Tuesday, October 30, 2012

pumpkin spice cupcakes {and my mama}

Halloween is tomorrow and lots of us are baking up treats, so I thought I'd share one of my faves.

It's a total cheater recipe...so easy and so, so good! 


My mom has been spending about half the week with us and we get very excited when we know she is on the way.  Last week Gant and I made these cupcakes to celebrate.

Whether your mama is coming or not, these are seriously good cupcakes and pretty awesome with a cup of coffee too!

All you need is a box of Trader Joe's Pumpkin Spice Muffin Mix and a tub of store bought vanilla frosting. 

Make the muffins, let them cool and frost them up!

Then sit back and enjoy the quiet....no one will want to ruin the moment with conversation.


And just for kicks, here is one of me and my Mom last week.  She is beautiful and strong and brave...and she always makes a really big deal about my cupcakes.  Even the cheater ones.  We love her and everything is extra special when she's here.

Friday, October 26, 2012

hands and feet to grief

{My Mom and I, with our "Team Poppa" hands together shortly after my Dad's cancer diagnosis}

For me, it's important to continue to honor my Dad.  It's important that his life and his impact has lasting traction.  I want to make a difference in his honor.

I want to put hands and feet to my grief.  I want my grief to have action. I won't allow him to be gone for nothing.

I want my life to be one of giving back, the way that his was.


The fact that many people go through cancer, without any support system or family baffles me.

Cancer is all consuming.  There is a schedule of feedings, meds, radiation, chemo, oncology appointments, etc.  That doesn't even take into account all the normal business of life that goes on, which is unrelated to living with cancer. The house cleaning, the pet walking, the grocery buying and on and on.

It took all of us.  And it took the rally of support from family and friends, to keep us going.

Last weekend, my Mom and I attended the Rock Cancer C.A.R.E volunteer orientation. They are a non-profit that provides help and support to cancer patients without a support system and they cover what insurance doesn't.

For the people who have no one, we are saying that we will be someone.  That we will step up.  That we will be the "someone" for as many people as we can. 

I am not sure yet how that will manifest.  I am not sure if that will mean delivering a meal or a bag of groceries, sending a card of encouragement, giving a ride to chemo or radiation.  I don't know what it will all mean yet, I just know it's what I am supposed to be doing.

I am convinced and convicted that stepping out of my comfort zone, and looking for some difference that I can make to someone who needs it desperately is exactly what my Dad would have me to do.


You can learn more about Rock Cancer C.A.R.E {here}

Thursday, October 25, 2012

the comfort of routine

{Lynne and Cathy.  Grant took this photo with my phone one morning.}

One of my biggest comforts is routine.  There are certain things that have to keep going, in spite of my grief.  I do not have the luxury of crawling into bed and staying there until the pain passes.

My only choice is to keep putting one foot in front of the other, each day.  There are little people who count on me.  That is just the way it is.

I have lots of routines, mindless things, the same each day, checks on a big long list that keep our life turning round and round.  This one is my favorite:

Every morning, after I take Reid to school, I head to Peet's for my coffee:

"Large Iced Caramel Latte, light on the ice.  Yes, whole milk is fine.  For Amber."

It's a pretty big coffee shop and there are lots of the same people who are there each morning.  There is a group of retired fellas right inside the door.  Grant gives them a high-five, on the days he is feeling particularly outgoing. 

There are college kids and business suits and people with their dogs sitting out front.  I know them all, although not all by name.

And then there is Lynne and Cathy.

They go for a walk each morning and then stop in to get their coffee.  We always seem to be there at the same time.  I first met them...maybe a year ago?  Grant would play a game of peek-a-boo, and then hide behind me, or bury his face in my neck.  Eventually he worked up to waving to them, and then soon he started bringing them little cars, lego creations and toys to show them. After awhile, he would run through the door and run right over to their table, pull up a seat, and start chattering away.

While I stand in line, he sits with them, talking and showing them the character on his shirt, telling them all the news in his world.

They take great interest in everything he says and they make him feel special and important.

They know about my Dad and about the journey to getting here.  They know Mark, and Reid.  And my Mom.  They pray for me.  They pray for my family. 

We sit and chat for a few minutes each morning about what the day holds and what's new since yesterday.

We talk about the blog and about writing.  Cathy is a talented writer and she has a blog too.  You can find it {here}  Her blog is exactly like she is, thoughtful and genuine and comforting, in a way that makes you feel peaceful and understood. 

Lynne is full of happy, bubbly energy and she can instantly talk Grant right out of throwing a fit.  Or right into finishing his pastry.  She has the magic touch.  She is always full of happy cheer.  It's contagious.

The people at Peet's thought we were all related.  Lol.

