Posts tagged ‘Mike’

Is She Mixed?

We took a short trip to a nearby park tonight for a little jogging. Mike and I switched off watching Mae while the other one ran laps around the playground, trying not to inhale the fumes coming from the teens smoking pot in their car just a few feet away. Got to love city parks in the suburbs.

Anyway, I took my turn (yes, I’m back to jogging!) and then traded off with Mike. As I was watching Mae, there were four other kids on the playground, all siblings, and all mixed-race, playing alongside her. Their ages ranged from probably 9 to 4, and they were like any other kids:  extremely friendly. After I busted out the bubbles, I suddenly wasn’t a complete stranger and began fielding questions like where I lived and what I ordered at Golden Corral. We were buddies.

As familiarly set in over a few minutes, the oldest sister, 8, point-blank asked me, “Why is she mixed?” I wrinkled my face for a second, amazed at such a blunt question. She then stared up and down at me, then looked across the field at Mike, and then narrowed her eyes back on me to show the origin of her question. “Why is she mixed?

I suddenly realized she had 1) noticed Mae is biracial and 2) noticed Mike nor I are black. I casually explained we had adopted her, and after she needed more explanation, I told her that her birth mother was my color and that her birth father was dark… so that’s why she was mixed. That answer seemed to appease her.

She walked away as if it was nothing, but the conversation stuck with me. For over a year, we’ve been waiting for the questions and funny looks while we go out in public, but we’ve not received even one awkward glance. I don’t know if it’s because summer is coming and she’s getting darker or because her beautiful curly locks are staring to really fill in (or as I like to say, “fro out”) – but it’s becoming obvious that we are a family of two white parents and a mixed little girl. And I love it that the kids, so innocent and curious, are the ones bringing it up.

I couldn’t have ever imagined that the short trip to the park for a little jogging tonight would have become such a big day in our adoption story for me,  but I cherish the questions I was asked by fellow mixed kids who noticed my daughter was “one of them.” I’m thankful for the strides that have been made to where we’ve not received rudeness at any level, but only openness and acceptance of our differences. And what I love the most is that I’m fielding the questions not from rude adults turning their noses up, but from an innocent, beautiful mixed little girl who sees someone else like her and speaks openly about it. Progress I’d say, progress indeed.

April 17, 2012 at 9:47 pm 2 comments

SemiColon Props: Cake Wrecks Blog

My husband forwarded me a link to this blog the other day – Cake Wrecks

Because CAKE is one of my absolute favorite foods, I found it especially interesting. I then spent the next fifteen minutes laughing out loud as I looked through months of former posts.

Professional cakes gone wrong. Simply hilarious.

Especially this post they did on poo.

Which is why this one gets a SemiColon Props. You HAVE to check this out:

Here’s a preview:

 

 

October 22, 2010 at 11:04 pm Leave a comment

Accepting Infertility

I’ve pushed this post away for a long time. While it’s no secret to many who know me that infertility is an issue I face as a result of my cancer treatment, I think the layers involved surprise us all. I tell my story for a few reasons:
– writing is healing
– others out there will be facing the same thing too
– there is a Peace that passes all understanding available to all

The story starts here. I woke up, somewhat foggy, to my parents gazing over me in my hospital bed. Although I didn’t expect to hear that doctors had found cancer again, the look in my parents’ faces wasn’t too convincing. The good news was that indeed, no cancer had been found on this second surgery that suspended my ovaries into my abdomen. The bad news was that the surgery itself, performed to save my hormone function before radiation, had just made me medically sterile.

My mom looked like she had seen a ghost. My dad looked so guilty. All the while the doctor reminded them that this was a life or death situation – she had to focus on saving my life at that point. My ability to create future lives was null. They were upset, but as they broke the news to me, my 17-year-old self wasn’t bothered. I was happy to be alive, and parenthood was so far off my radar. I figured that it was one less hurdle I’d have to deal with.

