Ten Years ago.

Ten years ago today I was starting on a little honeymoon adventure; I was younger and naïve. I was in love and proud of the wedding we had hosted the day before. I was excited and scared for the next chapter. I tend to do that when big things happen, get excited and scared. Buying a car was a BIG scary commitment for me, I almost puked when we bought a house… marriage was like that; it was change. Ten years ago that day felt easy and it all came together well, minus the flooding and crazy amounts of rain, which is apparently not good luck. Our wedding was beautiful and full of people who loved us, our reception was elegant and very much how it was planned. Like most of our adventures it was full of unplanned craziness and things not going just right- but in a good story kind of way.

Every part of the wedding was planned and well organized- up until the end when I realized that Matthew and I didn’t have a ride home. I also was reminded that my sister drove away with my overnight bag and my parents with my only pair of shoes… so in pouring rain and no shoes we hitched a ride with our friend DD’s. We were of course pulled over on the Army base after some fully stories we made it back to our car… starving. Yes we had this amazing buffet and lots of food- only to have not eaten any of it. As per normal, by the time I was done talking to everyone the night was over and I had not eaten. So… Taco Bell it was. Then back to the hotel with its flooded elevator, my lack of shoes and no clothes but my wedding dress to crash and start our next adventure. That was the day I gave up the name I really loved, for one that totally didn’t match my Erin. I mean honestly Erin Wilson was the perfect name…

I was very proud to carry that name, though I missed my old name. I never quite felt like Mrs. Musto though, still don’t. I go by Miss Erin at school. It felt right to be married, to me. I felt secure and enjoyed having and starting a family. I will tell you- the fear I felt for having Madeline far surpassed that fear of buying a new car or house… becoming a parent is terrifying. There are no trade-in, no manuals, no promises of solid night of sleep, no more living for just you… it is a forever change. Having Madeline was more scary and harder than adding on to our family… She was the biggest change. Marriage felt normal… family felt normal.

We really made it to like 9ish, or 6 or 4, depending on where you define the end of marriage. I think Matthew clocked out of our marriage a long time before. I don’t see marriage as a ‘clockoutable’ sacrament. I see marriage as a promise to live and love and grow- and like them anyway. That you are not the person you were when you got married over and over in a life… so it’s like re-finding and growing and helping them build themselves. Naïve Erin saw marriage differently… but man o’ man this Erin is not naïve, sadly. I lost my naïve. I lost my young… I gained a lot though. I have kept the part of me that tried to see good in most. I have kept and built the part of me that trusts that people are kind and honest and good. I have not lost it, just built it better.

So… ten years later on September 17 I am drinking my coffee and typing away while my chicklets are at school reflecting. I am so freakin’ glad those girls are mine, all three. I am so proud of how far we have come, how we have grown. I love those chickens so.very.very.much. Those chickens could not be here is ten years ago I didn’t don my beautiful gown and take that next jump into this. I love this spot I am in. I am at peace with the loss of my marriage, grateful even. I am grateful for this story and this life and every bit of the joy and pain. I have much work to do on me, but I am happy. I love being here for my girls, I love getting them on the bus and getting them off. I love having this part of staying home and enjoying some coffee and quiet with my lil’ weiner dog and my laptop. Honestly, I am grateful for everything that brought me here. I am glad that this is what ten years later looks like… I can’t imagine it should be any other way.

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I am a boxer… ish.

A few weeks ago my Soul Sister set up a boxing class at her YMCA. I had never tried boxing and it was on nights that worked for me, so I said of course. In my brain I thought it would be a good add-on workout… you know the kind that you get a run or boot camp in the morning and then box that night. My preconceived thoughts were that boxing is challenging but not a crazy workout.

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So… in true Erin form I showed up to class with no gear and had to borrow from the instructor. I pulled my rings off and wrapped my hands and pretended to know what I was doing. We warmed up and my legs were burning, big time. We got started on some combinations and just repeating and repeating… he said we have to do it a 1000 times then do it again. That.is.A.LOT of times. In each class we repeat and we take on more. We strap on the gloves and jab, jab, uppercut, uppercut, hook, hook for a LONG freakin’ time. Then he switches it up and my brain will not do its job. I honestly think my brain has something against being told what to do. I need to find a way to get my brain to just do what it is told- to swap from LRLRLR to RL Hook. I was annoyed with my brain, still am.

