Tuesday, January 31, 2006


Day 47 OT

If I ever needed proof that my sister-in-law hates me, I got it today. Actually, I got it about a month ago when she sent all three children Wal-Mart Gift-Cards for Christmas.

Let me repeat, in case you didn’t catch that:

Wal-Mart. Gift-Cards. Children.

Are there any three words in the English language that when put together, can strike such fear and terror into the heart of parents? ESPECIALLY the parent who gets stuck taking them to spend the gift-cards???? Blaine and I flipped for it. He got off EASY, cleaning those toilets for the next three months, lucky bastard. And off I trudged, despondently, to Wal-Mart.

I don’t mean to slur the reputation of Wal-Marts world wide. Maybe it’s only the Wal-Mart here in our town that serves as the stomping grounds to every white trash hillbilly in a tri-county area. Night or day, rain or shine, the place is packed. Packed! Where do all these people come from?? Why do they bring young children in the store at 10 pm at night? Do they really NEED all that crap they’re buying? Why are so many of them in motorized scooters with little buggies on the front? Why are the check out lines always so long? Do these people actually LIKE shopping at Wal-Mart?? And today (sigh) I had to join the masses, to spend these gift-cards that had been burning a hole in my kids’ pockets ever since the holidays.
In an effort to make our after-school shopping trip as painless as possible, and allow me to keep my sanity, I laid down a few simple ground rules:

1. Any child who fights, whines, argues, pouts, or bickers, with me OR with his/her siblings, will have every item they have chosen put back on the shelf and they will go home empty-handed.

2. Each child must have one hand on the cart at all times (Even though I *know* my kids aren’t going to be snatched away from me, let’s face it …. Every urban legend about child abduction takes place at a Wal-Mart, doesn’t it?? And I’m certainly not immune to the panic those stories create.)

3. Any child who wanders off and does not stay in the same aisle as me will lose all shopping privileges for the day. Plus I will beat them when we get home.

4. If you want an item, you better make your decision and pick it up. Because I am not wandering over the hundred-acre countryside that is Wal-Mart, back and forth and back and forth and back and forth, while you change your mind twelve times about what you really want and try to maneuver me from the toy section to the music section to the sporting goods section and back to the toy section again.

5. NO!! We will NOT be buying candy at the end!!

I took a deep breath, and off we went. Miraculously, we made it through the parking lot, which so many of the shoppers confuse for a Nascar speedway, and into the store without bodily harm.

Immediately, I realized there was a problem with rule #2. When you’ve got three kids hanging on to the cart, all wanting to go in different directions, it’s really hard to steer. So we quickly revamped #2 to “must be within eye sight of the cart at all times.” Very similar to rule #3, but I am nothing if not flexible.
First, to the grocery department because we were out of milk at home. And I’ll be damned if I’m going to spend half an hour in Wal Mart and forget the milk at the end! So, milk first.

Second, to the music department, the first stop in the strategic loop of the store. I am only making ONE loop, and there will be NO back-tracking!

Brayden is obsessed with purchasing Kids Bop 9. Sadly, Wal-Mart only carries Kids Bop 1-8. So she chooses yet another Star Wars soundtrack (don’t even ask me what is up with that) and is relatively content.

Next, the disposable camera bin in front of the electronics department. Brayden claims to want one, so I put it in the cart. Then, several aisles later, she realized that the camera combined with the CD means all her money is gone, so she’s backpedaling, fast. Kendrie says she’ll take the camera ….. but then changes her mind. Raising my voice and telling the two of them that “This is the one and the ONLY time I will put it back once we’ve left the department”, I sneakily and deceitfully put the camera on a shelf in Housewares. I hate people who do that. See what Wal-Mart has reduced me to???

Then, it’s sporting goods, where Kellen has to fondle every football in the department, before deciding he doesn’t want a football, or any kind of ball, at all. Rushing them past the protective cups before they start asking questions. And explaining to Kendrie that even combining the three gift cards will not be enough to buy them the trampoline she wants so badly. Then, moving on.
At long last, over to toys. Here’s where images of Dante’s Inferno are brought to mind, as I try to navigate my way through this section, with one kid who wants to be in the Star Wars aisle, one kid in the Bratz aisle, and one kid in whatever aisle carries the swords and weapons. Reminding the kids five hundred times that there are other shoppers who need to get through the aisle with their carts, as well, so would you please move over and quit standing in the middle of the aisle??? Although they grumbled about rule #2, modified, they did indeed stay within eye sight of the cart, even if it meant spending twenty minutes waiting for Brayden to decide between Cloe’s or Yasmine’s Bratz Head. Waiting ten minutes while Kendrie searched high and low for an Annikan Skywalker ANYTHING, sadly disappointed. Waiting while Kellen pondered the choice between a cheesy plastic bow and arrow, or a cheesy plastic combat set. Then, in order to finish off the gift cards, because Lord knows I’m not coming back to Wal-Mart for a return visit, we head to the .88 cent aisle, where the kids have to personally inspect every piece of crap they think looks good. Or squeezy. Or even remotely interesting.

Can you believe Kendrie bought another whoopee cushion?

Finally, FINALLY, after spending half my life in toys, we head to the check out line, where Brayden sees, of all things, another disposable camera display and decides the world will stop turning if she doesn’t get one. And my heart drops to my stomach when Kellen pays and I realize he still has 92 cents left on his card ….. man, I hope he doesn’t figure that one out.

So, an HOUR AND TEN MINUTES LATER, we are back in the van, headed for home. I am exhausted. Do people actually do this sort of thing for fun? I mean, I only have three kids, and they were relatively well-behaved, for a change. But I had no choice. Damn cards. But I saw people there who I think were just spending money for the fun of it. Going to Wal-Mart by choice, not being forced as I was. Who does that????

