Thursday, August 31, 2006

THE GREAT NO-TV EXPERIMENT

I decided, at the end of last school year, that I was tired of fighting the fight with the kids about the TV on school nights. Occasionally they would come home from school and do their homework right away; other days (most days) they would come home, make a beeline for the tv, grab a snack, or go outside to play, and before I knew quite what had happened, it was 7pm, homework hadn’t been done, baths needed to be taken, rooms cleaned, and we were running out of time. Which meant I would start rushing the kids, and nagging them to hurry up, and they would respond by thanking me kindly for my loving guidance digging in their heels and moving even slower, until I would be screaming like the shrew that I am, that it was past bedtime and WHY WAS NO ONE READY FOR BED????? It had become a stupid battle that was not enjoyable and very stupid and stressful. Did I mention stupid? So I decided, that being the fabulous parent I am, it was time I did something about it.

I informed everyone that when school started this fall, we would begin a new routine, also. One that was comprised of coming home, eating a quick snack, and doing all homework immediately. Because I am a fabulous parent, and this will be good for my children. Then, once all homework and studying was completed, then and *only* then, could the kids go outside to play, or play in the house. But under no condition was the TV coming on Monday through Thursday. Because fabulous parents have wonderful systems like this, that work well. And I am nothing if not fabulous. At least that's what I keep telling myself.

Also, we live in the Eastern Time Zone, which means that infernal Disney station begins a movie every night thirty minutes before the kids’ bedtime, and I was sick and tired of listening to them moan and complain when I would turn the TV off in the middle of the movie each evening. No More!!! No More of them complaining and No More of me having to listen to it! Because I am too fabulous to deserve their whining!

You know what? It’s actually gone very well. A few token gripes, but overall, they don’t seem to have suffered any permanent damage. (Obviously, because I’m fabulous.) It’s a huge relief to look at the clock at 4 or 4:30 and know everyone already has their homework done for the evening and the rest of the night is “free time”. The kids are reading more, because their complaints of “I’m bored!” are met with “Then read a book!” (Or, “Clean the toilet!” and surprisingly, they always choose a book!)

So I was totally patting myself on the back for my fabulousness.

Then, yesterday, it was raining. And the last time I let them play outside in the rain, all I got for it was an extra load of laundry and a wet van interior. Therefore, I decreed, in my fabulousness, that the one exception to the no-tv-rule is the days it is raining. Then, they are allowed to turn on the TV after everyone has finished their homework. And even though my fabulous decree about no-tv has gone well, and I didn’t think they were really missing it, look at the positions they held pretty much without moving the rest of the day:



Hmmmm. Feeling a little TV deprived lately?

And then when I served dinner at 6:31 pm, and turned off the tv, and Kendrie started yelling at me because I had the audacity to turn off “The Suite Life of Zack and Cody” (never mind it was a repeat episode that she’s already seen a dozen times) and screaming that she didn’t want to eat dinner with the family, and how mean I am because she NEVER gets to watch TV anymore .....

I knew the next fabulous thing I do will be sell the damn thing on ebay.

Problem solved.

PS. I realize it’s very easy for me to be smug about the NO-TV rule with my kids because *I* don’t watch any TV. So I don’t think they’re missing much. However, if anyone tried to curtail my computer time ….. I would have to rip their arm off and beat them about the head with it.

So, you tell me: Fabulous? Or total hypocrite???? :)

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

A ROSE FOR BRAYDEN

Thanks to all of you who took a moment to visit Cam's site, and especially to those of you who left a hopeful, helpful message in his guestbook. I’ve had people tell me they don’t feel comfortable signing a guestbook for someone they don’t know, and I’ve felt the same way at times. But, reading the notes is such an encouraging thing and I’m sure his family appreciates it, so please continue to stop by if you have a minute. As for us, we'll keep him at the top of our prayer lists.

Now, back to our regularly scheduled programming ……. Life with the Escoe’s.

I had lunch with the kids yesterday at school, and thought that might be a good time to do a little sleuthing on Brayden’s Mystery Rose Giver. Both of the boys sitting on the bench that morning looked familiar to me, but the “my cousin likes you” comment threw me a bit. I thought the chaos of the cafeteria at lunchtime might be the perfect cover for me to scope the boy out without seeming too obvious. This is pretty much what happened:

Me: Brayden, show me the boy who gave you the rose the other day.

Brayden (pointing to a boy in her class): There, that boy Chris. He gave me the rose.

Me: So Chris likes you?

Brayden: No, his cousin likes me. I guess.

Me: Well, which one’s his cousin?

Reagan (Brayden’s little friend who was sitting next to us, pointing to another boy in their class): That boy Adrian next to him, that’s his cousin.

Me: So the rose was from Adrian? Adrian and Chris are cousins and they’re both in your class?

Brayden: Yes, they’re cousins and they’re both in my class. But no, the rose wasn’t from Adrian, it was from Adrian’s brother, DJ. He’s Chris’s cousin, too.

Me: Oh, OK. I get the family relations, but where’s DJ? Which one is he? Point him out.

Brayden: He doesn’t go to our school.

Me: What do you mean he doesn’t go to your school? Then how the heck does he know you?

Brayden: He used to go to our school. But he was so bad they sent him to another school.

Reagan: Yeah, he was bad. Really bad.

So, great. Brayden is apparently conducting a long-distance relationship with a juvenile delinquent. You know those women you hear about who are pen-pals with men in prison? And then marry them while they’re still in prison and only get to visit for two hours every other Sunday afternoon, and you think, who DOES that? Well, it looks like Brayden might be one of them in twenty years or so.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Cam

Some online friends of ours received very upsetting news today. I know Cam's family could use your positive thoughts and prayers right now. Please stop by his site and let this brave kid know we're all thinking about him.

It only takes one journal entry like his today, to remind me how lucky our family is. We didn't love Kendrie any more than Cam's family loves him. He’s not any less special than she is. His family prayed just as hard as ours, fought just as hard, did the same things we did. He followed a treatment protocol very similar to hers, and I literally get sick to my stomach when I am reminded that there is nothing -- not one thing -- stopping us from traveling down the same difficult road that Cam and his family have been traveling ever since his relapse.

Cancer treatment is frustrating (and terrifying) in that regard --- we do exactly what the doctors say, following instructions to the letter, give our kids drugs, and shots, and radiation, and restrict their diets and lifestyles, and they have surgeries, and procedures, and we wait, and hope …. And there’s no guarantee that the cancer won’t come back.

Cameron actually finished his leukemia treatment about six months before Kendrie was diagnosed. Finished. Done. Then, he relapsed. Had a transplant, relapsed again. Cam hasn't caught a break yet, since that initial relapse.

Julianna’s dad made some comments on her site a while back that really made me pause ….. something about {I’m paraphrasing here} every kid who dies from cancer, relapsed first. And every kid who relapsed? Was most likely doing well at some point. Into remission with rapid fire success? Doesn’t mean you won’t relapse. Handled treatment with few complications? Doesn’t mean you won’t relapse. Completed treatment with no delays? Doesn’t mean you won’t relapse. Been off treatment for a year? Two years? Five years? Ten years? Yep, you guessed it; doesn’t mean you won’t relapse.

Kendrie has been off-treatment for 256 days. That’s 256 nights I’ve gone to bed, grateful that she didn’t relapse “today”. And knowing in my gut that nothing, absolutely nothing, separates us from Cam’s family, except luck. No amount of prayer, or wishful thinking, or healthy lifestyle, or good works, or hard work. It’s luck of the draw, and Cam has been dealt a really crummy hand.

Thinking of you, Cam.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

OH MY HOLY HELL. ARE YOU KIDDING ME WITH THIS?

Ya’ll. Seriously. If anyone was looking for Dante’s 10th Circle of Hell, I stumbled into it this morning. I did more than stumble into it, I parallel parked and stayed for an hour. And it was so horrifically bad, that I had to rush to my computer tonight to tell you all about it. Because I learned to share in kindergarten and I’m just generous like that.

I mentioned to you earlier that I’m still trying to drop this last twenty cough::thirty::cough pounds, and went to that aerobics class two weeks ago that I didn’t particularly enjoy. So then Blaine suggested I work out at the gym on base, but it’s a twenty-five minute drive both ways and the time of their classes doesn’t work for my schedule, or there’s a ladies fitness center near the house with convenient classes, but you have to practically take out a bank loan to attend, or I *could* walk on my own treadmill more often, but quite frankly it’s just not as fun …. You get the picture. Basically, I want the weight-loss fairies to come to my house at night while I’m sleeping and wave their fat-sucking wands over my body, rendering me slim and trim each morning. But I doubt that’s going to happen. Especially now that I’m getting older, and my metabolism is probably slowing down. You know how ineffective an old metabolism can be. Have I mentioned I’m getting older, and in fact am turning forty soon???? FORTY?

Anyway. Totally by coincidence, another mom at my kids’ school was telling me last week about a weight loss competition that one of our local karate schools is sponsoring. They are offering work-out sessions three mornings and three evenings a week and you don’t have to be a member to attend. She invited me, and assured me that 1) the music was very good {you all know how I feel about working out to The Funkadelics or Marvin Gaye} and 2) yes, it’s aerobics. I was VERY clear on that, since I have no interest in taking karate. She repeated, AEROBICS. As in, moving, aerobically. So I decided to give it a try this morning.

OH. MY. GOODNESS. (Ya’ll, the only reason I’m not dropping about a dozen F-bombs in this journal entry is because my mom and a few of her friends read it …. But trust me, the experience I had this morning was totally F-bomb worthy.)

I cannot even begin to tell you the discomforts that were thrust upon my person and my psyche during this one hour from Hell. But let me try:

First of all, I had to take my shoes and socks off. The class is taught barefoot. Let me repeat that, in case it wasn’t clear: MOTHER OF GOD AND ALL THAT IS HOLY I HAD TO WORK OUT BAREFOOT WITH A BUNCH OF OTHER BAREFOOT PEOPLE. Can you even imagine the crap you would see if you looked at this floor under a microscope????? And you want me to stand on it barefooted???? OK, that was like, anxiety attack #1.

