Ready to Launch

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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!

Robyn

5 Things From This Week

1. The weather has been (to quote a friend) “hellfire hot”!

2. The IM swim meet was roughly five hours long Wednesday night in said heat.  Both Parker and Grant swam slower than their best, but who cares.  I just wanted to get back into some AC!

3. Dave’s procedure went as well as it possibly could have on Tuesday.  Mapping was successful, and they can indeed attack both sides of the liver at once on August 1st.  He will experience “flu like” symptoms for a few weeks but much better than having to go through it twice. 

4.  I’ve been enjoying spending as much time as possible with my oldest child.  Yesterday we bobbed around in the pool for a few hours chatting about random topics.  She said she isn’t ready to leave for school in a month.  I wanted to say I wasn’t ready for her to go either, but instead told her that in a month she might be.  I’m glad that she has wanted to hang out with her dear old mom this summer.  (At least during daylight hours, evenings she is off with friends!)

5.  Here is the layout of her dorm suite.  Not bad at all.  MUCH nicer than my accommodations freshman year!

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xoxo

Robyn

The Times They Are A-Changin’

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I have been thinking a lot about transitions lately.  We spent the weekend with some friends and their lovely toddler daughter.  Watching her lovingly tuck monkey in for a nap and listening to her chatter naturally made me reflect on how quickly my children have grown up and the many stages they have gone through to get where we are today.  Bright and early Saturday morning the kids had a swim meet, and they lost to a team that they typically beat.  That team is faster and stronger than in years past.  I talked to several parents about the cycles the swim teams seem to go through.  

The most profound transition is happening right now with Samantha.  She is straddling the line between adult and kid.  Too young to have a drink with the adults (at least for this mama!) during our family vacation and yet feeling too old to play with her siblings and cousins.  Not still in high school and yet not quite in college yet either.  She is an eighteen year old with the weight of the world on her shoulders.  As I mentioned previously, she has to have surgery on her wrist.  She is in chronic pain and worries whenever she bumps it or tweaks it in some way that she is causing further damage.  She cried when they said surgery would likely be in December because she is frustrated at not being able to do the things she would like.  At the lake, she wasn’t able to participate in the water sports, and since it was so rainy, she didn’t even go on the boat to tan since the sun was largely absent.  She is excited about heading off to college and yet also nervous about making friends and being successful.  And then of course she worries about her dad.  He is her hero and inspiration.  We talk about the phases of Dave’s treatments, and she has the same concerns and questions we all do.  Questions to which we don’t have any answers.  I couldn’t be more proud of the way she has handled all of these challenges.  She is working, spending tons of time with friends, hanging out with her siblings, and helping out around the house.  Her maturity, grace and generosity outshine most people I know.  My eyes will be brimming over with tears and my heart expanding with pride when we drop her off at CNU in just over four weeks.  It will be a long drive home into our new normal.

xoxo

Robyn

A Lot Can Happen in a Year

One_year_anniversaryI launched this blog about a year ago hoping to share our news in an efficient and hopefully interesting way.  Last July = 15 blogs posts.  This July = 1.  Life has been a little busy lately.

Samantha and I survived “Setting Sail” at CNU.  The parents learned a ton, mingled and sought out glimpses of their children.  The kids socialized, played games, ate in the dining halls and slept in the dorms.  Samantha stayed on three more days for summer leadership.  Surprisingly, she texted me daily and even called a few times.  It was definitely a period of adjustment as she looked for kindred spirits and joined in “bonding activities” that weren’t necessarily her cup of tea.  Luckily I was armed with all the right phrases to encourage and support her, and by the end of the week, she was very tired but happy to have found the right school and made new friends.  I think August will be a much easier transition for HER.  (I’ll be crying like a baby……)

Dave is scheduled to have his “mapping” procedure done next Tuesday, July 16th.  Assuming that all goes as planned his first dose of SirSpheres will be August 1st.  We had hoped he could do both sides of the liver at once and take advantage of the summer lull to recover.  Unfortunately the interventional radiologist says this isn’t a good option for Dave which is a change-up from when we met with him a few weeks ago.  So the second procedure is currently scheduled for August 27th, but we are trying to get it changed to a week earlier if possible.  Dave has travel plans over the Labor Day weekend and the school year is just starting to get going at that time.  That timing would be tough since Dave can expect “5-7 days of flu-like symptoms”.

We got a sad email today.  One of the people we attended the retreat (https://embracingtherollercoaster.wordpress.com/category/couples-retreat) with last October passed away yesterday.  J was the only female patient and had been struggling with poor scans and treatments that weren’t working.  She leaves behind a kind, loving husband and a smart, energetic preteen daughter.  My heart is feeling very heavy.

