The Chocolate Lady

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

More fun than a Caribbean cruise!

My Honey and I both love to travel. No offense to the "North Pole Express" folks, but it takes something more than a 3 mile train plod, out to the cattle fields, to satiate our vacation hunger.

With finances being pinched, we arent in a position to go anywhere...oh, we did venture to the snow last year, and there was that Make-A-Wish extravaganza to Florida a few years back.....but somehow both left us wanting on the R&R scale.

Sometimes, we talk about trips, planning them down to the detail, knowing that we arent actually going to go....but it makes us feel good to pretend we *might* go. Just for kicks, I like to go on the internet and look at the bargain prices for last minute cruises, and it makes it seem like Im almost out on the water, when I read about the itinerary and amenities on board.

The other day, I ran into a neighbor at the market. She was sharing her latest woes re: her grown children, and how they are depleting her retirement kitty. She said, "My sister has a boat and a vacation home, Ive got 3 kids!"

Earlier today, My Honey had just a tinge of envy in his voice, as he remarked that a co-worker, a childless co-worker, had an ocean view home on Newport Coast, and another residence in the mountains.

"But he doesnt have kids!" I reminded him.

"Yes, I know!" My Honey responded.

"We could be galavanting off to the South of France each Spring (or whenever it's best to go), and scuba diving in Tahiti each Fall, with ski trips to Idaho in the Winter...we could do all of that, but we have our dear children instead..." I said, as I sort of weighed things in my mind.

"Yes, I know!" said My Honey.

"And we wouldnt trade them for anything, would we? They are much more fun than a dozen vacations, arent they?" I wondered.....trying to convince myself.

"Yes" My Honey insisted, "Especially when you are wiping poop up off the floor."

By the way, we are still totally open to trying out some resort locations, and blogging about it. Yep, we are the flexible kind of folks that are fully up to "bartering" if anyone (like Beaches with Elmo) is interested.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

The Real Thing

After our trip to The North Pole, I had a lot of work ahead of me, if I was going to salvage any of Pooper's belief in Santa.

I realize many moms would have just let it go, the kid is 8 now, and pretty bright, so maybe it's just his time to let Santa go....

But Pooper's belief had been so strong prior to our trip, I just knew there was still some hope.

I gave up trying to rationalize why there were cows, and no snow, at the North Pole, or how we travelled through 3 countries and onto a new continent....sort of. What I did do, was take the kids to "google earth" to see if we could figure out exactly where we had went.

I pulled up the "satellite" version (as in the version that has very little snow on the ground) of North America, and asked Pooper and Beauty, to use the mouse to show me where they think we went. We all agreed, that we had gone past Canada, at least to the Northwest Territories (obviously!) After that, it became unclear.....Beauty does seem to remember passing some water, although Pooper wasnt sure. I asserted, that we had probably gone to the "border" of the North Pole area, and not to the actual "pole" itself.

Clearly, from the map, there was not snow along our route, as that seems to be reserved for the axis or "pole", but there is plenty of dirt and earthy terrain as you go from Washington, through Canada, and into the Northwest Territories, to the border of the North Pole. Pooper could clearly see this, and agreed, that we had probably just went to the "entrance"...because logically, that is where the train would stop.

AND, just like in our local mountains, the streets and stores have been cleared of snow, the train station had most likely been cleared of any snow, for safety reasons, and besides, the heat of the engine would have melted any snow, of course.

Pooper spent some time moving the mouse along the map, trying to decide which path we might have taken...and it didnt really long as he was reconciling, both mentally, visually, tactily, that we had indeed gone through Canada up to the Northern part of the world, I knew things would be ok.

I had asked Pooper, "How will you know if this guy wasnt a fraud?"

"If he gives me everything on my list" he said, matter of factly.

Usually, my kids are allowed to pick one item, but this year, Pooper had picked two. Prior to our trip, I had talked with him about it, and let him know that it wasnt right to ask for so much, and there was just no way he was going to get two big things. Not to mention, the things were; 1. a drum set, which I just wouldnt allow, due to noise and neighbors, and 2. a Nintendo DS, which was not only expensive, but violated our household rule of no electronic games (not because we are against electronic games, per se, but the free games on the computer seem just fine to me, I dont want to get sucked into an entire "system" that you need to keep feeding.) Pooper sobbed, letting me know that all his friends had the Nintendo, and they talked about it at school.....I held my ground, but it was ultimately out of my hands, as Santa didnt always listen to my advice.

Besides, Pooper reminded me, that Santa doesnt have to pay money, he makes everything for free....

On our trip to the North Pole, when Pooper was chatting with the big guy, he gave him his list, asking for the drums and Nintendo. Santa said he could have them both! Although, he said, "Im out of red drums (which Pooper had wanted) but I can get you some blue ones."

So, what a surprise Christmas morning, when the first thing Pooper saw, was blue drums....and a nintendo was under the tree too.

Additionally, there was a book, unwrapped, aside the fire place, with a note....It was the Autobiographpy of Santa Claus, the book that he had recommended to Pooper, in order to understand Santa's magic. He had left it, reminding Pooper that this was the book with the answers.

Pooper hasnt read the book, I dont think it's necessary anymore, thank goodness.

Santa is real, and Pooper knows it. Thanks to Santa's magic, and very generous grandparents!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The day Santa died........

Well, first of all, he didnt really die, just his spirit seems to have evaporated in the mind of Pooper. And, maybe not even that, maybe it's just a temporary lapse......let me explain.

Pooper has been 100% on-board with Santa. It's Pooper that reminds us that Santa doesnt have to pay for the toys, so there is no limit to what we can ask for.....or about how he can magically do things....

Beauty loves Santa, but she doesnt seem as riveted by his magic, but Pooper, he is! or....was?

Several weeks ago, My Honey and I made plans to take the kids on the Polar Express. Actually, not the Grand Canyon one....but one up in Fillmore, called the, "North Pole Express." Fillmore is about 3 hours away, just north of Los Angeles. My Honey knew a colleague that had gone with her kids and she said it was fabulous. We had wanted to go for so long to the Polar Express, but it is several hours away, so this Fillmore option seemed perfect.

The kids had no idea about this surprise, and as Christmas has drawn closer, they have been concerned that we hadnt made our annual trak to the mall to chat with the old guy. They believe that if you dont tell him what you want, that you wont get everything....(this is Pooper's belief)...but that you will only get part of what you want, because you didnt make the effort to come and see Santa.

So, Pooper has been worried that he wont get his desired list....really worried. Beauty, well, she doesnt even have a list, she finally decided she wants some, "fashion", but that's it.

