Monday, October 30, 2006


Well, geez. I’ve stalled on writing this journal update because honestly? I really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, and then really some more don’t know what to say. It’s not terrible news. It’s not fabulous news. It’s just more of the same, continuous, never-ending saga about Blaine and his ongoing struggle with cancer-surgeries-reconstruction-complications-more cancer-more reconstruction-more surgeries-more complications-more reconstruction-ooh-let’s-throw-in-some-radiation-now-crap. Those of you who are familiar with the journey certainly don’t want or need a recap. Those of you who are new to this site will have no idea what I’m talking about and assume I’m carrying on in my crazy-lady style as normal. Where to begin? How much to share? (sigh)

Little tiny chipmunk nutshell: My husband has cancer. It sucks. If you know all about it, just skip to the end.

Slightly bigger baby-squirrel nutshell: My husband was diagnosed with sinus cancer almost four years ago and naively, we thought he’d have one surgery to remove the tumor and be done. What optimistic morons we were.

Slightly even bigger full-grown squirrel nutshell: My husband was diagnosed with sinus cancer almost four years ago and the tumor was so stinking big that in order to remove it, the doctors also had to remove his soft palate, hard palate, cheekbone, and teeth. You could look in his mouth and see the bottom of his eyeball. Cool, huh? Reconstruction was set to begin later but before they started, our daughter was diagnosed with leukemia. Blaine’s treatment was put on the back burner while we focused on her care and since then, it’s been one setback after another for him. Nobody’s fault, but frustrating just the same.

The gist of what really bugs me: Every surgery brings about a complication, which brings about another surgery, which usually doesn’t go as planned. Every surgery, we go in with the cheerful attitude that *this* time, *this* surgery, *this* procedure, should be the magical fix. He should be finishing up, getting back to normal, and all this will be but a blip in the rear-view mirror of life. And yet, it doesn’t. Nothing goes as planned; nothing has been easy. It’s almost embarrassing, like people are going to think we ENJOY the drama and are dragging it out on purpose. Trust me. We do not; we are not.

He’s had tracheotomy holes that wouldn’t close, bone grafts that didn’t take, tissue transfers that shrunk, a lip that forked in half, eardrums that have become blocked, ruptured, and then blocked yet again. Three (that I can think of, off the top of my head) unsuccessful reconstructive operations. How much general anesthesia can one person undergo? At last count, he’s had fourteen surgeries in the last three and a half years. And of course, one of the crown jewels in our “unexpected complication” tiara, a staph infection in his lower leg after they removed the fibula bone to use it to reconstruct his head. I didn’t know how serious the infection was until the doctor said to me, “Well, we’re no longer worried about him losing his leg.” Of course, I guess I should have been better prepared for how things could go after the very first doctor, after the very first surgery, said to me, “Well, we’re lucky, he’ll be able to keep his eye.”

He’s seen dentists, oral surgeons, plastic surgeons, oncologists, speech therapists, radiologists, prosthodontists, nutritionists, pathologists, neurologists, pain management specialists, therapists, and the Center for Disease Control, thanks to the MRSA infection. And like we don’t feel special enough as it is, at the end of the day …………… the cancer came back.


But, because we’re suckers for a good time, here we go again! Wheeeeeeee!

Blaine will be leaving for Seattle on Wednesday for yet another attempt to close up that hole in his head. This will be the fourth time we’ve tried it, and while it’s very tempting to cut bait and be done, and just go back to the Prosthodontic-Denture-Device-From-Hell that he wore earlier, the other side of the equation is that he’s come too far, and gone through too much, to quit now.

The treatment of cancer itself, obviously, is a life-or-death issue. But the treatment of complications and effects of cancer becomes a quality of life issue that can be equally as important to the person going through it, and his poor, pathetic, wilting flower of a wife who deals with it vicariously, and when all is said and done, she is SO going to Tahiti for umbrella drinks on the beach!

Hopefully, optimistically, confidently, with a little bit of luck, *this* surgery will fix things, *this* will be the last one, *this* should get his life back to normal. (Well, the last one except for the surgery he still has to have to get teeth attached to his implants ….. dear heavens will it never end????)

They will be doing, in essence, the same surgery they did a year and a half ago, where they took bone and muscle and tissue out of his leg to rebuild the oral cavity, only they’ll be taking it out of his arm this time. Since arms aren’t weight-bearing, we’re all hoping recovery is easier and quicker. And, we’re hoping that after this, he can eat without food coming out of his nose, talk normally, breathe normally, and that he won’t suffer from chronic sinus problems and pain. (Once the radiation burns finally heal up, of course.) And one small, teeny-tiny, last little thing, that he not get another resistant staph infection because ANOTHER six week stint of self-administered IV high-dose antibiotics through a PICC line and all the completely stinkin’ miserable side effects **that** entails would pretty much put us both over the edge is all I have to say about that.

Blaine will have pre-op in Seattle on Thursday and Friday, and then I’ll join him this weekend. Surgery will be on the 6th of November. Guesstimation is that he’ll be in the hospital for a week to ten days, then he has to stay in a nearby hotel for another week to ten days, depending on his recovery. Last time, I thought he could manage the hotel by himself, and then his brother planned to fly up from Texas and bring him home. In the middle of all that, Blaine’s mother passed away and of course, his brother couldn’t come. (You know, it’s a miracle we have ANY friends and people don’t shy away from us like the black freakin’ plague.)

THIS time, we’re not taking any chances and I will be staying with him the entire time, much to the chagrin of my children, who are quite certain they are being abandoned. (I hear our dear friend Joe R. breathing a sigh of relief, thought, since he was kind enough to cash in his frequent flyer miles last time to go up and get the poor guy!) We’re hoping to be home by Thanksgiving. Grandma saves the day once again and will be flying here to Georgia to take care of the kids. It’s no longer called “babysitting” around here …. She has “Month of November Duty”.

So, my dear, dear Internet friends. If I could ask of you a few particular favors, it would be that you pray, meditate, cross your fingers, or sacrifice a live chicken, whatever floats your boat, specifically for the following things to happen:

1. Serious (and I do mean serious …. have I mentioned serious?) pain management after surgery. He has been on narcotics for so long, and has built up such a tolerance to them, that in the past we have had quite a struggle in the hospital getting the doctors and nurses to take his post-operative pain seriously. Seriously. The surgeons at the Army Hospital in Augusta finally *got* it last time he was in and gave him enough drugs. The doctors in Seattle? Haven’t gotten it yet. I hope they get it this time, because while it *has* taken me three years to grow a spine, I’m no longer hesitant about calling some doctor’s home number at 2 am and opening up a can of phone-line whup-ass if I have to. (How do you think the doctors in Augusta finally realized we weren’t kidding around, and that he’s not just a druggie, looking for a fix?) Serious. Pain. Management.

2. Quite simply, that the surgery works. I’m not sure how much longer Blaine can plod along this path and maintain his mental health.

