Leukemia Journey

Today I’m sharing a several-part series of writings chronicling the beginning of our leukemia journey. It doesn’t end, but it has gotten easier for the most part.

 Leaving Texas

We arrived at our apartment with an empty moving truck. Though we had left the place only a week ago, my memory of its filth had already diminished. We were here to load the truck and begin our journey North the next morning. We’d already packed before we left. Though my mom disagreed. When she surveyed the roach-infested landscape she had to excuse herself onto the porch. The humidity slid down her face and her breath quickened as anxiety pulsed through her veins.

Unfazed, we continued loading the truck with our friends. Load after load of recycled boxes. Labels of contents long since gone haphazardly colored over with a fat Magic Marker. The tape on the bottom pulled away from the soften cardboard and our belongings peeked out at the seams.

Day turned to night and our march continued up the inclined ramp into the filling truck. Its Tetris-ed landscape dared us to make a wrong move. Bugs hissed in the floodlights of the building reminding us that time was almost out.

Finally the last piece was placed and the door pulled down. A lock was placed on the truck and our life in Texas was no more. We were headed North.

The trip was arduous. Half of the time was spent navigating our tiny coupe up the Interstate. The songs on the radio sometimes drowning out our cat’s pitiful moans, and sometimes the cat’s cries drowned out the radio. The other half was spent riding high in shotgun as my mom maneuvered the truck.

My thoughts were everywhere. How was the surgery going on Eric’s dad? Would I finally get to work in the industry I studied—Fashion Design? Will that cat please shut up? Only 200 more miles to drive today.

On the shift just after lunch, as I tailed the moving truck in our tiny plastic car, I felt it. I knew something wasn’t right. I slowed down a bit turned the radio off to see if I could figure out. Even the cat was silent. Nothing. I sped up again and knew something wasn’t right.

Again I slowed down. I stared at the gauges, nothing looked problematic. Then, in the rearview mirror, I saw it. A cyclic waving was coming from the left rear tire. The tread was peeling off. I pulled off onto the shoulder. And watched the moving van disappear in the distance. I felt forgotten, lost, alone. I got out and surveyed the damage, while dialing my cell phone.

“Hello?”

They still didn’t know I wasn’t behind them.

“Hi. Um, well it appears the tread is coming off one of my tires?”

“What?”

“The tread, it. Well it is peeling off.”

“We’re pulling over. Can you drive up to us?”

“Um, I suppose.”

I got back in the car. And drove slowly eventually seeing the van appear on the horizon. Thankfully we had a donut in the truck and our destination wasn’t that far away.

Nostalgia

Lately, I’ve found myself retreating back to familiar people, activities, shows, and more in an effort to comfort myself. Between the discord politically, the health crisis and pandemic we are currently in, and a lot of uncertainty loosely related in other areas of my life, I am keyed up.

I try to use routine to help–and it does help a bit, until it doesn’t. I still haven’t exactly figured out how to manage the expected unexpected that happens like missed alarm clocks or sick kiddos (nothing major).

I’ve found myself resorting to the things I loved as a kid. We spent an afternoon making homemade rolled sugar cookies and then made frosting a day or two later. Do you know how much butter is required for these things? We enjoyed the process and slowly enjoyed the treats.

We are introducing old movies to our son–Coneheads and Cool Runnings. We’re reading old books–Little House in the Big Woods, Roald Dahl (Danny the Champion of the World is amazing and was new to me), and CS Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia.

I’m watching through Gilmore Girls and laughing at the discmen with wired headphones that used to be everywhere.

I’m also revisiting my love of letter writing and encouraging. My prayer journal, journal, blog, and neglected Bible and studies. In the margins I see the truths that I learned previously being reaffirmed in the now.

I found a project I worked on in a semester long creative writing course about our life in leukemia. I’m refining it ever so slightly, but look forward to sharing that written journey in the imperfect realness that it has been. Next week we will celebrate the 15th anniversary of Eric’s diagnosis (cancerversary?).

As much as new and novel are fun, I’m finding a lot of comfort in the familiar and old. What about you?

Dresses!

I have dresses for the Day Dress, Night Dress contest! I used a New Look pattern and ended up with a wearable muslin. The white version, illustrated with rocket ships and a clock by my boy, is the day dress. The black, with blue underlining, is the night dress. Somehow, I cut the front (or back) on the reverse side of the fabric. I just went with it, so it came out a little less interesting than I had planned. Live and learn, right? This month has been full of sickness, so the best photos I could muster were on the dress form. The dresses fit pretty well to my body both have a bit of stretch in the material. 