Yesterday, as we took our car in to get the window fixed, Pooper wondered if we would be able to squeeze in a trip to the mall to see Santa, I (always turning our outtings into ADVENTURES) told him I had called the mall, and Santa had already packed up and was headed back to the North Pole. This, naturally, upset my kids, and as soon as I saw their devastation, I quickly told them, that WE WERE GOING TO TRACK HIM DOWN! Daddy was leaving work early, and if we could get the window fixed on the car, we would drive up to an old train that would take us to see Santa.

*** Note*** I was unsure what the "story" would be on this train...would they make the claim that we were actually at the North Pole? I wasnt willing to make such promises to my kids, so I simply said, "I dont know how, but they are going to try to go as far as they can to find Santa, ON HIS WAY to the North Pole."

Pooper, naturally had lots of questions, and he was very excited at the prospect of breaking a world record! You see, he seemed to know that the youngest person to go to the Arctic was 4 years old, and this would allow Little One the new honor. He also began calculating how long it would actually take to get to the Arctic, the path to get there (he noted crossing bodies of water!) and many times throughout the day, he became filled with excitement as he would, "get to go to a new continent!"

This all spelled big trouble to me, and I reminded him, that I wasnt sure if we were going to the North Pole, or just finding Santa on his way....

In any case, I TRUSTED, that this company that had developed this fantasy had done what was necessary to make it special, and REAL. You know???

So, we left our house around 2pm....but I purposely kept saying that it was "lunch time", hoping to create an optical illusion re: the time we would travel. We stopped for "dinner" at 4pm up near Valencia, "WAY passed LA"...and then, "drove longer until it was dark" (another hour) to get to the station in Fillmore. I was proud of myself, because, with the help of a setting sun, I had made the children believe we had been driving "all day, for many hours" and Pooper now believed we had gone passed San Francisco. Yes, I had done MY PART to help authenticate this journey.

We arrived in Fillmore, a sleepy old town, which in the dark, appeared to be a migrant town for workers of the avocado farms and vineyards. There was a Santa's Village set up, with a small carousel ....funny thing about the carousel.

I was watching while My Honey rode around with the girls, and I noticed a rather large boy on a horse...well, he wasnt actually, ON the horse, as he purposely slid himself from side to side, laughing (and bumping into the "first time dad" holding his daughter on the horse next door.) Apparently, it was his grandparents standing next to me, and they gave commentary as the ride progressed:

Grandma: "JEREMY! sit still, you are kicking that man!"

Grandpa: he cant sit still, he doesnt fit on that seat, so he is cutting up to cope.

Grandma: "JEREMY! STOP THAT! Sit still!"

This went on, and I kid you not, as Jeremy passed each time, I could hear the creaking of the old wooden planks that secured his horse, they clearly seemed to be at their limit!

Anyhoo....eventually (7:20pm) we heard the whistle and boarded the old, antique train.

The company clearly asserted that we would indeed be heading all the way up to the North Pole. My kids were nearly bursting with excitement as we settled into our seats...Pooper with his face pressed against the window.

As our journey began, "Elves" came and passed out cookies, milk, ....everyone was filled with joy, except for my son, who was staring in disbelief out the window.

The train was going, approximately, 6.5 miles per hour, and Pooper turned to me and said, "We're never going to get there at this speed!"...I asked an elf if the train would start going faster soon, and she said, "No, the tracks are wet, and we need to be careful of 'slippage'"....

ok, first, what the heck is "slippage"???? The metrolink takes people up and down the state, every day, rain or shine, with no slippage. Secondly, I knew darn well, that if we never went any faster, Pooper's investment in Santa would have some serious "slippage"....

I said to the lady, in a quiet voice, "Two plus two makes four, and this one will never believe we made it to the North Pole at this rate."....and she answered loudly, "It's Santa Magic! We WILL get to the North Pole, with Santa Magic!"

Whatever...I remained hopeful, and the train plugged along......and from the window, we could see the cars, going much faster than us, on the freeway that paralleled the tracks. (really!)

At one point, Pooper turned to me and said, "I can ride my bike faster than this train!!"

He seemed genuinely upset.

During our ride, elves lead the group is boisterous rounds of Christmas carols, and read stories....and while everyone joined in, Pooper sat with his angry face pressed up to the window.

When the conductor announced that we were heading into the North POle.....everyone focused out the window, and cheered as they saw Santa waving at them. Santa was outside, in front of his stiped pole, and his little shack titled, "The North Pole."

While others cheered and hollered with glee, Pooper burst out, "That's it??!! There's not even snow!!" Clearly the Christmas songs were not enough to distract him from the farm animals, dirt, trees, and parallel roads that were clearly visible from the window.

My Honey and I went into overdrive with reasons why he had just spotted a cow, "Well, Im sure there are some families, somewhere, that are asking Santa for a cow to help with their farming, so he needs to have cows here to give to people!"

Pooper: A cow would die at the North Pole.

We told him all about Santa Magic, reminded him of the "hours and hours of all day journeying to get to this point"....I even had him believing we had gone through parts of Canada, and more..... I also threw in my motherly, "dont be so ungrateful! Many starving children would be so thankful to come on this train to see Santa!"

But his face was down, and his heart was heavy, and I didnt know if we could do anything to change it!

DANG IT!! Id rather have not come at all, then to waste all this time, just to kill his dream. If we had stayed home, he would be a full-on believer, now, thanks to POOR PLANNING ON THE PART OF THE "North Pole Express" company.....He was a serious doubter. I was kind of mad, and felt ripped off too.....I quickly multiplied the cost of the ticket, times the 500+ people that came each night (they mentioned such)....and wondered, "Could they not invest in a backdrop of snow???? or at least make some efforts to appear to be in the North Pole???"

Anyhoo... finally, we told Pooper, "I dont know these mysteries, you'll have to ask Santa." ...and he did.

After the train ride, we waited in the 30 degree winds to talk to Santa, and Pooper asked him how we got to the North Pole so quickly, when the train was driving slow...and Santa told him that there was an entire book about the magic of Santa, and told Pooper if he read it, it would answer his questions.

Pooper left, still unsure, (and now wanting that book)....he said the test will be, if he gets the items written on the list he gave to Santa.

I happen to have some insider information, and the prospect is hopeful, that the gifts under the tree will help to restore some of Santa's magic...Ill keep you posted!

Monday, December 22, 2008

How I spend my time

It's been way too long since I have ranted on this blog. In the chance that there may be one reader that is still checking back to find out how the kids and I are doing...I thought I would update.

Id love to tell you all about the delicious life I lead as a Dove Chocolatier, so here goes;

Today, I spent the morning at the glass shop, for the 2nd time. Glass, as in, my passenger car window is broken, and since it's unsafe to ride around in the rain with the wind flapping against the non-see-through plastic trash bag that is afixed to my car with duct tape, and I need the glass shop to repair the window.