3. OK, you’ll think I’m a lunatic (what’s new) but Blaine and I never fly together if I can keep from it. It’s a crazy, irrational *thing* I have. And I know it’s crazy and irrational, but I have it anyway. Obviously, since I’m the one bringing him home from Seattle, we’ll be flying together. So please, pray that our plane doesn’t crash. Because despite Blaine’s maddening, annoying, extremely patronizing and rude commentary about how statistically there’s a greater chance we’ll be killed in a car accident on our way TO the airport, blah, blah, blah, shut up Blaine, it’s one of my biggest, most absurd fears that the plane he and I are on together, without our kids, will go down in a fiery crash, plunging us to our untimely and premature deaths and our children will wind up as orphans, doomed to lives of burlap sack clothing and gruel and stale bread for dinner, living in an orphanage with an evil, uncaring warden, holding out their dinner plates with a pathetic, “Please, sir, may I have some more?” I know, I told you, it’s ludicrous. But these are thoughts that go through my head at night.

So, thanks for letting me vent. Sometimes it’s good to write it down and get a black and white narrative of what exactly the poor guy has gone through, as a reminder. It helps me not get so annoyed with him on the days he doesn’t feel good. And liquor. Liquor helps a lot, too.

PS. I was kidding about the live chicken. Mostly.

Saturday, October 28, 2006


Blaine, cancer, whining. Yeah, yeah, whatever. Bah. I’ll get to that later. For now, I have to share with you the marvelous thing I just discovered!!!

I took my kids through the McDonalds drive-through after Kendrie’s soccer game to grab some lunch (never mind the studies that show kids who eat fast food regularly are at a greater risk for childhood obesity, heart disease, juvenile diabetes, and HappyCrap Toy Overload -- I just sat through a soccer game in 55 degree weather with an arctic wind of 20 mph blowing in my face, trying to squeeze my adult-sized body into my son’s child-sized jacket because it’s the only thing I had with a hood on it, bemoaning my cold, frozen, stiffened fingertips, not realizing there were mittens in the glove-box of my car the entire time, and after that fiasco by God I’m taking the easy route and doing McDonalds for lunch!) and do you know what?

McDonalds is now serving Diet Dr. Pepper! Diet Dr. Pepper, people, the beverage of caffiene-addicted champions! It's like Mayor McCheese passed a "Make Kristie's Life Better" law! And if that in itself wasn’t enough to make me happy, they are serving it in Styrofoam cups! Hole in the ozone be damned, it’s like I’ve won the lottery! And I seem to be in love with the exclaimation point!!!!!

Ok, granted, I’ll admit, it doesn’t quite reach the perfection that is the Sonic Diet Dr. Pepper, because McDonalds doesn’t serve rabbit pellet ice, but come on. The perfect beverage in the perfect vessel …. Considering we only have one Sonic in our entire town, but there is a McDonalds every few blocks, I’d say two out of three ain’t bad!


(Seriously. Do you think I'm a little *too* easily pleased?)

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Needs. Desires. Impulses.

Back when Kendrie was going through her leukemia treatment, I posted a lot about the frustration I used to feel regarding her behavior. Tantrums, whining, pouting, power struggles, etc. We wondered how much of it was due to steroids, how much was due to her frustration and lack of control over her life and what was happening, and how much was normal, bratty 4-yr old behavior? I always felt somewhat guilty for being aggravated and/or irritated with a little kid with cancer …. Why don’t I just yell at some blind people while I’m at it, or steal money from the Salvation Army buckets this Christmas? But despite my guilt, I somehow still managed to express my dissatisfaction to all of you in this journal. A lot. And then some more. And then probably some more after that.

Once again, I find myself feeling irritated with someone who has cancer. Someone named, oh, I don’t know …. let’s call him "finger quotes" Blaine "finger quotes." See, despite the fact "Blaine" has cancer and **still** feels like total dog-shit from the radiation …. that he had ….. FIVE MONTHS AGO …. and he can’t seem to catch a break to save his life, and is in bed as I type this with what appears to be either the flu, or a freaky late-term reaction to the vancomycin which was probably stored in his fat cells last year after his antiobiotic-resistant staph infection and now that he’s lost twenty pounds since radiation, the vancomycin has probably been released back into his system, just like those LSD hippie flashbacks from the 70’s, making him sick as a dog …….. well, despite all that, I find myself getting frustrated with him and with the situation.

I am a woman. I have needs. Desires. Impulses.

Do you understand what I’m saying?

More bluntly,

I have a need to get a good night’s rest every night.

My desire is for at least six or seven solid, relaxing, un-interrupted hours of sleep.

My impulse is to beat to a bloody pulp anyone who interferes with that.

"Blaine" still cannot sleep more than a few hours at a time or the pain from the dry, irradiated areas of his mouth is unbearable. So he stays up late at night watching tv, depriving himself of sleep, to the point of exhaustion, because he says the pain is not worth the sleep.

Also, he sets his alarm for 5am every morning, whether he is going to work or not. Day in, day out, Saturdays, Sundays, it doesn’t matter. He can’t stand to sleep any later than that. So, the alarm goes off at 5am. Which would be fine, if he heard it when it went off. But he’s so sleep-deprived that it doesn’t even phase him, so I wind up having to reach over and shake his arm several times, “politely” (finger quotes again) telling him to turn it off. You can just imagine how polite I am.

Then, I’ll have to wake him again every few minutes because he still hasn’t reached over to turn off the alarm, which, to make matters worse, he normally has set to some incredibly annoying talk radio show, because waking up to the bleating of pompous political zealots is TOTALLY how I like to start my day. Why don’t I just jump into an ice-cold shower and then eat some nails for breakfast, to really get the day started off right?

Or even better, some nights he has gotten out of bed in the middle of the night to take pain medication and isn’t even in the room when the alarm goes off; he’s usually fallen back asleep on the living room sofa. I can’t reach the alarm clock from my side of the bed, thanks to The Child Who Shall Not Be Named and her maddening habit of wandering into our room in the middle of the night and collapsing dead-center on our mattress, arms and legs akimbo.

So I have to get out of bed on my side and walk around the king-size mattress in the dark, usually tripping over the dog on the way, to turn off the freakin’ alarm clock. Then, of course, because bladder control is one of the first things to go once you turn 40, I’ll stumble into the bathroom to potty, and then get back in bed. Where, having been blessed/cursed with the sonic hearing of a bat, I will lie awake for an hour, listening to extremely irritating noises like the coffee dripping in our coffeemaker, Kellen snoring in his bedroom, every car entering and leaving our neighborhood, the wind chimes on our back porch, the whispers of the crickets mating outside our bedroom window, the hum of my neighbor’s computer three doors down, people arguing across town, and grass growing in Kentucky. I. HEAR. IT. ALL.

Blaine will take his pain meds, then sit on the sofa and turn on the tv, which throws an annoying glare into our bedroom, so I’ll have to get up and shut the bedroom door, to avoid both the glare and the noise of the tv. He’s actually a very considerate person, so I’m not sure why it’s so hard for him to remember to shut the flipping door when he leaves the bedroom, but for some reason it is.

And I will lay there, stewing and mulling over how annoyed I am to be awake, since *MY* alarm isn’t set to go off until 6:00, knowing full well that I won’t be able to go back to sleep because at this point Kendrie has her foot in my back and her elbow across my windpipe, or is stealing my pillow, or totally hogging the bed and I’m banished to the far six inches of the mattress. Until the point where I want to get out of bed, storm into the living room, and shout at him, “Can you not just sleep like a NORMAL person?!?!?!’

