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A letter came today. In the midst of a very trying week, in between conference calls, speaking engagements, and an overstuffed Inbox, it appeared. A letter with the power to calm a worried heart, provide much needed perspective, and offer a reminder of how much we all really need each other. One little letter.

The past few weeks have been disappointing. My neurological disease(s) continue to fuck up my groove, now causing issues my endocrine system. I’m spending more time in hospitals and doctors’ offices than I have in the last two years combined. We are planning and strategizing and preparing for battle. Some days it’s disheartening, frustrating, tiring. Other days, I just slam a gallon of coffee and give it everything I’ve got. (And then I blast “Damn it Feels Good to Be a Gangsta” by the Geto Boys on my car stereo and think, well shit, I’m still here, I still got this, B. This is some serious badassery. I just gotta keep doing what I do as long as I can do it. Because I’m lucky to be here.) So, there are good days, bad days, and everything in between, but generally, it’s been a tough burden to bear. And then…

A letter came.

Across the country, a five year old that I have never met has just come out of another neurosurgery. He has one of the conditions that I have, a tethered spinal cord with syringomyelia. The amount of pain and suffering that this little guy has endured, and will endure, breaks my heart. Through this blog, and a little help from a dear friend, this family in Oregon and I were brought together to support one another. I have a unique advantage in being able to help this little guy’s parents understand symptoms, treatments, prognoses, but also to be a sounding board, to try to offer advice on how to approach treatment options, and to be a source of strength and comfort whenever I can. We write, we speak on the phone, sometimes, we cry together, out of frustration and concern for a really great little kid. Today, this little guy’s dad wrote me a letter.

I won’t post the actual letter here. I want to maintain the privacy of our correspondence. Sometimes, words are too precious to share. What I do want to share is the reason for the letter.

Simply this, that they are grateful to have someone like me help them navigate this journey. That, because of the knowledge I can offer, they can (and have) saved their son additional pain and suffering. That it’s so incredible that a woman they have never met in real life could be so pivotal in helping them fight for their son. They think it might be God. They thanked me for being the messenger.

I cried in a way that I haven’t in a long time.

I don’t believe that I deserve accolades for helping others. I do believe that everything happens for a reason. If I am meant to live this life, with the challenges that I’ve been handed, so that I could make a difference in the life of a wonderful little boy who has his whole life ahead of him, then I accept my fate with *gulp* gratitude. I have always refused to feel sorry for myself. I refuse to be a victim to my condition. Because of what I’ve been through, I have the power to help others. That is worth everything.

A letter came today.

It opened my eyes to the power of reaching out and helping someone just because you can. That letter healed a spot in my heart that I didn’t really know needed mending. It brought me renewed perspective, it brought me some peace. It brought me news of a successful surgery and the hope of relief for a little guy that really needs it.

We need each other, all of us.

As Ever,

I’ll eat you up, I love you so.

I’ve been struggling with a way to sum up this past year in one perfectly wrapped year-end post, all tied up with ribbons, nice and neat. I’ve begun this post countless times, always trying to find the best way to convey to all of you exactly what this year has been like. I have wanted to share with you how much your love and support (and mustaches) have meant to me this year. But it’s been a complete waste of time. I could never sum up what I have taken away from this year in one pretty post.

This year wasn’t pretty. This year was hard. It rocked me to my core. I am still fighting to reclaim much of who I once was, rebuilding pieces of who I want to be, and learning to make peace with the loss of things I can’t get back. Throughout this year, I felt an incredible range of emotions, from anger and fear, to acceptance and gratitude. The one thing I never felt was alone. In so many different ways, your tweets, your emails, your offers to help, your prayers, hugs and smiles, you guys helped me navigate through this year with hope and gratitude, and some days, maybe, just a little bit of grace.

Some of you, and you know who you are, sat at my bedside and held my hand. Others held my children, and made sure my family was fed. Some of you, without being asked, just kept showing up. It is something I will never forget, and those acts of kindness will shape the way my children live their lives and how they treat others. We are forever changed because once upon a time, a girl fell down, and an entire community came together to pick her up, dust her off, and carry her awhile until she could walk on her own.

