Friday, December 12, 2008

a decision...quality with Santa...teeth...a Christmas Card

I'm not going to post for a few days. Read a bit each day to tide you over. There is a lot of crap meaningful stuff here today.

We met with Brian's oncologist, Dr. G. (no relation to Mrs. G.) on Wednesday. He was not surprised that Dr. K., the surgeon, discussed a surgical option with us. When asked whether Dr. G. thought chemo or surgery was the next best step, he stated that there is no right or wrong answer. From his perspective, a surgery would give him the pathology he needs to determine exactly what is in Brian's head and therefore the best approach to treat it. However, from a clinical perspective, there is no real answer for how much surgery would improve Brian's condition. As Dr. K. stated, it would really be to debulk and buy more time. Dr. K. said for most patients he would not have recommended a possible surgery, but for a father of two young boys, he wants to give our family as much time as possible.

Dr. G. said he would recommend chemo and see how Brian fares (fairs? Aunt Jane, what is it?) for a while and then discuss surgery again if that is something we were interested in later.

The thing is, as both doctors and we know, there are enormous pros and cons to both choices. It just seems from our perspective that a 15% chance of having more problems than Brian currently has after an additional surgery does not make us as excited about trying that option for the sake of more time. More time does not mean as much if the quality of that time is compromised.

So, we are scheduled for chemo on Dec. 29th in the morning as of right now. Ask us next week if we keep that appointment or if we schedule surgery. We know there is no right or wrong decision in this scenario.

The quality of time we have had as a family lately has been immeasurable. Brian is in great spirits and is feeling better. His right hand and leg are still incredible weak and uncooperative to his will, but he doesn't let it get him down too much. And because he has been so much fun to be around and more involved with the kids and such, it makes me even more willing and happy to be his hand and foot and speech when he can't be. Not that there are ever conditions on my help for him, but it makes it enjoyable. You know? He is having less muscle pain and neck ache since he went back on a low steroid dose and is gradually tapering over the next 3 weeks. He even tries to work out. He gets on the elliptical for 10 or 15 minutes at a time and goes very slowly trying to work his body whenever he can.

We have been thoroughly enjoying our Netflix (thanks Murph and Jen) subscription together. We are even taking one for the team and renting a couple for the kids soon. I know, I know. We are saints. Go ahead and pat us on the back. Also, I have figured out if Brian does pass away, I can become a suburban pot dealer. Mary Louise Parker has it mastered on Weeds, so I know it must be doable. Actually, my favorite part of the morally conflicting show (which is also my new favorite type of movie and show in general), is listening to the "Little Boxes" song at the beginning taking me back to my childhood and riding with Aunt Jane in the car listening to her explanation of the meaning of the song, enjoying the irony that today I live in one of those little boxes, but that I am SO NOT made of ticky tacky.

Also, we have been enjoying our morning coffee together watching some news and sports recaps. We just spend a lot of time together - occasionally a lunch date, an early morning snuggle after the kids are off to school. It is like being newlyweds again with children present, but a bit of freedom when they are at school.

As a family, we have been watching lots of Christmas specials and playing a lot of boardgames. Yesterday we went to see Santa at the mall so the boys could tell Santa we would be in Missouri for Christmas Day and rattle off their list of items they desire even though I know for a fact Santa is not delivering the entire list. Santa believes children appreciate more when they are not fed every one of their hearts' desires at our house. When we got to the mall, Santa was taking what we were told was a quick break, so we got a pretzel and I told the kids that Santa had to pee. I knew they would laugh at that, which they did. Humanizing their heroes is one of my favorite things to do. When Santa did not return for about 45 minutes, Grant said, "I think it must take fat people A REALLY LONG TIME to pee."

This is the terrible off center photo we paid the 16-year-old elf $25 to take and print. Ho Ho Ho. We weren't dressed in coordinating outfits and the boys wore what they had on at school, but it captures us fine - with the exception of the top of Brian's head, which is incredibly ironic, because if he could live without it, we would gladly cut off that troublesome area of his body. At least I was wearing one of my most obnoxious shirts possible and we captured the red carpet full of lint and debris to make up for the adolescent elf's spacial challenges.

