Thursday, July 28, 2005


139 Days to Go

We drove the kids to Atlanta on Wednesday in an attempt to salvage this week that we *should have* been at the beach. There are signs I’m becoming slightly less selfish (although not markedly so) as instead of feeling 100 percent sorry for myself, my family and the vacation that wasn’t --- I have had a few moments' concern for the poor homeowners whose condos --that we would have been staying in-- were damaged by the storm. And for the local economy that relies heavily on tourism, and for the good folks at The Lighthouse Retreat who work so hard all year to provide these amazing retreats for cancer families …. I’m sure I’m not the only one railing at Mother Nature.

So anyway, we spent yesterday and today doing fun things in Atlanta ….. Yesterday was an afternoon at American Adventures Amusement Park, a Six Flags park designed for kids under 12. It was a lot of fun, and overall, a very successful family outing. There were a few moments, however (when are there not, with this family???) …. Eight, to be exact. I’ve listed them below as the “Eight Degrees of Ugly”:

Right off the bat, first thing, the conversation between Blaine, the driver who was content to circle the lot twelve times looking for a space, and Kristie, the lazy passenger who wanted to park as close to the entrance as possible, on whether or not the space between those two day-care buses was actually big enough to constitute as a real parking space for our mini-van: Only mildly ugly.

The reaction Kristie had when she realized that although she was successful in bullying Blaine to park in the space, she was actually too fat to fit out the passenger door because it would only open a few inches thanks to the damn daycare bus next to it. Then, the even worse reaction she had when she squeezed her fat ass between the van and the day care bus, but wasn’t successful enough in sucking in her gut to prevent the streaks of dirt from running all along the front and back of her t-shirt: Pretty ugly.

Spending four hours riding rides, playing arcade games, and enjoying “The Foam Factory” with our family: Only a little bit ugly because it was hot as Hades and all those day-care kids made the lines too long. But mostly not ugly and fun.

Kristie’s discovery that she no longer has a stomach of steel and riding the tilt-a-whirl, swings, and pirate ship all in a row was perhaps not the brightest idea she has had in a long time: Fairly ugly, or, to quote Blaine, “You look like you’re going to hurl.”

Paying $18.77 for two slushies and three Cokes: slightly ugly.

The attitude Brayden copped when she realized that despite being 13 months older than Kellen, she is one inch shorter than he is ….. and what a crucial inch it is …. allowing him, at 54 and a half inches, to drive the bumper cars, but relegating her, at 53 and a half inches, to the undignified position of sidekick: Very, very ugly. This is what pouting looks like in the flesh, in case you are unaware:

Getting to the prize redemption counter in the arcade and discovering that thanks to one lucky spin on a defective game, one kid has 200 tickets more than the other kids: moderately ugly.

After riding rides, playing games, drinking slushies, and ripping through the foam factory all afternoon, the fact that my unappreciative kids were disappointed that we weren’t taking them to the White Water Park next door: Not as ugly as my head exploding during the “Can’t you just be grateful for what you’ve been given today, instead of always wanting more, more, MORE speech?!?!?!?”

But in reality, those eight moments were merely a blip (albeit, eight annoying blips) on the radar screen of our day and we had a good time. Afterwards we stayed in a hotel with a pool and had dinner at a Spaghetti Warehouse, so all told, it was a pretty successful day.

Then this morning, we got up and drove to Turner Field to take part in the kick-off of the 2005 Major League Baseball Commissioner’s Initiative for Kids, and grand opening of Tooner Field, before the Braves game. Here is a little background information from the CureSearch website:

Commissioner Selig to Help Launch 2005 Program on Thursday, July 28 at Turner Field

NEW YORK (July 27,2005) Major League Baseball is once again teaming up with Ameriquest, the Official Mortgage Company of Major League Baseball, to present The 2005 Commissioner’s Initiative For Kids courtesy of Ameriquest. Introduced in 2004, the program is designed to provide tickets to children who otherwise might not have an opportunity to attend a Major League Baseball game. In addition, the program helps raise awareness and, through a very generous $1 million donation from Ameriquest, funding for Boys & Girls Clubs of America (BGCA), the Official Charity of Major League Baseball, and CureSearch National Childhood Cancer Foundation.