I cannot think of any words of my own to express what I feel when I think back on this year. More than anything else, the thing that resonates most was more than just never feeling alone. You made me feel protected. Protected. That’s huge. It meant more to me than you could possibly know. There were times when it was harder than normal to pick myself up and get through one more treatment, one more hospital stay, one more fucking MRI. It’s those moments that I don’t talk about. I don’t tweet about them. Those are the moments that I have to dig deep. I have to forgive myself for feeling so weak, so sad. I have to pull it all back together and remember that my life is beautiful, even if this moment is not.  I remember earlier this year, sitting in the quiet, listening to this song, it made me think of all of you. Loving me, protecting me, never letting me stand alone, and I thought, “This is going to be okay.” You did that. I am forever grateful.

Timshel, Mumford and Sons



Thank you, for everything. I’ll eat you up, I love you so.

If anyone is sick of my dailymile.com lovefest posts, check ya later.

I came home from a conference last night to find that my dailymile family had been up to some shenanigans, again. I have been unable to run for a few weeks and will be unable to run until after a surgical procedure and recovery period. (While I will be back to regular activities within days, it’ll take a bit longer to get back on the running trail.) Might not be a big deal to some people, but running is important to me. It’s not just the physical benefit, it’s the mental “dumptruck” I can accomplish by leaving everything that pisses me off somewhere along the trail. Maybe most importantly, I enjoy drinking beer. A lot of beer. I occasionally eat my feelings. Running keeps me in Southwest Airline’s seats.

Aaaaaanyway.

My beloved dailymilers decided to have a Friday Night group run. For me. Because they love me. This is what the route looked like:

Love Route

They checked the route on the Garmin, they actually ran in the shape of a heart.

I can’t run. That sucks. I have to have surgery. Also sucks. This is temporary. Totally awesome. So, I’m trying not to whine about it. (I fucking hate whining.) My running pals kind of get me in a crazy-runner way. They also happen to be damn fine human beings. They make me want to be a better person so that I can maybe-actually-someday deserve the kind of support and love and heart shaped shenanigans they bring me.

Thank you. I love you. #lovefest #getaroom

Random: I find the phrase “surgical procedure” as somehow slightly gross, like “feminine napkin” or “viral load”. I have no idea why that is.

Until just a couple years ago, I didn’t need outside motivation to run. It fit neatly into my daily routine, and I was accustomed to just getting a certain mileage in each week. Having generally been a solo runner, I never had an interest in running clubs, or even a running partner. Other than the occasional run with my sister, I’d just hammer out some miles and get on with my day.

In the last few years, that began to change. Life got a hell of a lot busier. The kids, getting older, have schedules, my husband has a schedule, and my schedule has, of course, gotten insane. Why? Because I’m the mom, that’s why. In juggling family, business, random life crises, etc. I stopped paying attention. Missed days turned to missed weeks, turned into “run? what’s that?” My trainer recently said, “You didn’t lose who you are, you just stopped paying attention.” I like that. Makes me feel a little more confident as I reflect on when and how I started to lose focus on fitness, and begin to find myself again. Life changes, we change too. We need to find new ways of reaching goals. We need to grow.

One of the things absolutely vital to this process has been an online community called dailymile. I was turned onto it by my friends Anne (@bananza) and Tracey (@tmgessner). Here I am, the “lone runner” turning to a community of runners, cyclists and athletes for motivation and support. Never thought that this kind of community would be a good fit for me, but times change. I love my dailymile friends. Some days they ARE the difference between a pity party on the couch or a solid (even if its slow) run to keep me on track.

There are athletes of every fitness level in this community, from marathoners to nightly walkers. Our common ground is a desire to be healthy and to achieve our best level of fitness, as different as our actual goals may be. I love to watch the younger, child-free crowd train. It brings back memories of a Sara-that-once-was. It motivates me. And I couldn’t train the way I do without the parents on dailymile that are juggling all the same things I do, and still get out there and train. I have found a good balance of “push harder Sara” and “keep your priorities (kids) in focus too”. I owe them so much for that level of support and camaraderie.

