Thursday, July 31, 2008

Same situation, different month, test day.

Today, Brian is having his bi-monthly (is that every two months or is that twice a month? Because I mean every two months) MRI. We will get results on Monday. I wrote this post in December during test and results week. Reading this brings tears to me because I realize it is just a different month with different activities at home, but the rest remains the same. And I realize, this is our life. And sometimes our life is painful. But the tears come because even though this cancer has been so scary and is so aggressive, it hasn't controlled us and who we are.

Here it is so you don't have to click:

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 in 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.


Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Once there was a little boy....

Once upon a time, there was a little boy born in Texas to a first time mother and father. This boy would prove very difficult his first few years – strong-willed and mischievious. He made life for most babysitters quite uncomfortable crying constantly for his Mommy to return. Yes, he was a handful.

When he was three, his parents had their second child – a sweet adorable, easy-going little girl. Soon after the little girl was born, the family moved to Indiana. This lasted for only two short years. The next move would be to Muscatine, Iowa.
When that little boy lived in Muscatine, Iowa, his sister can remember that he was a crazy Elvis fan – recording himself singing “You Ain’t Nothing But a Houndog” and “All Shook Up” on the family’s groovy new EIGHT TRACK! He was also a loyal Minnesota Vikings football fan. As he grew a bit, he became a rocking KISS fan. So much so, in fact, that his mother and neighbor took him, his best friend and his seven year old sister to a KISS concert in Chicago (with the help of an uncle, because they just couldn’t drive through CHICAGO for cyrin’ out loud.) His sister would love to tell you more about the concert like how she was sure she saw Gene Simmons about TEN TIMES in the parking lot not realizing probably 5% of the total attendance was in full KISS make-up. Other than that, his sister doesn’t remember much of the concert because 1) she fell asleep before the opening act was finished 2) her mom put cotton balls in her ears to protect them and 3) what the hell is a 7 year old doing at a KISS concert anyway?

Also in Muscatine, the little boy had several good neighbor friends with whom he would pal around and sometimes tiff. Like all boys in the 70’s, several of these boys would eventually turn their struggles into full-fledged brawls. The little boy was always a bit small of stature for his age. One particular day, the little boy was found by his ever-loving and nurturing (for real) mother taunting and antagonizing the neighbor boys from the side porch. As the boys would close in on the little boy, he would run onto the porch, lock the screen door and taunt some more. The neighbor boys would tire and eventually begin to leave until the little boy would once again come out, taunt and then run back into the porch locking the door and yelling insults. The mother, who had a good name to uphold in the neighborhood, could not be known as the mother of the wuss, so she made him fight. When he refused, she threatened to spank him with the wooden switch she kept on hand until he relented and went out the face the now laughing Neanderthals awaiting him on his own front lawn. The mother carefully watched the spectacle and after the little boy took a couple good licks to the face, she broke up the fight and made the other boys go home. The next day, the boys were friends and played again as if nothing happened. That is how boys handled conflict in the 70’s.

In Muscatine, the little boy and his sister were blessed with another sister. This happened exactly 5 years and 364 days after the little boy was born – forever shadowing both of their birthdays and making July the second most expensive gift-giving month to their parents.

After Muscatine, the family moved to St. Louis, MO where they would hang their hats for the longest time of their lives. The little boy had a beer can collection in his basement room in St. Louis – over 100 beer cans arranged in a meticulous pyramid along the wall over his bed. He was very proud of his beer can collection although he was no where near drinking age. One day, in a fit of rage, one of his sisters slammed the door to his room and upon hearing the crash and cursing that ensued, ran into the nearest lockable room (the bathroom) until one of her parents arrived. However, once the sisters made this revelation, they would often intentionally slam the brother’s bedroom door and immediately run to the nearest lockable room or outside to a bike or other escape mechanism.

As years went by, the boy grew into a teenager with a troubled high school life. Troubled being that he was wicked smart, extremely talented, athletic, but the size of 5th grader causing him to be overlooked by coaches. Troubled being that he was handsome, but also had the face of a 5th grader causing him to be overlooked by girls. The college years came upon him and the teenager grew 6-8 inches in the first 18 months after high school graduation. The teenager grew into a young man graduating from college Summa Cum Laude with a degree in Electric Engineering in 4 short years while having and parenting a child his sophomore year.

