Monday, December 31, 2007

Things I learned from paranoid junk mail forwarders this past year

I am forwarding this forwarded email (I hate forwarded paranoid email urban legends) to all of my readers in the spirit of reflecting on 2007. 2007 was a very complicated year for us. To look back on it causes me a simple appreciation for life, yet a lot of pain and conflict in my heart. I prefer to reflect upon silly things like this:




SUMMARY OF MY LAST YEAR ON THE COMPUTER



I must send my thanks to whoever sent me the one about rat poop in the glue on envelopes because I now have to use a wet towel with every envelope that needs sealing.



Also, now I have to scrub the top of every can I open for the same reason.



I no longer have any savings because I gave it to a sick girl (Penny Brown) who is about to die in the hospital for the 1,387,258th time.



I no longer have any money at all, but that will change once I receive the $15,000 that Bill Gates/Microsoft and AOL are sending me for participating in their special e-mail program.



I no longer worry about my soul because I have 363,214 angels looking out for me, and St. Theresa's novena has granted my every wish.



I no longer eat at KFC because their chickens are actually horrible mutant freaks with no eyes or feathers.



I no longer use cancer-causing deodorants even though I smell like a water buffalo on a hot day.



Thanks to you, I have learned that my prayers only get answered if I forward an e-mail to seven of my friends and make a wish within five minutes.



Because of your concern I no longer drink Coca Cola because it can remove toilet stains.



I no longer can buy gasoline without taking a man along to watch the car so a serial killer won't crawl in my back seat when I'm pumping gas.



I no longer drink Pepsi or Dr. Pepper since the people who make these products are atheists who refuse to put "Under God" on their cans.



I no longer use Saran wrap in the microwave because it causes cancer.



And thanks for letting me know I can't boil a cup water in the microwave anymore because it will blow up in my face...disfiguring me for life.



I no longer check the coin return on pay up hones because I could be pricked with a needle infected with AIDS.



I no longer go to shopping malls because someone will drug me with a perfume sample and rob me.



I no longer receive packages from UPS or FedEx since they are actually AlQaeda in disguise.



I no longer shop at Target since they are French and don't support ourAmerican troops or the Salvation Army.



I no longer answer the phone because someone will ask me to dial a numberfor which I will get a phone bill with calls to Jamaica, Uganda,Singapore, and Uzbekistan.



I no longer have any sneakers -- but that will change once I receive my free replacement pair from Nike.



I no longer buy expensive cookies from Neiman Marcus since I now have their recipe.



Thanks to you, I can't use anyone's toilet but mine because a big brown African spider is lurking under the seat to cause me instant deathwhen it bites my butt.



Thank you too for all the endless advice Andy Rooney and Maxine has given us. I can live a better life now because they've told us how to fix everything.



And thanks to your great advice, I can't ever pick up the $5.00 I found dropped in the parking lot because it probably was placed there by a sex molester waiting underneath my car to grab my leg.



If you don't send this e-mail to at least 144,000 people in the next 70minutes, a large dove with diarrhea will land on your head at 5:00 PM this afternoon and the fleas from 12 camels will infest your back, causing you to grow a hairy hump. I know this will occur because it actually happened to a friend of my next door neighbor's ex-mother-in-law's second husband's cousin's beautician.



Have a wonderful day.



A South American scientist from Argentina, after a lengthy study, has discovered that people with insufficient brain and sexual activity read their e-mail with their hand on the mouse.
Don't bother taking it off now, it's too late.



KEEP BELIEVING

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Aw, shucks.

I have received my first blog award. For those of you who don't know what these are, often they are acknowldegments passed on from fellow bloggers who enjoy your blog and wish to recognize you in some way. My good (REAL LIFE) friend, Heather, at Three Boys and Me has given me the following award and I am truly honored. Heather is extremely bright (I can say that because I actually know her irl) witty and talented. For an engineer, Heather, you are an amazing writer. Her blog is full of life's funny moments from being the only female in a house of 3 boys (between the two of us, we have 4 boys spanning 2 years)


I am passing on the award to some of my favorite bloggers, as well.

Cheese in My Shoe - Pinky is simply real and I look forward to hearing what her little ones are up to on a regular basis. Check out her post explaining the name of her blog.

On the Upside - Kellan is nothing short of delightful. (Oh yeah, and talented, and funny, and inspirational, etc.)

Hollywood Flakes - Hollywood and family are too funny not to check out on a regular basis. I especiallly love her videos.

Crazy Bloggin Canuck - Amber is a Canadian outdoor adventurist turned Colorado mother. Having lived in both Colorado and Alberta myself for a many years and having young children myself, I always relate to Amber's witty posts.

KEEP BELIEVING

A few loose ends

Just wanted to let everyone know that I will be FINALLY seeing my family this next week. We will spend New Years in St. Louis after which the boys and I will spend the week at my folks. Brian will come down the following weekend, and we will celebrate the Baer Christmas on January 5. There were just too many conflicts this year between us. I stated before Thanksgiving that my parents have dial-up Internet service. I don't know how this will fair for me with blog posting. I am hoping to be able to post a time or two, but just in case, know that we are alive (and hopefully well) and will be back the first full week of January if you do not hear from us before.

KEEP BELIEVING

Friday, December 28, 2007

Six White Boomers

We still have two Christmas celebrations to go. We have not even seen my family this holiday and won't until January. This can be confusing to kids. Grant has been showing signs of Seasonal Confusion this past week.


Those are his Halloween jammies and his Santa hat.


Also, about 2 weeks ago, when I awoke, I saw this out the front window in the neighbor's yard.


Upon first glance, I thought it was an Easter Bunny. The neighbors who are proudly displaying this yard art are Australian. While I know it is summer in Australia, I thought our Christmas holiday DATE still lined up. Upon closer observation we saw it was a kangaroo. Gavin and I were shoveling snow and saw the neighbor doing the same. We inquired about the kangaroo. In Australia, large white Kangaroos carry Santa's sleigh, 6 White Boomers, to be exact. Reindeer apparently only prefer the cooler Northern Hemisphere climate this time of year, so Santa unharnesses Donner, Blitzen and friends somewhere and exchanges them for the Boomers. We love learning about other traditions and cultures, so we all got a kick out of this. Our neighbor gave us a book and CD to borrow with a VERY catchy tune that the boys love to dance to. We have grown to love the neighbor Boomer and the boys run across the street to stand her back up every time the wind lays her on her side. In our neighborhood, that is often. By the way, yes, the Boomers fly. Here is the tune!



KEEP BELIEVING

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Adventures in Chinese cuisine

We went to dinner at a local Chinese food buffet the other night. The boys love the Chinese buffet because they love

  1. the fish tank
  2. getting out of their seats at any opportunity to help get ANYONE more food
  3. the soft serve ice cream
  4. the fortune cookies.


I had to laugh at two boys by the fish tank as I was walking around to get myself my third bowl of soup (the SOLE reason I love Chinese food). One came around the corner crying - hard - and the other was just watching him. The Dad asked, "what happened?" The non-cryer immediately piped in, "He hit me." They were not my boys, but they may as well have been as we replay that story about 10 times a day in my house. I will translate. Cryer was just pummeled by his brother for a crime he probably didn't even know he committed (an accidental shove, a playful tap or kick, etc.). Non-cryer knows he is about to get it, so he immediately defends his honor by stating "He hit me," knowing full well this is going to get him no where because the jury/judge (a.k.a. adult in charge) infers this as a statement of guilt automatically indicting Non-cryer since it defies logic. Doesn't matter. He always tries it anyway. I had to laugh that it wasn't my boys this time.



Here were our fortune cookies:


Brian: 'It's high time for one of your most promising ideas.' (still waiting)


Angie: 'Hard work never killed anyone, but why take a chance.' (I couldn't agree more)


Grant (4-1/2): 'No one is standing in your way anymore, it is time to move forward.' We told him in Chinese this translates to "It is time to stop sucking your thumb. You are a big boy." He seemed to believe it and took his thumb out of his mouth.


Gavin (6): 'Remember the lion while hunting, never roars'. (This isn't the whole fortune, because he wouldn't let me keep it. Those of you who know Gavin know that he was keeping this 'special treasure' for his collection.)



We asked Gavin what he thought his meant.

Gavin: The lion ROARS!
Brian: It says 'The lion, while hunting NEVER roars.' Why wouldn't he roar?
Gavin: Because he is sleeping!
Brian: How can he be sleeping if he is hunting?
Gavin: He is sleeping in the jungle!
Brian : No, he is hunting, not sleeping. 'The lion, while hunting, never roars.' If he roared while he was hunting, his prey would hear it.
Me (knowing Gavin doesn't know what prey is): Gavin, the lion can't roar while he is hunting or else whatever he was trying to hunt and kill would hear him, so he NEVER roars, got it?
Gavin: Got it!
Me: Great! So what does it mean when it says, 'the lion, while hunting, never roars?'
Gavin: The lion never roars or else the hunters will hear him and get him. Right, Mama?
Me: Not exactly.
Gavin: I know I'm right.
Brian and me: (roll eyes, throw up hands and laugh to ourselves)
Grant: (Sucks his thumb.)


