Thursday, November 30, 2006

ODDS AND ENDS

Kendrie -- Day 350 OT

Blaine -- feeling good enough that the kids are getting on his nerves again. Or, maybe it's feeling *bad* enough that the kids are getting on his nerves???


**OK, Lisa, and anyone else living in a caffeine-deprived state, I’ve toned down the freneticism (is that a word?) of the music on the site and have chosen a much more calm, soothing selection from Trans-Siberian Orchestra. In through the nose ….. Out through the mouth. But you should enjoy it while it lasts, because I can already feel the musical frenzy building up inside of me again.

**Thanks to all of you who took the time to visit Ali’s site and take a quick peek at the adorable Santa Clause cookie plates they are selling this holiday season as a fundraiser. Thanks especially if you ordered one for yourself! Marey told me mine were mailed today (Wow! Are they speedy or what?!?!) and I can’t wait to see them. Mainly, I can't wait to serve up a big ole' plate of cookies for Santa on Christmas Eve, then as soon as the kids go to bed, eat all the cookies myself, leaving a few crumbs for "authenticity". It's no coincidence that Santa's favorite cookies and MY favorite cookies are the same!! Please remember this is a fundraiser Marey and her girls are doing to help two other pediatric cancer families deal with their transplant expenses, and an extremely worth-while cause. If you didn't get the opportunity to visit Ali's site and check out the plates for yourself, please be sure to do so.

** To that end, one of the families that the fundraiser will benefit received extremely bad news yesterday shortly after I posted my own update. Please visit Baby Donovan’s site and leave a note of encouragement for his family.

**And if I could steer you in the direction of one last site, there is a really touching, powerful update on the site of one of our All-Kids friends, Fergus, written by his mom Lauren. Fergus is doing well on treatment, but recently passed the 2-year anniversary of his diagnosis, a time that cancer parents can tell you is often bittersweet. Lauren did a great job telling the story of Fergus’ diagnosis and expressed very well the overwhelming emotions that many parents go through at that difficult time. (Although for the record, Lauren was WAY more cool and collected than me!) Please stop by Fergus’ site and wish them well for the remainder of his treatment protocol.

**Lastly, regarding the guestbook on Kendrie's CB site …. Thank you beyond measure to those of you who leave messages for us to read, letting us know you’ve checked in. Occasional notes are good, but regular, or even daily notes, are even better. (Hmmm, maybe I need to get more IRL friends???) Your notes make me laugh, and smile, and are helpful and informational and downright hysterical at times. I’ll confess, I even get a little bit sad on the days no-one signs in (I know, I need therapy). But, I simply couldn’t take one more single computer generated guestbook entry advertising ** YOUNG**HOT**WILD**NUDE**PORN**GIRLS **, etc. etc.

So, if you’ve been to the guestbook in the past day or two, you might have noticed that there is now a verification screen required before you can leave a message. It takes all of two seconds to enter four numbers, which will allow our friends and family to leave us notes, but not allow the spammers to gain access. I certainly hope you can understand the need for the added step and won’t let it keep you from leaving your messages, which are often the highlights of my day. (Again, with the therapy.)

That’s it for now. I’ve got some flashback Friday photos to post tomorrow, but hope in the meantime you’ll visit the sites of Ali, Baby Donovan, and Fergus.

Thanks! Love, Kristie

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

"Tis The Season

'TIS THE SEASON FOR DOING UNTO OTHERS .... WAIT, DO I HAVE MY JINGLES AND MY PSALMS MIXED UP??

Kendrie -- Day 349 OT

Blaine -- OK. Not great, but better than lousy.


‘Tis the season, but first, a few guestbook responses:

Stephanie: Wow, you’re like the Queen of the Adjectives!! I’m going to remember those!

Erin: Thanks!

Kathy: See? People do that. Movies are proof.

Alayna: Not at Sonic. NEVER at Sonic.

Randy: That puts “catching raindrops on your tongue” in a whole new light.

Kris: Nasty. But thanks for the heads up on the Pepcid. Good to know!

Deb: You are NOT lazy! You are fabulous and you know I adore you.

Sandy: That *does* make me feel better, thanks!

Diana: Yes, I have, and OHMYGOSH!!! The. Absolute. Best! Can you believe we MISSED this years because we were in Seattle???? Boo-hiss.

Kristin: Me, too!

Amy: OK, at least I wasn’t *that* bad.

Renee: You, my friend, are a genius.

Marlene: Oh, that’s just nasty. PS. Ha!!

Kathy: Whaddya mean it’s not chicken?!?!?!?

Cate: The highest calorie count? Are you sure about that? Because it’s one of my favorite things! {Picture me, with my fingers in my ears, “La-la-la-la, no calories at all, la-la-la”}

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

OK, so, you can look at the top of this journal entry and see that we are bearing down on Kendrie’s One-Year Off-Treatment mark …. Pretty darn exciting, huh? Of course, the majority of relapses happen during the first few years off-treatment … so the reason this one-year mark is exciting is that while we’re not out of the woods yet with regard to worry and concern and anxiety and stress over every little bump and bruise and ache and pain, every day that passes is another day closer to an easier comfort zone. And the one-year mark feels like a pretty significant milestone to us! To that end, be looking for some changes here on this site to mark the anniversary.

In the meantime, even though this journal has veered precariously towards “normal” of late, or at least as normal as this crazy life gets for all of us, not a day goes by that I don’t remember when we were in the thick of things, while Kendrie was on treatment. I no longer think about her cancer every minute of every day (or every second of every minute of every day like I did at the beginning!) but every day I remember, and feel grateful for where we are now, and worry about the families and children who are still in the middle of their own struggles.

To that end, I want to tell you about a way you can help two families who are indeed careworn right now. Please take a minute to visit Ali’s site. Ali was diagnosed with leukemia as a teen, and is now a successful college student, woohoo! Her mother Marey is an online friend of mine who has done great works indeed, to raise awareness and funds for those fighting cancer. In addition to Relay for Life, TNT, Pennies for Patients, and many, many other things, Marey and her girls are currently making and selling adorable Santa-cookie plates for Christmas, as a fundraiser. They will even personalize them with your childrens' names ... and where else am I going to find a Christmas plate with "Brayden, Kellen and Kendrie" on it??? Their goal is to raise enough money to pay one month’s rent for two families, Noah and Baby Donovan, who are fighting their own extended battles against childhood leukemia. Plus, fighting those battles in treatment centers across the country, which means they are dealing with the extra costs of maintaining two households while their children are treated far from home.




I’m ordering two plates, selfishly, because I think they’re cute. Plus, it’s a great cause and I know the end goal will be much appreciated by those families. See? It’s so much easier to justify spending money when you know it’s going for a good cause!

Marey, I’m so proud of you and all you do for others. I want to be just like you when I grow up. If, you know, that ever happens.

Monday, November 27, 2006

HEY, THIS MILK TASTES SOUR. DRINK SOME AND TELL ME WHAT YOU THINK.

Kendrie -- Day 347 OT

Blaine -- That is one nasty looking scabby wound thing on his arm, is all I have to say.


Early this afternoon, I drove my mom to the Atlanta airport so she could catch her much-anticipated flight back home to OKC. Although *I* loved having her here, and I know the *kids* loved having her here, I do think four weeks was a little long for her to be sleeping in a 9-yr old’s bedroom and sharing a bathroom with three young (and let’s face it, not always the neatest of) children. But we will miss her dearly and are already looking forward to seeing her again at Christmas. Let’s hear it for Grandma Betty and the one dollar bills, hip, hip, hooray!

On the way back home, I drove through Chick-Fil-A (yippee, Diet Dr. Pepper!) and bought a large container of chicken salad for lunch. I put the container in a cooler I had in my car and drove a few miles down the road to shop at a Garden Ridge Pottery for lighted fake plastic Christmas candle stakes to go in our front yard to match the lighted fake plastic Christmas candle stakes I bought last year but which didn’t all survive the summer in the garage.

I was probably in the store half an hour, but didn’t worry about the chicken salad because it was in a cooler with a bunch of those freezy-things, that you use to keep items cold and can re-freeze over and over. (On a side note, how fab are those freezy things?? I just love them.)

Anyway, I finished my shopping, returned to my car, got on the highway headed home, and opened the chicken salad to eat while I was driving. (Please, no guestbook comments about how dangerous it is to drive while performing other distracting chores like plucking your eyebrows or reading a map or text-messaging. I was hungry, people, and my growling stomach was a much bigger distraction than my container of chicken salad.)

One bite was all it took for me to know that Ewwwwww, something is not right here. I sniffed … it *smelled* OK ….so I took another small bite, cautiously …. Nope, definitely not right. I don’t know what was wrong, but it was definitely …. Not right. I spit the bite out, then got off at the next exit and flipped an interstate U-ie in order to go back to Chick-Fil-A. Not because I was indignant at the prospect of being served not-right chicken salad, but because I was hungry and couldn’t think where the next Chick-Fil-A might be.

I walked back in the restaurant, clutching my bag in hand, offending contents inside. When I got to the counter, I explained I had purchased the chicken salad less than an hour ago and that it tasted …. Just …. Not right. The kid behind the counter looked at me and asked, “What does it taste like?” “Well” I said, “it just tastes bad. Not good. Just icky.” I crinkled up my nose and made a face, so he would understand my true feelings. Then, I offered him a bite, which he declined. Really, can you blame him? He also told me that no, no-one else had complained about the chicken salad today, but that they would be happy to replace it for me.

I said, “Well, if you’ve got a different batch made up, that would be great, thanks.”

And he took my chicken salad container, walked off, and was gone for a very long time.

He returned with a bite-sized amount in a bowl, with a clean spoon, and offered me a taste. It tasted fine, so he left again to get me a full-size serving.

