kids_lake

“I’ll have the wild blueberry please.”

“Your lunch looks so heavy this morning! Did you pack some for me?”

“Sam I forgot to bring your socks again, I’m sorry.”

“I don’t know. I don’t know what it means. I’m scared.”

“It’s likely metastatic.”

 

Lines from recent conversations. Lines from different moments on different days, all of which brought me to tears.

I debated whether to say anything online. This place is usually filled with happy self-deprecation and a deep love for local food. But when you fall apart ordering a blueberry donut, it’s time to admit that life has thrown you one of its wildly unpredictable curveballs.

I called a friend to tell her the news.

“You should say something.”

Openness is both my strength and my weakness. Anyone with a pair of ears has heard about the times when I’ve burnt my food, failed a test, or had too much to drink.

I admit to my faults, and there are many. But I don’t like to tell stories that aren’t remotely funny. They stay deep, dark and buried until the skies are once again clear. When I can talk about them in the past tense. Make light of the situation.

“Remember the time when I walked to the hospital with a cockroach in my shoe? That was funny.”

Health issues – present tense – are never funny.

Cancer isn’t funny.

Particularly when it shows up 14 years after it went into remission.

Too much has happened since then. A husband. An apartment. A dog. Three beautiful kids. A lake house.

It seems unfair. But what is unfair?

Is it fair when another person gets sick? Your co-worker’s child? Your friend’s mother? Your brother? Your sister?

Cancer is a numbers game. There are things that you can do to better or worsen your odds, but in the end, it strikes randomly, and has nothing to do with fairness. It has everything to do with bad luck.

So you try to be upbeat.

You distract yourself. You work. You take the kids to school and drop them off at tennis.

You listen to the conversations happening around you. “Sophie isn’t being challenged. You’d think that after all of these lessons she’d know how to hold a racquet.”

You try hard to forget the news that you were delivered. That more likely than not, you have stage IV melanoma.

I’ve been writing for two years about what life is like on the other side of cancer. It’s full of healthy food, birthday cakes, love, frustration and joy.

It would be inauthentic for me to disappear into thin air, or to provide vague information. “Checking out with some health issues guys, see you in a few weeks.”

I wanted to finish telling the story about that incredible trip through New Mexico with my Mum.

And now I’m giving myself permission to rest. To focus on my health and spend quality time with my family.

Tomorrow I’m going to the hospital for surgery and I look forward to hearing these words when I wake up: “We removed it, follow-up treatment is…, your prognosis is good.”

There’s no reason to believe that I’ll hear otherwise. My doctors have told me that I’m going to be OK. I believe that I’m going to be OK. After a week that involved tearful phone calls, depression and isolation, a strange thing happened. I started to take pleasure in old routines – making myself a nice meal, taking the kids to the museum, reading a book at night. I wish that I could say that I willed myself to this place, but it happened organically. And although I’m anticipating bumps in the road ahead, I know that I have the mental strength to get myself through this challenge.

I promise to update this page as soon as I have my energy back. And I look forward to returning with great news. There is so much good coming our way – another summer at the lake, boxes of CSA vegetables from the Hudson Valley, a recently-planted herb garden that’s already in full bloom. Summer camp for the kids, swim team, trips to the neighboring blueberry farm.

Life is happening around every corner.

Whatever is thrown my way, I’m ready for it.

—————————————————————————————

UPDATE

It’s been a week since my surgery and recovery, although slow, is going well. As much as we’d hoped that it wasn’t cancer, here we are, stage IV melanoma. Treatment is still undecided, but we’ll learn more in the coming weeks.

I’m in good spirits though. Food has once again become my beacon. It’s my comfort blanket, my shield. There’s “healthy eating”, the kind of eating that I’ve embraced for the past 14 years: joyful eating, everything from scratch, wholesome ingredients, mountains of vegetables, nothing processed.

And then we have its reclusive, tough, and oh-so empowering cousin: “HEALTHY EATING” – no white flour, no sugar, no red meat, no dairy, no regrets.

I don’t look at my list of antiangiogenic foods and think about restrictions. I look at this list and see 150+ ways to beat cancer.

Hippocrates once said “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.”

So I’m gearing up for battle; building my arsenal with weapons such as blackberries, ginger, whole grains and leafy greens.

If you’d like to see the TED talk that inspired this dietary shift, you can find the link here.

For now, you can picture me exactly where I am most days: on the couch, Lauren’s “High School Musical” blanket keeping me warm; Jackson on his back by my side, paws in the air; bowl of kale salad in my lap; ginger tea at arm’s length; kids in costume, making a mess, performing a show…surrounding myself with every inspirational anti-cancer book written since the beginning of time.

There are worse places to be in life.

See you guys back here soon.

63 comments
spring_is_here_nyc_41
spring_is_here_nyc_34

spring_is_here_nyc_33

Officially, the first day of spring is March 20. I don’t know about you, but a spring that involves snow in the air, wind chills and below freezing temps is no spring to me.

Spring means blossoms. The kind that look like Malcolm Gladwell tree wigs.

spring_is_here_nyc_13

spring_is_here_nyc_12

Earthly blooms, bursting with color and pollen.

Long walks outside with shoes that don’t cover my ankles.

The absence of hot chocolate.

Skirts with no tights.

These things rightfully don’t happen in March. Unless there’s a freak warm weather system that gets Chad Myers’ underpants in a twist.

But April. We expect more of you.

Prolonged warm spells, not just pockets of heat.

I’m not offended by a pocket though. The weekend, for instance. Sandwich it between workweeks and the weekend is thrilling. Exhilarating. Titillating? All of those at once.