I am so fortunate to have found this amazing group of athletes. I am glad that I have graduated from “solo runner” to “dailymiler”. Turns out, it’s the perfect place for a #beerrunner like me, who needs a lot more running and a little less beer.  🙂

dailymile

Later Gators.

MJPWD9BXDQ6G

I love Twitter. I really do. But if you tweet on the regular, you cannot escape the gigantic amount of bullshit floating around the twitter-webs. There are many kinds. Luckily, I have found a number of tweeps that are pretty down-to-Earth, no bullshit kind of people. I like them. A lot.

So why are some people so bullshitty? They are afraid of losing friends, losing potential business, losing *GASP* followers. Every single social media expert on the planet has warned them about “damaging their personal brand”. So, they are told to keep it nice, and polite, and well, kind of boring. I’m guilty of it too. I routinely ignore things that I might otherwise respond to because I hesitate for a second and think, “Is that going to be hurtful? Will they read too much into it? Will they be terribly offended?” Then I usually just leave it be.

Even “THAT GUY”. You all known him (or her). Yeah, I have even ignored THAT GUY when what I really wanted to say was, “You irritate every single person on Twitter. Are you okay with that, or do you want to dial it back some?” We all have a THAT GUY in our streams.

NOTE:

If you don’t have a THAT GUY in your stream, it may be you. You’re welcome.

*sigh*

Twitter is one of the very first places I go for feedback, recommendations, fast, real, information. If everyone is just being nice, where does that get me? I will love you MORE for being real! Be funny! Be angry! Be YOU! (Just don’t be douche-y.)

So, in honor of the real, genuine, AWESOME conversations happening all over the interwebs, I will be taking a shotgun to my personal brand once a week.

For one night a week, Monday night to be exact, I will provide honest, uncensored “no bullshit” feedback on a particular topic. Maybe I’ll pick it. Maybe I’ll let someone else pick it. I don’t know. Whatever I feel like. I get to make the rules.

This isn’t to say that I won’t offer up my opinions, unsolicited or otherwise, during the week. This will be more direct question/answer forum.

So there it is, no bullshit.

Oh, and thanks to @TheGlenn and @TeeCycleTim. This is 100% all your fault. 😉

On the recommendation of a fellow Milwaukee beer snob, I recently read Andrew Wagner’s post, My beef with “beer snobs”, on onmilwaukee.com. The following is my response.

Whoa, brah. Dial it back a second. Don’t confuse the term “beer snob” with the term “douche bag”.

As many of my 13 readers know, I am somewhat of an authority on douchebaggery. After all, my mission in life is to stamp out douche-y behavior whenever I encounter it. What Wagner describes in his post is clearly super-douche behavior.

And I totally agree with him.

Why does anyone care what kind of beverage anyone else drinks anyway? How totally weird is that? (Very.) When someone walks into a bar and acts like a know-it-all asshat, it’s clearly done in an attempt to look special, or wicked-awesome, or… something. Sadly, it’s pretty lame and douche-y. THAT is not a beer snob. THAT is just a plain old douche bag. (Related: It’s totally ok to want to kick those people in the nards. I’m not encouraging you to do that. I’m just saying, it’s ok to feel like you want to. We all do.)

I am a self-proclaimed beer snob. I enjoy craft beer. I enjoy the amazing aromas and flavors that have been created by people who imagined a new combination of malts, hops, yeasts and spices and just said, “Fuck it, let’s give it a go then…” I enjoy beer in the same way I enjoy great food. Most real beer snobs do. We bear the title with a lot of love for delicious brew and a little bit of humor. We don’t really take ourselves that seriously, we just like beer.

That being said, anyone who knows me knows that I am a champion of the Pabst Blue Ribbon Tall Boy. *genuflects* I like it. In fact, I can dig the original recipe Schlitz too. I don’t enjoy Budweiser or Miller Lite, however, I do find a shorty High Life acceptable (meh) as a bloody mary chaser. (It is the champagne of beers, after all.)

