Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Yet Another Benefit of Cancer?

When I picked Joey up from school today he asked me if he could go to a friend's house. I said he could but that he had to be home by 6:30 because we were all going to sit down for dinner together.

This is something we used to do regularly before I began treatments. Now, unfortunately, this is pretty rare for our family. We have become a group of "grab and go" or "eat at the kitchen island" people. I do not like this at all and am trying to get us back to regular, or at least not infrequent, family dinners at the table. Of course, this requires energy, something I have been lacking more often than not over the past six months.

The kids, for some reason I cannot understand at all, hate it when we all sit down for dinner together. They fight this tooth and nail, and complain loudly whenever they hear it might be on the horizon. I, on the other hand, think it's great. We all talk about our days, what's going on, and things that are coming up.

Tonight I made, literally, the ONLY dish that everyone in our family likes--Chicken Almendras (chicken in an almond and tomatillo sauce). I thought this might ease everyone back into family dinner.

When I told Joey we were having dinner together, his first comment was, "Awww, man!" Shortly after he added, "What are we having?" When I told him, he said it was almost worth it, but not quite.

After a few moments he asked, "Mom, when is your next treatment?" I answered, "Tuesday, why?" He grinned and didn't say anything, so it dawned on me--I am too tired the week of treatment to cook, so we are definitely not sitting down together for dinner on treatment weeks.

I laughed and said, "Do I have a little too much energy for you right now?" He admitted I did and then said, "But when you have treatment I don't have any clean clothes for a few days, so I don't know which is better."

Who knew that there was yet another unexpected benefit of my cancer, at least as far as my children are concerned--fewer family dinners! But maybe clean jeans trump it. Just maybe.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Lindsey the Lung

Warning: shameless bragging about to commence, but this mom is totally delighted.

Lindsey was in her class play on Friday, and she was great! I had no idea she could sing so well. I know this sounds crazy since she sings all the time around the house, but as I know from experience, singing with a microphone is a whole different ballgame. I knew she could carry a tune, but until I heard her amplified, I didn't know how clear her voice was. She loves to sing, so I am so happy for her that she does it well. Singing will hopefully bring her great joy in her life, as it does to me in mine.

It wasn't just Lindsey who did well--the entire 4th grade class turned out an amazing performance. I found myself completely entertained during the entire show. It was funny, the kids were all perfect in their roles and the whole thing was obviously very well rehearsed. Nice job, kids!

Here is a link to her song, beautifully shared by her good friend. Lindsey is the one in the red hairbows. Enjoy...I sure did!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Best Vacation Ever

Well, if there is one thing we've learned this year, it's that life can be short. So, last Saturday we said, the heck with it, let's USE all those frequent flier miles and hotel points that Jay has been racking up for the past several years and take the family to Hawaii. So, with one week's notice, we went, and, I'm so glad we did.

The thing that lit our fire was that Jay won some money last month in a programming competition that his company sponsored (great job, honey, we're so proud of you!). The contest required that he be gone over a weekend, which piggybacked with some client calls, so we endured nine long days without him. When he placed second, securing a cash prize, he decided that we should use it to do something together to make up for the time we were apart. With the hotel and flights handled with miles and points, this money covered the remaining trip expenses so it was truly one of those perfect storms that had to be taken advantage of.

For the first time we went to the island of Kauai. I've been to Maui twice and Oahu twice and, while I certainly enjoyed them, I never really understood why Hawaii is considered such a BIG DEAL. In general, I prefer the Mexican Carribean, but since the kids don't have current passports, that was not an option for us. However, after this trip I now GET Hawaii. I can't imagine that there is a more beautiful place on earth than Kauai. We stayed on the sunny southern part at Poipu Beach, but my favorite place was at the north. It was "stop the car and let the jaw hang open" beautiful. Here is a picture of our whole family at Haena Beach. Note the rainbow behind is the perfect representation of how blessed our time there was.