Now, give me a quiet morning in Target, by myself, and I can browse with the best of them. But joining the fray that is Wal-Mart, in the middle of the day, with three kids, is just craziness talking. In fact, I think I might have a little PTSD at the moment. I should probably go find a jar of chocolate fudge sauce and unwind.

Sunday, January 29, 2006


Day 45 OT

Kendrie lost her second tooth today. After jutting out at an obscene and vaguely disturbing angle for the past week or so, it finally gave way to all the pulling and poking and prodding that has been done. It’s amazing how a tiny little tooth like that can hold on for so long. But at long last, it came out.

And when it did, it was perfect. Small, white, gleaming. Pristine. No sign of cavity, crack or crater. No erosion of the enamel. And do you know why?

Because I am a perfect mother. One who doesn’t subject her children to un-necessary sugar consumption. One who would hide in the laundry room, finishing off the jar of chocolate fudge sauce herself rather than risk exposing her innocent babies to a lifetime of dental decay. See? SEE? See what I endure for the sake of these kids??? The personal sacrifice on my part?

****If you have no idea what I’m talking about, go back and read the previous journal entry.

Feeling smugly justified,

One big bag Oreos
One stick butter
One half gallon vanilla ice cream*
One large jar chocolate fudge sauce**
One large tub Cool Whip

Crush/chop Oreos (leaving the filling in) and mix with one stick melted butter (leaving a few crushed Oreos in reserve). Spread in bottom of 13x9 pan as “crust” then place in freezer for ten minutes to harden. The next layer is the ice cream. It’s easiest to buy it in the rectangle container, then use an electric knife to cut it into slabs. Place over crust, making the layer as even as possible. The next layer is the hot fudge ….. then put back in the freezer to allow the fudge to firm up a bit. The next layer is the Cool Whip, then sprinkle the reserve Oreos on for looks. Keep frozen until ready to serve.

Another version calls for using Nutter Butters instead of Oreos, caramel sauce instead of hot fudge, and adding in a layer of peanuts.

*The original recipe called for Coffee flavored ice cream (blech!) I’ve also made it with Mint Chocolate Chip, which is good. Use your imagination!

**If you want to be a good mom, hide in the laundry room with any unused fudge and eat it all yourself. Do NOT share with your children. Their teeth and their dentist will thank you later.

Friday, January 27, 2006



Day 43 OT

I have done a bad thing. Not felony bad. Not penance and rosary bad (especially considering I’m not even Catholic). But slightly-feel-guilty-as-a-mother bad.

We were invited to a friend’s house for dinner tonight. I offered to bring dessert. I have a pretty yummy Oreo Ice Cream Dessert that is usually a success, so I went to Kroger today to buy the ingredients: Oreos (big surprise), butter, vanilla ice cream, one large container Cool Whip, and one large jar of chocolate fudge sauce. Only Kroger didn’t have any large jars of chocolate fudge. If you know me, you know the chocolate fudge is the most crucial part of any recipe. Not one to take chances, I covered my bases by buying two medium jars, to make sure I had enough to ensure proper fudginess of the dessert. I am nothing if not prudent.

Sure enough, while making the dessert after picking the kids up from school, I discovered I had too much fudge. No crises there, I had several choices. Re-cap the left-over fudge and put it in the fridge for some other time, yell for the kids to come in the kitchen and give them each a spoonful of fudge as a treat (that is the option that a good parent would have chosen, in my opinion) or just pitch the leftover fudge in the trash. Can you guess which option I chose?

That’s right, Option D, none of the above: I hid in the laundry room and ate the rest of the jar all by myself, without sharing. At all. With anyone.

I should feel guilt. I should feel shame. I should feel gluttonous. Actually, I do feel a little nauseous from the sugar high, from which I am currently crashing. The real irony is that I made my kids eat fruit for an after-school snack, insisting there weren’t enough Oreos left for them to have any.

But all told, no real guilt. Nope, none at all. Not one bit.

Fudge, anyone?

Wednesday, January 25, 2006


Day 41 OT

Ok, so maybe I don’t have PROOF-proof, unless you count the brains splattered on the windshield of my van from when my head exploded this morning during the drive to school.

Did anyone else, with kids under the age of 12 or so, have to endure the High School Musical Disney Countdown last Friday night? I mean, the hoopla leading up to this magnificent event would have led you to believe its importance rivaled the birth of the baby Jesus, or something. And Disney didn’t help matters either, by beginning the previews, oh, about last October, for Pete’s sake. My kids were more excited for the premiere of High School Musical (“Premieres at 8 o’clock, 7 o’clock central, Mom!!!”) than they were for Christmas. One good thing to come out of it was that I was able to get 48 hours excellent behavior out of all three of them, just by threatening that anyone who argued, whined, pouted, sulked, fought, or so much as breathed funny would be sent to their rooms, at precisely 8 o’clock, 7 o’clock central. So I guess I should thank the marketing wizards at Disney for that. And maybe it even helped them with their time-telling skills, considering there was a countdown timer in the right hand corner of the tv screen all day. Who knows?

But we watched it as a family, and were appropriately impressed with our children’s sing-along abilities, and Kendrie’s break-dancing talent, that she insisted on showing us during this song (that is playing now) which is her new favorite song. We laughed, we cried, we cheered as Troy and Gabriella overcame seemingly insurmountable obstacles in order to fulfill their destinies of starring in the Twinkletown Musical ….. you get the picture.

In case you were one of the lucky few who didn’t actually see the show (it’s really not that bad, as much as I’m making fun of it) it’s about a star basketball player and a “brainiac” who decide they want to try out for the school musical, much to the chagrin of their friends, team-mates, and families. According to the friends and team-mates, everyone has one thing they are good at, only one. To attempt doing anything else will apparently irrevocably alter the order and harmony of the universe. Or something like that.