Good thing we don't believe in fortune-telling.


KEEP BELIEVING

Monday, December 24, 2007

Christmas Flops and High Hopes

I have just spent about 3 days and countless hours pouring my creative heart and soul into a Christmas project that is not to be. Well, not by Christmas anyway. I will write more about it, but it was for my mother and father-in-law and it just isn't working out. They are VERY difficult to buy for, so I tried to come up with something homemade and technology has failed me - AGAIN - this month. The problem is I have no plan B for them. I have nothing else. I have not abandoned hope, but I have abandoned deadlines in the interest of ACTUALLY enjoying the next couple of days with my hubby and kids. Speaking of...

We do Santa. We know a lot of Christians that don't, and don't get me wrong, I totally understand why. It can completely cloud the vision of the TRUE meaning of Christmas if you are not careful. However, this Santa thing ROCKS!!!! Holy cow, the power of the naughty and nice list cannot be understood to non-Santa parents. I have gained more mileage over the last week with this than a hybrid Toyota. Also, the genuine, non-questioning, 100% belief in something SO illogical is truly something to cherish. I have been the one asking kids the hard questions to get them thinking and to hear their responses. Their answer is almost always, "because he's Santa." I love it. Gavin was terrified as soon as dusk was upon us this evening around 5:00 that he would fall out of favor with the jolly man in red, and Santa would bypass the house with the non-sleeping children. I had to get on NORAD.com and show Gavin the globe so he could see where Santa was and his projected path. The sheer impossibility of the entire concept hit me as I was doing this, and I realized Santa had 4 hours to cover the entire western 1/3 of South America, all of densely populated Latin America and the entire Eastern Time zone in the 5 or so hours until midnight. (According to NORAD, he was in Brazil at about 7:00) I LOVED Gavin more for just knowing it to be true and skipping off. We went outside in the dark in our slippers to look for red nosed reindeer and to listen for jingle bells as we do every Christmas Eve. We didn't find anything except the local airport's red blinking control tower light. My dental hygienist asked me the other day if I was looking forward to Santa's arrival. I said I haven't looked forward to Santa's arrival since I became Santa. Not true as I think about it. I LOVE being Santa, because I won't get to be him for much longer.

As we put the kids to be tonight and the excitement of Santa danced off every breath they took, I asked them why we celebrate Christmas. The VERY FIRST words out of each of their mouths was "Jesus!" Why do we give gifts? "Jesus' birthday." I think we can keep Santa around as long as we keep Jesus first.

KEEP BELIEVING

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Dear Santa

This is an email that was forwarded by my friend, Tricia, this past week. I thought in the spirit of Christmas (and the spirit of procrastination - I have two days left to finish making one present and wrap ALL the rest) I would pass this along. I do not know whom to credit as it was not forwarded with an author.



Dear Santa,

I've been a good mom all year. I've fed, cleaned and cuddled my children on demand, visited the doctor's office more than my doctor and sold sixty-two cases of candy bars to raise money to plant a shade tree on the school playground. I was hoping you could spread my list out over several Christmases, since I had to write this letter with my son's red crayon, on the back of a receipt in the laundry room between cycles, and who knows when I'll find anymore free time in the next 18 years. Here are my Christmas wishes:

I'd like a pair of legs that don't ache (in any color, except purple, which I already have) and arms that don't hurt or flap in the breeze, but are strong enough to pull my screaming child out of the candy aisle in the grocery store.

I'd also like a waist, since I lost mine somewhere in the seventh month of my last pregnancy.

If you're hauling big ticket items this year I'd like fingerprint resistant windows and a radio that only plays adult music, a television that doesn't broadcast any programs containing talking animals, and a refrigerator with a secret compartment behind the crisper where I can hide to talk on the phone.

On the practical side, I could use a talking doll that says, 'Yes, Mommy' to boost my parental confidence, along with two kids who don't fight and three pairs of jeans that will zip all the way up without the use of power tools.

I could also use a recording of Tibetan monks chanting 'Don't eat in the living room' and 'Take your hands off your brother,' because my voice seems to be just out of my children's hearing range and can only be heard by the dog.

If it's too late to find any of these products, I'd settle for enough time to brush my teeth and comb my hair in the same morning, or the luxury of eating food warmer than room temperature without it being served in a Styrofoam container.

If you don't mind, I could also use a few Christmas miracles to brighten the holiday season. Would it be too much trouble to declare ketchup a vegetable? It will clear my conscience immensely. It would be helpful if you could coerce my children to help around the house without demanding payment as if they were the bosses of an organized crime family.

Well, Santa, the buzzer on the dryer is calling and my son saw my feet under the laundry room door. I think he wants his crayon back. Have a safe trip and remember to leave your wet boots by the door and come in and dry off so you don't catch cold. Help yourself to cookies on the table but don't eat too many or leave crumbs on the carpet.

Yours Always,MOM...

P.S. One more thing...you can cancel all my requests if you can keep my children young enough to believe in Santa.

KEEP BELIEVING

Friday, December 21, 2007

Future Musicians

Grant's (4) Christmas program was Thursday night. He was very excited about singing all his songs, walking up the church aisle and being on stage. He practiced his songs and outlined how the entire night would unfold for us. I love his enthusiasm. Here is some footage of Grant practicing before the actual performance. He sang an ad lib song. Gavin (6) could not be upstaged, so he performed as well. (Sorry, for whatever reason, my youtube video of the boys singing will not play here. )

But, I think it has gone too far:


Grant: Mom, guess what I just did?
Me: What'd you do, bud?
Grant: Umm, when I was going pee just now, I peed to "I Wish You a Merry Christmas."
Me: Ummm...How EXACTLY did you do that?
Grant (leaning back, holding hands between legs): I just peed a little bit each time like this, "I wish you a Merry Christmas, I wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year" (picture his singing, holding back, letting out, and making whizzing noises with each note)


Well, we always hoped he would show interest in playing a musical instrument one day.


KEEP BELIEVING

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Floss Patrol

I couldn't think of a good name for today's post. Naming the post and ending the post are the hardest parts.

Brian and I had dentist appointments this week. Every time we go to the dentist, I come home on a floss kick. I don't floss every day. I know I should, but I don't. I have very tightly spaced teeth, so even with the gliding floss, it snaps against my gums, causing pain, bleeding and discomfort. If I floss regularly, my gums build up a resistance and it doesn't hurt as much. I usually get busted at the dentist with the inevitable,
"Have you been flossing?"
"Not really."
"You really should."
"I know."
So, in the weeks just before and just after my dentist appointments, I get on flossing kicks. During this time, I harass Brian about his lack of flossing. He NEVER flosses. N.E.V.E.R. AND THEY NEVER SAY ANYTHING TO HIM ABOUT IT AT THE DENTIST. We were talking in the car after the "quiet, please" experience about his dentist appointment that day.

Brian: Oh, by the way. I totally got busted on the flossing thing.
Me: Oh, yeah? I bet. How did they know? Did your gums bleed or something?
Brian: No.
Me: How did they know then?
Brian: Well, she asked me, and I didn't lie; I said, "no." But it was pretty obvious.
Me: What do you mean? How could it be obvious?
Brian: Well, she went in with the floss and pulled out a big piece of popcorn.
Me: Gross.
Brian: Yeah, totally busted. (laughing)
Me: (laughing, then thinking) When was the last time you HAD popcorn anyway?
Brian: (laughing harder) Like 2 or 3 days ago!
Me: Nice. I kiss that mouth

I, of course, was planning to blog about this and before we went to bed that night, he saw the wheels turning in my head.

Brian: You know, just because I tell you something doesn't make it common knowledge.
Me: I know, but I have made you out to be a saint lately and this is blogworthy.
Brian: I am going to stop telling you stuff.
Me: Brian, I would never post your inner most thoughts, our deep conversations, or things that happen "in the bedroom." But the inner most particles between your teeth, Babe, are public domain.

I bet he is wishing he would have told me "in the bedroom" instead of the car.

KEEP BELIEVING

(BTW, I have to say that flossing for Brian is hard becauase his right hand cannot hold that tiny piece of string tightly anymore)

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

QUIET, Please!

My kids crack me up and constantly surprise me. To others, they couldn’t possibly be as funny as they are to me because you would have to know and understand the depths of their personalities to appreciate the things that make me laugh. For instance, last evening, after we explored the Winter Wonderland Christmas light display, we went to out to dinner. After the kids finished their entrée (or about 1/3 as usual), they were playing their DS’s. (This makes for a much more enjoyable dinner for Brian and me) When Grant (age 4) plays his DS, he turns the volume to the MAX level. All the time. He has accustomed himself to playing as he hums along to the Star Wars tunes while his character collects Lego kits to gain more powers. He has himself convinced he can’t perform well without the sound. Needless to say, in a restaurant close to the illuminated park approaching Christmas Day, the background noise level was elevated. Grant could not hear his Star Wars melody, thus causing him to play below par. He, naturally, whined to me about this problem.

Grant: I CAN'T HEAR.
Me: First, of all, don't speak to me that way. Secondly, I can do nothing about it. It is a restaurant and it is loud in here. The only way to fix that is to ask every person in the restaurant if they would be quiet so you can play your Nintendo.
Grant “Will you go with me?”
Me: (WHAT!?) “No, I won’t go with you.”