Then we had stretches …. So far, so good. But then, THEN, (you have to really *see* the frantic hand gestures I’m doing when I tell this story to truly appreciate the dreadfulness) after the warm up, the instructor said, “Pick a partner” -------- I hate when people tell me to pick a partner! It always means something unpleasant and socially awkward is fixing to happen. I don’t want to have a partner, or be a partner! I’m a lone wolf, solitary, anti-social, and work better by myself!! Alone! No partners!

So the middle-aged lady next to me (Probably not much older than me, what with me being almost forty and all) turned to face me, and we had to take turns, for probably ten or fifteen minutes, first holding some kind of glove, and then a full-body pad, and try to punch and kick one another in the stomach! Punches!! Front kicks! And round-house kicks! (which, by the way, are actually much harder than they look) In the stomach! And the people around me in the room were like, grunting and exclaiming “Heeyah!” as they did this! And I’m thinking …. Where are the aerobics?! This isn’t aerobics! This is freakin’ karate!!!! Sure, I watched Ralph Macchio in the Karate Kid when I was younger, but I didn’t rush out then to earn my black belt and I’m not interested in doing it now!!! And I’m going to vomit because we are all barefoot and dripping sweat on this floor!!!

Oh, but it gets worse. Much worse.

Then, the instructor said it was time for our cardio. Cardio? Oh, thank God. This must be the aerobic part. I’ll admit, the music they were playing was pretty darn peppy. OK, I’m thinking, now it’s time for the good stuff, the move-to-the-beat-stuff that will make me feel better about myself when we’re finished.

So all the ladies grab a partner (Again? With the partner thing???) and line up at one end of the room. They all seem to know what they’re doing, so I tap my partner on the shoulder …. Um, excuse me? What are we doing? Her response: Suicide sprints. What the ….. ????? Suicide sprints?! On the karate mats?! I haven’t done a suicide sprint since I went out for 7th grade basketball, and I hated them then! Then the instructor throws down the gauntlet …. Every pair of women has to do two sets, and whichever pair comes in last, has to do three. So he blows the whistle, and the first group takes off, and I’m watching them …………. And they are every one of them, totally fucking cheating!!! Not ONE of them reaches down to touch the floor at the turning point. Hello?!?!?! Now granted, I might have only lasted four days in 7th grade basketball camp, but I learned how to do a proper suicide run while I was there! So when my partner completes her set (thankfully, in the middle of the pack so we won’t have to do another set) and runs back and slaps my hand (ugh! More touching of people I don’t know!) I decide I’m going to show these lazy-ass cheaters how a proper suicide drill is done. (I swear, I’m really not competitive. I simply don’t know what comes over me sometimes.)

I take off, running like the graceful gazelle I am, reach the quarter way point, bend down, touch the ground, spin around …………… and Oh my God, I’m fallllllllliiiinnnnnngggggg! I just fell flat on my ass!!! In the middle of the floor, in front of everyone! It wasn’t a little stumble, either, or the sort of goofy slip you do when you lose your balance a little ….. it was a full-blown, to-the-ground, America’s Funniest Home Videos kind of fall that takes like an entire minute for you to actually hit the floor, arms flailing all the time. And then I was like a kid on a freaking Slip and Slide when I hit the ground, with the weight and momentum of my fat ass propelling me about five feet down the mat!

I like to have died. And you know that wouldn’t have happened if they’d let me wear my cute new Avias like I wanted.

And what’s worse? By then we had totally fallen to last place. Thankfully, due to my amazing speed (aka. The other ladies were way overweight and slow) I was able to catch up again … but could I BE any more embarrassed???? Feel any more self-concious?? Wish with any greater intensity to be ANYWHERE but there????

Yes. As it turns out, I can.

Because believe it or not, it got worse.

Next, the instructor said we’d be working on our stomach muscles. Well, actually, what he said next was, “Holy cow, Uncoordinated-Girl, are you ok???” but we’ll just forget that part. Stomach muscles. Good. That’s the part of my body in the worst of the worst shape, so about five thousand crunches should do the trick. Hey everybody, grab a partner! And I’m thinking, “A partner? What on earth do I need a partner to do crunches for?” and then he said something so appalling, so horrifying, that I stopped for a moment, stunned. “Wrap your feet around each other’s feet and lock ankles!!!”

Oh. HELL to the NO if he thinks I’m going to wrap my feet around someone else’s ………….. ah, shit!!! SHIT!!!!!!!!!!! She just wrapped her feet around my feet!!!!!!!!! SOMEONE IS TOUCHING MY FEET WITH THEIR FEET!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I swear, I’m melting, I’m melting !!!!!

And then he wanted us to hold hands and take turns doing a sort of see-saw sit up and what did I do? Can you guess what I did??? I totally and 100 percent played the baby card. “I’m sorry! I just had a baby recently and can’t do sit ups like this ….. I think I’ll just scooch away and do some crunches by myself, ok?????”

And for a brief, shining moment, I congratulated myself on getting out of it.

And then?

It got worse. I know, you just don’t see how it’s even possible, but it did.

My partner lay on her back, and I had to stand with my feet on either side of her head, so she could GRAB MY ANKLES --- MY BARE FREAKIN’ ANKLES -- with her hands and pull her legs up to work her stomach muscles and then I had to push her feet back down each time. I. Had. To. Touch. Her. Feet. And when it was over (gag, I feel nauseous just thinking about it) I had to lay on my back. Oh my word. And she stood, with her feet right next to my head, and I had to grab hold of her ankles (ugh. I just threw up in my mouth a little just remembering the experience) and let her take a turn pushing MY feet back down.

Let me recap for you. I had a total stranger’s bare feet right next to my face. I had to hold onto her bare ankles. She was touching my bare feet. Me. Remember? I’m the one who can’t even get a pedicure because it grosses me out.

I’ve never fully understood the concept of hysterical behavior, where you can’t tell if a person is laughing or crying. You know, you hear about somebody who is so freaked out by something they get sort of panic stricken and just start wigging out until somebody grabs them by the shoulders and shakes them and shouts, “Get ahold of yourself, man!” and then maybe slaps them across the face for good measure? Today, that hysterical person, was me.

And you want to know what the best workout I had all day was? When I called my sister to recap this adventure for her on the phone, and we got to laughing so hard that I literally had tears running down my face (and I sort of almost slipped back into that hysterical laughing/crying thing again but I held it together). I’m not kidding, that ten-minute conversation did more for my stomach muscles than any of the touchy-feely karate shit we did in class.

And if I find out the ladies gym down the street offers a normal, shoes-on, nobody-touches-anybody, move-to-the-beat-without-having-to-round-house-kick-your-neighbor, aerobics class? I’ll get a second mortgage on my house if that’s what it takes. Otherwise, it looks like I’m stuck choosing between Marvin Gaye or the Karate Kid. Heaven help me.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

AND THE ONLY THING MORE MORTIFYING WILL BE ………………..

Well, it’s that time of year again. The time of year women everywhere dread … the yearly physical. Add in the fact I delivered a baby in May and never went back for my post-partum checkup, and the fact that I turn 40 next month (OH MY GOD I’M TURNING FORTY!!!! As in, half of my life is freakin’ OVER and I haven’t accomplished **anything** on my “Things To Do Before I Die” list and holy crap have I mentioned that I’m turning forty?!!??!!? ---- deep breath, deep breath) so it’s time for my first ever mammogram, and I should probably have some blood work done and all kinds of other fun stuff. I mean, I’m not having any problems, but for Pete’s sake, the chassis was produced before Nixon took office, and probably needs some body work done and to have the engine checked out, if you know what I’m saying. Wow. Forty. I’m old AND depressed.

Anyway, the military has assigned Blaine and me to the same primary care doctor ever since we moved to Georgia, but since the doctors are active-duty military as well, they have a tendency to move away every few years. First we had Dr. H, who helped diagnosis both Blaine and Kendrie with cancer (Bet we were his favorite family, huh? Those Escoes, we're regular good luck charms!) then Dr. F, who we loved and who actually made house calls for us, and most recently, Dr. A. Dr. A just arrived here in Georgia last week. Blaine, as an “ongoing care” patient (read: permanent damn fixture in that office) had an appointment with him last week so they could meet and touch base regarding Blaine’s current and continuing care. Obviously, as Blaine’s first point of contact for the ungodly amount of referrals, surgeries, consultations and prescriptions he gets, it’s important they have a good, respectful level of communication. I was thrilled when Blaine came home from that initial appointment and told me that he liked Dr. A and that he seemed like a nice guy. Blaine’s next comment made me laugh: “You’re not going to want him to be your doctor, though, and ever see you naked. He’s way too good-looking.”

Ha! (Blaine knows me too well.)

So, fast forward to this morning, when I called to schedule my appointment for my yearly physical. I asked Dr. A’s nurse if they wanted to do it all in one whack, or if he wanted to simply do the blood work part and send me to Women’s Health for the “annual” exam. Oh, no, she replied, Dr. A can do it all at one time for you.

Remembering what Blaine had said about him, and knowing that the nurses in that clinic all know Blaine very well, I thought I would be funny and piped up with, “Oh, great … Blaine said I wouldn’t want him to do my pap smear because he’s way too good looking to see me naked!”

{crickets chirping -- no reply whatsoever}

She totally didn’t think it was funny. And I was left feeling like an idiot, who was trying to be funny, but wound up saying something completely inappropriate. When I told Blaine what had happened, his comment? “Oh, great. You told them I said he was good looking? Now he’s going to think I’m GAY!”

I don’t know which is more dismal. To be married to a gay guy, or be turning forty.

Monday, August 21, 2006

THE FAMILY BED. IT’S NOT FOR WIMPS. IT’S NOT FOR ME, EITHER.