We spent six days at the Marriott Waiohai Beach Club, a collection of time-share condos. These were perfect accomodations for us as they were equipped with full kitchens and laundry in the rooms. When we arrived, we went to Costco and stocked the kitchen, and we ate every meal right there in our little condo. Restaurants with all the kids are miserable in addition to being expensive, so this was great! Here is the view of part of the enormous pool, with some of the kids in the hot tub.

Here is Lindsey next to one of the many monk seals we saw on the island. They climbed right up on the beach to snooze, seemingly unfazed by people.

Joey's birthday was on Thursday, so for his present he and Jay went on a series of zip lines. We have some great videos of Joey zipping along with a gargantuan smile.

Tony and Bella spent some quality time together while the older kids were out snorkeling...

Here is our family at the "Grand Canyon" of Kauai. Pretty impressive. (I'm referring to the canyon, but the family isn't bad either!)

The kids had so much fun just rolling around in the surf.

Natalie wasn't too sure about the ocean, but she loved the sand.

The snorkeling was amazing right outside our hotel. I went every day we were there, swimming from reef to reef looking at all kinds of tropical fish, including Nemo. The kids saw a sea turtle while snorkeling, but I didn't see one until the day we went to Haena Beach and I spotted one swimming just offshore.

The best part wasn't even where we were, (although we couldn't have been anywhere better) was just that we were all together, away from everything that pulls us in nine different directions during our everyday life. It was really seeing and hearing the kids and eachother, saying "OK" instead of "not now". I will never, ever forget this time we had.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Blog Not Abandoned

Seriously. It's owner has just been on vacation.

I will post in the next day or two about our amazingly wonderful family vacation to Kauai, pictures and all.

I meant to do it today, but when I happened to log onto Google today I got sucked into the 30th anniversary of Pacman and wasted at least 15 minutes playing the pop-up game instead of completing the search I intended to do. I wonder how many hours of productivity were lost worldwide today because of this? It is possible that our GDP actually went down today as a result? I know mine did. But, truthfully, after three hours of sleep on the red-eye last night sandwiched between Bella and Natalie, I was pretty distractable today anyway. I can't blame it all on Google.

So, here's to being back in my own bed, a full night's sleep (I hope!) and lots more blogging this week. Promise!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

At Least I'm Predictable

My neighbor Robin took the kids to school this morning. I sent them over to her house in a rush and then hurried out to door to drive Joey to his different school. As always, I left their lunches on the counter for them to pick up and put in their own backpacks.

As I was pulling out of my garage, I noticed Robin returning to her house, obviously for an item left behind. She, like I, always asks as she pulls away, "Does everyone have their backpacks/lunches/sweaters/belts?" and the kids have an opportunity to double check.

This morning, one of her children had left lunch behind. Sam, in his wisdom (and extensive experience), said to the crowd in the car, "My parents wouldn't have turned around to get that. They would have told me too bad." (This would only be true if we had already left the neighborhood, but that is tangential...)

Imagine my amusement, then, when the phone rang at 11:59am. It was Sam, letting me know he had left his own lunch behind, in hopes that I might do something about it. Clearly, he was too busy spouting his wisdom to check for his lunch when given the opportunity.

The call was not necessary, because he had accurately shown earlier that morning that he knew exactly what my answer would be.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Happy Mother's Day!

Bella climbed into bed with me bright and early and said excitedly, "Happy Mother's Day! What did you get me?"

It was an amusing (and apropos) way to begin a lovely day with my family. Jay made eggs benedict, among other things, for me and our two mothers, and I got to see my friend Angela received into the church during mass this morning. A good day, I'd say!

One of the best parts? The poem Lindsey composed for me. Apparently, love for the rhyme runs in the family! Here it is:

Your hair of golden brown
Your feet as big as a clown
Oops, I didn't mean to make you frown
I'll turn that frown upside down
You're my only mom around
And the smartest girl in town

Happy Mother's Day to all you moms out there. Isn't it nice to be appreciated? (Foot comment notwithstanding, of course...)

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Yep, That About Sums it Up

Bella woke from her nap, looked at me sitting next to her, and said with a touch of panic...