Imagine this: if every day were a weekend day, where would be the joy in approaching a weekend? Which may be a sensation even better than the weekend itself.

spring_is_here_nyc_35

spring_is_here_nyc_32

continue reading

40 comments

Easter_Sunda_Egg_Hunt_20

Easter_Sunda_Egg_Hunt_21

If you’ve read previous posts about important days in the year – Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, etc, you’ll know that my strategy in approaching these events is something along the lines of “oh cr&p, it’s [insert holiday]”. Often it’s “oh cr&p it’s [insert someone’s] birthday.

Now before I unintentionally paint myself as the world’s most insensitive mother, please know that this doesn’t relate to children’s birthdays, which are usually SWAT team-planned the day before. And generally follow the creative bake-a-cake-and-make-your-favorite-meal variety. Elaborate birthday parties, with the exception of this one aren’t my strength.

You can impute thusly that preparation for national holidays isn’t my strength to the power of infinity. Taking that one step further, it wouldn’t be so shocking to learn that I was duly unprepared for Easter this year.

But Easter hasn’t happened! [yells the reader before throwing her shoe at the screen]

Hold on…I’m getting to the punchline.

According to the Gregorian calendar, it has yet to happen. But in our family, Easter will be spent in the coach section of United Airlines flight ABC123, hauling three kids and corresponding bag tonnage to a Caribbean island far far away. So, based on a technicality, Easter actually happened last Sunday. In the form of a neighborhood egg hunt planned by others, and open, mercifully, to all.

Easter_Sunda_Egg_Hunt_19

Easter_Sunda_Egg_Hunt_18

continue reading

27 comments

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

Oh, who was I kidding…I really don’t do anything besides dress myself in well-worn knits and cook food all day. That trip to the Farmer’s Market that I posted last week? Aliens abducted me, bandaged my eyes with banana peels and forced me to walk, one foot after the next, until I reached the outskirts of my block. Which was terrifying and exciting all at the same time, but it’s nice to be back on the home front again.

Becauuuuse, it was Spring Break this week! Woohoo! And unlike my friends who surprised their children with trips to Disney, etc etc, I surprised my kids with this: “pack your bags kids, we’re heading up to the lake. Again.”

Spring_break_New_Jersey_kids_FeedMeDearly (2)

School weeks are tiring enough without having to race around town getting prescriptions refilled and purchasing mini toothpaste sets. Who’s with me? Why travel when you can have fun in this glorious snow?

Spring_break_New_Jersey_kids_FeedMeDearly (1)
Spring_break_New_Jersey_kids_FeedMeDearly (6)

Besides, we didn’t just have snow over Spring Break. We had days upon days of record-breaking lows. Which, mind you, when you’re situated right upon a lake, results in lows much lower than those horribly bad lows. These are the kind of lows that keep you trapped inside all day (win!) but that freeze your pipes (:(((() For the record, that was a quadruple frownie face, and until they replace my keyboard with emoji, we may have to put up with more of those.

This wasn’t a total destruction on par with last year’s freeze. Fortunately, just the kitchen pipes froze and eventually thawed. Which for 3 days meant no dishwasher, no running water (kitchen only), and a mounting pile of dirty dishes in the sink.

So let’s focus on what we could do last week. Because my glass is half full with the lemonade that I made out of those Spring Break lemons.

First up: Christmas.

Spring_break_New_Jersey_kids_FeedMeDearly (4)
Spring_break_New_Jersey_kids_FeedMeDearly (2)

continue reading

34 comments

IMG_5111

If you’ve read my recent post about Valentine’s Day, you’ll know that I’ve vowed to keep things PG-13 this year. And let me clarify before you get any ideas about this blog – I’m still talking food and beverage. 

There will be no mass consumption of alcohol, no next-day apologies…no questions as to whether I’m still technically part of the family. 

I’ve pledged to do more of the Valentine’s Day activities that you’d expect from a mother of three. Baking? Check. Handwritten cards? Check. Chocolate? Yes, please, all of it.

This’ll be a new thing for me. I’m never one to pre-plan for Valentine’s Day. Christmas? Different story. I once ordered presents in August, just to get a jump start on my wrapping. A summer babysitter once innocently asked what all the boxes were for, and when I responded “Christmas”, I could see furtive glances towards the nearest exit.

But Valentine’s Day always surprises me. It takes up a small amount of brain space during the month of February – in the form of “I think it’s coming up soon.” And then, one day, the kids’ backpacks come home with a bulky mound of candy and Hallmark-emblazoned paper with rickety signatures, and gosh darnit, you’ve missed it again.

In an effort not to be the Valentine curmudgeon of years past, I visited our neighborhood Michael’s to pick up some supplies. By the way, have you been to Michael’s? I know that the prospect of visiting a big box retailer may be less thrilling for those of you living in suburban areas, but they just opened one up in Chelsea and it’s like Disneyland. For crafters. I’m definitely not a crafter, but I can get sucked into the moment if I’m in the right place.

There were multiple aisles of Valentine’s day gear from stickers, to heart-stamped tape, paisley-printed cardboard, and plastic jewels to tack onto your love notes. I’m embarrassed to say how much I spent, but I’m comforted by the fact that we’ll have Valentine’s Day crafting materials until my youngest reaches Middle school.

So that’s what we did this weekend. For 15 minutes. Just until the novelty wore off, prompting me to subtly remind {nag} my kids for the rest of the weekend that each child in the class needs a card, not just close friends.

And those reminders were just for the girls. Sam took one look at the heap of pink and red construction paper and decided that he’d prefer to build Ninja stars.

Apologies, friends of Sam. There won’t be Valentine’s Day cards this year. I hope that you’ll forgive me; it wasn’t for lack of effort.

IMG_5373

IMG_5367
IMG_5433

continue reading

45 comments