When my children were born, we brought them home from the hospital and they all three slept in a bassinette next to our bed. Well, one at a time, of course. When I had to get up during the night to nurse or give a bottle, I would take the baby to the living room and do so in the rocking chair, returning the baby, ALWAYS returning the baby, to the bassinette. Then, after a few months, we would move the baby into a crib in their own bedroom. We NEVER brought our children into our bed, not even if they were fussy, and I was quite smug about it. Not because I believed those rumors that you might roll over on your baby and smother him or her (well, ok, I worried about that a little) but mainly because my kids always went to bed {reasonably} easy, in their own rooms, in their own cribs, then later, in their own toddler beds, and for the most part, it wasn’t a big battle. And, selfish me didn’t have to share my bed. Blaine and I bought a king-sized bed for a reason … I like my space when I’m sleeping. I have a dear friend whose daughter insisted on sleeping with him and his wife through her toddler-hood and beyond, until in desperation, he nailed a baby gate across their bedroom door so she couldn’t come in the room at night. No amount of bribery or positive (or negative) reinforcement worked for them, and I felt smug because we never had that problem. Smug because obviously? I am the perfect parent whose children put themselves to sleep in their own beds. I. Am. Fabulous.

Then, Kendrie was diagnosed with leukemia. After her initial two week stay in the hospital, I was dumbfounded to discover the nurses were going to send her home. With us! To our house! To be taken care of by two people who had no nursing skills whatsoever and whose entire worlds had just been turned upside down--- how were WE supposed to take care of a little kid with cancer??? Despite my pleading and begging, no nurse would come home with us; to tell us what to do, what medicines to give, when to give them, how to give them, and calm the panic that had overtaken us. It was like bringing home a newborn baby, only without the joy and excitement and enthusiasm.

So what was the first thing we did, in order to keep an eye on her 24/7? Bring her toddler bed into our room, of course. That smug parenting attitude of mine had gone right out the window, and I wasn't feeling so fabulous about myself anymore. I needed to be able to get up during the night -- repeatedly -- to check her for fever. So that if she cried out in pain, or had a bad dream, we could be there in an instant. So that when she was so swollen and aching from the induction phase of chemo that she couldn’t get herself to the bathroom during the night, we could pick her up and carry her. I don’t even remember how long we kept her bed in our room … a few weeks? A month? I don’t remember. Eventually we moved her back into her room, the one she shares with her brother, and bought them a bunk bed, but we struggled for a long while with her wanting back in our room. And since the toddler bed had been given away at that point, that meant she wound up in our bed. With us. A bony, knees and elbows flailing lump of child-mass right in the middle of our bed. The very thing we had always prided ourselves on avoiding.

Eventually we got her back in her own bed (around the time she started Pre-K, employing the “big girls sleep in their own bed” line of reasoning) and she would only come into our room if she had a bad dream, or thought she saw a spider (what is it with my kids and their freaky obsession slash fear of spiders?) I was feeling pretty fabulous again. But when Blaine went to Seattle this past May, she came back in my bed, and I allowed it because with Grandma in the house for several weeks, we needed the extra bed. But now? She’s like an uninvited party guest who JUST. WON’T. LEAVE!!

She’s sneaky, though. Every night we put her to bed in her own bed, and she falls asleep there. We go to bed, happily spreading out as only king-size mattress people can do. Then, sometime during the night, Kendrie slinks into our bed, like a cat burglar. Quietly, stealthily. I don’t even realize it until her elbow hits me across the nose, or I get a fist in the side of my head, or a knee in the kidney. Because she doesn’t share Blaine’s side of the bed, oh, no. HE still gets an entire half of the bed, but I’m left sharing my half with her. And you know what? HAVING FUN! I'M NOT!!!

I sleep the whole night in the same position, facing the wall, balanced precariously on the edge of the bed, with my back to her, to avoid being poked in the eye or having my windpipe crushed when she flings an arm out. Of course, she spends the wee hours of the morning poking me in the back, but at least those bruises can be hidden from the public eye. I can’t roll over, or move my pillow to get more comfortable. Heaven forbid I try to claim my fair share of the covers. It’s like a really uncomfortable twin-bed slumber party and I wake up, NOT feeling rested or refreshed.

Then the kicker was Saturday night. She knocked a tooth out on Saturday (don’t ask) and where did the tooth go that night? Under MY pillow! She didn’t even PRETEND she would be in her own bed, it went straight under my pillow. So not only did I sleep poorly that night, avoiding her elbows and knees and hugging my edge of the mattress, but I had to be careful not to stick my hand under the pillow and accidentally knock her tooth or the subsequent dollar out of the way.

About 5am, I realized how ridiculous it was and just got up. But then I was very cranky because it was SUNDAY, and thanks to my daughter, I was up at 5am. So I told Blaine, “That’s it. Tonight, I don’t care what time it is or how tired you are, I’m waking your ass up and you’re going to put her back in her own bed!” because why should I be the only one suffering? Maybe if I make him suffer the consequences as well, he’ll be a little more vested in fixing the problem. (The truth? I’m just too lazy to carry her back to bed so I came up with the whole “vested” argument to justify waking him up.)

***************************************************

UPDATE: I wrote the above portion of this journal entry on Sunday afternoon, anticipating a total meltdown Sunday night when we kicked her out of our bed. This is what actually happened:

I’ll be damned if she didn’t sleep through the night in her own bed last night. The first time in over three months. I was so startled that I woke up at 5am, reflexively flinching to avoid her elbow, only to realize she wasn’t there, and then I couldn’t go back to sleep! But for six glorious hours I had my pillow and my blanket to myself ………. Ahhhhhhhh, heaven!

Obviously, just writing about the problem, actually putting pen to paper (er, fingers to keyboard) solved it. Right? Say it out loud, and the problem disappears?? So, in that vein, be on the lookout for journal entries on the following topics, which I hope will then solve themselves as well:

**MY KIDS AND THEIR FREAKY OBSESSION SLASH FEAR OF SPIDERS

**BRAYDEN AND THE DRAMA OF THE HOMEWORK; TEARS, THREATS, AND TANTRUMS!

**KELLEN, THE BOY WHO SURVIVES ON TWENTY FIVE CALORIES A DAY, and

**KENDRIE, UM, WHAT'S THIS THING CALLED A LAUNDRY BASKET? AND WHAT IS IT FOR?

Friday, August 18, 2006

CAN ANYONE EXPLAIN TO ME, PLEASE?

Aka. "What’s been going on with me the past 48 hours"

**Who was the sadist that thought it would be a good idea to put “prize redemption counters” in places like Chuck E. Cheese or our local pizza parlor? So that kids blow through five dollars worth of tokens in 3.2 minutes but still don’t have enough tickets to get the crap they want? And it is ALL crap, I don’t care what you say. And is it just my children, or kids everywhere, whose basic math skills go out the window while trying to add up the amounts of each prize {crap} and figure out which prizes {crap} they have enough tickets to get? And the bored, minimum-wage-earning teenager behind the counter is rolling his eyes at how long it’s taking, and the dilemma over which toys are best, yet I’m the one repeating over and over, “You can get two tattoos and one piece of bubble gum, or four tootsie rolls and one laffy-taffy, but you don’t have enough for Chinese finger-cuffs, dum-dum suckers, and a new pencil.” Seriously. What fresh hell is this?

**Why my dog, who is so old and tired and lazy that he can sleep the entire day away in the same spot on the living room rug, without so much as rolling over, suddenly finds the energy in the middle of the night to wake us up every half hour to go outside and chase frogs? And because I worry he might actually *need* to go, and heaven forbid we have a repeat of the doggy-diarrhea-on-the-dining-room-floor episode, I get up and let him out every time? Then curse under my breath when he’s standing at the back door barking to be let back in fifteen minutes later?

**Why when I took my camera to Best Buy to be serviced earlier this week, taking advantage of the four free cleanings I get with my extended warranty, the greeter at the front doors put a sticker on it so no-one would think I had stolen it …. And then the sticker left a gummy adhesive residue on the body of my camera, which isn’t really a big deal, I just need to clean it off, yippee for me, because as the mom of three young kids I don’t have enough things to clean around here on a daily basis.

**Why I was just now told that my four free camera cleanings -- THE PRIMARY REASON I BOUGHT THE EXTENDED WARRENTY -- can’t be done unless I am having problems with the camera? And no, I didn’t “misunderstand” the salesperson that sold me the warranty, as the Best Buy guy suggested --- he flat out misrepresented himself and his product. But after the Bonzai waterslide episode at Wal-Mart, I just don’t have it in me to argue with another single customer service person this week.

**Why my nine-year old daughter thought it would be a good idea to take a live wasp to school to show her friends yesterday? And put it in her bookbag, in a Rubbermaid container, without mentioning it to me, so that it was only a fluke I even noticed it and took it away from her before the wasp got loose and flew around the school and stung some kid who would of course be deathly allergic to wasps, you know that’s what would have happened because that’s just the way things seem to be going lately. A live wasp. Whatever happened to taking bowling trophies or your favorite stuffed animal?

**And why is it when I have a zillion and one projects to do around the house, in preparation for our community yard sale this weekend, and my scrapbooking retreat next weekend, and all the ebay stuff I need to ship out, and all the take-home cutting and laminating projects my kids’ teachers have given me (not to mention the time I spent in class yesterday helping Brayden’s class roll out giant sugar cookies and then cut them into the shape of the United States, complete with mountain and coastal ranges) ……….. with all these projects to be done, how could I have fallen asleep on the sofa at 7pm last night?

**And this might very well be the most boring update in the history of the world.

PS. For those people who’ve asked about paying me to burn them a copy of the cd I made for my kids …….. it’s not that I mind, but that I think it’s illegal to burn music off of iTunes and then charge other people for it. But really, you can do it! Just go to the iTunes website and they will hold your hand and walk you through it. As long as your computer comes with a cd burner, and you have a credit card (each song cost 99 cents) it’s really simple to do. Trust me, if *I* can figure it out, with this techno-black-cloud that seems to hang over my head, you can do it! And if you absolutely cannot figure it out, e-mail me privately and we’ll figure out what to do.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

THE PLAYLIST, PART 1

And the reason I say Part 1 is because in between the suggestions of my friends, and the browsing I did on iTunes, I have enough songs to make a whole 'nother cd, it was just really late the other night and I was getting tired and lazy. But Part 2 is definitely on it’s way. You know. When I'm not so tired and lazy. Like when my kids go away to college.

