Saturday, October 25, 2014

fall

i'm probably staining the counter top and cutting board with half-peeled beets, but to cut beets, i guess i need to get out some creative energy first.  after all, william had an art class this morning and we get to look at this cool creation of henry's each day... 

hanging on the wall... 


and besides, this blog post has been half done for nearly a week now.  the beets can wait a few minutes.

the other week was fall break for these boys...

and their hair was less scruffy than that.

because they got haircuts awhile back.  henry looked like this but they weren't trained in cutting around ears so large, so greg had to do it when we got home that day.


and william is routinely the one to pull the burley to the store these days, but these days it is not nearly so warm out, or sunny, or blue skied.


but onto fall break.  you can see we went on a trip with a porthole, if portholes can be square and without latches to let in the fresh sea air...




a relatively popular thing to do over here is take a cruise to oslo... walk around oslo for the day, get back on the ship and sail back (overnight) to copenhagen.  so... leave on a tuesday, get home on a thursday kind of cruise... which is to say... the perfect length for us....



here we are, still at the copenhagen dock...


double-u on deck...


kid-zone.  color a picture, enter it into a contest, win a toy, get a balloon sword, a balloon pirate hat, jump in the bounce house while at least one of your parents feels certain you'll come out of it with a concussion somehow.


goodbye copenhagen...


hello fall break!


good morning norway...

you are more spectacular to behold in fall than the little country you've shared so much of your history with.

not even into town yet.  it's hard to be a three year old on a party cruise.


off the boat.  he was the only large animal we saw that day, but we saw him early...


crossing streets, of colored buildings...


and of glass...



catch a tiger by the toe... or the tail...


getting out of the city as soon as we got into it, at will's request...


climbing the tall hillsides on the train that would take us up...


fall colors...



explorations at the top... where it's much colder...


sure, these could be trees anywhere, but they're norwegian trees.


a william-led hike...


to a lake, with a camp of some kind on the other side, for teenagers?  it was hard to tell.


if you guessed giant ant hill, you just might be right...


heading back to the train to get back down into town... 


more yellows, but still so much bright green below. it's how it is in denmark, long into the fall.  grass and fields stay green.


still tired... he falls asleep shortly after this picture and greg carries him through the streets of oslo until he rouses....


so many fallen leaves...


goodbye oslo...







waiting for dinner...


alas, that is my last picture of the cruise, and here is my last picture of fall break...


making dinosaur cookies.

all i have left is of a walk we took last sunday to the grocery store...



and back, when the sky was much pinker...





well... maybe our trees are turning too...


the other side of the street...







i wasn't going fast enough for henry, so he told me to take his hand and he could help me...


a bridge lit up...


water level high...








after the sunset...


and now the beets need my attention and i have a game of go fish to play.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Inventory

it's a forever game of catch up with this blog.  i'll do it in list form.

things we've lost

our washer/dryer combo
one mitten
our patience, occasionally

things we've made

indian food
soap
toothpaste
granola
yogurt
birthday cakes

things we've planted or transplanted

kale
rainbow chard
collard greens
cilantro
green onions
raspberry plants
lovage
oregano

things we've purchased

a new washing machine
a new pair of gloves-- junior sized
children's birthday presents
books (see things we're reading)
art class for w.
an aloe plant

things we're doing now that it's fall

harvesting our greens (see things we've planted)
picking apples
lighting candles at dinner and sometimes at breakfast too
continuing to sleep with the windows cracked open
wearing mittens on cold morning rides to school

things we're reading

100 years of solitude -- regan
the miracle of mindfulness -- regan
the immune system recovery plan -- regan
the hormone cure -- regan
taproot, issue 11: mend -- regan
white fang -- greg
wild trek -- william
any thomas the tank engine book he can get his hands on -- henry

places we'll go

germany in october -- greg
norway in october
spain in december

things we're pretending

that it's our birthdays even when it's not -- henry takes the cake for this idea
that we see ghosts -- henry
that we see monsters -- henry

things we're repairing

greg's old bike
me

things we're collecting

horse-chestnuts -- henry
pokémon (etc.) cards -- william
foreign currency -- william