My instructor/trainer refuses to keep the fan on. I think I am going to melt every.single.time. My legs are dripping sweat, my calves were sweating so much. I could not wipe the sweat from my face because the gloves on my hand and the lack of sleeves. It was crazy. I honestly have never sweat like that. It felt good, my skin felt new and fresh… it was like a lil’ detoxing session. I love the feeling of punching his glove things. It felt good. It hurt and it pooped me out. I knew I had no more in me, not a tiny bit in me. Then he said ‘work’, like I had been playing for the minute or two before. I wanted to yell at him, but there was no air or voice in me. I kept going, knowing that if I weaken my jab he would extend the length of push. I told him it was nice to punch a skinny, tall guy… I don’t know if he knows how to read me. At the end of the class my body feels good. I know I did some great work and got rid of some extra mad or sad or whatever. I know I am not good at it, I am not nimble or very coordinated. My brain has a really hard time following directions… I don’t know how to make that better. I like it a lot though.

I was wrong. I used to wonder why on earth, after fighting for quite a time, a boxer would kind of lay their head or kind of hug when they were tired. I couldn’t understand how they could go from punching to exhausted and leaning into each other. Well… I get it. It is freakin’ exhausting to punch. I swear it feels like a million years of work and it is probably about a minute (or at least 3). So I was wrong, and I have loved trying this new thing. I think I might even continue… and recommend my instructor to teach at my YMCA (and shave 15 minutes off the drive). I think many of my friends would love this class and love my instructor. It is a great lesson in coordination and discipline. It is a crazy sweat pile, its hard work, it is brain work (that I am working on) and it is different and bold and new for me. So… boxing is a good thing in the routine. I wonder what the next new thing will be…

Why GOLD?

There was a time in my life, in so many people’s lives, that I was blissfully unaware of childhood cancer. I grew up in an era where I knew only one child that was sick with cancer, I saw St Jude’s and I had this false sense of ‘okay’… that they had done all the work. I lived in a world that presented childhood cancer as under control and treated and high survival rates. So many I know lived in the same world.

Fast forward to today and the world I know, see, feel and understand much better. A world that my daughter Madeline was diagnosed with Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma, a brainstem tumor that stole her breath and heartbeat and amazing smile in only 5 days. A world that I was really dropped into, with none of the traditional cancer parts… no long hospital stays, no chemo, no trips needles and loss of hair. I was dropped right into that worst case scenario world full of grief and loss and missing. A world that I met so many parents who had lost their amazing child, some a year ago and others back in the 90’s… each still carrying the pain and hurt and missing- right alongside the faith, love and positive perspective that they have. A world that just this year I had 3 friends head to heaven in about a week… 3 new parents in this grief, loss, missing part…

I was thrown into a world of ‘Did you knows?’… the biggest fact for me is how freakin’ many people this effects. How many parents have heard the words “Your child has cancer” and how many children are faced with extreme treatments to hopefully cure their cancer and not poison their bodies too much. Did you know that of ALL of the government funding for cancer only 4% goes to Childhood Cancer research. Think about it… only 4% of funding to split between DIPG, Osteosarcoma, Nueroblastoma, Rhabdioblastoma, Leukemia, Lymphoma, Medulloblastoma, Ewings Sarcoma… and the list of long names is much longer… Each of those cancers is VERY different. 4% of funding to children… to the one’s who need to grow to be the researchers that work on cancers, the doctors that treat cancers, the teachers that educate students, the police officers that protect children and families… the next one’s in the lineup to run our world. Only 4%… the hardest part is the adults with cancer can rally and odds are some of the politicians that influence those funding dollars location are adults and draw from their experiences and illnesses and push for those. Those politicians and adults are able to fight… a child who is undergoing treatment is pretty busy, staying afloat. That child’s parents are busy too… being the parent doctors and cancer specialists that they are. They are trying to find ways to keep health insurance and find a normal for their family… they don’t always have the time or energy to put toward changing that 4%. Did you know that most Childhood Cancer drugs were developed over 30 years ago. It has been THAT long since Childhood Cancer treatments have improved. Do you know how many amazing kids have been lost since the 1970’s? Did I tell you I lost 3 friends this summer… 3 friends with different cancers, different journeys and different families… all with Madeline now. I will tell you 4% is NOT enough. 96% of all government funding of cancer will not help the future that was supposed have 65 more years of Madeline. That future should have had 60 more years of Kalina, 65 more years of Naomi, 65 more years with Julian… and Myles, Devon, Elijah, Onja Rose, Ben, Jonathan, Catie, Tyler, Nick, Morgan, Luke… so many more. That is A LOT of years. Those useful years deserved more… way more than 4%.