I lived with this perspective for many, many years. Even when I got married, Mike had been with me through all of this and was supportive. We knew what we were getting into (or not getting into) as we tied the knot and discussed family planning. We saw our situation as special and unique. We felt invincible. I was thankful for a testimony and a story of survival. We’d tell people that we were planning to adopt one day when asked about kids. We “high-fived” over the fact that I’d never have to be pregnant. It was our special treat, all until it started to hit me one day.

Whether someone has faced infertility because of cancer or not because of cancer, the emotions are the same – they just come at different times. As we started to research options for adoption a few years after we were married, I took notice of how many agencies addressed the emotions tied to infertility at the beginning of their orientation meetings. Early into the process, I would shrug it off and feel so thankful (and unfortunately prideful) that I didn’t have to go through the pain of infertility – the feelings of mourning, loss, depression, jealousy, and oh so many other monsters. I knew early on that I was infertile, we skipped the years of trying with no result. But as the years have gone on, our personal family tree has grown, and many friends have maxed out our church nursery’s capacity, I’ve begun to understand the stories I once saw on those adoption orientation videos. I am no different. My invincibility has slowly slipped away. I’ve realized that nobody who faces infertility is immune to what comes with it.

As our journey to parenthood has become something that we really consider and start to want, we’ve had to face some big issues. I’ve had to drop my pride and acknowledge that I do feel the sadness and grief when it comes to this issue. While I’m not particularly devastated that I can’t carry my own child physically, I do get sad sometimes when I think about how we’ll miss out on the experience in general. The “she looks like you,” or “when are you due?” or “feel him kicking here,” comments will never be guided our way. And while in complete honesty that IS hard on some days, I have come to find one thing that helps.

Sinners become free when they accept Jesus and recognize their sin. Alcoholics become sober when they recognize their addition. And as an infertile woman, I’ve found so much healing in identifying and recognizing one big word: LOSS. For so many years, I’ve tried to be Super Woman and let all things bounce off me. And in a way, you have to do that if you’re going to get through surgeries, treatments, scopes, scans, and more surgeries. I thought it worked the same way with emotional issues such as infertility. But I’ve thought wrong. I can’t be bullet proof toward everything.

I’ve finally come to terms and accepted that I feel loss over this issue. A loss that isn’t only mine, as I know that our families have to feel some of this loss too. And while it is sad, it is hard sometimes, and it’s downright frustrating, accepting our situation has helped me start to pick my head up and look forward to what’s ahead. We do have the opportunity for a very unique path to parenthood. I don’t have to go through a physical pregnancy to become a parent. And in the meantime until that day does come, I get to be Aunt B to so many kiddos who touch my life in such special ways.

I share my story not to gain pity nor admiration, but to be honest with one of the deepest-level issues that my cancer has touched. I don’t talk about it much in person because it’s hard to know what to say. It’s not like someone has actually died, yet in a way the emotions are still the same. Plus, the last thing you want as an infertile person is to make a fertile person feel guilty. And while that seems silly, it’s more common than not.

I can’t really tie this up with a pretty bow and say that the issue is dealt with, and I face it no more. But I do share that I’ve come through the phases of indifference, then denial, then mourning, then jealousy, then bitterness, then sadness, then accepting the loss, and now to looking forward to what’s ahead once again. I know that at any point I might jump back into a former phase and have to work through it all again. And while it’s a battle that I continue to face, I know that just like the scar running down my abdomen, the pain associated with it will fade over time.

God’s got big plans for us. I know that with all of my heart. And while some days might be an emotional bump in the road, I still hang on to the knowledge that all of this is part of His perfect plan and has happened for a reason. One day, this will all make perfect sense, and I wouldn’t have had it any other way.

