Wednesday, September 3, 2014

My Love Letter To Longmont

Heath and I moved to Longmont over 6 years ago because it was affordable and a convenient location.  No great plan in that.  We didn't shop neighborhoods, find a house in the best school district or look at the community.  God truly orchestrated our move here and has unfolded this wonderful town right in front of us.  I believe that this is where we belong.

We feel such a sense of community here.  The people of Longmont are soooooooo nice.  The views from anywhere in town are the best on the front range, in my opinion. It's got most of the businesses you need and want and everything else is only a short drive away.   The recreation department is wonderful.  They have cool human interest classes for a good price, lots of exercise opportunities, tons of affordable activities for kids, and lots of convenient locations.

The city puts on wonderful, fun events many times per year.  Rhythm on the River is one of my favorite each summer.  It is a two day festival right on the river in Longmont.  The park was one of the heavily damaged areas by the flooding last September, and it was one of the highest priorities to repair before this event.  They host a 5K run/walk which is competitive but not intimidating. The flood took out a lot of the usual route, so they had to plan a new path this year.  It was even prettier.

This was my first 5K I had ever run (2013) and I convinced Heath to run it with me this year.  We decided that we are going to make it a family event every year.  This is right after the finish line, but right before the free pancake breakfast for participants.

The festival includes lots of local flavor.  It is mainly a music festival and has two days of any kind of music you could want.  They have lots of booths of educational, advertising and just plain fun.  The Home Depot had a free activity for the kids, of building and painting your own craft. The kids loved it!

The other city event that is a must each year is the Festival on Main.  It's a celebration of end of summer each year.  They close down at least 6 blocks of main street and have all kinds of booths, demonstrations, street performers and all of the downtown businesses are open and either giving out samples or dancing in the street.  It is so fun to bump into neighbors and friends and celebrate a beautiful night with your community.  All of the activities are free so it isn't cost prohibitive to go.  They have multiple bounce houses for kids, face painting and free concerts.  Willie Nelson's daughter was the headlining performer this year.  Not bad for little Longmont.  My favorite part of the festival this year?  Square dancing lessons.  I don't think that you will ever see another grey haired lady teaching a young man with a Slayer TShirt how to do a box step.  Priceless!

There are tons of other events during the year.  Lots of free concerts in the park, Art Walks, parades including my favorite large Veteran's Day Parade that always makes me cry, Longmont Light the Lights festival around Christmas.  If you can't find something to do for free in Longmont there is certainly something wrong with you.

One of the things I love most about Longmont is nothing was preplanned.  There is no true "nice" part of town.  There are nice neighborhoods, and newer areas of town, but everything kind of runs into everything else.  When we were house shopping we would be looking at a middle of the road house, then you would turn one corner and there would be a really nice house, and then turn the other corner and there would be a bit of a run down neighborhood.  There is no real division of community here.

We have a very fine healthcare facility.  It serves all the surrounding areas and holds the Planetree designation.  It is one of the last truly community owned hospital.  It has been a pleasure to work for them and I look forward to getting more and more involved in the organization itself.

There is no traffic.  I don't know if this topic even needs to be expanded.  I drove down to Denver several times recently and it made me appreciate this fact even more.  Usually we can get from one area of town to the complete opposite in 15 minutes.  In heavy commute time, it may take 20.

Everyone is kind and nice.  We have the best neighbors and friendly people in the park, at events and at classes.  I had a woman approach me at the library one day who recognized my kids from Itty Bitty City (another recreation department event) that Heath goes to.  She was so nice, and mentioned how our kids were a perfect mix of both of their parents.

Speaking of the library, we have a fabulous library!  Our children's department is amazing!  Great story times, fun events and great librarians.  Ms Amy is hands down the best children's librarian I have ever come across, and we are so fortunate to have her.

There is tons of local flavor.  Lots of locally owned shops, stores, grocery stores and restaurants.  We don't have to eat at chain restaurants because we have a fabulous selection of any type of food you could want. We have two awesome local breweries, Left Hand and Oskar Blues.  Heath and I have become true fans of Dale's Pale Ale.  Hard to find a time lately that we don't have a six pack in our fridge.

The city itself is great.  It was just announced recently that the local bus system is free, and will be free for the rest of the year.  I am finding more and more reasons why driving is inconvenient, many days I don't even get into my car.  We walk to and from school, I bike to work, and we walk to the grocery store.  I haven't yet, but I would love to plan a bus trip to the other side of town just to take advantage and support this great gesture.

Community.  I love the sense of community here.  I feel so fortunate to live, work and now have my children in school here.  I can't imagine anywhere better to raise a family.  I think we will continue to flourish here for the foreseeable future.