But of course I don’t. Because none of this is his fault. Instead, I come here to the internet and bitch and vent to the rest of you, who are kind enough to pretend you care. You’ve also been kind enough to inquire how he’s doing in the guestbook, so I’ll tell you about what he’s got coming up in the next journal entry. Let’s just say, in the extremely short picture, besides having to live with his shrew of a wife, is that his outpatient surgery scheduled tomorrow to get tubes put in his ears, because not only can he not sleep, but he’s also as deaf as our geriatric dog, has been postponed thanks to the stomach flu. And Kellen caught the bug from him today, also.

Hello, Life? Kick us when we’re down, please.

But for now, I have a *need* to go find one of those satin eye masks to wear to bed. I *desire* ear muffs attached. And the *impulse* to wear full-body protective armor since Lord knows Kendrie and her flailing limbs will wind up in bed with me again tonight.


PS. Please, please make time in your schedule to donate blood between now and the holidays. Especially those of you living in Georgia and surrounding areas. I was donating this morning and the technician commented that as of 10am today, the entire state of Georgia only had eight hours worth of O negative on the shelves. And all I could think was I sure hope if I have a car accident today and need blood, it happens before dinnertime. The supply situation is always short during the holidays. So please donate if you can. Cancer patients, accident victims, surgery, illness .... please make a difference, and thanks in advance!

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

3rd Grade Hell

Note to Self:

Self? You are a moron. When are you going to learn? You are 40 years old and you’re still making the same dumb mistakes you made when you were a pre-teen. And a teen. And a young adult. And a not-so-young adult. Now, you’re middle-aged and you’re still an idiot.

Although certain parts of your 40-yr old body are changing … and expanding …. and drooping …. Other parts have not changed. Will never change. Parts like your big wrinkly forehead. Parts that you should be more careful not to draw attention to.

So please quit making the same stupid mistakes you made when you were younger.

Dear Lord, please deliver me from this 3rd Grade Hell otherwise known as “The Growing Out Of The Big Chunky Bangs I Oh-So-Optimistically Had My Hairdresser Cut This Afternoon Thinking I Could Pull It Off When I Totally Can’t”


Tuesday, October 24, 2006

You Are A Winner Today!

At the new gym I’ve been going to ….. (I just love saying that. “My new gym”. It’s a clean, nice facility with pleasant, helpful people, and I’m forging quite a bond with the geriatrics who push their walkers from machine to machine, despite my annoyance that most of them can leg-press more than I can. In addition, by using the adjective “New”, it lets people know I haven’t actually been working out for very long. Which might explain why in the three weeks since I started, I’ve actually put on five pounds. I’d like to think it’s because I’m lifting weights and everyone knows that muscle weighs more than fat. Truth be told, I’m pretty sure it’s due to my inability to push away from the dinner table and the fact I think a “balanced meal” means a Twinkie in each hand.)

So, back to the story about my gym ~~~

Those of us taking part in the Wellness Program have a computer where we sign in and record the workout we plan to do each day. After we’re done, we sign back in to the computer, enter how much time we spent on the bike, elliptical, how many repetitions we did on the weights, etc, then sign off the computer. It tracks the calories burned, visits, miles, etc. Each time you sign off, there is a prompt to click and your name is entered into a random computer-generated psuedo-slot machine-type thing …. And then 99 times out of 100, the screen flashes, “Sorry, try again next time!” But on Friday, the slot machine rolled, I got three fruits in a row, and the screen flashed, “You’re A Winner Today! (notify the front desk)”

Not knowing exactly what this meant, I walked to the front desk and said to the receptionist, “Hi, I’m a winner today!” She looked up at me and said, “I beg your pardon?” and I said, “Well, of course I’m a winner all the time, but today I’m a winner on your computer!” still smiling because I totally crack myself up.

She said, “Oh, congratulations, would you like it cold or at room temperature?”

And all I could think, after completing my workout, especially the part when I accidentally pulled the safety cord out of the treadmill while I was on it, and it came to an emergency stop and I almost fell off, flailing about like those people do on the funny commercials, dropping my iPod and having every eye in the room turn to me at once, all the grandmas and grandpas hollering, “Are you OK, young whippersnapper????” …. All I could think was Ooh, yes, an ice-cold soda would really hit the spot right now. Hmmmm, wonder if they have Diet Dr. Pepper?

So I replied, “Well, do you have diet, or is it all regular?”

To which SHE replied, “Uh, this is a gym. We don’t recommend you drink soda. I’m talking about bottled water.”

To which *I* replied, rather sheepishly, “Oh, of course.” (pause) “I suppose there’s no chance that Halloween bucket over there has any Kit-Kats in it, either, does it?”

I’m starting to understand why I have a weight problem.

Sunday, October 22, 2006


Kellen: "Mom, when I grow up and graduate from college and join the CIA as a ninja warrior, will you let me go on secret missions everywhere in the world?"

Kristie: "Um, I don't think so. In fact, no."

Kellen: "Why not?"

Kristie: "Because the world is a dangerous place. You’ll have to have your CIA boss call me and ask me for permission."

Kellen, in a “bummer” sort of voice: "Oh, man, that stinks."

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Maybe It Wasn't Too Soon After All

I realize I’m backtracking a little, but wanted to share something with you that happened last week. At the time, I thought it was funny, but we were leaving for vacation the next day and I just didn’t have a chance to type it up. In light of THE TALK I had with Brayden yesterday, it seems even more relevant to tell you about it now.

It was Fall Break here and my girlfriend Renee and I took our kids to a farm that had pumpkins, a petting zoo, story-time, hayrides, etc. A nice, family-oriented fall day. The county we were in didn’t appear to be on Fall Break themselves, as there were several busses and young, Pre-K-ish-looking groups there on field trips.

Before embarking on our wholesome, clean-cut adventure of wool spinning and tree climbing and baby chick observing, we herded our kids over to the Port-A-Potties located right next to a pen of sheep. None of my kids needed to go, but I did, so I told them to stand right there, and I stepped into one of the “facilities”.Pants down, balancing over the seat, and suddenly I hear, in an extremely loud, squealing voice ….. “Wow!!!! Look at the size of his wiener-dinger!!!” and shrill, hysterical laughter all around. Oh. My. Gosh. Those are **my** kids yelling about sheep anatomy!

I thought I was going to die of embarrassment, and felt torn between pulling up my pants as quickly as possible to get out there and hush them up, and just staying in the port-a-potty all afternoon, pretending like I had no idea whose kids they were. Realizing their comments and screeching were getting louder and wilder, with shouts of “Look at that! Look, right there!”, I hurried out of the john and rushed over to them ……

They were cracking up. I thought Kellen was going to burst he was laughing so hard. I looked over, to see the source of all the commotion ………… oh, my. That **was** a pretty impressive specimen ….. then I noticed it wasn’t a “wiener dinger” at all (we use such highly technical terms at our house) but actually another part of male anatomy. At that point I was worried other people would notice the ruckus my kids were causing with their pointing and laughing, or that they would traumatize Renee’s boys, who are younger, or scar the young kids in the Pre-K classes for life, so I quickly and quietly said, “Ya’ll, stop it. That is not his penis, those are his testicles. And we don’t talk about those in public. Even on a sheep.” And then I have to admit, as embarrassed as I am to confess this, I started giggling. Because come on. I was scolding my children for laughing at ginormous sheep testicles. Could life BE any more ridiculous????

Later that night, at the dinner table, of all appropriate places, they kids felt compelled to mention it to Blaine. Apparently it made quite an impression, is all I can say. But once again, I told them the dinner table was not the proper place for this discussion. Something along the lines of …. “It was just a sheep. It was just a part of his body. It’s not that big of a deal, ok?” and at that point I truly thought it was over.