Again, he was gone for a very long time, before returning with my new container of chicken salad.

So, in your professional opinion, do you think he:

a) Took my old chicken salad, stirred it up, including the bite I had spit out, and served it right back to me, laughing all the while with his friends about “the stupid cow up front who is complaining but can’t even tell the difference”, or

b) Did indeed give me a brand-new container of chicken salad, but made sure he and all his co-workers spit in it first, or

c) Thought about how much he hates the stupid, whiny customers at his fast-food job and that even working retail at Wal-Mart during this Christmas season wouldn’t be as bad as serving up replacement chicken salad for dorks like me.

And on a side note, there was another Chick-Fil-A less than five miles down the road. Next time (although I hope there is never a next time) I will simply toss the not-quite-right chicken salad in the trash and buy new at a different restaurant. Because the only thing worse than taking a bite of bad chicken salad is trying to explain what is wrong with it to a teenager, using very, very, very, very, very, very grown-up words like “icky” and “funny” and “just not good”. Seriously. Thesaurus, anyone?

Sunday, November 26, 2006

CHRISTMAS TREE ’06

Kendrie -- Day 346 OT (Hey, have you noticed how close to "The One Year OT Anniversary" we are getting?!?!?)

Blaine -- Gimpy, but getting there, slowly but surely



Can someone please explain to me…….

How three reasonably bright children …..

Who think nothing of hanging Christmas tree ornaments onerightontopoftheother …..




Or hanging five ornaments from the very same branch, sideways, so that none of them show ……



Can then turn around and miss the HUGE empty spots they have left all over the sides of the tree???



So, a show of hands. How many of YOU will be waiting until your children go to bed tonight, to sneak into the living room and furtively re-arrange the ornaments on the tree? Not that *I* am. Not because I’m OCD or anything. I’m just saying. Maybe.

And yes, Thanksgiving is over, so you know what this means. The official beginning of Kristie’s annula holiday musical obsession with Trans-Siberian Orchestra. I can’t even tell you the happiness this music brings me. Me = Happy!

Saturday, November 25, 2006

UPDATED THANKSGIVING ENTRY:

Ha, ha, ha! No, we do not yet allow our children to drink alcoholic beverages, although trust me, many are the day the three of them have driven US to drink. But to clear up a little confusion in the guestbook, Lager is our dog. That’s right, look up “Classy” in the dictionary, and there’s a picture of the Escoe family …. Definition: people who name their pets after beer.

Our first two dogs were named Fosters (a golden retriever we had for twelve years before she passed away) and Lager, the deaf, arthritic, gassy English Setter who will celebrate his 16th birthday next spring (please God, don’t ever let him die because my children will just melt into little puddles.)

Proving how high-brow we are, Blaine has already informed me that the next set of dogs we get will be named Sam and Adams. Although if I have my way, they will be named Bartles and James. See? Pure class, baby, pure class.

Friday, November 24, 2006

THANKFUL FOR ………. (words uttered round the dinner table)

Blaine: “My family”
“That I’m not in the hospital today”

Brayden: “My family”
“People that protect us”
“Teachers, Food, Friends, God”

Kellen: “The five of ya’ll”
“Lager, My Gameboy Advance, Food, Coke, Chocolate Milk”
“Electricity so we can watch TV”

Kendrie: “Doctors”
“God, My Family, Lager, Dogs, Food, Grandma”
“That we live in America from the Pilgrims”

Grandma Betty: “One dollar bills”

Kristie:



“That I have daughters who enjoy helping me cook, even the yucky chores like peeling potatoes”




“That I can pass on the old family tradition of making the best-cornbread-dressing-recipe-in-the-world-from-Grandma-Dallas, even when smushing it up with your hands is a little icky. And hairdressers, because obviously Kendrie is in serious need of one.”




“For being able to start new family traditions, like our Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve fondue fountain adventure; what better way to justify chocolate, then by dipping fruit into it and pretending that its healthy?”


“For being home from Seattle and able to spend today with my family”




“For my family, especially for a seven-year old cancer survivor who still likes to dress up in her Indian costume on Thanksgiving Day. And for an eight-year old boy who will sometimes agree to dress himself for a holiday dinner. And for Goodwill, since it appears all his clothes come from there.”


“That no-one in our family was diagnosed with cancer today. Trust me, for us, that’s quite a holiday challenge!”

Happy Thanksgiving, and what are YOU thankful for?

Thursday, November 23, 2006

I Curse The One Dollar Bill

Kendrie -- Day 342 OT

Blaine -- His arm looks like something out of a horror movie, I'm not even kidding, and he had about a gallon of fluid drain out of his neck today, but hey, his primary doc said all looks good!


You know those people? Those people who will hit the stores this Friday at 6am, loving every minute of The-Day-After-Thanksgiving-Sales? Loving the crowds, thriving on the chaos, eagerly searching for the best prices??? Well, I am not one of them.

I am also not one of those people who wait until December 24th to begin Christmas shopping. I hate rushing; I hate long lines; I hate packed parking lots; I am definitely crowd-phobic. I HATE that feeling that all the best toys will be gone if I don’t push and shove my way to the front of the line, and I sure as heck can’t take the pressure of waiting until the last minute and hoping I will find the perfect gifts in a hurry. I cannot take the stress!

Instead, I am one of those people who shops periodically throughout the year, picking up a toy or book or game that strikes my fancy, or an outfit or shirt or jacket whenever I see a clearance rack. And along about mid-October, every year without fail, I drag out my stash of purchased-throughout-the-year items, take inventory of the things I have and the things I still need, for every single person on my list, and give myself until November 15th to finish. And in case of an absolute, essential crunch, I will extend my personal Nov 15th deadline to Nov 20th. I know. I'm a little OCD. I even carry around a mini-notebook with lists in it, with columns with headings "Already Bought", "Need to Buy", "Need to Mail", "From Santa", "From Mom and Dad", etc. But under NO circumstances am I to have a single thing left to buy after Thanksgiving ---- NONE!

Brad Pitt could be signing autographs, naked, at the mall, and I wouldn’t go if it was after Thanksgiving. Not even if he were swimming in a heart-shaped vat of Diet Dr. Pepper --- that should tell you how serious I am.

This year, knowing I would be in Seattle for most of November, I gave myself an earlier deadline -- November 1st. That was pushing things a bit, even for me. Only two weeks to catalog the items, make my lists, and do all the shopping. But I accomplished it. Because I am nothing if not anal. And it was a relief to be in Seattle and know that all the Christmas gifts were purchased and hidden away behind the laundry baskets in my closet, ready to be wrapped as soon as I got home and got the tree put up.

When the kids woke up Monday morning and realized we had made it home during the night, there were smiles and laughs and hugs, for about six minutes. Then, they started in with wanting to know WHEN WHEN WHEN would we take them to Target so they could spend the money Grandma Betty bribed them with while we were gone. Because heaven forbid they hold on to their money for more than a day, it was burning a hole in their pockets and they NEEDED NEEDED NEEDED to spend it, PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE can we go NOW NOW NOW??? I managed to put them off for two days, but quite frankly was sick of listening to them, so we went today.

Can you guess what happened?

With $32, $31, and $26 dollars, respectively, Brayden, Kendrie, and Kellen EACHED managed to pick out something for themselves that I had already purchased for them for Christmas. I tried as hard as I could to steer them in other directions, without actually spilling the beans that “No, no, NO you cannot buy a new (insert toy or movie or game here) because I already bought you one and it’s waiting to be wrapped and put under the tree and if you buy **that** one then MY present will be redundant!”

And you know what this means?

Not only do I have to return the duplicate items, and buy replacement gifts …….. it will have to be done AFTER THANKSGIVING ….. egads. I will be in Target and Toys ‘R Us with the other 72 million people who are shopping for Christmas items. Something I try to avoid at all costs .... I’m feeling a little claustrophobic just imagining it.

Of course, I can't really blame my mom. If I were being honest, it’s all my fault. If my children weren’t such hooligans, my mother wouldn’t have needed to bribe them with money.

I curse the one dollar bill.



Kendrie, toothless. How cute is she? Please take note of the new soccer ball she is holding. There is a matching one behind the dirty underwear in my closet. (sigh)

You know what? After typing this entry, I realized the solution to my problem is to donate the duplicate items to Toys For Tots and be done with it. Like my kids are going to notice ONE less present each under the tree????? Giving to charity, and avoiding retail stores at the same time. Truly, a win-win situation.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Back Home. No Thanks To My Imagination.

Kendrie -- OT Day 340 (Woo-Hoo!)

Blaine -- 14 Days Past 2nd Free-Flap Surgery; 6 mo Past Radiation; Lymph Nodes Tested Negative for Cancer; Healing; Hurting; Hoping for Teeth in Six Months.


The Good News: Getting the All-Clear from Blaine’s Seattle doctors to head back home to Georgia.

The Better News: Getting to the Seattle Airport and finding out that your flight to Chicago has been delayed by two hours which means you will miss your connection …. BUT …. American Airlines can re-route you through Dallas and you will still make it home that same day, in fact, five minutes earlier than the original flight.

Even Better News: Finding out that the seats on the final leg of your re-routed flight plan are bulkhead, baby, BULKHEAD!!!!

