Archive | August, 2013

Pacific Coast Highway Road Trip: Santa Cruz, Monterey, Carmel-by-the-Sea and Big Sur

31 Aug

[Continued from Pacific Coast Highway Road Trip: San Francisco]

After an awful breakfast at this fake Jewish deli, David’s on Geary Street, across the street from our hotel, Hotel Monaco, we retrieved our sweet, silver Toyota Camry from valet and hit the road.  Just not exactly the right road.  I mean, the road we were on would have technically lead us to our first stop of the day, but singing along in the car…you the hottest bitch in this place…while sipping on my grande, skim, two-pump white mocha, no whip (which I had to stop for, because the fake Jewish deli didn’t even have skim milk!), I suddenly realized my iPhone was sending us to Santa Cruz via an inland highway…what rhymes with hug me?

Wait, STOP!  The whole point of this trip was to drive the Pacific Coast Highway, and that is not what we were doing.  I had a quick conversation with myself rationalizing that we could just stick to the shortest route there and pick up the Highway in Santa Cruz or figure out how to get over there STAT.  I admitted to Chip what I had done, and we both decided we had to find the coastal route, so we re-routed ourselves there by way of Half Moon Bay.  Chip and I had driven from San Francisco to Half Moon Bay several years ago after a trip to Napa, to visit my childhood friend, Melinda, who was the Spa Director at the Ritz-Carlton at the time, so we gave ourselves a pass for missing that portion of the Highway this time.

After reaching Half Moon Bay, we picked up California State Route 1, and I was so, so glad we did, because we passed by some beautiful nurseries with gorgeous flowers, Christmas tree farms and all of these rolling pastures filled with cows.  It was hard for me to wrap my head around the fact I was seeing cows grazing in a pasture WITH the Pacific Ocean on the horizon.  Did these cows have any idea how lucky they were to be there instead of a pasture on the side of Charles Barnett Road in Panola County?   But hey, nothing against Panola County as my parents have a little cabin in the woods there.  I’m just saying these cows had probably never had a sinus infection a day in their life, because they had the privilege of smelling that healing, salty air every single day.

We had decided to stop in Santa Cruz for one reason and one reason only and that was to see the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk.  What a surreal experience to hear seals barking, waves crashing and music from the 1918 Wurlitzer 165 band organ at the carousel all at the same time.  We walked around for awhile just soaking it all in and people watching.  Oh, how I love watching people walking around drinking their favorite flavor ICEE out of a two-foot tall phallic-looking plastic cup.  I always like to imagine them trying to fit it in their dishwasher or kitchen cabinet when they get back home.  But it had seemed like such a great investment of their $14 at the time!

old-man

I am not much of a “rides” kind of person.  I have always been afraid of heights and a bit skeptical of the safety standards of rides at any place other than Disney World.  I prefer to get my thrills by ordering the chef’s tasting menu with wine pairings at a nice restaurant and not knowing what I am about to eat next.  Chip was indifferent on riding anything, so we had decided to just get back on the road, but on our walk back through the Boardwalk, there was this one ride that kept tugging at me–The Giant Dipper.

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The Giant Dipper is this wooden roller coaster built in 1924 and is a National Historic Landmark.  Seizing the moment before I changed my mind, Chip bought 12 tickets from the closest ticket booth, and we got in line.  As we were crawling into our seat, I turned to Chip and asked him if I was going to die.  He said, “Yes, you are going to be the one person out of 12 who dies on this ride right now.”  The lap bar locked into place.  I had my eyes closed so tight and my heart was racing as we started to climb that first hill and then suddenly…WOOSH…off we went.  I could barely catch my breath before we would tear down the next hill or jerkily round the next turn.  And then, just like that, it was done.  I had tears streaming down my face from laughing so hard.  Riding that roller coaster was the most alive I have felt since Crosby was born.  I dare you to ride a roller coaster with the wind ripping through your hair at 55 mph and not be present in that moment.  It. was. awesome.

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I treated myself to a bag of cotton candy, we hopped in the car and continued our drive to Monterey.  On our way, we passed acres and acres of fields filled with artichokes, avocados, strawberries, blueberries and migrant workers.  I had never seen an artichoke plant or avocado tree in my life.  We passed by roadside stands selling seven artichokes or avocados for a $1.  $1?!?  Damn, Whole Foods is raping us!   I wish I could have filled my suitcase full and brought some of that fresh produce home with me.

