Friday, May 29, 2009

How can it be?

So I originally started this blog a bazillion days ago when I found out that I had plantar fasciitis. It never got published because since then my life has gotten a little crazy--something new and different, right? If you follow my blog, or Tracy's blog, you have heard us mention our colleague, Bob Mitchell, a dynamic Latin teacher who passed away just over a week ago. Being the third faculty loss this year, you can imagine that NNHS was reeling. I was finding it difficult to be able to sit down and write. Unfortunately things became more chaotic when the Newton North community found out that we lost yet another vibrant faculty member over the weekend, Ucal McKenzie. Some of you may have heard about him on the news, or may have even read about him. Ucal was a guidance counselor and soccer coach at our school. His passing at the age of 32, was a shock to say the least. He had an infectious smile, and was able to connect with all students and staff alike--even those he had little contact with. The sorrow at school this week has been almost unbearable at times. Every time I went to sit and write, I just couldn't seem to say what I wanted to. It didn't feel comfortable talking about me, and I couldn't find the words to express what I was feeling. Click here to find out a little more about these phenomenal people, Ucal and Bob.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Here's to Hallmark Holidays

Mother's Day. Many feel it is one of those Hallmark holidays. I guess I do in a way. I'm not one of those moms who "demands" that their husband gets them jewelry or some extravagant gift. I don't have to. I am fortunate enough to have one of the most caring husbands known to man. Every Mother's Day, Andy tries his best to go above and beyond to make my day special. I will never forget the year that he created an art museum, consisting of our children's artwork, past and present, in our attic. The tour finished with brunch in the "cafe"--a table set with flowers in the middle of the room. There was even a second tour later in the day for my mom, Nanny. I don't know many men who would put the time in to organizing all of the kids' art work, never mind being creative enough to think of it.

As the kids have gotten older and have more commitments, to which Andy and I constantly drive them, my dear husband has realized that Mother's Day is more about getting a break than about devoting the entire day to family. This year he did just that. After baseball on Saturday he packed up the kids for an overnight to see Grandma. This to me was a great gift. I had Saturday evening and Sunday morning all to myself, well not all to myself. I had a ladies' sleepover with my mom, cousin, and a friend. Many stories and laughs were shared, along with some sangria. After breakfast and a trip to the Christmas Tree Shop in the morning, my clan arrived home, excited to see me, and me excited to see them. They presented me with portraits, poems, and vases they made in school along with their special journal. Ever since I got sick, one time in the spring (usually Mother's Day or my anniversary) each child presents me with his/her journal. They have designed the cover, and each year they add more detail to it and write a special sentiment to me. We all enjoy seeing how smart they are getting, and it never fails that I cry over what someone wrote. After that we had family batting practice. The day was the perfect combination of relaxation and family time. Isn't my husband the best? Oh yeah, he also got me the fire pit I wanted.

The point of this is not to go on about Mother's Day, but to announce to everyone that I am so fortunate to have the best guy around. When you make a commitment to walk 60 miles, it is not just your commitment. It effects your entire family. When I have to do 18 mile training walks, I am gone for several hours. These long walks happen EVERY weekend--both days! Never once has Andy complained about this, well maybe once or twice, but who can blame him? He realizes how important this is to me, and he supports me however he can. (You should see the signs he made for last year's walk--they should have been entered in an art show!)

So I was just about to sign off--and talk about strange. Here I am writing this blog about how great my hubby is, and he does it again. Just this morning my allergies were out of control, like everyone's these days. Well, I had run out of Claritin and didn't have time to get some before school. My eyes were so puffy and swollen that I had a student say, "Ms. Ziomek, you're not going to make it through the day!" Believe me, that was how I was feeling until my knight in shining armor saved me again. During his free block at school, Andy went to CVS and showed up at my office door with a new box of Claritin. Now that is love! You're the best Z!

Ta-ta for now!

Friday, May 8, 2009

To blog, or not to blog

First, I would like to start by thanking all of you for your overwhelming response to my last post. This is a really special time for me, and it has been great to share it with all of you. Just this morning I had someone say to me that it was the best post yet, and it has been a week since I have written it! It is amazing the power of words.

