Abracadabra …

On Saturday, Cameron completed his 13th marathon. It was hot and humid and sunny – not his favorite weather conditions. When he got to mile 16, it was  eeirly quiet he said. It was at that point, with very few spactators, that many runners realized this wasn’t going to be their best day. So, instead of giving up, he kept going and decided to make the best of it. He wasn’t going to have a PR (personal record), but he was going to have some “firsts.” This was the first time he had bacon & watermelon during a marathon. He ran by a frat house and the guys handed him a shot. He thought it was a beer shot, so he thought “why not?!” Instead, it was tequila – ugh. Luckily, he didn’t puke. We saw him at mile 23, drenched from pouring many cups of water over his head to stay cool. We also saw him right before the finish. He stopped to give the boys high 5’s and a smile. 

He has the skill of making people focus on the positive. It’s one of the reasons many people like running with him – he takes their mind off the pain. Think about something else… talk about something funny…whatever it takes to get you through a long run. Except for the actual marathon itself – when it comes to race day, he doesn’t say much at all. What all goes through his head, I’ll never know. I imagine it’s a wide variety of things, assessing the course, the weather and taking cues from his body. He’s said it before, marathons are mainly mental – you have to be able to get your head right to go 26.2 miles. Mental magic tricks – abracadabra!

The day after running the marathon, we went to a bunch of state parks for hikes. All total, it was over 11 miles. On one of the trails, our youngest son slipped on the mud 3 times and fell down. He was muddy and scraped up. Luckily his dad is a magician. He was able to get him to focus on other things instead of his muddy hands and scraped up legs. He let him be our “hiking leader.” Abracadabra – no more pain. Suddenly, we were on an adventure instead of a hike (where we were getting lost in the woods with impending thunderstorms.) Myles made sure that our group was doing ok, he walked with pride and purpose. He was important. 

Similar things happened today, when we also got lost on a trail and ended up going way further than we thought to see some “falls.” He made each of us take turns being the leader. Although he knew that I had “journeyed enough” and was ready to be done, he still tried to make it fun.  I told him he probably married the wrong lady because I don’t really love hiking. When you are that far into the woods and there is nobody else around, you still have to get back, there aren’t many options. We put on another 8.5 miles today. Vacationing with him is exhausting yet fun. 

He’s a magician and I’m thankful to have him in my life. He’s the silly to my serious, the random to my planning & we balance each other out. We celebrated Father’s Day in an unconventional way, but he thought it was great. Despite having just gone 26.2, we’ve put on another 19 miles in 2 days. I hope that you too are able to have some magic skills, to be able to focus on the positive (even when you are covered in muck and lost in the woods.) May you be a magician for someone else, and help them see past their scraped leg or bruised ego. Peace be with you on your journey of enough & may you find the best trail to the most beautiful waterfalls & perhaps a magic wand.

I am from…

The picture is of Dallas, our oldest, as we dropped him off for 4h fishing camp last week. He wrote a Mother’s Day poem for me last year & I feel it’s worth repeating. It hangs on my wall at work. It’s a reminder to me if the good that exists. It’s a reminder that all of those small things can add up and make an impact. It reminds me that even though life can take us on some detours, hopefully we have some family by our sides to enjoy the journey. Here it is:

“I am from…” by Dallas Frueh

I am from thumb cast fishing poles, from Nike  running shoes & Betty Crocker cake mix. I am from the yellow house on the corner & the backyard that has seen football games, FIFA soccer, and BBQs on hot summer days. I am from the garden that provides corn, peas, beans, squash and sweet potatoes. I am from going to Grandmas for a week every summer and kindness from Cam and Mavis & Myles. I am from laughing out loud everywhere & body humor (farting) everywhere. I am from “learn from your mistakes” & “work before play.” I am from going to Sunday school on Sunday & staying for church. I am from Fargo, Germany, bars & cookies. I am from the time mom survived cancer & the time dad ran his first marathon. I am from the pictures in the hall, bedroom, television set & walls. I am from the love and kindness that you give. Happy Mother’s Day. Love, Dallas

I had tears the first time I read it and goosebumps just writing it here. It’s a reminder to you too – you’re probably not as bad at this parenting thing as you think you are. You never know what will make an impact to your kids. I will never forget my mom shaking up homemade dressing in a mayo jar and singing “La Cucaracha” in our kitchen at the farm. Why? Because it was silly and out of character and we laughed until our stomachs hurt. I don’t know if she remembers it, but I’m quite certain she didn’t “plan it out” to be a memory for me. It was just one of those things that randomly happened. Maybe I needed some cheering up that day, & that was what did it. Maybe it was just a random occurrence – who knows. 

Don’t be afraid to let your guard down and have fun. Be silly & take a break from being an adult every now and then. You will still be enough to your kids & you might be more than you ever imagined! Peace be with you on your journey of enough.

