Tuesday, September 28, 2010

My Wish is Granted

There is a metastatic breast cancer conference in Indianapolis in mid-October that I really want to attend.

So much of the information and resources available on breast cancer are mainly applicable to early stage patients--once metastases are diagnosed, it is a whole different ball game, and this conference is solely dedicated to treatment and quality of life issues for those of us a little farther down the line with this disease.

I registered for the conference awhile ago thinking that I would use Jay's air miles to fly there. But, alas, when I went to book my flight I found that my travel dates were blacked out on all three of the airlines we use miles on. I had never considered that! So, I decided that our family had other financial priorities and set about canceling my plans.

As I was just about to notify the group of ladies I was planning to meet there (united through the message boards at breastcancer.org, a wonderful and active forum for those grappling with the ins and outs of breast cancer of all types), I took one last visit to the conference web site to see what I would be missing.

That's when I noticed the "grant" section. It stated that anyone with metastatic breast cancer who would not be attending the conference due to financial concerns could request a grant for airfare. I thought, "Hey, that's me!" So I wrote and asked for airfare.

Within a few hours, my grant was requested! Genentech (let me tell you, I am beginning to like that company more and more) and the Susan G. Komen foundation have sponsored my airfare so I can attend this conference without straining my family's finances. I am positively giddy!

So, off I will go in October to learn about all the latest and not-yet-to market treatments for metastatic breast cancer, to meet others who are taking the same drug as I am, to attend Q&A panels where I can ask every question I've ever had about all things cancer and treatment related.

I am delighted, and totally grateful for the opportunity.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

I'll Bet She's Never Heard THAT One Before

Lindsey is working on a book report for school. As part if it, she has to write down the first sentence of the book she just read. This she will read out loud to the class when she presents her report later this week. No problem, right?


Lindsey came to me very upset because the first sentence of her Newbery Award Winning Book called Al Capone Does My Shirts has a *bad word* in it. Indeed, the phrase, "bird turd" happens to be in the very opening sentence of the book. Go figure!

(Although, if you know the book is about life on Alcatraz, and if you've ever been there yourself, you'd know why that was an appropriate opening line.)

"Mom!" she wailed, "I can't say 'turd' in front of the class! I'll get in trouble and they'll laugh at me!"

As I choked back my laughter and attempted to put on my concerned parent face, I assured her that she could not possibly get in trouble for following instructions for a book she is most certainly allowed if not encouraged to read. I read it myself so I know that it is a clean, decent book. It just happens to open with an attention-getter.

I suggested that if she was concerned that she should talk to her teacher about it. But, no. She is way too shy to broach this particular topic. So guess what I got to do tonight? That's right! I wrote a note. To Lindsey's teacher, telling her about this whole turd situation and could we please work something out, as Lindsey's progress on her report has stalled out of sheer panic.

As I wrote, I wondered if she had ever received such a note in her teaching career. I have certainly never written one like it. I'm also pretty sure I've never written the word 'turd' before today.

I think I liked my previous status better.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Today's Embarassing Preschooler Comment

Bella and are in mass today, at the really quiet part after communion, when out of the blue she announces loudly, "I miss my OLD daddy."


Who's her new daddy, that's what I'd like to know! (And probably so do the dozen or so people sitting near us that must have heard her.)

Update: Turns out, she was talking about her great grandfather who she never met. She finds it unfair that she never met our grandparents and has been asking to see pictures of them and so forth. Mystery solved! Just took me a few days to get to the bottom of it.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010


We have a new car! Well, it's almost 2 weeks old now, but that's still new, right? I'm bubbling over with enthusiasm for it, so I just have to share.

After examining our budget and our driving needs carefully, Jay and I decided that we really had to get a fuel efficient car. Truly, we couldn't afford NOT to. We were spending upwards of $700 per month on gas given how often we go to Los Angeles now, and the fact that we have one car that gets 18 miles per gallon and another just 10. Moreover, since Jay has our Toyota van parked at the airport not infrequently, I am driving around in the huge gas guzzler with only one or two children during the day--rarely do I have all the children with me at once and need the giant van.