The co-captain of the basketball team is especially offended, and thinks Troy is jeopardizing the team’s chances of winning the championship game, by not focusing on the team and thinking of the musical tryouts instead. He’s obviously never head of multi-tasking, or seen a mother cook dinner, help with homework, bathe the dog, and fold a load of laundry, all at the same time.

So anyway, long explanation notwithstanding for me to get to the point!!! The message the basketball players are trying to give this guy is “Stick with what you know, go with the flow”, ie, don’t mess up the one thing you do well by trying to do something new. There’s a big musical number in the cafeteria to this effect, and that is what leads me to my conversation with Kendrie this morning. It was actually the third or fourth time we’ve had this conversation since she saw the show last Friday. It goes pretty much like this:

Kendrie: “Mom, I have a question about High School Musical”

Kristie: (rolling eyes, thinking Dear Lord, here we go again) “Yes, sweetie, what is it?”

Kendrie: “You know how in the cafeteria, and the basketball team is being so mean to Troy, telling him he can only do one thing?”

Kristie: “mmm-hmmm” (Yep, here it comes)

Kendrie: “Well, were they really being mean, or were they just pretending?”

Kristie: “Well, in the show they were really being mean. But you know that they are all actors, and it’s just a movie, so really they were just pretending.”

Kendrie: “So they weren’t being mean?”

Kristie: “Well, they were pretending to be mean”

Kendrie: “So they really WERE being mean?”

Kristie: (getting a little exasperated) “They were *supposed* to be mean when they were acting. But it’s all pretend.”

Kendrie” “Because they were acting pretty mean.”

Kristie: “Yes, that’s what they want you to think.”

Kendrie: “So for real, truly, they were being mean?”

Kristie: “Well, yes. But only in the movie. I’m sure they’re not mean in real life.”

Kendrie: “You don’t understand what I’m asking you!!!” (getting very upset)

Kristie: (breathing tightly through nose … wondering who that Job character is and if I can borrow some of his patience) “No, I guess I don’t. Ask me again so I can understand and try to explain better.”

Kendrie: (gathers thoughts, tries a new tactic) “Well, ok. In the cafeteria, were they ***really*** being mean, or just pretending to be mean???”

Oh, dear God, and it just goes on and on and never stops!

Does ANYONE understand what she’s asking me? I'm actually looking forward to our little talk about the birds and the bees in a few years, as I can't help but think that it's gotta be easier than this!

Sunday, January 22, 2006


Day 38 OT

Well, I only need three words to sum up the experience we had on Saturday night:

Ho. Ly. Cow!

Wow, what an evening we had! And of course, as you all know, I’m not able to answer even a “yes or no” question in only three words, so let me go ahead and give you all the details!

We got an invitation from the Georgia chapter of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society about two weeks ago to attend an Atlanta Thrashers Hockey Game as part of their All-Star Kids Initiative, a program designed to support the NHL’s Hockey Fights Cancer charitable program. I won’t go into great detail, but you can find more information on this wonderful program at Hockey's All-Star Kids.

Now, I am the first to admit that we’ve gotten to do some pretty neat things due to Kendrie’s leukemia. We’ve attended Camp Sunshine Family Camp Weekends, the Lighthouse Family Retreat, Give Kids the World Village, Light the Night, attended a Braves game with CureSearch, attended the CURE Family Picnic, and various other activities as well. I’ve said it before …. I’d much rather have sat at home watching Lizzie McGuire re-runs, with three healthy kids, but it didn’t work out that way. So I feel very blessed that so many organizations work so hard to offer these programs, and very fortunate that our family has been able to take part.

So, ok. Back to the hockey game. Not only did the LLS invite our family to attend the game, but Terri with LLS wanted to know if Kendrie would be interested in helping throw down the puck before the game! Wow, are you kidding?? Seriously??? Would she be interested??? ------- Um, what exactly does that mean? See, what I know about basketball could fit in a thimble, and I know even less about hockey.

Plus, my mind immediately leapt to last summer’s grand opening of Tooner Park at Turner Field before the Braves game, where Kendrie was supposed to stand on stage while the ceremonial ribbon was being cut. She didn’t have to touch the scissors, or do anything more than stand there with a group of about fifteen other kids, and she wimped out. Total chicken. And now we’re asking her to step out on the ice before the Thrashers game, in front of 15,000 or so screaming hockey fans, and actually **DO** something?????

So I told Terri that while I appreciated the invitation, I had a more-than-slight concern that she might back out at the last second and I didn’t want to take any chances on messing up the big event …. I thought it might be safer to find another kid. But Kendrie insisted she wanted to do it, and Terri was a good sport about it, so with some hesitation, we accepted.

Fast forward to last night’s game.

First, we received premium parking passes and were able to get into the stadium half an hour before the general public to take advantage of all the cool, free, kid-friendly things that were happening. I felt quite smug walking past all the fans standing outside in the rain, as we munched on free popcorn and ice cream.

We were supposed to meet at our seats at 6:15, but weren’t quite sure where they were, so we asked for directions. I knew there would be a group of us sitting together, so I was sort of hoping for one of those boxes that companies sometimes reserve. But instead of going down near the ice, we were taken up, up, up; rode in an elevator that had an official button-pusher-person, and then were told to check in for our suite so it could be unlocked for us …. Blaine and I just sort of looked at each other. Suite? Unlocked?? Were we in the right place?

Then, they showed us to the suite and I knew for sure that they had us confused with Donald Trump!

Kellen’s first comment was, “Hey, this is nicer than any of the hotels we’ve ever stayed at!” Boasting a fridge, ice maker, wet bar, with food and beverage bar already set up, you’re right, son! Sofas, tables, tv screens, and seats that jutted out over the rest of the arena …. Let’s just say that our three-dollar general-seating tickets to the ball games back home won’t ever be the same!