So Andrew, I’d like to buy you a Schlitz. I’d like to have a few laughs over a few brews and show you what real beer snobs are like. I think you’ll like us when you get to know us, and there are advantages to having beer snobs for friends — we’ve always got cold beer in the fridge. 😉

Two weeks ago, I was sitting in a surgical waiting room wondering if I could possibly be losing the love of my life.

The nurses were sweet. Too nice. I hated that. I know which wives get special treatment. The ones that the nurses feel sorry for. The ones whose husbands are really, really sick. I didn’t want their coffee, food, water, or their warm blanket or their offer to sit with me until the surgeons came out. There were too many hugs. That’s not normal. I didn’t want any of it. I wanted them to be irritated that I was even a little bit worried. I wanted them to blow me off with a “This happens every day, Sugar. Now, you just have a seat and everything will be just fine.” I wanted to be anywhere but sitting in that chair, pretending that I wasn’t ready to crumble into a heap on the floor.

Two weeks ago, I rushed Augie to the emergency room. Two weeks ago, he was down to less than half his normal blood volume. Two weeks ago, no one had any idea where he was bleeding. Two weeks ago, doctors used words like severe hemorrhaging and possible malignancies. Two weeks ago, doctors sat in front of me and “wished they could give me a definitive answer”.

In the last two weeks, a team of physicians and nurses have worked to stabilize my husband and give us back some piece of mind. While we aren’t 100% there yet, Augie is on the road to recovery from this episode, and we are closer to determining the exact cause of his condition. He’s weak and beat up, but I have him back. That’s all that matters to me.

I did realize, throughout all of this, how lucky I am. I don’t need a medical emergency to appreciate my husband, to appreciate the health of my family. I consciously treasure that every day. I didn’t have to waste any time in that waiting room wondering if I show my husband enough love, or compiling a list of regrets for things unsaid or undone if I did lose him. I was able to concentrate on the only task on my to-do list as of that day:

I AM GOING TO GET HIM WELL. NO MATTER WHAT IT TAKES.

I was in full strategic planning mode. I hired and fired doctors in the space of a week. I pissed off more nurses than I can count. My only job was to be the best advocate for his care that I could be. He was weak and sedated a lot. I had to buck up, put on the “medical mustache” and orchestrate a brilliant recovery. I was equal to the task. Why? Because I love that man so fucking much. That’s why.

Augie is home now, resting and healing and ready to continue treatment. I am grateful and thankful to wake up to his face every morning.

Something else happened in the last few weeks.

So many people in our lives have quietly and lovingly come forward and supported us in some amazing ways. There are far too many to name here. Our family and friends jumped in to take over childcare, carpooling, meal planning, and carried out “Operation Keep Augie Smiling” and “Operation Make Sure Sara Doesn’t Fall Apart” with expert skill. My mother in law took charge of the girls. My mom jumped on a plane without blinking an eye. My siblings and neighbors took care of our home and our pets. My work family jumped in to make sure that my clients never felt a thing and simultaneously supported us emotionally throughout all of this. (I even had a “Director of Sara’s Nutrition” appointed.) Our Twitter family wrapped their arms around us with gifts and meals and visits and hugs (virtual and IRL). My dailymile training buddies were incredibly supportive, and continue to support me as I ramp back into a normal life and running routine. Meals have been dropped off, groceries and gifts were delivered, our kids have been doted on and distracted. But the most important thing we received throughout this: L-O-V-E. We are loved. That is the greatest gift we have ever, will ever receive.

From the most honest and vulnerable place in my heart, thank you.

The greatest thing
You’ll ever learn
Is just to love
And be loved
In return.