“The 2005 Commissioner’s Initiative For Kids courtesy of Ameriquest” gets underway in Atlanta on Thursday, July 28th with a special celebration at Turner Field. Baseball Commissioner Allan H. (Bud) Selig and his grandchildren, Atlanta Braves Chairman Terence F. McGuirk, several Braves players and their families, youth from BGCA and CureSearch National Childhood Cancer Foundation and the Cartoon Network’s Johnny Bravo will be on hand to help open “Tooner Field,” a new children’s play area located at the ballpark. As part of “The 2005 Commissioner’s Initiative for Kids courtesy of Ameriquest,” the Braves have made tickets available to local community and charitable organizations for that afternoon’s 1:05 p.m. game vs. the Washington Nationals.

Game-used bases, team-autographed commemorative home plates and lineup cards from each ballpark will be auctioned off at a later date to raise additional funds for BGCA and CureSearch National Childhood Cancer Foundation.

In-stadium celebrations are planned at each Major League ballpark throughout the month of August to commemorate “The 2005 Commissioner’s Initiative For Kids courtesy of Ameriquest” program and highlight the importance of BGCA and Cure Search National Childhood Cancer Foundation.

“On behalf of all the families impacted by childhood cancer, we are very proud to once again be a beneficiary of the Commissioner's Initiative for Kids and are deeply grateful to Ameriquest and Major League Baseball for their incredible generosity,” said Paul T. Burke, President and CEO, CureSearch National Childhood Cancer Foundation. “This promotion will raise public awareness that childhood cancer is the number one disease killer of children in the USA, claiming the lives of more children under 20 than any other disease. It will also provide much needed funds to advance collaborative research and help us reach the day when every child with cancer can be guaranteed a cure."

SO! The gist of it was that a very large group of cancer kids and their families would be on hand, along with a very large group of kids from BGCA, for the ribbon-cutting ceremony of the new Tooner Field interactive play area for kids at the ballpark. One or two VERY SPECIAL cancer kids would even get to go up on the stage and help cut the ribbon ---- Hmmmm, can you think who one of those special chosen kids might be? Can you think of how nice it was for Brandon’s mom Kristin to ask one of those kids, and make such an offer? Can you think of what it means to be five and have thousands of grown ups, kids, Hank Aaron, baseball players, and dozen and dozens of tv crews and cameras to be there, looking at YOU? Can you imagine who completely chickened out and spent the entire ceremony standing on a trash can in the back of the crowd????

That’s ok, though, our friend Will came through at the last-minute and stood in for Kendrie, and then we all got to be part of the very first group of kids to go through Tooner Field, which was pretty cool, except it was a madhouse in there with all the dignitaries and official PR people and tv people and camera crews. And I thought *I* was vicious when it came time to get photos!

Then we had free tickets to see the Braves game, which was also cool. Well, maybe “cool” is the wrong word, considering it was about 139 degrees in the shade. Which fortunately, we were sitting in, because you know the people in the sunny sections were roasting at about 160.

We really enjoyed getting to visit with some of our Camp Sunshine friends, and seeing some of the friends we were supposed to have gone to the beach with this week. Although it wasn’t a week of lying in the sand and relaxing, we still got to visit with friends, which was the best part.

We’ve got one more fun thing planned for this weekend, and I’ll update again next week. Then, school starts on Friday, can you believe it? I hope you all have a great weekend and want to thank you for checking in and continuing to keep Kendrie and our family in our prayers. We are getting closer and closer to the “first” finish line of this race and appreciate the support of all of you!

Take care,

WORST PART ABOUT HAVING CANCER TODAY: Hey, ok. I *know* I told my mom and dad I wouldn’t chicken out at the last minute during that ribbon cutting ceremony ….. but I had no idea what the PRESSURE would be like! Do you guys want me to have a nervous breakdown before I even start kindergarten????

BEST PART ABOUT HAVING CANCER TODAY: Getting to go the Braves game (because I’m an expert on the game, you know, since I played t-ball this year) and being one of the first kids in Tooner Field. Now that was pretty neat! Thanks, CureSearch and MLB!

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