Apparently we were in the private suite of one of the Atlanta players, Ilya Kovalchuk. Now, I have no idea who that is, but maybe this picture of him as a bobble head that they were passing out last night will help:

I did a little online research to find out more about him …. All I know now is that he was born in Russia (oh yeah, with a name like *Kovalchuk* I thought he must be from Iowa!) and that he was born in 1983. Blaine and I were extremely depressed to realize he hadn’t even been born when we graduated from high school, yet probably made more money last year alone than we’ll ever make in our lives. Oh, well. Whatever.

I was told that he owns (rents?) the suite for the entire season and sometimes when he’s not using it personally, he’ll give the seats away to organizations, like he did for the LLS last night. So while I still know nothing about him, I think that is a wonderful thing to do.

We sat around for about half an hour, the kids gluttonously-fascinated by the hot dogs, sandwiches, chips, chicken tenders, cookies and soda that was all just there for the taking. (Honestly, it was a little embarrassing. You’d think I never fed them at home.) The other cancer-kid who was going to help drop the puck, a cute 6-yr old lymphoma-survivor named Flynn, showed up and soon it was time to head downstairs.

We had been talking this event up for the past two weeks with Kendrie, making sure she understood what was going on and that she was still excited (and more importantly, WILLING!) to do it. She purported great enthusiasm in the days beforehand, and again in the suite, but began wilting on the way down to the ice. She wanted to hold my hand, then she wanted me to carry her, then she was burying her face in my leg and with only a few minutes to go, it was all-out tears and protestations that she was NEVER going out on the ice!!! “It’s too scary!” “There are too many people!” “What if the players accidentally smack me with their sticks when I’m out there?”

I, of course, ran the good-mothering gamut of responses, from “It’s ok, honey, mommy will be right behind you” to “You’ve been so brave to fight cancer, I just know you are brave enough to do this, also” to “Kendrie, sweetie, it’s not going to be that bad” to “Get your butt out on that ice right now, young lady, you said you would do it and you’re going to!”

Thankfully, the representatives from LLS and the Thrashers were extremely patient and encouraging, and she actually sucked it up and agreed to go out there, but only if I could stand right beside her. So we waited for a few minutes in the penalty box while the lights were flashing all around, and the music was blaring, and the players took to the ice while the crowd roared all around us. I was worried all these things would start to overwhelm her, but exactly the opposite happened. Flynn was standing there, calm as a cucumber, and I guess Kendrie decided this was pretty stinking cool after all! And hey, if HE could do it, surely she could, too! She leaned over when it was time, grabbed hold of her side of the puck, and marched right out there without a backward glance at me! (Which, of course, left me standing there looking pretty stupid, but I guess it was worth it.)

Being introduced to the sold-out crowd at Philips Arena, and meeting the players. I asked her if they said hello to her, and she said, “No, they said ‘Pleased to meet you’ “ I don’t know why that struck me as funny, but it did.

Tossing down the puck for the team representatives to swat at. After, she and Flynn were both given actual NHL pucks as keepsakes, which was extremely awesome in her book. PS. I have to give Blaine kudos for getting these pictures. He and Brayden and Kellen were still up in the suite, and he grabbed my camera with my mamba-jamba telephoto lens, and did a pretty good job, if I say so myself!

Then, when we were walking back through the “backstage” area to head back to our seats, there was a lady who was kind enough to “recognize” Kendrie and tell her what a great job she had done and ask her for her autograph. I’m sure I’ll never see her again, but if I did, I would tell her thank you for doing such a nice, un-necessary thing. You should have seen how proud Kendrie was to put her John Hancock on that lady’s ticket.

Funny thing, though. Later in the game there was a private autograph session for the All-Star Kids with Bobby Holik, an Atlanta player on injured-reserve. When we told Kendrie it was time for the autograph session, she assumed *he* must want *her* autograph and took her pen with her. She asked me, “Mom, why are all these kids here? Do they ALL want mine and Flynn’s autographs?” I had to explain to her that it was actually the other way around, and she was supposed to be happy to be on the receiving end!

Shortly after the Thrashers Mascot made a private appearance in our suite, thrilling all the kids (and a few adults as well!) it was time for us to go.

We had eaten all the free food, drunk all the free sodas, gathered our bobble heads, pucks, jerseys, autographed items, blow-up hockey sticks and Thrashers bracelets that we could carry. We staggered under the weight back to the van, with smiles on our faces the whole way.

Considering I don’t even understand hockey, and the Thrashers got beat, it was still a remarkable evening. From the amazing hospitality we were shown, to the pride I felt when Kendrie conquered her nerves and stepped out on that ice, it was a night to remember.

Many. Many thanks to Terri with LLS, the Atlanta Thrashers, and Ilya Kovalchuk for their graciousness. I’m sure every All-Star Kid there had just as wonderful of a time as we did.

Thursday, January 19, 2006


Day 35 OT

Yet another way my children differ from me, in the same vein as athletic ambition, is their bizarre-o desire to exercise. They think it’s fun. What’s up with that????

Anyway, we were watching my girlfriend Renee’s two sons the other night while she and her husband were at the Bon Jovi concert (yeah, see? Standing on my chair, waving a cigarette lighter in the air, and ogling Ritchie Sambora, that’s my kind of exercise!) and the kids decided they wanted to have an “Exercise Contest”. As long as they didn’t expect ME to take part, I agreed to humor them and serve as the Exercise Judge. I’m still not exactly sure what my duties were, since basically they just jumped around the living room, screaming “Watch me! Watch me!” before colliding with one another and then falling down and laughing hysterically. (Confirms my personal suspicion that endorphins are actually NOT good for you!) But they seemed to have a good time, and anything that has the potential to burn off a little energy before bed is A-ok in my book.

Always remember to stretch out and warm up those muscles, right?

Kendrie and her boyfriend Nicholas have apparently been arm-wrestling at recess (ah, young love) and she is trying to bulk up so she doesn’t lose to him anymore. Obviously, doing reps with your tongue sticking out of your mouth is better for you, so she's well on her way to arm-wrestling glory.