 
A quick answer to questions I am asked often:
– Yes, we COULD TRY TO have our own biological children if we chose extensive infertility treatments. We’re uncomfortable with this high-risk, pricey option and have always planned to look into adoption.
– Yes, I still have a period. Moving the ovaries up saved the function, just made the natural path of the egg longer, thus making it (near) impossible to conceive naturally. The surgery was successful in moving the hormones. No, the surgery cannot be reversed, and if it did, it would be more extensive than trying to extract the eggs would be.
– This was almost 10 years ago. Now, many doctors encourage young patients to preserve eggs before treatment. I think enough awareness of survivors losing fertility post-treatment has helped people now facing similar situations. I would recommend to anyone who is younger and of child-bearing age to consider preserving eggs/sperm before treatments. You don’t have to, and search your heart and what you feel about it. But – I recommend at least exploring the options and being confident in a decision you make – not a decision that is made for you.

October 16, 2010 at 11:03 pm 2 comments

The Joy of Cooking. Fried Chicken.

Last week, I came home to a big surprise. Laying on the bathroom counter was a thick, crisp cookbook. I didn’t give it much thought at first, thinking my husband had borrowed it from his mom, who’s a FACS teacher, and left it on the bathroom counter after some “leisurely reading.” Looking back, I realize this makes no sense, however, in the moment that’s what I thought.

But, after a few minutes I realized that this brand new book positioned in a spot that I would quickly visit once I got home was a surprise gift for me. Cooking is something that I enjoy but do not do enough. I also happen to LOVE reading through cookbooks. So, to help bring some “joy” back into my life, he went out and bought me “The Joy of Cooking.” He’s clever, I know. I was honored that he went out of his way to bring me a creative gift to help bring some pep back into my step.

I immediately started thumbing through the book and a recipe for extra crispy fried chicken caught my semicolon eye. Now normally, I avoid fried foods at all costs, and especially fried chicken. But something sounded particularly delicious about this meal on that evening, and so I decided to go for it. I didn’t have anywhere to be later that night, we nor the following morning – so I was in the clear to let it all … clear. Plus, we were looking for a really fun date night idea.

The following pictures show the cooking extravaganza that followed. We didn’t stop at the chicken, we added homemade biscuits, mashed cauliflower and zucchini gratin to the mix as well. And I do have to say, it was an absolute blast.

A note and disclaimer: I still stand by my decision to prepare and make this meal at home. In the future, I intend to stick with my plan of eating a meal that resembles anything like this at home for, er, obvious reasons.

Another quick note: I know fried foods are bad for you. But it was really fun to let loose for just one night. I tried to make up points with the (organic) mashed cauliflower, though. Just ignore the half-and-half that made them fluffy.

July 8, 2010 at 11:15 pm 4 comments

Wider Eyed

You ever get so wrapped up into something that you forget what life was like before the madness hit? I do.

The temptation to become so narrow-focused in the current situation comes on strong. It’s all too easy to lose sight of who I really am and what I’m all about. It’s hard to remember that life was going on before the madness hit, and that life is continuing as I wade through it.

Whether I’m in the midst of fighting cancer or dealing with an intense workload – it happens.

But I must remember that the world is still turning. I need to widen my view and remember there are things happening outside of my madness. There are other people with issues, causes and situations just as big as mine. I had a life before, and I will have one after. And actually – if I allow myself, I can have one in it’s midst.

Reminders to me that the world is still turning …

Oh my husband. We celebrated five years of being married earlier this month. He’s a ton of fun, and such a gem.

Oh this precious thing. I’m finding that being around kids can help take your mind off of some of life’s heavy stuff. Of course I realize I’m saying that as the friend and “cool Aunt B” and not a parent.

My green thumb is a growing! Here’s bean, along with his friends Tom, Pep and Zuc. I do my part and water, God does his and makes it grow.

Warning: spotlight sharing
I realize there are other issues in the world besides colon cancer. My friend Amy is passionate about one of them: Liberia. We traveled to Carbondale, IL to view the first showing of the documentary “Rainbow Town” her and her team help put together about a Liberian orphanage. You should check it out, it’s awesome.

June 8, 2010 at 1:20 pm Leave a comment

This guy…

Helped save my life. He told me to go to the doctor when my 17-year-old self wanted to ignore a “little” blood in the stool.