Gavin lost another tooth yesterday. His top front one. He looks and talks so weird without it. I will get a photo soon. I haven't taken any pictures in many days. Based on the photo above, I should have brought my camera to the mall. Anyway, he wanted to show the tooth to his memaw who is coming for a visit today, so I told him he would have to write the tooth fairy and ask her nicely if she would leave the tooth, but she may not leave money if she didn't take the tooth. When Gavin was 2, I used to pride myself on my ability to translate spoken Gavinese when so few could. Now I can even read and translate Gavinese. Here is his note:

Dear tooth fairy,
Even though I lost a tooth
will you please keep it
under my pillow. Please will
you give me something.

Since he said please, he got to keep the tooth and $2. He told me he is going to do this every time now. And, personally, I think it is fine. It keeps the tooth fairy from hiding the teeth elsewhere in our house. By the way, how long does the tooth fairy keep teeth? I mean, I throw away just about every other project that comes my way unless it is a handmade clay something or other, but what do I do with the teeth and for how long and for WHY? Is there etiquette for this kind of thing? Will they want them some day? I don't have my baby teeth and do not feel that I am missing anything. Am I just not nostalgic? Am I a scrooge?

Speaking of Bah! Humbug! I have decided not to send Christmas cards again this year. I think just about anyone that would receive one of our cards reads this blog at least on occasion, so I am saving a days worth of work and over $100 and boycotting the obligatory ritual again. Brian thinks I will cave, but I didn't cave last year.

For your benefit, these are the images from which I was choosing for the card:

Consider yourself served. Merry Christmas, signed the Brian O'Neill family. You're welcome. Feel free to pirate those photos and add us to your refrigerator. Your home will be more beautiful for it.



  1. My husband and I just finished watching all the seasons of Weeds through Netflix. I LOVE that song, it is so true. The show gets way to crazy for me at the end. It was so stinking good season 1 and 2 and even parts of 3.

    I too love those type of dramas. Now, I will be singing that all day long.

  2. Well at least you have a plan for how to make some money and support the family :)

    Love the Santa picture and I also really like your shirt!! The red carper is fabulous too :)

  3. Angie,

    You are amazing. Your humor during this time is just plain awesome!! In the midst of the midst you are still able to look at the bright sides, and that makes reading your blog one of my favorites.

    Thanks for the Christmas card. I won't send them either if I were you! :)

  4. No self control here-- I just had to gobble it all up in one sitting. I love the Santa picture. Santa looks much happier after his long, long pee. Way to go on the card decision.!

  5. I love the pictures, Angie. So precious! Janell

  6. My daughter just lost her first tooth by using her teeth to open a snack bar. Ouch, and lesson learned.

    I've got a ziploc bag full of teeth, and I'm a little grossed out thinking about it, yet I can't throw them away. Weird.

    Merry Christmas!!

  7. This was better than any card I've received. Love the photos of your sweet family.

  8. I kept my own baby teeth for a very long an old medicine bottle....lost them somewhere along the way...not harmed by it. I can't seem to throw away the kids teeth either...though now I have two losing teeth, I can't figure out whose are DH thinks I'm crazy.
    Love the Santa photo! I'll have to post ours now...hey you give me a good idea!
    Blessings and thanks for the Christmas card!
    I will print out the family photo...we post our photo cards and pray for the people in them...
    : )

  9. A merry and blessed Christmas to an amazing family.

  10. I have one very narcisstic comment:

    I am so jealous. You are so pretty.

    (hating my ugly hair, pale skin, and fat stomach.)

  11. Angie, So good to catch up with you. Glad for these days you are having as a family. You are on my heart a lot. I don't think I am going to send cards out this year, either. Maybe an email card? Love and Merry Christmas! Shawn

  12. You go O'Neill Family....Love the pictures..You have touched so many hearts and lives i pray god will bless and keep your beautiful family this holiday season:)

  13. I have been through that very same argument in my head about the teeth. I finally decided (after much arguing with myself) that I don't want those teeth! So the toothfairy disposes of the teeth when they are taken. Shhhh...don't tell Ryan the toothfairy could potentially leave the teeth. He is a saver and would have it in a "safe" place until the end of time. I am saving his poor future wife a lot of angst by taking and disposing of the teeth now.

    Love the description of your days/dates. So sweet. And that Santa picture made me laugh. OMG.

    Great Christmas card. I think you "caved" without caving!

  14. I don't know how you do it?? I don't know how you are so strong..and still soo funny. You are an amazing women Angie..

    Love the pictures.. each and every one of them.

    Happy Holidays to your family..

  15. What a sense of humor you have. You know I live close to the border with Mexico, right? So maybe you could make a trip out here to get your supply. I can babysit.

    I think I have a crush on you.