Best News of All: When the pilot comes on in Dallas and announces they had a **wee** bit of trouble with the landing gear on the last flight, and they need the mechanics to come change a tire on the plane before you can take-off, and this might delay things a bit, and then you wind up sitting on the runway for almost two hours, well, you might spend a few moments thinking about the meal you just had, which will obviously be your very last meal on Earth, EVER, another delicious Au Bon Pain ham & swiss cheese sandwich that you had just enough time to grab during the layover, and then the rest of the delay you’ll be busy prophesizing about your IMMINENT DEATH upon landing, when the new wheel will most certainly be defective and the plane will be forced to emergency land on its belly and then the plane will skid down the runway (I saw Memphis Belle, people, I know about these things!!) and then slide into the lake at the end of the runway, never mind that there are no lakes at the Atlanta airport, but you will have the complete scenario of your demise, either fiery on the runway or watery in the non-existent lake, firmly and painfully etched in your mind and you will agonize over your poor innocent children, who will take care of the poor, innocent children, and FOR GOD’S SAKE DID I NOT TELL BLAINE WE SHOULD NEVER FLY ON THE SAME PLANE?????? And well, at least the two hours you spend updating your will on a cocktail napkin and making funeral plans and crying over your precious babies who you will never see again …. at least for those two hours your legs will be stretched out in comfort because you’re in bulkhead, baby, BULKHEAD!!!

So, we made it home safe and sound. Too bad Blaine’s doctors only gave him pain meds and no Valium. Because I swear, if he had Valium, I totally would have stolen it for myself.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

42 Pounds

Number of pairs of workout shoes I brought to Seattle: 1

Number of pairs of workout pants I brought to Seattle: 2

Number of days I have been in Seattle: 14

Number of times I have intended to go to the hotel workout facility: 14

Number of times I have actually gone …… um ……….. 0

Number of naps I have taken in the last three days: 3

Number of hours of television I have watched: many

Number of calories I have burned: few

Number of pounds I have gained the past two weeks: 42 (As evidenced by the blue jeans that *fit* when I got here, but which today barely zipped up over my Buddha belly and which had to be unzipped for personal comfort as soon as I got back from the pharmacy.)

And as I lounged on the bed this afternoon, watching my fourth episode in a row of The Take Home Chef, I glanced around and noticed the half-eaten box of Russell Stover chocolate on the nightstand, the half-empty bag of Quaker rice snacks on the mattress next to me, the empty Milk Dud boxes in the trash, and the three empty cans of Diet Dr. Pepper on the floor. And I thought to myself, “Yes. Yes, indeed. Those people you hear about who weigh twelve-hundred pounds and can’t get out of their bed and when they die it requires a crane to get them out of their house and then they have to be buried in a piano box? Yes, THIS is how it starts.”

Friday, November 17, 2006

Lessons Learned

Well, there are a few things I’ve learned during our time here in Seattle:

1) Having a non-English speaking member of the house-keeping staff clean your hotel room while you are sitting on the bed in your pajamas checking your e-mail is indeed slightly awkward.

2) Milk Duds that a friend takes the time to mail to you in a care package taste even better than the Milk Duds you buy on your own.

3) Luck decrees that the more items you have to drag from the grocery store back to the hotel room, the harder it will be raining.

4) And the more likely it will be that you’ve forgotten your umbrella.

5) When you don’t normally watch TV, the idea of spending five or six uninterrupted days in a hotel room with a television at your disposal, and no children clamoring to watch Nickelodeon or The Disney Channel, will seem quite delicious. You will realize, however, by the end of day three, that you’ve watched every unsolved crime documentary ever made. You will have learned about Treacher-Collins Syndrome, how police search for missing persons in Florida, the lifestyle of the female prisoner at the North Carolina Correctional Institute, current treatments available for anorexics and bulimics, The View, Family Feud, Trading Spaces, What Not to Wear, Ten Years Younger, It Takes a Thief, Baby Story, numerous football games, hours upon hours of CNN and MSNBC, Barbara Walters Special, Political Countdown, Entertainment Tonight, Jeopardy, Dancing With the Stars (both nights!) Jay Leno, Conan O’Brien, and more re-runs of Friends, Seinfield, and Everybody Loves Raymond than you can shake a stick at. And while overall this will be enjoyable, especially when you have endless bags of Quaker caramel corn rice cake snacks and Diet Dr. Pepper with Styrofoam cups (Hi, Heidi!) at your disposal, you will realize that if you’re being honest, you’d much rather be in your own living room, watching That’s So Raven with your own kids.

6) I have learned that no matter how adaptable I *think* I am, I am not cut out to be a city dweller. I don’t like walking to fill prescriptions, or walking to buy lunch, or walking to buy a box of Kleenex. I miss having my own washer and dryer. I miss my car. I miss Target. I miss Sonic. With the exception of one brief moment, earlier this week, after I bought a hot chocolate from the coffee shop on the main floor of my hotel (so Seattle clich├ęd!!) and walked outside to flag a taxi, holding my Cocoa Grande in one hand and my purse in the other, and felt very Marlo Thomas-ish from the opening scene of That Girl when she twirls around and throws her hat up in the air …. Well, except for that very quick similarity, I just don’t make a very good city girl.

Now, before you think I’m complaining about the city of Seattle specifically, let me reassure you I’m not. The area we are in, the University District, is very neat. So named, because U of W is right here. We could see the stadium from Blaine’s hospital room window. And as you would expect from a young, college area like this, there are dozens and dozens of restaurants, stores, bars, etc, all within a few blocks of our hotel. So it’s not like I’m having to walk very far, for anything. It’s just bizarre to me to have to walk. At all.

Back home, I walk (granted, not often) for exercise. I get in my car and drive to the gym and walk on a treadmill, going nowhere. And I like it. Sometimes, in the evening, the kids will get on their bikes and I will walk with them around our neighborhood. I like that too. But walking ….. for the primary purpose of “getting someplace” is just odd to me. Blaine and I walked to dinner the other night. We walked to a store to buy our kids gifts to bring home. I walked to a bookstore the other day, and walked down the street to use the ATM. Public transportation is OK, although I haven’t braved the bus system. And I’m a little sad I haven’t been picked up by The Cash Cab just yet, or is that only in NYC?

Public transportation has obviously enhanced a lot of lives. Sandra Bullock, for one, and her exciting adventure in Speed. And The Magic School Bus, which has helped a lot of kids learn about Science. But as for me? I’ll stick to my mini-van, thank you very much, parked in my garage with its luggage rack on top and soccer association magnet on the back and empty juice boxes and French fry wrappers on the floor. I’m an imposter here in the city, and I know it. Which leads me to number 7:

7) There’s no place like home. Kendrie has lost BOTH her front teeth while we’ve been gone. The Tooth Fairy has depleted Grandma’s stash of one dollar bills even further. It breaks my heart that we’ve missed it. Blaine meets with his surgeons for his follow up tomorrow and we’ll find out just how quickly we get to return there. To my van. To my washer and dryer. To my toothless child…. Best of all, to all three kids and the Disney channel.


************************************************
PS. Totally not Caringbridge or Kendrie or Blaine or cancer related: If you are a fan of music, specifically, cheesy love songs, go to this site: Frema and join in the Cheesy Love Song CD swap. I think it sounds like a hoot and am totally doing it .... but you have to sign up by tomorrow .... er, what time is it? Today, you have to sign up by today!!!

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Unsettled

I feel very unsettled today. It's odd. Life outside my hotel window is almost unrecognizable. There's this big yellow thing in the sky, casting a golden glow on the buildings around me. And something chemical must have happened, maybe the hole in the ozone layer exploded or something, because for some bizarre reason, the sky is now blue. And for the first time since I arrived thirteen days ago, it's not raining, or threatening to rain, or blowing hurricane-gale winds against our 7th floor hotel window.

I'm not quite sure what to do with myself. Should I make a run for the grocery store or laundromat ... dare I say, WITHOUT an umbrella?

Speaking of which, what is it about Seattle-ites, who consider you to be a total weiner if you use an umbrella, while most of them simply walk around, stoically facing the wind and rain with their heads uncovered, yet so many wear rainboots? I haven't owned rubber rainboots since I was about five years old. Of course, I also have never lived full-time in Seattle, or maybe I'd break down and buy myself a pair, too. In the meantime, scoff all you like at my marks-me-as-a-tourist-umbrella, at least my head is dry.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

400 Pounds of Sleep Apnea

Well, on a sad note, the accordion man appears to have checked out of the hotel today. Blaine and I were treated to about three hours worth of practice this morning, then it stopped around 11am and we haven’t heard anything since. Of course, it’s possible we just couldn’t hear anything over the EXTREMELY LOUD volume at which I was watching the finale’ of Dancing With The Stars. (Who do you want to win? Mario or Emmit? I seriously can’t choose; they are both so stinkin’ cute that I want them to TIE for first place!) It’s too bad about the accordion music, though, as I had promised to lead Blaine in a rousing rendition of the German Polka this evening. I’m sure he’s severely disappointed.

You remember I mentioned the snoring in last night’s post? Well, I wish I could better describe the noise … the racket …. the 500 decibel jet-engine CLAMOR that is coming from his body. It’s not cute-snoring, or even the only-mildly-annoying-snoring that people do when they’re really, really tired. It’s the chainsaw cutting of wood-type noise, and it stops and starts in fits and jerks and he’s moaning in his sleep and exhaling and groaning and OHMYGOD I can’t take it any more. Logically, I understand that it’s because of the nature of the surgery. They’ve engrafted SO MUCH tissue to the roof of his mouth, and the back of his throat, and it’s swollen, and stitched, and raw, and quite frankly I’m amazed he can breathe at all, so it’s really no wonder that he’s snoring. Plus, because of the drainage and the incisions, he has to sleep in as semi-reclined position, on his back. Certainly not comfortable. I’m trying to be sympathetic, but must confess, it’s making me crazy. He sounds like how I assume a 400 pound person with sleep apnea would sound.

And I know he’s not resting. One doesn’t *rest* when one is continuously jerking and shaking and coughing and gagging and struggling for breath as if you have a sock stuffed in your mouth. Neither, unfortunately, does one’s wife.