So imagine how I felt when *after* dinner, I walked into the living room to hear Brayden whispering to Kellen: “Well, just imagine. An octopus has EIGHT of those testicles!!!”

“Brayden, honey” I said, knowing I had to discuss it whether I wanted to or not, “an octopus has eight TENTACLES, not eight testicles.”

Hmmmm. Maybe she and I should have had THE TALK some time ago?

Oh, UN-Believable! At NINE years old??

So, today’s topic, a subject guaranteed to put chest hair on and strike terror in the hearts of mothers everywhere: I had to have THE TALK with Brayden yesterday.



Can you believe it??? At the tender age of 9???I know. Unbelievable.

I volunteer in the kids’ classrooms on Tuesdays for about an hour and a half in each room, plus have lunch with all three of them. Basically, I go in with them in the morning and stay all day, because I am a nosy, snooping, meddlesome, caring, concerned parent who likes to know what’s going on in their lives. This way I can spy on watch over them and help out the school and their teachers at the same time.

I noticed in Brayden’s room yesterday morning she had a new student. A student whom I shall call Shakeem (and yes, that is totally his real name … could I make that up? No. If I was making it up, I would call him David or Joe or something.) Her class also had a substitute teacher yesterday and I noticed Shakeem was having trouble staying in his seat and being quiet, and the sub seemed perturbed with him pretty early on.

When I met Brayden for lunch, she brought her friend Regan to the Parent’s Table to sit with me. I asked, in my Oh-So-Causal-Because-I’m-A-Cool-Mom-But-Really-I’m-Being-Totally-Nosy-So-I-Can-Stay-On-Top-Of-Things-Manner, “So, I noticed that new boy Shakeem was having some problems this morning. That’s got to be hard, to be the new kid, and have a substitute the first day, before you really even know the rules.” Brayden said, “Oh, it wasn’t the sub. Sha-King (she totally mis-pronounced his name, but how cute is that?) is SUCH a troublemaker!” and Regan said, “Yeah, he’s bad. He’s really bad.” Of course, this seems to be a theme with Brayden and Regan, but wanting to follow up, like any prying concerned parent would, I asked what made him such bad news.

This is the conversation that followed:

Brayden: “Well, at his last school, he said he got his girlfriend pregnant”

Me, choking on my delightfully-delicious-yet-nutrionally-sound-enough-to-meet-county-board-of-education-health-requirements-cinnamon-roll: “He said WHAT?!?!??!?!”

Regan: “Yeah, he said he got his girlfriend pregnant. He’s bad. He’s really bad.”

Me: “OK. I really don’t think that is true” {Come on, this is 4th grade we’re talking about …. While I’m sure there’s a remote chance this could have happened, I prefer to bury my head in the sand and ignore the fact it’s even biologically possible --- fingers in my ears, "la-la-la-la"} “You know, sometimes when new kids come to a new school, they want to impress people, and for the other kids to think they’re cool, so they tell stories that they think make them look tough. I really don’t think he got his girlfriend pregnant” {All the while, frantically mumbling in the back of my mind, don’t let it be true, don’t let it be true!}

Brayden: “Well, if it is true, you know what that means.”

Me: “Um, what?”

Brayden: “That means he …. Well, you know ….{looking around and speaking in a whisper} the “S” word”

Me, spluttering, and coughing up cinnamon roll: “Oh my gosh, where’s my water????!! I’m choking, seriously!”

The “S” word????? Aaaacccckkkkkk! She’s nine -- are Blaine and I being totally naïve??

Granted, I had the “What a period actually is and what happens when you get your first one” talk with her this past summer, because while I don’t expect it to happen for at least another year or two (or preferably three or four) I wanted her to be prepared in the event it were to happen at school. I can’t imagine being one of those girls who has no idea it’s coming and thinks they’re dying in the bathroom the first time. But I managed to keep that conversation to periods and bodily functions and avoid the topic of the actual act of sex altogether, thinking, obviously incorrectly, that we had a few years before that discussion as well.

Little loudmouth lying braggart Shakeem ruined it.

So I took her with me to the grocery store last night and we had THE TALK in the van on the way. It went fine, but was horrifying all the same. Not knowing what she might have already heard from her friends at school, I asked her to tell me what she had heard about sex and what she thought it was. I’m sure she’ll be mortified when she’s older to know I posted her answer on the internet, but honestly, it was so cute I have to share:

“Well, two people get in bed, and smooch, and roll all over each other, and I think you must get really hot because the girls always wear tank tops.”

See why I’m mad at Shakeem? There was no need to go past the tank top comment until he opened his mouth and generated a discussion that didn’t need to take place for several years yet.

Now, before anyone goes off on me about how kids are maturing sooner, and girls are getting pregnant younger and younger, and even elementary schools are having to implement sexual-harrassment policies and address these issues among their students ….. I get that. I really, truly get that. And it’s unfortunate.

In fact, it just sucks and makes me wonder what the hell is wrong with the parents of the world today, if their 9-yr olds are bragging about getting their girlfriends pregnant. (No offense to Shakeem’s parents … I’m just saying ..... you know …. “in general” …. )

So anyway, we had the talk. It went fine. I hope it helped her more than it scared her. I tried really hard to stay age-appropriate and emphasize the moral beliefs Blaine and I have. But most of all, I was happy to see her go to bed last night with the same stuffed dog she sleeps with every night. At least in *my* mind, she’s still the same little girl she was before.

Damn Shakeem.

Friday, October 20, 2006

A New Beginning

Well, I must confess, I feel a wee bit silly, posting here about my "very first ever journal entry" when the truth is, I've been blogging for almost three years on Kendrie's Caringbridge site. And I'm not giving that up yet ... just adjusting my coordinates a bit as my focus has shifted.

I wish I had something really profound, or hysterically funny to start the blog off with a bang. Hell, I'd settle for interesting. But for now I need to play the NIKE card and JUST DO IT, otherwise it'll be another month that this blog sits here vacant. If I wait until I've got all the nuances of Blogger figured out ..... well, it's sort of like if you wait to have a baby until you can afford it, then you'll never have one.

So I'm going to treat this very first post as a chore on my to-do list that I've been dreading for a while, but am happy to check off with my pencil once it's done. In the meantime, I'll keep posting and trying to figure out how all this html code-template-sidebar-business plays out. While I've considered leaving Caringbridge for awhile, I must admit there is comfort in familiarity and at least over *there*, I know how to insert a damn link and get the music to play. And geez, is there any way to get some of those posts over here???? Not all of them, but maybe a few???

{repeat to self: you'll like it once it's done; you'll like it once it's done; in through the mouth; out through the nose; in through the mouth; out through the ...... oh, the hell with it, is there any Amaretto left?}

Thursday, October 19, 2006


Well, I have no doubt that those of you who have read this journal for awhile, or at least through our last two or three family vacations, have come here tonight, expecting to read an entry about obnoxious children, ill-mannered, disagreeable, quarrelsome, ungrateful hooligans, and the hazards of traveling with such social boors.

You will not be disappointed.