How might a glamour-puss, such as myself, come to find herself in need of a new passenger window? Let me answer that for you.

Over a week ago, I was at a Live Nativity, held at the park in my neighborhood. My Honey and I organize it each year, which includes renting farm animals. After the Nativity, the animal handler and her son got the donkey, goats and sheep back into the truck, and I went to my van to retrieve my checkbook, so to pay them.

Pay attention to this part: I went to my van, (obviously had my car key, as I did indeed open the van.) I then went to the animal truck, where I placed my checkbook on the passenger seat as I filled out the amount. I then tried to get back into my van, but could not find the key. Of course, the animal truck had already taken off, bound back to San Diego (an hour drive), and I didnt have their cell number.

There was an off chance, that they key was actually inside MY van. An off chance. The night sky did not allow me enough light to see in clearly, but since I didnt have a lot of choices besides putting my track skills into action and chasing down the truck with animals, I called the towing company to get them to open my van (in hopes of finding my key.)

My Honey and my 3 freezing children were waiting patiently. Ok, they werent patient at all. My Honey was upset that I had not been more responsible, and my children were hitting each other and crying and not listening to either parent. And then we waited for the tow truck guy.

He immediately tried to connect with my kids, and told my 8 year old, "My name is the same as one of your Sesame Street friends!"

Pooper: Oscar? Elmo?

Me: Bert? Ernie?

BINGO...his name was Ernie, and he was here to save the day, or else really botch it up.

After 45 minutes of failed attempts to open the van door, and just minutes shy of my children frying my last nerve, he had some success and the car alarm sounded, indicating he had opened the door.

With the alarm blaring, I searched, and searched, and there was no key! Really!

Ernie drove My Honey back to our house, and then My Honey drove back to get us in his car.

Long story short, we eventually got the key (and I do mean LONG STORY).....but for the purposes of this post, and my visit to the glass shop, you dont need to know more about the key.

What you may want to know, is that once the key was found, and I was driving in the van, it came to happen, that I rolled down the passenger side window, only to find that it would not roll back up. Instead it made some grinding noises. My mind went back to a few nights prior, to when The Muppet had thrashed around inside my passenger door with his long metal bar. Great!

So, to paraphrase: window broken, storm was coming, My Honey taped up the van with plastic bags and I looked like a real winner driving around with a Hefty duct taped to my vehicle. AND, throw in the wind, and a bag that flapped itself out of position, and you get the idea.

Now....I went to the glass shop the 1st time, and he jimmy rigged the window back into place, until the part arrived. Good!

However, last night, with a rain storm approaching, the glass slipped back down into the window, making it necessary for me to return today, to get the whole thing fixed. The part they ordered, the window motor, was in, and would just take an hour to fix.

The kids were on their best behavior, as we have an important trip to take tonight, to the Polar Express....another long story, but if they are going to see Santa, we are going to drive, and take a train, and try to see him on his last stop before Christmas. So, they are amped, anticipation is high, and it all makes for a dramatic approach to Chriatmas. But we cant go without the window on the car, so that's what we did this morning, with plans to leave on our trip to see Santa at around 1pm.

And, since it wouldnt be as exciting to just sit and wait at the glass shop, I spent some time on the phone getting the insurance to send the paperwork, so that the repair costs would be covered without making me broke.

While Im on the phone with the insurance adjuster, Little One announces with a hurried tone, "Ive gotta go poop!"

With my cell phone pressed up to my ear, I scan the room for a bathroom, and see NONE. I finally get a worker who points me in the direction across the warehouse, and Beauty, Little One and myself all scoot across to the restroom. Once inside, I realize the light and fan are on the same wall switch, and I cant quite hear the adjuster on the phone when Im in the bathroom.

So, I step outside, and somehow, in the 2 minutes I was out of the bathroom, Little One manages to get poop all over herself and the toilet, not to mention, I need a new Pull Up.

Im still on the phone with the insurance gal, who is trying to get the paperwork together to send to the glass guy. She is asking me questions, and I try to answer, as I balance the cell phone against my shoulder, while wiping poop off my child.

I am ever mindful, that the paper towels being used to wipe the poop, will most likely clog the toilet, which will only add to the hilarity of the situation.

As Im trying to get the poop under control, I really cant even hear the lady on the phone, because of the loud fan, however, if I turn off the fan, and the light, I cant really see the poop well enough to clean. And, oh, did I mention Little One was crying?

Another long story shortened, we cleaned the poop up, we got the insurance issue handled, and drove away in our van with the new window motor.

Now, we will scurry up to the North Pole, making a last ditch effort to see Santa before Christmas.....

Can you see, why I havent had a lot of time to post? or, has the last reader left, and Im writing this to myself? If you write a post on blogspot, and nobody reads it, is it really there?

Merry Christmas!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Boogie Fever

Does anyone remember that song, Boogie Fever? I love that song, and that catchy line in the chorus, "I think it's going around and around and around."

Yeah, well, just as *catchy*, yet not quite as enjoyable, is lice. Lice, as in little crabs that hatch in your hair and crawl around biting your scalp, drinking your blood and making your head itch. Those lice.

Last week, I got the ol' letter..."someone has lice, please check your child, blah blah blah blah blah."

Now, to regress to an older post, another random fact about me, Im a lice officianado. Truly. My years at the orphanage were good for many things, and one was for making me an expert in lice. I can spot them like nobody else, and have spent (undoubtedly) hundreds of hours plucking them from the hairs of children.

Interesting tid bit (interesting being a questionable term).....when children are removed from home and made wards of the court...the court is the child's guardian. The court makes all decisions; medical, educational, where the child will live, etc. etc. But the one thing the court cant do (and I think it is the one and only thing, besides taking the child out of state - and even that can be done with some paperwork), is cut the child's hair. No kidding.

So, when a child comes in, with lots of hair, and super-lice are jumping off their head like flies on poop, we cant cut that child's hair. Even considering that the child will be housed with tens of other children, in close living quarters (where they all sleep in the same room) still cant cut the hair.

You can put the hair into many little pony tails and try to keep it from blowing in the wind, but you cant cut it.

So, that's a scenario that was pretty common, and it gave me great experience in identifying lice, and trying to treat it with all the shampoos, etc.

Fast forward, the note that got sent home from school with the kids.

Unlike many moms, lice doesnt freak me out much, Ive had it a bunch (thanks to hairy children who are wards of the court) and I know it's not a huge big deal.

After I got the letter from school, I checked Beauty and Pooper's hair, and they were fine. As it turns out, 2 girls in Pooper's class have them, but he was clear, so no big deal.