Further proof that he is insanely sleep deprived? How about the conversation we had last night …. He had been “sleeping” about half an hour, then he jerked up and started ripping the covers off the bed. I was sitting next to him, checking my e-mail with the computer on my lap, and I looked over, completely bemused as to what he was doing:

Blaine: “Holy Shit! Did you see that?” (still yanking at the covers)

Me: “What? WHAT?” (thinking holy cow, if we have bedbugs I will have a heart attack)

Blaine, frantic: “Did you see it? Did you???”

Me: “Blaine, calm down. What is wrong? Tell me what’s wrong.”

Blaine: “I was having contractions. But I can’t tell the difference between the real contractions and the fake contractions”

(OK, so now, I’m trying really hard not to laugh at him, and go on to use my most indulgent, soothing voice.)

Me: “Honey, you dreamed you were having a baby?”

And he looked at me, looked me right in the eye, with the most disgusted, you-are-a-total-ignoramus look on his face and said, “You know I can’t carry a baby”

Then he leaned back, closed his eyes, sighed, and continued: “But the scientists say soon all the ice will be gone and we’ll be closer then.”

And then he went back to sleep, and was snoring again within thirty seconds.

Closer to whom?
Closer to what?

Closer to men having babies?

In the meantime, I think he seriously needs to rest. At least until the ice is all gone.

PS. He had no recollection of this conversation this morning and swears I made the whole thing up.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Rested. Relaxed.

Well, in a totally welcome, but slightly surprising move, Blaine was released from the hospital today. His doctor had initially predicted Wednesday, then re-projected Tuesday if things were going well. Over the weekend, they removed the last of his drain tubes and his feeding tube. Once they saw this morning that he was eating and drinking enough on his own, plus could manage his meds orally, they decided to remove his staples and his PICC line and send him home. Well, as “home” as you can get when you’re clear across the country.

I just *knew* that once they began to control his pain appropriately, he could do the rest for himself. Even in the hospital, the guy is slightly type-A and has trouble sitting still. And, everyone knows you don’t go to a hospital to rest OR get well. Too many interruptions for that. He paces, fidgets, and walks the halls. It’s always easier to be in a hotel without the constant disruption.

His comment, once we found out we would be returning to the hotel this afternoon, was “Good, now I can get some rest … you know, relax for a change.”

Since leaving the hospital, he has done the following: check e-mail, watch ten minutes of football, take a shower, and lie beside me snoring loud enough to wake the dead. (To be fair, it’s not restful sleep since he has so much trouble breathing through the swelling and tissue grafting in his mouth …. Truth be told, he’s already woken up twice while I’ve been typing this. But for the few moments he DOES sleep, my goodness, the snoring is unbelievable.)

Since leaving the hospital, *I* have done the following: unpack suitcase, put away hospital stuff, walk to pharmacy to drop off prescriptions, walk to grocery store, dragging an empty suitcase behind me, to buy enough soft foods (mashed potatoes, yogurt, applesauce, Boost, etc) to get Blaine through the next few days, walk back to hotel, dragging full suitcase behind me, unpack groceries, walk back to pharmacy, prescriptions not ready yet, walk back to hotel, fill ice bucket, go get package from front desk (yeah, Renee’!) walk back to pharmacy one final time to pick up prescriptions, walk back to hotel, crush Blaine’s pills, explain medication schedule to Blaine …. again ….. get Blaine a drink, get Blaine some food, remove dressing from wound on arm (OHMYGAWD I’ll have to show you a picture of the harvest site later, when I get back home and have my digital capabilities again) apply waterproof adhesive for shower, remove waterproof adhesive, re-apply medicated dressing, re-bandage arm, fix his splint and fluff his pillows. Not necessarily in that order, but you get the picture.

I should mention that we left the hospital with TWELVE written prescriptions for medication. Pain meds, antibiotics, oral rinses, numbing agents, blood thinners, digestive medications, et. al. The pharmacist had a question regarding two of the prescriptions and had to talk to the doctor before she could fill them. Then, filling twelve prescriptions takes time. A lot of time. One hour and forty-five minutes, to be exact. That’s how long I sat at Walgreens, waiting, not wanting to make a FOURTH trip back to the hotel. Running errands on foot, it’s a foreign concept to me, and one which makes me grateful I am a suburbanite.

So I sat, and waited. And waited. And waited some more.

And while I was waiting, I bought a Redbook magazine and ate another box of Russell Stover caramels.

So, by the end of this ordeal, Blaine? Will be rested and relaxed. And I? Will weigh 800 pounds.

**************************************************
Not relevant to anything but I promise I’m not making this up: The person in the hotel room next to ours is practicing an accordion. For the past three hours, that’s all we’ve heard, is accordion music. At first it was funny. Then it was a little confusing. Now we’re honing in on 10 pm and all I can say is Lawrence Freaking Welk better knock it off pretty soon or I’ll be banging on the wall with a broomstick handle.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Maybe I Was Asthmatic

Call me crazy, but I have this “thing” about breathing. Mainly, that I like to.

More specifically, I can’t stand to have my airway obstructed, even in the slightest way. I can’t stand to breathe in tepid, recycled air. I have a physical, mental, emotional NEED to be able to draw in deep, cleansing, bracing lung-fuls of air at all times. Otherwise, I feel claustrophobic.

I’ve been this way as long as I can remember. Even as a child, I couldn’t hide under the covers because I couldn’t stand having my face sheltered by the blankets. If it was a choice between the monster in the closet and having to breathe my own old, used, warm, exhaled air, well, I’d take my chances with the monster.

Maybe I was an asthmatic in my previous life.

As you can imagine, this has put quite a damper on my current lifestyle opportunities. I can’t be a cowboy because I could never wear a bandana over my mouth. I can’t be a belly dancer because I could never wear a veil over my face. I can’t be a chain-smoker because I could never be hooked up to oxygen with a tube in my nose. I can’t hang out in saunas because I can’t stand to breathe in wet air. I can’t even be a bank robber, for pete’s sake, because I could never wear a pair of panty hose over my head. And I discovered this past week that sadly, I can’t be a brain surgeon because I could never wear the mask over my face.

Maybe I was an asthmatic in my previous life.

Whatever the case, it came about when Blaine had his PICC line inserted on Thursday. Although a minor-enough procedure that it can be done in his hospital room, it still requires a sterile field since they’re inserting a catheter so far up into his arm. Safety procedures, hospital policy, blah blah. The technician told me I was welcome to stay and watch, but I’d have to wear a mask.

“Sure,” I say, thinking it will be interesting to watch. I’m getting sort of good at this gory hospital stuff. She hands me a mask, I slip it on and hook it behind my ears ………… one second, two, three ………… aaagh, get this thing off my face! I snatch off the mask, take a deep breath, and excuse myself from the room.

A few moments later Blaine’s nurse walks by and asks why I’m out in the hall. I smile sheepishly and explain that I just can’t wear the mask on my face and cover up my mouth that way.

His reply? “Don’t feel bad. I have chronic bad breath, too.”

Maybe I was an asthmatic in my previous life.

Or maybe I just needed a breath mint.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Sharing Chocolate Is Not My Forte'

Blaine and I have been married for nineteen years (nineteen and a half, if you’re really counting) and I think it’s a pretty good marriage. Solid, based on mutual respect, similar beliefs, and the fact we genuinely like one another. He’s the one person I would choose to have with me if I were going to be stranded on a deserted island the rest of my life. We can talk for hours and I really respect his opinion. Plus, he would do the hard jobs like gathering coconuts and constructing shelter from bamboo leaves and arranging HELP signs on the shore with driftwood. He is dependable beyond reproach, trustworthy and I am completely, 100 percent comfortable with him.

That said, there are still a few areas in our relationship that are off-limits. Private, personal things. Places where we respect one another’s space.

For example, certain aspects of personal hygiene. I don’t floss in front of him, or put on my deodorant. I have no idea if he trims nose hair or ear hair, because in a million years he wouldn’t do that with me as an audience. If either of us is going to be attending to business in the bathroom that takes more than twenty seconds, we shut the door. Absolutely no clipping of nails in front of one another, but that’s probably got more to do with my freaky aversion to feet than a privacy issue.

And, although some will find this odd, despite nineteen years (twenty-one if you count the two years we dated before we got married) and three kids together, we absolutely, under no circumstance, EVER, would pass gas in front of one another. Pass Gas. See? I can’t even say the “f” word. That bodily function is simply off-limits and not shared, even in the privacy of our own home.

I know some of you (KW and LL, you know who you are because we’ve talked and laughed about this) have the same rule of sensitivity in your own households. Others (I don’t want to name any names JH you know who you are, too) go to the other extreme, having contests among family members, or have told me that your husband finds great amusement in holding your head under the covers and letting it rip. I guess, within some relationships, it’s considered entertainment. Hey, whatever floats your boat.

But not us. We love each other dearly, but we are much more private than that. Some might call it “uptight”. I prefer to think of it as “respectful”. Which is why the following conversation, which took place yesterday, amuses me all the more:

Blaine: “What’s that you're eating?”

Kristie: “Russell Stover candy. The caramel kind. I was in the mood for some chocolate so I bought them at the gift shop”

Blaine: “Save some for me.”

Kristie: “No. I don’t want to. You don’t even like chocolate that much. Plus, they haven’t OK’d you for clear liquids, let alone solid, chewy candy.”

Blaine: “Still, save me some. I’ll be able to eat them later.”

Kristie: “No! I’ll buy you more later …. These are mine.”

Blaine: “If you loved me, you’d prove it by saving me some of your candy.”

Kristie: “You want me to prove my love for you by sharing my chocolate?”

Blaine: “Yes. Prove your love by saving me some.”

Kristie: “Prove my love for you? By saving you chocolate? You want me to prove my love for you? How about the fact I’ve WIPED YOUR ASS for you the past three days??? Hmmmmm?? Doesn’t that PROVE MY LOVE for you??????”