“Beautiful” by Christina Aguilera (both the radio version and the dance version)

“Unwritten” by Natasha Bedingfield

“Stupid Girls” by Pink (although I think it’s coming off the disc because even the clean version is not clean enough for me. Er, clean enough for my kids)

“Happy Girl” and “She’s a Butterfly” by Martina McBride

“I Don’t Need You (to tell me I’m pretty)” by Samantha Mumba

“This is My Time” by Raven

“Breakthrough” and “Fly” by Hope 7

“Miss Independent” by Kelly Clarkson

“Just a Girl” by No Doubt

“We Can” by Leann Rimes

“Stronger” by Britney Spears

“Supergirl” by Amy Anne

“Super Girl” by Julia

“What I Like About You” by Barbie Hit Mix

“Rush” by Aly & AJ

“Who Said” by Hannah Montana The song that is playing now --- love it!

Other songs that were suggested, that I either didn’t love *as much* or loved very much, but couldn’t find on iTunes:

“Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” by Cyndi Lauper

“Man I Feel Like a Woman” by Shania Twain

“Respect” by Aretha Franklin

“Dancing Queen” by A Teens or Abba

“Perfect Day” by Hoku

“Independent Woman” by Destiny’s Child

“All I Want to Do” by Sheryl Crow

“Brand New Day” by Forty Foot Echo

“I Will Survive” by Gloria Gaynor

“One Girl Revolution” by Superchick

“Can’t Hold Us Down” by Christina Augilera and Lil Kim

“I Decide” by Lindsey Lohan

“Watch me Shine” by Joanna Pacitti

“Ain’t No Stopping Us Now” and “Sisters” by Spice Girls

“Can’t Get Me Down” by Lo-Ball

“Girl Power” by Cheetah Girls

“Breakaway” by Kelly Clarkson (I simply couldn’t put this song on the CD because it leaves me an emotional wreck every time I hear it. I know it’s about a small town girl, leaving home, but when I hear it, in my heart it’s about a child dying from cancer and leaving everyone behind and I wind up driving down the road sobbing and hysterical ….. not quite the cheerful feeling I was going for with this cd. But no, I don’t think my daughter’s cancer experience left me psychologically scarred or anything, thanks for asking.)

“Me Against the World” and “We Love” by Superchick

“Good Life” by Leslie Mills

“What’s Good for Me” by Lucy Woodward

“Girl Can Rock” by Hilary Duff

“I Love Life” by Melissa Lefton

“Me vs the World” by Halo Friendlies

Disney also put out a good CD called Girls Rock which I bought for Brayden last year. She took it to school and lent it to a friend --- hmmm, haven't seen it since, big surprise. So now she keeps telling me I need to buy her another one and I keep telling her this is called learning a lesson the hard way and what an allowance is for.

Thanks to the recommendation in the guestbook, I’m also looking at downloading the self-titled album from Barlow Girl, which is in the iTunes inspirational category, but seems to be pro-girl and very upbeat and catchy. I mean, my kids aren’t exactly going to sit around holding hands each evening and singing Kumbya, so this might be a fun alternative.

So anyway, those are the song titles I’m using (thanks to my scrapbooking buddy Laura for suggesting most of them) --- hope they can help some of you who want to do the same thing for your girls!

And yep, Kellen’s still a ninja-butterfly.

Monday, August 14, 2006

SHE’S A BUTTERFLY. APPARENTLY HE IS TOO.

Kendrie -- Day 242 Off-Treatment

Blaine -- Count down has begun; 29 days until we find out how well the radiation worked.


A few months ago, I bought the new Pink CD. Brayden promptly fell in love with the song “Stupid Girl”, and while I agree with the overall message of the song -- no need to be a bimbo, be proud to be smart -- there was still no way she was going to listen to the unedited version due to the language and sexual content. (Me? Yes. I not only listen to it, I sing it at the top of my lungs with the volume turned up and the windows rolled down …. but only when the kids are NOT with me in the car.)

So I was browsing iTunes a while back and noticed there was a “clean” version of the song available to download, and I decided to make a copy for Brayden. Then I thought, why not make her an entire cd of songs with positive messages for girls? Messages about being intelligent, and independent, and ambitious, and not letting other people pigeon-hole you. Not letting other people tell you what to think or how to feel or making you feel bad about yourself. I didn’t want anything anti-male, or bitchy. Nothing sappy about how “I can’t go on without you” or “You’re the reason my life is worth living” either. I realize she’s coming to an age where peer pressure will come into play more often, and where the warped body images shoved down her throat by the media will most likely influence her self-esteem. I mean, you *see* those girls dancing in the music videos or dressing like hookers, and you start to think it’s normal. She loves music and I thought this might be a clever way to slip some of my principles in without her noticing. Yep, I’m nothing if not sneaky.

I solicited song suggestions from my friends (the most oft-suggested song? R.E.S.P.E.C.T. by Aretha Franklin) and spent a few hours searching iTunes before making my selections. I was looking for music FOR girls, BY girls, ABOUT girls, that would promote the ideals of self-confidence, strength, and assurance in oneself. One song linked to another, which gave me the idea for another, and before I knew it I had twenty songs ready to go. As I was burning the cd, I realized that many of the songs applied to Kendrie as well, and especially to her battle with cancer. Songs about overcoming obstacles and challenges, being strong and true to yourself, and about finding happiness no matter your situation, so I decided to burn her a copy as well. Then I thought, hey, *I* like the songs as well, so I’d make a copy for myself. (By golly, I’m getting my money’s worth out of this music! Sneaky AND cheap, that’s me!)

When I picked the kids up from school that afternoon I had the cd playing in the van. Brayden immediately noticed and I told her I had burned her a copy. Then I got the expected, “That’s no fair!” from Kendrie, until I told her I had made her a copy, too. Then Kellen wanted to know if I made him a copy. Um, well, you see, son, these are songs FOR girls, BY girls, ABOUT girls (voice trailing off) …………. So Kellen is now the proud new owner of the following songs, just to name a few off the disk:

She’s a Butterfly

Happy Girl

Beautiful

Just a Girl

Miss Independent

Super Girl

And best of all: I Don’t Need You To Tell Me I’m Pretty

And he loves them, ha!

Of course, I was eager to promote the underlying messages to him, as well. His self-image matters, too, right? It's ok for him to be in touch with his feminine side, isn't it? He and I were alone in the van this weekend and the song “Unwritten” was on. The gist of the song is that you have your whole life ahead of you, nothing is carved in stone and you can write the story of your life yourself. So I’m thinking yes, I can skew this to a male perspective, this song isn’t very girly, and he and I have the following conversation:

Me: Do you understand what she means in this song when she says your life is unwritten?

Kellen: Um, no.

Me: Well, it’s about how you are the person to make your decisions in life and you should try to make good ones. How everyone's life starts out unwritten, but if you write something down, you can make it happen for yourself.

Kellen: No, that's not true. If someone wrote down that they were going to be attacked by an alligator doesn’t mean it’s going to happen.

Me: Well, no, of course not. But it means things aren’t carved in stone and you can change things for yourself.

Kellen: Who carves in stone? Stones are hard. I don’t think you can really carve in them.

Me: It’s just a figure of speech. It means that no one can tell you what to do or how to act. That YOU decide to be a good person and you can be. Do you know what I mean by a good person?

Kellen: Yeah, ninjas are good. I want to be a ninja. Do you think I can be a ninja when I grow up?

(Sigh) You know what? Forget it. Forget all the lofty standards I’m trying to share. I don't think he even HAS a feminine side. Let’s just turn up the volume, roll down the windows, and sing.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

MY HUSBAND? IS SO THE BOMB!!

AKA: Reason #7127 why I hate Wal-Mart.

I am sure there are at least one or two places in the world that are hotter and more humid than Georgia in the summer. Perhaps, say, standing in Death Valley at high noon wearing thermal long johns and holding a solar panel over your head. Or Hell. I can only assume Hell would be hotter. But considering all the places *we’ve* ever lived, Georgia wins hands-down as the hottest, wettest place to spend a summer. Thank heavens I had the common sense good luck to suck up to make friends with families who have pools, who were willing to share the cool, refreshing pastime of swimming with us. However, there are only so many hours in the day one can invite oneself over as a guest to swim, so a while back we found ourselves looking for a way to keep the kids cooled off and entertained here at our own house. Blaine and I would like nothing more than to put in a pool, but considering our backyard is more diagonal than an Olympic downhill ski course, it just isn’t happening. Well, that, and the fact they cost a lot of money, which we are too cheap to spend. After all, I have other, more important things to spend my money on, like aerobic tennis shoes and workout clothes to buy and never wear!

So, after the poor man’s dunk tank the kids were forced to entertain themselves with over Memorial Day Weekend, we broke down and joined the craze sweeping the nation, and bought a Bonzai Water Slide. For those of you who haven’t seen one, it’s an inflatable slide that hooks up to the garden hose. I know, images of a Slip-N-Slide come to mind, but it’s on a much larger scale. You actually climb up the back of the slide, and the water sprays over the top, and collects in a small pool at the end. It has a motor that inflates it, and is actually pretty awesome ….. here, let me just show you



(PS. This is a stock image off the internet --- NOT our backyard!)

While it certainly wasn’t as expensive as hiring a demolition crew to flatten our backyard and put a pool in, it wasn’t what I call cheap, either. We bought it on sale at Wal-Mart for $350.00. (I know, I know, I said I hated Wal-Mart and wouldn't shop there, but they were one of only two places in town selling these things, and in their defense, they *were* fifty dollars cheaper … but I digress) The kids loved it! It was fun! It was refreshing! It was like a siren song for the neighborhood children each time we turned on the motor and inflated it! It was … oh, shit. It was defective …. Look at that, the entire center seam just ripped out of it. Hmmmm. Not so good. It came with a patch kit, but none of the patches were two feet long, which was what we needed to repair the rip.

And that’s about the time we realized we couldn’t find the receipt anywhere.

Dang.