I took the girls to get their hair cut (monday is that time of year - family Christmas photo time!) Everything was fine, they looked cute, and as we were leaving, I saw a friend, and so I stuck around and chatted a while. I say this, because the hairdresser continued to cut the next person, she did not act freaked out, or super-sterilize her station.

When I finally went to go home, I put Little One into her car seat, and immediately noticed the ashen colored nats moving about her fair scalp. UM, TOTALLY LICE!

I looked some more, and saw another. OMG. WE. HAVE. LICE.

Surely, the hairdresser must have seen them. She washed, cut, and then parted Little One's hair, making those cute little twistie tie, pony tails....there is no way she would have missed them, they are clear as day on Little One's fair hair. However, Im also wondering, if Elise picked them up there? WHO KNOWS?

Now, I said it wasnt a big deal, and it's not....when you are single. But with 3 kids and a hubby, it equates to incredible amounts of laundry, etc., At the orphanage, we just threw our dirty clothes in a cart that got rolled down to the laundry wasnt my job (thank goodness!)....but now it is!! (I should be fired!)

I immediately checked everyone's hair when we got home, and never found any on anyone but Little One. BUT, how did she get them?? She could have got them from Pooper...but then he would have them too. Some of the kids from school also go to our church (although the 2 girls that have it do not.) but there is the chance that it has gone beyond those 2 girls, and Little One got it from a sibling at church. Or was it from the hairdresser? Is that why she didnt say anything??

I may never know, so I just have to treat the whole family.

I know that the "medicated" shampoos are not very effective, not to mention, they have chemicals that can cause leukemia....and while Ill take lice over leukemia, I had to get one good shampooing in. After that, the only real way to get rid of them is to pick them out, one by one. seriously. The combs are not that good, you just have to hunt them down and use your fingernails. I know gross.

One little trick, is to slather your head in vaseline, as it smothers the lice.

So, after stripping everyone down, and doing the pesticidal shampooing (careful not to go blind), I smeared petroleum jelly throughout everyone's head. This is great, except for the fact that it takes about a week of daily shampooing to get all the grease out. Which, doesnt bode well for family pictures on Monday (that can not be rescheduled.)

So....long story short......I read that putting corn starch in the hair, and using a clarifying the best way to get rid of the vaseline. Tomorrow morning, (because we cant go to church looking like grease heads)....I will try to shampoo everyone's vaseline out, and then sit and look for bugs to pull out with my fingernails, one at a time.

And, if that doesnt make you want to get up and do the Buggie Fever, I mean, Boogie Fever, I dont know what else would!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

I've been tagged!

I haven't been "tagged" much lately. Ive been sort of on the sidelines of blogville, busy getting incredibly misquoted in magazines like THIS ONE (although Im thankful for ANY exposure!)

But the other day, my friend KJ tagged me, with the simple task of listing, "7 random things about myself." Easy enough, except, what's considered random?

I cant list about my conservative politics, because, that's not really random. Ive never kept my opinions secret, so you all already know about THAT.

I dont think there is much about my kids that is random, their faces and embarassing moments have been plastered across the information superhighway.

So, let me try to find some things that are R. an D. Om

1. The joint on my foot, near my big toe, protrudes a bit, and my sister-in-law says I have a, "hammer toe" (nice!)

2. When I was single, I wore a diamond ring on my wedding finger, to allow myself the freedom to go out dancing without having guys try to pick up on me (as if, there was such a rush....but I did like to have fun in peace....not that all guys respect a ring on that finger anyways!) now...that I am married, and no longer go out dancing.....I dont wear a ring on that finger. My finger got to fat for my wedding ring, so I am ringless. Oh the irony.

3. My kindergarten teacher, now teaches at the school my children attend.

4. I never liked the Michael Jackson, Thriller album.

5. The only cooked vegetable I like, is corn. (did you already know that?)

6. Im afraid to go to sleep if Im the only adult in the house. Not that My Honey is much protection....if you wake him when he's sleeping (to let him know about a possible intruder, for example) he is so disoriented and loud (ie. "HUH? WHAT? HUH? ) that it's not really very protective in the case of a real intruder anyway.

7. I am the smartest person in my family (again, probably not a big secret, but Im checking to see who reads here :) )

So, there you have it. 7 RAndoM things about me.

Who shall I tag? Ill think about that and tag them in the next post.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

What if the gift horse pees on your leg?

Im feeling stuck. Emotionally, Im torn between being excited and annoyed. Happy and disappointed. It's like my limbic system is on a seasaw or something.

Recently, I did a phone interview with a popular, community magazine. The man asked me questions about my Dove Chocolate business (I know, what else, right?) I noticed during our conversation, that he quite frequently repeated things back to me INACCURATELY. I would gently correct him, and even asked if I would get to read the article before going to print, so that I could make sure the info was right.

Writer: Oh dont worry, a "Fact Checker" will call you and go over the entire article, and make sure all the details are correct.

Me: Ok, super!

Well, I knew the magazine was going to be distributed tomorrow morning. And, as of yet, I havent received contact from any, "Fact Checker". I wondered if perhaps, the article was postponed for another issue....and that bummed me out.

Tonight, I decided to search the magazine website, and guess what, Im in this issue!! Woo Hoo! And guess what else? I couldnt get past the first paragraph without stumbling through one error after another.

For example, In his introduction, he describes me as a "physical therapist" (Im a psychotherapist)...and he says I teach at my children's school (actually, Im a mommy helper that volunteers a few hours a week.)

I realize I should be grateful for the exposure, and I am, but, GEESH!

The writer goes on to say we have "heart shaped chocolate"....Im not sure if he got confused about our "heart shaped fondue pot" or how we have decorative heart designs you can imprint onto chocolate candies.

It doesnt help, that My Honey read it, and made a face. Not a happy, smiley face either! I was hoping he would say, "wow, that's a great article, dont worry about the little inaccuracies, they dont mean anything." Instead I got THAT FACE, and a mumbling about how poorly written it was.

By the way, a photographer even came to one of my Tasting Parties to take my picture. He stayed over an hour, snap, snap, snapping away. Nice guy. Imagine my glee when I see that the picture they chose to publish looks like I am lecturing about the dangers of Hamas or something. I dont look happy or fun! Was that really his best picture? Of the hundreds he snapped, that was the one they chose?!

I guess it doesnt matter, does it? I feel guilty even being annoyed, because, I shouldnt look a gift horse in the mouth, or whatever, right? But what if the gift horse gallops in the wrong direction or pees on my leg?

Tomorrow morning, I will call Dove's corporate office and let them know about the article. They like to be make aware any time we are in the media. Im hoping the company President, a darling lady named Betty, likes it, even if she's referred to as BETH!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

glimpses into a 43rd birthday

I think it was meant to be a gift, that My Honey left for work without waking me, I think.

