Packing up

It’s out last week in our house.

Things have been pretty busy around here, hence the silence on the blog front. Hopefully that will change as we get settled in our temporary quarters and construction begins on our new house.

Among the purging, organizing, and packing that’s gone on lately, I thought it appropriate to take a moment and reflect back on the time spent in this house. When we moved in 9 years ago, Trevor had just graduated from Duke University with his MBA. Second from the left, he was all smiles. I was too, because we were leaving North Carolina — which was nice for a couple of years — and coming home to Texas. Trevor's Grad. 5-04 - 022My favorite girl and my #1 son enjoyed graduation day, too. Trevor's Grad. 5-04 - 086

After a weekend house-hunting trip fraught with complications — including a case of pneumonia for my #1 son — we found a house. newhouse

When we left Durham, my favorite girl was in the throes of the terrible two’s, and my #1 son had just turned 5. The days were long but the years were short. I’m pretty sure I was too tired to envision our life 9 years later, with a girl preparing for middle school and a boy — ahem, a teenager — getting ready to start high school, and yet here we are. Trevor's Grad. 5-04 - 011_2

Those busy, exhausting days continued in our new house. My favorite girl looked like this as she got settled in our new abodePayton Kindergarten 029

and my #1 son headed off to kindergarten two months after we unpacked. Wearing his beloved Nomar jersey and light-up tennis shoes, that child looks like such a baby. His profile is the same nearly a decade later, as is his signature cowlick on the back of his head.

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Those kiddos had some good times in our new house. Looking at those tiny hands and feet takes me back, yet I hardly recognize those little kids.pics to scrap 089

Dinnertime usually included a show; my favorite girl was the ringleader and my #1 son was along for the ride.Payton Kindergarten 025

He drew the line at following her love of body paint, however. She was on her own for that.fall o4 035

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DSC00024This was a common scene as the little darlings splish-splashed in a shared tub (heavy on the bubbles, of course).
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It was in this house that Mr P lost his two front teeth — on the same dayteeth! 002

and learned to ride a bike (barefoot, of course, because that’s how he rolls).team party 010

He never did learn to love having his picture takenPayton's 6th bday 013_2

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but he did learn to be a good sport about it.

It was across the street from this house that he caught his first fishP's fish 003

and decided that the fishing was a lot more fun than the eating.P's fish 005

He enjoyed baseball more than fishing, and that first season of Little League seems like a million years ago. Baseball was so simple back then —  they didn’t even wear cleats that first year!baseball 003

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We did graduate to cleats and batting gloves the next season, however.IMG_4850

but back then, the idea of a $400 bat would have made me laugh out loud. IMG_3415

That investment paid off, though, and Mr P collected his bounty for this first home run. $20 and a beer was the going rate back then (although he made the same face when he tasted the beer as he did when he tasted the fish). IMG_0149Little League is a distant memory, and home-run bounties no longer exist. Fancy bats and the big fields are our current reality.IMG_1421

It was in this house that these kids saw snow in Houston — something they may never see again!christmas 04 010

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Not long after that, we embarked on a much more appropriate project for Texas: building a pool.100_0369

We had a very diligent foreman on the job.100_0366

She babied the gunite and ensured all was well with the plaster. 100_0492

That tiny foreman made it through preschool and headed off to kindergarten from these front steps. Her backpack was nearly as big as she was.100_1168

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Now she’s sporting braces on her teeth and blue streaks in her hair.IMG_1383

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We’ve seen a lot of changes in the last 9 years. This house has served us well as we navigated the twists and turns of life with two young kids. I can’t wait to see what adventures await us in the new house. IMG_1270

IMG_1141Right now it’s a vacant lot, but before long there will be a foundation and walls and rooms to hold the next decade of memories.


girls’ trip

Once upon a time, in a city far, far from Houston, there was a group of young-ish women. All had relocated from every corner of the country with young kids in tow to help fulfill their husbands’ dream of getting an MBA from a top-10 business school. None of the women knew anyone in the new city, and all were a long way from home. For two long years, without paychecks and luxuries like babysitters, the women bonded while the hubs crammed their brains with all things MBA-related. Once the menfolk had diplomas in hand, the group of women dispersed, to new homes in new corners of the country.One night before going separate ways, the women left the hubs and kids at home and went out for a nice dinner. There the plans were laid and a vow was made: let neither distance nor the rigors of child-rearing sever the bond created by hardship and the shared need for breaks from their preschoolers. The solution: come together for an annual girls’ trip, to reconnect and recharge. 