So Blaine packed the whole thing back up in it’s original box, with the price and UPC code on the side, and I took it back to Wal-Mart, feeling self-conscious about the fact I didn’t hang on to the receipt, but darn it, there was no way to repair this thing and we sure as heck hadn’t gotten our $350 worth out of it! The girl at Customer Service called an assistant store manager, who, to put it bluntly, was mean to me. Mean, hateful, I-have-no-business-working-in-retail-nasty, somebody-must-have-peed-in-her-post-toasties-that-morning-grumpy to me.

The gist of our conversation:

Me: I realize I don’t have a receipt, but I don’t want my money back. Could we just exchange it since this one appears to be defective?

Mean lady: No, we don’t have any more.

Me: So, when will you be getting more?

Mean lady: We won’t. It’s a seasonal item and the season is over.

Me: Um, ok. So what can we do?

Mean lady: Nothing. Without a receipt, you’re out of luck.

Me: What about a store credit?

Mean lady: No.

Me: What about --

Mean lady: No.

Me: Well could we possibly --

Mean lady: No.

Me: Well is there any --

Mean lady: No.

And that was the end of that. She took my name and number, grudgingly, at my insistence, and told me she would talk to the general manager to see if he knew where we could possibly get another one, and then she would call me back later that day.

I came home and told Blaine she was mean to me; the grown-up equivalent of “that bully picked on me and stole my lunch money.” Blaine knows how incredibly non-confrontational I am (understatement of the year) and I think he *sort of* believed me when I said that lady was not helpful, but that didn’t solve the problem of our inflatable slide which would no longer inflate.

Three days later, when we (big surprise) hadn’t heard back from her, Blaine decided he would give it another try, and dragged the thing back to the store. I was curious to see if he would fare better than me.

When he arrived back home, he walked in the front door, looked me square in the eye, and said, “That lady is mean.” Ah, vindication! Apparently during the course of their conversation she said the same thing to him she had said to me (verbatim): “It’s not our problem if you don’t have a receipt”. Now, that’s a happy customer service attitude to have. Promote that lady right on up the management chain, for her ability to think outside of the box and find a solution and do what it takes to keep the customer satisfied.

But! Apparently HE got mean right back, and demanded to see a different manager and asked why they couldn’t look up the receipt in their system since we still had the original Wal-Mart sticker and UPC code on the box, good grief, you can do anything with computer technology nowadays there has to be some way to track this, and how if they agree we’re entitled to a replacement, but they don’t have one in stock and won't be getting any more, how exactly is that OUR fault??? You know, the logical things I would have *liked* to have said, but didn't have the courage.

The manager said if we could bring in something -- anything -- that showed the date we bought it, she could look up the transaction herself. She was all martyred up about it, with heaving shoulders and big sighs about how difficult it would be to pull all the register records, and could I possibly remember what time of day I bought it and from what register????? Here’s the first time procrastination has paid off, since our credit card statement for that month was still sitting on top of the shredder, in the “to be shredded” pile. No time or register number, but cold hard proof of the date of purchase.

So the next day (is this like the longest story EVER?) Blaine went BACK in, but that manager was gone, so he had to start over. And do you know what happened? They called up a different manager, who listened briefly to Blaine’s explanation of what had happened, scanned the UPC code himself, and in less than thirty seconds had credited our Visa for the entire amount. Um, hello?!?! WHY couldn’t that have been done the first time I went in there??? Is it because I’m spineless, and roll over and play dead the minute any kind of conflict happens? Did the Wicked Witch of the Wal Mart instantaneously decide she didn’t like me for some reason, and simply wasn’t going to help me, no matter how nice I tried to be? Or was it because when Blaine, a male customer, walked in and spoke with a male manager, they cut through the b.s. and fixed it.

Who knows? All I know is I have an extra $350 on my credit card, and now I can buy me another new pair of Avia tennis shoes for aerobics!!

ps. Ironic, isn’t it, that if they had given me the store credit like I asked for the first day, that money would have stayed in the store. Now, Wal-Mart just lost the entire amount, because I’m taking myself right back to Target. And making Blaine take back all returns for the rest of my life.

Friday, August 11, 2006

THE MOST PAINFUL THING I’VE EVER EXPERIENCED.

And that includes the Semester of Hell in my Public Speech Class in College. And the time I had all my wisdom teeth pulled and got four dry sockets at the same time.

Let’s see, where to begin, where to begin? As you know, because I’ve certainly griped enough about it in the past, I’ve been carrying around some *cough* a lot *cough* extra weight since my last pregnancy and have been working hard to lose it. I’m actually sixty-five pounds lighter than the day I delivered Nicolas, which sounds fabulous until you realize I’m still at least thirty pounds overweight which means OH MY GOSH I WAS 100 POUNDS OVERWEIGHT AT THAT POINT!!! Sad, but true. So I’ve been dieting and doing ok, but the weight loss has plateaued, which is usually a sign that like it or not, it’s time to add exercise to the program if I want to see more results. (Did I mention GAG?)

In a stroke of perfect timing, a friend told me yesterday that a friend of hers is leading free tae-bo/aerobics classes at a local church three evenings a week, and would I like to join them??? So, because I haven’t exercised in at least five or six years, unless you count that brief, unfortunate period shortly after Kendrie was diagnosed when I decided to mall-walk in the mornings, with her in a stroller, and the old-people-mall-walkers were carrying hand weights and using ankle weights and still leaving me in a cloud of dust .... Well, if you don’t count that, it’s been forever. So I went out in preparation for the first class tonight and bought some new exercise clothes and tennis shoes, which Blaine says is silly (in his defense, he *does* know my track record with exercise programs and can see for himself that the treadmill in our bedroom is still used primarily as a dumping ground for clothes that need to go to the dry cleaners) but I keep reminding him the classes are FREE so actually I’m saving him money. Why he doesn’t *get* that, I don’t know. (sigh) Obviously, these new, adorably cute gray and lime-green Avias are going to make me perkier and more energetic in class, which translates into more calories burned … duh!

So anyway, tonight was the first class. My friend kept reminding me, “Now, you have to remember that the girl leading the class is not an actual instructor. She’s just the only person who was willing to stand in the front.” Fine, whatever, my expectations aren’t that high. Anything beats sitting on the couch, right? Warm up, jump around, cool down, as long as I break a sweat I’ll consider it progress over my normal course of activity, which is using my legs to roll my chair from my computer desk to my scrapbooking table across the room, stopping for a snack along the way.

Let me preface the rest of this story with the disclaimer that I despise it when someone complains about a problem but isn’t willing to do anything about it. Like the parents who hate the way the PTO is run, but won’t volunteer at the school. Or criticize from the stands, but can’t be bothered to help coach their kid’s soccer team. That sort of thing. This lady, this psuedo-aerobics-tae-bo-instructor, is willing to take her own time and come to the church and drag her boom box and stand up there without payment to lead this class. And I appreciate it. And you sure don’t see my fat ass up there. But oh my Gosh, DOES. SHE. SUCK!!

Now, I’m far from any kind of exercise goddess, as evidenced by the size of my thighs, but I’ve taken my share of aerobic classes over the years. Add in my six years of marching band and dance team in junior high and high school, and I can say, that while Richard Simmons isn’t worried about me replacing him on any new Sweating to the Oldies videos, at the very least, I DO have a sense of rhythm. I can follow along with the thump of music and understand that aerobic music normally beats to a count of eight.

This woman? Did not understand that.

She was nice. She was friendly. She was willing to stand up there and lead, which was more than I would do. But it was painful. Very, very painful.

First of all, the music? Terrible. All 1970’s and 1980’s R&B stuff. Like she was walking through someone’s yard sale and saw a bunch of Mo-town 8-tracks and though, “Hey! This will be perfect for that tae-bo class!” and so she bought them and then made a tape for herself by recording random songs off various 8-tracks. This song playing now? It was the last song we heard tonight on the tape and I haven’t been able to get it out of my head all night.

And it wasn’t even that the music was bad (it was) but that there were long stretches of silence between each song on the tape. Stretches of silence where we just stood or marched in place because there was no music. Like the kind of crappy home-made tapes you used to listen to in Jr. High, when you tried to get all the Styx and Journey and Kansas ballads onto one tape because you thought that would be really cool.

And I’m not sure why the music was even important, because she had no sense of the beat. None. At all. And the movements weren’t done in sets of eight, she counted off in sets of ten. Ten. Anyone who knows anything about music knows it’s nothing more than math, and it’s not done in sets of ten. But hers was. And in between each set of ten, she would have to walk up to the table in front of her to look at her sheet of paper and see what movement was next so we would simply march in place and wait. There was no flow, no order. Stop and start. Stop and start. Count to ten. It was difficult to watch, and practically impossible to follow.

The whole thing was so bad as to be kind of funny. We did our warm up and stretches and they were ok, although I noticed immediately that she wasn’t on the beat. Then we stopped to get a drink of water. Then we started with the exercises, stopping every time she had to check her paper, and in the silence before every new song came on. Then we got another drink of water. Then we stopped half way through the “core” part of the workout to stretch again. Then did floor work, and then did actual tae-bo movements until the end, slower, but no cool down.

After just a few minutes, I knew I couldn’t follow along because there was a beat, and she wasn’t following it. (Have I mentioned she wasn’t on the beat? EVER? Remember those times you were asked to slow dance with some boy, and he just moved side to side at his own speed, irregardless of what the music was doing? And you would think, “My gosh, can’t you step left and right in time to the music?” Well, that’s exactly how this was only with exercising! And bad R&B music!)

Finally I thought, OK, I’m simply going to do the movements with the music, and who cares if I’m not in perfect synch with the instructor or the rest of the class, because apparently none of them have a sense of timing either, or maybe they’re all deaf and just can’t hear the music. (Yes, these are the thoughts that were going through my head during the class.) Then I even thought, “Maybe this is Candid Camera or something! I can’t be the only one in this entire room who can hear the music.” I know I looked completely goofy, flailing about at my own speed, doing my own thing, and they probably all talked about “that poor uncoordinated girl in the corner” after I left. And I even caught myself thinking, “Wow, if they are all together, and I am the only one who is not, am I wrong? Do I really NOT have a sense of rhythm and all these years I’ve been deluding myself?” But I really, truly think maybe it was a deaf people’s aerobics class.