-Eden Ahbez

I enjoy a good mustache. I know I’m not alone in this. You all know it. A really bad ‘stache is really, really funny. If a particular mustachioed gentleman is a giant douche, I blame it on the mustache. If a circus ringmaster has no mustache, he loses all cred. A hard-ass, Harley riding, roadhouse regular m’erf’er without a mustache? Harder to spot than a purple unicorn. Femme-stache, nuff said. The mustache is more than facial hair preference. It’s a way of life. And it’s funny.

Okay, so recently, I have found myself in a mustache dilemma that isn’t so funny. For many ladies, especially us dark haired girls, taking care of our unwanted facial hair is a right of passage. At some point, usually in our teens, we realize that our eyebrows are a little unruly, or that dainty peach fuzz above our lip is looking more like a 15 year old boy’s than a 17 year old girl’s. We begin the life long ritual of waxing, plucking, or (good gawd) laser removal. It’s life, no biggie. I have two girls, I thought I’d be ready for the day that one of them came to me with concerns about their little Latina ‘staches and Brooke Shields brows. I just always figured this was a Jr. High kind of conversation.

Grace is six years old. Last week she complained that she has, “A little mustache.” She looked oh-so-forlorn and continued, “ …and I really don’t like it.” So. Yeah. Wasn’t ready for the Kindergartener to lay that one on me. (And believe me, what this kid’s got is nothing! Sheeesh!) So, where did this come from? How is she so self-aware at age 6? I was a complete idiot at 6. My mother had to remind me to comb my hair before running out the door to catch the morning bus. I couldn’t have cared less about matching clothes or wearing glasses. I was a happy 6 year old idiot, and life was good.

Now, the concerns I began having at 15 are troubling my kid at 6. What do I do? Do I let her foray into this grown up world of vanity and excessive grooming? Hell no. For a few reasons:

  1. Dealing with your own physical uniqueness is part of growing up. This is how we are made. All little 6 year old Latina beauties should have tiny baby ‘staches and wicked-awesome eyebrows. It’s beautiful.
  2. If we teach our kids at an early age that if they don’t like something about themselves they should hurry up and change it, what kind of message are we sending? (Hint: A crappy one.)
  3. I wouldn’t be the woman I am today if my mother hadn’t taught me to settle for the Shopko clearance plastic glasses, (it’s what we could afford and it served it’s purpose – I could see the chalkboard), home perms at the kitchen table, and last year’s hand-me-downs. I wasn’t a cool kid. I wasn’t a pretty, best dressed, most popular kid. BUT. I was a decent kid, a good friend, and an honor student. I learned early that there is more to a person than the way they look. My best friends from age 12 are my best friends today. Score one for the mustache.
  4. Today, more than ever, I want my girls to love themselves, love the bodies God gave them, and be proud of their uniqueness. I want them to have a strong sense of self worth, a strong sense of heritage, and the confidence to become whatever the heck they want.

I’m here today say that the mustache might help my save my kids’ childhood. I’m learning new respect for the mustache. And this is my plan:

In a show of solidarity to my mamitas lindas, I am going to put my facial hair grooming regimen on an indefinite hiatus. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I am going to take this opportunity to show my girls that you can be beautiful and different, and, well, hairy — all at the same time.

Frida KahloSo, if you run into me in the coming months and I am rockin’ a wicked peach fuzz, or you happen to notice that my unibrow seems to be creeping into my hairline…give me some props, make sure my kids hear you. Show us some hairy-ass love.

And if you think I’m nuts, and judge me for my new, au naturel look, don’t worry, I’ll chalk it up to mustache envy.

Later Gators.

Get up from your computer and go outside. Stop. Close your eyes, and take a deep breath. This is the time of year when “outside” smells so good that you can actually smell it on other people after they have come back in…I love that. I love it when people smell like “outside”.

As the growing season in Wisconsin comes to a close, my favorite time of year opens up the familiar colors, smells and traditions of a Midwestern Fall. We hiked around the Trout Lake bike path recently. It begins its 15k stretch in Boulder Junction (Musky capital of the world, if you please), and winds around the Trout Lake area. Not only did we enjoy the vibrant colors of the Northwoods foliage at its autumn peak, but also found an awesome park in Boulder Junction to teeter-totter the rest of the beautiful afternoon away. The weekend was filled with leaf piles and popcorn, hikes and naps, a bright and beautiful full moon, taking care of Gracie’s baby Black Hills spruce (he was planted in August under her careful supervision), Nana’s home cookin’, dancing with Pahkie, and lots of laughs.