In the next 6 years after college graduation, the young man had two more children and worked as an Electrical Engineer for a large firm. When he was a younger boy, he had shown he had a knack for being an entrepreneur when he arrived home from a store his family had recently discovered in the 80’s called Sam’s Club. He proudly showed his excited little sisters a canister of Double Bubble he had purchased. He bought the Double Bubble for $.02/piece and intended to sell it to his unassuming sisters for $.05/piece. However, he didn’t realize that his unassuming little sisters were, in fact, conniving, co-conspiring little thieves. He did, however, soon figure out how to better manage inventory when he constantly smelled Double Bubble on their breath. Taking into account this lesson learned, he took a huge risk just before his 3rd child was born and started his own company. After a couple of years, this company began to show signs of success and within a couple more years would thrive, making him financially secure and impossible to buy for.

Yes, the boy above is my brother, Kevin. Today is his birthday, born 5 years and 364 days before my little sister.

I have many other stories I could and should share about Kevin, but I will leave it at this for today because with two posts in two days, I am probably out of here for a while. You can chew on these last two for a while.

Happy Birthday, Kevin….

I love you.


Monday, July 28, 2008

The best girlfriend......

I have a friend. One of those friends that knows and understands you better than you know and understand yourself. One of those friends that would and has dropped whatever was pressing in her own life for whatever was more pressing in yours. One of those friends that makes you laugh a belly laugh with one simple silly expression or look. One of those friends that you can say just about anything to because she will still love you anyway and rarely judges you. One of those friends that gets you so tickled with one stupid word that brings back one ridiculous memory that you laugh until you have to run to the bathroom. One of those friends that just sits there while you cry and says nothing because she knows there is nothing to say. Yeah, one of those friends.

My friend just so happens to be my sister. And today, just so happens to be her birthday.

My friend has been there for me my entire life. She loaned me money in my teen years to pay a lawyer to fix a speeding ticket after I was too foolish with my own money and my parents froze my account. I don’t even need to mention that she didn’t tell my parents about the speeding ticket. She was the moral support I needed during my 20’s to keep me grounded in what was important in the scheme of life. She has always put family first and self second. She flew to California during one of Brian’s surgeries earlier in our marriage to be by my side and help me through it all. When our children arrived, she took vacation from her job and stayed up for the middle of the night feedings taking care of my boys. She has tolerated hateful and insensitive remarks coming from my own mouth and forgiven me and moved on. She took the time and money to come visit us with her family when we were living in Canada. When we were in California in 2007 for Brian’s most significant and difficult surgery, she helped my mom with the boys as soon as Mom arrived back in the states with them – to try to give my boys more love and stability in the most confusing time of their lives. This past year in what has been perhaps one of the most trying times of our lives, she and her family have visited us in Peoria at least 7 times, realizing unselfishly that it is difficult for us to always be the ones to travel. When we announce we will be coming their way, she clears their calendar. She is always there when I need her and when I simply want her.

Mindi is kind. She is compassionate. She works hard. She is a fantastic mother. She is loyal. She is innocent, yet wise. She is a devoted wife. She is real. She is silly. She is organized and efficient. She plans ahead. She is a dedicated employee. She is fun. She thinks things through. She is giving and thoughtful.

Oh stop! It's non-alcoholic!

The connection I feel with Mindi is difficult to describe, but unparalleled. We are different in many ways, such as my tendency to procrastinate and her tendency to pack 5 days in advance for a weekend getaway; and her love and my hate of reality TV and black licorice. However, we are alike in numerous ways and we simply “GET” each other. I get her desire to just “get it done” when she is doing a project and sometimes regretting it when finished with a shady job due to the rush. I get her when she calls me three times a day to tell me really quickly about something she saw on a commercial. I get her when she opts for the practical over the luxurious every time. I get her when she watches Vacation or Sixteen Candles or The Other Sister OVER AND OVER AND OVER again. I get her love for Buffalo Wild Wings, Boulevard Wheat, Cherry Sours and Pink Wintergreen Mints. I get her and she gets me.