Let your light shine…

Last night, we attended the Rural Cass Relay for Life. It was held at our school, and Cameron (my husband) was on the committee. When they had the event last year, I still had a broken foot and was sore from surgery. We stayed all night though, and it was a moving experience. This year was different but still good. We went from 5-11 and had games, BINGO and a movie. The track was being worked on so we had a different “path” to set up the luminaries. 

If you’ve not been to a Relay event before, they sell luminaries that people dedicate to loved ones, friends, family etc who have gone through cancer. They light them at sunset and it’s a pretty moving event. Last year was my first Relay for Life and I was also considered a survivor. I hadn’t been to one before cancer, so I can’t compare. This year, Myles (our youngest) decorated the luminaries. He did one for me, his grandma, great grandma, 4 great aunts & 3 friends. I knew that I would see them lit up and he’d have to show me the ones he made. When they are glowing, it just takes on a whole new meaning. What I wasn’t prepared for was to see my name written by people I didn’t know. They let the kids at school decorate some because of all of the money they had raised for the  Northern Cass team. As I walked along, looking at the names, I saw “Mrs. Free, Mrs. Freuh and Mavis” on more than just Myles’. It made me teary to know that other kids had thought of me, to write my name down. (Maybe because of my husband or my boys – in support of them also) They wrote my name, the names of 2 staff members who were also survivors, and my neighbor friend (Angie) among others. I’m so thankful that the school let them do this.

Cancer is scary. It’s scary when you are an adult, but it’s super scary when you are a kid and your mom (or anyone close to you) goes through cancer. Whispering about it makes it scarier. Talking openly about it and letting them see people who have survived makes it a little less scary. I’ll never forget when Angie was going through chemo and had lost her hair. She stopped at school during lunch time. Myles said some of the kids at his table were wondering what happened. He matter-of-factly said, “She has breast cancer like my mom, but she has different medicine that makes her lose her hair. It’s ok though. She’s still the same person and her hair will grow back.” And that was it. Just that simple in his mind. And it maybe made it less scary. 

As I saw the names on the luminaries of a teacher who had offered to talk to our boys and answered questions that they had, my heart was full. She didn’t have to offer that to them – 6th grade boys (at the time) might not want to talk about that stuff. They certainly wouldn’t let their moms or aunts know that they were worried. I’m forever thankful for the staff at the school who looked out for our boys that year. I know that they cared for them as if they were their own kids, understanding their fears and helping them through some scary times. They let their light shine.

Sometimes I wish I could shelter my boys from things like cancer, but I know it’s not possible. I also know that it’s not in their best interest. It’s good for them to know that I’m not immortal. It’s good for them to learn to show compassion towards others. It’s good for them to see the good that can come out of something scary. I hope they let their light shine.

Matthew 5:16King James Version (KJV) Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.
Peace be with you on your journey of enough. I hope you take the time to let your light shine.

Yurt and tipi and hiking, oh my!

Our oldest son, Dallas had 4h fishing camp this Sunday to Thursday. So, I randomly asked last week, “do you want our family to go early and camp?” This is quite out of the ordinary for me. We’ve camped many times before, but when we went camping, it was planned almost a year in advance, not a week before. We didn’t camp at all last year due to cancer, hysterectomy & broken foot. This would be our first real camping in 2 years. I looked at the ND State Parks web site, and all they had available was a yurt and a tipi. The boys both cheered, “YES!!” Ok, why not? The campground is Cross Ranch State Park, north of Bismarck, ND. 

The yurt was super cool. Even if you don’t love camping, this was pretty neat. It had beds for 6, a table and chairs, lamps, electricity, mini fridge and a heater/stove. The shape reminds me of a grain bin on the outside, and it has a dome sky light at the top. We cooked our meals over the campfire. (Cameron’s favorite way to cook) Saturday morning, we went on a birding hike put on by the park rangers. We decided to go further and venture on the path along the Missouri River. Before we knew it, we were 2 miles away and needed to head back. We had to check out of our yurt and into the tipi.

Yep, a tipi right along the river. At first, the boys were bummed to leave the yurt, but they soon embraced the idea of the (somewhat musty) tipi. They say it sleeps 6, but there were 4 cots- perfect. You have to park & then walk your stuff to the campsite. Because of the raccoons, you shouldn’t leave food there, so we made may trips back and forth. All total between the hiking and the trips to the van, we walked 10 miles on Saturday! We caught 0 fish, but had lots of giggles. 

One thing for sure, we made memories. I have a feeling the boys will remember the time we stayed in the yurt and tipi. They may forget the 100 wood ticks that we got while hiking, but I’m pretty sure they will remember this camping trip. And that’s what I want for them. I want them to learn to cook over a fire, to enjoy nature and to know that you don’t need to spend a lot of money to have fun. I want them to stop and appreciate a sunset. I want them to listen to the birds, notice the wild roses and pay attention to the raccoon & deer tracks. On their journey of enough, I hope they fondly remember things like this & they feel loved.

Peace be with you on your journey of enough. I hope you take the time to enjoy some of the same things this summer.