5 Things about Life

ImageTonight Parker and I dropped Dave off at the airport.  He is off for his annual boys’ fantasy football weekend.  This year the festivities are being held in Vegas.  On the ride home, Parker and I got into a discussion about how we should live life.

1. Live a life of joy.  Find happiness in the day to day.

2. Think before you speak.  Your words do matter.

3. Seek adventure.

4. Be grateful.  Every day.

5. Life does not owe you anything.  You have to work hard.



5 Cancer-y Things

1. Cancer sucks.

2. Grant came into my room the other night.  He had a shellshocked look.  “Well, I finished the summer reading.”  I could tell he was trying not to cry.  We talked about the book and the awfulness of the ending.  Still wondering what the english department could have been thinking when they assigned this book.  https://embracingtherollercoaster.wordpress.com/2013/06/25/this-could-be-interesting

3. Sam texted me at almost midnight last night.  “Kirsten’s dad is having issues.”  His bladder cancer has spread to one side of his chest.  This is not good news.  “It’s really sad.  She’s really sad.”  While I am glad that the girls have each other, this just seems like too much of a burden in their fledgling college days. https://embracingtherollercoaster.wordpress.com/2013/04/15/when-we-went-to-admitted-freshman-day-and-met-us

4. Remember when we went on the couples’ retreat through Johns Hopkins?  The one female patient from our group died last month.  This past weekend we met up with her husband and daughter along with another couple for brunch.  It was good to see everyone and R & R seem to doing okay.  He was very honest about just getting through one day at a time.  He shared about his wife’s last minutes.  It was heartbreaking.  Because he is such a kind and loving man, he also wanted to make sure that we knew about a holistic tea that he felt had helped his wife in her last weeks.  Turns out it is the same product sent to us by my friend, Lori.  https://embracingtherollercoaster.wordpress.com/2013/07/26/friends-2

5. Cancer sucks.



Learning Curve

ImageWe moved a chair up into our bedroom so that Dave would have comfortable place to sit while he was recuperating from his SirSpheres procedure.  So on many many nights as I have navigated through the dark room to get to bed, I have run into this new addition.  I have multiple bruises on my left thigh to prove it.  Obviously my learning curve can be a little on the gradual side.

Dave has a friend whom I can’t stand.  This friend is selfish, egotistical, needy, and misguided.  She likes to repeatedly boast about how “helpful” she has been to Dave during his time of illness.  I can’t honestly think of one helpful thing this person has done in the last two years and twenty-two days.  She has, however, caused stress and unrest in my marriage and family – Samantha would kick this person in the shins, if she came into contact with her. (And there would be a massive line of my friends behind Sam waiting to do the same.)  Dave talks about this person as being a good friend but honestly I think your friends are the ones who wouldn’t want to create the kind of negative vortex that this person does.  She needs to be needed.  She clearly lacks in friendships and fulfillment in her own life.  I tried to be open to this person.  I tried to honor Dave’s friendship and be accepting. I tried to talk honestly with this person.  But this person lacks the morals and integrity to be productively engaged in rational discussion.

So, although my learning curve has been ever so gradual over the last two years and twenty-two days (and I have the figurative bruises to prove it), I am eliminating this negative energy from my life once and for all.  I had a lot on my plate this summer with Sam’s surgery, Dave’s procedure and Sam leaving for school.  I realized that I spent far too much energy on this person.  She didn’t deserve all that time.

Now, if I could only figure out a way to stop bumping into that darn chair…



5 Things About Sending Your Kid Off to College

1. The first text messages and phone calls are the toughest.  Ours were full of homesickness and general feelings of discontent.  I responded with lots of encouragement and “give it time” type messages.  As each day passes, the number of messages will decrease.  This lets me know that she is too busy and engaged to text me.  Only one “I. hate. this.” text yesterday.