And what’s worse, is I have to stick it out, because *my* friend thinks it's great and I don’t have the nerve to tell her how terrible I think it is. And, like I said, even though I’m sitting here complaining, you don’t see ME offering to lead the class. And even bad aerobics to Motown is better than no aerobics. And? I have to justify the cute little gray and lime-green Avias, or Blaine will mock me. Again.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

WHERE THE HECK DID I GO?


AND DID I ACCOMPLISH ANYTHING WHILE I WAS THERE?


(The answers are “Nowhere” and “Probably Not”)

I want to say a sincere thanks to all of you for not only putting up with my vent in the last journal entry about bone marrow donations, but also for letting me know how many of you donate blood, plasma and platelets on a regular basis, are signed up for the bone marrow registry, or are in the process of signing up, and are organ donors as well. Considering you’re all big-hearted enough to follow along on these Caringbridge sites, I suppose my rant was a “preaching to the choir” type of episode, but it still did my heart good to hear from so many of you and hear firsthand about the compassion and kindness that’s still in the world.

To answer a few questions from the guestbook --- yes! Pregnant women can donate their baby’s cord blood, and you can go to The Site to find out how. Yes, there is a charge for non-minorities to sign up for the marrow registry, but that fee is sometimes waived at drives, if there is enough funding or corporate sponsorship. Not sure about the bulging disc issue; I do know back problems can rule out a potential donor. Someone at the registry should be able to tell you for sure. 1-800-MARROW2 (1-800-627-7692)

Most importantly, remember that something as “small” as donating blood is not small at all, when someone in your family is receiving blood or blood products on a regular basis. I loved the comment in the guestbook (sorry, I’m too lazy to go back and see exactly who wrote it) about “if I gave to every worthwhile charity out there I’d be broke -- but I can give blood.” I gave on Monday. Felt pretty self-satisfied afterwards, too. And the Oreos weren't too damn bad, either. :)

Anyway, I thought I would give you a couple of real quick updates on entries I’ve written recently; to catch you up on what is happening in the Land of Escoe. First, remember when I wrote about putting out the soccer signs one morning and Kellen was being wardrobe-challenged and refused to change out of his pajamas and I figured so what? Who would see us anyway? Well, that question was answered at our school’s Open House Night, when one of the kindergarten teachers pulled me aside and told me she had driven past that very intersection, at that very same moment, and how cute it was seeing my son, dancing so happily in his Christmas pajamas and his sister’s pink sandals on the side of the road, and how it just made her day to see it first thing in the morning. Yeah. Great.

Then, remember my long post about what a tomboy Kendrie is, and how she would wear fatigues and Batman shirts to school every day and be perfectly happy, but that we had compromised with some “tomboy” clothes? Well, school has been in session almost one entire week and guess what she HASN’T worn yet --- Not once --- and what she told me she doesn’t **want** to wear (although she did have the decency to ask if it would hurt my feelings if she didn’t wear them) …………………….

Yep, you guessed it. The clothes are going back to the store, or on ebay if I can’t find the stupid receipt. And this? This little girl in camo shorts and a hunting t-shirt? Well, like so many of you said, she might be a tomboy, but at least she’s a happy tomboy. Thanks for making me feel better about my decision to leave her be.



For those of you who watch Disney Channel, doesn't her hairdo make her look like Hal from That's So Sadie??? Ha!

And so, it’s late and I’ll end this quickly, but not before asking you all for one more favor. Please visit Cam’s site and leave him and his family some hopeful words in his guestbook. They received bad news today regarding his relapse treatment and I’m sure some encouraging notes would be appreciated.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

“I PRAYED ON IT, AND THE LORD TOLD ME ‘NO’.”

{warning: Very long, very rant-ish, did I mention very long? And even some bad words. And very long.}

I’ve gone back and forth on possible ways to type this particular journal entry. Initially, I had this really great song called “Shut Up and Smile” I planned to play, and I wanted to do a humorous entry about how when people bug me with their idiocy, I have to remind myself to (can you guess?) shut up and just smile. I intended for it to be a light-hearted entry, and started typing, only to go off on this tangent, which was not about humor and lightheartedness, but more about how stupid, selfish, shallow people really make me livid. So I deleted the whole thing and started over, reminding myself, “Self, remember, you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar”. But I hadn’t gotten through the first paragraph before I was venting again, and ripping into people, so I started over again. And again. And finally came to the conclusion that me throwing the equivalent of an internet temper tantrum wasn’t so entertaining after all. But, this just isn’t a subject I can make light of, so here goes:

Last week I attended a training session to become a volunteer for the National Bone Marrow Registry. There is a local organization here in Macon called Jay’s Hope, set up in memory of Baby Jay. Jay’s Hope is organizing bone marrow drives in and around the town where I live. Specifically, to try and find bone marrow matches for two teenage boys in our community; cancer patients {just like Kendrie} who, quite bluntly, are going to die unless matches are found so they can have transplants. So, Jay’s Hope is organizing these drives with the hope that someone will match one or both of these boys, or in the broader picture, match any of the thousands of people who are on the waiting list for a transplant. Looking desperately for a match. In a life-or-death situation, if a match isn’t found. Just to be sure I’m making myself clear: People DIE waiting for a match.

• A few statistics: Every year, more than 30,000 people are diagnosed with leukemia or other life-threatening blood diseases.

• Only 30 percent of all patients in need of a transplant find a matched donor within their family.

• On any given day, more than 3,000 patients are searching the NMDP registry for a matched donor.

•The National Marrow Donor Program is the hub of a worldwide network of more than 500 leading medical facilities in marrow and blood cell transplantation. Through this network, the NMDP facilitates an average of 200 marrow or blood cell transplants each month and has helped give more than 20,000 patients a second chance at life.

• Each year more than 35,000 children and adults in the United States are diagnosed with diseases for which a marrow or blood cell transplant could be a cure.

• A transplant requires matching tissue types between patient and donor. These tissue types are inherited, but 70 percent of patients do not have a matched donor in their family.

• These patients and their physicians can turn to the NMDP for help with the search for a match and for support through every step of the transplant journey.

*************************

So, ok, that’s that. We’ve established **why** this is important. These are people whose lives are literally in the balance, and if no-one in their family is a match, they turn to the registry. What if no-one there is a match, either? They sit, and wait, and get sicker and sicker, and hope someone who *is* a match signs up. Before. It. Is. Too. Late. I signed up to be a marrow donor over ten years ago, and I’ve never been called, but that’s ok. At least I know I’m on the list and if I could ever help save a life, they’ll know how to find me.

I know it’s clich├ęd, but imagine how you would feel if it was someone in your family … YOUR CHILD … looking for a match and not finding it. It breaks my heart to think of these two local boys, and the fear that their families are facing. The technology is out there, ready and able to possibly save these kids, but without a matched donor, it doesn’t do anybody any good. The clock is ticking, for them, and for thousands of others.

I was pleased when Cindy, Jay’s mom, contacted me to tell me of the bone marrow drives they were spear-heading and ask me if I’d like to help out. I went to one meeting to learn more about their plans, then to the training session. Then, I was scheduled to help with my first drive last weekend at a local church.

But, first, back to my training session. Since the bone marrow drives where I’ll be volunteering are already set up at local churches, there’s not much to be done by way of recruitment. Bone Marrow Registry representatives speak to the congregations, and those who are interested and willing to sign up will come to our pre-arranged area. Me and the other volunteers will do various tasks like help fill out paperwork and forms, answer questions regarding medical eligibility, help with collection kits, man the Requisite-Informative-Video station …….. and the job *I* want: passing out snacks and drinks afterwards.

WHY? You might ask, WHY do I want that job? Despite what you might think, it’s not because I’m lazy or because I want to sneak cookies for myself (ok, well, I’ll possibly sneak a cookie or two) but really, it’s not that.

It’s because while we were watching the training video, there was a part about how to handle people if they decline to sign up for the registry, and WHY IT’S OK IF PEOPLE DON’T WANT TO SIGN UP. A whole big extensive session about how no-one should ever feel pressured to sign up, and it’s such a personal decision, but one of huge responsibility, because what if someone signed up, actually wound up being a match for someone, and then backed out? Believe it or not, that happens, and the patients and their families, are, obviously, devastated.

So, I’m watching this portion of the video about how it’s OK if someone says no, thanks, they don’t want to be a donor, it’s really, really ok, no pressure, and all I can think are two things:

1) Why the HELL would someone NOT BE WILLING to be a donor? And,

2) Why the HELL would someone agree to be a donor and then change their mind after they were found to be a match?

If you can’t be a donor because of age restrictions, or personal medical history, I can understand that. There are a LOT of medical conditions that make a person not eligible to donate, and that sort of stuff can’t be helped. Blaine and Kendrie? Can NEVER be donors. But some of the reasons people were giving in this video (actors, just pretending, to help us prepare in case we encounter the same reasons) were just obnoxious. The only thing MORE obnoxious was the eye-rolling and indignant snorting that I was doing at my end of the table, because of how annoyed I was with the people in the video and their lame-ass excuses. Here are a few examples:

Person says, “I’m really scared of needles, I don’t think I want to donate.”

I’m supposed to say, “Well, I understand. The actual procedure to sign up is a cheek swab, no needles at all. But of course if you were ever found to be a match, there would obviously be needles involved. So if you’re afraid of needles, and don’t want to, we completely understand.”

What I would be more likely to say, “You’re scared of needles, you big baby? Oh, cry me a river! Do you have any idea how many needles these cancer kids get stuck in their arms, legs, chest, back, etc? And they don’t have any choice! So suck it up and help your fellow man, you asshole.”

Person says, “I’ve heard the operation to get the bone marrow out is painful. I don’t like pain. I don’t think I want to donate. Plus, I don’t really have the time for it.”