We are back in the swing of things here at home.   Lots of swimming, guests coming into town, lunch/dinner dates, oboe lessons, tennis camps.  And a consult with an orthopedic surgeon.  Did I mention that Sam has been told she needs surgery?  This upcoming year is shaping up to be a busy one too.  Stay tuned.

xoxo

Robyn

When We Went to Admitted Freshman Day and Met Us….

ImageSamantha and I spent Saturday at CNU for admitted freshman day.  For several weeks. Sam has been connecting with people on the Facebook page set up for the Class of 2017.  She found one girl with whom she thought she might room.  I suggested that maybe she would want to meet this person IN person before she decided.  In case, you know, the girl couldn’t carry on a conversation in person or was a real weirdo or something.  Samantha looked at me like I was a clueless, out of touch, dinosaur.  

 

After the kick off part of the day, the students headed off in groups to do a scavenger hunt and get to know the campus and each other.  Samantha and the girls from Facebook arranged to meet up during this time.  I sat in the parent session feeling overwhelmed and excited and a little sad about my oldest child heading off to college.  Also, I felt some jealousy.  Wouldn’t it be great to be back in college again dedicated only to learning and exploring and having fun?!

 

The speakers were amazing.  Such smart suggestions and clear expectations of the students.  There was a student panel where current CNU students shared their experiences, advice and even regrets.  I wanted to whip out a pen and paper and take notes, but instead I texted Dave all the important details that I didn’t want to forget.  CNU is a wonderful place.  I am so proud of Samantha for finding the perfect fit school for herself.  The academics are first rate, the campus is beautiful, the dorms are ridiculously nice, and there is such a community of caring committed to helping your child achieve success.  Without Samantha there to give me “the eye”, I asked a question during the Q&A.  It had to do with finding a roommate (I mentioned Samantha had been looking online) and whether it was important to room with someone in your same field of interest or program like honors or leadership, since they had talked about living within your “Learning Community”.  

 

The session ended and a lady approached me and asked who my daughter was because her daughter had also been networking on FB.  We figured out that Samantha and her daughter, Kirsten, were two of the five girls meeting up.  We continued to chat on our way to the picnic lunch about all manner of things.  Kids, where we live, what we do, the usual.  We found that we had lot of things in common and got along really well.  Somehow the conversation turned to having cars on campus as a freshman.  I told her that we were going to let Samantha bring her car mostly because I knew she wouldn’t leave every weekend, that she would get involved in lots of activities at school and that her dad was sick so I wanted her to have the option to be able to come home if the need arose.  Turns out that Jennifer’s husband has Stage IV bladder cancer.  We were both stunned when we realized HOW much we have in common.  We talked about treatment and prognosis and challenges and perspectives.  It was incredible to speak to someone who literally knew exactly what I was going through.  

 

Jennifer’s cell phone rang as her daughter was looking for her.  She was with Samantha and both girls were surprised that the moms had connected and were hanging out together as well.  After we finished lunch, we went on a tour of the dorms.  (You cannot imagine how nice they are.  Freshman live suite style and by sophomore year you have a kitchen and living room too!)  Jennifer told her daughter about our uncommon thing in common.  Along the way, Kirsten talked to Samantha about it.  On the drive home, Samantha said that it was so nice to have someone to talk to who understood.  I couldn’t agree more.  Even before the cancer connection, the girls had decided that they had found someone with whom to venture into college life, and I am so happy they did.  As Jennifer emailed me later, “Obviously not what any of us want to have in common, but how amazing yet no coincidence that we now know each other.”  I couldn’t agree more.

 

xoxo

Robyn

Long Time No Words

 

 

It’s not that I don’t have anything to say, but more that I have just been too lazy to bother.  The silence on the blog just means that things have been steadily chugging along.  

We have had some big positives in the Tremaine household though.  I spent five days in beautiful and sunny Florida.  Escaping the cold and spending time with my mom was a Godsend.  I appreciate so much that my parents said to me about a month ago, “You need a break.  Where do you want to go?”  I said simply, “Somewhere with sun and water.”

There was lots of sun.

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There were snacks by the pool.

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There was a visit to say hi to Old Gramps and Grams.

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Most of all, there was time to rest, relax and regroup.

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When I got home, we opened to mail and discovered some big news for Samantha.  She was accepted into the President’s Leadership Program at CNU.  We are all thrilled for her.  The program sounds like such an amazing opportunity and the bit of scholarship money is nice too.

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And last but not least, today Dave found out his CEA (tumor marker) is down to 8.  We are quietly celebrating its drop in the right direction and are so hopeful for a good scan mid-month.  We are encouraged that the chemo is indeed still working.  Dave had chemo this week but this was just the boost he needed to get through the yucky side effects.

xoxo

Robyn