I must interlude to explain a bit of Grant’s personality. He is a sweet boy once you get to know him. He is extremely affectionate, loves to snuggle, and has a lot of fears, but he would never let you in on this upon first, second or third impressions. You find out in inadvertent ways. On the outside, Grant comes across as very gruff and as the expression goes, “full of piss and vinegar.” I can’t think of another way to describe him well enough. He has high demands on the world, too. He truly would want everyone in the whole restaurant to quiet down just for him and wouldn’t think this a bold request. I have come to understand this is a part of Grant’s personality, but will not enable him. We are constantly trying to teach him to be friendly, compassionate, well mannered, and just kind. Back to the story. I didn’t think Grant would seriously consider the task because I know while rough on the outside, he would be terrified to follow through. After I made myself known no less than 15 times (Grant is also extremely persistent) that I would be no part of this, Grant put down his Nintendo, declared he was not going to play anymore (because he thinks this would actually upset me causing me to become party to his plan), and sulked in the corner of the booth. After a minute or two, he went to the bathroom by himself. (We were in the booth closest to the hallway leading to them). When he returned from relieving himself, he started his appeals again for my assistance. A bit surprised at his renewed vigor, I once again firmly established my position on the matter.

Me: No, Grant, I will not go with you.
Grant: Mom, I will ask the boys if you ask the girls.
Me: No.
Grant: But, Mom, I don’t want to go by myself.
Me: Then don’t go, but, there is NO WAY that I am asking anyone to be quiet so you can play your video game.
Grant: But, M-O-M.
Brian: Grant, what we are trying to do here is make you understand that it is a ridiculous request to ask anyone to be quiet in a restaurant just so you can play a game.
Grant: Well, I asked that man in the bathroom.
Brian and Me: What?
Grant: I asked that man in the bathroom if he would.
Me: You asked some guy in the bathroom if he would be quiet so you could play your video game?
Grant: Yes.
Me: What did he say?
Grant: He said nothing
Me: What did you say to him?
Grant: I said nothing.
Me: I mean, how did you ask him? What words did you use to ask him?
Grant: I said, “Please will you be quiet so I can play my Nintendo?” and he said nothing. He just looked at me.
Brian and me: (stunned silence and impressed at his audacity) (laughing picturing some grown man relieving himself hearing a pre-schooler ask him to be quiet so he can play his video game)
Me: See, it is a silly request. You can’t ask people to do that. No one will do it.

At least he said “please.”

KEEP BELIEVING

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Scientifically Funny

One thing I noticed when we were in Europe was that despite language barriers, God created certain reactions to be a natural reflex. I would glance through a crowd and notice a look of despair in a furrowed brow or genuine sadness in someone’s tears. I also noticed that smiling and laughter are just reflexive to something that warms the spirit or tickles the funny bone. Hand gestures meant different things in different countries and the meaning of words could not be assumed based on spelling, but a frown and a smile meant sadness or happiness. What caused the laughter or frown, I have no idea, but I loved that certain emotions were expressed by reflex across the world.

I like to laugh. Brian likes to laugh. I like to listen to Brian laugh. I love the sound of children laughing. I just love laughter. Brian says I make him laugh. Usually, when he says this it is because I have intentionally done something that I thought would amuse him. On occasion, he just laughs at my misfortune, my absent-mindedness, my clumsiness or my misuse of words (I don’t have Brian’s extensive vocabulary, so occasionally I try to impress by using unexpected words, often incorrectly), but that is not the norm. One day I told him I was glad that I could provide laughter into his life if nothing else, but I wish I were funnier.

Me: I am envious of people who are so witty and funny without trying. I want to be funny. I have to think about it first and half the time things aren’t funny when you’re trying.
Brian: That is because we are both engineers.
Me: (hmmpf). Speak for yourself.
Brian: You ARE an engineer, you know.
Me: (a little huffy) Brian, we are about as non-engineer as you can get. We are engineers by education only. Neither of us is an engineer by trade or experience in the workforce.
Brian: The fact that you just said proves you are still an engineer.
Me: (a little huffier) Are you saying that just because I analyzed whether or not we are engineers by stating facts in a case against our engineering-ness is engineer-y?
Brian: Ummm…Yeessss…
Me: (Realizing my nerdometer has just topped out) Okay, you have a point. Are then engineers not funny as a norm?
Brian: Are you serious? (We both laugh at the absurdity of it.)

I guess we’ll both just always have to work at it.
KEEP BELIEVING

Monday, December 17, 2007

chemo

Brian started chemo last night. Watching Brian take chemo – which he does every 4 weeks – makes my skin crawl. I loathe the day he walks in with the pills and has to sort them out for the next 5 nights. Usually the rattle of a paper bag would peek my inquisitive nature causing me to investigate its contents (ya never know, could be chocolate), but this time the rattling of the paper bags is like fingernails on a chalkboard to my ears because of what’s inside. I can’t stand the way Brian has to take the $7 each (AFTER co-pay), anti-nauseating, (constipating-causing), pill an hour before he takes the actual chemo drug. I hate listening to his having to get back up JUST before he is about to fall asleep in order to ingest poison into his body. I loathe almost everything about it, but not in an annoying sense like “listening to someone chew with an open mouth.” It’s not a pet peeve type of hate but a different hate that I can’t explain well. I hate that it is so easy for me to just carry on my own life while he is in the middle of it all. I feel guilty that we barely know Brian is even taking chemo this week. Is that strange? I hate thinking about what it is doing to his poor, battered body. I love him. I hate the fact that this is part of his life. I hate it on so many levels. I hate that he does this 5 out of every 28 days in his life. Makes my self-pity issues I have during the “5-7 out of every 28 days” in my own life seem so petty. I hate that I ponder and analyze it so much.

Brian has another perspective. I love this man. I told him the other day that I hated thinking about what the chemo was doing to the rest of his body. He said, “Then don’t think about that.” He is so valiant. His perspective on the chemo and the “poison” as I refer to it is that it is poison for the cancer. He will do and take whatever is necessary to help him get better, and this is working right now. Why would he worry about what it is doing to the rest of his body when he needs it to do something to the cancer? He loves that this chemo is so easy on the boys and me and that we are relatively unaffected by it. Don’t get me wrong. He hates chemo, too. He just chooses to look at if differently than I do.

Did I mention that I love this man?
KEEP BELIEVING

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Because of Cancer... Comments and replies

I purposefully did not blog yesterday so that anyone who did not have an opportunity to check Friday's blog about Brian could do so on Saturday without having to scroll through. I hope no one was disappointed.

I have to be honest. I am intimidated to keep blogging after last week. Writing this past week about our struggles, emotions, and circumstances during Test and Results week was quite exhausting, yet so relieving. It was the easiest writing I have ever accomplished because there is SO MUCH emotion, grit, heartache, elation, turmoil, struggle, triumph, etc. that comes each day. The words just came to me without having to think or try to be creative. Each day I simply wrote what we felt during that time. I wrote some posts the night before I posted, but I would add some thoughts that occurred to me each morning as the situation of the day would become clearer in my mind. It is easy to write from your heart and gut while you are going through something. My writing was RAW last week and I was scared concerning the reaction to it. I could not write the same things today. I do not feel the same today. I couldn't have written the same thing the week before. It wasn't as vivid as when we were LIVING it. I opened up my mind and my thoughts to you and to Brian and to myself (seeing your inner thoughts in writing is sobering), and some days I was shocked at myself. I was hoping to bring you into our world and based on your feedback, I think I accomplished just that. Thank you for not judging me. Thank you for living through the week with us. Thank you for being a part of our lives.

I borrowed this concept from one of my favoite blogs, Because I Said So. She dedicates Sunday's blog to replying to a few comments she received all week. I wanted others to see the comments that they may not otherwise check, to let you know that I DO READ THEM and to take the time to reply to you. I also posted some of the emails I received regarding Friday's update on Brian.

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Mindi Pruitt Said…I have been thinking about you all day, Angie your blogs are amazing, your descriptions put everything in perspective for all of us. I love you guys and can't wait to spend the Christmas season with you, no matter when we get together.

Mindi, You are the awesomest sister in the whole wide world. I can’t wait to see you over the holidays as well. You know I love you!
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Angie and Brian,Been thinking about you all week and ecspecially today. Your blog has been wonderful, and very insightful. Thank God for the good results. Have a very Merry Christmas! Love,Deb

Aunt Deb, Thanks for reading it. I am glad to know you are enjoying the blog and reading it for the reason I created it.
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Angie, you have become such a great writer! Such a talent.Angie and Brian, I'm playing at church this weekend and offering it up for you. Know that all the musicians and techs will be praying for you backstage. Love you guys! Kara

Coming from you, Kara, I will take a compliment on talent to the bank. You are one of the most talented people I know. I missed you play at church. I came down with a very uncomfortable cold over the weekend. (I frequently get sick after we have an emotionally trying time in our lives. It is like my whole body's defenses take a much needed rest.) Brian took the boys, though, and said the service felt tailor-made to us.
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The Monges said... Hi Angie and Brian,Thank you for including us in your posts. They really are inciteful and certainly puts everything in perspective. We know you are surrounded by a loving and caring group of family and friends-and if there is anything we can do to add to that just say the word! Wishing you the best this Christmas.