Jumping jacks, now, everyone together!

OK, could my son look any dorkier? Is it even possible? Don’t worry Renee, “total dorkdom” isn’t contagious.

Er, at least I don’t think so.

Well, it’s good to know SOMEONE is making good on my New Years Resolution to exercise more!


Brayden was reading her library book to Blaine last night and I was in the same room (cutting out laminated papers for a teacher, imagine that!) while she regaled him with the life story of Babe Ruth. She got to the part about “Babe held the home run record for many years with 60 home runs until Mark McGuire and Sammy Sosa broke it...” and I looked over at Blaine, crooked my eyebrow and said, “And hey, Babe Ruth did it without taking steroids.”

The next page of the book stated, “Babe Ruth died in 1948 of cancer…..”

Brayden paused, and then looked at me and said, “Well no wonder he died of cancer, if he wouldn’t take his steroids!”

Sunday, January 15, 2006


Day 31 OT

Thanks so much to all of you (many of you teachers yourselves!) who wrote in the guestbook to let me know you would rather run through Hell wearing gasoline-soaked underpants than listen to children read at school. I have to say, I’m feeling much better about myself, knowing I’m in such good company!

Now, we turn our attention to an equally drastic matter: The fact I appear to be turning into one of those obnoxious sports parents.

Let me just say, in my own defense, the words “sports” and “Kristie” have never been used in the same sentence. I’ve never played team sports, or any kind of solo sport, unless you count cross-stitching. The most athletic thing I did in high school was sing in the Glee Club. Well, that’s not completely true. I was a member of the Drill Team (those girls in the short skirts who march with the band at halftime and carry pom-poms) but definitely not the most coordinated one.

Once, when we were lined up doing our high kicks (which were not very high for me because my legs were too chubby .... sadly, there goes my Rockettes career) I got my shoe caught in my best friend Susie’s skirt and essentially de-pantsed her in the front of the entire school. She wasn’t so happy about that. And once I got Jimmy Paisley’s trombone slide caught in my pom--pom and vaulted it into the crowd at a football game. That probably wasn’t the high point of my Dance Squad career, either.

My point is that outside of catching a fabulous shoe sale at Nine West, I’ve never really known the thrill of athletic conquest for myself. Reached out and grabbed the golden ring, as it were, or tasted the spoils of the victor. Nope, a rousing game of Cranium is about as vigorous as it gets for me.

Luckily, our kids take after Blaine and have a smidge more athletic ambition than I did. So far, they’ve partaken of soccer, t-ball, baseball, dance, and gymnastics. They’ve not been particularly fabulous at any of it, but at least they are coordinated enough that they don’t embarrass themselves like I probably would have when I was young. And I have always been the parent who sits on the sidelines, cheering and rooting them on, but clapping for the other team as well. I really do hate poor winners as much as I hate poor losers, so it’s been easy for me to stress the fun of the game, as opposed to the importance of winning over losing. Plus, up to this point, sports for my kids has been all about the snack at the end of the game. And honestly, is that such a terrible way to live your life?

Then, Kellen started playing basketball this season. What I know about basketball could fit in a thimble. But that’s ok because Kellen already has a coach and he doesn’t need me hollering at him. I show up, I clap and cheer whenever anyone on our team makes a basket and don’t get worked up about anything else. I mean, it’s just a game, after all.

Until the game this Saturday, when my unbeknownst-to-me, long-lost, deep-buried competitive nature reared its ugly head.

It started out as a normal day, much like any other. We arrived at the gym a few minutes early and got to watch the game before ours play out. Then, just as Kellen’s team was warming up, we saw the opposing team walk through the door. My first thought was, “What is a high school team doing here in a 7 and 8 yr old league?” If you know Kellen, you know he is tall for his age. Not freakishly tall, but a good half a head taller than most of his classmates. He’s 7, and is still one of the tallest on his 7-8 yr old team. But, check out the kid he was assigned to guard:

All I can say is that 8 yr old's parents must be going BROKE buying Wheaties for the boy!

Needless to say, at the end of the first quarter, the score was 10-1 …. and not in our favor. But since I’m not competitive by nature, that was ok. Just remember, it’s all about having fun. Fun and snacks. Then, something amazing happened. Our team, shorter and smaller though they were, began to find chinks in the armor of the mutant giant team. By halftime, the score was 18-10, and our boys weren't backing down at all. Hey …. this was starting to get interesting.

The third quarter, the crowd around me was rallying our team and we managed to gain on them even more, only trailing by six points when the fourth quarter began. And point by point, basket by basket, we began to close the gap, while the clocked ticked away in the quarter.

Before I realized what had happened, I was on my feet with the rest of the parents, “Woof, woof!”-ing every time we scored and pumping my fist in the air, actually working up a bit of a sweat with my whooping and hollering. When we sank the basket that tied the game in the final seconds, I was jumping up and down on the metal bleachers and making quite an impressive racket with the heels of my favorite boots (I told you, Nine West has nothing on me!) and screaming like we had just scored Olympic gold. Brayden looked over at me, with a horrified look on her face and simply said, “Mom, what are you doing?” I hadn’t shown that much emotion since Rupert won a million dollars on Survivor.

When the final buzzer went off and the other team realized we had tied them (the only game this season they haven’t won, apparently) the lady behind me was shouting, “Uh, huh, now THAT’S what I’m talking about!!!” and I was gesticulating wildly in the stands, supplying my own “You go girl, tell it like it is!” and knocking people about the head with my victory dance.

Truly, me discovering my untapped athletic competitive nature in this fashion, was ugly. But I had tasted the fruit of rivalry, of coming from behind and thwarting a competitor, and I liked it. I was already planning where I could purchase orange and black face paint for next week’s game, and maybe buy one of those hats with the can-holders and straws on the side, when Kellen ran up to me and said the one thing that could pull me back to reality: “Mom, look! The snack lady brought my favorite flavor of Power-Ade, woohoo!”

