Friday, February 29, 2008

Leap of Faith Friday, February 29, 2008

Jim at Busy Dad Blog and Christine at Chicken Fried Therapy and Piper at Bliss in Bloom birthed a concept for Friday posts in February – Leap of Faith Friday . The idea is to do something in your life that you would not ordinarily do, something that is out of your comfort zone and then post about it on Fridays. This Leap of Faith Friday, I am not cheating with a silly photo of myself or a cute story about the kids getting scared easily. I am leaping with this one. Leaping for me anyway.

For my first leap, I am going to change my blogging M.O. a bit. I am excited about this because I think it will be freeing for me. I am finding that I am somewhat obsessing with this blog – trying to get in a post every day, stressing to some extent over how to be creative with an idea without appearing to be knocking off others’ hard work, ensuring that I comment on other’s so they know I read their hard work, etc. I comment because as a blogger I know that comments are like narcotics. I can’t get enough of them. I love to see who read and who thought to say a word or two. I LOVE IT! (So comment if you have been lurking without revealing yourself) However, I find myself stopping at the computer (no laptop here) every time I walk by and even when I am NOT walking by to check for comments. It is taking large amounts of time away from my family. AND if history serves, global warming activists are correct and God willing, the weather IS GOING TO WARM UP HERE IN THE NEXT MONTH, and I want to be outside weeding tending to the planted beds around the house, playing with my kids, taking the kids to the park, bike riding, walking, watering, reading, whatever, OUTSIDE. I want to be able to enjoy the outdoors without feeling like I HAVE to be blogging because of some expectation I feel from the world, but I have actually put upon myself. I mean really, if I decide to blog 3-5 times a week instead of 5-7 times a week, who cares? It’s not as though I make a living off the blog or ever could. It is a hobby. Its time prioritization in my life needs to be treated as the hobby it is. So, I am going to skip a day here and there and I am going to try not to turn the computer on at least one day a week. This is big for me folks. Grant thinks when he grows up and gets to be a mom (don't ask) he will do mom things like spend lots of time on the computer, if that gives you any indication of where my time is spent.

Secondly, I am going to be taking part in Beth’s new idea of Miracle Mondays at A Mom’s Life. I am going to use this forum to start to recapture some of the events Brian and I have been through - the hardships, the trials, the tribulations, the uncertainties, the pain and the suffering and how God has brought us out of every one of those times and blessed us with the richest form of blessings. From how we met and started dating, to how we lasted, and how we got engaged and married in a long distance relationship; how we handled his diagnosis, his treatments, surgeries, hospital stays; how we grew in our faith; how we handled our infertility, our adoptions, our moves; how we handled his recurrence, his deficits, our new life. I have really wanted to do this for a while and I hope to get Brian’s input as we get going. I am very excited about trying to recapture what I believe to be our most blessed life enriched by God’s molding us through our heartaches, hardships, and His provision. I hope you stay tuned on Mondays for our recaps. It is a wild ride. Other than Mondays I will continue to write about Brian’s progress and anything else that floats my boat a few other days a week.


Things I've learned today

In addition to the multitude of statistics I spewed earlier, here is some more trivia.

1)Refrigerators can fart. Seriously. Every time I open the fridge today, I smell a flatulent-like odor, but I cannot find the culprit. I have searched the whole thing. If the door is open long enough the smell goes away. When it is open again an hour later, it comes back. While Brian insists that flatulence is funny, it is NOT when it comes from the item housing your food. I think I am going to put some Bean-O in its filter. Gavin insists it is probably raw meat or raw cheese. I didn't know there was a different kind of cheese. He is so smart!

2) When you hear coughing noises coming from the other room with a sick child, GO RUNNING! You just may be surprised the to find the sick child crying and exclaiming, "My brother threw up!" This would be accurate and you would find yourself in the middle of TWO sick children and a floor full of vomit and oddly enough consoling the one who DIDN'T VOMIT while wanting to ring the one who DID VOMIT's neck for not attempting to reach a toilet. Deep breath. Patience. Deep breath. Patience.

3) Milk makes amazing transformations and solidifies in the stomach.


Do you like statistics?

If you are a statistics and numbers person like me, here are a few from the last two days here in our house:

104.3 = top thermometer reading of Grant’s temperature for the last two days.
4:30 = what time the thermometer reading occurred for the last two nights (a.m.)
6.2 = hours I have slept total in last 2 nights.
4= times I tried to sneak back into my own bed so I didn’t have to listen to stuffed-up, thumb-sucking Grant make both Homer and Maggie Simpson noises while I TRIED to drift into slumberland.
4 = times Grant came to my bed and asked me to come lay with him.
3= times in past two days Star Wars Episode III has aired in our basement for Grant.
1-2 = inches of FRESH STINKING SNOW ON THE GROUND THIS MORNING!!! Oh Spring, will you never reveal your face again? Why do you spite me so?
1 = cups of coffee spilt on new carpet by ME this morning. Can’t even blame a child and believe me, my crabby mommy powers are in FULL SWING ready to POUNCE!
0 = cups of coffee left in pot after Brian filled his to-go mug and left.
4 = people in this house
3 = people in this house affected by this high temp, sinus virus/flu epidemic thus far.
10 = fingers of remaining unaffected person (me) crossed praying I do not get this bug.
-1 = days remaining until last gallon of milk expires
7 = cups of milk my family goes through each day
1 = babysitters and nights out with husband I have to cancel due to sick child.