My kids didnt mind waking me, not with birthday wishes, but with their typical morning loudness and climbing into my bed. I asked my daughter if there daddy had left anything special for me, like FLOWERS or something, she said NO. I pressed her, thinking she might have been covering for a surprise, but she assured me, there was nothing waiting for me. She remembered it was my birthday though, and then she and Pooper ran downstairs.....

I knew they were up to something, so I did what a good mom does, and checked my email. Periodically, Beauty would come up and chit chat, and remind me that nothing was going on downstairs, but gave me strict orders to stay in my room.

I poked my head out of my room, asking for permission to take a shower, and they got QUITE UPSET, thinking I might be coming out.....I assured them, I would just be in my shower, and they said, OK.

Midway through my shower, Beauty came up to tell me that if I heard a weird noise, they had it under control. At that point, honestly, it didnt matter...I was enjoying probably the only 45 seconds of serenity that I would get for the entire day, and was in no hurry to find out about noises.

Not long after coming out of the shower, I was greeted by my darlings. Beauty carried a tray (a special thing to grill veggies on the BBQ) that had a 1/2 eaten, left-over McDonalds Hot Fudge Sundae; an apple, some spice-gum drops, a bowl of freshly popped popcorn, and a nutri-grain bar. WOW! As she handed it to me, with her proud smile, Pooper threw home-made confetti at me, It was a party!

We all sat on the bed and ate breakfast together. Little One had dibs on the ice cream sundae, and nobody dared interfere.

They had made me a card, with glitter pens and plastic rhinestones, it's beautiful.

Pooper and Beauty sang their new favorite Bday song....which Pooper's heard for the first time from his teacher, just days ago, at his own Bday...and then it was sung again at Disneyland:

Here is your birthday song
It isnt very long.

That's it!! That was my birthday fun!!

The day was marked by a Field Trip to the Fire Dept. I was a chapperone for Beauty's class, and we had fun holding hands most of the time.

After housework, chocolate work, and taking the kids to swim practice, I called My Honey to figure out what he wanted to do for dinner. He was going to be working late, so the kids and I had Del Taco. Hurray!

I ended the night by passing out Yes On Prop 4 signs..... I had the gift of a birthday, the least I could do is pass that on to the unborn.

Thanks for the birthday wishes.....My best birthday present was 8 years ago, when I took Pooper home on my bday. Every year since is a precious gift, God healed his cancer and each year that he is here for my bday, is amazing. I was lucky to spend my bday with all of my kids. No need for fancy restaurants or jewelry..... I have the most precious things a mom could want!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Warning Signs

Ok, Im a total blogging flake, Im sorry........

Now that I have that out of the way, I figured I should write SOMETHING, since Grandma J has linked folks here.

For those of you that are younger than me, I thought I would just warn you about a few things that lie ahead;

1. Your personality might change. As a professional in the psychology field, we were always taught that certain personality characteristics never change, one of them being introversion/extroversion. I have always been a 10+ on the Myers-Briggs, as a full on extrovert. Being in crowds was such a thrill, I love concerts, Fairs, chaos and was an adrenaline rush. The idea of being, for example, in Time Square at midnight, sounded SO.EXCITING. But guess what, at least for me, this has all changed. Im now about a 4 on the scale, at best. I no longer like crowds or even noise. Take for example, our recent trip to Disneyland. It bugged me to all heck to have people breathing on me in line, or with their knees poking into my back as we waited on Main Street for the parade. We found a spot on the parade route 2 hours early, for the express reason of getting a large area. I spread myself, my things, my children, the stroller, etc. to make sure that we have ample room. My Honey does not understand why I take up so much room, and I remind him that if we give people an inch of space, they will take it, and we need A BUFFER! Sure enough, by the time the parade starts, people are touching me and pushing on me, I DIDNT GET THERE 2 HOURS EARLY TO HAVE MY BOUNDARIES VIOLATED PEOPLE! Even in the movies, I can not stand people being directly behind me, because they will inevitably talk, kick the seat, and....CHEW LOUDLY! I no longer like to go to crowded places, but prefer to just sit on my fat rear watching events on TV. Im telling you people, personalities do change, people do get old and crochety, Im living proof!

2. Wrinkles happen. I vividly remember looking in the mirror when I was 28 and being so troubled by my first crows feet. Hello, now, I think of that day and shake my head. Because that was nothing compared to today. I now have deep trenches and valleys etched across my forehead, and I appear to be a smoker, thanks to my mouth wrinkles (even though I am a staunch anti-smoker!) Somehow, over time, the wrinkles happened, slowly, slyly, and it would take a lot of botox to even begin to make things better.....but Im not ruling it out....

3. Which leads me to another thing that happens....if you are one of those people who adamantly opposes plastic surgery and stuff....dont go making any costly bets that you'll never do it. Trust me people, it stinks to have wrinkles, bags, dark circles and sun damage. Not to mention, a lap band wouldnt hurt. So, personalities change, and so do opinions on plastic surgery.

4. Even if you feel like you could dance on the table, dont do it, your back will hurt in the morning, if you dont fall of the table first and break an ankle.

5. If you join the Fan Club of a certain HOT BAND (INXS), you have now become like the blue haired, Wayne Newton fans. Even if you feel like a teen, you arent.

These are just some of the things that happen when you case you were wondering.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Aye Maties!

I know, it's been awhile....

but let's cut right to the chase, there are PIRATES off the coast of Somalia, holding a Russian boat, and it's crew...demanding a $20 Million ransom.

This has been going on for days now, and while the US and Russia close in, it's turned into a stand off.

I kind of thought, that since we were a major super power, that we could just wipe a Pirate Ship right out of the seas, apparently, not that easy, especially with hostages on board.

In any case, it's keeping my kids highly entertained, they are excited (if not a tad bit nervous) to know that Pirates exist.

any other interesting tidbits in the news? share them here, and give my reader something to do, since Ive been so behind in blogging. :)

Monday, September 15, 2008

Life Interrupted

It's funny, that as the kids scooted off to school (great 1st day pics, which will be up when my IT guy uploads them...), my life slowed down. Suddenly, it was just me, and Little One (who is napping for 3-4 hours of the day), and you would have thought I would have started a blogging frenzy.

Instead, I decided to spend my free time cleaning my house. All my baseboards are dust free, the laundry room floor is visible, and....ERrrrr.....sorry, I didnt mean to lie, I was just caught up in a dream.

Actually, I have had more free time, but it has been poured into my little chocolate business.

I know it sounds frivolous, and silly, and unimportant, but I really believe that God is going to use this to help us crawl out of all the medical debt.

Today marks my 3 month anniversary with Dove Chocolates, and did you know that last week they announced our standing in a new incentive program, and guess who has the most points in the country?? go ahead, guess? It's me!!