Blaine, coming out of his drugged state long enough to look at me, goggle-eyed: “What? Wipe my ass? You did not! Uh-huh, no. THAT didn’t happen!! Oh God, did you…… “

And I’ll admit. While I wiped and cleaned and suctioned and patted every other bodily orifice he has, I never went anywhere near his backside. But the lie was totally worth it to see the look of horror on his face. I giggled for twenty minutes just remembering how mortified he was to imagine.

And that’s how you know Blaine is getting better. Because despite my respect for our personal private boundaries, it’s becoming fun again to get a rise out of him.

Friday, November 10, 2006

I BLAME THE WIND

So, last Saturday, Kendrie had a soccer game. It was cold that day, cold and windy. I layered her in several shirts, her uniform, her coat, with a hood, and put a stocking cap on her head to keep the wind away. She looked like the little brother in A Christmas Story, all bundled up and trying to run. However, because she is such a klutz like her mother star athlete, there were several occasions when she fell down while tripping over her own feet performing amazing feats of soccer genius, and the cap would fall off. And she would run around for a few moments in the cold wind with no hat on.

So, it was no huge surprise that when I left the ICU Wednesday night, and turned my phone back on, that there was a message from Grandma Betty that our little soccer star was complaining of an earache. Unfortunately, due to the time change, it was at that point almost 1am in Georgia, but being the hysteric concerned parent that I am, I called my mom anyway to see how she was feeling. It seemed that then, in addition to the ear pain, Kendrie was running a fever.

So, in discussing our options, that was about when we realized not only were my kids’ insurance cards still in my wallet, I also hadn’t left any sort of note, authorizing my mom to take my kids for medical treatment. Yessiree, preparation is my middle name. So I told my mom not to worry, I would take care of things. The phone lines to our doctor’s office on base open at 7am, and I would call on Thursday morning, explain the situation, and get her an appointment. I came back to the hotel, stayed up until midnight whining on the internet to all of you about Blaine, then realized that 7 am Georgia time was 4 am Seattle time. Needless to say, I thought it might be wise to set an alarm. So I did.

4 am – Call Tricare to request appointment; they take message and promise to call back; lay there holding phone for half an hour.
4:30 am – Call Tricare again; only to be told it’s a training day and no appointments available. Nurse will call back to discuss options; lay there holding phone for another half an hour.
5:15 am – Nurse calls back; authorizes visit to local MedStop.
5:20 am – Call Grandma to get phone number to MedStop.
5:22 am – Call local MedStop; explain situation; they agree to see ear-achy child without insurance card, but need copy of military ID.
5:30 am – Groan. Get up and shower.
6:15 am – Go to hotel lobby, make Xerox copy of front and back of military ID, fax to MedStop; call Grandma Betty and let her know ear-achy child can now be seen and give directions to local MedStop.

And that’s how I came to be in Blaine’s room early yesterday morning, having been up since 4am. Tired, and a little sleep-deprived. But relieved to know that we did the right thing, since Soccer Girl did actually have an ear infection, as confirmed by the doctor at MedStop. Props to Grandma for handling things on the homefront.

I was feeling a little fuzzy, having started my day so early. I was also discouraged to discover Blaine had slept very little and wasn’t feeling any better. That’s my gripe about a patient-administered pain pump. To actually *receive* the medication, the patient has to be awake to press the button every six minutes. So just how is he supposed to get any sleep? And if he inadvertently goes to sleep, and is unable to push the pain button for say, half an hour, then he wakes up, after receiving NO medicine, his pain level is worse than when he started. It’s quite the vicious cycle.

So I spent the morning fluffing pillows and helping suction and holding urinals and untangling drain tubes and changing disgusting oozing bandages and grumbling under my breath and reminding myself that Florence Nightingale most likely had a much better attitude. Of course, she probably slept more than four hours a night, and didn’t have those jerks from pain management to deal with. (Yeah, because back in her day, giving some guy a swig of whiskey and a bullet to bite was SUCH a better option ………… my gosh I am the biggest whiner on the planet) But bottom line, Blaine’s pain wasn’t improved at all and I didn’t know what to do about it.

His nurse offered to call Pain Management again, and I swear, a snort came out of my nose …. Oh, yeah. Like THAT’S going to do any good! (snort again for good measure) But the nurse said, “Well, I have to at least try. He’s miserable.” I rolled my eyes and thought, “Yeah. Good luck with that.”

Then, I thought, “What the heck is that ringing noise?” only to discover that in my sleep-deprived stupor that morning, I had forgotten the cardinal rule of ICU rooms --- I had left my cell phone on, and someone was now calling me.

A quick glance at the return number showed me it was the military base calling. I wondered if the nurse needed to talk to me about Kendrie again … maybe they wanted to find out what MedStop had diagnosed???? So I answered the phone, trying to be sneaky, worried all the while that some other patient’s pacemaker was going to quit working because of me.

And guess who it was? Blaine’s doctor (and mine, too) calling, I *thought*, to check on Blaine. Which seemed odd, but whatever. I mean, why else would he be calling? To wish us well? Discuss the weather? Read me my horoscope????

Oh wait, I know. How about to tell me I HAVE FREAKIN’ SKIN CANCER?!?!?

Yep, that’s right. The annual-physical-jamboree I did for my 40th birthday? I had a funny looking spot removed, certain it was nothing, glad it was gone because it was ugly, and I’m nothing if not vain, and it turned out to be skin cancer. SKIN CANCER. He wanted to call and let me know there would be a referral to dermatology when I get back from Seattle.

Aaaaaahhhh, I have skin cancer!!

{OK, you do understand, right, that I’m being totally tongue in cheek? He reassured me that it’s the most commonly diagnosed kind, the most easily treated, and I am not one bit concerned about it, so don’t you be, either. I just think this is the most perfect example of irony I’ve ever seen …. And I’m still laughing about it. He doesn’t think the dermatology guy will even need to do anything else, but he’s sending me just to be sure. Hmmmm, wonder if I can get some botox while I’m there? Or maybe a chemical peel? Do they DO those in the Air Force?}

So I was basically giggling about the whole thing, because how funny is that? I’m in the hospital with my husband, who has just had reconstructive surgery as part of his cancer treatment, when my own doctor calls to tell me I’ve got skin cancer ….. come on, you’ve got to admit, that’s pretty hysterically ironic, in a sort of “what the heck is going on in this comedy of errors that is my life” kind of way. And I decided, I blame the wind. If it hadn’t been windy on Saturday, Kendrie wouldn’t have gotten an earache. And I wouldn’t have had to get up at 4am to make her an appointment. And I wouldn’t have been tired when I went to Blaine’s room, and wouldn’t have forgotten to turn off my cell phone. And my doctor wouldn’t have called, and I wouldn’t have found out I have skin cancer.

I blame the wind.

And decided to go grab some lunch.

This is part 2 of the story, and it’s the best part. I was down in the cafeteria, where I decided, what with having skin cancer and all, that I was entitled to thumb my nose at my diet for this meal. So I’m sitting at my table, nose in a book, HUGE plate of food in front of me, and this girl walks up to my table. Now, they’re doing some remodeling work in the cafeteria, so about half the eating section is closed off and there aren’t as many tables available, so for a split second I thought maybe she was going to ask if she could share the table with me. But no, she says, “Excuse me, is your name Kristie?” and all I could think was, “Holy cow, first I’m in trouble for falling asleep in the private consultation room, and now I’m in trouble for leaving my cell phone on??!”

Turns out, she’s a local Seattle-ite (Seattle-ostonian?) who follows along with this journal. Her name is Heidi, and we had corresponded by e-mail a few times these past few weeks, when she had kindly given me some sightseeing suggestions, and told me to contact her if I needed anything while I was in Seattle. (Actually, several people from this area did that ….. you Washington people have been so kind and helpful!)

Anyway, Heidi thought I could maybe use a visitor in the hospital, and sat with me the rest of my lunch so we could chat. You guys, it was twenty minutes of grown-up conversation that didn’t revolve around blood clotting and antibiotic ointment and drain tubes and urine output ---- it was great! I felt like a human being again!

Then, spreading goodwill and humanitarian effort, she left me a care package --- are you ready for this? A 24-pack of Diet Dr. Pepper (I could literally feel my central nervous system tingling in anticipation) ….. STYROFOAM CUPS to drink it with, a great book to read …………… AND A FLAT IRON!!! HEIDI BOUGHT ME A NEW FLAT IRON!!!!! No more Medusa-head for me!

Heidi, not since Angelina Jolie visited Africa has such benevolence and kindness been shown. I can’t even tell you how much I appreciated it …. I know you’re married and have a son and another one on the way, but I think I might just love you a little bit.

Then, it just keeps getting better.

I returned to the room, to find out pain management had come to see Blaine. A different doctor, who apparently looked around and said, “Well, this is unacceptable” and suggested we try a new medication. She explained it wasn’t a quick fix and might take a day to accumulate in his system, but that he *should* start feeling better. Hey, it didn’t even matter, she could have done a rain dance and shook feathers at him. Just knowing someone took him seriously and was willing to TRY, made a huge difference. Both to him and to me.

And I think, maybe, possibly, just a little bit, by last night, he was in less pain. I mean, he wasn’t skipping around the room or doing cartwheels or anything, but there were a few brief minutes yesterday when his eyes were clear and he seemed resilient again.

I came home last night, pooped, but happy. I drank three, count ‘em, THREE Diet Dr. Peppers from my Styrofoam cups (Heidi, I'm not even kidding. I love you) and collapsed into bed, knowing that when I go to the hospital today, Blaine should hopefully be feeling even better, I will feel rested and human, and best of all, most importantly, my hair will once again be sleek and shiny.