2. To stave off those feelings of missing her too much, I used that energy to purge her room and bathroom.  We discussed this before she left, and I had her blessing.  I get happy feelings when I pass by her room now.  Before I would just quickly close her doors so I didn’t have to look at how disastrous it was!

3. Teach your kid how to order stuff online.  I didn’t realize this was a skill in which she was lacking and that she would need.  All textbooks are ordered at CNU as there is no bookstore.  Billing address is not the same as mailing address and will cause your order to be declined.  Also, account number is not your banking account number.  No one will ask you for that.

4.  Connectedness is both a blessing and a curse.  I am glad that Sam can get a hold of me at any time for any reason.  But I also think it makes the transition harder when you can text your friends from home only to hear that they are also homesick or even worse they are having a rocking good time and you aren’t!  (Not to sound like a grandma but) when I went to school you had no choice but to get out there and meet people.  What else were we going to do?  Write a letter?  Sit at a pay phone?

5. I read a great article about this very topic. Two quotes in particular hit home for me. “The very best thing about your life is a short stage in someone else’s story.”  I think this is so true.  Her story is just beginning, and I am so excited to see where her life takes her.  “Well, 18 years is a window that closed too quickly. But, my son, those days have been the greatest wonder and privilege of my life.” Indeed.



The whole article can be found here –




Intentional Parenting

I have shared more about my feelings regarding Sam leaving for college on this blog than anywhere else in my life.  Mostly because I use this space almost like an online diary, and since the kids don’t read it, I can be very honest about a variety of topics.

I survived the college drop off!  We decided that we didn’t need to be the first people in the door so didn’t leave until almost 8AM.  The traffic was terrible.  I really didn’t mind though because it just gave me more time to chat with Sam.  Parker was with us in the car too so it was girl bonding time.  We arrived at noon and luckily they were still unloading cars.  After literally driving up to the front door of the dorm, a faculty member took Sam in to get checked in while students unloaded all of her belongings into wheelie carts and delivered them to her room.  We parked and met her there.  Her suite mates were gone, but their room was totally set up and decorated.  We got busy doing the necessary things like setting up the shared living room with the keurig and TV.  Sam’s roommate and her parents arrived with a LOT of stuff so we worked in our part of the room and tried not to get in their way.  When we had done as much as we could we went out to lunch and did a quick run to Walgreens.  Sam wanted us to stay while she got connected to the internet, found out about getting a parking pass and moved her car to a student lot.

We definitely did some things right.  We didn’t over pack.  Sam packed her clothes, makeup etc.  I packed linens, assorted cleaning/snacking supplies, etc.  We brought trash cans for the room and bathroom, a floor lamp which made the lighting in the room so much nicer, hand soap, air freshener, a plunger, hot chocolate and tea k-cups to share.  Sam wanted to unpack her clothes and desk supplies herself so we just tucked those duffels under her bed for later.  We had already discussed how long she might want us to stay and what she wanted us to do while we were there.  I could tell she was a bit stressed when we first arrived so I sent Dave and Grant to pick up batteries and a power strip to clear a few people out of the room.  Before arriving on campus, it was decided that we would stay long enough to set up the electronics and make the bed.  As it turns out, she wanted us to stay a little longer than that.  We had also discussed that she would need to go out and get a few organizer things once she saw what she needed for food storage etc.  Dave wanted to do this together, but I wanted her to bond with her roommates and thought they could go together.  Since she was equipped with her car, a shopping list and money, I knew this was something she could tackle without us.  The one thing we forgot was pictures of friends, pets and family.  That would really have made her side of the room more homey.  I remember talking about it but that idea got lost in the shuffle.

After moving her car, we walked back to our car and said our goodbyes.  It was short and sweet and then we got out of there.  I did not cry (and neither did Parker) until we were driving away.  One of the things that I was made aware of through conversations with her friends is that Sam had told them she wasn’t sure I was going to miss her because I had been so stoic about the whole thing.  She told them she didn’t think that I would cry when I had to leave her.  But she had told me that if I cried then she would.  So it was a fine line between letting her know that I am going to miss her and not making her feel bad in the meantime.  So I did what any mom would do in the year 2013 – I made few facebook posts letting the world (and her) know that I was missing her and it was tough to leave her.

