Why We Still Run

IMG_2433This year marks the 5th Annual Get Your Rear in Gear Race in Boston, and it marks the 5th year that the Bum Rushers are running in honor of Ed. That means that we’re celebrating the 5th year of being cancer free.  And that’s a wonderful thing!

A lot has happened in five years.  Days of fun and adventure and laughs.  And, none of that could have happened if it wasn’t for amazing medical care, tremendous screening devices, and a fair amount of luck.  Most importantly, we would not have had these five years, if Ed wasn’t dogmatic in his insistence that something was wrong with his body.  Colon cancer is often diagnosed too late; Ed would not take his symptoms lightly.  His diligence saved his life.

Every year we run the Get Your Rear in Gear – 5K, we raise awareness about colon cancer and we share our story.  With early diagnoses, colon cancer is treatable and curable.  The Boston Race raises funds for preventative and diagnostic care in our communities; so that no one has to suffer with this horrible disease.

We hope that you can join us this year on our team The Bum Rushers; or donate funds to our team and this important cause.  The race is on September 19th this year on Carson Beach in Southie.  Please join us!!  http://events.getyourrearingear.com/site/TR/2015Boston/General?team_id=29652&pg=team&fr_id=2741

Love,
Carrie, Edward, Xavier, & Jalen

Of note:

1) This year the race is much earlier in the season; we promise no snow this year.
2) Xavier and I will be running together again this year, we’re shooting for sub-30 minutes (the more you give the harder he’ll run)
3) Having won the trophy for “most funds raised” last year, Ed is shooting for a racing medal this year; the more of you that cheer him on, the faster he’ll run!

AMENDED: Dear Sons (What I Really Want for Mother’s Day)

One year later, and I love my boys more than ever.  And yet, again, I fear that they might miss the boat on Mother’s Day.  So to reiterate, and to amend, here’s what I really want for Mother’s Day

10334360_10202709480073133_776496951207363595_n (1)Dear Sons,

I love you sweet boys oh so very much.  And, although I’m sure, your father will force you to make a lovely half-assed card featuring monsters and lasers and a fair amount of poop, and your teacher will make you paint a frame and put a blurry picture of yourself in it, there are other things I want for Mother’s Day.  And, if you can’t pull that off, I kinda’ want a Magic Bullet (smoothies are hot right now).

Jalen made me a card more than a week ago that he poured his little heart into.  He said it was a pre-Mother’s Day Card and it had a girl and a bear walking into the sunset, hand-in-hand.  Every day I appreciate my empathetic, thoughtful son.  Someone had to take after me.

My mother bought me my Magic Bullet, because she knows what it means to be a mother, and she knows that sometimes people don’t give you what you ask for.  And she knows that if a mother actually, specifically asks for something, she probably wants it very, very badly.

Last Mother’s Day, the boys worked very hard on making me a jewelry box and a necklace out of Lego’s and we went to the Arboreteum to see the lilacs, and it was a perfect day.  

Now onto the things I want this year…

  • I would like to spend one day in the car without you arguing about what you want to talk about.  You might actually have a pleasant conversation if you could just stop fighting about whether talking about Pokemon is annoying or not. (hint:  it is)

We’ve improved immensely on this front. But, now I have a new request.  Stop trying to piss each other off.  Stop pushing each other’s buttons.  Stop trying your damnedest to make the other one lose it.  The only one that’ll lose will be you (not an empty threat, I swear) 

  • You could admit that you actually love playing outside.  That you love baseball and soccer and playing at the playground.  That you’d prefer to be active then to sit in front of a screen rotting your brain.

After the worst winter on record, we’re finally enjoying the outside, breathing fresh air, and being active.  And this is why we live in New England, so that we can appreciate the weather when it’s great.

  • About those screens.  They are not that important.  They are not worth your anger, and your frustration and your general whiny-ness when you don’t get to play.  Playing electronics are not, and will never be, a priority in this family.  Give it up!