We tracked how many miles we were driving and calculated how much we would save in gas by adding a 40mpg car to our garage. We realized a new car would pay for itself while giving us the security of having a more reliable car to take to Los Angeles (the Toyota van is rapidly approaching 200k miles and is starting to require frequent repairs). Plus, if we drive our big church van less, it will last longer...hopefully until we don't need it anymore. Seemed like a no-brainer to us!

After researching all the available options (we seriously considered four cars in all), we settled on the Honda Insight Hybrid. After driving it nearly 1300 miles (in just 12 days--I TOLD you we drive a lot!) we couldn't love it more. We have averaged 47 miles per gallon and everything we read tells us that the mileage improves over time as we get more used to driving efficiently and the car gets broken in. This beats the numbers in our spreadsheet, so it was even more definitely a good decision. It was quite inexpensive for a new car...and Honda is having its 2010 clearance right now so they are offering all kinds of favorable deals.

Our favorite part about the Insight is the feedback it gives the driver. It actually helps you to drive it more efficiently. In some ways, it's like a giant video game. You earn "leaves" on your screen for driving efficiently and you lose them when you accelerate or brake too fast. It's all about slow and steady wins the race. When you drive efficiently for a certain amount of time you can earn trophies and more layers of leaves on your "tree". It's pathetically fun. Plus, you can watch your real time average of mpg and it catalogs your last three trips along with your current one, so you can see how you're doing over time (or criticize your spouse for their less than optimal fuel efficiency, if that's what you prefer to do with the information).

At any rate, we love our new addition and highly recommend the Honda Insight to anyone who might be in the market for a more fuel efficient car. But hurry...the 2010 clearance is ending soon (oh, and get the internet price...it's quite a bit less than the sticker!).

Monday, September 06, 2010

Take Five

The venerable Cardinal Newman will be beatified by Pope Benedict later this month. If you are interested in learning a little more about him and his writing in the wake of this event, I recommend this approachable book, co written by Mike Aquilina and Father Juan Velez: Take Five: Meditations with John Henry Newman.

If, like me, you like to do a little spiritual reading each day but find it difficult to fit it in, this book is a perfect read. It is designed to be consumed in five minute chunks and takes the extensive works of this great author and boils them down to their most relevant points. It also puts the work in the context of his life, which helps to understand where he is coming from.

If you are interested in learning a little more about Cardinal Newman, especially since we will be seeing a lot about him in the news over the next few weeks, this is a good source.

Happy reading!

Saturday, September 04, 2010

Now That's A Friend

This morning was "picture day" for my football players and cheerleaders. They had to be at the field in full uniform by 7am. No, that was not a typo. 7am.

Football players? No problem. Roll out of bed, no fuss, no muss. Cheerleaders are an entirely different story. They require hairdos that match their team. They must have the correct (out of three, mind you) hair bow. They go out with curls. They need hair product.

I am terrible with girl hair. TERRIBLE. This is not a good thing for a mother of 4 girls. When I got the requirements for the girls' hair a few days ago, I panicked. Lindsey had to have her bangs french braided into a high, curled ponytail. Julia's was a little easier, just a high curly pony, but still quite a challenge for someone like me. I was stressing to my neighbor about this and, in typical Robin fashion, she set about solving it for me.

She found our good friend Julie, who has been doing cheer hair for years, and before I knew it Julie and her daughter Alyssia (our long-time babysitter) arrived at our house at 6am this morning armed with curlers and mousse. The result was great hair, unified teams for both girls and a really relived mom (me!). Not to mention how happy my girls were that their hair actually got done correctly!

If I was unsure, before this morning, as to whether or not I had good friends (which, happily, I wasn't), I DEFINITELY know it now. Thanks, ladies.