Dove chocolates is not new, Mars. Inc is the parent company..makers of M&Ms and Snickers, and they have been around FOREVER. But the "at-home party" line, is new, and honestly, to be at the beginning of a new direct-sales company, is a blessing.

So, I have been busy building my team, and having "chocolate tasting parties", and it's left me too pooped to blog. I mean, I still find time to do the important things, like leave snarky comments on Grandma J's blog , but too tired to journal on my own.

Plus, most of what has been going on has been excitement about my new endeavor, and I figured you all didnt want to hear about THAT....

Id have put up some fun pictures of my kids with their new baby cousin Sophia, or Baby Preston (who is almost 1 year old!!)....but my IT guy has been busy.

As for Pooper's tests....he hasnt had any yet! He feels and looks fine, and Im sure he is, and Ill let you know when the tests are done so we can just confirm that he his well.

Funny thing...Pooper and I had just laid down to take a nap, and he said,

Pooper: Am I average?

Me: (thinking of all the ways he is exceptional)...Um, yeah, you are avarage.

Pooper: Are YOU average?

Me: (thinking of all the ways that *I* am exceptional, lol) Sure, Im average.

Pooper: Oh, good, then just close your eyes, because I read that if the average person closes their eyes and keeps them shut for 7 minutes, they will fall asleep.

All those sleepless nights, apparently, I just needed to close my eyes!

**be back soon ;)

Monday, September 1, 2008

you asked for it

Ok, some of my two readers have asked me to put up pictures, wondering what I look like. So, I put up one of the only pics that I have....which is now my official HSH picture...see it? The one Grandma J calls my, "Pineapple Princess" picture....because it was taken with one of the floral crowns on my head.

There was a time in my life, when I wore cute clothes and shopped at the Liz Claiborne, thanks to an increased size, compliments of Marble Slab Creamery, I usually can be seen wearing my old maternity you can imagine, that doesnt make me want to jump in front of the camera. So, there are few pictures of me....

HOWEVER, on Friday, you may get to see me, in my finest. Finest meaning, I took Pooper to do a video clip for the Stand Up 2 Cancer benefit (airing on all major networks this Friday)....and I had laryngitis, and my voice sounded like a tranny smoker (no offense to transvestites or smokers, or those who are both.) And, while he was doing his interview, and recounting his journey, and listing off all of his friends in Heaven, I began to cry, just a bit. And then, the directors asked me to come stand in front of the cameras....

Normally, I would have been all hammy and got on my soapbox and told them about childhood cancer, and how the kids are usually left out of research dollars, blah blah blah.

But, I was off track, crying, and trying to say very little, as my voice was totally gone...and when your voice is gone, and your crying, trust me, you sound hideous.

But, it's not about me...I realize that, so, Im encouraging you watch, to have fun laughing at me, to be touched by the many stories of bravery and loss, for you to say, "wow, Pooper is so handsome!"....just watch!

And if you would join our team, I would be grateful. We are one of the largest, and the top teams will be recognized during the broadcast. Just go to When you join our team, you can put "kids with cancer" in the search engine. The bald boy with the feeding tube....that's Pooper, just a few years ago. Please join us.

And for those wondering...those heading up SU2C heard us, and pediatric organizations are now represented!!

If you can also donate, I would be very appreciative. I know times are tough, but you can only imagine how tough it is for kids fighting cancer. If you can give big, please do. If you cant, please consider giving up something...a latte, a lunch, turn your computer off for a day and donate the reduction in your electric bill (LOL, sorry, I realize that would be 1/2 a cent.)....Clean out your car or between the cushions of your furniture...and donate the change. Do I sound desperate for donations? In all reality, these kids are desperate for donations. Really.


Sunday, August 31, 2008

The Birthday Girl

She was born in the tiniest state, and moved to Southern California. She learned to surf, sneak out her window, and is a very good dancer.

She is smart, works hard, and has a lot of fun with life. She is an avid volunteer, always giving back to others.

She is a good mom, and an even better Grandma (hello, I dont remember getting to eat marshmallows for dinner and ice cream for breakfast as a child.)

Please join me in saying, "Happy Birthday Grandma J"

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Adventures in mothering, Part 2

Ok....where did I leave off????

My kids were gone. They were not at "Nathan's" although they had been at another neighbors, but left an hour prior. So, they were last seen walking straight towards our house, about 6 houses from our own, an hour ago.....

I got Little One, and drove around, stopping at every house with a child, to see if my kids had stopped by to kids are social like that, so you never know what new friends might have been made. Nobody had seen them.

I kept mulling over in my head....that they were last seen, just 6 houses from mine, walking straight towards my house.....they were on their way home ...what could have stopped them from making it home?

I really didnt think they were kidnapped, really. For a split second, I wondered if they were at the pool. They were not at the park....the pool is inside a gate. There was always the chance that when walking home, they came upon some friends that were going to the pool, and went inside with them, but I know my kids, they would have run home and said, "Can we get on our bathing suits and going swimming with Jimmy?" They would never have been content to sit at the pool, in their clothes, and watch others I didnt even bother checking out the pool.

We have some neighbor girls 2 doors down, but nobody answered when I knocked. I actually went back to that house 3 times, thinking maybe nobody heard me I knocked loudly, and rang the doorbell a answer.

Well, crud. After an hour, I had checked every place I could think of.

I didnt want to call the Sheriff, because I knew hey were just playing somewhere. All a sheriff would do, would make a list of friends and neighbors and go recheck everyone....I could do that myself. Oh wait, I already did do that, a couple of times. I decided to call the sheriff.

One neighbor remarked that I seemed very calm, and she would have called a while ago. That made me feel "bad"...but really, if someone had nabbed my kids, I would have heard them scream. But, I couldnt find them, and that one bazillion chance was still a I called.

I was driving back to my house, from the neighbors a block over (yes, I drove, it was 98 degrees, and Little One was with me, and I wasnt about to walk around for an hour, carrying her, in the heat.)

I was giving the sheriff the description of Beauty:

Me: Curly-wavy blonde hair

Sheriff: Curly or wavy?

Me: Wavy

Sheriff: What did she have on

Me: A pink and white floral outfit, tank top and skort

Just then, as my car pulled into the driveway, I saw my kids, my smiling kids, walking over from the NEXT DOOR NEIGHBORS HOUSE.

No kidding.

They had been at the house next door, right next houses in between us....they were playing next door.

The people next door are very nice, but they keep to themselves. They have a daughter who is Beauty's age (or a year older) and a son that is 2 years older than Pooper. But they are never, ever outside, and my kids have never, ever played with them, EVER.

We have lived next door 5 years, and they have never played together. I didnt think they would be there.