The games are harder, more violent, and generally cooler, but somehow the boys have finally, mostly, realized their screen limits.  And, they’ve finally wrapped their heads around the fact that I couldn’t give two Donkey Kongs about these games; leave that to their father.

  • In fact, please learn, that you will never get your way by whining.  You are 9 and 6.  We have never given in to your whining.  We never will.  It is not a functional way to communicate with us.  You will not win that fight.

Entitlement, Lack of Gratitude, and General Moodiness have taken the place of whiny.  I miss whiny…  

I would love for one day for someone  to say, “Thank you, Mom.” “We appreciate the effort that you expend on making us happy.” “What do you do what you want to do today?”  

  • Put your shoes on. Now.
  • For the love of god, clean yourself!  You are boys.  You smell.  You must shower, and brush your teeth, and comb your hair.

and pick out your own clothes, and tie your shoes, and clean up your room.  It stinks!

  • Ask your father.  He is sitting right next to you.  Watching hockey.  Do you not see him?  Do you have to walk up the stairs, storm into the bathroom, and ask me for apple juice?  Do you?

In fact, don’t even bother asking your father.  Get it yourself you lazy bums!

  • Now means NOW.

Really, I’m not screwing around.  I MEAN NOW!

  • We have a routine.  We do the same thing every single morning.  You need socks everyday; you need your backpack everyday; you need to strap in everyday.  Why can you not understand that?  And don’t ask me what we have.  We “have” the same things we always “have”.
  • Enough with the sarcasm.  I know you “learned it from watching me,” but my sarcasm is warranted, acceptable, and witty.  Yours is annoying.

Try to be less annoying.  I get that you’re developing your persona and playing with being a young man, but for the love of god, stop trying so hard.  You have plenty of time to grow into yourself and become a charming teenager, don’t rush it!!

  • You are not bored.  You keep saying that word.  I do not think that word means what you think it means.
  • Keep your hands off of each other.  I know you need to be close to each other and the hours of passing each other in the halls is torture, but STOP TOUCHING EACH OTHER.
  • About that…. I know that it’s cool to say that your brother’s a pain. I know it’s not cool to spend every free moment at each other’s side.  I know that you don’t want to admit that your brother is your best friend.  But, he is.  And, he likely always will be.  Please stop saying you hate your brother.  You don’t.
  • Please take pictures with me.  Moms aren’t in enough pictures, moms always miss out on the photos.  Please let me have pictures with my sons; even if they’re goofy.

Thank you for becoming my selfie buddies.  Thanks for squashing together so that we all fit into the frame and hold on to our memories.

  • Never stop holding my hand.  Never grow to big to cuddle with your mom.  Just love me unconditionally; I promise to do the same.

Thanks for letting our relationship grow and change and develop as you do.  Thanks for watching movies with me and cuddling on the couch and playing in the snow with me.  You can grow as big as you’ll like but you’ll always be my little boys.

How to Love a Cancer Survivor

561471_4120740171826_1729181518_nIn 2009 my husband was diagnosed with colon cancer.  Five years later, he’s cured, healthy, cancer-free.  And yet, he will always, forever, be a cancer survivor; and we will always forever be a survivor family.  The side effects will always be there, and that feeling of mortality will never go away.  Over the years we have learned to live with this new life with a fair amount of adjustment and a lot of patience on all accounts.  Every cancer is different, every survivor is different, but I think we can share a few things about loving a cancer survivor.

It’s Not Your Cancer:  I know that cancer effects your whole family, and we attack it as a team, but at the end of the day… this is not your disease.  There’s been countless times when I’ve watched Ed pop open another beer or order a burger and fries and I know that there’s no way that’s a good idea.  There are moments when I’ve wanted to chime in, make a suggestion, tell him to suck it up or take it easy.  And yet, I keep my mouth shut.