Grant calls them "my friends".  When we pull up to park, he says, "I wonder if my friends are here?" and when we leave he says, "Bye friends!"  And then when we see Mark, he reports about whether or not he saw "friends" at coffee.

They have become my friends too.  It's funny how strangers can become like that.  It's funny how much comfort they bring to my life.  The comfort of routine and order when things feel messy.  The constant of encouragement, friendship, kindness. 

My coffee routine holds so much more than my daily dose of caffeine.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

put on your running clothes and rule the world

It's been awhile since I've gone for a run.  A long, long while.  It's time to get back at it.  For my sanity and my body and my energy level.

The last few days, I've had lots of good intentions.  I've gotten all dressed and ready to go, laced up my shoes and...not done it.

But, you know what I noticed?  When I am all dressed for a run, with my shoes laced up, I feel better.  Way better.  Even though I did nothing. 

There is something about being in workout gear, shoes on, that makes me feel good.  I have more energy, I walk faster, I am more physical with the kids.  I jump and play around and give piggy back rides, I smile more and I just feel better.  I get more done, I even eat better.  {It's kind of embarrassing to be in your running gear, scarfing down a Snicker's bar.}

Maybe sometime soon I will actually even go for a run. 

But for now, at least everyone else thinks I did. ;)


PS - this photo is from my instagram feed.  Last week I finally decided to make my account public.  If you are on instagram, you can follow me at sdamber

Friday, October 19, 2012

word searches, warm blankets, and margaritas


Here is something weird about me: 

In times of great crisis, I do word searches. 

Mainly because, in times of great crisis, I can't sleep.  So, I just do word search after word search until my pen literally falls on the floor and then I can set it aside and nod off.  It sort of mindless and sort of focused.  It takes my mind off the things that keep me awake at night and it relaxes my brain. 

And it keeps me off the sleeping pills.

Shortly after my Dad was diagnosed with cancer, Mark went out and bought me a gigantic book of word searches.  He knows me.  He knew the sleepless nights were on the way.

Every night I have a little ritual. 

I {or Mark} warm up big cozy blankets in the dryer, one for me and one for my Mom.  I hunker down under my warm blanket with my word search, and usually a margarita too, I'm not gonna lie.

And then, when I'm good and tired, my pen falls on the floor and I head to bed.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

my only prayer

{my Mom and I held hands in the waiting room while they measured my Dad's tumor.}

When you are dealing with sickness or when you are grieving lots of people say, "We are praying for you."  It's a comfort.  Especially if you know that they are people who actually pray. 

I believe in God and I do pray.  I used to pray a lot more than I do now. 

When I felt stronger I prayed more.  When I felt I had life under control, I prayed a lot more.  I totally get it that that is the opposite of how it's supposed to go.  But that is the way it works for me. 

I pray every morning before my feet hit the floor.  I have only one prayer.  It goes exactly like this:

"Lord, please give me the strength to make it through one more day."

That is it.  And, for now, that is enough.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

trying to feel normal again

{my Dad and I in August, shortly after his diagnosis.  I was getting weepy and he leaned in and told me a joke.}
I haven't blogged since July. 
That is when my Dad was diagnosed with cancer.  He passed away very suddenly and unexpectedly on 9/9/12 and I have been working my way through the grief day by day.  I miss him terribly.  I cry off and on throughout every day.  It's just right under the surface all the time. 
On bad days, I do the loud ugly cry, but mostly I have a few moments scattered here and there.  Grief is a new part of me.  Like an extra arm or leg.  It's just there all the time.  I wake up with it, I go to bed with it.  I eat with it.  It's not anything I can set aside or put away.  And I feel like it's written all over me too.  Like I have a big sign that says, "I just had to say goodbye to my Dad." 
It sucks.  Bad.
I think that's why I have a hard time coming back to the blog.  I've always wanted to the blog to be a happy place and there are many times that I intentionally haven't blogged because I don't want the blog to be a downer.  But I also want it to come across as real.  I don't want to be a fake version of me for the sake of the blog.  And, the reality is, I am not in a happy place. 
"Happy" is not even in my current range of emotion.  I go back and forth between "sad" and "numb" mostly.  On bad days, I feel angry and inconsolable.  On my best days, I feel hopeful.  Hopeful, that I will figure out how to live with the new appendage of grief, hopeful that I can find the joy in things again, hopeful that I can make a difference somehow through this, hopeful that someday, someone will ask how I am and I will answer "happy." 
That is the new truth about me.  It's just reality.  I think, at least I hope, that there might be some healing hidden in writing, so I am going to try to branch out of my comfort zone and write here again.  I miss it.  And I miss my readers.  Are there any of you left?  I'm just going to be honest and vulnerable here and try to make sense of it all.  Bare with me, I am still trying to figure out how this is going to go.

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