Sam texted last night and told me she was homesick.  I told her that was totally normal.  I told her to unpack as that would make the space feel more like hers.  I told her to get some sleep.  When she called this afternoon, she and her roommates had done some shopping and come up with some great solutions for food storage and shower supply organization.  She helped with move in for the students arriving today.  And she had her first meal on campus.  I think she is on her way to settling in nicely.

This morning I got up and cleaned out her bathroom.  Secretly I am happy that it is going to stay neat and organized for a while.  It is going to take me a while to get used to having her gone, but I also know she is taking the first step into an amazing future.




Sam has been really upset with her dad.  The details and reasons are not mine to share, but I will say it has been building up over time and there was a tipping point recently.  I have had several conversations with her about “not leaving on a bad note” which have gone largely ignored.  She doesn’t think in these terms, but I do – what if…  Last night they sat down, and she got to get some things off of her chest.  I wouldn’t say everything is resolved, but I am hopeful that healing can now begin.  I don’t want her to have any regrets or carry more of a burden than she already does.

Tomorrow is the big day.  See you on the other side.




Ready to Launch


Our college prep did not go exactly as I had imagined.  In my mind, we would spend junior year leisurely touring schools around the state, Samantha would narrow it down to her top five or so and apply to those schools.  Instead, right before junior year started, Dave got his diagnosis and we were knee deep in surgeries and chemotherapy. So we spent the summer before senior year doing those tours and figuring things out.  

The first school we went to was Virginia Commonwealth University.  Sam really liked it, and I have to admit I was pleasantly surprised.  They talked about the food on campus.  They talked about the Quidditch team.  They talked about the gym and safety.  It wasn’t until later that I realized that we hadn’t heard much about the professors or classes.  We also hit up University of Mary Washington (too small),  James Madison University (too big), UNC Chapel Hill (too hard to get into), University of South Carolina (too expensive), University of Virginia (really nice), William and Mary (said she liked it but that might have been for my sake), and Christopher Newport University.  When Sam said she wanted to look at CNU, I didn’t hold out much hope that she would like it because I had heard it was very similar to Mary Washington which she thought was too small.  Boy, was I wrong.

From the minute we drove onto campus, Sam loved CNU.  Her energy was totally different, and she just lit up the more she learned about the school.  She loved the campus and all its beautiful buildings.  She loved the “dorms like palaces” with their suites and amenities.  I loved hearing that the professors were well qualified and at the tops of their fields.  And I loved hearing that the class sizes were on the smaller side where professors knew you by name and expected you to participate in your learning.  This was the school she wanted from the beginning of the process.  The applications were not overly tedious, and she did a stellar job on her essays.  She was accepted into the President’s Leadership Program.  She met her roommate first through Facebook and then in person.  Everything fell into place beautifully.  

We survived graduation, and she had a blast at Beach Week.  Setting Sail week was definitely a mix of emotions but in the end she felt good about being there.  As we have inched ever closer to launch day, I have noticed some little changes here and there.  We have always had a great relationship.  Sam is comfortable talking to me about all manner of subjects – sometimes I hear stories that I think I could have done without knowing.  Lately, she has been spending more time at home.  We had fun buying stuff for her dorm room.  We bonded while going to the bank, and the Verizon store, and even during her recovery from surgery.  During these times, the little doubts have been voiced.  She is worried that CNU might not be the right school for her after all.  The Facebook group for the class of 2017 has her worried about some of the kids that are going.  I have been reassuring her that most people do not post crazy things on a public page – that the people she is going to be friends with are not those folks.  I asked her to give a 100% effort until Christmas before she passes judgement.  But I have also let her know that no decision is irreversible.  She can change her mind.  I suspect that once she gets on campus and remembers all the things she loved about it, that she won’t look back again.  