I’m supposed to say, “Well, there is some discomfort involved in a bone marrow aspiration, but it’s done under local or general anesthetic and most people feel back to normal in a few days. You most likely wouldn’t miss more than a day or two of work. But if you don’t want to, we completely understand.”

What I would be more likely to say, “#($&(#&$(#*&!!!! You’re willing to let someone DIE because YOU don’t want to experience any discomfort??? Or take a day off work? Are you THAT freaking important??? Give me a break! You are the most shallow, self-centered person I have ever met in my life! Get over yourself!”

And various other fantasy-conversations, all of which encompass me harassing people about how I hope THEIR kid never gets sick and needs a transplant, and do they think people with leukemia or lymphoma have any choice about being scared of needles or not liking pain? Or how when cancer kids’ veins are hard to stick, the nurses just keep digging until they get one because it’s not like they can elect not to get chemo or medication or transfusions that day. And how MY kid has had NUMEROUS bone marrow aspirations and she had no choice about it …..

It’s the same thing as people who refuse to donate blood. One stinking hour of their time, and they can’t be bothered.

I’m telling you, Seriously. I need a valium. Or some blood pressure medication. Or anger management classes. Or some vailium. Did I mention valium?? Maybe liquor.

It made me feel a little better that I was sitting with another cancer mom that I knew from our local support group, and that she felt the same way I did. Or at least she pretended to. In hindsight, she might have just been scared of me and my violent reaction, and agreeing with me out of fear.

So do you see? Do you see why I need to do nothing more than pass out cookies and juice? I’m not so sure that I’m the person *anyone* wants representing their volunteer group.

I feel strongly about this. Perhaps a little too strongly.

The drive was last Sunday, and we signed up over 140 people as potential donors --- that is fabulous!! I had to (and by “I”, I mean the group) turn down a few people for medical reasons, but I thanked them sincerely for their interest and willingness. I had one lady tell me she would volunteer for these two local boys, but she didn't want to be tested for anyone else and where should she mark that on the form? And I had two young ladies who changed their minds about signing up after asking me to describe what a bone marrow aspiration was really like. I told them honestly that since I have never had one, I don’t know, but that when my FOUR YEAR OLD DAUGHTER used to get them during her CANCER TREATMENT, as long as they gave her general anesthesia, she was back to normal by later that day. Trying to imply, obviously, that if a (ahem) FOUR YEAR OLD can do it, surely you can, too.

But then a fellow volunteer, one who actually attends the church we were at, told me she turned to another woman in the congregation earlier that morning to ask if she was going to sign up, and the woman said (and I quote): “I prayed on it and the Lord told me ‘no’”.

Really.

Seriously?

The Lord told you no???

And that has stuck in my craw for a week, hence the reason I'm not able to journal with mirth about my own lack of empathy.

So then, I was driving around town after the drive, listening to my Trans-Siberian Orchestra CD, Beethoven’s Last Night, which I love, love, love enough to marry, when one of the songs really touched me, and summed up this situation perfectly. I won’t give you the entire rock opera storyline, because this journal entry is too long already, but the gist of it is this: Beethoven, on his final night of life, has to choose between letting the Devil have his soul and his music forever, or saving the life of a child. This song represents Beethoven’s struggle over what his moral responsibility is, to this child he’s never seen before.

And that’s what these bone marrow drives are about. Our responsibility, as decent human beings, to help people who need it, if we possibly, possibly can.

Here are the words to the song, though. I find it incredibly beautiful, both the music and the message:

(by Paul O'Neill
Music By Paul O'Neill, Robert Kinkel, & Jon Oliva

Trans-Siberian Orchestra Lyrics - Who Is This Child Lyrics)

[BEETHOVEN SINGING]

WHO IS THIS CHILD
THAT I'VE NEVER SEEN BEFORE
WHO IS THIS CHILD
THAT I'VE NOT SEEN TILL THIS DAY

WHO DARES TO FALL ASLEEP
OUTSIDE MY DOOR
IF WE SHOULD WAIT AWHILE
I'M SURE SHE'LL GO AWAY

TO BE INVOLVED WITH THIS
WOULD SURELY NOT BE WISE
FOR IN THE FINAL WORD
SHE MEANS NOTHING TO ME

I LEARNED THE TRICK IS
THAT WE JUST AVOID HER EYES
AND THE QUESTION
WHAT SHE MEANS TO ...

WHAT IS THIS LIFE
THERE WILL BE OTHER LIVES
SOON TO ARRIVE
SURELY SOME WILL SURVIVE
SHE IS BUT ONE
AND THERE ARE MANY MORE
EACH THE SAME AS ANY OTHER

WHO IS THIS CHILD
WHAT DOES SHE MEAN TO ME
I CLOSE MY EYES
AND STILL HER FACE I SEE

SHE IS BUT ONE
HER KIND IS EVERYWHERE
CAN'T YOU SEE THERE'S NO WAY I SHOULD CARE

I NEED A MOMENT NOW
I HAVE TO CLEAR MY MIND
THERE IS A LIMIT LORD
JUST TO BEING KIND

THERE IS NO WAY IN LIFE
THAT EACH CHILD CAN BE SAVED
SHOULD I BE LOOKING WITH REGRET
AT EVERY GRAVE

THERE ARE NO GUARANTEES
IN LIFE SHE SHOULD BE WARNED
I'M NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR
THIS CHILD BEING BORN

I'M NOT RESPONSIBLE
IN ANY KIND OF WAY
FOR EVERY CHILD THAT LIFE CAN GATHER

WHAT IS THIS LIFE
THERE WILL BE OTHER LIVES
SOON TO ARRIVE
SURELY SOME WILL SURVIVE
SHE IS BUT ONE
AND THERE ARE MANY MORE
COULD THIS ONE LIFE REALLY MATTER

WHO IS THIS CHILD
WHAT DOES SHE MEAN TO ME
I CLOSE MY EYES
AND STILL HER FACE I SEE
SHE IS BUT ONE
HER KIND IS EVERYWHERE
CAN'T YOU SEE THERE'S NO WAY I SHOULD CARE

CAN YOU SEE IT IN THE NIGHT
CAN YOU FEEL THAT IT'S OUT THERE
IT'S THE ARCING OF A LIFE
AND IT'S HANGING IN THE AIR
THOUGH I TRY TO CLOSE MY EYES
AND PRETEND THAT I DON'T KNOW
IN MY HEART I JUST CAN'T LET IT GO

THERE HAS TO BE ANOTHER WAY FOR ME
A WAY THAT LEADS FROM THIS INSANITY
A WAY THAT LEADS FROM MY DESTRUCTION IN THIS WAY

CAN YOU SEE IT IN THE NIGHT
CAN YOU FEEL THAT IT'S OUT THERE
IT'S THE ARCING OF A LIFE
AND IT'S HANGING IN THE AIR
THOUGH I TRY TO CLOSE MY EYES
AND PRETEND THAT I DON'T KNOW
IN MY HEART
I JUST CAN'T LET IT GO

So maybe that lady prayed on it and the Lord told her no, but thank goodness for people like Cindy, who can't let it go and are doing something to help.


In the meantime, please do four things:

1. Donate blood, as often as possible. I’m spending tomorrow, my kids’ second day of school, donating for the first time since Nicolas’ birth, now that the eight-week wait is over. Labor Day is coming up and blood banks always run low around holidays, so please consider donating, too. (Thank you from the bottom of my heart if you already do, and you know who you are.) Blood donors saved Kendrie's life during her treatment --- please know that every pint in every location in the country makes a difference.

2. Consider signing up with the National Bone Marrow Registry.

3. Say a prayer that I get assigned to the cookie table next time, so all I have to do is shut up and smile.

4. Say a prayer for that woman. I’ve not often shared my religious beliefs on this site because I’m very private in that regard, but if she really prayed on it, and the Lord really told her NO, then I’m pretty sure she’s got some serious shit coming down the turnpike that he must need her to be ready for ---- you know, if he doesn’t want her all distracted with helping her fellow man or being a decent human being or any kind of worthless crap like that.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

IF IT WALKS LIKE A DUCK, AND TALKS LIKE A DU …. ER, GIRL.

In case you’ve never noticed, there might have been a time or two in the past when I’ve lamented endlessly, droned on and on, alluded briefly to the fact that Kendrie is a **wee** bit of a tomboy. She prefers boys’ clothes, boys’ bikes and toys, boys' activities, boys’ shoes, etc. She says her hair is too long and she wants to get it cut “like a boy”. She says when she grows up, she wants to be “a boy”. The only reason I think a sex-change operation is NOT in her future is because she’s madly in love with her boyfriend Nicholas and says when they grow up they are going to get married and have eighteen children (Oh, my. How long my Christmas gift list will be!) But you get my point --- she’s a total and complete tomboy, not a girly bone in her whole body.

We are so accustomed to her wearing Spiderman clothes and Power Ranger shoes and baseball caps and carrying a Star Wars back-pack that we don’t even notice. *I* know she’s a girl, and if you could hear her little-girl voice, you would know as well, despite outward appearances. There were, however, three instances this week that brought to my attention that to the world at large, she really does fool people with her outward presence.

Instance #1: I took the kids shopping at Target for school supplies. She happened to be out of underwear (WHERE does all the underwear go? Is there some giant black hole, a vacuum in the universe filled with socks and panties that have lost their home?) and so I told her to grab a couple of pair. She asked for boys’ briefs but I told her no, so she chose Curious George panties. We went on to fill our cart with items from the school supply list; notebooks, pencils, folders, etc. Upon checkout, each kid was adamant that *their* items be rung up and bagged separately so they could carry their own because God forbid we get Kellen’s dark-blue wide-ruled spiral notebook confused with Brayden’s dark-blue wide-ruled spiral notebook (Deep breath! Count to ten! In through the nose; out through the mouth!) and as Kendrie was having her own school supply items bagged, Brayden spotted the Curious George panties in the cart, and said loudly, “Don’t forget your panties!” before tossing them on the conveyer belt. Without batting an eye, Kendrie said, “Oh, thanks” and handed them to the cashier. The Target employee had the funniest look on her face, and glanced at me, like, “Seriously? What is wrong with you? You’re making your little boy wear Curious George panties?? What kind of sick-o ARE you???” I actually felt self-conscious, and found myself fumbling through an explanation …. “Oh, yeah, really, she’s a girl, she just looks like a boy, um, yeah.”