Monges, I am very glad to know you are reading the posts, too. I never know who exactly would like to know or who has time to know and include us in their thoughts and prayers. Thanks for the kind words.
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Bev & Howie said...
Howie and I think and pray for you always. Know that we may not live close anymore, but the love for you and the children always remains. Blessings for all of you and your families this Christmas. We love you.

Bev, You know also we don’t feel any different about you due to proximity. We miss Colorado and all our times there. Thanks for keeping in touch with us in any way.
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utmomof5 said...
I have been thinking of you all day!! I was both excited adn nervous to check your blog today. I was so glad to read the news was good. I know I only know you and your family through this blog but your words have really made a diffrence in my life. In how I view the world and the obstacles that are in my path. I wanted you to know that you have made a diffrence with your attitude and the words you have written. I hope you have a very Merry Christmas!!Christina

Christina, I am so glad to have met you, a new blogger friend. I look forward to reading about you and your little monkeys each week. I love that you are praying for us, as well. We really appreciate it and definitely need it.
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Catharine said...Oh, Angie, I really don't know what to say... the tears are streaming down my face thinking about the trauma and horror you and Brian have to go through. I know it is not pity that you are after, it is just that I cannot begin to imagine being in your shoes. Your amazing writing skills, however, make it somewhat possible to try to understand. We will continue to pray for you as always, and thank you for posting your prayer requests on your blog, it makes it so much easier to know how to pray pray for all of you. On a happier note, I also thank God that the results were pretty good and that the 4 of you will be able to have a nice Christmas.

Catharine, Thank you for the kind words. I am glad I was able to make you understand. That was, in fact, my entire goal this week; to write out the details in a way that I thought would help others possibly understand what we go through.
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I've read your blogs before; but this was very inspiring! Maybe writing (at home for a living) is your new future. I love the vantage point you wrote from. Maybe it is out of necessity or God's way of blessing you (isn't He amazing!) or inspiring you that made you think of this creative way of writing about your life. Keep it up. I think it will help both you and others. Again......your point of view was awsome. I know I'll think about the complimentary coffe with more enthusiasm from now on.I've been out of touch for a few weeks now. Out of town on a job and then I come back to Oklahoma's worst ice storm in history. (glad I made some historical point in my life). I've now lived without electicity for a whole 2 1/2 days and it is funny how you ALWAYS put my life in perspective with what you guys are going through. I know I was just happy (once Ken hooked up the generator) to have my food cold and my house warm. Anything else was a plus. Now I look at you guys and realize how much I DO have to be THANKFUL for. Including having such an awesom niece I can claim as a relative.May your realize how many lives you touch and how much you have to offer other people. God BLESS you and your entire family as you face the CHRISTmas Holiday Season. Oh by the way Angie,Yeah......that last posting was anonymous because I can't seem to remember my sign in name, my user name, my password or anything else about myself when it comes t this sight. Life is just too complicated. Just know that anonymous might just mean your aunt Cindy and Uncle Ken in Oklahoma. Geee..........I seem to hate technology!!Cindy

Aunt Cindy and Ken, We have to laugh, because, first of all, we can hear you rambling in your post the same way that people can hear me rambling in my posts. We laugh also because that is why I enabled anonymous comments. Many people said they had a hard time posting comments in April and May when were in the hospital. Finally, we laugh because only we can make people thankful that one of the worst icestorms in history and being without power for days on end is NOT SO BAD! We have to laugh at life or we would GO CRAZY! We look forward to our wonderful Christmas ornament created and crafted by the very talented Aunt Cindy.
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Angie & Brian, unfortunately I have walked in your shoes, I do understand what you are saying. Writing is so good for you and for all of us who want to know how you are both doing. Keep the words coming. They will give you strength to get through the toughest times.I am so happy to hear the positive news, especially at this time of the year. What a wonderful Christmas you will have now. You have both been through so much. (Yes, especially for your young age. But none of us get choose all the events in our lives.) Stay strong, stay believing!ad

AD, Thank you. The writing is THERAPUETIC! I hope that as months progress we can look back on all this and know that we are blessed and we can see God’s provision through all our times – good and bad. I hope my writing this week did not take you back to places you did not want to go. I know how painful it must be to read this – the same way it was/is for Brian. I think a lot of days he doesn’t want to read this blog. I told him I would love to write from his perspective some day. I think he doesn’t want to open up that part of his mind to vulnerability and I appreciate that. We think of you often (especially when we drive by the very FESTIVE house next to yours).
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Amber said...Thanks so much for the comment you left on Mile High Mamas. I am sobered to read about your journey, especially since my husband is a cancer survivor who just had heart surgery a couple of years ago. I know what it is like to live with this hanging over your head and your attitude is inspiring.

Amber will probably not come back by my blog to read this, but her blog is funny and witty, gives me ideas and makes me yearn for Colorado living again. She actually has two blogs. It is amazing for me to learn that she has a cancer survivor husband as she is young and so athletic and I am assuming hubby is the same. Cancer does not discriminate. I hate IT!
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Heather said...I'm glad that the news was good today, although it seems weird calling any news associated with cancer "good." I hope you are able to enjoy your weekend with Brian and the boys. More snow is headed your way I think.

Did you guys finally get snow for your little boys?!?!? We got about 5 inches throughout the day on Saturday which is about 2 more than they said we would get. I agree that calling any news about cancer good. I never thought of it that way. Let’s pray for there to be no more need for the word cancer!
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Jason said...There are rarely many instances in which I become speechless. :-)I concur with several peoples posts regarding your writing style. I want to thank you for taking time out of your busy life to write and posts these blogs. You should look into turning these pages into a book; "How we beat cancer for the umpteenth time". I will confess that I was not sure if I was ready to read today's post, especially with the email to prompt us to the blog. I have no clue what you guys encounter on a daily basis, however, your writing allows me a small glimpse. I can reflect back to the 5 year survival party in which we all dressed up for Halloween. I was thinking you guys were Pebbles and Bam Bam. That does not seem that long ago hanging out around the fire and talking about old times. I am always thinking of you guys and look forward to seeing in January. I hope for a joyous 2008 and improved health into the future.HUDSON

Jason, I think I can honestly say that I have never been speechless. Actually, wait a minute. I am speechless about 3 times a week for about 3 seconds when I see something Grant did that is just so naughty and deliberately disobedient. Sometimes even 5 times a week. It is short-lived, though and I soon find the words to use, sometimes a bit too colorful and usually too loud. I will confess that I was trying to figure out how to word today’s post if the news were bad. I didn’t know if I would have the strength to even write the words. We were Pebbles and Bam Bam for that party. My mom has the Bam Bam costume and Gavin LOVES to dress up in it. He loves the hat because it is Daddy’s, and he says the white fuzzy ball on top helps him find squirrels on nature walks…Ummm…Yeah….We are not sure where he gets this stuff.
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Pinky said... Angie, your emotions lept into my heart here. Although I haven't been on the same journey you and Brian are on, we did lose a daughter 5 years ago. When you wrote about the woman in the waiting room asking you questions...well, I've been there! It's so difficult to be diplomatic, much less kind to someone when you're aching on the inside. People have no idea that their simple questions are opening up a world of hurt, just waiting to explode. Thank you for putting it into words. Much love, and much praise to God for good test results. Pinky

Pinky (and the brain, brain, brain, brain), Also a new blogger friend, whose site Cheese in My Shoe, I LOVE to read! Thank you so much for your words and I am very saddened to learn of your loss years ago. I can’t imagine the loss of a child. Having children now gives me a WHOLE new perspective, appreciation and understanding for what Brian’s parents deal with on any daily basis with Brian’s illness; a perspective I did not have 7 years ago. A perspective that makes me realize I maybe didn't handle the situation very well with them when he was first diagnosed. He is their baby, and it doesn’t matter that he is in his 30s. Nothing would pain me more than to see my children suffer a serious life-threatening illness or to lose them altogether. I was scared to write about the waiting room. There is just something about being in the thick of it when you don’t feel like being kind and you hate everything about the place where you are – even the good gestures. Thanks for understanding.
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Angie and Brian,The power of words....what to say and how to say it...every writer's struggles...The interesting point about God's Word is that it is spoken by Him and written by another. You can take Him at His Word. Keep it in your heart and in your mind. He is in control. I have to remind myself of that fact often. I agree with the assessment of your writing, Angie. Let's start on that book this summer.Love, Jane

Aunt Jane, I love you. You hold a very dear and special place in my heart mostly because on my journey to know and love Christ, you are always there helping me if I need it. You have words when I don’t have words and if I ever did decide to try to capture these words into a more structured format, you would DEFINITELY be the person I would want at my side. That is an intimidating thought, though...
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Shawn said...Your note was so helpful and we will have you in our prayers. Thank you for your prayers for Hillary. We hope she can soon be with her son Max soon. I know Brian pushes every day because of you and your boys. We hope you have a wonderful Christmas and much like ours, I bet it is the best one yet! Thank you for your sweet message to us about Hillary and your family will be in our prayers. Your site is wonderful and as an employee of the National Home Office of the American Cancer Society, it is wonderful to see Brian's progress. We are so hoping Hillary's son Max will be able to cone home so he can help her push forward to regaining her life as you and your sons have helped Brian do. Can you imagine if he had not been able to have those children in his life through this? That is what she/we have dealt with through all of this. We have your site bookmarked and can't wait to read more on his progress. Shawn http://www.xanga.com/hillarycoltharp