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Why GOLD? I have a theory. Our children are the GOLD, the highest, the ones… they have a HUGE need. Gold is radiant, noticed and valuable. Our most beautiful possessions are oftentimes gold… Gold anniversary signifies an extraordinary feat, a super special event. Our children are gold, every single one. I am an advocate for Gold and childhood cancer, not only for my amazing Madeline, but for your child. I am gold for your child and your cousin and your grandchild… your friend’s lovely or your child’s best friend in Kindergarten. Childhood Cancer does not discriminate… 5 years old, 15 years old… white, black… tall, short… rich, poor… kind, mean. We are working to share GOLD and change this for all the ones we can prevent from hearing “Your child has cancer”. We are working to change that stupid and low funding number, 4%, for all the awesome ones I get to see and bring gifts to right.this.very.moment. For those brave kids who won’t get to start school tomorrow because they are sitting behind glass hoping for new drugs, higher counts or painful treatments. They are busy getting better…

We need to get busy sharing. Gold is the color. Gold is the need. Gold is for our radiant and valuable lovelies. Gold is for the ones who left us to bring them along on this journey… the ones that are fighting and changing and busy getting better… gold is for the children and parents and sisters and brothers who will hear the words “Your child has cancer”. Gold is for the lost years… and to losing less of those years.

I ask you to go GOLD. I ask you to share this, share all of the Gold work. Share the pictures and the children and their stories. We need this… so many who are still living in the world that is blissfully unaware will have their world flipped over. Go Gold for me, for us, for them… for Madeline.

9 WHOLE days off…

What does a mom do with 9 whole days off, while her girls are away? I could just worry, but most likely they are fine… I could just mope, since they are experiencing without me- but honestly I experience much with them… or I could be in a rage for all the mean and ick and mad and bad that got them to this trip- but I am too light for that, I am too far from that girl who was mad. So… I just did what I do and filled it up, with a lil’ help from my friends, you know I get by with a lil’ help from my friends…

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After swapping a night of going out for drinks for a movie (and there was nothing good playing…) the week started. I traveled home for a lovely celebration of life and funeral… then watched younger and cooler people (potentially just less tired and old) dance and enjoy a housewarming party. Sunday was just a quiet day with an amazing sunset and some family. I came home to a clean house, laundry folded, rug replaced, lawn mowed and more- I had some elves working up some amazing here. It was so refreshing and lightening to come home to a fresher and cleaner house. It was a really special feeling. So… my cleaning and organizing day became my pampering and taking care of me day… with nails, drinks with a friend, haircut and color, then dinner at my favorite place. I probably should not have indulged in the second blood orange margarita- but I felt invincible and I had a driver…

Wednesday was project clean out my car. I accidentally left the passenger car door open, noticed some birds that looked like they were straight from Cinderella- flying into my car and bringing crumbs out to eat… maybe not my proudest moment, but at least I made those birds happy. I shut the door, scrubbed the sticky booster seats and got to work on the crumbs… Finally it was time to get ready for Track Day with my girls. I was mildly excited (haha, or maybe VERY excited). I felt like I hadn’t seen my ladies in forever. Those girls (and a few others) were plopped right here in this journey for all the parts. So we loaded up and headed out, we were creative and had teenagers drive us up and paid them. I warned our driver, an adorable and young college student, that he would hear lots. He would learn lots… he could repeat anything he wanted – but no names. He agreed and we made a blood pact, joking (crap I wish we made a blood pact)!!!

Track night was amazing. We got to experience the Paddock at the Race Course… we got to kind of meet our horse and his owner. It was a new and fancy experience. Then we watched the one race we came for and headed out for way too little food, way too many drinks and DANCING that I wish no one videotaped. I laugh thinking back on the conversations and the singing and the dancing… I loved every second of it. I loved the best pizza after, the most delicious Saratoga pizza that let’s many women with no shoes eat… best.night.ever.