  16. Angie -
    You really do crack me up - I admire so much your ability to laugh and keep going through the storm! It's one of the greatest lessons my Dad taught us in my family - We actually had a "good time" with all the funeral stuff when he passed away - lots of tears, but also lots of laughter!

    My Ellie is a saver of EVERYTHING! She's been putting those notes in with her teeth since the beginning too! And when Maggie started losing teeth, she wrote notes for her too! She cannot get rid of anything! She keeps tags from new clothes, it's insane and drives me crazy because I throw away everything I can get my hands on!

    So glad prayers are being answered and your family is enjoying amazing, precious, quality time! I'll keep praying for that among other things.


  17. you are so funny. i like your shirt by the way. i think the santa picture will be the picture of you for my fridge. i love the humor in it!


  18. You are so incredible Angie....your HUMOR is so therapeutic (sp?) for so many!! What an incredible ability you have to find the glory in each day! Your Santa picture is priceless and I LOVE the other family photos. Thanks for being so transparent and allowing the work of the Lord to shine through you!! Enjoy your time as a family this weekend...we will all be OK without your post for a day or two (but not much longer)!!!

  19. Consider yourself served! Love it. We have been thinking about you guys a lot. Tell Brian I will call him soon.

    My cousin Megan Stork Martinez down in Houston (who I barely know) was diagnosed with a brain tumor this past Tuesday and underwent surgery on Thursday the 11th. I wanted to point you to a blog that her dad has created ( that you could perhaps send a word of support and possibly some prayers her way. She has two little girls at home.

  20. Take your time. Do what you need to do with your family. We'll be here when you get back.

    I love that you told the boys Santa had to go pee. LOL! You can take that concept home by using a technique that I started and then a friend took to a whole new level:

    If you don't already, on Christmas Eve take a cooky tray, sprinkle some baking soda or talcum powder in it and then use Brian's boots to make Santa footprints coming out of the chimney or in from wherever Santa enters your home. Walk around the tree, to the presents, and then back to the entry point. (It's easier with two people cause you have to keep re-dipping the boots and one can tag the tray along being careful not to mess up the footprints while the other does the stepping.)

    My friend took it to the next level by having Santa walk all the way to the bathroom where he very obviously peed because he left the toilet seat up (big no no! LOL!). He also washed his hands because the pretty new Christmas towels that nobody is supposed to touch were all wet and wrinkled. To this day, her 20-something aged kids talk about Santa's yearly pee break at their house! LOL!

  21. I forgot to mention. For a guilty tv pleasure, you have to check out "Breaking Bad". You can probably rent season one on Netflix.

  22. Angie - So wonderful to hear that you are having quality time as a family. That's fantastic news. I'm sorry to hear that there are limited options aside from that. I think of you often and hope things improve.

    As for your Netflix - I don't know if you have an XBox 360 or not, but Netflix streams movies free to the 360 (if you have a Gold membership) and you can get stuff for the kids and for you - they just have limited amount of titles. At least it's unlimited number for the month though!

  23. Yet one more reason I love you...I haven't sent out Christmas cards in over 6 years. I hate feeling obligated.

  24. I am even more in awe of you, Angie. Your sense of humour and the way you seem to see the good in everything, despite all that is going on with your family, is truly inspirational.

    I have never watched Weeds, but perhaps that should be my next rental on Netflix. Thanks for the tip!

  25. Wonderful post and pictures.

  26. I don't blame you for skipping cards this year!
    The pictures are a great substitute - beautiful!

  27. I think more than my refrigerator is beautiful due to you. I am glad you are enjoying the holidays together. That's so important. And, I love that you said Santa needed to pee.

  28. Angie - I just got through your post - I obeyed your advice and read it in snippets due to my many interruptions (the 2 and four-legged kind!) As far as the teeth go, I have a container of teeth from my girls. The funny thing is...all the teeth are mixed together and I wouldn't know who's were who's. I know, I know, I should throw them away, but everytime I have them in my hand, I just can't! If you find out the etiquette, please let me know - I still have 2 boys who haven't lost any teeth yet. I, like you, also do not have any teeth from my childhood and I also don't feel like I am missing anything!

    I love your comments on your mall Santa photo - you are an amazing writer and you are so good at giving peole a good laugh!

    I am glad you won't cave on your Christmas cards...I just spent every spare moment of three days writing, stuffing, licking and posting all my cards - time that you are much better off spending with your precious family.

    Angie, Brian, Gavin and Grant, I wish you a Merry Christmas and a special time of making special memories together. May God bless all of you.