It’s 9:30 in the morning on a Tuesday.

I’m knee deep in the stay at home mommy shuffle.  I’m orchestrating the symphony cacophony of laundry, unloading the dishwasher (yes son, it is your turn to do it), fielding long division questions and telling my other son that no, drawing trains is not a part of his school work today.  The phone rings….

For more than 10 years I’ve waited for this call.  Dreaded.  But after so many high risk skin cancer conversations by every dermatologist I’ve ever seen, the odds were never in my favor.  Between the blessing of genetics and the curse of the intense Florida sun, I knew it was just a matter of time. So, that morning, I sat amongst the flurry of my normal day spinning around me and listened to the nurse on the other end of the phone inform me that yes, this time the results were positive for carcinoma.

I hung up.  It was only 9:33.  But it felt like an eternity passed.  Amidst the math work (bring down your remainder, honey), the reading lessons and the grocery list (ground beef is how much this week?), I took inventory.  Surprised?  No…not surprised.  Scared?  Manageable.  Both a long time of knowing skin cancer facts and my faith help here.  Thankful?  Yes.


Unlike so many with so many illnesses and diseases, I’m blessed with one that is treatable.  Preventable.  Detectable.  Routine biopsies, minor skin surgeries, what are these in light of what it could be?  I live in a time, a place and have the financial means to deal with this.  I can buy cute sporty swim tights and rash guards with sunblock woven in the the very fabric!!  How nice to know afternoons at the beach are not off my list of family activities!

I’m not going to lie to you.  Cancer, in any form, stinks!  And as I stare at the bandage covering my new battle wound, I’m not excited about knowing that there could be more, lurking somewhere else on my body and not yet detected.  And yes, there’s cute sporty swim tights and rash guards out there, but it kinda excludes me from the cute tankinis.  And while I’ve had years to prepare myself for it, it’s still a different path than one I’d willingly choose.

But that call reminded me of all the preciousness that is in each day.  The mundane days.  The normal days.  We all have days of great joy and days of great sorrow.  But so many of our days are routine and we lose sight of what is precious in each of them.  Listening to my child read to me.  Slaving through laundry and dishes.  Yes, even explaining long division for the 100th time.  Precious.  Every second I’m allowed is one I want to be thankful for.

A new chapter

Drought.  Busy-ness.  Routines started and dropped.  A general inability to put words into sentences into coherent thoughts that someone might actually want to read.  That’s been the last several months of my life.

But now I’m looking towards a new chapter.  One where the hectic pace is a touch calmer, where streams flow through the desert, and where I put words together again.  One where I have time for play with my kids.  One that includes a semi-retirement for my spouse…which means he’s working a sixty hour work week instead of an eighty hour work week.  One where park days, movie nights and snuggle time is a part of the routine.  One in which I remember:

The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing. (Zephaniah 3:17 ESV)

Surprises and squeals

As a family of five, trips and vacations have been a challenge for us.  Financially, even cheap activities addIMG_0333 up for us.  Working out available vacation time for hubby’s two jobs always seemed to run into a snafu.  But this year, I determined no more excuses.  No more living in Florida and not availing ourselves to the many wonderful vacation spots that the world comes to and are only hours away.

It took a bit of convincing.  I had my heart set on Busch Gardens.  As we are not Disney die-hard fans, and have seen Sea IMG_0339World several times for a homeschooling field trip, I felt it was the way to go.  My girlie loves roller coasters while my boys still hate them, so I needed a good variety of things to do.  Busch Gardens has a unique mix of playgrounds, small carnival like rides, shows, and a sprawling full park zoo amongst some thrilling coasters.  It’s also only two hours away.  Close enough for even an afternoon trip.  But even with the reasonable all year pass ticket prices, when you multiply by five, that sticker shock is enough to require many husband and wife late night conversations!

In the end, we agreed.  And yesterday, we sprung early Christmas on my unsuspecting children.  With anIMG_0313 early wake up call, to a litany of “are we going to….”, we managed to keep our own big mouths shut until we turned on to the Busch Gardens road.  Once the squeals died down, we started them back up again when we said we could come all year.  It was one of those pat yourself on the back moments until Jake said “Is Legoland in here too”?

Because kids were still in school and it was a freezing day by Florida standards, we had no wait times on rides or for food.  In fact, a more wonderful first experience could not have been had!

If you give a mouse a cookie…

Over tScreen Shot 2014-08-07 at 3.40.03 PMhe years I’ve watched a few DIY home improvement shows.  I’ve laughed as the one project morphs into this nine month, six project, ten thousand dollar over budget extravaganza.  And now…the laughs on me.

Because, apparently, home improvement projects snow ball.  You start with a child’s move to a new room.  In moving said child, you uncover some of the horrors of homeownership.  Moldy carpets and a wall that most likely needs gutting and repair.  But then you find those external factors causing said moldiness and know well, that needs repair too.  So then, you double-check other rooms.  Find out that another room is affected from said moldy yuk and will need new carpet and wall repair.  And well, shoot, if you’ve got two rooms that need this then you should go ahead and claim it on insurance.  And if insurance is going to cover that then shouldn’t you use your refinance money to finish new floors through-out the home?  Well, if you do that, and your refinancing anyway, and your still way under your refi budget, shouldn’t you put in new counter tops?  New or newly painted cabinets?  A new sink?

If you give a mouse a cookie…. 

Yep.  I get it now.  I get how one thing turns into this giant snow ball rushing to bowl you over.  And do we have to do all this?  No.  And maybe we won’t.  But if the bank isn’t going to let us put some of our refi money into consolidating debt, then our requested amount gets significantly lower.  And since it costs 5K in closing costs anyway,  shouldn’t we do the most we can within our budget?  Aren’t there any directions for these kinds of things???  I guess not, since HGTV wouldn’t be making their big money on home improvement shows where everyone succumbs to this type of snow ball effect.