It’s a good life I have, skin cancer and all.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

I WAS WRONG. ONE BIGGER.

Thanks to all of you for continuing to check in on Blaine and offering your words of support and suggestions. Although frankly, some of you frighten me with your very blatant ideas! :)

I should clarify that overall, Blaine is receiving excellent care. We really like his surgeon, and the nurse practitioner, and the resident .... and his ICU nurses have all been wonderful, both male and female. Who, by the way, have also all been young and fit and attractive. What's up with that? Is it like a RULE that you have to be good looking to work at this hospital???

As compared to say, oh, I don't know, somebody's WIFE, who not only has already resorted to wearing sweatpants and tennis shoes since I'm there in the ICU so long each day, sitting in the world's most uncomfortable chair, but at least his room HAS a chair, which is more than I can say for some of the other rooms so by golly I'm not going to complain about it, but who also is walking around town looking like the Lion from the Wizard of Oz because my flat iron BROKE IN HALF on the plane ride here, which I discovered the first time I tried to use it and it burned the everlasting-gobstopper-crap out of my thumb, so my naturally coarse, frizzy hair is a nightmare, especially in this city where is has rained EVERY MINUTE OF EVERY DAY since we got here, so I'm frightening the eldery and small children with this wild bush atop my head and the stinking pharmacy down the street where I could possibly buy another flat iron isn't a 24 hour store and since I leave the hotel at the buttcrack of dawn and don't get back until late at night it's already closed and so I'm just STUCK with this crazy birds nest above my forehead..... (whew, Kristie, slow down, it's just hair.)

Anyway, what was I saying?

Oh, yes, that's right, Blaine. He's getting very good care, it's just the situation yesterday with his pain management, or non-management, I should say, came after an extremely intense day, which I would tell you the whole story, but quite frankly, I'm beat. Short version involves Blaine's ventilator tube getting blocked while I was the only person in the room, and him turning blue, seizing, and out-of-his-mind-eyes-rolling-panicked-hysterical because he couldn't breathe, was tied to the bed, and wound up being bagged in front of me. Not one of my more tranquil moments. It also involved him pulling out his catheter with the balloon still inflated .... not one of HIS more tranquil moments. And one which I'm sure he'll be horrified I just shared with the internet. Bleeding, oozing, suctioning, barfing, alarms, blech. Just all told, a tiring, stressful day yesterday, capped off by the Pain Management Specialist telling me there wasn't anything more he could do.

So fine, I re-grouped, said a thankful prayer for propofol and the fact Blaine most likely wouldn't remember most of yesterday anyway, and went back in today, ready to advocate properly. Buoyed by your comments in the guestbook, loaded for bear, can of whup-ass in each hand.

And, basically, was shut down in every direction.

I thought the guy yesterday was a prick? Oh, no, he was a mere Jr. Prick, a Prick in TRAINING, whose *MENTOR* was Blaine's pain management doctor today. My mother raised me to have better manners, but it took every ounce of self-control I had not to call the guy an asshole to his face and demand he leave the room. Because he was. A big, round, puckered asshole.

NOT because he refused to increase Blaine's pain meds, or try a different medication. Or do anything whatsoever in addition to, or differently, than he was already doing which wasn't working because hello? Could he not look over and see my husband laying in bed crying from the pain?

No, he was an asshole because he not only said no, but he did it in the most condescending way possible. I thought the lady in the waiting room the other day talked down to me? No, she was like my sweet Jewish Grandmother, compared to this guy, and I'm not even Jewish.

I took college anatomy, I understand how the nervous system works. I understand that even pharmacology has its limitations. And I even understand that yes, having my husband BREATHING is actually a positive thing, an exact question this man asked me. But to have Blaine's complaints dismissed in such an insulting, patronzing, "just suck it up" manner was very hard to take.

I immediately went back to the surgeon, who told me they would defer to pain management. I asked the nurse practitioner, who I like and trust, if going to the hospital administration would make a difference. She said, and I think she's probably right, that while I could file a complaint about behavior and bedside manner, in the short term, that's not going to change anything for Blaine and his pain. THEY are pain management. They're like, the BOSS of the pain world. And if they say no, the answer's no. End of discussion.

Do you have any idea how MADDENING that is????

Anyway, I can't go on about it any more or I swear I will need high blood pressure medication.

Blaine's face is killing him, but the good news is that the surgery appears to have gone very well. Blood supply to the transfer site is good, although it would be helpful at this point if his nose would quit bleeding. There's a reason I didn't go to nursing school, people, and let's just say the last few days have been a little too labor-intensive, in a totally disgusting sort of way for me. The bodily fluids you will clean up for love, no?

His arm, where they took the tissue and nerves, is hurting. The splint should come off next week. Ironically, the skin graft on his thigh, where they cheese-gratered the skin to close the wound on his arm (he's like a walking jigsaw puzzle, isn't he?) is not hurting at all, and that's the part doctors said some patients complain about the most.

Of course, because it's Blaine and SOMETHING has to go wrong, his little butterfly-princess veins have given out. They moved the iv's from the arm to the feet, but still are having trouble, so he'll be getting a PICC line inserted tomorrow. And hopefully be moved out of ICU and into a regular room. With internet access. So I can hop online and thrill you throughout the day with tales of my inadequacy and complete inability to advocate for my husband. The one thing in my favor is that they had turned off the propofol today, so at least Blaine was awake and could hear me arguing with the doctors. At least he'll know I tried, right?

PS. One more thing, so many of you have been kind enough to e-mail me privately and I want you all to know how much I appreciate the notes of support. I feel terrible that I haven't had time to answer all of you ..... forgive me??

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

THE BIGGEST ONE

::warning::vulgarity ahead::consider yourself warned::



::scroll down at your own risk::

















Dear Porn World,

Hey, guess what?! Great News!! I single-handedly discovered the biggest prick in the world today! And in case you'd like to contact him for a starring role in your next adult feature, he can be found at the U of W Hospital; 5th floor ICU; Pain Management Team.

The end.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

His Surgery. My Embarrassment.

Well, things went well with Blaine's surgery yesterday. I intended to update when I got back to the hotel last night .... actually, I intended to update during the day (more on that later) but we got up at 3:30 am to make it to the pre-op check in on time, and I didn't get back to the hotel until 10 pm, and what is it about just sitting in a chair all day that makes you so exhausted? But I was, so I went straight to bed last night, after soothing myself with a Diet Dr. Pepper because the hospital cafeteria only sells Diet Coke, and NOT with styrofoam cups, I might add, and so I was really jonseing for my DDP fix, but I won't gripe because at least it's not that swill that passes for Diet Pepsi gag.

We didn't actually have to leave the hotel yesterday until 5:15 am, but Blaine was a little nervous, and had to take two showers with this special medicated soap they gave him, and did I mention he was a little nervous? So the alarm went off at 3:30 am. Ironically, it was 3:30 am the night before that we were just GOING to bed, after my all-day flying extravaganza Shuttle-Atlanta-Dallas-Layover-Seattle-Shuttle event.

Needless to say (but you know I'll say it anyway because I just can't shut up most of the time) I was still pretty tired yesterday morning. They let me stay with Blaine through the pre-op stuff, then wheeled him down for surgery and showed me the doors of the surgery waiting room around 6:30 am. I was one of the first ones there and the room was still pretty vacant. It's a good-sized room, probably thirty or forty chairs, with an employee attendant area, and thankfully no annoying television for people to hijack with The Maury Povich show, or anything. There are two small rooms off to the side, private rooms, with telephones. I assumed that's where people went if they needed to make a private call, but since the outer room was basically vacant, I decided to set up camp in the private room for a few minutes so I could hook up the laptop Blaine borrowed from work.

Unfortunately, because I am a moron, I left the password sitting on the nightstand at the hotel and the computer was basically worthless. Although I don't understand technology, and it makes no sense to me that I couldn't even operate the dvd player without the password, it seems I couldn't, so pretty much I brought the laptop and the movies with me for no reason. And of course, although I had it hooked to the phone line, I couldn't get on and do any sort of CB update.

I was frustrated, and tired, and annoyed with myself and my worthlessness, so I layed my head on the table. And fell asleep. The sleep of the dead. For about half an hour. Only to hear a phone ringing, and then someone's voice calling out, "Escoe? Escoe? Anyone here named Escoe?" I jerked awake and lurched out into the main room, only to discover it was now PACKED with people, people whose eyes were all ON ME, in my sudden awakedness. Only to watch the hospital-worker-lady hang up on the caller because I was too slow in my jerkedness, and then, only to have her chastise me, in front of the ENTIRE ROOMFULL OF PEOPLE, about how that room is a PRIVATE, DOCTOR'S ONLY CONSULTATION ROOM and NOT FOR MY OWN PERSONAL USE, and THEY HAD ALREADY HAD ONE DOCTOR UPSET BECAUSE MY TIRED BODY WAS DRAPED ACROSS THE TABLE AND HE NEEDED SOMEWHERE TO TALK TO THE FAMILY AND COULD I PLEASE MOVE MY STUFF BACK OUT INTO THE COMMONS AREA WHERE IT BELONGED??????

I. Was. Mortified.

I felt like I was six years old, getting caught with my hand in the cookie jar and getting my knuckles rapped in front of the entire school. I started sweating, and got that weird blotchy-rash thing on my chest. I do NOT do public humilitation well. I wanted to profess, "It was an accident! I didn't mean to fall asleep!" but at that point I was too embarrassed to even bother. Everyone. Staring. I know it sounds silly, but I could FEEL the eyes upon me of every other waiting room family, smirking because I got caught trying to get away with something. Trying to claim the private room for my own. When really, that wasn't it. I only wanted to check my e-mail real quick, honest! A furtive glance around the room showed no chairs available, so I just packed the computer back into the rolling suitcase, along with my book and magazine, and exited the room, trying to hold my head high, which is hard to do when the back of your neck is all sweaty and flushed.