Monterey is best known for the Monterey Bay Aquarium and First Awakenings for breakfast, but neither of us had any interest in visiting the aquarium, and it was already mid-day, so we simply stopped for sandwiches for lunch and to hit an ATM machine, because between the two of us, we only had $7 cash and knew we needed $9.50 for the toll for the 17-Mile Drive up ahead.

The 17-Mile Drive is a scenic loop through Pacific Grove and Pebble Beach largely hugging the Pacific Coast line.  The 17-Mile Drive has four primary entrances, and we entered at Pacific Grove.  We passed Spyglass golf course, beautiful Spanish-style mansions, and other scenic attractions such as the Lone Cypress, the official symbol of Pebble Beach Golf Links.

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Since I am not a golfer, I shall refrain from writing about Pebble Beach because I wouldn’t do it justice, but I do know it’s the holy MFing grail of golf courses and Chip was very excited to be there, so I’ll just leave it at that.  Due to our trip incidentally coinciding with the 63rd annual Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, we were unable to find a place to park at The Lodge that day, so we returned the following morning and dropped a jaw dropping amount on a jaw dropping minuscule amount of logo’d paraphernalia, but Chip and Joe ARE going to look pretty cute in their matching sweat shirts this winter.

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I am not exactly a car person either. I have had my driver’s license for 23 years now and have only owned three cars–a Honda Civic named “Peanut” which had no power steering or windows, a Ford Explorer named “Scout” and now a soul-sucking, kid-friendly Subaru Outback swagger wagon–so I shall also refrain from writing about the Concours d’Elegance, but every road and every parking lot was filled with either luxury antique or sports cars.  Did I even get that right??

cars

We exited the 17-Mile Drive in Carmel-by-the-Sea and drove around for a bit.  OMG.  What an adorable little town!  Carmel was a mix of downtown Greenwich, Connecticut and the Monteagle Sunday School Assembly in Tennessee.  We stopped at Mission Ranch, this old 1800s ranch restored by Carmel resident and former Mayor, Clint Eastwood.  I have kind of had an old man crush on Clint Eastwood since I saw him in that chick flick, Bridges of Madison County, ages ago.  We found a place to sit outside, but it was early yet for dinner.  The view of the old farmhouses and sheep grazing on the property against the backdrop of the Pacific Ocean was so breathtaking and relaxing, we decided to at least stay for a drink.

While we were waiting, I slipped my shoes off, kicked my feet back and forth on the cool grass and imagined that scene from the movie where Meryl Streep had gone into town with her husband and she saw Clint Eastwood’s truck and he sees her and he gets out and just stands there in the pouring rain while the thunder is clapping but then her husband comes back and they all drive off and then they get behind Clint in that old GMC at the stop sign and he hangs the cross necklace she gave him up on his rearview mirror and she has her hand on the door handle just gripping it trying to decide if she should jump out of the truck to go be with him or not, and then our grilled artichoke and two glasses of wine arrived.

As the sun was going down, we made the drive from Carmel to our final destination of the day, Big Sur.  Wow.  Words cannot even describe the beauty of the Pacific Coast along that stretch of California Route 1.  Each turn delivered a breath-taking view of the ocean crashing against the side of the Santa Lucia Mountains.  We understood then that particular portion of the drive was exactly why we had made the trip.  It also made sense to me why every travel guide insisted upon driving the Pacific Coast Highway from North to South.  Other than the South simply being better than the North at least from an East Coast perspective, the folks driving from South to North were on the inside of the highway and could not easily pull over at the many lookout points along the way.

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We were exhausted and starving once we arrived in Big Sur, so we drove directly to Nepenthe for dinner before checking into our hotel, Ventana Inn & Spa.

dinner

We quickly learned that Big Sur isn’t exactly known for its expert culinary skills at the sparse dining establishments.  The views at Nepenthe and Post Ranch Inn were inspiring but the food itself was underwhelming and ridiculously priced.  We had dinner one night at the restaurant at Ventana, and one of the courses brought to me was so disjointed it was as if someone had handed the chef a basket of mystery ingredients like it was the second round of Chopped.