Shawn, I was humbled at your blog about your daughter Hillary. I know only parts of what you go through as our struggles are of different circumstances. However, you are Hillary are in my prayers and I pray she is able to spend time with Max again soon! He would help her in so many ways in her recovery, but I also understand the need to protect the children.
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Kellan said... Yes, praise God Angie!!!! I'm glad to hear the good news - I am so relieved for you and your sweet husband. I can't even imagine all you have been through, but I am so pleased to have met you and that you are sharing your story - the story of your lives and of your precious family and your husband - through your beautiful writing. I hope it helps you to know that I love to hear your story as hard as I know I know it must be for your to live it and to write it - it is a gift to hear and see your life through your beautiful writing.I hope you have a good weekend and I hope the news remains good - especially through Christmas! Take care and I'll see you soon. Kellan

Kellan, Another new blogger friend whose site I enjoy IMMENSELY! No matter the topic, she always ends with ON THE UPSIDE. I love to hear her wit and insight into life’s daily pleasures and issues. Thank you for the compliment on the writing. Nothing like writing from the depths of one’s emotions. A little risky, though. You never know how someone is going to interpret what you are saying. We are praising God for his provision for the holiday season.
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Jan wrote…I am continuing to pray for you all, Angie. St Albert misses you! May this Christmas be one of peace and joy. Ours will be spent in Colorado. Yeah, family, friends and TARGET

Jan, Enjoy Target and the US! I know you have the same love relationship with Canada that I did, but there is still no place like HOME! We TREMENDOUSLY miss ST. Albert, too. Peace! (for those of you who didn't know, there is no Target in Canada, the horror, the HORROR!)
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Steve Wrote… Angie - Your writing and faith are beyond words. I appreciate you including me on your updates and I have continued to check the blog every so often. Our prayers are with you and Brian. If there is anyone that can beat the odds it is certainly Brian. Please feel free to let me know if there is ever anything I can do. I know you are trying to work on the house and I will be off during the holidays. I would be happy to fix, repair or build anything you may still need done.

Steve, THANK YOU DEARLY for your offer to help on the house, but thank the Lord we are done. You can help take down Christmas decorations in a couple of weeks if you would like. Just kidding! I am glad that others Brian knows are as confident in his ability to beat this as I am. I just wish he didn’t have to – AGAIN!
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Brian and Angie... I miss you both... Have a wonderful Christmas Turkey dinner!!!...i can already hear the squeal from the kids on Christmas morning... Angie...your blogs are amazing...you truly should write AND GET PAID FOR IT!..(giggle) Truly inspiring... God Bless.... Smiles,Char Bergen

Char, We miss you and the whole Edmonton Caterpillar group, too. We can hear the kids squeal, too, only it isn’t Christmas – IT’S JUST EVERYDAY ANNOYING! Just kidding. Wouldn’t trade it for the world.
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Kevin said….I like your blog. It is keeping your communication skills very sharp. I always knew you were very witty and insightful. I’m glad to hear the news about Brian and will continue to pray for him

Kevin, Thank you for the compliment on my wit and insight. I don’t feel very witty, but there is nothing like first-hand experience to give one insight! I would like some insight on becoming a multi-millionaire. Or how about insight on miraculous recoveries? How about how to raise children that NEVER sass? Thank you, though, and you are my favorite brother!
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Ashley said…So glad to hear that the news was OK again. I have continued to pray for you every day (well, I must admit that some days I don't have quality prayer time....but, when I do....you and your family are at the top of the list! Hope you guys have a Merry Christmas....I feel so lucky to have met you!!

Ashley, I am so glad to have met you through church this year, too. I have had a lot of fun with the moms I have met this year. I have to admit that some days my prayer is not a top-notch in quality as I would like to it be, either. Isn’t that what we all must strive for? Oh, so many challenges.
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Shalene wrote …LOVE the new look of your blog. Love reading it too….Angie, you have a real talent for writing…..I felt like I was right there with you in the waiting room today and it’s neat to be able to read what you are actually thinking vs what you say-I love it! Great news about the results…just in time for Christmas! I hope your Christmas is great. We watched the video on your blog too, which was really cool because Ty got to see Grant which he thought was pretty neat.Take care, Merry Christmas and I’ll keep praying,

Shalene, Thanks so much for the compliment on the new look. I still don’t love it. I wish I knew more about HTML and I would try to come up with my own format. Oh what am I saying? I have a hard enough time with paint and curtain swatches, I can’t design a website! I was glad you felt like you were with me in the waiting room. You were. Your prayers were lifting me up, keeping me from stumbling and losing composure. I am relieved you liked seeing what was in my head versus what came out of my mouth. It is hard to make oneself vulnerable. Thanks for not judging me. I am glad Ty got to see Grant on the video. (Grant and Ty were best buddies last year). Grant talks of going back to Canada ALL the time. It is hard to move no matter the age. Grant misses ice-skating. I miss FREE ice-skating.
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Heather said… I really enjoy reading YOUR site as I told you over Thanksgiving. I faithfully checked it every day during your hiatus. Just so you know, I never post any comments even though I really enjoy everything that you write. Many things hit home, but the day you wrote about the changes you see in Grant and Gavin when their cousin comes over was so funny to me. My Grandmother ALWAYS laughed and commented on that same phenomenon. Any two of us cousins could play so nicely, but if a third entered the scene—things turned ugly. Four or more—not a problem. It was always that magical number of 3!!!! I also work with Hillary’s Dad, Paul. He is an engineer with PRS and he is a super great guy.I am very glad that Brian’s test came out well. You ALL are constantly in my prayers.

Heather, I hope you don’t mind that I am posting this today. I probably should have asked first. Oh well, I will ask for forgiveness later. Too funny about the 3 thing. I thought maybe it was just additional children in the mix, but this last week, when Brody came over, a friend called and asked if I could watch her 6 year old due to a need to take her other to the doctor. So I had 4. No problems. They were a little rowdy, but the dramatic transformation that occurs in both my children did not happen. It was amazing. Thanks for the information on Hillary’s blog and situation.
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Patrick wrote…I caught up reading your blog. This holiday season, the whole gang is going to Colorado for a couple of weeks. It doesn't snow in Monterrey, Mexico. In fact, when I hear about the Midwestern deep freezes, I'm usually in short sleeves with temps in the 70s. I'm not complaining. I do not miss shoveling snow at all!

Patrick. Okay. We like you for now. Keep up the mid 70s comments into February and early March and we may just have to lose contact with you. The ice and snow we received recently put us in the Christmas mood, for sure. And we had a wonderful neighborly neighbor who shoveled the driveway this morning. I don't think palm trees and Spanish would make me feel very Holiday-ish. Snow and nice neighbors certainly makes it feel Christmasy. Blessings!
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Linda wrote…Praise the Lord! I don’t know what else to say. I pray hard for you all. I hate the pain it causes everyone. I mentioned to you before that my sister-in-law is going through the same cancer/treatments/schedule. Angie, your description of the feelings are so well put into words. Thank you for updating the ones who love you and pray for you.
Linda, I do think of and pray for your sister-in-law. Please keep me informed of her progress. I would never considering NOT updating our family and friends of our status. (I also think my Aunt Jane and Aunt-in-law JoAnn English teachers would correct my double negative above.)

KEEP BELIEVING!!!

Friday, December 14, 2007

Because of Cancer... Results Day

Today is results day. We wake. Getting out of bed on any other cold, dark December morning is difficult enough. Today, it is torture. Brian gets ready. I get ready. We eat breakfast. We act normal. Brian goes 45 minutes before his appointment time to get blood drawn. “Meet you there.” Blood. On Monday at his MRI, they had to have 3 different people poke him to try to find a vein. That hasn’t happened in years. What does that mean? Is chemo taking over his blood now? Great, another test result we have to analyze and account for when making decisions on what to do next. Jan, Brian's mom, comes over. I leave her a note with the bus pick up time. She will feed the boys and get Gavin on the bus, awaiting my return home with news. What news? It’s all any of us think about.

The whole drive I fight back the wandering thoughts going to the worst places of my mind. I audibly tell myself to stop and remind myself of God’s provision in my life. I have a conversation with God and I hear Him remind me that He is the Same in good times and bad. Will I praise Him in the good times but renounce Him in the bad? He loves me even when I am hurting, probably even more. The same way I feel more love and compassion flowing from me when my child is hurt by something that I want to protect them from, but that they will learn and grow from. I am reminded not to worry just as the lilies of the field do not worry and the sparrows do not worry; yet God provides for their needs. Am I not more important than they? Then I remember countries where people do not have enough food to get through a day. I remember people who just lost their loved ones to lunatic shootings in malls and churches and how December will be a painful month for them forever. I feel blessed. I pray for them. I feel peace surround me. Then I feel it leave again as I approach the building.