And then I skulked around the hospital for the next twelve hours, waiting to hear from the operating room. I spent time in the cafeteria, the front lobby, and another waiting room I found. Thank GOD for cell phones, is all I can say, so I didn't have to face those people in the first waiting room again.

Anyway, what? Oh, yeah, Blaine. That's what this is about, not me and my neuroses.

The nurse told me they did prep-stuff (IVs, etc) for about two hours, then made the first incision at almost 9am. The doctor came to see me at 8pm, so surgery must have lasted about ten hours. He said the tissue transfer went well, he sent a few lymph nodes to pathology but thought everything looked benign, and overall he was very pleased. I asked, smiling, if he had managed to grab some dinner, and he said no. So then I asked, curious, if he had had any lunch. Or breakfast. And both times, he said no. So then I just blurted out, "Good heavens, do you even go to the bathroom the entire time?" before realizing that was probably not the most appropriate thing to ask your husband's surgeon, who you've only met a handful of times before this. PS The answer is no, in case you were wondering.

It took another hour before I could see him in the ICU, where he will spend the next day or two. As of last night, they had him completely sedated, on a ventilator, but no trach-tube, which will make him happy. The swelling and brusing had already started, and the incisions on his neck make him look like somebody tried to slit his throat. Well, actually, I guess they *did* slit his throat. :)

I'm headed back up there now because I don't know how early they will try to wake him today and I want to be there when he first wakes up. The next few days will be the roughest, with the discomfort and swelling. The doctor said the previous radiation will slow down his healing, but that he had high hopes this surgery, *this* time, will be the fix. I sure hope he's right, because after yesterday, I'm running out of places in the hospital to hide out.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Safe and Sound

Well, I'm here, safe and sound, despite some pretty constant turbulance between Dallas and Seattle. I kept expecting to hear that "Sorry for the bumps, ladies and gentlemen, give us a second to get over/below/around the turbulance and things will calm down" announcement, but it appears today's pilot was more of the "just plow right through this stuff" variety. Fine, whatever. What's a few more gray hairs???

I was a little annoyed that I couldn't get a direct flight (like normal) from Atlanta. The layover in Dallas added almost four hours to the trip, and Lord knows I always need something to whine about. But ...... what a great airport! Comfortable chairs in the gate areas, nice television screens in each area, and an Au Bon Pain just across from my gate. So at least I got to spend those extra hours in comfort, eating the world's best ham and swiss cheese sandwich, watching Texas spank OSU. Not that I was rooting for one team over the other, but it sure beat hanging out reading an out-of-date People magazine like I normally do.

And, the best news of all, American Airlines offered Diet Dr. Pepper with their beverage service!! I know, you're thinking, "that chick and her crazy obsession with DDP" but I'm telling you, it's heaven in a can. And best of all, had the plane actually fallen from the sky and plummeted me to a fiery end, I'd least I'd have died with my thirst satisfied.

Blaine and I had big sightseeing plans tomorrow .... but apparently there's a typhoon blowing in as I type this, so it looks like we'll probably change our ferry trip for a movie and dinner at the IHOP. Because Lord knows we're all about exploring local culture and I'm sure the Seattle IHOP is *so* different than our IHOP at home ::rolly eyes::

Thanks for all your well wishes; Blaine seems to have survived whatever that bug was. Although, the Security Nazis confiscated my Purell at the airport today, so if Blaine passes the germ on to me, and I don't have my front-line hand sanitizer to defend myself, I'll be really upset. Guess after IHOP tomorrow I'll be headed to a local pharmacy, as well, to pick up some more Purell. AND Diet DP :)

Friday, November 03, 2006

INTIMIDATED

Kellen, this, your first season of kid-pitch baseball, is over. And you? Did not enjoy it that much. Which makes me sad.

Like many parents, I have been operating under (and perfectly happy to do so, I might add) the belief that MY son is a talented athlete. This belief came about because you have been a standout player on each of your previous baseball teams; so naturally, I like to think it’s because you’re so athletically gifted. Not that MY genes had anything to do with it, because everyone knows that bending over to pick up a nickle is about as sporty and coordinated as I get.

But, if we’re being honest …………. Being a “star” athlete on a t-ball team really isn’t a big deal. I mean, there were kids on your team who hit the ball and ran directly to third base, and kids who lay down in the outfield and cried rather than chase a ball. Standing out on a team like that, at that age, isn’t hard to do, assuming you can pay attention to the ball for half a minute. Plus, you have always been tall for your age, and fast (I’ll give you that, you *are* pretty speedy) and that’s about all you needed to shine amongst the daisy-pickers and butterfly-chasers of the t-ball world.

Then came two years of coach pitch and once again, you did really well. Taller than the other kids? Check. Faster than the other kids? Check. Able to hit pretty much every ball gently lobbed across the plate, in the perfect position, by the coach? Check. And naturally, I assumed that once you got into kid-pitch, you would continue to wow us with your abilities and talent.

But a funny thing happened on the way to the new baseball league you played in this fall. The birthday cut-off changed. Different league, different rules. And suddenly, not only was this your first year in kid-pitch ball, but you were the youngest 8-yr old on the team. Playing against boys, MOST of whom were 9 and 10 years old. MANY of whom stood taller than you, and SEVERAL who out-weighed you by at least fifty pounds. You looked like a Cambodian out there, next to these guys. And from day one, you were intimidated.

It didn’t help that the very first pitch, of the very first game, the batter got beaned in the back. Obviously, control is still a work in progress for most 10 yr old pitchers. “Take your base” the coach said …. And you looked over at me in the stands, wide-eyed, as if to say, “Oh, no …. No base is worth THAT!” And thus began the downward spiral.

The first five games of the season, this is all I remember seeing through my viewfinder:



You, standing in the dugout, waiting your turn to bat, nervously watching the other team’s pitcher, stressing, and getting more and more discouraged because you never got a hit. You played your defensive positions just fine, and did well in practice, but that was small consolation. You wanted to get on base, like your older, bigger team-mates had managed. And you psyched yourself out every time you went up to bat.



Every parent wants their child to succeed at the things they try, or to at least enjoy trying. Instead, by half-way through the season, you had started saying, “Why should I go to the game? I’m just going to strike out.” in a dejected voice which broke my heart ….. mainly because I knew with that attitude, it might very well be a self-fulfilling prophecy. But we had the second half of the season to go and I still had high hopes for you.



Then, we went out of town for game #6. The other team forfeited game #7, game #8 was cancelled due to weather, and you had a stomach bug for game #9. Suddenly, without warning, it was time for the final game, and you were thiiiiiiiiiiiiiiis close to not getting a hit the entire season.




Kid-pitch baseball in the fall, at least where we live, is considered “instructional”, so the games move pretty slow, as they allow any kid who expresses an interest to attempt pitching, and they stop often to explain things to the players. Most games, each player only got one, or two at the most, attempts at bat. Because of your late position in the line-up for this final game, Kellen, I knew you would only get one chance and as you came up to the plate, I sat in the stands, crossing my fingers in my pockets, muttering under my breath, “Please let him get on base, please let him get on base … I don’t care how, just please let him get on base.” Then, remembering that first pitch of the season, and the tears of the struck batter, I amended it to “Well, maybe not by getting hit with the ball …. But a hit, or even a walk, would be great, thanks in advance!”

Strike one.

Strike two.

{Oh, shit. He’s going to strike out and he’ll never play baseball again and Blaine is going to be CRUSHED I tell you, crushed, but that’s nothing compared to the damage we are doing to his self-esteem by forcing him to play in this league oh shit he’s going to strike out}

Ball One.

Ball Two.

Ball Three.

{Oh, no, don’t swing at a bad pitch. Only swing at a good pitch … please don’t let him throw a strike. If you swing, hit it. Don’t swing … swing ….. don’t swing!!!}

Ball Four -- take your base!

I'm telling you, I couldn’t have been any more relieved or proud if it had been a grand slam in the bottom of the ninth inning of the World Series with a tie game and bases loaded and a million dollar bonus on the line. I felt bad for their pitcher, who at this point just wanted to go home, but for Kellen to avoid the bone-crushing disappointment of a hitless season ….. Whew!! Thank heavens!! Then, the pitcher walked the next three batters (No kidding, he REALLY wanted to go home) and so Kellen made it all the way around and scored a run for his team.

Ok, so technically, it was *still* a hitless season for Kellen. But he got on base and scored a run, and his faith in the great American pastime of baseball is restored. If nothing else, he figured out how NOT to swing at every ball that came near him, which has to count for something.

Now all we have to do is take him religiously to the batting cages and hope he gains fifty pounds in time for Spring Ball. Because quite frankly, *I* can’t take the stress, and would prefer to go back to thinking my son is the next Babe Ruth. Even if it's not true. Just humor me, people.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Hallo-Whine

(Let me preface this by thanking all of you for your kind thoughts regarding Blaine and his upcoming surgery {and my complaining about how much this sucks.} He read through all of the messages and wanted me to tell you how much it means to him to have so many people praying for him these upcoming weeks. He left for Seattle today, and I'll keep you posted on how things are going ... thankfully, I will have computer access while I'm there. Can you imagine me trying to catch up on three week's worth of updates at once???) :)

Growing up, I have three very distinct memories of Halloween. The first is of my mother and father working in the Haunted House that the fire department used to put on as a fundraiser each year. My mom was president of the Ladies’ Auxiliary and every year they would rent some dilapidated, run-down, vacant house in our hometown and turn it into the best, most frightfully delightful haunted house my elementary-school eyes had ever seen. Despite spending innumerous evenings with my parents and the other firefighters and their wives, watching them (in broad daylight, mind you) transform the house into a dwelling of shrieks and spooks and spine-tingling goodness, despite the fact that I played in the same house in the daytime with my friends and I KNEW how un-scary the house really was, despite the fact that every year I would promise my mom and dad that THIS year I wouldn’t be so scared that I almost wet my pants, well, despite all that, every year I freaked out. I clearly recall the humiliation of hearing my mom’s best friend Diane yelling out at the front door, “Knock it off, you guys, it’s Betty’s kid and she’s crying already!” before ever crossing the threshold and knowing that once again, those firefighters with their vampire and mummy costumes, fake blood and strobe lights, had successfully freaked me the hell out. Yet I went back, year after year.