The most notable meal from our two days spent in the Big Sur region was breakfast one morning at Katy’s Place in Carmel.  It’s a cash only establishment located in the heart of Carmel Village.  I have to give notable mention to the Juevos Rancheros Chip ordered.  The eggs were simmered in fresh salsa, served over what tasted like homemade corn tortillas and topped with a perfectly ripened avocado and sour cream.  I may never order that dish again as it would most certainly be a letdown after savoring this particular version.  My silver dollar pancakes, bacon and poached egged over toasted sour dough was also worth the gluten-induced coma I was in the remainder of that day which was probably best since we just spent the afternoon at the clothing optional pool at Ventana.

Photo not attached and to be continued…

– Sheila

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Pacific Coast Highway Road Trip: San Francisco

22 Aug

This summer we have been fortunate to have taken several fun weekend trips with the kids, but Chip and I really wanted to take a longer trip together. Just the two of us. We plan our lives in six week increments–from one set of scans to the next–so we had identified and penciled in a week in August for us to travel if we could. Don’t get me wrong, our calendar is chock full of weddings, birthday parties, work trips, etc., but we don’t pull the trigger on booking flights, renting cars, arranging logistics for the kids, or requesting time off from work until we have passed our next set of scans. That’s not a complaint, just our reality. If scans go well, then we know we can set in motion our next six weeks of living. If not, we remain on stand-by to search for the next best treatment option for Chip wherever that may be.

As I have said before, I am a planner, a professional scheduler, so while this adjustment was initially jarring to my little system, it’s now quite liberating to not have to commit to anything so far out. In the past, I would look at our often fully booked calendar and feel suffocated by the fact we were fully committed for the next couple of months, but now? Well, our calendar still looks exactly the same but maybe we’ll be there, maybe we won’t, and I kind of like having that freedom now. As I have discovered with much of life, you just have to tweak your mindset a bit in order to find that silver lining I am always reaching for.

Two summers ago, Lady Linda and Joe Boyd drove up from Mississippi to keep Joe for the week for us. Initially, our intention was to either drive the Amalfi Coast in Italy or drive the Pacific Coast Highway in Central California. The itch to travel has always run deep in my veins, but our honeymoon to Greece was the first time Chip had ever traveled abroad. Chip couldn’t stand the thought of being so far away from Joe, who was only 1 1/2 years old at the time. Mind you when Joe was 14 months old, I spent two weeks in Mali and Tanzania, Africa traveling with my parents. Being fully respectful of Chip, we ended up spending a week in Georgia at Sea Island and visiting with our friends Berkley and David in Savannah on our drive back home. Even though it wasn’t originally what we had in mind, it was still an amazing and relaxing week. And we escaped the infamous D.C. earthquake! My poor parents really received the shock of their lives that day though. Literally.

When we decided we wanted to try to take another trip together this summer, we revisited our two “drive” itineraries from that summer. We both really wanted to go to Italy, but as adventurous as I am, neither of us felt comfortable leaving the States. At least in California, we had access to U.S. doctors and hospitals if we needed them plus had several friends up and down the coast which, subconsciously, was a huge source of comfort to me if something happened.

Chip’s previous set of scans performed seven weeks ago didn’t show the drastic improvement his first set of scans on his trial drug, LDK, had shown. Our friend Clete accompanied Chip on this particular overnight trip, and Clete’s wife, Ginny, spent the night with the kids and me. That set of scans showed all tumors were stable but this new “cloudiness” had appeared in one of Chip’s lungs. The staff at Fox Chase weren’t quite sure what that cloudiness was either. It could have been one of three things: a normal upper respiratory infection, pneumonitis (which is pneumonia-like symptoms and a common side effect of lung cancer treatments), or a spread of the disease. If Chip had contracted pneumonitis on Xalkori, his first treatment, he would have been permanently pulled from the drug. But on this trial, they would temporarily suspend the drug, treat the symptoms with steroids, and resume the treatment. Not ideal but something we could handle. The oncologist wanted to watch things and instructed Chip to return to Philadelphia immediately if he developed a bad cough or started to experience any shortness of breath. The results weren’t exactly bad but not exactly what we had hoped for either. It took us a couple of days to re-calibrate our expectations, but overall, we decided we were generally pleased with his progress.