I drive up to the building – Oncology and Hematology Associates. I focus on that part of the sign and not Comprehensive Cancer Center of Central Illinois. For some strange reason, I can tolerate the word oncology, unlike cancer and tumor.

I come in after Brian. No sense in spending an hour there before the actual appointment. I wait in the first waiting pod outside the laboratory. I hate this part. Brian walks behind the curtain to get poked. I hope they find a vein. Maybe Monday was a fluke. I look over at the complimentary coffee. Next to it – mind-numbing brochures about drugs that are supposed to help with the side effects of chemo, pamphlets about hair loss and wigs, booklets about losing a breast and cosmetic surgery, medical journal articles about new treatments. Yeah, free coffee really helps ease that pain. I look away from the constant reminders and articles in front of me instead at a picture on the wall and next to it a placard in memory of Jane Doe. Another picture, then more placards stating in memory of John, Joe, and Jack Doe. I think of all the people who have sat here like me waiting for the love of their lives, the father or mother of their children, their brothers, sisters, parents, whomever, come out from behind that curtain where you are known by name and where the process of the day begins. There is no escaping sickness and death in this place and is it so wrong of me to resent free coffee trying to disguise this fact? Let’s see if anyone tries to make idle conversation with me today. I don’t wish to befriend anyone here. What is wrong with me? I don’t want to talk to some person about their side effects and surgeries as the patient or their experiences as caregiver to their loved one. I don’t want to know, and I don’t know why. Will I get the usual...

Stranger: “You look too young to be in here, sweetie?”
Me: (NO KIDDING! I AM TOO YOUNG! HOW DO YOU THINK WE FELT 10 YEARS AGO AT OUR FIRST VISIT IN OUR MID 20’S! OH YEAH, AND MY KIDS ARE TOO YOUNG TO WATCH THEIR DADDY GO THROUGH THIS! WHILE WE’RE AT IT, MEDICAL EXPENSES COST US 20 TIMES WHAT THEY DID 10 YEARS AGO DUE TO CORPORATE COST SHARING WITH EMPLOYEES, WE ARE UNDER-LIFE-INSURED BECAUSE BRIAN HAS BEEN UNINSURABLE SINCE WE GOT MARRIED AND I AM A STAY AT HOME MOM! SHALL I GO ON? LEAVE ME ALONE SO I WON’T CRY IN FRONT OF MY HUSBAND, PLEASE! ) Oops, make mouth move: “Oh, yeah, cancer doesn’t discriminate on age, it seems. We will keep fighting, though. It is our lot in life. What brings you here?”
Stranger: “Oh, Sweetie, you’re husband is lucky to have you. You are so strong. How do you do it?”
Me: (I fake it half the time. I am scared out of my mind on the inside.) Wait, speak: “We have a lot of faith.” (Also true)

Brian comes out. Move on to next waiting area. Ascend staircase knowing it is getting closer. Teeth start to chatter. Make nervous idle chit chat with Brian. Or just hold hands and look into space. Try not to notice additional placards on the wall, each one memorialized to someone. This place is like London; the whole place is a memorial. Notice large puzzles on the tables and fish tanks scattered throughout. All meant to have something to do to pass the time, to ease the fact that you are probably going to be here for a while. Why am I so ungrateful that someone is trying to make me comfortable? I do not want to be here.

Brian gets called back. Weigh in. Blood pressure. Temperature. Go to the next waiting area – examining room. Teeth chatter harder. Trying to hold it together. Trying to control my mind and the countless scenarios it has laid out. Hold onto the moment of just being alone with Brian. In comes the doctor. No beating around the bush. He knows why we’re here and that we want the news right away. What is the news?

The results: This time MRI looks pretty good. There is increased enhancement around the surgical cavity again. Probably residual tumor, just like last time, but could also be scar tissue or radiation effect. Spectroscopy doesn’t show any abnormality to make them think anything significant is going on. This is decent enough news considering Brian has one of the most aggressive forms of cancer known. CBC on the blood looks all within normal range. The lab techs taking the blood at this place had NO problem finding a vein. We'll chalk it up to a fluke on Monday.

The plan: another round of Temodar for the next 5 days. I would like to give Brian a couple day break, but he wants to get it started right away so he is done by Christmas. Also, he wants to hit it hard early after diagnosis, he tells me, and spread it out later. This round, though, Brian felt a lot more fatigue than usual and is having some pain in his shoulder. He fell during one of our ice storms recently and if the pain continues, he will need an MRI of the shoulder to see if any muscles or ligaments were affected. It is getting better he tells us and he is feeling overall stronger than he was even a week ago. That is why I hate that he has to take chemo again right away.

Summary: All in all, this is good news. Barring any contradiction from Stanford when we hear from them, it should be a pretty Merry Christmas, and the honeymoon begins again until 6-8 weeks from now when we anticipate the next Test and Results Week.

Leaving today, the jingle jangling Santa roaming the halls passing out candy canes is tolerable. I suddenly hanker for a free cup of coffee, and doing a puzzle when I get home doesn’t sound half bad. I tell myself I should note one of those names on the placards and pray for that family. I can’t help but wonder if any of that would be the case if the news were different. It doesn’t matter. The news isn’t different and I get to go home and spend the afternoon with my kids without trying to hold back tears. Praise God!

KEEP BELIEVING

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Because of Cancer... Life's Precious Moments

When you are faced with a life-threatening illness every day of your life, you tend to have a change in perspective. Brian had a particularly hard time reading my posts this week because seeing all this written down made it seem so real, he told me. I said, “Well, it is quite real. I certainly didn’t mean to upset you, though.” He said, “Yeah, but like you stated about things being relative, this is normal to us now, and I forget that it wasn’t before. Reading these posts made me remember.” It is strange because something that lingers over you every day just changes your definition of “normal,” therefore changing what seems extraordinary, too. For us, certain things have become extraordinary that weren’t just a year ago.

  • When we find an activity in which we can all participate that also lets boys be rambunctious boys, we get elated. For instance, when we saw that Brian could sort-of be soccer goalie, we were ecstatic. When we determined that Daddy could still be pitcher in baseball, we were delighted. When we determined that we could play catch in our family room with a nerf or toy basketball or football in the dead of winter, we were euphoric. When Brian realized he could still show the boys how to properly punch while they jumped off the ottoman, he was in a moment of zen.





  • When Brian has a good day of speech and can efficiently read a book to the boys or have a non-laborious telephone conversation, it is a special moment.


  • Teaching our kids more about faith, seeing them “get it” and hearing their perspective is amazing.


  • We spend A LOT of time together, just the 4 of us. It is precious and valuable time.

  • Small events/gatherings with our extended family are extraordinary to us.

  • When Brian easily climbs to the summit of a hill or staircase, it is a good moment to us.

  • Every holiday is momentous in our eyes.

  • A board game or any activity that gets us all together without the use of a screen becomes a special and meaningful memory to us.

  • Looking through photos and videos of life so far makes us realize how truly blessed we have been.

  • Victories for us are times that Brian conquers speech, handles a tool without help, raises his arm with little effort, walks without much a limp, you get the idea.

  • Fishing is spectacular time to Brian us.

  • Watching kids ride tractors, climb trees, feed cows and fish at Grandparents’ - WOW!

  • Time at our folks’ houses – remarkable! (both live in oases, though, so that is kind of cheating)

  • Watching the world go by at its ridiculous fast pace with over-extended schedules for adults and children makes us sit back and enjoy the simplicity of our own schedules, realizing that we get to enjoy EACH OTHER while this moment lasts.

  • TIME IS PRECIOUS

Basically, all of life’s little luxuries are moments that we try to cherish. This is not to say that we snap a picture and have a celebration each time, or that we don’t often forget and take the above things for granted, or that we are special because we cherish these moments. Many people cherish the small things. Cancer just makes us sometimes gaze at each other, breath in the moment and declare the time spectacular and good. Times when we might otherwise just wish it away for the next step or phase. Times when we might not see how truly special the moment is because it might be considered small and insignificant. These are the times to remember and cherish.

I apologize for the poor writing style today. This being serious all week is getting taxing! I was a bit all over the place with this post. It is hard to put this part of our lives in words without making us seem boastful or condescending, and we don’t live this way all the time. We just have a constant reminder to "stop and smell the roses.” (Thought I would continue with bad metaphors and clichés since I am in such a rut tonight.)
KEEP BELIEVING

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Because of Cancer... Things Angie never thought she'd do

Today’s blog is about things cancer has caused me to do that I never thought I would. I would like to preface this blog by sharing a typical situaton between Brian and me to demonstrate to you a bit of my personality.

