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I feel like I’ve spent the better part of 2011 complaining about the weather. First, it was the endless snow, waking up every Friday morning to an additional twelve inches of white stuff covering our world. Then it was the endless rain, day upon day of spring spent running from one destination to another, head down and umbrella up, puddles of mud blocking your way. And now, inevitably, it’s July in Cleveland, with its requisite 90 degrees and humidity so thick you start sweating the second you get out of the shower.

I’ve wondered if maybe I’m just getting old, like now I’m grumpy and can’t tolerate what we once thought normal.  But then I listen to the local meteorologists and am strangely comforted by the fact that we do indeed keep breaking new records. We all know this past winter was an extreme case, as evidenced by the five snow days.  I think I had five snow days in my entire young life. They were so rare I can remember them still: One in second or third grade spent in the yard of our Swiss neighbors, the Zuberbeulers (could that really have been their name?) building snow forts and having epic snowball fights. Another (which might have been a cold day, not an actual snow day) in eleventh grade the day before winter vacation that surely wrecked havoc on the teachers’ gradebooks since many papers were due and many tests were scheduled that could hardly be repeated two weeks later. And this year … five. The state legislature actually changed the law in January to increase the allotted days from three to five. So you don’t need me to tell you that this winter was unusually awful.

And then on the first day of May, all the news contained the delightful little fact that we had accumulated more inches of rain in April than in any previous month on record. And then yesterday was the hottest day in sixteen years, since another 98-degree day in July of 1995 (which I spent in the even hotter city of Houston, Texas).

I’m relieved when I hear these reports because I feel vindicated, like at least it’s not me. At least the weather really is as bad as it feels. And I’m not the guy climbing up ladders to install windows or paint the exterior of houses, working six or seven days a week to make up for the lost jobs of springtime.  Nor am I the child (i.e. Braedan) off at camp with the distinct privilege of horseback riding for an hour each day, which  requires wearing jeans and a helmet. So I really shouldn’t complain. But I still do.

But now the storm has come through and cooled things down a good twenty degrees, so it’s out to sit on the front porch swings with my sweetie(s) to enjoy a cool summer evening.

Wow, we thought we had a snow storm last week?

To help you imagine long lazy summer days with the sound of squealing children wafting through the neighborhood air, here’s an article that was written about Austin and his treehouse for the December edition of the Heights Observer.

Too bad the treehouse is buried right now . . .

There is definitely something to be said for Facebook and birthdays.  Thank you all for the many many well wishes today. I’ve had a lovely day, actually a lovely weekend including dinner out with my husband on Friday and again with my family yesterday.  Today started with homemade waffles and bacon, much to the delight of my little people.

Then an 80-minute run through the snowy sidestreets with my girl Christie. I felt great throughout but waaaaaay older than my 37 years as soon as I was finished.  Then — and perhaps you’ll find this pathetic but try not to judge — my special alone time was a trip to Target. It was special. Really. Braedan tried to weasel his way into it (unsuccessfully) by saying he had let me go to the grocery store alone the day before. Not as special.

The lowlight of the day came when I unpacked the lamp my parents gave me and the boys decided to “make snow” with the styrofoam packaging (after being told not to), giving way to an hour-long clean-up. Like we really don’t have enough snow for them?

We rebounded with homemade pizza and a rousing pillow fight. Then I snuggled in between my two boys and read another favorite, Miss Rumphius. If you have kids and don’t know Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney, you really must find it.

And the best part: no hospital stays, no ER visits, no medical emergencies. Just me and my three favorite guys under the roof of our wonderful new house. So, I’m another year older . . . with a few thousand more wrinkles and gray hairs (and stiff muscles)? Oh well, I’m still lucky.

I went for a run today, which wasn’t terribly productive. The sidewalks were nonexistant and the roads had several inches of hard-packed snow making me feel like I was running in place. Which is how cancer treatment in general feels sometimes. Like we put forth enormous effort and get all tired out, but don’t get much of anywhere.

That’s not true, of course. We should be “getting somewhere;” it’s just not a place we can see. And the marbles are indeed moving, one jar almost equal to the other (although I think it’s time for me to sneak some extras into the “Days Left” jar). But I do feel like we’re just bidding our time, waiting for it all to be over.

We all start to feel like that at this point in the year (especially this year, when the whole country is buried under snow) — wondering when spring will come, counting the days until the warm weather hits. It’s especially so when you’ve got a kid with cancer: Let’s just get through this, let the dark days end, let the sun shine again.

Funny thing, though, is that Austin isn’t bidding his time. He isn’t just waiting for it all to be over. He’s still living each day to the fullest. Today we tried to build a snowman (but it wasn’t good packing snow), he went sledding with Braedan and Daddy, and in between he jumped on the bed and the couch and down the stairs. No waiting for this kid, no running in place.

There is still joy, even with gray skies.

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