Two weeks later, the weekend we spent as a family at Nemacolin, Chip developed this nasty cough. Let me tell you, your mind can race to some dark, dark places when you are instructed to “watch things” and then this happens. The entire family had been passing a cold and cough around so I knew it could just be that, but still, for the first time in two months, I became really scared. I mean, really. After we returned home that Sunday, I broke down that night. Sobbed like I hadn’t sobbed in months. We were already scheduled to go to Philadelphia that week for a day appointment we have every alternating six weeks, so we e-mailed our oncologist’s nurse, and she moved our appointment up and scheduled a chest x-ray for Chip.

We dropped the kids off at daycare early that morning and began our drive up. We were both anxious but in our typical style, also calm and most importantly, together. At our appointment, we began to tell the oncologist’s nurse the cough had been quite productive as they politely say in the industry. I guess “productive” is better than “coughing shit up.” We also told her Chip had been feeling quite well, had great energy and stamina, had been playing golf, swimming, doing yard work, etc., etc. Imagine our shock when she was relieved to learn it was a wet cough full of mucus! THAT was a good thing. A dry cough and steadily decreasing energy would have most likely indicated pneumonitis or a spread of the disease, and nothing abnormal showed up on the chest x-ray, so she congratulated us on having a chest cold and cough and prescribed good ol’ OTC Robitussin DM and sent us on our way. But before we left, I got up enough nerve to ask her if she thought we were in good enough shape to try to take a week-long trip in one month. She said yes as long as there were no surprises at our next set of scans scheduled in three weeks.

To say that we were giddy on our drive back home that afternoon is an understatement. So giddy that Chip took a wrong turn on our way home, which set us back about two hours. Asshole. By the way, did you know that even if your husband has stage IV lung cancer, he can still be an asshole? It’s true. It took me several weeks after Chip was diagnosed to realize that we could still be authentic in our marriage. I could still be a bitch, he could still get his own glass of water, we could still exchange knowing looks and talk to each other without ever having to say a word, we could still be mad at each other, we could still love each other passionately, he could still take out the trash, we could still stream Netflix and snuggle on the couch, we could still do all kinds of normal people things together. It was such relief to me when I figured that one out.

I had exactly four weeks to book flights for my parents to come up and plan a week-long trip in California–all while trying to finish up my job in the Senator’s office, train the new scheduler, and get myself somewhat settled in my new office. Oh, and Chip’s parents came up one weekend so we could travel to Chicago for work. Well, work for Chip but pleasure for me as I got to spend the weekend playing with one of my best friends from home, Charlotte. I usually savor the months leading up to a trip, because I find planning the trip to be nearly as exciting as taking the trip itself, but I just had to make do this time. I ordered a couple of books on Amazon, banged out a few e-mails to friends in the area or who had taken a similar trip for recommendations and would sit up at night, after everyone went to bed, on the Internet reading various reviews on different routes, hotels and restaurants. It may not have been my best work to date, but I thought I had crafted a pretty decent itinerary for us.

Lady Linda flew in the day before we were next due in Philadelphia for an overnight stay for our MRI and CT scan, scheduled bright and early the following morning. One of the great parts about being on a trial is you receive your test results within hours. We were euphoric to learn both scans revealed everything was stable. Boom! While we waited on his labs to come back and for our next round of meds from the pharmacy, we started texting our parents and e-mailing our friends with the great news and salivating at the thought of this amazing truffle and poached egg brick-oven pizza we always eat from this pizzeria called Stella’s, which has become a post-scan tradition of ours.

It seemed to be taking longer than normal, and we were both getting antsy and pretty hungry since Chip can’t eat anything after midnight pre-early morning scans. As nice as all of our nurses are, busting our way out of the double doors of Fox Chase Cancer Center is pretty damn exciting. A couple minutes later, the drug trial protocol nurse came in and informed us Chip’s liver enzyme levels had spiked and were high enough for them to have to temporarily suspend him from the trial again. Fuck! I was dizzy. She truly seemed as disappointed to deliver the news to us as we were to have received it. She immediately said she and the oncologist had discussed our upcoming trip, and they both really wanted us to go, so they had made a decision to go ahead and send us home with our next 21-day supply of chemo along with four prescriptions for blood work to be performed twice a week until the liver enzyme levels had gone down enough in order for Chip to resume the trial. Fuckity, fuckity, fuck. They were really working hard with us to help us maintain our quality of life, which we appreciated, the pizza was still delicious AND we could still go on our trip–but up and down, up and down the roller coaster we sure rode that day.