"Mom, I want...I want...I want...everything!"

Don't I know it.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Au Contraire

Tonight I took Joey over to Joe Walker, the middle school he will be attending this fall. He was encouraged by his teachers to apply to a program called AVID, which encourages students along the path to college. Among other things, it focuses on teaching students the organizational and writing skills necessary to get accepted to and succeed in four year universities.

It is crazy enough that I have a middle-school aged I really have to be thinking about college already? Apparently, I do, and so does Joey.

Joey did not want to go. AT ALL. He wanted no part of this AVID business, no part of the informational meeting about it, nothing whatsoever that might separate him from the average student. He could not articulate to me why he was so opposed to this, just that he was, and he dug in his heels with complete obstinance.

Because I respect Joey's teachers so much, I did not waiver. If they believed that this program would particularly benefit Joey, I was at least going to learn more about it. Joey has become an A and B student under their guidance, and they know his particular challenges well. His success in school is still new, possibly fragile, and I will do anything I can to protect it.

So off we went. Me smiling, chattering away; Joey silent and sullen. When we arrived he would not get out of the car. I marched right in, knowing he would eventually follow me. He did, but the hostility was palpable. Luckily, his two best friends from school were there so I had enough credibility to at least get him in the room.

Quite unfortunately, I realized immediately that this was not just information night, but it was application night too. As soon as we checked in, the proctor called Joey in to write an essay, to be followed by an interview.

I almost died.

Joey despises writing, strongly objects to any work he can avoid and didn't want to even attend an informational meeting on this program, much less apply to it. I held my breath waiting to see what he would do. To my complete surprise and delight, he hesitated just a moment, then said, "OK" and followed the proctor. I went into the parent presentation and waited.

When Joey met me after his essay and interview, I could immediately sense the change in his demeanor. He really clicked with the teacher who interviewed him, so much so that he took me over to meet her. Turns out, she is the language arts teacher for 7th graders on the AVID track. My first positive indicator was his question, "You mean that I'd definitely get her for language arts if I do this program?"

I learned in the parent program that only 25-35 7th graders will be enrolled in AVID out of several hundred, so I told Joey that we would have to wait and see if he was accepted into the program, that he might not get to choose. He stopped, looked surprised and said, "You mean some people aren't going to get in? Then I TOTALLY want to do this!"

Nothing like a little competition to get him revved up.

The rest of the evening was spent discussing why he thinks he'll get in, why this is such a good program for him, and what college he wants to get in to.

Isn't that human nature? Alive and well in my son.

Monday, May 03, 2010


Last week I had the opportunity to thank the students of Sacred Heart School (SHS, as referenced below) who have been praying for me so diligently both in their classrooms and at home with their families. I attended the morning assembly and read a poem that I wrote for them, letting them know that their prayers are working.

I have had some requests to post that poem, so here it is...

Prayers Answered

Six months ago, dear SHS
You heard that I was ill
My family asked you all, “Please pray!”
And you all said, “We will!”

Then pray you did from that day on
So much I cannot tell
You offered up your sacrifice
That God might make me well

From day to day you never stopped
In asking for my cure
Now, did you know, of all the prayers,
That children’s are most pure?

The prayers you say go straight to God
In quite a special way
He listens to your hopes and thoughts
And every word you say

How blessed I am to have you all
As soldiers in this war
Because with you all on my side
I’m winning more and more

Thanks be to God, I’m getting well
In part, because of you
I was not sure I ever would
But now I know it’s true

God heard our prayers and answered them
According to His will
Now please don’t stop those prayers quite yet
Because I need them still

I have some road to travel down
My journey’s not quite done
But when I reach the end of this
I hope to say, “I won!”

I want to thank you, each and all
For keeping me in prayer
I’ve never been alone through this
Because you’ve all been there

But most of all I hope you know
How much that you can do
By praying for the things you need
The What, the When, the Who

God loves you and He wants you to
Approach Him with your needs
So keep Him close and talk to Him
And follow where He leads