Conversations with Lucas, Part Four


We love this silly boy and are so thankful for him and for all the joy he brings to our lives. He loves to laugh and he sure makes us laugh! Sometimes he does it on purpose by telling jokes or repeating things he noticed we found funny in the past. Sometimes it’s just the combination of his sweet face, his little voice, and the way his mind works that has us in stitches.  Here are a few of our recent conversations. We hope they make you laugh too!

B: Who is going to go first?

L: I know! “Eenie, meanie, miney, mo, kitchen tiger by its toe.”

B: Kitchen tiger?

L: Yeah. You go first Mommy.


L: Mommy, can we have quesadillas for dinner?

B: Well, it’s Father’s Day so we’ll let Daddy pick what he wants for dinner.

L:  Okay.  But when is it Kid’s Day?


L: Mommy, when is Daddy going to be home?

B: He’s on his way.

L: I want him to be home now!

B: Okay, well, if you count to 100, then he will be home.

L: Okay!  10, 20, 30…

B: Hey!


L: Mommy, will you make my lunch now?

B: Sure, but let me lay down for two minutes, I’m tired.

L: But I’m not tired!

B: That’s because you’re a strong, young boy and I’m an old lady.

L: You’re a mom, not a lady.


L: Mommy! Come see my farm! But you have to call first to see if it’s open.

B: Okay…ring ring…

L: Hello?

B: Hi, I was wondering if the farm was open so I could come and see the animals?

L: I’m sorry, you have the wrong number. This is the doctor’s office.


[At lunch time…]

B: Hey, there’s a family of lions on my chair, I can’t sit down!

L: It’s okay, Mommy.

B: It’s okay to move them?

L: No, you can eat somewhere else. Or you can stand.


L: I don’t want to!

B: I know you don’t, but sometimes you just have to obey Mommy and Daddy. It’s hard when it’s something you don’t like, but Mommy and Daddy have to obey too.  We have to obey God.

L: But who has to obey kids?


L: Mommy, soccer players fall a lot.

B: That’s true, sometimes they trip or bonk into each other.

L: Yeah, you fall a lot in soccer but you don’t fall in golf. Only if you’re wearing the wrong pants.


L: Daddy, Mommy and I have been talking.

J: Yeah?

L: Yeah. You are really forgetful, but we love you anyway.


Ventura Family-15

Thanks for all the laughs, little one. We love you.


Operation Lace Up: An Update


I’m a bit overdue for an exercise update so I thought I’d better get my act (and a post) together! On June 13th, I restarted a modified Couch to 5K program in an attempt to get myself back into shape after a winter full of illness. (You can read that post here if you missed it). My doctor warned me it would be difficult given what my body had been through this past winter, and he was right.  The first week was a breeze. I only had to run one minute at a time and that was completely doable.  The second week was a bit harder, but not too bad with 90-second running stretches. The third week felt impossible.  I had to run three-minute stretches and for some reason, they were killing me. I would barely make it to the end of the three minutes and when I did, I practically had to stop moving altogether in order to recover. I thought there was no way on earth I’d ever be able to progress to week four which included five minutes of running. It felt much harder than the other two times I’ve gone through the program. I wondered if my running days were over. Then, surprisingly, the next week I was able to do the workout with the five-minute stretches.  And it felt decent! I’m not sure what changed in my body between those two weeks, but I’m grateful it did!

The day of last workout of week four, I was trying to squeeze in a run before a playdate. Due to a series of unfortunate events, we were running late and I needed to get through the run as fast as I could. With that in mind, I decided to run continuously for as long as I could, and I made it a mile and a half! I knew then that I could do the two miles without stopping so I ditched the program, and my next workout ran my two miles.  It was July 13th, exactly one month after beginning the program.  Yay!

I completed the run in 26:38 which is a bit slower than I’d like, so my next goal is to decrease my time to 25 minutes. Since this past week I’ve run at 4.5 mph, my plan is to up that to 4.6 this week, 4.7 next, and hopefully the first week of August, I’ll hit my goal of 4.8 mph which is two miles in 25 minutes.

It’s always discouraging to have health setbacks which require me to start over with my exercise goals. My life with cystic fibrosis will never afford me the opportunity to maintain my health and fitness indefinitely. I know this, yet every time I deal with extended illnesses that hurl me back to a place of weakness, it feels like my hard work has gone down the drain. In reality, that’s not true. The exercise itself is important for my health, but no more important than the ability to show resilience and steadfastness in the face of setbacks–to be able get back up and keep trying. In that sense, my efforts are never wasted, no matter how many times I have to start back at square one. And as an added bonus, working hard and achieving a goal feels great.  Every. Single. Time.

A Clean Window Perspective


I love summer. It’s my favorite season.  I could do without the humidity, but I love being outside, I feel at my healthiest in the summer, and I love the plethora of activities that warm weather offers.

