Wednesday, September 01, 2004


Week #4 of LTM

One year ago today: I’m so glad that Kendrie got over the flu bug or whatever it was that was making her so whiny and achy. She’s really perked up now …. do you think the party scheduled for her upcoming 4th birthday has anything to do with it????

Current -- Hey, everyone, we’ve got us a BIRTHDAY GIRL in the house!!! Can you believe Kendrie will be five years old tomorrow? (or today, at the rate I am going with this journal entry.) I haven’t seen a kid as excited to go to bed “so tomorrow will come” since, oh, I don’t know …. Last December 24th, perhaps?

We decided to have our family celebration this evening since Brayden and Kellen have soccer practice tomorrow night. (darn soccer practice, interferes with everything!) In our family, the tradition is that every other year you get a “Friend Birthday”, usually held at an over-priced pizza-parlor-video-arcade-soft-play-area-kind-of-place, where just in case the kids don’t run wild enough, I throw goody bags filled with sugar and cheap toys at them as they walk out the door. Every *other* year, as this year was for Kendrie, is the “Family Birthday”; much more low key. The birthday boy or girl gets to pick a restaurant, we go out to eat as a family, then come home for gifts, cake and ice cream. Perhaps not as exciting as an evening spent with a rat whose name rhymes with Chuck E. Cheese, but much better as far as I’m concerned!

So this year Kendrie chose the steak-restaurant Logans as her pick. Don’t ask me why, she’s never been to a Logans in her life. I think she overhead Blaine and me talking about the fact you are allowed to throw peanut shells on the floor and she figured that was as close to sanctioned messiness as she was going to get.

Before dinner, I had to take Brayden and Kellen to buy her gifts. Family tradition #2, the kids have to use some of their own money to buy birthday gifts for siblings and friends. (Actually, this is a new tradition since we just started giving them allowances a few weeks ago. We’ll see how it goes.) First I had to wait for Blaine to come home from work so he could stay at home with Kendrie while I took the older two to the toy store. As we’re backing down the driveway, Kendrie is running along side the van yelling “NO Barbies, NO Barbies!” Doesn’t she understand the concept of being a gracious recipient?

Anyway, Kellen had $2.00 to spend and Brayden had $2.51. (I have no idea where she got the fifty-one cents!) All the way there they were arguing over who would get more money back from the cashier, to put back in their allowance drawers. I refrained from explaining to them that unless they were each buying Kendrie a pack of Juicyfruit gum, there probably wouldn’t be any change, and I might even have to chip in. In fact, the gifts FROM Brayden and Kellen, TO Kendrie, wound up costing mom $25.42. Whatever. Maybe after we’ve been doing the allowance-thing a little longer they’ll be able to pony up for a bigger share of the gifts. That’s the theory, anyway.

Then the whole family headed to Logans, where we proceeded to dump a small mountain of peanut shells on the floor, as required, and Kendrie told anyone who walked within a 20-foot radius of our table, wait staff and fellow patrons alike, that we were celebrating her birthday. Then, the instant the waiters came over to sing Happy Birthday to her, she freaked out, clinging to me, crying, and attempting to become the first child in history to actually become ONE, physically, with her mother by latching on to my neck. What a drama queen.

Then it was home for presents ………….. and I have to tell Briana R. how much she enjoyed your package --- thank you so much for thinking of her! I’m not even sure how you knew it was her birthday???? What’s funny, is how she is such a tomboy, and doesn’t like to play with Barbies or dolls or anything, and the first thing she did with your package was insist that I paint her fingernails. Believe me when I say that has NEVER happened before!

And the last birthday tradition is that the birthday boy or girl gets to help make their own birthday cake. (yeah, yeah, I know, cheap labor!) So here are some photos of Kendrie getting her groove on in the kitchen.

"OK, boys and girls, the key here is to insist on working the hand mixer all by yourself, then just to make your mom crazy, wave it around a few times, splattering cake batter all over the kitchen."

"Now, declare it is your sovereign right as the birthday girl to lick the cake batter out of the bowl with a big spoon all by yourself. Give the cast-off, measly beaters to your brother and sister."

"Oh, the heck with it. Just dive on in. But make sure you wipe the cake batter off the top of your head afterwards!"

Tomorrow, her actual birthday, I am taking snacks to her pre-kindergarten class. Although I have tried to prepare thoroughly by buying chocolate chip, peanut butter, AND sugar cookies, I have no doubt that Kendrie will have the only 4-yr old wheat-allergic, sugar-avoiding vegan in the entire school in her class who will hate what I brought. That’s ok, more cookies for me.

If you would take a minute to leave Kendrie a note, wishing her a happy birthday in the guestbook, I would really appreciate it. Naturally, I’m saving the guestbook for her to have as a keepsake. Although we’ve been in treatment almost eleven months, this is the first birthday since diagnosis. God willing, there will only be one more birthday while on treatment. And I hope when her seventh birthday rolls around, leukemia and chemotherapy are but a blip in our rear-view mirrors.

I know birthdays are always a little bittersweet for moms, and especially the birthdays of your youngest. But I found myself hugging her extra tight this evening and appreciating this birthday more than I appreciated last years. She is in remission. She is beating cancer. I’m hoping for her to have about 100 more birthdays and just think, for at least 50 of them I don’t have to share her with a big gray rodent.

On a side note, sincere HUGE thanks to those of you who have gone in and made online donations through our Light the Night Team Kendrie and Madie website. I will be leaving the link up through September so if anyone else would like to sponsor us, it’s easy to do. And we appreciate it sincerely. If I’d given it much thought, knowing what amazing, kind-hearted, supportive friends that we have, I should have set our initial goal much higher! I’ll save the final total for the day of the walk, but want you to all know that each dollar counts and we thank you for each and every single one!

Wish Blaine luck this weekend, as he handles all the Mr. Mom duties for four days while I go scrapbook in a cabin in the Georgia mountains with nine other girlfriends. I plan on putting myself into a sugar and carbohydrate-induced coma, while he has to worry about entertaining three kids, most likely house-bound due to Hurricane Caroline (or Bonnie, or Rumplestiltskin, or whatever this one is called that’s supposed to dump ten inches of rain, even all the way up here!) I’m actually worried about our friends at the Lighthouse Retreat in Florida this week …. Sending up many positive thoughts that the weather doesn’t cause them any problems.

I’m also hoping the rain is not as severe as predicted because we are scheduled to attend the Atlanta Braves game on Monday with our friends the Connors. Brandon's mom Kristin was instrumental in getting Major League Baseball to donate one million game tickets; donation proceeds to benefit CureSearch National Childhood Cancer Foundation. It’s a remarkable initiative, many thanks to major league player Tom Glavine and his wife Chris, also. Check out available tickets in your city --- help support pediatric cancer research and enjoy a hot dog and a ball game, all at the same time! It sounds like a great way for us to spend Labor Day and I hope it’s not rained out. I also hope you all enjoy your holiday weekend, as well.

Love, Kristie

WORST PART ABOUT HAVING CANCER TODAY: When that boy came to my table at the restaurant and tried to get me to stand up in my chair! What was he thinking???? I realize that has nothing to do with cancer, but I still didn’t like it!

BEST PART ABOUT HAVING CANCER TODAY: Tomorrow is my birthday!!! Wait, that doesn’t really have anything to do with cancer, either. It’s just darn exciting!

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