Thursday, February 28, 2008

Too Much Winter

Thursday Thirteen Volume II Feb 28, 2008

It is currently around 10 degrees F (-15 C) AGAIN here in Illinois. My Canadian friends will have to bear with me on this rendition of Thursday Thirteen. They will be playing their imaginary violins for my pity party while I whine about the weather after they have enjoyed feet of snow and temperatures triple that negative number this winter. Well, believe it or not, we have seen temps that low AND feet of snow ourselves here in Illinois this winter. We, however, are not accustomed to that. My cover-to-cover newspaper reading father-in-law, Ed, informed me last week this has been the third wettest winter on record here in Central Illinois. Having lived through Edmonton’s winter last year, I can actually state that this Peoria winter rivals it. It is not as cold with not QUITE as much snow, but this cold is a colder cold degree for degree, if that makes sense. Also, this snow weighs about 3 times as much, so it is much more difficult to shovel. I will say, however, that the side streets are plowed and that was something that didn’t often happen in Edmonton.

Thirteen Signs You have had too much Winter:

  1. 40 degrees F brings out short sleeves, light jackets, bikes and skateboards.

  2. The same rare 40 degree day has the kids asking if they can “run through the sprinkler because it is SO warm out today.”

  3. While saying nighttime prayers with the kids, you thank God for his creation – the snow, the rivers, the ice, the cold, the warm..- at which point your child interrupts and laments that Jesus WILL NEVER MAKE IT BE SPRING AGAIN.

  4. You find yourself saying, “Let’s get away this weekend someplace warm – like Missouri. I think it is supposed to be in the high 40’s.”

  5. The outrageous price paid for your ski-trip clothes for yourself and the kids seems like a bargain now on a cost/use basis.

  6. The kids grumble when they see the fresh snow on the ground through which grass was peeking just yesterday instead of jumping for joy at the excitement of a possible snow day.

  7. You find yourself whispering sweet-nothings to your tank tops and shorts promising one day you will see them again.

  8. This scene triggers a reaction of OH! CRAP!, when just one month ago it was, Ooooh! Aahhh! (taken Tuesday, February 27 after the LATEST 2-5")

  9. The kids need new boots by mid-January due to wear and tear instead of out-growing them like every other year.

  10. You find yourself feeling inexplicable feelings of rage every time you read a blog post nonchalantly mentioning playing outside recently.

  11. Your 20-something sweaters have all made their laundry rotations MANY times and are starting to look rather worn.

  12. You can’t remember you neighbor’s name because you haven’t been outside in so long.

  13. You find YOURSELF uttering the words, “Do you want to go to Chuck E. Cheese?” just to get out of the house.


Tuesday, February 26, 2008

A bedtime horror fairy tale

It is bedtime. The boys are begging for Mommy to put them to bed tonight because it is her turn. Who are they kidding? Daddy would be putting them to bed for the rest of their childhood to even the score, if that game was played. They want Mommy because she reads stories. LONG stories. WHATEVER they choose. She gets into it more than they do. She takes on accents. She changes her voice pitch for different characters. She reads the end of the story on her own if they misbehave in the middle of the narration and are sent to bed without hearing the remainder. Mom loves this story-time as much as they do, especially since they have started choosing classic fairy tales from a Bedtime Stories collection.

Switching from third to first person. Sorry.

This particular night, the boys cannot agree upon the story. It is Grant’s turn to choose but only due to a technicality that was arguable at best. I tell them to agree. Grant wants Jack and the Beanstalk. “Too scary,” Gavin retorts. We have read this about 10 times in the last 3 weeks, so I encourage another story, anyway. Grant insists. Gavin insists on The Three Bears. Finally, I intercede and choose Hansel and Gretel. Neither of them wins this way and I feel empowered for the only time in 24 hours. Gavin is not enthused and refers to its scariness, as well. Brian walks by and tells him to “toughen up; it’s just a story.” I give Brian a lighten-up look because, like Mommo and Poppos's bathroom, I can see what could possibly be scary to a kid in this story. By the end of the story, Brian agrees as he waits around and listens to the UN-sugar-coated fairy tale.


  • Hansel and Gretel live with Dad and Stepmother.

  • Not enough money.

  • Stepmother hates Hansel and Gretel and insists her husband leave them in the woods the next day to die.

  • Gretel overhears evil plot. Tells Hansel. Hansel gathers pebbles and leaves a trail.

  • Dad, while sad about it, obeys evil stepmother and leaves his kids to die in the forest.

  • Hansel and Gretel follow trail back to house.

  • Dad happy to see them. Stepmother pretends she is angry because they took so long to come back, but really just angry they are still alive.

  • Dad, still distraught, and evil stepmother go deeper into forest the next day leaving the children again.

  • Hansel has no rocks this time, but tried to leave a bread crumb trail. Birds ate it.

  • Hansel and Gretel roam through woods and stumble upon a gingerbread house with icing roof and sugar-pane windows and start eating due to near starvation condition.

  • Little old woman of the house offers them pancakes and invites them inside.

(Gavin covers head with blanket)

  • Little old woman is witch in disguise. Wants to eat the boy. Locks him in a cage to fatten him. Feeds him daily with Gretel doing all the work.

  • Gretel gives Hansel a bone to use when the Little old witch woman, who is conveniently poor in sight, checks his plumpness level each day.

  • Little old nearly-blind witch woman decides to eat Hansel anyway and has Gretel stoke the fire.