Me: “Brian, would you please get the ketchup and put it on the table for dinner.”
Brian (while sitting in his chair): “Sure.”
Brian: (keep sitting in chair watching whatever he is watching)
Me (keep preparing dinner or whatever else I am doing for all of about 90 seconds)
Me: (get ketchup out and put on table)
Brian: (getting out of his chair and looking at table seeing ketchup): “I thought you wanted me to get the ketchup and put it on the table?”
Me: “I did, but I had time so I just did it myself.”
Brian: “I was going to do it, you know.”
Me: “I know, but I was walking by the fridge, so I just did it myself. No biggie. Thanks.”
Brian: “Now you’re gonna be mad at me for not getting the ketchup.”
Me: “No I am not.” … But really… sometimes… I am…

So, you see, SOMETIMES, I take matters into my own hands JUST A TAD before need be.

In the two years before Brian’s recurrence, Brian had a job that required a lot of travel. During that period I started to partake in some of these chores. However, after Brian’s surgery in April of 2007, he lost some of the functions on his right side, making certain things too difficult or just not very practical (i.e., he can’t run or ride a bike. His right hand lacks the ability to hold small objects, etc.). At times, he finds himself a little tired to do certain things depending on his chemo cycles. So, I started to help out more or take over altogether, perhaps when it wasn’t even necessary. Here are some examples of things cancer has caused me to do and what I think of them:



  • I try to make sure my boys have enough masculine threats and abuse in their lives. Suddenly, I say things to my boys like, “Stop whining, or I’ll give you a swirley(wedgie/noogie/insert grotesque activity). You sound like a little girl.” What I think of this: Sometimes I take them upside down to the toilet (never putting their heads in it obviously) or pull their underwear up to their neckline or noogie them till they are crying ‘uncle.’ They love it. Who cares what I think of it.

  • I wrestle. The boys call it fight, wrestle, war, whatever. What I think of this: I hate it. I almost always end up taking a knee to the boob. That is when it ends. They love it. Brian appears to be back from retirement. Hopefully, this gets me out of the ring for a while.

  • I am remarkably honest with the kids about sickness, death, dying and hardship. What I think of this: Incredibly difficult. Kids aren’t supposed to know about stuff like that, let alone live it. However, their brilliant, innocent insight gives me an amazing perspective.

  • I play sports more. Due to my less than stellar performance and my particular lack of enthusiasm, I used to be all-time goalie while they both wanted to be on Daddy’s team. Now, they still want to be on Daddy’s team, but Daddy is usually goalie. What I think of this: I stink at sports, still. Boys are too competitive. I’d rather cheerlead.

  • I tamper with electricity. I know how to wire an outlet, a phone, a light fixture, a switch, and even THREE-WAY switches. What I think of this: Those 12 gage wires are callus-causers and nail-breakers. It stinks trying to push all those wires back in a tiny electrical box without disconnecting any, but when all is said and done, I MADE SOMETHING WORK!

  • I hang the outside Christmas lights. What I think of this: I think we may not have outside Christmas lights next year. It is cold, tedious and makes your fingertips ache.

  • I use power tools. Brian needs help stabilizing the saw, drill, and nail gun, or at least the accessories for them. What I think of this: Power tools take up a ton of room, make a lot of noise and are a huge nuisance to get out and put away. (I can cook and clean up dinner for 4 in less time than it takes to set up and take down and get out all the accessories for these tools.) I do like the sense of accomplishment from creating/building/making, but if I’m being honest, I’d rather call my dad.

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Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Because of Cancer... The Agonizing Wait

Some people live paycheck to paycheck, spending their days surviving on the sustenance that each payday provides until the next arrives. The first few days after payday are intoxicating with the sense of feeling rich again, enjoying life and luxury. There is a sense of freedom when that check arrives. Then reality sets in. Bills are due; food needs to be provided; and emergencies arise. The next payday is anxiously awaited knowing that there is little left to sustain until the next sweet check arrives. But, what if the job that supplied the income was always on the line and the next paycheck came with a pink slip as well…

We live MRI to MRI. The first few days after MRI results can be bliss. When results are good, we relish in delight knowing we have just bought 8 more weeks of freedom. Freedom from thinking the worst. Freedom from investigating other treatment options. Freedom from a nervous frenzy compiling records and documents, then making a series of phone calls and follow-up phone calls in order to seek other opinions. Freedom from contemplating so much about cancer in general for at least a few weeks. Then reality sets in. Every ache, pain, tingle, twinge, bruise, mistake, scratch, stumble – these all take on new meaning in our house, causing wonder and worry every time Brian has any of the above symptoms as to what exactly it implies. Brian can’t just have a simple headache without horrific thoughts entering our minds about what is potentially growing in his head. If Brian is tired one day, we can’t just chalk it up to a sleepless night. We immediately wonder if some sort of ailment is plaguing his body due to cancer growth in his brain or chemotherapy tearing apart his body. If his right hand falls asleep, we wonder if the evil tumor is making its presence known before we wonder if he simply had it in an awkward position. If his speech is more slurred than usual, we agonize over whether or not it is the beast rearing its ugly head before we wonder if Brian is just tired. Simple things are not so simple for us.

The worst part is that there is almost nothing we can do. We have to await the next test and its results. Sometimes ignorance is bliss. Sometimes not knowing, but only wondering, is still freedom. But freedom starts to slip away as we know there will be news…

There will be the next step… RESULTS DAY.

KEEP BELIEVING

Monday, December 10, 2007

Because of Cancer...Test Day

In light of Brian’s tests today and results on Friday, I am dedicating this week to reflections on how our life is probably different than yours because of cancer. Today’s is not so up-lifting, but quite real.

Because of this cancer, Brian has tests every two months right now. Today he will go to the hospital for two different types of MRI’s at 9:30. He will sit in registration for 20 minutes giving the EXACT same information that he has given over 10 times this year and the EXACT same information that he gave in pre-registration last week that was supposed to expedite this ridiculous process. He will walk by himself through a series of confusing corridors and elevators that he knows only as well as most staff. He will get a temporary IV so they can inject different types of contrasting fluids for the MRI to take a variety of pictures. He will awkwardly lie on a hard, flat table VERY still for nearly two hours. He will be placed into the small, confining tube with earphones or earplugs and a cloth over his eyes ineffectively trying to mask the incredibly LOUD clanging noises and sudden changes in direction and light of the machine. During this, he will sleep a little, he will ponder a lot, and he will pray…

While this is going on, I will be at home probably on the computer, cleaning house a bit, or possibly working out… like any other day. It will still be going on when I am making the kids lunch, getting Gavin on the bus and getting Grant ready for preschool. The boys will play and fight and eat and stall…like any other day. However, it isn’t any other day, or any other week. This is test week and it is the most difficult week of every 8 that occurs anymore. This is the week that our minds as a couple and as parents are plagued with “what if.” This is the day of that week that I implore, plead and BEG Christ to miraculously heal Brian. This is the day that as I run on my treadmill I dedicate every ounce of sweat to Brian’s healing. This is the day that I almost burn the grilled cheese because I am lost I thought to what Brian is doing right now. This is the day that I stop mid-stream throughout the morning hours lifting up Brian in prayer. This is the day that I get in front of Playhouse Disney in the morning, turn off the TV, and tell the boys we need to pray quickly for Daddy’s healing, hoping beyond hope that the prayer from a child’s heart and mouth will produce more response from heaven.

After the test, Brian will eat lunch, go to work, come home, eat dinner, play with his family, watch TV and go to bed like any other day. We will talk about how things went today realizing that we will not know or hear anything until Results Day on Friday. We will be quieter than usual with each other, both lost in thought as to the seriousness of the situation. I will make dinner, do dishes, put the kids to bed, work on my blog post for the next day, spend some time with Brian and go to bed. Just like any other day, only it isn’t any other day. It was test day and all it produced so far is…


The next step… The Agonizing Wait.

KEEP BELIEVING!

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Romantic Results

Well, my "what do you find romantic" poll results are in and I could not help but analyze a bit. This is what I was always paid to do in my previous jobs. Collect facts and figures, chart and analyze them for some arbitrary deadline so the powers that be could do nothing with the findings unless the results were particulary unfavorable and my group was that month's scapegoat. I figure this is good practice for when I return to the workforce.

The majority of the poll participants are cheap like me find the simple things romantic.
A leisurely stroll - holding hands - 15 out of 21

A lot of participants must either have small children or annoying teenagers.
Any uninterrupted time together - 10 out of 21

A large majority of participants are obviously North American revolving life around food.
Candlelight dinner – 12 out of 21

At least two participants were male. Or females currently trying to conceive.
Anything leading to s-- - 2 out of 21

Aunt Vicki must have participated in the poll
Jewelry – 1 out of 21

There is a One Green Party candidate trying to skew results.
None of these – 1 out of 21


By the way, in my career, I worded things a little differently.
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Saturday, December 8, 2007

Memory Lane 1

Just a cute picture today of my now 4 year old Grant. Grant was not quite two in this picture. I was changing his diaper when the phone rang. Here is what he did during my 5 minute phone conversation:



That is Eucerin Lotion. Lotion the consistency of Crisco. Great for very dry or near eczema skin, BAD for carpet. By the way, ammonia and water 50%-50%. However the carpet has NEVER been quite the same.
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Friday, December 7, 2007

3's a Crowd

On Thursday mornings, I keep my 3-year-old nephew, Brody. I love being able to see and spend time with Brody. Brody enjoys coming and playing with his cousins close to his age. My boys anxiously await Brody on Thursday mornings. It is a fun situation for all of us. However, something happens to my boys upon Brody’s arrival…

They morph into the most annoying beings on the planet.