So, I told the Sheriff......they were home, she was glad, so was I.

I gave the kids the ole, "Where were you?? I went to Nathan's and you werent there....and Luke's mom said you were at their house, but left to come home. You need to tell me when you leave one persons house and go to another, I had no idea where you were, AND I WAS JUST ON THE PHONE WITH 911 BECAUSE I COULDNT FIND YOU."

My kids just looked at me, like, Wha???? we were right next door!

Pooper ran back to the next door neighbor's house, as he had forgotten his Pokemon cards...and when he came back, the neighbor mom was with him.

Her: You called 911? (laughing)

Me: (also laughing) I know, I could not find them, they werent where they said, and I looked all around and just couldnt find them.

Her: I bet you didnt think to look here, the kids have never played together in 5 years.

Me: yeah, exactly. Who'd have thunk it???

So, today is another day, and there is exactly one week left until school starts...I have a feeling this isnt the last chapter on this saga!

BTW, still waiting for the urine analysis, will keep you posted.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Adventures in mothering

Well, hmmm, where should I start in recounting this glorious day....

First, I was on the horn to supervisor, "Judy" at the Post Office...before I could say I word, she sternly reminded me that, "Ill talk to your mail carrier this morning, I havent had a chance, Ill call you later today." and I let her know that I had more info that might help in this "mystery"....the yellow "not at this address/do not forward" sticker that was being put on my mail, as recently as 8/22/08 (the day after my first call about my mail.)

LONG, BUREAUCRATIC story mail man told her I hadnt picked up my mail in 3 weeks, so he assumed I was gone, and put in the order.


First, I have mail sitting right on my counter that has postmarked dates from throughout the wasnt until last week (when our regular mail man went on vacation) that this problem began.

Second....when I called those mornings, and talked to Judy the Supervisor, or when I saw the temp. mailman at the mailbox and spoke with him.....why didnt they tell me that their was a forwarding order in?? They both said, "we checked this and we checked that, and it's just been a slow mail week for you." They assured me, over and over, and in fact, both got quite testy with me when I persisted - not believing the "slow mail week theory". Wouldnt they have been able to see that this forwarding order was in place?

Well, Judy got quite snippy....and, if there is anything HSH has learned in her 42.75 years of life, DONT BOTHER TALKING TO THE PIONS, GO STRAIGHT TO THE TOP.

So, I asked to speak to her supervisor, and soon, "Lydia" was on the phone. Let's just say, I totally get why people "go postal" and can see that Lydia has set the tone for her little team. She was so grumpy, and I then asked to speak to her supervisor.

Lydia did what many people do, it's something that I actually find hilarious...when I asked to speak to her supervisor, she told me SHE WAS THE, yes, but I would like to speak to YOUR BOSS, I said...and then she told me that she didnt have one, she is the head person.

That is so special I must be to be talking to the Federally appointed Post Master General...and, what a treat for the folks at our local post office to have a visit from this leader. How "down to earth" of her to roll up her sleeves and answer the phone. I mean... really????

Lydia, I know you have a boss....I am asking for you to direct me to your supervisor. She refused, so I was left with no other choice, but to call the darned 800 number and get to the bottom of things.

I talked to a very nice gal.....told her my story.....she said she would call me back. When she did, she said, "I see what you mean about the attitudes at that place, they had poor customer service habits with ME, I can only imagine how they treated YOU." Thank you. She handled it, I think, and problem solved. I think. Let's see if I start getting mail now...especially since I was inundated with calls from people who thought we had like, fled the country or died. Andrew's agent, My Dove business corporate office, our church, etc. all called telling me of returned mail today.

Anyhoo....besides THAT riff raff....I have been emailing the head oncologist a bit, wondering when to worry about Andrew's "tentacle".

For some background info.....leukemia is cancer of the blood....most chemos do not cross the blood/brain barrier...which means the blood in the spinal chord, around the brain, and (for boys) in the testicles, does not get the chemo coverage that the rest of the body receives. These places are known as "sanctuary sites"....(not like San Francisco)....and the cancer often hides there. For that reason, the spinal chord and the testicles are where you often see a relapse. This is why Andrew had radiation to his brain, and chemo injected into his spinal chord...however, that stil l leaves the tentacles susceptible.

Typically, a relapse in the testicle will not have pain, and will have a mass. But, there are no other symptoms, and the only way to check is to biopsy the testicle. It's not going to show in the blood work, or via ultrasound.....eventually, a relapse will spread, but when it's in the testicle alone, the only way to tell is a biopsy.

I dont want to do a biopsy when he doesnt have a mass, but I would like to know why one tentacle hurts. We are still awaiting the urine analysis, to see about the blood in plan is to wait and see. If all else is negative, and it still hurts next week...then I will probably press more on the relapse issue...but am praying he just squished it somehow (he claims he didnt injure it)...and that he is feeling better soon.

Now, on to other things, because, worrying about a relapse of cancer, and haggling with one of the governments most frustrating institutions (this is why I dont want government run healthcare!) ...well, those just werent enough. And it wasnt enough that we visited the ER last night, no....there must be more excitement...something to blog about.....

So, my kids got lost today.

We live in a area where there are a few streets, sort of set apart a little area. Our larger community is pretty safe, suburban...and then our little "square" is even more secluded.

I let Pooper go to friends in this area. He doesnt have a lot of kids to play with up here, and the few he has are on streets next to us, adjacent to us, etc. Maybe 6-15 houses away...not far, but not within eye shot. I let him go to friends, and I let Beauty go if she is with him...they must stay together, I feel pretty secure in this plan.

Today, they told me they were going to "Nathan's" typically, when they go to someone's house, if that friend is not home, they will come and tell me, and then tell me who's house they will try next. Today however, I never heard back after they left for Nathan's, at about 11:30am. I told them to come home for lunch (they are usually home by 1, if they get hungry.)

By 2:30, they werent home, and I had to go to the grocery store. I went by Nathan's, and there was no answer....another neighbor told me they had gone on vacation. Hmmmm. So, I went to another friend's house, and they said that the kids had been there, but left to go home for lunch at around 1:30.

That was about an hour ago.

The house they had been at, is directly across from ours....within eye shot.....but you have to walk down a street....a street with 7 houses on one side, and a park/pool on the other. The mom said my kids walked down that straight, headed straight towards my house.


Now, Ill be honest, Im not paranoid about "child abductions"...while it's every mother's is not that common, especially since my house is off the beat and path, pretty well insulated from major streets, etc.

I really thought, that the kids were playing at someone's house.

Besides, my windows were open, and I can hear when they are fighting with each other outside...even several houses away.....if someone tried to nab them, I would have heard them scream.