  • Gretel claims she doesn’t know how, so when Little old nearly-blind impatient witch woman shows Gretel how, Gretel shoves her into the blazing inferno and she is never to kidnap, imprison, enslave, and feast on young human prey again!

(Gavin resurfaces from blanket)

  • Gretel lets out Hansel and they find jewels in every corner of the house.

  • To get home, a swan carries them across a lake where they find the path to their house.

  • Their Dad, who has been overcome with grief since he abandoned his offspring that one fateful day is happy to see them and the jewels so they can buy food.

  • And the happy ending concludes with the discovery of the death of their stepmother while they were away.


I make light of the story asking periodically as I read,

“Is this story real or imaginary?” …
…“Right. This could never happen.”

“Mommies and Daddies don’t REALLY leave their kids in the forest or anywhere on purpose.” (unless you are these sickos in our town)

“What is a stepmother, anyway?” …
“Someone who is mean and bad.”
…“No, just this one... and Cinderella's...”

“I wonder what kind of birds ate the path.”

“Do you think that gingerbread house was as beautiful or tasted as good as the one you made with Mommo and Poppo?”


O.K. So as grown adults, we can distinguish between reality and fantasy, but even things that are too disturbing for our normal limits torment us in fictional works. The sheer possibility of the unimaginable makes us shudder regardless of the actuality. Hansel and Gretel IS ATE-UP! I have never watched a Friday the 13th movie due to my own horror tolerance. I think I need to be a little more sensitive to Gavin’s.


Monday, February 25, 2008

Preschool Flunkie

Through a panic-striken voice and behind streams of tears today, Grant informed me he DID NOT WANT TO and WAS NOT going to Kindergarten next year!

It is amazing what one is willing to trade in the moment to avoid discomfort.

In hindsight, I should have had Grant wait in the playroom while Gavin received his booster shot. Less battling would have transpired if Grant didn't witness what was in store for himself. Lessons learned.

arm bruises from jerking and tensing up with each shot

Mission accomplished, despite protests.

Kindergarten IS in his future.


Sunday, February 24, 2008

the REAL Aunt Deb

The ability to write something and capture the total essence of a situation or the depth of someone’s character is a talent I wish I possessed. As I write more on this blog, incorrect grammar and all, my admiration for authors who pen books, articles, poetry, short stories, etc, exponentially grows. I am enjoying writing, but there are several pitfalls with it. First of all, it is extremely time consuming. Secondly, it is just too darn hard to write something funny about someone without making that person look like someone they are not. This blog today is to capture the side of my Aunt Deb that Friday’s post certainly omitted - the side of my Aunt Deb that unquestionably proves she isn’t the trailer-trash sailor-swearing gal one would certainly be inclined to imagine if you didn’t know any better.

Brian and I have had very difficult circumstances in our marriage so far. Brian was diagnosed with his brain tumor ONE MONTH after we were married. Through the last 11 years, we have undergone surgeries, chemo, radiation, sperm-banking, more chemo, test after test, inseminations, in-vitro, moves, adoptions, recurrence, rehabilition, etc. That is a lot for twenty-somethings turning thirty-somethings to endure. How do we do it? Faith. Hope. Prayer. And A WHOLE LOT OF HELP FROM FAMILY AND FRIENDS. More help than you can imagine. More support than we knew existed. I plan on writing more about that, but this particular post is designed to capture some examples of how Aunt Deb and hubby Uncle Paul have helped us over the last 11 years.

First of all, upon initial onset, the day we took Brian to the E.R and before we even had any idea of the beast we were about to encounter, Uncle Paul drove us to the hospital because we were in town visiting without a car. From the moment the doctor uttered MRI, my Aunt Deb, Aunt Vicki and Aunt Jane were in the waiting room. I didn’t even know it. I just knew my Aunt JoAnn was holding my hand and rubbing my back when the all-too-young ER doctor uttered the words... abnormal… something… lesion… something… admit you right away... something else… That’s all I remember before I collapsed in the hallway overwhelmed at the thought of calling Brian’s parents and determining what to say. During that trying, uncertain week, our aunts and uncles and moms and dads were in the waiting room of that hospital EVERY SINGLE DAY! Aunt Deb was always one of them.

Before we were going to MD Anderson to start a clinical trial of chemotherapy that Fall, Aunt Deb and Uncle Paul hosted a party at their house for our family and all our friends.

As we continued with our lives, moved to Denver and bought our first home, Brian underwent chemo and radiation causing a lot of fatigue. We lived in our first house, a house the color of what you would find inside a smelly diaper. We wanted to paint this house. Brian’s parents, my parents, and my Aunt Deb and Uncle Paul drove 14 hours for an extended weekend to help us paint our house, chop down a dead tree, plant a new one, recover our dining room furniture, and clean our windows. It was an overwhelming act of kindness on their part during a time of our lives that we were simply too inexperienced and frankly, tired, to undertake the task ourselves.

Uncle Paul prepping the feces-colored house for its makeover.

That's Deb working on the left. That is the newly painted house (withough shutters reattached yet). That is the dead tree on the right. I think that is Brian in the front?