I long to live in the same city as she does. I wish beyond wishes I could meet her for lunch or watch her kids or run an errand for her while she is working. I yearn to meet her for a cup of coffee or for her honest opinion when I am dress shopping. I miss her daily and when we go a couple days without talking, I start to feel as though something is wrong in my life – something is missing. When I hear her voice on the phone, even if we have little to nothing to say, I feel something comfortable, relaxed and refreshing.

Mindi recently wrote me a thank you card claiming she strives to be half the sister I am to her. Ironically, I feel like such an inadequate sister compared to her. Yes, I love her, but I do not DO for her as she does for me. That is Mindi. She DOES. I am words. She is actions. Her actions speak for her character in every aspect of her life. She is truly noble.

I am honored to be her sister.

I am blessed to be her sister.

I love you, Mindi Jane!



Thursday, July 24, 2008

because I got nothing else right now...

We begin this post with a toast....

Here's to NOT being pregnant anymore.... Mindi's first post-pregnancy Boulevard Wheat beer! WooHOO!!!

Anyway here are a few pics from recent events because I don't have the time or energy to write much of anything these days:

How could you possibly think this is anything short of positively adorable:

Hannah at 4 days old. I mean how many of the rest of us could look so good after swimming around in fluid for the last 9 months?

This is what kind of pics you get when you let your 5 and 6 year old boys take your camera for a half hour:

look! pictures of pictures!

the inside of a closet

the inside of an empty box

my mom always thought that was her best side

the Cardinals are playing on TVWe interrupt this baseball game for a mascara commercial

Now there is a bear in that empty box, better get a photo quick!

Super Nintendo controller

This one isn't bad of Hannah if you ignore my giant boob in your way. No, I am not the one that just had a baby and NO I am not nursing!

The basementMore pictures of pictures

Pictures of pictures are boring. Let me take a picture of you taking a picture of me instead. Cool!


Friday, July 18, 2008

Subway - giving my children "exactly what they want"

Dear Subway,

Please be prepared for the consequence of your latest advertising aimed at young children. There have been a series of television commercials for Subway aired during morning and daytime hours on such channels as Cartoon Network and Nickelodeon. I reference the commercial above as an example.

Please. Feel free to add campaigns marketed towards tweens requesting cell phones, designer clothes, their own computer, etc. only to fall on nay-saying parental units. Also, it would be wise to target teenagers requesting such things as sports cars, booze, weed and no curfews from their denying parents set out on destroying their social life and well-being. If you could, though, please wait until my children are of that age demographic before you launch each campaign. I really need to give my children another reason to hate me and my husband for the fact that we do not buy them toys and luxuries without cause and the fact that we have rules and boundaries. How ridiculous of any parent to deny their grade-schoolers request for a tarantula or to dye the cat (okay you may have a point on that one).

Please be prepared for the large influx of booger-picking, mosquito-bite-scratching, extravagant-requesting, picky-eating little hoodlums I plan on sending your way. Have your checkbooks ready so that you can tell my children who are begging me every day to go so Subway so they can "get exactly what they want" after I have turned down their daily requests for a Wii, a house with a swimming pool, a pair of Heely's, a Ripstick, and a trip to Disney for no particular reason, event or accomplishment that YOU, SUBWAY, will give them exactly what their literally-processing minds want. Thankyouverymuch.

At the very minimum, please be prepared to start offering hot dogs and peanut butter and jelly to the new market you have targeted.


Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Introducing.... Hannah Jane (wordless Wednesday)

Born: July 16
Weight: 8 lb 5 oz
Length: 20 inches
Assessment: perfect

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

It's not you, It's me.

Ever since mid-April, I have curbed my blogging. I don't post every day. I don't even post every week on occasion. I don't read every day. I don't comment every day. It's not you, it's me.

I have been spending time outside taking care of the lawn and flowers. I have been taking the kids to the pool and to friends. I have been visiting with friends and family and it has been great. I FINALLY feel relief from the guilt I felt when I first started to curb my blogging. I felt as if I were letting people down if they came here and there wasn't new material. I felt as if I were being a bad friend to my blog buddies if I didn't read and heaven forbid, did not comment DAILY. I don't feel that way too much any more. I was neglecting a lot in my tangible real life for my blog life and it wasn't settling well with me. I have found a better balance. It's not you, it's me.