As you may have read before, I am also one of those weirdos who actually likes yard work, and there’s plenty of that around during this season. In spite of my lung-limiting CF, I enjoy the physical aspect of working outside and I love how a little elbow grease can transform a space in a relatively short period of time. Last year Lucas got me back into gardening and I have enjoyed having flowers to care for again, and now a few vegetable patches and pots too.


My flowers are gorgeous this year!

Last weekend, my parents came for a visit and my dad helped me get a few of the outside windows cleaned up. There were some big messes that I couldn’t reach due to our friend Bondo Bird and his springtime attempts to break into our bedrooms. My mom was remarking how clean windows can make such a big difference on outlook. Suddenly the world seems bright and clean and full of possibility. I blame those clean windows and my fresh, new outlook on what happened next.

After my parents left, Jaime and I were admiring the sparkling glass when I began to see more clearly what an eyesore the east side of our house was. We have a huge tree on that side which prevents anything but moss and weeds from growing.  Several years back we tried to plant a few things but they mostly died out. At the base of the tree, tons of stubborn, woody weeds were surrounding the trunk. I started to get some ideas about transforming the space, and Jaime remarked that we could spend a few hours out there over the weekend and clean it up a bit if I wanted.

Sunday dawned and that side of the house was on my mind. In the afternoon, Jaime and Lucas headed out to run a few errands and I went out there to measure an area for our compost bins, thinking that Jaime could pick up a few concrete squares while he was out. It was a nice day and the area was shaded, so I decided I’d get started pulling a few weeds. Man oh man, it was hard. I had to throw all of my body weight behind much of what I was pulling out.  We are having a dry spell here in Michigan and the weeds had anchored themselves deeply in the hard soil. A bit later, Jaime and Lucas returned.  Jaime helped me put the concrete blocks down and then he and Lucas left for a soccer game they were attending in town.  Once the vast majority of the weeds were pulled and dug out, I went inside to eat dinner and make a few phone calls.

I probably should have stopped then, but after dinner, I figured I’d go out for just a few more minutes and get started on an idea I had earlier since Jaime and Lucas weren’t around. We have rocks in various places around the yard from past landscaping, and I thought I could use them to edge a flower bed that would improve the look of the area. So I began prying the rocks out of the ground, pulling them over with Lucas’s orange snow sled. I needed to dig a shallow trench to hold the rocks, and I tested it out to see how difficult it would be. That hard earth got in my way again and I had to jump on the shovel to break through it. I got into a rhythm. The area was longer than I realized (30 feet long and 4 feet out from the house), so I needed lots of rocks. I went into the back to gather more. Minutes turned into hours. I was absorbed and happy.

I was finishing up the edging and moving a few lilies over when the boys arrived home. Lucas helped transplant and water in the flowers. I finished up a few last details and surveyed my work.  I really wish I had taken a before picture. It’s just that when I got started, I had no intention of formulating and executing the entire plan. I was pretty thrilled with the end result though!


A pretty nice flower bed! (Notice those sparkling windows in the background…)

It wasn’t until I went into the house that I realized how long I had been working. The boys left for the grocery store at around 2:00, and I finished up the job around 9:30. I took about an hour to eat dinner and make some phone calls, so all in all, I think I worked about 6.5 hours on this job. I checked my Fitbit and was shocked to see I had logged 16,000 steps and 7 miles for the day, an all-time high for me. At first I felt pretty elated! After all, the area looks about a million times better and I felt healthy and strong the whole time I was out there. It wasn’t as though I felt tired and pushed through the exhaustion, I actually felt strong the whole time.  Then I started to get nervous. Six plus hours of manual labor was probably over-doing it. I was so high on adrenaline and enthused by the progress that it never once occurred to me that I should stop. Oops.

I showered, did my night treatments and got into bed. Then I felt it. A sore throat. I figured it was probably from allergies but it still scared me a little bit. And my muscles were starting to talk to me about what I had put them through. Apparently my legs were opposed to hours of crouching and my neck and back had a few things to say about the weed pulling and rock prying. What was I thinking?! Oh right, I wasn’t thinking. I let myself be controlled by the possibilities and the progress I was making. I was caught up in my clean window perspective and I forgot all about my limitations.

This isn’t the first time this has happened, but it’s the first time in a while. I’ve been much more attentive to my body lately as my CF has pushed its way to the forefront of my life. When I was younger and healthier, this was the way I completed home projects all the time.  I would work and work like a crazy person because I love to get things done. I’m impatient for the end result. I would still operate this way if I could. I think subconsciously I want to forget that I have cystic fibrosis and live life the way I used to sometimes, even if it’s just for an afternoon. The girl I am in my head often doesn’t match the girl I am in a body affected by CF.

The next day was July 4th and I felt surprisingly fine through our family barbecue and pool party. I was tired, but a normal level of tired. July 5th dawned and it hit me. I was so sore that every movement hurt and all day long I was sooo sluggish.