Today as we packed up her “necessities” like the tv and keurig coffee maker (did I mention my dorm didn’t even have air conditioning!) Sam mentioned that she doesn’t want to go but she wouldn’t want to stay either.  It is that crazy time of limbo.  I told her that as much as I would love to have her around, that I know it is best for her take this next step into her future.  I asked her to make an effort to do things, and meet people, and join in activities, and I let her know that I can’t wait to hear all about it.  

So, Saturday we will pack up the car and drop her off.  I told Sam that we would only stay as long as she wanted us too – probably long enough to hook up the electronics.  I have to remember to bring sunglasses so she won’t see the tears as we say goodbye.  Sam told me that if I get upset, she will get upset so I am going to do my best.  

Wish me luck!




Two of my friends are living in two vastly different places.  Both of their travels brought them to Virginia this month.  Both were traveling with their families – Lexy has 4 kids and Siri has 5.  And both of these ladies took time out of their vacations to provide meals for us.  Incredible, right?  I know I have said it many times before but there really are not enough words.  We have the kindest, most generous, most thoughtful friends in the world.  I am humbled and grateful and strive to be more like them.



Quick Update

Overall, Dave has been feeling better.  He is still bothered by nausea and fatigue but has been eating well and is even back to working out too.

The rest of us are staying busy too.  Parker has been down in Charlottesville enjoying time with Dave’s cousin, Brenda; her boys; Aunt Sandy and Uncle Elias and, of course, the horses.


Grant spent yesterday with his buddy, Rhett, and his family at Kings Dominion.  Grant had a blast and was so exhausted afterwards that he walked in the door and went straight up to bed.  We didn’t see him until noon today!


Sammi and I went to see her surgeon today.  Her clunky plaster wrapped splint was replaced with a waterproof, much lighter, purple version.  She is so happy.  We also got to see what her arm looks like now.


We also have been shopping and gathering up supplies for our trek to CNU on Saturday.  I have been fighting tears for days now.  While I am so excited for Sam and know she is going to love college, I am definitely going to miss our late night chats when everyone else is asleep.  She is truly an amazing kid.




5 Illness Related Things

1. Distractions are good.  Be it in the form of work or friends, it is good to have your mind occupied by something other than the situation at hand.  Dave went into work Thursday and Friday for a few hours and has a friend in town this weekend.  This has made a marked difference to his mood.  And all the craziness of late with Sam’s surgery and Dave’s procedure have kept me for obsessing about the fact that Sam leaves for school in a week.  When I do let my mind meander in that direction, it hits me like a ton of bricks.  I am going to miss that kid so much.

2. Two minds are always better than one.  Dave mentioned on Thursday that his stomach was really hurting.  I asked him if he was still taking the Prilosec he was prescribed prior to the treatment.  He didn’t remember that was part of his plan.  It is so important for at least two people to hear the information first hand.

3. A friend of a friend met with Dave on Friday.  She has just been diagnosed with stage IV colon cancer with mets to the liver.  (Sound familiar?)  She is being treated at Georgetown, and they told her she could expect to live about 2 1/2 years.  This made me so angry.  How can they possibly know how she will respond to treatment?  I don’t know the circumstances, maybe she asked what her prognosis was.  But it felt so defeating to me to be given a time line.  As long as there are treatment options and the will to try them, I am confident she can blow right past that prediction.  After all, we just passed the two year mark.

4.  When illness strikes, some people find a quiet corner, curl up and suffer in silence.  I would fall into this group.  There is another group that comes into the room where you are and makes heavy sighing or grumbling noises.  This group wants you to know that they are not happy campers.  I might know someone who falls into this category.  Maybe.

5.  Finally, I think the key to making it through the tough times is finding the humor in the situation.  Dave and I have always been able to laugh about some aspect of the process.  Thankfully, I also have friends with wicked senses of humor.  Here is a text that made me laugh for hours afterwards….