Thursday started a whole new adventure… after visiting the track for a bit of family time, I got a huge and kind gift of time and easy and relaxing in Lake Placid. It was amazing and special… simple and SOOOO NEEDED. The hotel was amazing and full of amenities, Lake Placid was full of adventures. We walked and ate, wandered and looked, sat and read. We ran and kayaked. I felt content and happy. I don’t know, sometimes, how I am gifted such amazing gifts in this life. When I am sitting watching the lake with one the best people in my life… just looking at some of the most amazing mountains, New York at its best and a lake that is freakin’ perfect… feeling satisfied and full and happy… you know that the Big guy is taking care of you. I know this. I am grateful and blessed… Lake Placid was one of my favorite adventures in a LONG time…

I ended the weekend in my girl’s favorite place, without them, enjoying some of my favorite family. It was easy and bittersweet. I loved getting many little kiddos on my lap for snuggles… my nieces and nephews knew how much I missed my girls. I could.not.wait.to.hug them… I could not wait to touch their skin and see their smiles. I missed them differently than I ever have. So… snuggling and seeing my amazing nieces made me happy/sad. Returning to Albany was bittersweet as well. I was excited to hug the girls but sad to end this week of adventures and me… I was ready to prep for school but dreading the normal and busy. What a weird chuncka’ feelings.

Seeing and touching and hugging the girls solidified my missing and my full when they are with me. It was such a mix- to hug them and wish they didn’t have fun, but glad they did. We made it to bedtime… and watched a movie in my bed (only my kids think a DVD in my bed on a ghetto tiny TV is cool…) Amelia complained a lot about being hot, having a belly ache, a head ache and was so restless. I brought her downstairs to get comfy, grab a cold cloth and find a spot to rest. Amelia, who acted so strong on her trip, broke down and told me she missed me so much but thought she shouldn’t tell me so she didn’t hurt me. She had a great time and loved time with her Dad, but came home and our house felt different (maybe clean doesn’t look good here…). She felt that my voice sounded different, my hair was changed… she wondered if anything was the same. I told her I am so glad she had fun, that I have terrible allergies, I will not clean as much as others did for us… and that she will never hurt me by telling me. That she should tell me so I can help her lift the heavy and the hard. I know it is hard to be gone from home, she and Lucy were so brave. 9 days is a long time… I am proud they enjoyed it. I hope, often, that they know I am safe and always here. I know she it held in for me…

I am so glad to back to our normal… even if it means cranky Lucy and Attention Seeking Meme. I love my chicklets, my amazing special friend and friends, my family and my herd. All are too good for me, all are too amazing. I enjoyed my 9 days. I have enjoyed every day since… not every moment, but every day.

Cheers… to a summer well lived…

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We didn’t do the normal, as per normal. We developed a bucket list but it wasn’t written as a list- shocker. Lucy would spout something we passed and want to try it, or ask if she had already done it. I would go over things they wanted to try and see… we would talk about when they could happen. I wanted to make sure they entered their next year with lots of memories and knowledge that I love adventures with them.

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We spent several days beachin’ it. Just playing in the sand with friends or not… that was definitely a bucket list item. I was so proud to see how far my girls came swimming this year. It blew my mind and made me feel so happy to see them jump in and be brave and bold and proud. They jumped in the deep end and after a few moments were doing pencil dives and swimming strongly to the side. I watched them be little fish and I was sooooooo excited and glad- this winter I won’t have to shave my legs all.the.time and don my bathing suit at the YMCA pool. I finally had swimmers, and my fished checked off some of their list.

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The girls missed many adventures with their cousins this summer, but we made it up in cottage and outdoor time. We got to head to a big city, Baltimore and also hit up a day in Washington DC. They wanted to train ride and see lots… so we took a bicycle tour… not the one where we drive the bicycle, but the one that he bikes us in a lil’ buggy. We visited many of the monuments and stopped at a non-touristy-chain for lunch then headed back. In Baltimore we did lots of cool things- Science Museum, Pirate Ships (Old battle ships) and a wicked cool submarine. One night my sister and I even took the chicks out on Dragon boats- FYI paddle boats are A LOT of work. It was a really great little vacation.