Here’s the day look.

Here’s the night look.

 

I’ve also made a few bowties for friend’s pets. These were fun and easy. I based the design off of Grainline Studio’s free downloadable Happy pattern (for humans). Sake modeled.

 

In other news, I think I’m in the market for a new serger. I’ve been working with a dealer to service mine, but I think the needle tension is unrepairable.

And some other photos of how blue the under layer is, my textile designer at work, and the art of distracting sewing “helpers.”

 

Little by Little

When my kiddo came into my life the one sentiment I heard over and over again was, “the days are long, but the years are short.” I get it. Regularly life feels like a groundhog day repetition of the day before with no change happening. Then periodically you wonder how in the world you where you are in the parenting life cycle. Currently that means figuring out schools for your little baby, who isn’t very little but instead eating everything in sight and constantly growing out of his clothes. 

I feel like I’ve definitely fallen out of the habit of daily creating. I’m being inspired by Alisa Burke’s suggestion of 10/20 minutes at a time. Sometimes it feels like I’m striving and doing without a clear road map, or perhaps that I am expecting “BIG” returns each day for the effort I’m putting in. I’m realizing it isn’t always that way. Little by little I need to move forward and then at the end of a period of time, I will have actually accomplished quite a bit. 

I have an idea on the casual dress part of the day/night dress project that involves repurposing a pile of old tshirts. I plan to enjoy the process on that one and if it works out all the better. I’ve selected a pattern and fabric for the “night dress. A latticed stretch black with an extra layer of nude fabric for modesty underneath. It is essentially a tee shirt dress with a few more design modifications. Time to get cutting!

I warmed up with a few kiddo projects: quivers and a tie blanket.

 

 

New Beginnings

I’m always a bit nostalgic around the New Year. I love new beginnings, fresh slates, setting goals, organizing my thoughts, and reflecting on the past. I tend to hope for better, but I realize that sometimes sets me up for disappointment when overall things seem to continue to be messy, as life often is. On the other hand, I’ve never regretted the times I focus instead on being thankful. That always provides me with a sense of wellness and gratitude for my circumstances. Likewise, my family just moved so we’ve been a little extra nostalgic about our Bay Area life as we settle into a new rhythm in SoCal.

I’ve been a big fan of Lara Casey’s goal planning. (Here’s part one for 2017.) Her steps are easy to follow and help me refocus on things actually worth my effort instead of the “shiny and new” things I tend to find through comparison. 

I’m planning to join in “The Day and Night Dress Challenge” from elizabethmadethis.com. Still not sure on my designs, but it’ll be fun to work through my stash and see what I can come up with. 

I’m grateful for the strangers that have become friends in this space, like Bad Mom, Good Mom and AfricanKelli (check out her new book!!!!) And I look forward to making some more.

 

Check These Out

Check out what Albuquerque Fashion Incubator is up to. It is very awesome. Scheduling conflicts prevented me from attending this one, but wow! What a cool opportunity.

If you like the Pattern Magic books, I heartily recommend Zero Waste Fashion Design by Holly McQuillan and Timo Rissanen. I was lucky enough to hear Holly speak this week and it is very interesting ideas. I hope to try my hand at it when I make studio time this coming week.

KR

Messy Motherhood

Truths I’ve learned almost two and a half years in.

  • The people that told me the days were long, but the years were short, were not actually full of it.
  • For me, there is a sense of peace in solidarity. Just about everything my kiddo has done good or bad has been done before and people survived.
  • I will in fact get sleep, at some point.
  • The amount of help I get from my community is astounding and totally appreciated.
  • If I get comfortable, things are sure to change. Embrace the change, that’s where I’ve seen my strengths pop out and I’ve learned the most from my kiddo.
  • Be funny. It is so much more enjoyable than being stressed.
  • Seasons come and go. Appreciate the one you are in because you will have much different experiences in the next one.
  • Kiddo puke is gross. Milk puke is the worst. It still is funny, but probably only after the fact.
  • Trust your mama gut. Even if you take your kid to the doctor to be told he has a cold. For him, it may be the worst/longest/most pathetic illness ever. Full of coughing until milk puke multiple times a day. Which is funny, but only after the fact.
  • Don’t be proud, accept help.

What about you, what new truths have you learned lately?

Kiddo