The day after we got home, Chip made a road trip with a friend down to Myrtle Beach for the weekend for another friend’s bachelor party. Chip doesn’t drink much anymore as alcohol turns into sugar, but considering he has a tumor on his liver and has now been pulled from the trial twice due to elevated liver enzyme levels, he really, really couldn’t afford to drink on this trip. Spending three days at the beach and on the golf course with your buddies sans alcohol isn’t exactly the easiest thing to do, but not being one to miss out, Chip still played flip cup and beer pong with water, so he was well hydrated by the time he returned home that Monday night.

The following day, as prescribed, Chip had blood work drawn locally. It would take 24 hours for the results to come back, which placed us in San Francisco at the airport standing in line for our rental car the next day when Chip received a call from our protocol nurse at Fox Chase with the news his enzyme levels had lowered enough for us to resume the trial. PTL and hallelujah!! He had only been off chemo for seven days, and we didn’t have to find random labs on our vacation. I immediately installed the In-N-Out Burger app on my iPhone, and luckily, there was one located less than a mile from the SFO exit. Maybe it was the good news or the fact we were finally on our trip that made it taste so good, but that cheeseburger, served up animal-style, with a side of home-cut fries and a vanilla milkshake, was pretty damn amazing. We would end up chasing that food high for the rest of our trip.

Since we had already done San Francisco together several years earlier and this trip was intended to be a scenic one, we crossed over the Golden Gate Bridge and headed straight to Muir Woods.

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The drive up was quite steep and full of switchbacks, which Chip was just flying around as a boy from the Mt. Washington Valley could, but this girl from the Delta was about to have a heart attack. Much to Chip’s amusement, I was holding on to the door handle with one hand and the dashboard with the other while I leaned toward the center of the car with all of my might thinking that would help keep our car from toppling off the side of the mountain.

I had been to Muir Woods years ago but being quite honest, was too hungover at the time to enjoy it, so I was glad to be back–and out of the car! In the parking lot, we popped the trunk and dug our socks and tennis shoes out of our suitcases. I noticed that folks around us had walking sticks, cargo shorts and camel packs on and considering all the National Monument’s trails are either paved or covered with wooden planks, I made fun of their unnecessary aggressiveness. Damn American tourists with all of their fancy gadgetry.

Chip and I very much enjoyed our walk marveling at the beauty and height of the redwoods. The temperature was perfect as we were shaded by a canopy from the trees. On our walk, we were constantly surprised and awed by pockets of sunbeams periodically peering through the treetops at us. I marveled at our beautiful, beautiful world. It was so beautiful that when it was time to turn around and go back, I spotted a map of the grounds displayed on a wooden sign, and after briefly reviewing it, I suggested we take a different path back. During my brief review, I failed to notice this new path was actually a hiking trail–not a paved or covered pathway like we had walked in on. Holy crap! The trail was circuitous and steep and like 76 miles long, and I was wearing cropped silk pants with ruching on the sides and neither of us had any water! Who looked like the asshole now? I know that’s what I get for making fun of those people in the parking lot, and I am the first to admit, I am constantly eating my own words, but at least I looked cuter than they did so THERE!!

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On mile what felt like #37, I started to panic over what I had gotten us into, fearing the hike was too strenuous for Chip to physically handle, but I soon realized I was the one unable to keep up with him. He absolutely loved it, and I ended up loving it, too, you know, once we had finally reached the visitor’s center back at the entrance. Don’t think I didn’t go back and hunt down another map on a wooden marquee, and much to my shock and disbelief, it only ended up being 2.6 miles in length, but I’ll be damned if I didn’t pick the most difficult hike there. They recommended allowing two hours for the hike. Ha! We had nailed it in 45 minutes!