Is it ALL children on the planet, or just mine, who somehow lose their brains when they travel? Who forget common niceties like saying please and thank you, let alone keeping their hands and rude opinions to themselves ….. who lose the ability to ride in the car more than two miles without fighting over the dvd player ….. who turn their noses up at all planned activities …. who, despite the plethora of fun things to do and neat things to see, declare themselves bored every five minutes, declarations accompanied by huge, aggrieved SIGHS just in case we didn’t believe how bored they were …. who decide picking fights with their brother and sister is the only activity worth doing …. and who somehow manage to become deaf to the requests and threats of parents? Parents, who, I might add, have vowed in the past NEVER to take said children on another vacation, BUT THIS TIME WE MEAN IT, YOU BRATS, WE’RE NOT EVEN KIDDING AROUND!!!!

There. I feel better already.

At last year’s Quiet Heroes Luncheon in Atlanta, I bid on and won a three-night stay at a villa at Callaway Gardens in Pine Mountain, Georgia. The villa was part of the silent auction, serving as a fundraiser for CURESearch, and I was so excited to be high bidder. We waited until now to use our stay, hoping to enjoy autumn and the beautiful fall weather, and picking this weekend, as the 3rd anniversary of Kendrie’s leukemia diagnosis. It seemed like a great time to make a fresh start as a family. To come together and make happy family memories. To make good times out of bad, and hold hands 'round the campire singing Kum-Buy-Ya together .....


They whined, they argued, they fussed, they complained. Mainly, it was the complaining that annoyed me. We took them to a nice restaurant for dinner; Kendrie griped that they didn’t serve macaroni & cheese. We let them pick souvenirs at a gift shop; Brayden griped that we didn’t give her enough money. I rented movies from Blockbuster and even BOUGHT A NEW DVD PLAYER WHEN OURS BIT THE DUST ON THE DRIVE THERE, DAMNIT; Kellen griped that all the movies I chose were dumb.

But hands down, the two highlights of the trip were when Kendrie dropped her fishing pole in the lake and cried for ten solid minutes because Blaine couldn’t go back and get it off the bottom of the lake with his Magical Fishing Pole Retrieving Abilities, and when Brayden proclaimed, halfway through our five hour bicycling trip around the lake (let me repeat that, in case it’s not clear --- I rented a bike and pedaled my fat ass FIVE HOURS around that lake) that she was bored (SIGH!) and I said, trying hard to be the happy, positive, encouraging mom that I am …. “Brayden, honey, the weather is beautiful, the sun is shining, we’re having a nice ride on a gorgeous day, couldn’t you just enjoy nature for a moment?” to which she replied, “They're just leaves” in a totally snotty voice.

At which point I told her to shut up. Me, the mom who doesn’t allow anyone in our house to say shut up to anyone else, told my 9-yr old daughter that if she couldn’t think of anything nice to say, THEN. JUST. SHUT. UP.

Go ahead and call DFACS now.

Despite their constant grumbling, I do have them trained properly (most of the time) to smile for the camera. And Lord knows I always have my camera. So I’ll give you the gist of the weekend, in pictures (those of you with dial-up, forgive me):

The beginning of our bike ride; still smiling.

Hey, it wouldn’t be a fall festival without a little happy requisite pumpkin painting. Yes, happy times. Afterwards, I put all three kids’ pumpkins in the basket of my rental bike and rode them all the bumpy way home, looking like stupid ole’ Miss Gulch from the Wizard of Oz, balancing Toto in my damn basket. All the bumping caused the pumpkings to rub against the basket, and some of the paint to flake off, which brought about a huge temper tantrum from Brayden, who claimed I didn't care about all the hard work she had put into the pumpkin. Did she thank me for hauling those frickin’ pumpkins all the way back to the villa for her? Or express any thankfulness that I managed to ride that entire way on a rental bike without killing myself? No, of course not. But she sure carped on the fact I let her pumpkin get scratched. You know. Happy times like that.

This was a pretty scene. No children to ruin it with their whining.

"Zip it and smile or I swear you’ll be grounded all weekend. I don't care if you're bored. Look like you're having fun."

Hey, wait, now he's actually starting to have fun. Of course, Kendrie hadn’t started in on her temper tantrum to end all temper tantrums about the fishing pole at the bottom of the lake yet. But it's coming, never fear.

This was Brayden’s favorite part of the weekend, the drive-through animal safari in Pine Mountain.

We rented a zebra-van and hit the road. We were the first family in the park that morning, and let's just say those animals have the entire Pavlovian response to the zebra vans down pat.

Kellen really enjoyed it, also, when he wasn’t squealing like a girly-man.

This was the view we had most of the hour-long drive. I felt pretty much the same way when I realized, the next day, that I had left my spare camera battery in the damn zebra van. Of course, no one turned it in. Why would they?

Kellen’s favorite part of the weekend, the bike rides.

The first day, I didn’t have a bike, so we headed over to the bike rental place, with Blaine and the kids riding and me walking. That’s why I’m still smiling at this point. I hadn’t yet begun the Buns of Steel Eternal Never-Ending Bike Ride Around the Lake. Did I mention it took us five hours??? Natalie, *how* does Eamon do it???? Better yet, WHY??? My ass STILL hurts!

Naturally, the kids complained that my walking to the bike rental facility was taking too long and slowing them down. So I got on Blaine’s bike. And he got on Kendrie’s 18-inch Rhino Booster. And pedaled her on the pegs. He is such a stud.

Actually, this was one of the (FEW!) spontaneous happy moments of the weekend. After visiting the Butterfly Center, we let the kids goof off on the grass, and they laughed joyfully and wrestled gleefully with one another. Until Kellen poked Kendrie, or Brayden hit Kellen, or some other calamity, who can even remember who was mad at who which time with these kids?

Requisite butterfly photo.

Requisite flower photo.

And lest you think the entire weekend, 24/7 was horrific ….. well, it pretty much was. No, I’m kidding, we did have a few pleasant episodes mixed in amongst the squabbling. The best moment of all? Saturday night, while Blaine and I hung out in the guest bedroom watching the Florida/Auburn game, and the kids were in the guest bathroom, mixing up “potions”, which consisted of emptying every shampoo, conditioner, and mouthwash container the villa provided and pouring them and arranging them in various ways with every utensil found in the kitchen, then calling those concoctions “inventions” and declaring they were in a “Science Club”.

You know what? Fine. But we could have done that at home, for a LOT cheaper, don’t you think? And my ass wouldn’t have been near as sore.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006


Fall has always been my favorite time of year. Football, leaves changing colors, cool, crisp air, jeans and sweatshirts, pumpkin patches, the whole she-bang. My very most favorite time. I pink puffy heart fall. If I could find a place to live that was fall year-round, I would move there in a nano-second.

Since 2003, however, fall has been bittersweet for me. On this day, three years ago, Kendrie was in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit at our local Children’s Hospital while the doctors tried to figure out why she was so anemic and not responding to blood transfusions. I was in total denial that anything could be seriously wrong, and hoping she would get out of the hospital in time to visit the State Fair, and vacation in Tennessee with our friends the Deatons. Instead, this Friday, the 13th, will be the 3-year anniversary of the day she was diagnosed with leukemia. The day I learned you can be punched in the stomach and feel your heart being ripped out of your chest, even if no one actually touches you.