Mom Daughter Date

Today was a special treat.  Annabelle and I got to go on a mother daughter date.  My mother-in-law came up to help watch my kids while I had some mandatory classes at work.  As I was picking her up from school, I got a text message offering some more time so that Annabelle and I could hang out by ourselves for awhile.  We decided to go to a local coffee shop and have a special treat.  Blueberry Pomegranate smoothies.  Our cheeks are red because of the 90 + degree weather outside.  HOT!

Annabelle then took off with my camera

I stole it back just fast enough to snap this adorable shot

I love to see her perspective

We then took a short walk and shopped at the mid week Farmer's Market here in Longmont. 
I let Annabelle take my camera on the way.  She has quite the eye

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I love all of the brick work downtown.  Such a lovely piece of history.  I love these signs that say Longmont.  They are all downtown but so artistic for such a functional piece of equipment.  

She has quite an artistic eye

Probably my favorite of the day.  The shadow of a Mother and a Daughter.

Challenge #3

Challenge #3
Whenever I ________, I ________.
Whenever I want I can start over.
Today I am feeling optimistic.   The last two days I have really been feeling the change of seasons.  My body has slowed and I have required quite a bit of sleep.  Today I rolled, not popped, out of bed early to start my day.  This challenge made me think of how I was feeling.   I feel as though everyday is a new day and a chance to do the right thing for that day.  

Challenge #2

Challenge #2--What are some choices in your life that affected where you are now?

There have been several choices that I believe have gotten me to the place where I am today.

  • I chose to go to UNC instead of going into the Air Force.  My life would be very different today if I had gone into the military.
  • I broke up with Heath the beginning of my sophomore year of college.  If we had stayed together, and continued to date, I don't know that we would be married today.
  • I chose to date someone I knew from the beginning wasn't a good choice for me.  I was with him for almost two years, and although I did love him very truly, he affected my life in ways that I am still seeing today.
  • I made a simple choice one night to reach out to Heath after two years of silence.  If I hadn't made that choice, there is no telling if we would be together today.
  • I made a choice to go back to nursing school...I have no idea what I would be doing for work if I wasn't a nurse.
  • We made a choice to move to Longmont.  Well, please see my post Love Letter to Longmont

Challenge #1

Challenge #1
If you were forced to go back in time to the olden days, but were allowed to take 10 modern conveniences with you, what would you take?

I guess this depends on how olden we are talking about.  Prehistoric?  Dark ages?  Renaissance?  Pre-industrial era?  My answers very depending on each.  We will go with Little House on the Prairie time.

  • Electricity.  I just don't know if I am strong enough to live without it.
  • Indoor plumbing.  I can be a rustic girl, but for any length of time, I must have running water.
  • Digital music.  Having thousands of songs at my fingertips is just to convenient.  
  • Google.  I really don't know how I grew up without having instant access to information.
  • Washer/Dryer.  I love my set to much to try my hand at a washboard and tub.
I have spent a couple of days thinking about this and I can't come up with anything else that I would need to take back with me.  That makes me feel pretty good.

Monday, September 1, 2014

September Writing Challenge

I woke up today with a deep desire to start a writing challenge.  We have had a rough six weeks around here and I feel that I have let a lot of my good habits I was on a roll with go.  It seems like every 1st of the month rolls around and it is another opportunity to start over, or turn over a new leaf.  My goals for September are to:

  • Complete my morning yoga practice everyday. This morning epiphony:  include the kids!  They love doing yoga with me.  They are supprisingly good at it, and it is good for them as it is for me to stretch every day.  Plus it's something we can do together, everyday.  
  • Meditate everyday, at least for 5 minutes.  It really makes a difference and I can tell when my practice lapses.
  • Exercise everyday.  I need to be physical everyday.  It is good for me mentally and physically.  
  • Read everyday.  Reading expands your horizons.  Broadends your persective, and makes you grow and develop in new ways.
  • Write everyday.  Writing makes you think, stretches you and makes me think about things that I wouldn't necessarily think about.
I scowered the internet this morning for writing challengs.  I was just about to throw in the towel and come up with somehting on my own when I found this one.

It's a lot longer than I originally was thinking, but I thought that I would start it and see how it goes.  So here it goes, 30 days of writing.

My Mom has Cancer...again.