Suddenly, there is a constant competition for either my or Brody’s attention, it appears. They seem to test who can be the loudest, who can have the most needs, who whines the most, who hits the hardest, who succeeds in destroying the most household goods, who spills or throws the most food and drink, who can be the cruelest, and who uses the words “butt,” “poop,” “fart” & “pee” the most before I say something. It is not Brody who does this. It is only my boys. That is why I have surmised it must be some sort of a masculine ritual establishing a rank and hierarchy amongst themselves with a foreigner. From what I can tell, it must work in the male species because they giggle, encourage each other, antagonize each other and seem to respect each other in the end for their efforts. For me, as the female, it just makes my ears hurt, my senses numb, my tolerance level depleted, and my compassion nonexistent.

KEEP BELIEVING

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Let it snow, Let it snow, Let it snow

First, please note the new prayer requests at the side. Brian has tests next week and I thought this was a good way of letting you know what our needs are on a daily basis.


We got our first measurable snowfall of the season Tuesday night/Wednesday morning. It was about an inch or so. Barely enough to measure. Grant came out of his room, looked out the front window, gasped and ran into our room saying, "Daddy, you GOT TO wake up and see what happened last night." He went running around trying to wake up the house. We were already awake. He was like at kid at Christmas. He went downstairs, looked under the Christmas tree, and sadly walked away saying, "We didn't get any presents this year." Turns out he thought it WAS Christmas. I said, "Grant, just because it snows doesn't mean it's Christmas." He said, "Yes, it does." That's right. I keep forgetting that I am stupid. Silly me.





After I convinced them to wait until after breakfast, I dressed them to play in the snow. I was all dressed to work out, thought better of it remembering this is WHY I stay home and went out with the boys this morning to enjoy the beauty and their reaction to it.






I was reminded of why I LOVE snow:










And why I HATE Snow:







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Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Ready! O.K.!

Check out Brian's cousin, Anne Fennell, as Cheerleader of the week on SI.COM. If I was smarter about stuff, I would try to paste in a picture of her here, but I'm not. Plus, I don't want to get into trouble with any copyright issues. There is a whole slide show of Anne doing stunts, etc. Go ANNE!


Although, Anne, I have some trash-talk for ya.

Can you beat this???







Angie (me) as a high school freshman cheerleader. Don't you LOVE THE HAIR!

TAKE THAT!



AND THIS!

Me again this past Thanksgiving (2007) about 20 years later. Yup, still got it!


Alright, Anne, you win. You look GREAT!


(Explanation: The kids love to play dress up at Memaw's house and we came across my old cheerleading outfit. I believe it is the same one as the photo above 20 years prior. Logan's alligator costume is in the way, but I am about 4 or 5 inches off the ground still, and YES it hurt!)



KEEP BELIEVING!

Monday, December 3, 2007

No Prince Charming

I am finding as I blog more regularly about this and that, there is a lot of power in having these keys at my fingertips and a few people who seem to have a remote interest in what I am writing or at least some sick curiosity. I see how easily it can hurt or cause an undue reaction such as this one:


Brian has been back to work full time for a while now. He has responsibility for a job that a recent retiree vacated, so he does not necessarily read my blog every day. I ask him if he reads it every day that I post, mostly so he knows there is something to read if he wishes. He didn't read it most of last week. Then, on Thursday, he said to me:

Brian: "What's this 'I'm not romantic?'"
Me: "What are you talking about?"
Brian: "Your blog said I'm not romantic."
Me: "Oh, you read my blog?"
Brian: "Yeah, What do you mean 'I'm not romantic?'"
Me: "You're not."
Brian: "I'm romantic. I rub your feet."
Me: "That's part of my compensation for caring for your children and part of your duties as husband."
Brian: "The thing is, you don't want that romantic stuff anyway,"
Me: "I don't?"
Brian: "No. When I try to do that stuff, you tell me that's not what you want."
Me: "Well, then you are doing it wrong. What girl doesn't want to be a princess here and there?"

This conversation made me think about two things. First of all, you can easily be misunderstood; therefore, hurting someone's feelings/pride/dignity with a blog if you are not careful. So, to Brian, "I am sorry if I offended you, but get used to it. I am a blogger now and you and the kids are my primary topics. Just kidding. I will try to get your permission if I am going to write something that I think maybe puts you in a negative spin. This particular blog I did not think was negative. "

Secondly, what is romance? This is so different for everyone. I knew what Brian meant as soon as he said that I tell him it is not what I want. He is referring to expensive gifts. He is right. I don't want that. To Brian, buying me jewelry and flowers is incredibly romantic. To me, it is a use of our money on something very impractical and expensive, and I would rather do something else with the funds. To me, our last Saturday of being shut-in with the kids and a cozy fire and no distractions was romantic. To him, it was a fun alternative to a day of plans gone awry, but not romantic. So, we talked about our definitions of romance.

Here are some things we find romantic.

Angie:
quiet time together
sitting on the same sofa (instead of Brian in his la-z-boy)
holding hands
dinner for two (if HE gets the babysitter and reservations)
a card or note placed where I will find it unexpectedly
gentle rubbing/back-scratching that doesn't HAVE to end in s__.
a note in my anniversary/birthday/valentines card instead of a quick 'Love, Brian"
inexpensive flowers without a vase (I have too many vases that never get used)
filling up my car
vacations/time away
hearing why he loves me
a bottle of wine next to a fire
chocolates
compliments
seeing him dressed up sharply
sitting together watching the kids play
bluesy/jazzy/big -band-type music

Here is what I surmised that Brian finds romantic:

Brian:
hugging/rubbing/massaging/touching
time with me without kids
anything that leads to s__
buying me gifts

So you see, I have a much different view of romance than Brian. I think time can be incredibly romantic even if kids are around. To Brian, this is competition for my attention. He didn't say that exactly. I am opining here. I think that lots of men think that romance can only be obtained if children are not around. They rarely get their wives' undivided attention because it is so focused on the immediate and plentiful needs of the children. Regardless, it is difficult for someone to be romantic towards you if you never tell them your preferences.

I was wondering what you find romantic. Take the poll if you have a second or two.

By the way PARIS! VERY ROMANTIC for both Brian and Angie!
Montmarte, an artist village in Paris

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Foiled Plans

Our Saturday plans this weekend were not meant to be. First, my sister and her family were going to visit so we could go to a basketball game. When we realized all the tickets that remained were overpriced nose-bleed seats, they decided not to visit due to Matt’s job news this week (please see A Theory In Relativity). So, we made plans with an old high school friend of Brian’s we have not seen in 4 years. They were to hang out for the day so we could meet their toddler daughter and simply re-connect. Gavin also had a basketball game he was particularly excited about.

Then it came. The ICE. At first, we did not know how bad it would get since the weather was SUPPOSED to warm up throughout the day. Brian got a haircut around 9:00 a.m. When he left, there was no precipitation. By the time he arrived at the salon 15 minutes later, there was enough ice to cause him to slip in the parking lot. By the time he got home, the ice was making walking and driving treacherous. We spoke with our friends and begrudgingly decided this was NOT the best day for a visit. Gavin’s basketball game was also cancelled.

So, what do we do now with two boys who were looking forward to a day of planned activity? Here’s what we did:

First, Brian wrestled (fought, as Grant calls it) with the boys for a while. This is relatively new for Brian since he hasn’t felt up to the task and is at a disadvantage due to his right side deficits. He won anyway. However, once the boys realized there were potentially hazardous-death-trap and pneumonia-inducing conditions in the backyard and on the front driveway, what else could they do but play in them? So, we bundled them up while the sleet and freezing rain pelted them for well over an hour. We checked every once in a while to make sure they were still alive and ensured all their fingers were pink and flesh colored instead of black and rotting from frost-bite.



video

After they came in soaked to their underwear with snot-ridden noses, we all had hot chocolate with LOADS of marshmallows, followed by a game of “keep the ball off the floor” in the family room. I would call it catch, but if it landed on the couch and didn’t hit the floor, we still counted it. The boys accompanied Brian during his workout and did some treadmill laps. The treadmill time ended when Gavin inadvertently wedged a toy basketball between the frame and belt of the treadmill. That would be why it is normally off-limits.

They played darts while I did Sudoku and laundry.

We had a family dinner during which I actually persuaded Gavin to eat a bite of corn and potatoes and several bites of tenderloin, if you can believe it. At the end of dinner, I didn’t feel like I desperately needed to get away from all things less than 4 feet tall. I actually felt relaxed and I still LIKED my children.

We finished the day with popcorn, jammies and Home Alone 2, Lost in New York. The boys had never seen a Home Alone movie, so they were absolutely rolling-on-the-couch, side-splitting, belly-roar laughing at the scenes when the bandits are slap-stick mangled, injured and caught in all the traps. I don’t know about you, but to me, there is NO BETTER SOUND than genuine childhood laughter.

Foiled plans can sometimes lead to the most blessed, family-fun-filled, relaxing, intimate days you can remember in months. I love when God does that. I am pretty sure He loves doing it, too.
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