Because it’s not my cancer, they’re not my symptoms, it’s not my health.  I’m not the one that lost a foot of my colon.  I’m not the one that needs to monitor my food, and schedule my day, and deal with the discomfort.  It’s been a struggle for Ed to live a normal life with no health problems for 30+ years and then wake up from surgery with a host of chronic side effects and health problems.  I can have empathy, I can try to put myself in Ed’s shoes.  But, at the end of the day, I’ll never know how he feels.  My concern is appreciated, I think.  My advice, maybe not so much.  And sometimes, the survivor just wants things to be normal again.  To ignore the discomfort and the ramifications of making poor decisions.

That is, unquestionably, unequivocally, their decision to make.  You will never know what it feels like to live in their skin.  Your job as a partner is to be there for the journey to hang in there and love them unconditionally.

Things Will Never Be the Same:  The cancer is gone, all the scans are negative, it seems like a distant memory, and yet things will never be the same.  And, it’s not just the side effects, the ones that can be chronic and life-altering.  It’s the way things are just different then they were before. How a stomach bug can become a much bigger thing.  How the fear of reoccurrance is always there.  How you hold onto health differently then you did before.

So, You Might as Well Laugh About It:  For us, humor has been everything.  Empathy is huge, it’s important to try to picture yourself in their shoes.  But, it’s also important to have some levity; to realize the fact that things could be so much worse.  We try to laugh as much as possible, to lighten the mood, to make a joke about it.  The kids are in on the act.  They understand that dad was sick, and now he’s not, but his gas really stinks sometimes.  It just is what it is, we might as well laugh about it, it’s vastly better than the alternative.

And, Celebrate Life:  The fact is, Ed’s still with us.  We’re lucky and grateful and so blessed that he caught his cancer early and has amazing preventative care.  We’re lucky that the kids will be screened early and we’ll pay close attention to their health.  And, we hope that others can get the same quality care.

That’s why we started The Get Your Rear in Gear 5K three years ago.  We decided that we wanted to celebrate life, raise awareness, collect money for the cause.  My brother brought the Get Your Rear in Gear 5K to Boston to celebrate Ed’s health and every year more and more people join us to celebrate their loved ones.

And this year, we’ll celebrate again, on November 8th in South Boston, with our friends and family and hundreds of other people.  Please join us if you can or please donate to the cause (The Bum Rushers).  Please join us in celebrating Ed’s rear for another year!!!

http://events.getyourrearingear.com/site/TR/Boston2/General?team_id=14832&pg=team&fr_id=2000

Tonight We Had a Moment

IMG_1093Tonight we had a moment.

As the skies opened up, and the sun went down, and the music blared, it all came together.  For a moment we forgot what it was like to have jobs, and mortgages, and school days to plan.  We forgot to lament what it used to be like when there was only the grownups and alcohol and games and late late nights.  We lived in the moment and sang in the rain and wrestled with all of the ‘littles’ and forgot our worries and our regrets.

And it was good.  It was good to fully appreciate where we are now.  It was good to look at our life with a clear lens.  And it was good to love it, unconditionally, for just a moment.  To remember why we embarked upon this road in the first place.  To remember why we’ve chosen this life.

At the end of the summer, after one too many long days, with needy kids, and errands to do, and responsibilities to juggle, it’s hard to see the beauty of a moment.  And there it was.  Just then, if only for one brief rainstorm, everything just melted away.

To grasp that moment and hold onto it is the trick.  To believe in that moment during the rush of getting out of the house in the morning or fighting over homework is the challenge.  To remember for just a second, before your head hits the pillow at night, that there was a bit of magic in that night.

As your life changes, so does your expectations.  Crazy nights fueled by vices fade away to pizza with the kids.  Sexy heels and smoky eyes lead to sensible shoes and dark circles.  And it’s so hard to let go of the way things used to be.  The nostalgia takes over, and you crowd around the kitchen table playing “remember when”.

It’s hard not to have moments of regret.  Moments of second guessing.  Moments where you just want to turn back time.  And yet, there’s a beauty in the present.  There’s something lovely about building families together; about watching our children grow.  About celebrating new babies, and new houses, and new jobs.  How do we hold onto that joy?

How do we stop life from getting in the way?  To allow for the moment to happen again.  To worry less about routine, and rules, and regimens and just let it be sometimes.  To embrace a perfect night and to promise to do it again sometime soon?