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Later in July we did our family reunion and a nice long week on Tug Hill on a little lake. It was perfect. Swimming and movies and hot, long walks… good food and swimming. Lucy even got to mark off a day at the Farmer’s Market in Watertown- with fried pickles, twisty fried potatoes, fried green beans and fried cheese curd. I wanted to squash in a trip to the Renascence Festival but… sometimes life doesn’t work out the way we want it to. Thankfully we got to check off another bucket list and go bug our friends in Old Forge…

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So, as per normal, nothing goes the way it should, right? We left Tug Hill to head to the Adirondacks… and my car sounded funny. Everything looked ok, but I knew I would have to take it in. However, as I pulled into Old Forge and dropped Sparky at the lovely doggy hotel- my car wouldn’t start. Thankfully there was a great car shop right down the street and my car finally started and drove there (I think I had crappy gas in the car… maybe water in the gas)… and I had a friend following. So best case scenario in the rough stuff… we unloaded the important stuff (bathing suits, chips, toothbrushes, wine and booster seats) and left my car. We got to my Megan’s (about a mile down the road and got some more lake and friend therapy. The chicks kicked another bucket list item- Kayaking and then got brave and tried paddle boarding. Lucy insisted on catching dinner… she mastered casting and worming… and of course Amelia caught the biggest one in her only 5 minutes of fishing… life is funny like that.

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When we were driving to our Megan’s for more vacation- we passed the Boonville fair. Lucy announced that she wanted to go there, NOW. I told her we could mark it up on the list for summer, but we are going to stick with the plan and get to our friends. So in my brain I put it in there to hit up a fair and enjoy, but not just the rides… I wanted to see the animals and eat the junk food. That week I was asked to judge the Altamont Fair Pageant (which was awesome and a great experience)… so I combined the Altamont Fair with that. We kind of got lucky- our day’s weather was junky so the rides were empty and the fair was fresh. The girls got to ride anything they wanted and we did crafts, hung out with some horses and cows. We looked through some amazing art and projects, I pondered finding out how I can taste test for the pies, jams and wine (if they do that)… we happened upon the memorial garden for another lovely in heaven. I could see the love and missing in that garden that her parents have for her… it was perfect and grand and full of color and no weeds. We also got ourselves a very sad blooming onion and fried pickles… they were terrible. I was pretty sad, but then I kind of know it was a way of sticking to weight watchers- or at least not gaining more pounds, right? So I polished off the girl’s fried dough… and we went home and took showers, washed our feet and got onto normal Musto Chick.

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We had a plethora of other adventures- learning to ride bikes with no training wheels (we are working on it… so freakin’ close), painting pottery (finally my girls made ice cream bowls that we could use… not just piggy banks…), cotton candy at Circus Café (done), picnics at Madeline’s Spot (not enough but we made it up there…), Track for the day (bonus day with Grandma, Grandpa and Laurel)… I am sure I am forgetting things but we are finishing this off with a long weekend on the river. We are buggin’ Uncle Damon to take us out on the boat, hittin’ up the bay and most likely enjoying some rockin’ good sunsets.

I know we have more little adventures… time didn’t allow a few things. We meant to get more ice cream cones, ride in a helicopter and visit the ocean… but we have much time for Musto Chick adventures.

My girls got many adventures without me this summer as well, from a little extra time in Watertown to a nine day trip with their dad and his family, new and old. We are now back together for the rest of if… for the back to school prep (which might have broke me…) and for the excitement to travel home soon. My meme is starting 3rd grade, and knows it was my FAVORITE year… so she is so excited. Lucy is a little nervous, but excited. Bags are packed, clothes are bought, socks are fresh and they have new undies… on the plus side they have one more little adventure before the crazy of school starts. Thank heaven’s for that…

So a summer lived well has ended well… we did far too few bonfires in the back yard and hot tub nights… but maybe our fall will be awesome, who knows? I will love and enjoy the schedule of school and the time I get to myself… I want to eat lunch with the girls and get my workouts in… I want to fill in at school when I can, and the rest of the time love up my stay at home momma’hood… I want to hear Meme practice her instrument and watch Lucy play sports… I want to eat soup and stay home more… Welcome to fall… adios amazing summer. Adios to a summer well lived- on to a fall enjoyed and a winter of warmth…