Fast forward to 2001. Due to Brian’s chemo treatments and illness, infertility also plagued our hopes of starting a family when Brian was in remission. Brian’s mom helpfully suggested we bank sperm from the onset of diagnosis in 1997. We followed her advice. Enter our in-vitro years. We were living in Peoria, IL and there was not an in-vitro clinic in town. We decided to pursue this in St. Louis – 3 hours away - since we had ample family there for support. In-vitro requires immediate availability of the woman when the circumstances align for the next step. Because of this availability issue, we reached a point where we needed to camp out in St. Louis. Being inexperienced, we did not know how long this could take. We thought we would be in St. Louis for about 5-6 days. TWELVE days later, part of which was bedrest for me, we left Aunt Deb and Uncle Paul’s house. My cousin Nick graciously offered his room for us for this entire time. Deb and Paul cooked for us, were there for us, hung out with us, and generally made us feel welcome and comfortable during a physically and emotionally difficult time. Two years later, when we decided to try in-vitro again, she opened her house to us AGAIN for the same amount of time. (BTW, in-vitro never worked. We adopted both our boys.)

In 2007, when Brian relapsed, tragedy ensued. His surgery resulted in some physical deficits and uncovered the most aggressive brain tumor pathology known. Some of those physical deficits are the inability to use the right side of his body the way it was designed (it is slow and does not move the way Brian intends without significant effort) and some speech issues. We moved back to the US from Canada due to this relapse, but decided we wanted to make some modifications to our house before we moved into it. Brian knew he was capable of these changes, but his deficiencies and rehabilitation schedule prohibited a timely completion of the intended tasks. Uncle Paul offered his services. He spent over 10 days of his summer break helping us modify and update our house – morning, noon and night with LITTLE sleep. We love the changes. Words cannot express our appreciation for his time, love and effort, yet, he refused payment upon completion.

My family is generous, gracious, helpful, flawed, loving, interested, hospitable, sincere, intriguing and fun. I love my family. I love knowing I can count on them. I love knowing it is large enough and diverse enough to call upon in any situation. I love our imperfections. We are blessed by and because of each other. I would be remiss in writing my last post about Aunt Deb and her family without stating that she has been one of the most supportive, gracious relatives I have.

How could you NOT love a 50 year old woman who goes down the curvy slide to amuse her great-nephews and grandson?

Deb, I love you dearly – cuss words and all. You have always been there to help us live our mantra...


Friday, February 22, 2008

Lenten Loopholes

I have a large family. A VERY LARGE EXTENDED FAMILY. My dad is one of 6. I am one of 16 first cousins on my dad’s side. My mom is one of 11. I am one of 22 FIRST cousins on my mom’s side. So, this may come as no shock. My family is primarily Catholic.

As you probably know, Lent is a part of the Catholic Church’s calendar and sacrificing something for Lent (abstaining from meat on Fridays, giving up some food or activity, or taking on an extra task) is a common practice during Lent. I think it is supposed to be required for those ages 14-62, but my mom always made us do it even when we weren’t of age. Brian and I stopped going to the Catholic church (we go to a different Christian church now) about 5 or 6 years ago. We joke that when we stopped practicing Catholicism, we gave up giving things up for Lent.

A couple of weeks ago, we were visiting some of my extended family in St. Louis. We were, of course, having a fried fish and cheese pizza Friday dinner (no meat on Fridays). My aunt Deb, who is always good for MANY laughs, was reminiscing working their parish fish fry with some friends of theirs some years ago. She said they were having a beer or two and noticed that a regular participant in the liquid refreshment follies was not involved. They inquired.

Him: I gave up beer for Lent.
Deb: YOU WHAT??!?!
Him: I gave up beer for Lent.
Deb: You IDIOT! What did you do that for?
Him: Well, I wanted to give up something that would be a big sacrifice.
Deb: YOU DO NOT GIVE UP BEER! You give up something like ice cream or chips or candy.

We laughed at her less than supportive response to his difficult self-denial. She replied that “he was a recently converted Catholic, so he just didn’t know any better yet. He actually wanted to give up something that would be hard. Poor guy. He learned, though.”

The next day, we were at the park (the only day in 3 months it has been warm enough for us to go outside to play) and we asked Deb what SHE gave up for Lent.

Deb: Cussing
Brian and Angie: (laugh, then look off to space just KNOWING that Deb cussed the night before, but trying to remember a specific example. Deb’s favorite word is s#!@ and we have joked that Mason, her grandson’s, first word will be such.)
Deb: (seeing us looking into space) Oh, no, just the F word.
Brian and Angie: Of course, we wouldn’t want to make it too hard now. Do you say the F word that much, Deb?
Deb: At work I do, the first morning I had $.75 in my change jar by 10:00 am at a quarter a pop.
Brian: I can’t wait to tell my dad. He will crack up because he thinks you are so funny anyway.
Deb: Well, I got more for you.
Brian; Yeah?
Deb: I also gave up drinking.
Brian and Angie: Well, then you are failing miserably because you had beers with us last night.
Deb: No. I gave it up on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.
Brian: Of course.

That night, we were laughing about kids’ names and an old joke someone told.
(Joke: Native boy asks the chief how he decides what to name each newborn.
Chief replies, “Whatever I see when I leave the birthing tent, I am inspired that should be the name of the child. If I see the moon rising over the horizon, the name shall be “Rising Moon.” If I see an eagle overhead gazing upon the earth, the name shall be “Soaring Eagle.” Why do you ask “Two-Dogs-F---ing?”)

When we heard Deb retelling the joke, we immediately called her out on her f-bomb drop.
“It doesn’t count if it part of a joke, either!”

I used to work with government contracts and they didn’t have this many loopholes.

BTW: We really aren't sailor-swearing rednecks, including Deb. A lot of us are educated and slightly refined. Well, probably not refined...