40 Things I Wish I had Known Then… (on the occasion of my 40th birthday)

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I’ve been a bit crappy about blogging.  I have lots of things I want to say, but life gets a bit a way from you sometimes.  But, in honor of another year, and a true embracement (is that a word?) of my 40s, I submit to you a #tbt.

Wow!  I’m 40.  How the hell did that happen?  But, I’d like to think I’ve learned a few things along the way.  And, although much of this is cliche, I think (put together) it makes up a pretty good life philosophy.  Enjoy!

1. Don’t tackle any difficult subject before a cup of coffee.

2. If you want to be treated as a grown up, wear heels.

3. Endorphins are a much better drug than nicotine.

4. Those who matter, don’t care; and those who care, don’t matter.

5. Getting lost is half the fun.

6. Your children are a reflection of what they see. Make sure they see the right things.

7. Throwing a perfect spiral is a skill every person should know.

8. Every girl should know how to build a shelf; every boy should know how to sew a button.

9. Always bring an umbrella, you never know when the skies might change.

10. Friendships need to be cultivated and cared for.

11. If you want something to be; don’t wait for others to do it.

12. Don’t assume people know how you feel and what’s important to you.

13. Accept people for who they are, and don’t expect them to be you.

14. Love fully and deeply.

15. Karma’s a bitch. What goes around truly does come around.

16. Don’t worry about other people. Do the right thing for you.

17. Unless you’re a paid athlete or a trail guide, don’t wear shorts to work.

18. Trust your gut. If it doesn’t feel right, it’s probably not right.

19. If it walks like a duck, and talks like a duck, it is most likely (whether you choose to believe it or not) a duck.

20. You get more bees with honey.

21. Food isn’t love. Unless, it’s those cinnamon sugar pita chips… that stuff is crack!

22. Nothing is more inspiring than a great mix tape.

23. Nothing’s worse than a hangover; except a hangover when you have children.

24. If you’re afraid of your children, they grow up to be terrifying.

25. First impressions last. You never know who’s paying attention.

26. Turn off your phone some times. Be present where you are.

27. Unless someone is hurt or hurting another, it can wait til the morning.

28. Laugh… Laugh a lot

29. You never know when you’ll fall in love. Be ready for it when it happens.

30. Learn something new every day.

31. Keep moving. It’s basic physics. A body in motion tends to stay in motion.

32. There is no substitute for a good book.

33. Stress and anger will make you sick. Smile and breathe.

34. Fake it til you make it. But, also don’t be afraid to admit it when you don’t know something.

35. Go on vacation. A lot. Make the time to do nothing.

36. There will come a time when husbands and children and bills will be your priority. Enjoy your youth and freedom while you have it.

37. A crappy day at the lake is vastly better than any day anywhere else.

38. Like the queen says, “keep calm and carry on.”

39. Don’t do anything half-assed.  Go all in, all the time.

40. 40 is just a number. Not a state of mind.  And, never be afraid to act the fool.  Life is too short!

The Boy and His Stuffies

100_1396  When Xavier was three months old, we couldn’t get him to sleep.  Every time we put him down in his crib he would wail and scream.  In a moment of desperation, we placed a little stuffed monkey next to him, just barely touching his little arm, and he slept.  The next day we put him down again.  Same thing, he wailed; put the monkey next to him, he slept.  Thus started his special relationship with Mono.

We were strict about stuffed animals when the kids were babies.  They stayed in their rooms, they didn’t come downstairs, they didn’t leave the house except for sleepovers.  We didn’t want the kids to get too dependent on any certain possession.  We didn’t want to get stuck in a situation where we had to turn the car around because we left a stuffy at home.  Didn’t really matter though, the heart knows what it wants.