When I began blogging, I initially started because Tracy was doing it. She is the computer gal, and if she was doing it, then I should be too. For those of you who know our relationship well, you understand how similar we are. We have a long-standing joke that if something major happens to one of us, the other knows that there is something waiting for them on the horizon. I, however, have only had to call 911 once, well actually twice, and it was not for my children--just my fainting husband.

Another important thing about my relationship with Tracy, is that we challenge each other--in a good way. We are competitive, in our over-achieving sort of way, but we are honestly happy when the other does something better than we did. To me this is the sign of a true friend--one who is happy for you even if things do not work out the way they want them to. This is Tracy--someone who continually gives of herself to her family, friends, colleagues, and of course students. I love you Trace! You're the best!

So Tracy was my initial inspiration for blogging; however, over the last several months I have really started to enjoy it. Even though I am an English teacher, I don't write for pleasure like many of my colleagues. I don't feel I am very good at writing, and I don't believe I have a strong writer's voice. If my students heard me say that they would probably freak out. This blog, however, is different. I don't know when it went from being another "chore" on my list of things to do, to wanting to express my words on paper (well, computer screen, that is). I really enjoy it, and at times it seems therapeutic. I am amazed that people actually read what I write. I thank you all for that. At least someone is listening to me, even if my kids and students aren't! That being said, you will continue to hear more from me.

Ta-Ta for now!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Happy Anniversary!

Well, today is a very special day for is 3 years cancer free! On this day 3 years ago I was having my first mastectomy at Anna Jacques Hospital. My surgeon was Dr. Bentley and if you don't know him he is a wonderful man. He can chat forever, but it is clear that he truly cares about his patients. He even left his company who was visiting from overseas to come and see me on his day off. What surgeon does that? I am happy to say that because of him I am here today.

Earlier this week I was speaking with someone about a friend who has cancer and is not doing well. Mike asked me if it was difficult to talk about cancer, especially when the situation is bleak. I thought about it before responding. Before I had cancer I personally did not know anyone affected by it. Like many people, I believed it was a death sentence. I was afraid of how people were going to look at me. Would they take pity on me? Would they be afraid to talk to me? For that reason, I embraced the fact that I had cancer. I know that sounds bizarre, but what I am trying to say is that I would not let cancer control my life. Those of you who knew me during treatment saw that I never wore a wig--scarves and hats were my thing. Wigs are uncomfortable and I figured everyone already knew I had cancer anyway, so why not get some cute scarves and earrings (we all know how much I love jewelry) and be comfortable! Once I had the proper accessories, life was still life. I knew that cancer was going to consume me for the next year or so, but I would not let it consume my friends and family, especially my children. I made it to almost every baseball and soccer game that year, even after my surgery. I realized that family was, and is, number one, and even though it is so cliche, life is too short.

So again, when Mike asked me if it was difficult to talk about cancer, sure it is. Having cancer is something that I identify with, even though I may not want to. It will always be in the back of my mind. Sometimes it resurfaces when I am in bed and can't sleep, I have that strange ache or pain, or when a dear friend is diagnosed with the same dreaded disease I was. In those moments I reflect back on what that year was like. It really wasn't so bad. Believe it or not, I have some fond memories from that time in my life. My kids were fascinated by my bald head and were constantly touching it or kissing it. Mia still rubs my head every night before she goes to sleep, something that started during chemo. Maddie told me she liked me better bald, and Zach wanted to bring me in to school for "show and tell" because "not many kids have seen a bald girl before." Kids can just crack you up. They really helped me get through each and every day. I also reconnected with old friends, became closer to my family, and learned to truly appreciate my mom, dad, and of course Andy. Without them I never could have made it through that year.

Today I celebrate 3 years! I celebrate by going to dinner with my husband, with flowers, hugs, kisses, words of endearment, and of course by walking 15 miles! (Thanks, Jane!)

Thank you to all that have been part of this journey. I appreciate you, and all of the well wishes. Here's hoping for another 30!

Ta-Ta for now!