The second memory involves a Halloween Costume Party I remember my parents attending. My parent’s weren’t “date-night” kind of people, so for them to leave my sister and me with our grandparents and get dressed up to go to a costume party was huge. My dad went as a blackface (I know! How incredibly un-PC could we be?!?!? It was the 70’s, is my only defense, and people weren’t quite as “enlightened” as they are today) and my mom went as a cannibal woman, complete with a crazy hair and make-up, a bamboo reed skirt and a bone in her nose. Ah, what I wouldn't give for a picture of that. I remember thinking it was so cool they were going to a grown-up party, and loving both of their costumes. When they came home later that evening, my mom told me they had stopped at McDonalds to grab a quick bite (What? They didn’t serve food at the party?) She stood in line behind a woman ordering food, who turned around, saw my mom and nearly jumped out of her skin. I remember thinking that was the funniest damn thing I had ever heard and that my mom was the coolest ever.

My third memory of Halloween is not quite as warm-fuzzy. Let me preface this by saying that although I love my mom dearly, I have to admit that inventiveness wasn’t her strong suite. In between the haunted houses, and cannibal woman episode, I think she had about used up her creative streak and Halloween wasn’t real high on her priority list.

This is the only photo I have from my younger Halloweens:



The picture, obviously, is me and my younger sister dressed up to go trick-or-treating. I especially like the fold-out paper pumpkin decoration behind my sister's head. I assume we’re going trick-or-treating, since I'm holding a pumpkin bucket, but maybe that’s not right. In fact, the back of the photo is labeled “1969 Halloween”, which I find hard to believe, considering that means my sister wouldn’t even be a year old and clearly, in this picture, she is upright, walking, and holding what appears to be a cigar in her hand. I think perhaps my mom had been hypnotized by the ugly sun-dial clock in the background and had her years confused. But nevertheless, it appears we were going trick-or-treating, although I have no recollection of that.

What I *DO* recollect, clearly, however, are the years we went trick-or-treating when we were older. Really, it was pretty much a non-event in our neighborhood. The year that stands out most in my memory is the year I was probably ten or eleven, and my mom forgot to get us costumes, so at 4:00 on Halloween afternoon, panicked because I had no outfit, I improvised by putting two balloons in the chest of my pajamas and went as a “clown”. I have no idea what my sister went as. Probably a hobo. We did "hobo" a lot.

My mom didn’t want to go with us, but didn’t want us out after dark by ourselves, either, so we went door-to-door at something like 4:30 in the afternoon. It was still broad daylight, and in fact, I remember walking up the front steps of one neighbor’s house just as he was coming home from work. “Geez, could you kids at least give me time to eat dinner and get to the store to buy some candy?” was his greeting. Another lady met us with an exasperated sigh and said, “Hang on, I’ll go see if I can find something.” That was the year I decided I was too old to trick-or-treat any longer, and realized that my neighbors were a big bunch of poopie heads.

My point is that Halloween wasn’t a huge thing in our neighborhood growing up, and that’s ok. But I want it to be fun for my kids and go to a lot of effort to make it enjoyable. I want their Halloween memories to be good ones. Not that mine aren’t good, but you know what I mean. Which is why, although I’ll probably catch some flack for it, I’m going to go way out on an unpopular limb here and say something incredibly mean-spirited, but about which I feel strongly in my bones: You. You, there. You people with the church “Fall Festival” on Trick or Treat Night ….. You’re really cramping my style. Quite frankly, you annoy me.

There. Now I feel better.

The first few years we lived in this neighborhood, Halloween night was a like a wonderful Norman Rockwell painting, with dozens and dozens of costumed kids running everywhere, laughing, chasing one another, and parents strolling along, enjoying a balmy night and pleasant, neighborly atmosphere. Many of the houses in our neighborhood decorate for Halloween, people play Halloween music (well, ok, *I* play Halloween music, me and the guy down the street) and folks sit out on their porches with their candy bowls in their lap, waving to the adults as they follow the kids from house to house. Ours was the kind of neighborhood that people, who don’t even live here, drive to on Halloween night to go trick-or-treating. Sure, a few grumpy neighbors leave their lights off, but so many people take part it doesn’t matter.

And that’s the gist of what I loved about Halloween in our neighborhood. In this busy, busy day and age of jobs and hobbies and church and after-school-kids-activities and “Oh my gosh we have to stay inside tonight and watch Dancing With the Stars” and all the other stuff people have going on in their lives, a time where some people wouldn’t recognize their next door neighbor if they backed into them in the Kroger parking lot, it was one night each year where all our neighbors were outside, walking around, saying hello. We don’t have block parties on the 4th of July, nor does anyone go caroling at Christmas. But by golly, Halloween was a real sense of community, and I loved it. Most of all, I loved it for my kids.

Then, you people with your paranoid “We want to provide a safer, more family-oriented alternative to Devil’s night” …. Well, you’re spoiling everything.

I have no problem with the idea of a Fall Festival at a church or mall. Quite the opposite; I think it’s great. More power to you. I just wish you would do it the weekend before or after. Our church did it last weekend. Why can’t the rest of you do the same?

Because, for the record, you’re ruining my neighborhood trick-or-treat night. This year, there were markedly fewer trick-or-treaters in our neighborhood. Don’t get me wrong, I still went through six party-sized bags of candy, but definitely fewer kids going door-to-door. Fewer neighbors I got to see and say hello. And for every family that chose to celebrate someplace else, that meant one more empty house for my own trick-or-treaters. It makes me sad to hear the disappointment in their voices when they run up to the next house, only to realize all the lights are off, and hear them say, “I guess they’re not home” …. Houses that just a year or two ago, took part.

Why do you make these people choose between their neighbors and their “church family”?

I asked one of Kellen’s classmates yesterday if he was excited to go trick-or-treating and he replied his parents didn’t believe in Halloween and wouldn’t allow him to trick or treat. Then turned around and excitedly told me about the costume he would be wearing to his church’s Fall Party that night.

OK, um, .. hello? Costumes and trunk or treating in a church parking lot? To quote Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman: “That’s just geography”. You’re still celebrating the holiday and you’re not fooling anyone with your big, goofy scarecrows holding big, goofy “Fall Festival” signs … call it what you will …. It’s Halloween.

And those of you who are worried about the safety of going door to door and collecting candy from strangers …..well, right. Because inviting the entire town to join you at church means there won’t be any strangers at your celebration? It’s an Outreach Ministry, this Fall Festival you are hosting, and in fact, you’re hoping lots of newcomers (ie, strangers) attend. I’d bet there are MORE strangers there than at your next-door neighbors house. Strangers are strangers, it doesn’t make it safer if they’re in a church. Don’t believe me? Ask any Catholic.

I don’t know, where was I going with this? Mainly I’m just annoyed that under the guise of “Fall Festival”, strategically held on Halloween night, you’re chipping away at my neighborhood celebration, and at the memories I’m trying to make for my kids. As my kids were running around the front yard in their costumes last night, waiting for it to get dark so we could start, I saw two neighbor families come outside with their own costumed children, take pictures, then get in their cars and drive away. My kids saw it too. When my neighbors choose to spend the evening at a church or mall or anyplace having a “festival”, and not with me and my children, I take it a little bit personally, even if that seems silly. Despite the claim of fostering community spirit, I’d say off-neighborhood fall festivals are doing just the opposite. And no, I won’t be adopting the “If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em” philosophy. *OUR* happy family memory will be of one parent taking the kids trick-or-treating, while the other parent sits in the front yard with a candy bowl, Halloween For Kids music in the background, big blow-up spider on the lawn, greeting the neighbors.



Brayden, rock star, Kellen, ninja who refused to wear the ninja mask because it was too itchy, and Kendrie, Evil Kneivel.

And for the record, you fall-festival people, you, the kids still trick-or-treat. I can’t tell you how many children came by our door late last night after returning home from the church. By then, of course, my kids were done treating and had already walked past all their empty houses. I guess, in the spirit of fairness, I should have turned off my porch light since none of those people were home when my kids went door-to-door. But that would be un-neighborly. And it would make me like the grumpy neighbors from my past, so I didn’t.

Now, before anyone blasts me in the guestbook for being a Druid-loving pagan, please know that’s not what this is about. I’m not anti-fall-festival. It’s just that I don’t understand why communities can’t have both, on different nights. One night for celebrating with your church family, and one night for celebrating and enjoying your neighbors. There are too few opportunities for neighbors to spend time together, and I hate that this one is being ruined.



And yes, for the record, the Book Fairy did come to our house last night. This is Kendrie, gathering her candy "donation". Because Blaine and I enjoy lying to, manipulating, fostering imagination in our kids, we once again told them that they could leave their Halloween candy on the porch and the Book Fairy would come during the night and trade them for books. They drove a harder bargain this year, insisting on getting to save TEN pieces for the next day, instead of the usual five. But all told, as they examined their Bailey School Kids and A-Z Mystery books this morning, I think they were satisfied. I know I was. I just hope next year is equally as satisfying.