Hot Dog Stains, Belize Prep, Mermaids, Melanoma: the usual


J and I were supposed to go out tonight (Friday) to celebrate the closing of our Carmel house this week and to say things to each other like, HELLO. HOW ARE YOU?, but the babysitter was sick and canceled, so instead we spent the evening grabbing slices of pizza off the stove between feeding twins and cueing Friday movies and arguing about brushing teeth and everything you might imagine a Friday night to be with 3 kids 3-and-under… and in the end I am just sitting here with cold pizza, Prosecco, and a full 4-finger grease stain (hot dog?) on my pants. It’s too late for a movie because the twins wake up at 5 AM, and J is already snoring in the next room. I don’t really blog anymore, so how about a very long Insta/FB post, because I have zero margin in my life and this is how I’m left to process. WHO’S WITH ME? 

Just kidding. Insta cut me off, so here we are on this rusty old cobwebby blog space, which I might actually resurrect for a few when we go to Belize, because then instead of just a circus, we will be a *traveling* circus!

Insomnia club, I see you. Let’s call this meeting to order, yes? First on the agenda: we leave for Belize next month. NEXT MONTH. And my 3-year-old (who was previously pretty excited to go, although she has no idea what she’s talking about— a plane! Just like Papa and Mimi’s in FL!) just cried for an hour when she started to conceptualize that she’ll be leaving her school here for a while and going to a new school. Do you, oh Internet, remember when we moved to Madison from Chicago?? Her difficult adjustment totally blindsided us, because we didn’t prep her at all thinking a) she was only two years old at the time, and b) it was basically the same lifestyle. But she cried for months about her old class and her old room and her old friends, and only six months in started feeling comfortable in her own room 😕 .

We’re learning she is slow-to-warm in temperament and a little on the anxious side. So, *AS IF* regular logistics weren’t enough to keep me up at night (Housing! Packing! Electricity! Water! The exact number of instant oatmeal packets that will fit in our bag and not overweigh it!), now I’m worried about her distress over scary new things I hadn’t really considered from her perspective because Belize is so warm and comforting and familiar to J & me. 

We’re caught in this tricky in-between place— not short-term like in a vacation, but not long-term like moving there permanently, which are her only frames of reference. 

I did show her pics of Belize, our friends there, some of the schools I used to work in, Independence Day parades, piñata parties, La Ruta Maya canoe race, cute little monkeys, the zoo, etc. and she stopped crying at some of my snorkeling with sharks pics, which I obviously told her were dolphins, and then she perked up and wondered if there might also be mermaids, to which I was like, YES. THERE DEFINITELY MIGHT BE MERMAIDS, ARE YOU ALL BETTER NOW, CAN MERMAIDS FIX YOUR TENDER LITTLE HEART, PLS???

Anyway, how I am *just now* considering my sweet little baby in this major life change brings me to me next agenda item: the lack of margin in my life. 

You guys, I am a symbolic person who makes sense of life through writing and reflecting and finding insights and humor and ultimately peace through this process. But lately I have been keeping twin babies alive and running a counseling practice and teaching a course and responding to disruptive events (like, for example, a bank robbery at the Pick n Save, which was super convenient because I could grocery shop immediately after), and have been drowning in the event-emotion-processing backlog. It feels just like my laundry situation, actually. This week, I gave up folding or putting away sheets and stuffed them all into a cedar chest and literally whispered, “I’m sorry” to them as I closed the lid. 

This situation basically represents MY SOUL. 


As mentioned above, we sold our Indiana house this week— our first home together, the place I flooded when we first moved in, the place with twinkle lights on the deck to signal to friends on the trail to stop in for wine and/or pizza (Chuck Horn riding up with 2 beers in his bike cooler!), the place that held every single tear we cried through years of (at the time) hopeless and non-covered fertility treatments, where we nurtured all our May flower gardens into tiny, living, beautiful things, which felt so important at that time. It was the place we hosted all the Thanksgivings and niece and neph sleepovers, the place our life together was established, the place we dreamed all our best dreams for marriage and family— and it was only after Jeff left at 6am to drive 12 hours there and back with a quick signature and handing over of keys (which didn’t happen because WHERE ARE THE KEYS?) and after his mom came over to help me manage the kids for those 12 hours, that we realized the significance of this house sale and wished we’d gone together, and had scheduled time to honor everything we experienced there, all the life that came after 😭😭😭. 