However, I don't want my blog buddies to think I have forgotten them. I am reading you. I think of you often and you make my day often with your humor and your insight. I may not comment, but I am reading. I admit I don't read daily, I don't even read every post you write, especially, you and you and you that don't let your entire post feed into my reader. I know I am lazy, I admit it, but I have reprioritized and I feel good about where and how I am spending my time. It's not you, it's me.

I have also been terrible about posting awards. Here my blog buddies have given me a shout out and I have not even taken the time to acknowledge it. For that I am sorry. It's not you, it's me.

Here are a few of awards I dug up and dusted off from a few months ago. Yes MONTHS!!!

Kim at Jogging in Circles gave me THIS AWARD because she is a real friend.

Go read her. She did this photo post about her day in the City. She lives on Long Island and occasionally goes into the REAL LIVE NEW YORK CITY for work, play, etc. I told her I would counter her post with a photo post about my day in Peoria, IL so she could have a good laugh. I still haven't done that. But, Kim, it's not you, it's me, really.

Laskigal at FROM THE CHEAP SEATS gave me this award.

Laskigal is sharp, fun, insightful and enjoyable. She recently made the decision not to go back to teaching and stay home with her little guy full time. A tough decision, but one that will reap a lifetime of rewards.

Holly at June Cleaver Nirvana just gave me this award.

I already have this award in my side bar, but she has been doing that a lot lately. So, I will take the matching set, plus I just want to mention her because she is nothing short of A-doubleyou-e-s-o-m-e! You have to go read this post about her experience with God's furry creatures wreaking havoc on her landscape. Plus she is a Texan with THREE boys- two the same age as mine. I want to meet her and get our boys to play together, although I will have to ensure I mark my boys' crocs somehow first.

Then Kristen at Loving our Simple Life, who I believe was separated from me at birth because we continue to find out more and more things we have in common like origins in the Midwest, our husband's working in the same industry, an affection for Peach Cream Pie - I didn't know many other people outside of Southeast Missouri KNEW what peach cream pie was, and oh, yeah, a husband who has dealt with a brain tumor (yes way) gave me this award.

Thanks to my blogging friends. Sorry for the delay in posting. And I'm totally ignoring the rules associated with each award because I don't want to pick and choose who to award to. Read the posts that scroll over to the right side in my recent blogroll - ALL of those people are ones I would pass these awards on to, but I don't feel like doing all those links. See, it's not you, it's me.

On the it's not you, it's me train of thought, please know for the next couple weeks, I will not be posting much real time. That is because my baby and only sister is HAVING A BABY on Wednesday - a planned C-section because she actually gives birth to newborns shaped like toddlers and her doctor didn't want to put her through that again. The boys and I are going down to see her and help her and take over her house for a few days. Well, I am anyway. In order to actually BE OF ASSISTANCE to Mindi, my mom is going to let the boys take over her house for a few days instead. And because I have kids and God loves to test my patience, I have decided to forgo my own selfish agenda of arriving on Tuesday to be present for the birth at the crack of dawn on Wednesday in order to quarantine my children for another day. Grant had a sore throat and headache and vomiting on Saturday and Sunday. I do have a conscience and I don't think I would be able to live with myself if I infested the newborn household with such disease. We like to wait until the children are eating table food to do that.

So, I have a few scheduled posts in my absence. I plan on directing you to a few new blogs and a few of my favorite past posts (mostly written by others). But remember...

It's not you, it's me.


Sunday, July 13, 2008

I’ve just discovered the Santa-threat jackpot MID-SUMMER.

One of the reasons I love Christmas so much is the idle-threat use of ‘Santa is watching.’ As in, “Santa knows if you’ve been bad or good and he sees you doing that.” “Santa keeps his naughty and nice list. Is your behavior naughty or nice right now?” The power of those statements in our house is really unparalleled. The problem is when Christmas floats away onto last year’s calendar and we are 11 months from the next gift-laden holiday, I don’t dare use the “Santa is watching” threat lest I find myself ready to field the wish list requests for longer than I must. I can’t imagine doing an ‘only 326 more days until Christmas’ countdown every night starting in January. No way. So, I am left powerless. My own threats of losing DS, TV, bikes, etc. are relatively effective, but often lead to a choice of bad behavior over the hostage-threatened item just for a good mom-child throw-down.