I just finished planting no less than 14 different varieties of flowering plants, bulbs, and shrubs. The morning started with the official final harvest of the Santiago vegetable garden at my in-laws house. As the girls ate oatmeal with their Abuela, I was stripping the last batch of peppers and tomatoes for canning and drying. We’ll have plenty of marinara and pickled peppers to get us all through to Spring. (I’ll admit that the orange habaneros actually came from one of Eli’s co-workers, but we don’t discriminate when it comes to making good hot sauce ya’ll.) Right now my kitchen looks like a harvest celebration (so says Grace). I’ve got three types of peppers strung along my pot rack to dry, and baskets of tomatoes ready for jars sitting there staring at me. (That along with the apple pies I have to bake with the apples from my parent’s “orchard”.) Better get to work.

So, if you have been following the comings and goings of the Sancheez household, you may know that we had our CD party a while ago. Dammit, it was fun. Here’s the short of it: 24 funky folks with some of their favorite music to share. Everyone brought enough copies of their “mix tape” for everyone to take home and sample the madness. Everyone’s music was shuffled in the CD changer all night, and we had more food than we could handle. Despite the occasional rain shower, we had a great time. It was a night of old friends, new friends, old music, new music, sunshine, rain, food, drinks, party games and a rather nice bon fire. At the end of the night, everyone left with a party bag filled with CDs to keep their playlists filled all week. I can’t tell you how fun it is to listen to everyone’s mix, okay, well technically I can tell you, but it’s just not good enough to tell you. Come on over and I’ll throw on some tunes and you can meet my friends.

Sidebar: Thanks to everyone who actually accepted this wacky music mission and showed up with music and a dish to pass. We love all of you, and we were so happy to have all of you in our home. How lucky we are…

So, here comes Fall. We are planning our Trick o’ Treat Chili Dump, our annual trip to Swan’s Pumpkin Farm, and pulling out the scarves and sweaters. Come over for a fire, a mug of hot chocolate, or just hang out with the tiny mamitas. Talk to you soon…

© Sara 2009

Yep. That’s really what he said. My beautiful, thoughtful, romantic husband’s honest-to-goodness first words upon first view of the Grand Canyon. Holy balls. I tried to think of what I would’ve said, had I not been laughing so hard. I guess maybe there isn’t anything to say. To quote Nicole Krauss, “Maybe there just aren’t words for everything.” On that thought, after Augie’s first verbal reaction, our immediate reactions were identical:

The Santiagos just shut up for a minute.

(For those of you that know us, you realize that both of us not talking is nothing less than a miracle.) It is awesome in the truest sense of the word. It’s a word so terribly overused today. “My playstation is awesome dude.” “That chocolate cake was awesome.” “You’re so awesome man.” You get the idea. We forget the real potential of that adjective until we witness something that is honestly something in which to stand in awe. The vistas and points and trails and history of this place are awesome, inspiring, sacred, and even when you are standing right there on the South rim, somewhat unbelievable. I could try to go on and on here and make you understand the beauty and serenity of this place, but it wouldn’t do it justice anyway. I will say this: go there, you’ll see.

The trip was great. Here we were, heading to the Grand Canyon to see some dear friends exchange vows atop the beautiful Shoshone Point. We flew into Phoenix, hopped into our rented convertible and headed North through the desert in search of adventure, lots of laughter, much anticipated romance, and this big crazy hole in the ground where we would meet up with some of our favorite people on Earth. Our road trip was just the beginning of our adventure, but it was good old-fashioned road trippin’ fun. We had beautiful scenery, lots of sun block, excellent tunes and each other.