Thursday, February 21, 2008

Thursday Thirteen # 1, Feb 21

I am participating in my first Thursday Thirteen. I don’t know if I have enough creativity to participate weekly, but this week, I felt inspired.

This week’s thirteen is Thirteen Reasons Why I THINK I Am Not Losing Weight:

1) I like this,

but only with this in it.

2) I like this,

but only with lots of these in it.
3) I like this too much.
4) I am beginning to think if I eat something off someone else’s plate (e.g. the last ¼ of those 2 pieces of pizza, the last few bites of the abandoned pop-tart, etc.) it still counts towards MY calorie intake.

5) This forecast which is a depiction of the last 2-1/2 months of actual weather has precluded much outdoor metabolic boosting activity.
6) My sister, whom I am beginning to think is a B with an itch, introduced these addictive little buggers.
7) I really like these A LOT but only with # 1.

8-10) Even in moderation, these guys have a LOT of calories

11) I am beginning to think, also, that standing and panting on the side of the treadmill as the belt whizzes by does not count towards those total miles ran and calories burned.

12) Due to #5, we have not been able to use this, which causes me to use more of this for sauces and flavor.
13) I spend way too much time on this.


Our Cable Company Merge

Our cable provider, which is also our telephone (VOIP) and internet provider, has been bought out by Comcast. Since all corporate merges in the service industry are about providing the customer better service, *insert bull&#!% cough here* this is supposed to be good for us (actually ‘Comcastic for us’ if the brainwashing would have been successful) with a seamless transition. The last time a service provider in our area merged/was bought out by a giant, our utility rates skyrocketed by around 50%. So far with this merger, I have discovered in the next week I have to re-establish my voice mail, set up a new email account and notify everyone of my third email address change in less than a year. A new email address also means that every login website/online shopping site/etc I frequent has to be re-established or updated with a new email address.
I love seamless transitions.
Bring on the rate hike!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Signs your kids are watching too much TV

I should have realized that my boys' television viewing time was on the cusp from acceptable to excessive when Grant yelled for me to "come quick and see what I WOULD LOVE!" This is what I HAD TO SEE.

When he started reciting the Space Bags commercial word for word, I should have turned off the TV set and played a board game. I didn't.

Recent conversations have led me to realize I may be using the 'stupid box,' as Brian refers to it, just a tad wee bit too much.

Me: Grant, I am making pancakes today. You love pancakes. Doesn't that sound great?
Grant: Oh, no thanks, Mom. I will just have pancake puffs instead.

Gavin: (watching me take some vegetables out of the plastic grocery produce bags.)
Me: (cutting, then throwing away the inner core of the pepper)
Gavin: Why are you throwing that part away? Is it yucky?
Me: Yup. You can't eat that part.
Gavin: You should have used green bags.
Me: (puzzled looking at the bag) That bag has green words on it.
Gavin: No, Mom. GREEN BAGS. They keep all your vegetables fresh for weeks longer.
Me: Why would a green bag keep them fresher longer? It doesn't matter what color the bag is.
Gavin: Mo-o-m. GREEN BAGS, like on TV. The vegetables in the green bags are clean and the other vegetables are dirty.
Me: (goes and googles green bags)

At least my Christmas persuasion convinced them to stop asking for AquaDots.


Monday, February 18, 2008

Weekend Warriors

This past weekend, my sister, Mindi, her husband, Matt, and their 3-year-old, Logan, came for a visit. As always, we had a most splendid time - a few beers, Euchre, late nights, reassembling our trampoline (worked out for us anyway - another story), a little bowling and lots of good food (all made by me this time - I just realized we didn't go out at all did we, Min?) They had spent the 3 nights prior to their visit here banished from their own house due to a major ice storm that hit their town and landed them without power for 48 hours. By Sunday, they were gravely missing their own bed and their house. About an hour before they were going to depart, the boys were getting rather wild and Gavin decided he wanted to go outside to play. I suggested they jump on the reassembled trampoline. Grant and Logan decided to follow. It was windy, wet and cold that morning, so I suggested wearing snow pants. Mindi was hesitant due to the conditions and commented they would need another bath if they got into the mud. I assured her they would be fine – worst case their outer layers get a wee bit muddy and wet on the trampoline. No big deal. I gave Mindi a pair of snowpants and an old coat for Logan so he wouldn't get his own all wet before their 4-5 hour car ride. We bundled the kids and sent them out back. Within minutes, we noticed no jumping, but lots of little-boy mischeivious shrieking. Here is what they decided to do instead:

Mom, you don't need to go to the spa, I've got a mud wrap right here for you.

Look, I've already done my backside. This will be REALLY easy to launder, btw!

Grant, you are supposed to take those off before you come IN, not OUT! Oh and thanks for shoe laundry to add to my regular laundry and now outerware laundry!
Gavin, this would really look good on your face!

Here let me show you!

Oh! That Gavin and Grant are always so NAUGHTY! I would never get that muddy!

Never say NEVER!

Yes, they all needed another bath on Sunday afternoon! Sorry, Matt and Mindi, but I think they had a good time!


Sunday, February 17, 2008

Happy Birthday, Ed

February 18th is a day of the year that brings several things to mind for me. It is Brian’s Dad’s birthday. It is my dear, sweet cousin Jennifer’s birthday. It is the day my maternal grandma passed away in 2006. I struggled with what to dedicate this blog today. In the end, I decided on Brian’s Pop’s B-Day.