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Since it had been two hours since we had eaten lunch, Chip swallowed his pills down with a cup of watered down ice tea sitting in the car in the parking lot. I knew every cell in his body was tingling at that moment, so I have no doubt those cancer cells received an especially good water boarding that day. The thought of that sure felt good.

We later checked into our hotel located in Union Square, I took a quick nap since my body was still on East Coast time, and then we walked to this random, yet one of my favorite, Chinese restaurant located in the financial district called R&G Lounge where we devoured the house specialty, salt and pepper fried Dungeness crab. After dinner, I suggested we walk back to our hotel via Nob Hill, because I wanted to see Grace Cathedral lit up at night, so we walked up, up, up from Chinatown to Nob Hill. The walk was much longer and much more steep than I had remembered, but of course I acted like it was NBD, but it was 1 AM on our body-clocks, and for a brief second there, I literally thought Chip might kill me. I knew he at least wanted to, but thankfully, was a good sport about it. After two adventure walks in one day, he rightfully banned me from picking any more routes for the duration of the trip.

To be continued …

– Sheila

Present and Grateful

12 Aug

It’s August recess here in D.C., which means while the majority of the South are wrapping up their vacations and starting back to school, our summer here has finally arrived, and we are just getting started.  August is also a time for what I like to call “life maintenance.”  You know, finally getting the shit done that you needed to get done but haven’t had time to do.

As part of my August life maintenance, I went in for a routine cleaning at the dentist earlier this week.  Now I know most people hate the dentist, but I love it.  I love the way my mouth feels afterward and how nice it is to run my tongue over my smooth, clean teeth.  It reminds me of what it felt like to lick my teeth for the first time after getting my braces off both times.  Yes, I wore braces twice and still rock with pride the same permanent retainer placed behind my lower front teeth in the 8th grade.  I still get super excited when the dentist tells me I have no cavities and secretly wish they had a treasure chest in their lobby, like Dr. Henry did when I was growing up, full of plastic spider rings, fake tattoos and bouncy balls for me to choose from.  I still call Lady Linda from the parking lot to report “no cavities, Momma!” because I know she’ll be so proud of me.

The one thing I do hate about going to the dentist is how you get trapped by the hygienist in a one-way conversation for a half hour.  While putting the paper bib necklace on me, my very young and single hygienist inquired about my breakfast and I responded that I had just enjoyed my daily green juice.  She reclined the seat, adjusted her overhead light about 27 times, and there I was–just lying there in reclining baby bird pose for so long that my jaws actually started to quiver while she started to yap away.  She launched into how she could never juice, because she hates going to the grocery store, doesn’t know how to select produce, some stupid story about buying a bad watermelon because she didn’t know if she was supposed to smell or thump it, she didn’t have the time for that, it had been a horrible summer, the weather had been so awful, blah, blah, blah.  She even asked me questions!  WTF?  Is it part of their training or something?  I mean my eyebrows were going all over the place desperately trying to indicate she should thump, and I’m making these guttural sounds from the back of my throat trying to respond while she’s scraping, spraying and sucking, polishing, spraying and sucking and flossing, spraying and sucking.

After spending a few more minutes lying there defenseless against her relentless barrage of statements and questions, I finally succumbed to my fate like a horse with a bit, and as I listened to her going on and on about her lousy summer, the thought actually went through my head that what she really needed in her life was some cancer.  Maybe not a stage IV diagnosis but, you know, just a little touch of cancer maybe.  Just a little dash?  Not really.  I truly wouldn’t wish this on anyone, but I did think she needed some perspective, because I was sitting there thinking to myself that my summer thus far had been MAGICAL.  My husband is feeling really well, is working full-time, is playing golf and in the backyard with our son, our kids are happy, healthy and growing like weeds, we have taken some really fun weekend trips together as a family, I had the privilege of working for the kindest and most loving and sincere Member of the U.S. Senate for six+ years and am about to start this amazing new job next month and the weather?  I haven’t even noticed the weather.  Haven’t even felt it.