Ok, whew. Thanks for bringing me back down to earth, kid, and for reminding me that all that matters is having fun. Well, that and the snack.


I was driving the kids to a birthday party on Saturday which was being held at a bowling alley we had never been to. Kendrie was worried I didn’t know the way, despite my reassurances that I knew where the alley was and that we wouldn’t be late. She kept saying, “But are you sure you know where it is?” and finally Kellen replied, “Of course she knows. She’s a mom, she knows everything.” (Because this is what I tell them all the time) to which Kendrie replied, “Uh-uh. I bet she doesn’t know how to spell supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.” At which point I turned around and spelled it for her. Whether I got it right or not, who knows? The important thing is that *she* doesn’t know how to spell it either and I still have my bluff in on her!

Wednesday, January 11, 2006


Day 27 OT

Everyone has a few things in life that, no matter how hard they try, no matter how much they want to succeed, they are simply not good at. Or don’t enjoy doing. Or have tried, and should NEVER, EVER do again. For me, it’s singing karaoke in public. Playing any kind of sport that requires any athletic ability in the least. And finding the image in those damn Magic Eye Pictures. No matter how hard I try, listening to my friends go on and on about how easy it is … “just relax your eyes, can’t you see the {insert} duck/bunny/house in the middle? You’re not relaxing” No, no, NO … I can’t see it!!!!! AAAaaggggghhhhh! I hate those things!

Oh, and one other thing I don’t like to do and try to avoid at all costs: spending time with children.

Now, obviously, I have three kids, so I spend time with them, no matter what. And even though they drive me crazy, I usually enjoy being with them.

No, I’m talking about spending my FREE time with children. Specifically, with children that are not my own, doing things that I don’t like to do. Even more specifically, volunteering to read with children at the elementary school my kids attend. Even more, more specifically, ***being volunteered*** to read with kids. Stay-at-home moms everywhere know just what I’m talking about, don’t you?

I spend a LOT of time volunteering at my kids’ school. And I like it. I spend every Tuesday helping three different teachers organize their weekly take-home folders. I am the official PTO secretary and the un-official PTO photographer. So far this year, I have worked Picture Day, the Book Fair, the Secret Santa Workshop, PTO fundraisers, and proctored 4th grade and 5th grade testing. I am in my kids’ classroom for every holiday party, Parent’s Day, Career Day (even though I don’t technically have a career …. at least not one I get paid for!) Craft Day and Cooking Activity, and I have helped make cupcakes to celebrate the PTO monthly birthday party. I have shelved books in the library and helped pass out pizza for reading reward parties. You know what? I don’t mind at all. In fact, I kind of like it.

I like being able to keep an eye on my kids, and on the kids that my kids hang out with. I like getting to know the teachers, the administration, and the other parent volunteers. I like being a part of the activities, most of which are fun. There’s a reason Blaine and I decided I wouldn’t work (besides the fact I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up) …. that we don’t live in a bigger house or drive newer cars or vacation in Acapulco every Spring Break. For now, *this* is my job, and I like it, even though the monetary compensation leaves a little to be desired.

But there is one thing I do NOT like to do: read with children. Read to children. Have children read to me.

I do not like to read to kids,
I do not want to, God forbid.
And if I had to, if I did,
I’d rather eat a giant squid.

If I wanted to work one on one with kids, especially kids who are struggling, I would have gone to school to be a teacher. Or a tutor. Or even taken the class to be a substitute. But it’s not a passion I have. It’s not even something I do very well. I have a tendency to yawn --- a lot --- whenever I’m being read to. It’s boring. It’s even boring when my own kids do it. And really, yawning in front of your own kid is rude enough …. Yawning in front of some other kid, not even related to you, is even ruder.

I’m not good at it. I don’t enjoy it. I. Don't. Want. To.

I tried it last year. For six weeks, I showed up every Thursday afternoon to read with a very sweet boy in the 5th grade. He was a quiet, polite, well-mannered kid. His reading skills were atrocious. Listening to him read made me want to plug my ears with those little things you stick in the ends of your corn on the cob. I was not good at pretending to be fascinated, or thinking up questions to ask him, or quizzing him on what he had just read to see if his problem was actually reading, or retention. Don’t you think if I had ANY of those skills, I would have gone into teaching as a profession???

So, I did what any normal, cowardly, person would do. I lied. I told his teacher that since my youngest daughter was being treated for cancer and I never knew exactly when we might need to go to Atlanta, or when she might be feeling poorly, I didn’t think I was reliable enough to be a weekly reading helper. It was not only a lie, it was a big fat lie. Truth was, I just hated it, but didn’t have the guts to say so.

But it got me out of it, and that's all that mattered.

Then, yesterday, it happened. A different teacher asked if I would be available to come in once a week to be a (sigh) reading tutor. Believe me, I understand that some kids need an extra boost. I understand that there just aren’t enough hours in the day for the teacher to do it all herself, and that stay-at-home moms like me … who have **chosen** to stay home so we can be as involved as possible, are sometimes their best hope for back up.

But please, ask me to help kids make a life-size igloo out of cotton balls, or help with the costumes for the Literary Parade. Ask me to organize the games for 50's Night, or donate for the Bake Sale. Ask me to bring three dozen juice boxes for a class party, or take home seven hundred laminated papers that need to be cut into the shape of Mount Rushmore. I’m happy to sit in for the 3rd grade writing tests next Wednesday and Thursday (that reminds me, I’ve got to put that on my calendar!) or help decorate the bulletin boards in the commons area.

Just whatever you do, don’t ask me to read with kids. Because now that Kendrie is off-treatment, I’ve got to come up with some other fib about why I’m unavailable for that particular project. Who would have ever thought I would long for the “good ole’ days” when I could use her chemo schedule as an excuse???