64 years ago today, L. Edward O’Neill, aka Ed, Eddio, Pop, Irish, Poppo, Grandpa, Dad, was born into the world. Ed is a man that is never at a loss for words. Ed is a cover-to-cover newspaper reader. Ed is a news, weather and sports addict. Ed is a talk radio junkie. His brain is full of more news, current events, and trivial knowledge than most game show question writers. (Weak analogy, I know. I stumped myself) We lovingly refer to Ed as ‘the prefacer.’ Sometimes Ed is not so eloquent with sentence transitions. Sometimes Ed starts out sentences with phrases like this…

“Angie, not that you read the paper, and not that you CARE about this, but did you hear…”

And from there, my attention is supposed to be grabbed, peaked and I am somehow supposed to stay tuned for the rest of the conversation about which he just prefaced I will probably NOT CARE.

Or he will begin a request from Brian with something like this…

“Biner, if you think you can get a “get out of jail card” from Angie for long enough, I thought maybe you could…”

Ed gets lost at the grocery store, gas station, waiting room, checkout line, on the way to the bathroom at a restaurant, etc., because he will strike up a conversation with any willing party whenever he can. He knows no stranger.

Ed striking up conversation with Parliament security in London

Ed has a way of talking like he is in a business meeting, using office jargon and corporate tie-ins for his conversations.

And these are the things about Ed that we love and at which we crack up. His words. His conversations. His meetings of new people. His sentence transitions. His prefacing. His catch phrases. Here are a few phrases that we associate with Ed:

"Fair enough." (there is no statement more ED than this)
"i.e." (he says this out loud)
"I had to come over to your house to enjoy (insert whatever martyr choice of the day) because I’m not allowed at home… "
"In terms of this and that and the other… "
"And so on and so forth… "
"Etcetera" (he says this out loud in conversations, too)"
"What have you… "
"When you get to be my age, you’ll find… "
"If you will..."

And our favorite… (sometimes he throws into the middle of his conversation when speaking about someone being stumped or at a loss for words):


Ed shows us even those never short of words somehow find a raspberry the best means for getting across a point. Surprisingly, it is very effective when used by Ed, too.

Ed striking up conversation with a member of Parliament as he was trying to leave the building in London

We love you, Ed (Poppo)! Happy Birthday!

Brian, Angie, Gavin and Grant


Friday, February 15, 2008

I wore makeup yesterday- Friday Leap #2

Jim at Busy Dad Blog and Christine at Chicken Fried Therapy and Piper at Bliss in Bloom birthed a concept for Friday posts in February – Leap of Faith Friday . The idea is to do something in your life that you would not ordinarily do, something that is out of your comfort zone and then post about it on Fridays. My leap today is to share some embarrassing information about myself.

Yesterday was Valentine's Day and I had ordered suggested to my hubby not to spend money on me since we are in a budget crunch this year and we don’t have lots to spare. So, my super-sweetie simply disregarded said orders and surprised me with a splendid spa certificate, SWEET! (just wanted to see how many /s/ sounds I could get in there.) I got him a singing Hallmark card that plays a Johnny Cash song. Feeling a bit sheepish about the one-sidedness of the deal, I decided to greet him after a hard day’s work showered, shaven, perfumed, hair blown dry and face made-up with a nice dinner. Seemed only fair to even the scales: Day at the Spa = Johnny Cash singing card with a good smelling wife and kitchen. Yup, all’s fair now.

Anyway, in my every day life, I rarely fix my hair and the only make-up I wear (if any) is a quick swipe of blush on the apples of my cheeks and one pass of mascara on my lashes. (I hate the way my eyes look without mascara (tired and sad)) Yesterday, however, I applied base, mascara, blush, bronzer, lip gloss AND eyeshadow! This really is a Christmas and Easter rarity around here these days, folks. However, there is one problem with this. Foundation/base suddenly makes any facial hair I may have more apparent.

My sister, God love her, about 4 years ago brought facial and strange neck hairs into reality in my life. I still hate her for this. She once asked me as she stretched out her neck looking to the sky if she had any neck hairs.

Mindi: What? Don’t you get them?
Me: OMG! No I don’t get NECK hairs! Nasty!
Mindi: Let me see.
Me: (looks up)
Me: LIAR! Where?
Mindi: Right there.

And there it was. A lone, misplaced whisker growing under my chin mocking me and convincing me the next step was transformation into The Fly. Thanks to this revelation, I am paranoid about neck hairs but haven’t noticed any in quite some time. I now attribute this to non-make-up camoflauge. Without cosmetics, they blend and hide amidst the aging, splotchy skin.

As I left the house yesterday, all beautified and smelling good, to head to my first stop - the Kindergarten Valentine party - I realized I forgot to get prizes for the games. So, I detoured to Dollar Tree for some 6-year-old delights and took a quick look in the rearview mirror to admire my lovely, shaded brows and pouty lips. I was wearing sunglasses (first day in a LONG time we had enough sun to warrant shades), so when I looked in the mirror, I was instead greeted with not one, but TWO mocking neck hairs. Nice! My trip to the Dollar Store netted an 8 pack of play-dough, a 12 pack of pencils (lesson learned, by the way, only give Kindergartners ONE option if you expect to leave the room with any dignity), AND a pair of tweezers, which I will NOW carry in my purse at all times.

My final leap of faith this Friday is sharing the humiliating picture of myself (yes, that I took with this blog in mind - pathetic, I know) plucking the hairy little demons from my otherwise feminine neck in the Dollar Tree parking lot.