We arrived at the canyon around four and after checking in decided to stroll a few blocks from our hotel room door to see this big “holy balls” looking hole. Wow. (But we’ve already covered that.) Next, we decided to stroll along the rim to see if we might bump into anyone. Lo and behold, sitting outside the steak house that Augie had his heart set on was the bride to be! We were so lucky to run into them and we had a lovely dinner before checking out their way cool Prius Hybrid rental car. This thing actually turns on with a power button (like a computer for real), loved it. Very cool. They had much to do so we decided to hike down (a short way) into the canyon to see it in the moonlight. Beautiful. Scary at times, but beautiful.

The next day Augie and I rose early to begin our hike down to the 3 mile rest house along Bright Angel trail. We thought seeing the canyon from the top was amazing, hiking the trail that the Indians built to get down to the water was equally indescribable. What I will describe though, is the feeling in your legs when you reach the top. Holy shit is that a work out. It felt good in that “I hope I packed the ibuprofen” kind of way. We were so excited when we reached the top we gave Gracie a shout out with a big “We dill it!”


That night was filled with more fun as we all gathered for the welcome dinner at the Maswik Lodge. The food was great; the friends (old and new) were even better. Augie and I truly feel that we made several new friends at this wedding, which is fitting, because Shan, Charlotte and Jess tend to bring good things into my life, whether they know it or not, it just seems to happen that way.

The Big Day!

Let me begin by saying that although all of my girlfriends were beautiful brides, to see Shannon in a gown that was “made for her” against the purple, pink, and orange shadows of the canyon really took my breath away. She was glowing, really. The fantastic four was a sight to see on top of that canyon, three beautiful ladies and their very handsome man. I love them all very much and could not have been happier for them at that moment. Their harpist played their song. People cried through their huge smiles. Mom cried, Dad cried, Shannon cried and I think that Tom even got Jeremy to well up a little! (Excellent work Tom! – Tee Hee.) A champagne toast and a few hours to play atop Shoshone Point. Fantastic. Just Fantastic.

After a major photo shoot, we caravanned back to Thunderbird Lodge to party the night away in a banquet hall that overlooked the canyon. Brian taught me how to don a hiking pack during the ride back from the point. Brian is one of those guys that just knows a lot of stuff about a lot of stuff. Anyway, even the ride back was fun. A delicious dinner followed by a huge piece of wedding cake, good vibes, good friends, a great couple of newlyweds…what a night. Augie and I will not soon forget the day that Shannon and Jeremy stood at such great heights and said “We’ll Stay”. I’m totally bawling again just thinking of it.

The next morning we awoke to a light knock on the door. There stood the beautiful Mrs. McCumber, who, with all she had going on this busy weekend, came to wish me a Happy Mother’s Day and hand deliver a sweet card. Dammit I love that gal. Then it was off to breakfast with the Strands to start the day. From there we hit the road to get back on Route 66 through Flagstaff and eventually into the Sedona red rock country. We drove the Oak Creek Canyon route and stopped at the tiny little deli stuck right in the rock for lunch. We drove up the winding roads into Jerome, but I was so freaked out that I couldn’t let go of the armrest to take any pictures up there. We headed into Phoenix around 3:30 and opted for soaking our feet and ordering room service (my pick for my Mother’s Day dinner). It was great. We sat in front of a wall of windows in our room on the 21st floor and watched the sun set into the mountains as we sipped Shiraz and devoured chocolate cake.

As we set off for the airport the next morning, I was now desperately missing the girls. I did very well all weekend, but now my willpower was shaky and the tears were welling. I started counting down the hours, minutes, miles, and beverage carts until I could wrap my arms around Gracie and smell Nora’s head. When we pulled up at the house I dropped the bags on the sidewalk and sprinted into the house. The look on Gracie’s face was precious and the feeling I got when she jumped into my arms was, well, “sometimes there just aren’t words for everything.”

Congratulations McCumbers.

© Sara

P.S.

Every time I type “McCumber”, my spell check wants to change it to “Cucumber”. I am finding this rather amusing right now, so…

Congratulations Cucumbers.