It’s been a week now and I’m fully recovered from that afternoon. I know I need to pay closer attention to my body, but I can’t say I regret what I did. The east side of the house looks great, and I feel proud to have fixed it up all on my own. Forgetting all about my cystic fibrosis for an afternoon–that was pretty great too. It was nice to just live, and work, and accomplish, and be. It was nice to ignore the can’ts and don’ts and shouldn’ts. It was great to experience that energy and stamina again, however short-term. Sometimes I feel like CF has taken away so much of my vitality. But last weekend I was reminded that it’s still there, even if it’s been subdued by this disease. It was good to remember that although my body is weak at times, there’s still plenty of strength there too.  That’s what a clean window perspective will do.

Happy Birthday Betsy!


Last Thursday was Betsy’s birthday! If you’ve been following the blog, she does a great job of writing special birthday posts for Lucas and for me so I thought in honor of her thirty-*cough* birthday, I would attempt to pen a similar tribute for my lovely and talented wife.

So, here are few things that make Betsy, Betsy!

•Betsy loves the outdoors! Whether it’s a day at the beach, a walk through the woods, or even doing work out in the yard, there’s something about the fresh air and sunshine that she especially loves. Lucas has inherited the outdoor gene. I am the lone indoor cat in the family. But seriously, my hair doesn’t hold up well in the elements.

•This is probably not surprising but Betsy, being at one with nature, also has a green thumb. She loves to plant flowers every spring and tend to them until they finally fade with the cold Michigan winter. The last two years Betsy has also planted a vegetable garden. We don’t have a ton of space and have even less sunlight due to all the trees in our yard. I’ll admit I was skeptical but somehow she has managed to coax life forth from the various pots and plots.


Betsy and Lucas will be harvesting tomatoes and zucchini in the near future!

•Betsy has zero sweet tooth. She literally hates 99% of all desserts. On occasion she can be persuaded to have some ice cream. She has sporadic cravings for homemade caramels. But when it comes to cakes and pies and cookies and pastries, she has very little interest. I do not understand this personally.

•Betsy has a remarkable memory. She can recite most of Lucas’s favorite stories without even looking at the book. She remembers phone numbers and credit card numbers from years gone by. She can recollect the lyrics of obscure songs from the mid-90s after hearing the first few notes. Most importantly, she remembers where Lucas and I leave our stuff. This is most helpful. We would be lost without her!

•Betsy is a coffee-holic. Give her Starbucks or give her death!  She always starts her day with a mug (or two) and isn’t opposed to warming up the pot in the afternoon when she’s in need of a little extra caffeine. She likes all kinds of coffee drinks but she prefers to take her coffee hot and black.

•Betsy is practically unbeatable at Scrabble. We’ve played approximately three hundred times since we got married and I think I’ve won twice. Not only is she a logophile (she would have known that word, I had to look it up) but she also possesses that killer Scrabble instinct to add an ‘s’ making a seven letter word that already contains the letters ‘z’ and ‘k’ plural…oh yeah, and that ‘s’ was probably placed on a triple word score.


Mission impossible.

•Betsy is a great mother. Dare I say, the best. She loves Lucas more than I thought was possible. She is patient and self-sacrificing. She’ll do just about anything for a smile from our boy. Even if that means making pancakes in the shape of all twenty-six letters of the alphabet or crafting a chicken coop out of popsicle sticks for his toy farm or reading The Complete Adventures of Curious George all in one sitting. Lucas is lucky to have you!


Betsy and her favorite boy.

So happy (belated) birthday to my favorite person on the planet! Thanks for loving me and Lucas and for simply being the best!

Good-bye Preschool


It seems like just yesterday I was writing a post about Lucas starting preschool. And here I am, just over a year later, writing about preschool ending. It was fun to go back and read my other post and remember those first days. It was so hard to let him go. I’m pretty sure it was more difficult for me than it was for him. Thankfully we both adjusted and by the end we were all sad when preschool ended. Last summer he was reluctant to go and would throw himself into my arms when I picked him up, so excited to see me and to head home. This spring and summer, he was thrilled to go and when I picked him up, he’d always want to stay until the very last second. He talked about his friends and school activities at home all the time.

We’ve seen Lucas change in so many positive ways due to his preschool experience. He’s better at sharing and taking ideas from other kids. He is much more calm and comfortable in big groups of people. His teachers report that he is confident and willing to speak up and contribute to the group when it is his turn to share ideas. He is more persistent with difficult tasks and he’s more independent. We loved his play-based preschool program which gave him loads of time outdoors and the freedom to explore and learn about things that are of interest to him.

I’d love it if he could stay in a classroom like that forever, but it’s time for that experience to end and a new adventure to start. He’s going to be attending a half-day young fives program this coming year at one of the local elementaries. I’m sure it will be another adjustment for all of us, but I’m hoping that with one year of school under his belt, he’ll feel more confident starting out.  I know I will.

Here are some pictures of his year. If you’re an email follower, click on the title of this post to visit actual blog. There you can view the slide show. 🙂

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We sure love our preschool graduate!