birds we're watching out the window

magpies



Monday, August 25, 2014

monday

henry seems to have come through his tonsil surgery just fine (with a follow up appointment next week to get the medical opinion on that).  he seems to be sleeping more soundly, (certainly more quietly).  on three occasions he did not wake up upon wetting the bed, though i have no control to compare to, for he was in diapers pre-surgery.  but on two accidentless occasions he has gotten up from his bed and come into our bed, as he did every night pre-surgery, his entire life that he's known how to get from point A to point B in the middle of the night.  this is on the two nights he was not already in our bed as we were instructed to have him in there, in case his mouth started bleeding in the middle of the night.  so... the verdict is out on his quality of sleep, but it's certainly no worse since before the surgery.  and now that he's out of the danger zone, so to speak, he's back to school.

so now it's a quiet house once more.  i'm tempted to turn on 'Jake and the Neverland Pirates' for a little familiar background noise, but i can also easily sing the theme song to myself, in my head (whether i want to or not).  that, favorite of all favorite cartoons, being one of the tricks to keep little H man calm for the past two weeks.  and lots of wooden railroad tracks, and trips to the grocery store in the burley and picking up big brother from school and dropping him off in the mornings on the days greg was in prague for a conference and it was just the three of us. and ice cream of course.  i'll miss the little guy's daytime companionship, but i know he loves 'børnehave' (pre-school) and the very many positive reasons he attends have me satisfied it's the right thing for him.  still, though there are no part-time options at his school (or most børnehaves in denmark, for that matter, so far as i know), i may keep him home on fridays.  it was something i had wanted to do awhile back, after my school schedule changed from mo, th, fri to tue, wed, thurs, and after he started to get older and a bit more willful and challenging in his nursery class, but it feels like not long after that decision was made, i was diagnosed with cancer and life at home became less predictable in so many ways, so the structure of school seemed just the ticket.  as it still does now.  he is a boy who needs structure and predictability and his pre-school class is wonderful at giving this to him (and we at home are getting better at it too, now that life has settled down once again).  something i was able to see in henry with the turnover of visitors (wonderful visitors!) during my treatment, and also again, this summer on our trip to the u.s., going from one house to the next, is that he has difficulties surrounding transitions.  it is certainly one trigger for seeing his more challenging behaviors in full display.  and smaller transitions can do this too, but one-on-one he is nearly always content, so i think fridays at home will be a wonderful plan for us both.

i am also sitting on the fence about something.  i can't decide whether or not to go back to danish classes.  they began two weeks ago, the day of henry's surgery.  to be honest, i don't want to go back, except that i'm not in the habit of not seeing things through to the end (the end, if all runs on schedule, being december).  one of my main hesitations is that my energy level is not what it was, maybe not even what it was during most of my treatment.  i feel like i'm ninety, people!  i'm going to offend some ninety year olds in saying that, and i apologize in advance, as you correctly read between the lines that feeling like i'm ninety is a negative for me.  so it feels precious to me.... my energy, that is.  i have this feeling that i need to guard it and be careful with what i spend it on.  there is a finite amount in any day, in any period of any day.  if i run out of it, which feels like running dead on into a wall, i have to spend anywhere from an hour to a day or two (if i've been a zombie (see below) for too many days) of not doing anything, to get it back.  if i can't stop when i need to stop, maybe because greg is out of town and the boys are home, i feel like a walking zombie.  pushing through water or something thicker (a wall maybe) to get done what i need to get done.  if you do a google search about cancer and fatigue you will see the many articles, including scholarly, written about post-treatment fatigue, and i think this is most certainly what i'm feeling.   here is one description from an abstract (and here's the link)...

Fatigue is a subjective state of overwhelming, sustained exhaustion and decreased capacity for physical and mental work that is not relieved by rest. Cancer-related fatigue has many causes. Included in the causes are the illness itself, the side effects of virtually every treatment, depression, and other biopsychosocial factors. As a result, fatigue is the most common symptom reported by cancer patients in most descriptive studies. In addition to arising from multiple etiologies, fatigue is also multidimensional in its manifestation and impact. Its effect on the quality of life of the patient is comparable to that of pain. Experienced by most patients as an extremely frustrating state of chronic energy depletion, it leads to loss of productivity which can reduce self-esteem. As a subtle and chronic symptom, it also places people at risk for being questioned about the veracity of their complaints, particularly during the post-treatment, disease-free survival period. Patients themselves are reluctant to complain of fatigue, perhaps because they believe little can be done about it, or they wish to avoid drawing attention away from treating their cancer.