Wish me luck coming up with another one, because I sure as heck won’t find the courage to just tell the truth.


We were sitting at dinner the other night, trying to entice Kendrie to actually eat some of the fresh fruit I had put on her plate and not make an entire meal out of the shredded cheese we had sitting on the table. I was explaining that shredded cheese is a “topping” for spaghetti, not a food group in and of itself. She said cheese is what she likes (simple enough, right?) and all she wanted for dinner. Exasperated, I made the comment, “Kendrie, before chemo, you used to eat fruit all the time …. You *have* to start eating it again because it’s healthy for you” and Brayden, always the helpful one, chimed in with, “Yeah, but Mom, I remember you saying that the medicine she took might have made her taste bugs like different things.”

Taste bugs?

It was so cute I barely had the heart to correct her. But I did. Because that’s my job as a parent, to squelch every cute thing they do. And try not to yawn when they read to me.

Friday, January 06, 2006


And by “They”, I mean those never-ending, life-sucking prescription refills!

Day 22 OT

Kendrie had her first off-treatment check up today in Atlanta. She was not real happy about the finger-stick, and was showing off the “giant hole” in her finger to anyone who would look the rest of the day, making quite a production out of it. I think if she could have gotten away with adding a limp, or perhaps an ace bandage around her head, she would have.

Her blood counts were perfect, though, right where her oncologist wants them to be. He even said that unless she starts having any troubles, we don’t need to bring her back for two months. He does want to check her blood work every four weeks, but next month we can just run her to the lab on base and have the results faxed up. She won’t miss an entire day of school, and I won’t have to drive back to Atlanta until March --- how odd will that seem?!?!? No complaints here, though. She does have what appears to be a fairly-typical post-treatment rash on her arms and one side of her face. No treatment necessary except for a topical anti-itch cream, unless it doesn’t go away in a few weeks. And that was it --- fairly anticlimactic for our first visit ….. JUST the way I wanted it to be!

So I was driving home this afternoon, feeling all smug about how we seem to be successfully leaving our treatment days behind, one baby-step at a time, and what a nice feeling it is to be cruising along with nothing more treacherous than a monthly finger-stick in our path … when it happened. The wake-up call that no, indeed, reminded me I have no business being so full of myself, thinking we’ve left the world of leukemia behind. The wake-up call disguised as: PRESCRIPTION REFILLS.

Now, although Kendrie is technically off-treatment, she still takes two different oral pill prescriptions each night for chemo cough, still takes her Bactrim (antibiotic) four times a week, and we keep a stash of both Zofran (anti-nausea med) and Miralax (stool softener) on hand just because *those* lovely side effects could pop up at any time and we certainly don’t want to be caught unprepared. Naturally, four of these five prescriptions came close to running out right around the same time this week … even more naturally, they are all four filled at different pharmacies in our town. Just what is UP with that???

Only one pharmacy in town can flavor the Bactrim, so we go there for that. Only one pharmacy (naturally, on the other side of town) has dissolvable Zofran, so we go there for that. The pharmacy closest to our home is where one prescription is filled, and Blaine gets the fourth filled at the pharmacy on base. I’m not quite sure how that happened, but that’s just they way it worked out. We’ve been doing it this way for the past twenty-seven months, so no big deal, really, until they all run out at once.

Now, being the savvy cancer-parent that I am, I called all the refills in ahead of time so I wouldn’t waste time standing around in the pharmacies. Lord knows I’ve got important things to do with my time …. like organize Kellen’s underwear drawer, or arrange all of Brayden’s Bratz dolls in alphabetical order, or something. I was going to be wasting enough time driving all over God’s green earth from pharmacy to pharmacy as it was. So, after dinner tonight, instead of spending quality family time with my husband and kids, I drove to the pharmacy closest to home and got the first refill … no problem. I then drove across town to the second pharmacy, only to be told they only had ten of the thirty pills on the script, and could I come back Monday to pick up the rest??? Fine (sigh) I’ll come back Monday.

Then I drove (across town the OTHER way, of course --- visualize a triangle, and me making trips to all three points) to the third pharmacy, only to have the tech tell me “it was too soon to get the med refilled”. Of course, she said it loudly …. “YOU’RE TRYING TO GET IT REFILLED BEFORE YOU ARE ALLOWED ANY MORE” Why not just put a flashing neon “Drug Abuser” sign over my head??? Really, how embarrassing. I replied, (in an equally-loud voice so the people in line behind me would know I wasn’t really a drug-seeking loser) “Well, my DAUGHTER only has enough ANTIBIOTIC to see her through the weekend, so I don’t see how it can be too soon.” She double checked and said, “Oh, it says right here that your insurance company says they won’t refill it until tomorrow. You’ll have to come back then unless you want to pay the whole thing now.” Tomorrow. Are you kidding me???? One measly day? Embarrassing as it was, I couldn’t stop the snort and “Oh, for God’s sake” comment that came out of my mouth. I seriously considered paying for it, bearing in mind it would be another hour of my time the next day, and the gas it would take to get over there …. But decided not to, on principle. Of course, tomorrow when I’m driving back to one pharmacy and Monday when I’m driving back to the second, I’ll probably be grumbling a different tune.

So as I was driving home (oh, and by the way did I mention that I managed to spend $80 in the grocery store that houses pharmacy #3?) complaining to Blaine on my cell phone about how I spent two hours and $80, and was still only coming home with one and a half of my four refills, I realized ….. we still have a ways to go. Kendrie will be on these meds at least three months …. More like six for the Bactrim. I guess it’s to keep me humble. Or just drive me crazy, I’m not sure.