HOWEVER, I have discovered a new jackpot. This one, so far, is proving to be more golden than Santa.

A chore/reward chart.

I know I am a bit behind the times on this and many parents have been doing it for years, but OHMYWORD I didn’t know how effective this could be. HOLYMOLY my kids have NEVER been so eager to earn their checkmarks for their daily functions. Our daily chores consist of these:

  • Set the Dinner Table
  • Make your Bed
  • Practice Printing/Math/Reading (it is summer, so we all need a little incentive to take time to do this now)
  • Put away your clean laundry
  • Put away all my toys

Okay, so admittedly, I just implemented this plan this week. We will see how it progresses, but the idea Brian I had was that each time they complete one of these tasks, they earn a checkmark. The above list may seem a bit undemanding to many of you, but I have 5 and 6-year-old boys and this is what I would like to get from them each day WITHOUT complaint. If they complain about the task, they do not earn a checkmark. If they do not perform to my standards, they do not earn a checkmark. After 18 checkmarks they earn a $3 allowance (5 and 6 year olds, remember, $3 is the equivalent of a sports car forcyrinoutloud – preferably paid in change so it looks like even more to them). They have been asking for some small action figure type toys lately, so Brian I thought this a good way to let them earn the money themselves since we don’t like to buy them toys without cause.

The drawback. Based on their historical chore-related habits, I really thought that they would earn 18 checkmarks every 10-14 days and this would have been a radical turnaround in their behavior. In the first day, my kids earned FIVE checkmarks. Gavin even cried when he got home yesterday when he learned the basement was all cleaned up in his absence. This may cost me a bit more than I had realized.

Of the above tasks, the one that is working out THE BEST for Brian and me – EXTRAS. This is a very subjective area for anything above and beyond that we think earns them a check. OHMYHOLYWORD you can’t believe the power of this so far. It has my boys tripping over their feet to open my door first, to pour my cereal, to take my plate to the kitchen sink, to lick the very stinking floor I am about to walk across. HOLYCHILDSLAVELABOR, BATMAN this has even me feeling a bit guilty. Because so far, I can’t really justify any one of these small acts as enough to earn a checkmark. But, I am loving it. Yesterday, as we were leaving the house to go to dinner, I called for Grant to come ONCE AGAIN and get in the car. I threatened for him to lose a checkmark (another bonus for Mom and Dad) if he can’t listen. He came running and when I inquired as to what he was doing upstairs when I CLEARLY stated it was time to go before he ascended the steps, he replied, “making the bed.” I told him he already earned his checkmark for making his bed and he couldn’t earn another in one day for the same task. He replied, “No, Mommy, YOUR bed.” Oh yes, he did.

Umm yeah, this is gonna work out just fine.


Wednesday, July 9, 2008

My hero WW

Ever since I have known Brian, he has rooted for the underdog when he had no vested interest in either opponent. I am now rooting for my own hero- my underdog.

Friday, July 4, 2008

4th of July - Missouri style

Having lived in Canada for 2 years, missing the 2005 and 2006 4th of July and all that comes with it in America, and being absorbed in house remodeling last 4th of July, I am beyond enthused to celebrate this 4th of July, the day of the greatest country on earth’s independence, with my family doing exactly what we should be doing… eating chicken wings and fried fish, drinking microbrews (we’ll even limit it to American made today), teaching our young boys how to light firecrackers (made in China) in Missouri where they are legal, playing Euchre, roasting marshmallows, semi-supervising our boys poking a bonfire with large pointed sticks, cleaning dribbled popsicles off the kids’ faces (or letting the sprinkler do it), watching the boys slide down the slip n slide, feeding cows and goats, fishing, and maybe even talking Papa into a hayride.

Sound redneck to you?

Me too.

Isn’t it great to be an American?


Wednesday, July 2, 2008

A man in uniform - WW

who can resist a man in uniform?
Even makes it tolerable when they are doing this.. And this.