And how about this? Because we are going to Belize, I bulldozed my way into my primary care just to get a referral to the Derm, and the Derm squeezed me in on a cancellation list with like 12 hours notice due to family melanoma history and my departure to the equator next month. She biopsied a couple of spots, which is, like, normal occurrence, and then she called last week to tell me it was malignant melanoma and that a surgeon would be contacting me shortly.

On that phone call, the babies were crying, and all I can remember is how I was doing my absolute best to reassure her that I was totally fine while she gave me bad news. She was super concerned, and I was like, YEAH NO I’M TOTALLY FINE, ALL GOOD HERE, I AM STRONG AND CAPABLE AND TOTALLY RELIABLE, EMOTIONALLY, SEE?

Whyyyyy do I need to convince a stranger that I can handle all the things? (It’s my strong 3 wing. This blog basically reveals that the 4 is stronger, though.)

I asked zero questions, just hung up and kept on with the babies. It wasn’t until my family and friends started asking me questions about staging and surgery and procedures that it occurred to me to call the Dr. back and gather more info. IN WHAT LIFE DOES A CARE PROVIDER CALL TO SAY YOU HAVE SKIN CANCER AND YOU ASK ZERO QUESTIONS? A life where 50 other things are on your mind, and you have like a 5-day delayed reaction, and you’re sidetracked by making it look like you are not losing your mind on a daily basis. (I did call back, it’s a tiny little tumor and probably just stage 1 but they won’t stage until after surgery on Thursday. My mom is coming because of course she is if you’ve seen any of my other postings on FB/Insta.) 

The funny thing is that I just taught this course (in Chicago, 3 days after I broke my ankle) on Compassion Stress Management and Compassion Fatigue, and during the training, we completed a stress-level assessment, where the results basically predicted, based on your score, your likelihood of having a major medical event within a matter of years. Prob should have taken my own assessment.

ANYWAY. The good news is that after I wrote this, the babysitter called back and sent J and me out the following night, so we talked and cheersed and dined and reflected. I typed all this out on my little phone in 30 minute increments over a span of 3 days, and I feel much better. SO. THANKS INTERNET. 

Follow along with us as we haul two babies and a three year old to Belize next month for a semester?? Prayers for everyone’s adjustment (and skin and ankles?)

Thanks, pals. 


2 thoughts on “Hot Dog Stains, Belize Prep, Mermaids, Melanoma: the usual”

  1. Brooke, Brooke, Brooke! Love you so much. What a development! Our new pastor’s wife, Heather (40), is doing bimonthly imunetherapy treatments for melanoma. She’s doing great. I’m praying for you and your sweet family. Give my very best to all the people in Belize!


  2. Dearest Brooke,
    I hope you have a wonderful Belize trip experience to, during, and return.
    I’m reading your writing it took me back about forty plus years. Your life really sounds on track. I can’t imagine how Mamaw Diz managed with 4, then 5 & 6!
    Just remember God knew all this before you did…
    – He has answered your prayers
    – He is always in control, so you can relax
    – Children do have their personalities but they also reflect others attitudes and emotions and react to their environment.
    – The most important thing you give your child is a love for the Lord God. They will see this in your protection, love, spirit, trust hope and giving. This will last them for eternity.
    – Keep calm and enjoy your life and theirs.
    It goes by so very fast!
    I love you, Jeff and the girls.
    Happy travels!
    G-Auntie C
    Ps. I sent the twins their baby gift by Dot when I was in Alabama. Hope you get them before long. 🥰

    Liked by 1 person

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