Thursday, February 14, 2008

Love Letters

Gavin received a letter last week from a (girl) friend at school. I think I am going to tell the Kindergarten teacher that it may be time to introduce the silent /e/ causing the long vowel sound. I am pretty sure this Kindergartener needs some spelling help. LET'S HOPE SO ANYWAY!

Happy Valentine's Day!


Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Results - Feb 13, 2008

One of my fears lately is that I will not be able to express myself to the standards I have come to expect from myself. Some days I feel like what I write is concise, entertaining, informative, well prepared, etc. Other days, what I write is simply brain babble - mindless drivel coming from my fingertips. I fear I will write in this latter manner on days when I really want to say something - days when I have something important to relay about Brian and his health which is the reason I created this blog last April. I want to be most effective during those moments, but some days there is nothing else to do than simply get to the point, to write conversationally, and to ask for forgiveness with respect to grammar and creativity.

Brian’s results day was today. I hate this day. I try my best to occupy my mind and time, but what I find is that I am generally short with my children, ineffective with my time management and overall sick-feeling all day. Today was no different, except that this appointment was late in the afternoon, so I got to experience my shortcomings all day.

I was extremely nervous when the doctor came in and made idle chit chat for the first 5-10 minutes. He asked several times how Brian was feeling and to me those questions coupled with the lack of divulging information could only mean one thing. Finally, he read the MRI results:

The Spectroscopy (MRSI) results were inconclusive (again). On test day, the MRSI should add about 20 minutes onto the tail end of a standard 1 hour brain MRI. When Brian had the test performed, he laid on the table for 2-1/2 hours. They do not know how to administer this MRSI here very well nor do they know how to read it. At Stanford, they use this test often and effectively. Right now we only have this test performed because our follow-up is still part of the Stanford research study in which Brian participated in May. So, we will wait to see what Stanford says about the MRSI again.

The MRI showed minimal increase in enhancement surrounding the surgical cavity. This could mean slight growth. This could mean scarring. This could mean necrosis (dying cells). The Spectroscopy should show the difference to an extent, but it doesn’t really matter here in Peoria, IL since they don’t use, perform or read these tests much. Dr. G. does not recommend any change in treatment right now. The increase was very minimal. The *cringe at word* tumor board (group of neuro-surgeons, neurologists, radiologists and oncologists that review cases) will meet Monday and review Brian’s case to see if they think it warrants any change in our current protocol.

In summary, all in all, it is relatively good news. Brian’s pathology last April is one of the most aggressive types of *cringe at word again* cancer known. So no growth to speak of is encouraging. We, naturally, would like NO GROWTH AT ALL and shrinkage of what little enhancement is remaining, but we will take what we can get for now. We consider this continued testing of our faith, tolerance and reliance upon our Father. We will continue the fight and press on from here. Pressing on right now means another round of Temodar chemo and continued vigor in our worship, prayer and spiritual journey.

Thank you to all our friends and family and my newfound on-line blogging friendships for your continued support and prayers. We would be nowhere without you all.

I am most happy to report that we can, without feelings of hypocrisy, continue to live and write these words …


Tuesday, February 12, 2008

A letter to my boys

My Dearest Gavin and Grant,

Please trust me on this. You do not want that box of cereal that costs 50% more than all others on the shelf. You will hate it. The contents will taste like sugar-coated colored cardboard. Just because Mickey Mouse’s face decorates the front of the box does not qualify the cereal as better tasting. Nor does it mean the cereal comes with an all-expense paid trip to Disneyworld with free time off school. Nor is there any magical device in its contents that will transform you into Winnie the Pooh in the 100-Acre Woods. In fact, there is no toy inside at all. Believe me, this box of cereal will sit on the shelf after the first opening and taste test while your favorite Golden Grahams and Lucky Charms make 3 rotations before I finally end up tossing its stale remnants.

While we are at it, just because that box of graham crackers has Superman on the box does not mean you will inherit x-ray vision, super speed, the ability to fly, or abs of steel able to deflect bullets. It does not come with any sort of superhero watch, toy, book, figure, pencil, flashlight, sunglasses, video game or anything else your imagination has conjured up. Having Superman on the box does not even necessarily make the crackers inside Superman-shaped. All it guarantees is I will pay the 20% more for 25% less volume than the same undecorated product box while DC Comics gets to shamelessly plug its latest rendition of Justice League. The same show that doesn't air until 6 weeks from now after your bedtime that you will beg me to watch every morning for the next 42 days.

By the way, the boxes once empty are garbage. They are not spaceships. They are not boats. They are not puzzles waiting to be cut into 237 pieces. They are GARBAGE meant to be put in the TRASH CAN. Please do not ask me to cut out Mickey’s Head for you to sleep with tonight so I can find it under your bed in 3 weeks and throw it away unnoticed. Please do not ask me to keep the box for you to transform into a bed for your stuffed animals so I can find it under the coffee table and put it in the toy box tonight, tomorrow, the next day and the next day until I finally throw it away unnoticed again.

Just trust me that I know what you like better than you know yourself. Advertisers are simply trapping you into falling prey to their latest gimmick. Trust me that I can spot a marketing ploy 100 miles away... oh wait…cool…look at that brightly-colored, well-lit display… A SALE......


Monday, February 11, 2008


It's here.
I have writer's block today.
I have lots of theories..

Perhaps it is because I have not had more than 4-6 hours of sleep for the last 3 nights during our brief St. Louis trip.