My Mom is a statistical anomaly.   She beat breast cancer. She beat ovarian cancer.  Several weeks ago she was diagnosed with gallbladder cancer.  What are the chances she could beat three different primary cancers?  Pretty slim...But cancer doesn't stand a chance!
My parents are always very good at being respectful when I sleep during the daytime.  I knew something was wrong when my dear husband awoke me in the middle of my sleep.  He said that my dad had called and that he was taking my mom to the emergency room.  My dad voluntarily going to the hospital is like a child voluntarily going to time out.  I knew something was wrong.  Before I even spoke to him I pulled on some clothes and headed out the door.
By the time I got to the ER, they had already run quite a few tests.  Her physician came in to discuss the results. She stated that my mother's lipase level was greater than 20,000. That was the highest that she had ever seen in her career. Not something you really want to hear a physician's say. She said that my mother's CT scan results were serious. Her pancreas was very inflamed and very angry. She explained that my mother was very sick.
My mom spent nine days in the hospital, with me her side for many of them.  My darling husband and wonderful children were so supportive in allowing me to be at my mother's bedside. We had several bumps in the road, including a middle of the night CT looking for blood clots, a trip to the ICU related to SVT (Superventricular Tachacardia) that was unconvertible (did not respond to treatment).  Her recovery wasn't fast, but typical for a serious pancreatitis. I am very proud of her that she heeded everybody's warnings and took it very easy for many weeks after discharge. The follow up CT scan revealed that the tumor was still there, and needed to come out. Surgery was planned.

I didn't have a feeling one way or the other regarding whether this was going to be a good or a bad outcome. I had several dreams that my mom didn't even make it out of surgery. Luckily, I was able to get off work and be with my family before, during and after surgery. My incredible sister flew out to be with us for the weekend. I was so impressed with my moms attitude as she headed into surgery. She was so calm facing something potentially so serious. As the surgeons had explained the week before, the surgery could be a simple gall bladder removal (laparoscopic cholecystectomy), or if the during surgery pathology and exploration looked worse than expected, it could be a multi hour exploratory and liver dissection surgery. He couldn't tell for certain what he was going to find. 45 minutes into the surgery we got word that the gallbladder was out and pathology was pending.  I think those 15 minutes were the longest of this entire ordeal.  Knowing that our life could change drastically with the knowledge they were gaining at that exact moment was a little daunting.

As the surgeon came out of the operating room, I could tell by the look on his face it wasn't good news. He said that her belly looked good and that he was very surprised but the tumor was cancerous! Luckily, all she had to have done was a simple gall bladder removal through four small puncture holes, and that her recovery from this surgery should be swift.  Butt the long term effects of having gallbladder cancer would be yet to be seen. As he explained, this type of cancer was very aggressive and very invasive. Only time will tell if she has escaped any metastasis. From all accounts it looked as though he had gotten it all and the cancer was contained in the gallbladder! Praise God!
We had to wait quite awhile for her to recover from the anesthesia, then it was change of shift on the post operative floor we were being moved to, then they accidentally gave her room away to another patient.  When we finally got to my mom's hospital room, there was one of the most brilliant, vibrant rainbows I have ever seen right outside her window.  It made the wait very worthwhile.  I posed the question to my father: what do you think this rainbow symbolizes given the storm our family just weathered?

It has been more than a month since surgery, and she is making a swift recovery.  She finally has her color back, some spunk and she is starting to feel like her old self (in my opinion).  Her follow up appointment with her surgeon ended with smiles and hugs. He said he doesn't want to see her back for at least a year.  All of the pathology came back clean, and from all accounts, at this time it appears that my mother is cancer free once again. Praise God!
The medical oncologist that will be following her did not have such a optimistic outlook. It was his suggestion that she do some chemo, or chemo and radiation to try to kill what could possible have been left behind.  After a lot of discussion, lots of prayer and some great direction from the Lord, my mom has decided to forgo further treatment and be under heavy surveillance for the time being.  What tests and schedule that will take the form of is yet to be seen, but hopefully the radiologists will get board with all of the clean reports!
How does one woman handle such adversity in life with such strength, presence and grace. I don't have all the answers but from what I do know, I am trying to emulate in my own life. She has such an amazing and beautiful presence, it's hard to believe that God does not have favorites. Mom I love you and I am so proud of the woman that you are. Thank you for fighting so hard when I was 11 and you beat breast cancer.

Thank you for showing me what grace looks like. Thank you for battling ovarian cancer, and being so strong and beautiful in my wedding.  I have wonderful memories of wedding planning while enduring chemo treatments.  I filled out my nursing school application as you recover in the hospital from having your hysterectomy because that situation finally convinced me that nursing was my calling in life.  When looking back through pictures Heath mentioned that he had forgotten that you were still going through chemo and had no hair under that beautiful wig.


Thank you pulling the strength out once more to fight through this, so that you may watch your grandchildren grow up. I am so excited to have you living so close and look forward to the multiple new memories that we will be making in the near future.

I love you mom. Thank you for being such a great role model for me to aspire to be.  I appreciate
everything you have taught me, everything you have given me, all my natural gifts and all my learned talents.  I thank you for being such a great Grammie, and loving your grandchildren.  Thank you for being a constant in my life, and I pray I can someday be half the woman you are.