He’s been my caregiver, my support, my protector and my provider. He’s always made sure I have insurance. But more than that, he makes sure I smile. He loves to surprise me. And he tells me that the scar down my stomach is sexy.

I love him very much. I’m glad he’s mine. For the past five years, and many more to come, I’m glad I get to keep living life as his bride.

Five years married ... and counting.

*** Enjoy the “sneak peek” pic from a photo session with our friends at Fantasma Imagery! More to come!

May 8, 2010 at 9:29 am 1 comment

My Personal 9/11

Some days you never forget. Just about everyone can tell you where they were during 9/11. I distinctly remember Columbine. And my dad still tells stories of JFK’s shooting. Today is not a day that is remembered by our nation, but it is a day that’s significant for me and my family. It’s one of those days where no matter how many years go by, I will always remember where I was and what happened nine years ago.

My story actually begins at the library. I worked at the public library near my house as a “page” which meant I had the glorified job of arranging books on a cart and then reshelving them. It was a great job with flexible hours, decent pay and amazing coworkers. It was a Tuesday night. I was with my friends (we called ourselves “The A Team”, ) and we were excited this evening because we had the special job of  moving the tables and chairs in the childrens’ book area for a speaker. We loved when speakers came. We’d spend at least 30 minutes on unique arrangements for the chairs and table stacking patterns.  Anything that could take up extra time, we tried.

As much as I was trying to have fun with our furniture arranging on this evening, I wasn’t feeling it. I was expecting a phone call, and my mind couldn’t stay focused. I couldn’t shake a feeling that something was off. As we finished setting up for the program, I looked up to see my mom & dad coming through the doors. I was surprised to see them since I had two hours of work left. Something was strange though. Their faces verified my anxious feelings. Plus, they looked like death. They met me in the childrens’ area and began to deliver the news.

“We got a call from Dr. T’s office today,” my dad said. “Your mass they found was malignant.”

Dad and Mom looked at me with somber faces, pursed their lips, and anticipated my response. As they began to reach in for instant comfort, the reality that I was a little too young for the disease set in as I asked,

“Malignant? What does that mean?”

They got an even sadder look on their faces.

“It means it’s cancer honey,” Mom said. “Your tumor is cancerous.”

As soon as Mom explained that malignant meant cancer, I felt a heaviness that hasn’t ever completely lifted. I’m sure I began asking many questions they couldn’t answer. We made our way toward the front of the library for my coat and stopped by to tell my boss that I’d be gone for a while. She gave me a big hug and told me not to worry about a thing.

The rest of the evening is a blur, except I remember telling my brother, calling Mike who was at SBU, and having Nick come over to pray with my family that evening. I knew nothing about cancer, except that the only man I knew who had it, died.  I knew I should have felt scared, but didn’t fully understand. I wasn’t crying, I wasn’t sure I was upset. I was just numb and confused about what this all meant. At 17, I didn’t have a lot of experience with the disease, nor did I understand its repurcussions. All I knew was that life would be different.

One thing I remember telling Nick that evening was that I was thankful for the opportunity to spice up my testimony. I had always felt I had such a vanilla story of knowing Jesus. I was raised in the church, so my journey was so typical up until then, or so I felt. But this night, when the cancer bomb dropped, I knew my story had changed. While I was unaware of the physical and mental changes, I definitely knew that part of this new diagnosis was spiritual. And my teenage faith automatically put me into the “God’s got a purpose” for this mode that night.

Today I enter my ninth year as a cancer survivor, and I am reminded by my own words back then. No matter what comes – whether it’s a third diagnosis, a complete colon removal, a rough day with olive oil, losing a friend, or just a challenging emotional day, my prayer is that I forever hang on to my own teenage advice and remember God’s got a plan for all of this – and I have to trust that.

2Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. 4Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.  James 1:2-4

January 23, 2010 at 9:58 pm 3 comments

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