Perhaps it is because I suffer from a feeling of sadness and anguish every time I leave my family because I haven't lived in the same city, state and sometime even country as my family since 1995.

Perhaps it is because I am too busy reading up on all the blogs I normally check and feel like I would be plagerizing borrowing content if I tried to write now.

Perhaps it is because I have 5 days of laundry to do, a Kindergarten Valentine's Party to co-chair, a preschool class full of Valentines to address, errands to run, a house to clean and a weekend of houseguests to prepare for.

Perhaps it is because everytime Grant takes a deep breath he exhales a deeply planted, vomit-inducing, chest cough and wants me right by his side today.

But, I think the most likely cause is that I have that pit-in-my-stomach, what-comes-next, verge-of-despair, simply-awful feeling I get everytime we know we are about to get test results this week. Results come Wednesday, February 13, 2008.

I hate this feeling. I hate that I get it. I hate that this is part of our lives. I hate not knowing when and IF it will ever cease to be part of our lives. I hate that it sucks the creativity right out of me. I hate how it preoccupies me and keeps me from enjoying the wonderful life that is presently in front of me. I hate that it makes me feel like a total hypocrite for writing what I am about to write....


Saturday, February 9, 2008

CSI: Our House - Today's episode: Evidence of Children

A few years ago, a friend of Brian’s and his wife came to visit us. We were very excited to host our friends we had not seen in a while, prepping the house for the tour that inevitably follows inviting someone into your relatively new home. Our friend made a comment I will never forget. “It is so obvious looking around your house that you don’t have kids.” Not, “Oh, look at that light fixture,” or “Your floor plan is so open,” or “How do you like the paint colors you chose?’ or even “Nice house.” Just a comment regarding the lack of obvious adornments a house acquires when children inhabit it. This comment was especially hurtful to me not because it was void concerning the pleasant condition of the house and its features, but because we had been trying to have children for some time, gone through a few insemination cycles and were, at that exact time, speaking with different fertility specialists preparing for in vitro. (Our infertility experiences are another blog post coming sometime) I do not remotely fault her for striking a painful subject with me. How could she have known? In fact, today, I regard her comment as a compliment. She didn’t comment on the light fixtures, floor-plan or paint because that was not what she immediately observed. She longingly noticed nothing was primary colored, everything had a place, breakable artifacts courageously stood within 3 feet from the floor, live plants were strewn about on flimsy decorative plant stands positioned on carpet, and fingerprints did not blanket any and everything glass.

Today, 7 years later. I think she would not say the same. Here is some evidence this house is, without a doubt, inhabited by children!

This can be found taking up my family room if I dont fold it up and hide it well enough.

Constantly unflushed, seat-left-up toilets.

Kids' bathroom mirror 2 days after I clean it

Refrigerator Art

The third garage stall.

BriberyInside the pantry


We own this.


Friday, February 8, 2008

CSI: GRANDMA’s HOUSE; Episode 3 Leap of Faith Friday: Frightful Bathrooms

Jim at Busy Dad Blog and Christine at Chicken Fried Therapy and Piper at Bliss in Bloom birthed a concept for Friday posts in February – Leap of Faith Friday. The idea is to do something in your life that you would not ordinarily do, something that is out of your comfort zone and then post about it on Fridays.

Well, I totally didn’t do that, but I am shamefully using this sort of ‘Fearless Friday’ inspiration for today’s CSI post regarding my kids, conquering their fears and getting them to do something out of their own comfort zone. As for my own leap of faith, I will continue to hide behind my keyboard, my spell-check and my thesaurus to make myself sound really smart clever intellectual.

Today’s episode of CSI is being shot on location at Grandma’s house. Whenever my boys visit Mommo and Poppo as we affectionately call them, the boys refuse to use the basement bathroom. I thought it was just my children. However, we discovered that their cousins, aged 13, 8 and 3 also do not willingly use the basement bathroom for quick relief. Rather, if any of them are playing downstairs, they will make the trek up the stairs, through the living room, past the kitchen, down the hall and into the main floor bathroom. We asked. They replied, “That bathroom is too scary.” Reasonable enough as basements can be scary to kids, but we also discovered that this is not limited to times when they are playing downstairs without parental supervision. Recently, the adults were chilling at the basement bar amidst the nostalgic wall decorations, sports paraphernalia, antiques and interesting collectible accessories adorning Mommo and Poppo’s super cool basement when we noticed the young ones were heading upstairs for their urinary urges. We asked again.
“That bathroom is too scary.”
“Not when we are down here. There is nothing to be scared of.”

Then, I used the facilities. As I sat there for the 11.4 seconds it usually takes me to do my business, I scanned the bathroom trying to discern what could be so scary from a kid’s perspective. I took some pictures of the allegedly frightening little room and would like to see if your crime scene investigation skills could identify what on earth would terrify a child using this lavatory.

This is what is in front of the shower.

Close up of what is in front of the shower.

If they were sitting on the toilet, facing the wall, this is what they would see.

As they stand, facing the toilet, this is what they see.

To quote Velma, I think I’ve got this mystery JUST about wrapped up. Getting them to face their fear and use the bathroom, I think, will have to come with age.


Angie's note: Based on the comments I feel I must defend this bathroom. The entire basement is decorated with antiques and sports collectibles. This bathroom is decorated with antique farm tools, factory bits from the company Jan's dad started, etc. It is kind of neat, but, yeah, to a kid, SUPER SCARY.