Cancer and perspective are often synonymous to many who have been newly diagnosed.  Chip has always said he didn’t need cancer to gain perspective or to teach him to be grateful and appreciative for what he had, but I guess I did.  I have always known I was fortunate and living a blessed life, but sometimes life still just felt hard.  After Joe was born, life often felt overwhelming.  The work week felt hard–the unpacking and repacking of diaper bags, unloading the dishwasher, bath time, bed time, cooking dinner and laundry were never-ending and exhausting.  I often tried to rush through reading Brown Bear, Brown Bear for what seemed like the one hundred millionth time.  Come on, Joe, you KNOW what he sees by now.  Yes, you can turn the pages.  Sweet Jesus, the pages aren’t stuck together.  It’s a BOARD book. Ok, night night.  Just one more song.  Seriously, last one.  OMG, just go the F to sleep!!

But now, my time with my family is just so dear.  I used to live from one big event to the next or from one trip to another and would simply go through the motions of the mundane day-to-day living, but now what once was just background noise in my life has suddenly become the sweetest sound.  What once was overwhelming and difficult, now feels pretty easy.  Flying down to Destin with two kids, two car seats, golf clubs, a stroller and luggage was suddenly a piece of cake, because we were getting to go to Florida together as a family!!!  I now savor every time we can have dinner together, go to church as a family, and every night Chip and I can simply go to bed together.  When you stop to think about it, aren’t the Tuesday nights what life really is all about?  Our childhood, our marriages, our adulthood are all really just a series of dinners and bath and bed times all strung together, which turns into days and into years and eventually into a lifetime.

I’m really not trying to get all DPS here or sound like a poster from Pier 1 hung in a freshman dorm room, but live deliberately.  Of course you should be responsible and have respect for yourself and others but LIVE.  Really live and appreciate it.  Be vulnerable in your relationships.  Drink the good stuff.  Wear perfume to bed.  Cut the tags off the new clothes in your closet and wear them.  What are you saving them for?  Eat off your china.  Get down on the floor and play with your babies.  Step out of your comfort zone.  Order the bone marrow.  Sing really loud in your car even when stuck in traffic and people are watching.  Be present in your life and grateful for it.

I won’t pretend like it’s always just that easy, because it’s not.  Every birthday, every Mother’s Day, every Father’s Day–you can’t help but think of what your life was like at that time last year and wonder where you will be this time next year.  But if you dwell in that space for too long, that fear can be crippling and debilitating and more significantly, rob you of experiencing that very moment, so for us, Chip and I continually choose to dig in, squeeze each other a little tighter and remind ourselves that we are here.  We are all here today and we are present in our lives and grateful for them.

We are approaching the place in the calendar year where it is naturally easy to think about this time last year. I was in Mississippi for my Tri-Delt reunion while Chip stayed home and painted the bedrooms in the new house we were about to move into. This time last year, Chip first started to complain of his back hurting, and most recently, this time last year, I was pregnant with Crosby and we took advantage of a work trip of Chip’s to Nemacolin and took Joe with us for a special weekend away before his baby sister arrived.  We took that same exact trip again this year.  One night I was awakened by Chip coughing in his sleep, looked across the room and saw Crosby sleeping away in a portable crib, then peered over the edge of the bed to see Joe sleeping in his big boy fire truck sleeping bag, and I just lay there silently crying and thinking about the prior year there.  But after some time, I pulled my thoughts back to the present moment where we were all there, sleeping together in the same room, and I was oh, so very grateful to be there.  Present and grateful is where I chose to reside for the remainder of that weekend.  Present and grateful is how I choose to live each day.

Oh, and by the way, dental hygienist, just go buy a friggin’ watermelon.  If it’s bad, then go buy another one.  And another one until you find that perfectly ripe, sweet and juicy watermelon that takes you back to eating one while sitting on the tailgate of your daddy’s pickup truck in the driveway.  And if you really don’t have time to go to the grocery store, then have produce delivered to your house once a week from a local farm.  Go ahead and get yourself one of those fancy, special boxes or place a cooler on your front porch for your cold-pressed juice deliveries and organic, grass-fed, I’ve-spent-my-whole-life-freely-roaming-around-these-pastures whole milk, sweetheart.  It’s all the rage.

– Sheila

P.S. Here’s Crosby, swinging for the first time. Talk about present and grateful.

Crosby Swinging for the First Time from team kennett on Vimeo.

Eight Months

3 Aug
cros-8-joe

all smiles

happy 8 months, crosby!

happy 8 months, crosby!