We were taken by ambulance to the Children’s Hospital in Atlanta where she underwent more testing, and then her chemotherapy regimen was started. As soon as my mom could get a flight to Georgia to watch Kellen and Brayden, Blaine came to Atlanta to be with us. We rented a room at a hotel a few blocks away from the hospital and he and I took turns sleeping at the hospital each night. Whoever’s turn it was to go to the hotel and take a shower would walk back and forth, and I remember how cool and crisp the air was. Fall had arrived. I remember putting Kendrie in a wagon at the hospital and pulling her around the koi pond, pointing out the leaves that had changed colors, and watching the late-afternoon sunlight shine down on her blonde hair. Her blonde hair. "Oh my God she’ll be bald soon", I remember thinking. I remember feeling that it was impossible for the weather to be this glorious, when I was spinning out of control and cracking up inside. This was fall. We were supposed to be visiting pumpkin patches, and watching college football games on the television. Instead, we’d been immersed in this surreal world of childhood cancer. How the hell did THAT happen?

Three years later, things are good. Things are great. Kendrie’s monthly bloodwork, done earlier this week, showed perfect numbers. She’s playing soccer, loving school, and we had to have her bangs cut for the first time in ages. But still, when I feel that early-morning chill in the air, or see the Halloween decorations in the neighborhood, or hear the local high school marching band on the field next to Kendrie’s soccer team, practicing for their Friday night half-time performance, I can’t help but reflect back on our very own Fall of 2003. I remember the ambivalence; the world was beautiful, the world was falling apart. I am so grateful to be done with that world, and so terrified that we could be thrust back in it at any time.

It’s a fine line to walk, being grateful for the life lessons, yet wishing we had never experienced them. And while I know we should look forward, and we do, it’s hard not to look back. It seems insulting to the courage she showed, and the struggle we faced as a family, NOT to look back. I’m so proud to look back and see how far we’ve all come. I hate looking back and remembering any of it.

{Warning: This is where I start to ramble and really go off on a crazy-lady tangent and just basically blah blah blah to hear myself talking more blah blah …. } How can I complain about what she went though, when there are so many families not as fortunate? How can I gripe for one second that fall has been contaminated, when she is here with me? It’s so bizarre, this time of remembering. It’s exhausting to go through life looking over your shoulder, scared about what *might* happen. It’s impossible to go through life with a constant smile on your face and Pollyanna attitude, knowing your earlier naiveté is gone, and missing it, but knowing that you look like an idiot now if you pretend nothing ever happened. I don’t want to dwell, or feel bitter. I don’t want to act as if it didn’t exist. When will my own personal timeline no longer be divided by “Before Kendrie got sick” and “After Kendrie got sick” ….. When will I quit being a crazy person? When will the simple act of a change of seasons no longer hold such significance? When will fall no longer feel tainted?

On the one-year anniversary of Kendrie’s diagnosis, I pretty much had a nervous breakdown in the parking lot of my hairdresser’s salon. Freak. (me, not her.) The second year anniversary was much less climactic. This year, it’s not difficult, but I find myself remembering. And hating it. And being grateful, all at the same time.

We are spending this anniversary of Kendrie’s diagnosis away for the weekend, relaxing as a family. I feel the need to pull my children close to me and enjoy fall the way it is supposed to be enjoyed. Nature walks. Leaves changing. Cool, crisp air. Our first fall since 2003 with no chemotherapy, no shock of diagnosis, no steroid tantrums, no spinal taps. No bald heads, no pain or nausea. No need to take Zofran on vacation. Just the five of us. No leukemia allowed. Just us.

We’re gearing up for Blaine’s next step. I’ll write more about that later. For now, I am readying myself. Spending the weekend with my kids. Enjoying us. Enjoying fall.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006


One Adult Admission to State Fair: $6

Kids under 10: Free

Four Unlimited Ride Wristbands: $60

Playing games on midway to win piece-o-crap prizes because Lord knows your kids don’t already have enough crap in their toy-boxes at home: $6

Three hotdogs, two caramel apples, two bags cotton candy, seven sodas, one order chicken strips, one pork pulled sandwich, and one funnel cake: $47

Hearing your 7-yr old daughter’s infectious giggle on the Yoyo swing ride: Priceless

Watching your 9-yr old try so hard to stay cool and nonchalant on the Super Himalaya ride, then burst out laughing when she just can’t contain herself: Also priceless

Introducing your kids to the time-honored State Fair tradition of cotton candy for lunch and funnel cakes for dinner: The most priceless of all

Letting your 8-yr old eat an entire bag of cotton candy, then ride three spinning rides in a row until he renders himself completely sick: Not quite as priceless

Having to explain to your kids why it’s not OK for teenagers to look that way or dress that way or act that way: Less priceless

Having to listen to your son complain, despite the fact you have spent $119 and seven damn hours at the fair, that you didn’t buy him a root beer float like you promised: Even less priceless. In fact, it’s down right annoying.

Why do I let these kids out of the house, anyway???

PS. Kidding, really. The kids and I had a great time today; beautiful fall weather, the yummy goodness that is fair food, holding baby chicks, learning to spin wool, plowing with real plows behind real horses, holding our noses while we ran through the cow pens, and no fighting because I threatened them within an inch of their lives before we ever left the house. Ahhhhh, good times.

Except for the root beer float incident.

Monday, October 09, 2006


Despite appearances to the contrary, I am a very organized, neat person. And by “appearances to the contrary”, I mean the fact that my house is always a mess and I’m constantly griping about how I can never find my car keys, I forget people’s birthdays, I am never able to catch up on my e-mails, I have a to-do list a mile long, and I’m the type of person who spends ten minutes looking for sunglasses that are on top of my head. But if you can get past **that** sort of thing, I’m very organized. A place for everything; everything has a place; and all that jazz.

A few years ago, we bought an entertainment center with a very short, very deep cabinet under the tv which we use to store some of our tapes and dvds. We have a bigger cabinet for the rest, but the movies we’ve watched recently are usually under the tv. And of course by "we" I mean the kids, since it seems they are always the ones choosing which movie we're going to watch.

Over time, we wind up with a hodge podge of tapes and dvd’s, all flung willy-nilly into that cabinet space, none of them returned properly to their holders. Basically, it looks like a Blockbuster threw up in the cabinet. Every few months I’ll go through the cabinet and match up movies to cases, re-arrange, stack neatly, and swear that THIS time, the space will stay organized.

And a few weeks ago, I might or might not have thrown a complete temper tantrum when I couldn’t find the dvd case for Nanny McPhee, and while searching, realized what a disaster area this cabinet truly is, once again.

And I might or might not have griped about the mess, while transferring tapes from this cabinet here to the big cabinet there, putting away movies into their proper cases, knowing all the while that while it looks good now, it’s only a matter of time until it’s a mess again.

And I might or might not have made some sweeping pronouncement about how sick I am of this disaster area and how I’m going to take action right now!

And I might or might not have gone online and ordered a special media storage cabinet with doors on the front, convinced that the cabinet will help us stay organized, or at the very least, the doors will conceal the Blockbuster vomit.

And the cabinet might or might not have arrived very quickly. And I might or might not have been very excited.

And I might or might not have told Blaine that I planned to assemble the cabinet the next day while the kids were in school.

And Blaine might or might not have reminded me of the extremely crappy job I did assembling our last bookcase.

In fact, he might or might not have made some incredibly rude comment about how the blind kid with no arms in his seventh grade woodshop class was handier than me and could probably do a better job.

And I might or might not have been extremely insulted by his condescending, superior handy-man attitude and told him congratulations, he had just awarded himself a new can-do project, and that media cabinet would sit, unassembled, until HE put it together.