100_3832Throughout the years the relationships with the stuffies have changed, and they’ve become a part of the family.  Each animal has it’s own personality, some have theme songs, all have their quirks.  Mono is the leader and the dad; Burpy is a trouble maker but always has fun ideas; Brownie is the golden child; Rosalita is a girl but she can pack a punch; Swinger is fun because he’s a guy but he likes wearing girl clothes and his favorite color is pink.  Moo moo is a bit of a pig (even though he’s a cow) he eats garbage and never showers.

Ed and my relationship with the stuffies have changed too.  Ed has never liked the stuffed animals and finds the boys relationships with them slightly disturbing.  I find that the animals act out behavior that is unacceptable to me.  “Xavier, if Burpy doesn’t quiet down and change his voice, everyone will get grounded!!”  We talk about when enough is enough with the animals; and when they’re too “babyish” and not “manly” at all.

But, I can see that the role playing is important to the boys development.  They play out social interactions with the animals that are hard and confusing.  When Clut Clut gets too rambunctious, he needs to have a “time out” to pull himself together.  When Burpy is mean, the other animals don’t want to play with him.  And, it becomes a lesson on how different friends (monkey, cow, bat, monster, dog) can all get along and love each other unconditionally.

As the boys get older, I see them moving away from their stuffies.  The play is more grown up and a little more violent.  The guys still play “school” but now, they also play “animal wars”.  And, the stuffies are getting old.  Mono is starting to take a back seat, looking a little matted and worn.  The boys have gone to their grandparents, and forgotten their animals at home.

photo (6)They’re growing up, and real relationships are starting to take the place of these make believe lives.  They’ve practiced these interactions and are ready to try the real world.  And when it’s not easy, and things don’t go their way, they’ll always have their guys at home who love them no matter what.

Parenting’s a Crappy Gig

10334360_10202709480073133_776496951207363595_nLet me be the one to say it, because you know you’ve all been thinking it.  Parenting is a really shitty gig.

You go to a job interview, and they say, “You’ll be on call 24 hours a day, you’ll be expected to work overtime on the weekends, you’ll have full responsibility for every task and there’s rarely anyone to delegate to.  Your boss can be unreasonable, selfish, beligerant.  You’ll serve as director, secretary, bookkeeper, custodian, chauffeur, chef, and CEO.  And, by the way, this is a volunteer position, you won’t be paid a cent.”

And, I know….  You would never change it for the world, and you love those lil’ buggers, and it’s the worst job you’ll ever love.  And, that’s all bullshit.  You know this job blows chunks.

I love my kids.  Totally.  Unequivocally.  Madly.  And, I’m at the stage of their development when I really LIKE them too.  I have fun with them, we laugh a lot, and I legitimately enjoy their company.  It’s really not them, it’s the responsibility.

The soul crushing, overwhelming, absolute responsibility.  The worrying, and the second guessing, and the messiness of it.

As I sat on the toilet for a half an hour yesterday, holding my nine year old’s bloody nose, covered with rapidly drying red dots, as my six year old cleaned off the walls, I had a while to think about this (Yes Dad, I took him to the doctor.  He’s fine)  It’s an impossible task, with very little room for error.  And, there’s a million ways to mess it up.

You have to keep them clean, and fed, and well rested.  The have to be smart, and work hard, and be nice kids.  They can’t cuss, or fart, or pick their nose in public. They need to get to school on time, and like healthy foods, and play well with others. You need to deal with the strange rash on their head, and where their glasses are, and whether they are “happy.”  And, you have to look good doing it.

For the love of God, why didn’t anyone warn us!!  Quite simply, because if we truly understood, would we have agreed to bring these monsters into the world.  Or maybe I was warned and I chose to ignore them.  Hubris.  Pure hubris.

I’m sure of this.  Everyone,  every single last one of you, agrees with me.  Whether you choose to admit it or not.  Whether you smile through the muck, or cry through it, struggle every day, or knock it outta’ the park; it’s a shitty gig.

So, give the dad in the super market an understanding grin. Help that mom trying to drag the double stroller into the restaurant. Have patience with the parents struggling to feed their two toddlers in the crowded restaurant.  We’ve all been there, and we’ll all be there again.  Love your favorite parent today.