The first trip was to San Francisco, then Sanibel Island in Florida. Next came Captiva Island, then Scottsdale. Park City was next, followed by Lake Tahoe. Every year was a different locale, but the theme was the same: reconnecting.  

The women had gone their separate ways, and a few left the domestic scene to pursue careers in law and medicine. The others continued to toil on the homefront, trading preschool and playdates for elementary school and homework. The kids grew up, and a few new babies joined the fold. One thing remained the same, however: the women’s commitment to the annual trip.

The End

Well, not really the end. Just the end of my little story.

It’s the eve of the 7th annual Duke girls’ trip, and my suitcase is packed. My boarding pass is printed. My Kindle is full of new books to be read uninterrupted by young children. My house is stocked for my peeps to exist in relative ease in my absence. I’m going, I’m really going.

After 7 years, you’d think that preparations for the trip would be somewhat by rote. Decide on the locale, find lodging, book flights, pack a bag, kiss the fam good-bye, and vamoose.

But not for me. See, last year I was ready for Tahoe. That trip was to have taken place 4 weeks post-mastectomy. As I described it this time last year, the trip was “my goal, a partial finish-line, and my sanity-saver since my diagnosis.” One of the first things I asked my superstar breast surgeon, Dr Dempsey, upon diagnosis, was if I’d still be able to take my girls’ trip. Tahoe with my Duke girls gave me something concrete to work toward in  my recovery from surgery, from being diagnosed with cancer at age 40.

Instead of stocking the fridge and packing my bags this time last year, I was in the hospital, sick–really sick–with a nasty infection. I was admitted to the hospital unexpectedly when symptoms of the infection appeared out of nowhere. I literally had seen Dr S the day before the symptoms cropped up; fine one day, sick the next. The day I was hospitalized, I was still clinging to the hope that I’d be in & out of there quickly and still be able to go on my trip. Silly, silly girl. My mind was willing, but my body said “No can do.”

After countless IV bags full of different antibiotics, my fever kept spiking and I got worse instead of better. While the scarier bugs like anthrax were quickly ruled out, the specific infection remained elusive. My infectious disease doc told me that the cultures grow at their own pace, and the culturing is done old-school: in a Petrie dish in an incubator in the lab downstairs. I was confined to the hospital bed until the growth was complete, and no one knew when that would occur. The day before the Tahoe trip, I had to concede that I wasn’t going to make it. Rotten luck.

While it broke my heart and seriously injured my fighting spirit to tell my Duke girls I wouldn’t be joining them, untold hard times followed. Missing the trip was chump changed compared to what was to come. Looking back at my Caring Bridge journal entry for June 10th of last year yielded this:

“I should be on a plane right now, en route to Tahoe, but instead I’m in an ugly gown, sitting on scratchy sheets in an uncomfortable bed (most definitely not a Tempurpedic mattress). Looks like I’ll be here a while yet.”

I don’t recall this part, but it must have happened:

“They moved me across the hall last night to a new room. My new neighbor is an older Asian man who talks louder than anyone I know, and so do all of his relatives. In fact, I just got up my scratchy sheets & walked across the hall in my ugly gown to shut his door. Sheesh. This hospital has an entire floor for Asian patients, which is pretty cool and indicative of this huge city we live in, but I’m wondering why he’s not on that floor.”

Tonight, on the eve of the 7th annual Duke girls’ trip, there are no scratchy sheets and there is no ugly gown. There’s a not-so-youngish-anymore woman who’s had one helluva year, who’s ready to get on that plane and make up for lost time. SPI, here I come. Now that’s a happy ending!