And the cabinet might or might not have sat in our entryway, in its original box, for over a week.

(In case you don't believe me that it sat here like a lump for an entire week, notice that the kids are using it as a platform for their toy cars.)

And I might or might not have made snide, rude comments under my breath about “Well, I guess Ty Pennington Jr is too busy to put my new cabinet together” every time I walked past it.

And I might or might not have gone away this past weekend with my girlfriends, and feeling a little guilty about the fact Blaine, recovering from radiation, would be alone with the kids for four solid days (did I mention that they were school holiday days, so he had the kids 24/7?) I might or might not have left a list of suggested fun (read: time-consuming!) activities, such as “Go to batting cages” or “Go to matinee” and the like, hoping to help him fill his days with them. Because I'm organized like that.

And apparently, Blaine might or might not have decided to take matters into his own hands, strapped little tool belts onto the kids, and put them to work assembling our new cabinet.

And it might or might not have looked pretty darn good when I got back home this evening.

And I might or might not have looked inside, counted 89 DVDs, 122 VHS tapes, and 44 home movies (more on this later) and wondered why it is we spend the vast majority of our TV time watching Hannah Montana reruns and none of the movies we’ve paid perfectly good money for. We have enough home entertainment to watch a different movie every day for almost three-quarters of a year, yet we spend all our spare time with Zach and Cody. What's *wrong* with this picture????

But it doesn’t even matter, because the anal, neat-freak part of me is happy.

At least until it looks like Blockbuster threw up in there again.

Thursday, October 05, 2006


In keeping with our theme of “Kellen and his Bodily Functions”, I give you a glimpse into my life from yesterday afternoon, which explains why rock stars and celebrities and game show hosts weep in jealousy for the glamour that is my life:

I was on the phone with a friend when I heard Kellen calling from the other room, “Mom …. Mom …. MOM!!!! The toilet is fixing to overflow! MOM HURRY THERE’S WATER EVERYWHERE IT’S A FLOOD AAGGGGHHHHH!”

And I walked to the bathroom, expecting a clogged toilet, only to discover our own Trevi Fountain, with water pouring out and overflowing the bowl at a rapid rate. “I’ll call you back!” I said to my girlfriend and threw the phone down. As I stepped into the bathroom, I realized the rugs were soaked, the water was already standing an inch deep, and still coming. Straddling the toilet so my shoes wouldn’t get wet from the sheet of water raining down the sides of the bowl, I jerked the tank cover off the back of the toilet and pulled up on the round float-y thing that connects to the chain hanging from the metal arm hook-y thing. (Yes, I’m pretty sure that is the exact scientific descriptive term.)

There wasn’t much else I could do from this position because if I let go of the float-y thing, the water would begin pouring out again and there was already a lake in the bathroom. So I turned to Kellen, “Quick! Go grab a towel! Hurry, hurry!” He ran out of the room, with me shouting, “Hurry! Bring me a towel!” after him the entire time. I could see the huge puddle of water ebbing closer and closer to the hardwood floor in the hallway and the rugs couldn’t soak up any more. … “Run, Kellen! Get a towel! Faster!”

And the child, I swear I am not making this up, ran back into the bathroom, full of support and resourcefulness, and threw a Single. Paper. Towel. into the lake.

Because he is nothing if not helpful.

That boy, he’s not right in the head.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006


So, while I doubt we are the ONLY house in America without a gaming system, I do know that our kids are in the minority, not owning a Gameboy or Playstation of X-Box or any of those things. Kellen has a Gameboy Advance (hand held electronic thingy) that he bought with his own money last year, but he really doesn’t play it too much. Combine our lack of a gaming system with my recent No-TV-During-The-Week-Decree, and to hear my kids tell it, we might as well haul our own water from the river and make lye soap and sew our own clothes from burlap flour sacks.

But Blaine and I have held firm. We believe the studies that say kids who don’t watch as much tv or spend as much time on the computer or video games do better in school and are more creative. While we’re certainly not opposed to any of those things, we simply think moderation is key. Plus, to be perfectly honest, sitting in front of the tv doesn’t wear them out like bike-riding or roller-blading, and parents everywhere know **THAT** is the ultimate goal in life so they go to bed without any complaint each night, tired to their very core. Right?

So every time I see my kids spend an hour drawing pictures, or reading, or building massive forts for their stuffed animals, or playing baseball in the front yard or whatever, I pat myself on the back. Kellen recently turned his bedroom into a “camp” for his sisters, complete with a list of activities they can do “during camp” …. the activities list is posted on his bedroom door, along with the amount of time each activity should take.

It’s actually very clever and creative and I was feeling quite smug about my imaginative children and how resourceful they are. Kids can find very ingenious ways to entertain themselves when they have to. Then, Kellen came to me and made the following comment:

“Hey, guess what. Brayden and Kendrie and I all just weighed ourselves to see who was heaviest.”

And I’m thinking, Oh, good. A little math and creativity at the same time. Sort of like their own personal health experiment.

Then he said: “I weighed 73 pounds. 73! That’s a lot! Then I pooped. Then I only weighed 72.”

Um, ok. THIS is how he’s filling up his free time? Maybe I should get him that Playstation after all.

Monday, October 02, 2006


Apparently, I was correct when I stated to Blaine that owning an iPod would help me lose weight and get in better shape. My intent was to use it at the gym to listen to music and enjoy my workouts better (of course, by “better” I mean AT ALL.) But I was wrong. You don’t even have to go to the gym to lose weight with your iPod. I have discovered the secret, and am happy to share it with you:


1. Open birthday present containing iPod. Toss and fling wrapping paper and bow around room, exercising wrists. Later, once your children realize there is cake in the other room and leave you stranded and alone, pick pieces of wrapping paper off floor, pretending to touch toes a few times.

2. Pat self on back that husband picked up on your oh-so-cleverly-disguised clues about wanting an iPod for your birthday. Subtle, faint hints along the lines of “Blaine, they sell iPods at Wal-Mart. You DO know my birthday is next week, right?” When you open gift and see iPod, self-back-patting can commence. Pat with each arm 50 times, working those tricep-y things in the back of your arm that hang down and frighten you at baseball games.

3. Immediately put iPod in closet and do nothing with it for the next two weeks. Spend lots of time mentally compiling play list that you want …. But admit to yourself that “thinking” isn’t a Weight-Watchers approved activity.

4. Finally, finally, get iPod out of box and get ready to make music history.

5. Spend hours on iTunes downloading music, snacking on Quaker caramel-corn-flavored rice cakes the entire time, convincing yourself that if you eat food while listening to the very music you INTEND to exercise to later, those calories don’t count.

6. At long last, prepare to copy music to iPod.

7. Discover that apparently your computer is such an old piece of crap that it is incompatible with your new iPod because of some hi-speed vs. lo-speed USB something. Of some sort. Or something. Yell at computer screen. Pound computer desk. Kick leg of table. Swear. Shake fists at the heavens. Total body workout.

8. Dig through every fricken’ fracken’ piece of literature that came with the damn computer to find out if your USB-whatever-the-heck-that-is is hi-speed or lo-speed. Taking all those stupid manuals out of the computer desk, looking through them, and replacing them surely burns calories of one sort or another; bending, lifting, and replacing will whittle the waist.