i agree in that, long-term, it is not relieved by rest, but certainly in the short-term, i do feel a difference after resting.  i also agree that it's extremely frustrating, though i try to think about the fact that it should get better over time (perhaps on the order of years, but still, no one's saying it's permanent) and that perhaps my kids are little enough that they don't remember a time when i wasn't so consistently tired (i hardly remember that time myself, or at least what it felt like to go an entire day without needing to rest at various points) and by the time they're old enough to compare me with other, more energetic mothers, i will be 'back to normal.'  i also agree that it most certainly leads to loss of productivity as, for example, it took me until this weekend to get all our boxes fully unpacked, that the idea of preparing for, say, a job interview exhausts me, that i have to think hard before (for example) running the vacuum cleaner, as i know it's going to wear me out physically or at least the energy it takes to run a vacuum cleaner will be dutifully docked from my limited supply of energy from whoever's in charge of the tally, and again, what can i afford to spend my energy on?  if i'm vacuuming to clean up before guests come over, will i then have enough energy to visit with and entertain those guests?  and school... i'm supposed to take an oral exam within the next week or two.  i haven't read all the books i'm supposed to read for it and i haven't prepared two topics to talk about... all around i'm not prepared, and it sounds exhausting to me just to imagine getting myself ready for it.  it makes going to school (for which i'd be happy to get the forced exercise three days a week) seem almost not realistic right now.  silly, i know, because so many people go through all of this cancer treatment and have full-time, mentally or physically demanding jobs.  it seems sort of wimpy for me to say i can't attend class a few days a week or sit for some silly exam... and i suppose that's where some of those reduced self-esteem feelings could come from.  because i do feel like, i should be able to do this, i should push through, i shouldn't give up on activities because people are going to say (and i'm going to say to myself): a) that's the complete opposite of what you should be doing to get your life back on track and to get rid of the fatigue, didn't you see all those articles about exercise???; and b) what are you doing then, and what are you going to do in its place, because you have to do something, you can't just not do something; and c) you want to talk about tired?  let me tell you all the things i do in a day while you're sitting around and then we can talk about tired.  (okay, i can't say that last one to myself.)  i know, i know people, we are all tired.  you, maybe more than me, me maybe more than you, you, maybe for better reasons than me, me maybe for better reasons than you, but the point is the same: if tired ruled the world nothing would get done.  yes, i see that, and i want to get back into that boat that rows on in spite of tired, but frankly it's moving too fast for me right now and i have to listen to my body telling me to take it easy for a little while and because i'm able to choose the other boat right now, you know, the one where everyone's dropped their oars in the water because they're so tired, that's what i'm going to do.  and it's not like a car suddenly appeared in the parking lot with our names on it.  it's not like i'm not going to be using my two legs to pedal me around for drop-offs and pick-ups and appointments and hauling groceries and whatever else (for a 90 year old, i'm doing pretty well).  it's just that these are the honest to goodness feelings i have that you probably wouldn't have in my case because you are able to analyze things with a clear head.  it's just language class.  i need to just get over the dilemma of it all.  i really feel like i need to focus on making myself better now and yes, maybe not giving up on activities and biking across town three days a week is one way to do that, but it's surely not the only way.  i don't know the answer but i also know i have to stop worrying so much about getting it right.  so... decision made.  i'm not going back to language classes, at least for now.  okay, phew! that feels better!

well, this has turned into a long pictureless blog post.  if you've stayed to the end, perhaps i can find a picture or two for you.


in the rain...


on the bus...


right before the first day of school.  the tie actually stayed behind, unfortunately.  his choice.


shaking the principal's hand and getting his flag...


the 0 grade class...


at his desk...


just some well manicured apple trees i like to admire along a bike path...


henry's surgery day...




on the bmx course...


climbing...


greg...


more climbing, more colors...


even more colors...


and then double the colors...


after a little redecorating... almost makes the orange couch look bearable...


the kitchen...


that's all for now!