our girl was special so I guess her head needed that "3rd times the charm"

She hasn't wanted a haircut since it's grown back. 
Her doctor wasn't sure if it would grow past her shoulders. 
Sometimes it just stops there if you've had low dose cranial radiation. 
But, her "new" hair defied those odds and has grown to what her "first" hair's length was. 
Her "new" hair is also darker than her "first" hair. 
When your hair falls out from chemotherapy it has the chance of growing in a different color. 
It may be curly when it had been straight before. 
All Zoe hoped for was NOT to have blonde hair like her sister. 
She ended up having "new" hair that was darker in color with natural golden highlights. 

Today we had an appointment at my hair salon. 
Another mom from school cuts my hair at a chic little salon downtown. 
I got my hair cut and Zoe was scheduled for a trim. 
She didn't want layers. 
Nothing too drastic. 
Just an inch off of the ends. 
And blue. 
She wanted it dyed blue. 

So, at 10 am she got her "new" hair cut and colored for the first time. 
And she was beaming. 
And inside I was doing cartwheels for her. 

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

A Day At The Zoo

I took the girls to St. Louis today.
We went to the zoo. 
We try to drive to this zoo a few times a year. 
It's closer for us than Chicago zoos. 
They have a new polar bear and a new exhibit space for him. 
He's from Alaska and is little over two years of age.  
They have named him Kali. 
Here's his bio from the zoo's website...

The first occupant of this exhibit is Kali (pronounced "Cully”), a 2 ½ year-old, 850-pound male polar bear that was orphaned in Alaska. In March 2013, the orphaned bear was turned over to U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) by an Alaska Native hunter who killed Kali’s mother in a subsistence hunt without realizing the mother had a cub. USFWS determined that St. Louis would be the bear’s permanent home, working with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Polar Bear Species Survival Plan (SSP)

He seemed to love chomping on his ice. 
While I love zoos, I also feel a bit sad that some of these animals never see the wild. 
But, most have been born into captivity and know nothing else. 
As climate change is hurting the polar bear population, this new home should be a safe and secure place for this young polar bear. 
I hope he is the start of a great legacy. 

We also saw some happy chimps. 
They kissed. 
Just a peck. 

The girls conversed with a bird. 
I think it's a cormorant. 

And I saw a scene straight out of a Serengeti stock film. 

Monday, August 24, 2015

Bone Collectors

Since our home is surrounded by the woods, we have an abundance of wildlife existing near us. 
White tailed deer. 
Brown squirrels. 
And with each mammal that traverses through our woodland backyard, death comes. 
And my kids always seem to find the remains. 
Well, sometimes my husband and I find them and yell out "Oh my gosh, I just found an awesome skull!"
And the kids coming running to collect the find. 
We have quite a stockpile. 

Most of the bones are kept outside. 
But a few small ones are in the house. 
Some rodent-like skull resides in my dining room next to a humongous deer antler. 
And something's hips. 
So weird. 

The garage has a wire basket full of bones. 
My friend from high school, Julie, has two boys who are just as in love with bones as my two girls are. 
We have given them specimens from our collection in the past. 
You would have thought we had given them a new iPad from the excitement that came from them when they took their skulls home. 

We have teeth...

The random tibia and femur. 
This one kind of looks human. 
Let's hope it ain't. 

I tell you though, I'll take bones any day over a rotting carcass. 
We had to endure the stench of a dead deer a few years ago. 
It was in the woods to the right of our driveway and we had to pass the smell everyday when we went to get the mail. 
And then the damn dogs decided to bring the rotting head to us one HOT summer day when we were splashing in the pool. 
The stink and the screams are embedded into my senses and brain for an eternity. 
Thanks dogs. 

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Going Gold

We go GOLD in September at our house. 
To honor children and to bring awareness for the cause that tore into our lives 5 years ago. 
It will be 5 years on September 7th that our daughter was diagnosed with childhood cancer, leukemia. 

Childhood leukemia is different than adult onset leukemia. 
Childhood leukemia is acute. 
It happens out of nowhere and can kill quickly. 
If our daughter wasn't diagnosed in the time frame that she was, she would have probably died within two or three more weeks. 
Childhood cancers are the #1 disease killers of children in the U.S.  
Childhood cancers aren't one disease. 
They are many. 
Brain tumors. 
Bone cancers. 
Eye cancers. 
Soft tissue cancers. 
The list goes on unfortunately. 
And childhood cancers get the least amount of federal funding. 
Because it's rare. 
Tell that to the thousands of families affected each year. 
The American Cancer Society likes to show pictures of bald children in their ads, but they only give 1 cent for every $1 donated to childhood cancer research. 
Their CEO makes more than they help kids with cancer. 
Children who die from cancer can lose 70 or more years of life. 
Never getting to see their futures. 
They haven't contributed to their disease by smoking or poor lifestyle choices. 
They are just unlucky. 
And they deserve better research. 
Childhood cancers have only had two new drugs made specifically for their growing bodies in the last 30 years. 
Instead, they are given watered down versions of adult drugs. 
So, we help spread awareness. 
With our gold ribbons. 

With our license plate campaign in Illinois.

We donate to research that matters.  
To help fight these diseases. 
Because we know other children aren't as lucky as our child has been.