I’m telling you, pharmacy school would have been worth it just for the free samples. In the meantime, Kendrie and I will both keeping trying to find our Grail. Although I’m not a huge Monty Python fan (as in, not at all) I just love this song that was sent to me and think it’s perfect for coming off treatment. Especially for a mom who's being driven insane by prescription refills --- for a kid who doesn't even technically *have* cancer anymore!!! (But that's so fun to say!) :)

Please keep our friend Catie in mind as she and her parents Jenny and Tre’ prepare for her surgery on Monday, a third attempt by the surgeons to remove ALL the remaining tumor from her brain. I’m very hopeful that this is IT for sweet little Catie and she can move on to her life WITHOUT cancer, like she deserves!


Wednesday was our final day of Christmas vacation and I wanted it to be a good one for my kids, so we: ate lunch with friends at one of their favorite restaurants, went to see a matinee of “Cheaper by the Dozen 2”, went with said friends to a local park for an hour and a half, and went to a friends’ house for another hour to jump on their trampoline. Then, it was time to take Kellen to his first basketball scrimmage and I made sure to pack crayons and coloring books for the girls so they wouldn’t’ be bored.

By the time it was over, we had been gone from 11am until 7pm, no dinner, and we were all hungry. Kendrie said she wanted to go to McDonalds for dinner and I said, no, even though we needed to do fast food, for time’s sake since it was a school night, I would prefer Wendy’s so I could get a baked potato … something with a little more substance than Chicken McNuggets. Kendrie had the nerve to look me right in the face, after I spent eight hours and countless dollars doing fun things with her this day, and say, “NO fair! I never get to do anything that *I* want to do!!!”

I’ll remind her of that on the next vacation day that I make them spend shopping for groceries, putting away laundry, cleaning the gutters, and re-grouting the tile floor in the bathroom.

Monday, January 02, 2006



Day 18 OT

So, like everyone else, I’ve made my New Years Resolutions for this year, and once again, have vowed to lose the same twenty pounds I’ve been trying to lose since I was a teenager. (snort! I’ll never lose those twenty pounds unless I have them surgically removed!) Quite frankly, I’m too lazy to work for world peace, or save any whales or rain forests, so this year, I set my sights a little lower. I set goals that I thought might be “do-able” for me. I’ll detail them for you, with photo hints, and we can play a little game called “Succeed or Fail?”

Yesterday, Jan 1st, the bright, shining, optimistic NEW day to a NEW year, did Kristie succeed or fail already at her resolutions??? Let’s play:

Resolution #1: No more washing laundry, and then drying laundry, and then leaving the clothes either a) in the dryer for a week, or b) in laundry baskets in my bedroom, waiting to be folded. I am really, really bad about this. So, did I succeed or fail?

Well, since this was the view from my bed late last night, three baskets of clean laundry that needed to be folded and put away, obviously Resolution #1 was a big fat FAILURE already. It’s always so sad to be off to such a dismal start, isn’t it?

Resolution #2: Eat healthier. I officially give up on the twenty pounds, but really, would it kill me to lay off the snack food and soda? So, the first day of the first month of the new year, did I succeed or fail?

Well, this is the bag sitting beside my computer late last night …. So you can pretty much guess for yourself. (But honestly, was it a big surprise to anyone???)

Resolution #3: Get more exercise. Ha! Who am I kidding????

(Ahhhh, wiping the mirth from my eyes and giggling …..) This is what my treadmill looks like, and this is most likely what it will always look like. Let’s just be truthful about it. A little honesty never hurt anyone. But a treadmill ... now, THAT can hurt you! Muscle pulls, ligament aches, ankle pains, groin strains ..... no wonder I don't use it, it's dangerous!

Resolution #4: Don’t lose my patience as much with my kids. Don’t yell. At least not as often. Find creative, inventive ways to solve arguments and problems. Be the kind of nurturing, smiling, happy mother you see in the magazines.

Well, ***this*** didn’t go so well. I made it until 9:42 am without yelling, which really isn’t so good considering I didn’t get up until 8:42 am. All three kids were in time-out before noon, Brayden and Kendrie were put to bed at 7pm as punishment last night, and before falling asleep, Brayden managed to yell at me, “I don’t even know why you HAD kids!” Now, if that’s not a loving family, I don’t know what is.

So, this morning, I awoke determined to right my wrongs from yesterday. By noon I had folded and put away all three loads of laundry, cleaned off the treadmill (although I still haven’t actually walked on it yet) and worked much harder to keep my kids happy. I had hoped they could go outside and burn off some energy today, but it is raining here (thunder and lightning and everything) so instead, I played eight games of Boggle, innumerous games of Toss-Across, and let the kids color Easter Eggs with some coloring kits I found in the back of my closet while putting away the Christmas decorations.

Don’t adjust your monitors, yes, it’s January 2nd, and yes, we’re coloring Easter Eggs. Then, I cooked lunch (well, that’s a generous description for heating up Bagel Bites) and hooked up the dvd player so the girls could watch a movie in Brayden’s bedroom. So far, so good.

But, I must confess, I ate at least ten Hershey kisses while typing this, and it’s only 1pm. So the potential for total resolution failure is definitely there. Don’t pass me that parenting trophy just yet.

In the meantime, hope your own resolutions are holding strong. :)



Last night, while both girls were *supposed* to be in bed already, you know, what with the punishment and all, I was in my bedroom reading when I heard all kinds of giggling. They came in my room with orders to “Close your eyes, Mom, we have a surprise.” So, dutifully, I closed my eyes. Kendrie said, “OK, open them” and I did, to the disgusting sight of a FROG being held not two inches from my face. You can imagine the scene that unfolded, flailing limbs, bedclothes flying, screaming, and me trying to get to the other side of the room as quickly as possible.

Kendrie had very few limitations during her treatment, but one of the biggies was NO reptiles of any kind … frogs, turtles, lizards, etc, because they can carry salmonella and her immune system might have had problems. So for the past two years she has not been allowed to touch any of those things, much to her great disappointment. Apparently when Blaine saw one on our back deck last night he called them out there and well, the temptation was just too great.

All I have to say, is yuck. I SO could have done without that.