9. Fire off extremely pathetic e-mail to girlfriend whose husband owns an iPod that works, begging for help. Acknowledge that finger-activity burns very little calories, so the typing itself is not helpful, but the hatred for all things technological coursing through your veins has GOT to be revving up your metabolism.

10. Go to local electronics store to ask about getting a new USB whatchamacallit, having to chase down sales representative in store. Walk at least a mile to and from registers to computer area, looking for elusive salesperson named “Dave”.

11. Accept that "Dave" has gone home for the day and wander up and down every aisle looking for the damn thing yourself. Stomp around the department when you can’t figure it out -- it’s like a step class and good for the calves. Power walk through the department, cursing and mumbling under your breath, until you realize the employees suspect you are shoplifting. Or crazy.

12. Buy something that looks like it might work and bring it home, only to discover you have no idea how to install it. Again, see: technology; burning hatred of; vein coursing.

13. Determine that to install new whatsitwhoozy, you must remove cover off hard-drive. Summon screwdriver, and husband to use it. Once cover is removed, commence to choke on the 79 pounds of airborne dust that is suddenly flying through the air. Coughing is VERY good exercise for the stomach muscles.

14. Remember that “supervising” from your computer chair is a very involved, high energy activity. Constantly leaning forward, to peer over his shoulder and offer helpful pointers, such as “I think that poke-y thing goes there” and “It looks like you need to line up the doo-hicky with the black blobby thing” and then leaning back to snort in contempt, is good for the abs.

15. Once new card is installed and working properly, and hard drive cover has been replaced, sweetly thank husband for his help and reassure him you can take it from here. Bonus calorie burn for smugness.

16. Realize you’ve somehow dropped your digital card reader behind the computer desk. Spend ten minutes trying to squeeze your size XL butt into a size M space between the wall and the desk to pick up the reader. Twist, turn, shimmy; all good for the hips.

17. Admit defeat. Yell for husband. Again. Louder when he pretends not to hear you. Throat and vocal cord exercises will prevent the need for chin-lifts later in life.

18. At long last, get all USB devices re-hooked up. Turn computer on. Jump up and down for joy when it actually WORKS! Jumping is good for the thighs, although not so great on the bladder control.

19. Attempt to transfer music from iTunes to iPod, holding breath the entire time. Breath-holding is a form of cardio and every bit as good for you as working on the elliptical.

20. Dance around the room in a combination of relief, happiness and pride when you discover the whole thing is working just as it should and you have jammin’ new tunes for your next visit to the gym. Dance into the living room to thank husband for cool gift and for his help. Dance around the room, congratulating self on your own fabulousness and extreme techno-savvy, until 7-yr old daughter states, “Mom, quit dancing. Seriously. I’m not even kidding.”

Number of cool new exercise tunes: Seventy-four and counting.

Total pounds lost: One. Half.

Blows to Ego: Too numerous to count

Sunday, October 01, 2006


(Yeah, I wish ice cream had no calories and cured heart disease, but that’s another story.)

I’m sorry it’s been so long between updates. I appear to have been stricken with a severe case of Jamaican Sleeping Sickness …. About 8:30 each night, I fall asleep on the sofa and dream I am on a cruise to Jamaica. Instead, I am sprawled on the sofa, surrounded by take-home projects from my kids’ teachers. Put some reading glasses on my nose and a newspaper across my stomach, cue snoring in the recliner, and I’ll have turned into my dad at the rate I’m going.

Anyway, on to bigger and better things:

I have never been in a bar brawl or a street fight (shocking, I know) and I’ve never been struck by another human being in my life. Unless you count those “this hurts me more than it hurts you” spankings I got as a youngster, or the fact Blaine let go of the truck door last Thursday night in a wind storm and I was standing at the perfect wrong spot and the damn door blew shut right on my face and I swear I thought it broke it my nose …. But, I’m rambling, and that’s another story, too.

My point is that although I’ve never been physically hit by anyone else, I don’t think any sort of uppercut to the jaw could possibly hurt worse than the shock and pain of that first gut-wrenching moment when you’re told your child has cancer. Only really, it was more like a sucker punch to the stomach, because I walked around the first two weeks feeling like all the breath had been knocked out of me and I could vomit at any second.

I’ve talked about it in this journal before, but it was close to a week after Kendrie’s initial diagnosis before I found out leukemia isn’t always fatal. The day after diagnosis, all I knew was that we were being sent to Atlanta because our local pediatric oncologist said he couldn’t take on her case. Then, a few days into things in Atlanta, the social worker came in the hospital room to meet with Blaine and me and discuss the resources available to us. Kendrie was out getting a heart function test, or ultrasound, or x-ray, or something {one of the many tests they have to perform before starting chemo treatment} and it gave us a quiet hour to visit with the social worker. We were SO overloaded with information, and still in shock, and most likely not asking any intelligent questions yet. I’m sure she could sense we were overwhelmed, and to close the meeting on what she must have thought would be a cheerful note, she said, “Well, just think, at least your daughter will get a wish from Make-A-Wish!” And I promptly burst into tears. And thought yet again about vomiting.

Ironically, about a week after we got home from that initial hospital visit, I opened the mailbox one afternoon to find an envelope from our local Make-A-Wish organization. Although by this point I knew things were not quite as dire as they seemed initially, I was still pretty deer-in-the-headlights and reeling from the changes that had taken place. Opening the mailbox and seeing that envelope wrecked me. I thought, “Oh my gosh, do they know something I don’t know? Is that why they’re sending me information on getting the wheels in motion for her wish NOW?” Once again, I was struck with the inability to take a deep breath …. the nauseous, sick-to-my-stomach feeling …. It was pretty much becoming a theme for me by that point. Come to find out, though, it was nothing of the sort. It was a fundraising letter; I’m sure everyone in our town got one that day. But how ironic that it arrived just a few weeks after finding out Kendrie would be eligible for a wish of her own.

If you’ve followed this journal for very long, you’ll know that Kendrie’s wish was for a trip to Disney, and to stay at Give Kids the World in Florida. MAW handled everything. We took the trip in February of 2005 while she was half-way through her treatment. I wish I could say it was the best trip EVER, but it wasn’t because my children acted like the spawn of Satan and I seriously thought about leaving them on the side of the highway with “Free to a Good Home” signs around their little necks.

But regardless, the Make-A-Wish organization did a wonderful thing for our family by making the trip available, at no cost to us. So when I heard that Cold Stone Creamery was having a fundraiser night for MAW last Thursday night, there was no doubt in my mind that we would go. A fundraiser? Combined with ice cream? Really, the only thing that would have made it any better would have been for Brad Pitt to personally scoop up my Rocky Road,then feed it to me with a little silver spoon. Naked. (Him, not me.)

So the kids and I had ice cream for dinner that night, then I let them run off the sugar high at soccer and baseball practice.

I made a point of letting the CSC manager know we were a wish family and thanking him for having the fundraiser. I also thanked the two MAW interns who were there passing out flyers and told them how wonderful GKTW is. I also told the CSC cashier that we had gone on a wish trip and that I wanted to donate, when I purchased the “star” to put on the wall and show our contribution.

By the end of the visit, everyone in Cold Stone thought I was a lunatic. A lunatic with a camera. A lunatic with a camera who never shut up.

I suppose they’re probably right. But if I could figure out a way to get those calories out of the ice cream, I’d be the genius blabbermouth lunatic who had the last laugh, wouldn’t I? Of course, it would help if I could stay awake past 8:30 pm.