Instance #2: Then, later that same evening, I took Kendrie, by herself, shopping for school clothes. We did have a bit of an issue this year, as she, as usual, only wants to wear boy clothes. Namely, denim shorts and t-shirts with various action heroes on the front and/or any manner or method of camouflage. I don’t care … I really, really don’t care …. but not the first day or two of school. I want her to go to tonight’s Meet & Greet the Teachers at the school dressed like a G.I.R.L. Is that so much to ask?? So we compromised on what we called “tomboy clothes” ….. things like cargo pants and polo-style shirts. (But I managed to sneak in a shirt with pink stripes!) Anyway, we were at the department store and needed to try the clothes on so I went to the saleslady to get a key to the girls’ dressing room. She looked at me, looked at Kendrie, looked back at me, looked back at Kendrie, and then said, “You know, they have dressing rooms in the boys’ section as well.”

Hmmmm.

Once again, I found myself fumbling through an explanation of how believe it or not, she’s a girl, she just doesn’t dress like one.

It doesn’t help that the shaggy-haired look is in now, thanks to those demon twins Zack and Cody from Disney. When Kendrie was bald it was easy for me to be indignant when people called her “little buddy” or “fellow” because “She has CANCER for pete’s sake, how can you be so insensitive?!?” And now, I’m trying desperately to grow her hair out longer, but so is every other little boy on the planet, so she STILL looks like a boy. The dinosaur shirts and Yu-Gi-Oh tennis shoes only serve to intensify the image.

And you know, the bottom line is that I don’t care if she wears boys’ clothes. I’ve said it before, it just doesn’t matter to me. But at what point does it matter to others?

Instance #3 comes with a bit of history …. When I was in the 8th grade, I was in the marching band at my high school. We used to have Monday night practices at the football field during the summer to learn our marching routines before school started and the first football game of the season. Being August in Oklahoma, it was hot. Center of the sun hot. Those of us who weren’t old enough to drive ourselves to and from practice had our parents drop us off and pick us up when it was over. Sometimes our parents and siblings would stay, or come back early and watch. My rosy-colored memory of Monday night band practices include parents sitting in the stands, proudly watching us hack our way through Billy Joel’s “My Life”, sipping lemonade and enjoying a warm summer night. I’m sure my parent’s memory is not quite so Normal Rockwell …. And more likely involves sweltering in the stands in the scorching temperatures and the grudging annoyance of a chauffeur who is forced to listen to the theme to “Superman” twenty bajillion times waiting for us to just GET IT RIGHT SO WE CAN GO HOME PEOPLE!!!

Anyway, there was a girl in the band named Beth, who was the same age as me; around thirteen at the time. She had two younger sisters; the youngest was probably six. One night, her mom drove up at the end of band practice and the sister came with her into the stands to watch us finish up practice. What I remember --- clearly --- is that she came to practice with just shorts on. No shoes, no shirt. (The six-yr old, not the mom!) Hey, it was probably 99 degrees outside, can you blame her? But apparently, at the age of 13, in between the hours I spent feathering my hair and applying my Bonnie Bell lip gloss, I also attended Parenting School. While I don’t remember actually going to any classes, or reading any books, I obviously was a star student and knew everything there was to know about parenting, because I took one look at Beth’s little sister, shirtless, and turned up my nose and deemed Beth’s mother as totally-crazy-in-the-head.

I mean, who DOES that? Who lets their six-year old to go out IN PUBLIC with no shirt on??? What kind of irresponsible, lazy mother would allow that to happen?

The answer to your question, in the year 2006, is: ME.



Yep, add boys swim trunks to the list of items Kendrie prefers. Preferably with sharks on them. She’s worn them for two summers now. I have no doubt they are way more comfortable than girls swimming suits, and hey, you never see Kendrie digging the world’s worst wedgie out of her butt like other little girls are doing. And you know what??? I. DON’T. CARE. Who cares? It’s not like she’s a sexual creature, coming out of kindergarten. Who really cares??? Well, my sister for one. TOTALLY offended by this when we were home this summer. So offended, that at her request I told Kendrie she couldn’t swim at her 4th of July party unless she was willing to wear a shirt over the trunks and you know what? Thirty-odd kids swimming and playing and laughing in the pool, and Kendrie passed on the whole thing. Just wasn’t worth it to her.

Anyway, we were at our friend’s community pool yesterday, enjoying our Last-Swim-Session-Of-Summer (have I mentioned to you that school starts TOMORROW??!?) and Kendrie needed to use the restroom. She asked me to walk her around to the bathrooms (hey, at least I know she’s not peeing in the pool, right?) and when we walked in, her wearing boys’ trunks, there was a little girl changing clothes who gave a small shriek and tried to cover up really quick, thinking Kendrie was a boy. I looked at the mom, apologetically, and gave my normal, “No, really, she’s a little girl” speech and you know what? She was looking at me the same exact way I had looked at Beth’s mom all those years ago ….. wondering what kind of freak lets her daughter go out in public, topless like that.

One the one hand, I could blame the whole thing on the cancer experience, and talk about how she wore girls clothes before she was diagnosed, but then how she preferred baseball caps when she was bald and it just evolved from there. But there are lots of little girls who go through chemo and still dress like little girls, choosing frilly, flowery hats instead of ball caps. And there are lots of little girls who’ve never had to endure cancer treatment who still prefer the t-shirts and tennis shoes of their male comrades. So I seriously doubt that’s to blame.

And on the other hand, let me repeat it in case you aren’t clear: I don’t care if she wears boys clothes!!!! Do. Not. Care!!! As long as she’s happy and respectful in her choices, what the heck difference does it make? Wouldn’t it be worse to force her into clothes she hates, just for the sake of what the public at large *thinks* is suitable for her to wear???

But the third hand is that I guess the time has come for me to put my foot down on the topless swim trunks. T-shirts, tennis shoes, camoflauge, and action heroes, OK. But the days of the topless swimming are coming to an end, unless we are vacationing in St. Tropez. Not because *I* care, but because she’ll be seven next summer and I suppose it’s not proper anymore.

(sigh) It’s a hard balancing act …. Letting kids be individuals and make their own choices, especially choices that aren’t hurting a blinking soul, but also trying to help them understand what is appropriate. I am SERIOUSLY hoping that by next summer, a shirt (or even, dare I to dream, a girls tankini!) is acceptable to her, and that she doesn’t just pass on the whole summer like she did this year’s 4th of July party.

But in the meantime, I owe Beth’s mom an apology. I had never been a parent and had no business judging. Now, I *am* a parent, and I get it. Twenty-seven years and one tomboy of my own later, but I finally get it.

ADDENDUM --She just came in here to tell me that NONE of the new "tomboy clothes" we bought are to her liking for Open House tonight .... she has re-dressed herself in a boys' t-shirt. This is going to be an uphill battle, isn't it?

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

MORE WORK THAN IT’S WORTH

Kendrie -- Day 230 OT

Blaine -- still thinking that although radiation is hopefully the cure, it has certainly kicked his tail in the meantime. And, preparing to have tubes put in his ear….. again …. In an attempt to stop the ringing and the constant plug-up-ed-ness. (is that a word?)


Number of minutes I spent explaining to the kids why the “we’re just going to get it dirty again, so why should we clean it now?” argument doesn’t really work: Too many.

Number of minutes I spent actually showing them exactly what rooms I wanted them to vacuum, and exactly which pieces of furniture I wanted them to dust: Five.

Number of minutes I spent disentangling the vacuum cleaner from the mountain of blankets in the front coat closet because whatever man designed this house was a total moron and didn’t include ONE SINGLE FREAKING LINEN OR STORAGE CLOSET NOT ONE WOULD THAT BE TOO MUCH TO ASK????: Only three minutes, but there was a lot of swearing.

Number of minutes I spent just dusting the furniture myself because Kellen pulled his incompetent routine: Ten.

Number of minutes it took for the kids to pull every pillow and blanket in the house into Brayden’s bedroom to make a pile worth jumping off the bed into: One. Not even one. Half of one.

Number of minutes it took for me to nag Brayden into cleaning it back up when they were done: Five.

Number of minutes Brayden spent complaining about how no-one ever helps her do anything and they were playing too so why does she have to do all the work: Endless.

Number of minutes spent persuading Kendrie that just because she’s going to wear them again tonight, it’s still not OK to leave her pajamas in the middle of the hall floor: Three.

Number of minutes spent cursing after stepping barefooted on one of the millions of stupid rocks shiny jewels the kids insist on digging up and bringing in the house and then leave laying all over the place: Ten.

And when all was said and done, and the house was clean again (albeit briefly) and I finally went into the bathroom and sat down on the potty, what should I spy with my little eye? A random piece of plastic, from some random Crappy Meal toy, lying on the floor, in the shape of a perfect “F”. And I sighed, and thought, “Yes, my little plastic toy friend, I know just how you feel.”

Needless to say, when school starts Friday morning in just forty eight hours count 'em just forty eight not that I'm excited or anything, we *will* be going back to our chore charts.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

DREAM A LITTLE DREAM

Kellen: “Mom, I had a dream. Want to hear what it was about?”

Kristie: “Um, sure.”

Kellen: “Well, it started out in this one place, but I’m not sure where it was, but then it moved to another place. A place I had never seen. And you were there, but I didn’t see you. And then you weren’t there, but I’m not sure. And there was a giant scary thing, sort of like a monster, but not really. But it was scary, except I wasn’t scared. And I wasn’t sure who else was there, but I know they were people that I knew but I didn’t know who they were. And they were scared of the monster thing but not me because I couldn’t even see it, so it wasn’t very scary …… {voice trailing off} ….. have you ever had a dream like that?”

Kristie: “No, son, my dreams are much more succinct. Brad Pitt, suntan lotion, and a pitcher of margaritas. The end.”