So, I proceeded to get in my car, with Little One, and drive around our area...knocking on the doors of every kid I knew...making all of their moms wonder what kind of horrible mom I am that I didnt know where my kids actually were.

** Im realizing this is turning into a bit of a lengthy, Ill write more later, I promise Im not going to turn it into a 35 page, 1 page at a time, chapter book. promise.

through rain and sleet and snow and stuff

Last week, I had hardly anything in my mail box... a couple of ads, and that was it. The odd thing, was that I hadnt checked my mail for 3 days, and so much more was expected.

The next day. Nothing.

I called the post office to check and find out why I wasnt getting all my mail. A few ads for nearly a week is not normal, AND, I had some things I was expecting that should have arrived.

The US Post Office Supervisor, Judy, told me that there was no mail waiting for me, no orders in holding my mail, it wasnt in the neighbors box (same street number, adjoining street....often gets my mail and is out of the country for the summer....thought maybe it was put in their "hold" box.) Nope. It was just a slow mail week, Judy explained.

The next day, I made a point to be at the box when the mailman arrived. You see, I had spent a bit of time on the phone the day before, and sure as I thought, some important things had been sent...but I never received them. I confirmed with Dove Chocolates that they had sent me a special letter the week prior, also, a friend had sent me a personal letter....not to mention the never-ending bills.....

So, I told the mail man that I was concerned, and he became very defensive!

I said, Look, Im not blaming you, but I have a right to wonder where my mail is!

He was only a temperary mail guy, as our regular postman was on vacation (probably Beaches, with Elmo, just to make me jealous)....he was defensive because Judy the Supervisor had accused him of losing my mail.....but anyways, he assured me all was fine, just a slow mail week.

I wasnt buying it, but what could I do.

The next day, my dentist calls, asking if we were ok.

Me: Yeah, we're fine, why?

Dentist: Well, your statement was returned to us with one of those yellow stickers that says, "Return to Sender, Unable to Forward"


This explains why I havent gotten any mail.....but now, the mystery thickens, because, why is my mail getting those yellow stickers, and more importantly, why didnt Judy or the sub-mailman know that my mail was getting stickers????

My dentist emailed me a copy of the returned envelope....And, get this, they yellow sticker was dated 8/22/08. 8/22/08 as in in the day after and the day of, my conversations with the post office folks. It wasnt like the yellow sticker was put on a week ago...It was put on discussions with Judy and the mailman started on Wed (and Thursday), what the heck is going on??????

So, today, because I was trying to find an excuse to get out of the laundry, Im going to gather my small children and go to the post office, because, how much fun is that? To deal with postal beauracracies, especially with 3 small children, who undoubtedly will become restless and whine and maybe cry or get into squirmishes with each other?

And, who is easier to deal with than a postal supervisor, except for maybe someone at the DMV? Really, should be a real treat.

Wish me luck.

And...say a little prayer for's probably nothing, but his "tentacle" is hurting...we took him to the ER to make sure it hadnt gotten all twisted up, and the ultrasound was fine. However, that doesnt answer why it is hurting.....leukemia is known to relapse in the testicle, but it typically doesnt have pain (which he has) has a mass (which he doesnt have), that is good news, but still has us a little nervous.


Friday, August 22, 2008

The great emotional conflict that is "back to school" time

It's that time of year....the time when I wonder how in God's green earth homeschooling mothers survive, because they dont have "back to school" to save them. The time when I am so ready to drop me kids off at the front door of their new class rooms, because they have worn my last nerve into a tired fray (not sure what a tired fray really is, but in my mind, it's like a piece of ribbon that has all the little threads coming apart...get it?? that's my nerves!!)

To be honest, Beauty is nothing but a beauty. Yesterday, in Grande Grandma J style, I declared to the children that it was "clean the van" day. Pooper immediately went into a melt-down. Beauty smiled and said, "ok." Talk about two different worlds. It's like Pooper heard, "you will live in a dungeon and never see friends, tv, computer or pokemon again, and your only food will be brussel sprouts." and Beauty heard, "You are the world's most amazing daughter and I love you more than all the flowers ever made." Truly, I said one thing, and they both reacted so differently.

So, Beauty and I spent 4+ hours cleaning out the van. No, we didnt do deep cleaning of the seats, or even attempt to rid the mats of crusted in bananas or fruit roll up. It simply took that long to take out all the crap. And when we were done, the large, trash can was 3/4 full (it started empty) and there was at least 4 loads of laundry (that's what you get when you dress and undress from swim team in the car.) There were plenty of happy meal toys, princess shoes and sippy cups......all of which Beauty happily put where they belong in the house.

Periodically, the king of complaining would come down to see if we were done...and when he saw there was still work to be done, he retreated far away, to his room.

When we finished, I stared at the trash can, and the pile of clothes, and imagined that it had all been dumped into the 3 x 4 space that is the inside of my van....Im sure if Oprah had ever seen my van, she would have done an intervention, people would have cried, a team of experts would have saved me....really!

But we did it, and as a reward, I told Beauty to grab her piggy bank, which she filled with all the loose change found during the clean up. She also was rewarded with staying up 1/2 hour later tonight, to watch the new Cheetah Girls movie. She was happy. :)

Anyways..not sure why I got off on that tangent about the van...but, what Im trying to say, is soon it will be time for my kids to go back to school. And I will miss them. And I feel guilty that I dont want to be with them every single, solitary second, because I do....but, while my heart wants to hold them close, it's my nerves, my nerves that cant quite take it.

This morning, at 7:23 am, Pooper approached me, with his velvet, magicians, top hat on his head, and his magic card trick in his hand.

Pooper: Mom, you know how a lot of people walk by our house in the morning? (lots of morning dog walkers around these parts, and we are close to a trail and the dog park.)

Me: yeah

Pooper: Well, Im going to do some magic tricks when they walk by

Me: (giving him a once over look, in his magicians get-up, and trying not to giggle) sure honey, great idea, they'll all love it!

Pooper: So, Im gonna go walk around outside now, to do some magic for people.

Me: Not NOW, it's only 7:23 need to wait.....


Me: (my brain seizing up, unable to handle the contention so early in the day) FINE GO!

Later, I went and checked on him, him with his tall black, velvet, top hat. He was standing with his cards, and my plastic mixing bowl...which was labelled, "Tips, $5 or less"....AWWWW, what a sweetie, he didnt want people to go broke watching his show, so he said "or less" ...such a caring boy. His bowl was empty, but his imagination and his tender heart, both so full.

Ill miss my kids this year...both of them.....but it's the best thing, for all of us, for all of my nerves....God bless "back to school" time!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

The nerve of people!

Okay, Im sure you have all heard the flap about Michael Phelps, the Olympic swimming phenom, being featured on the box of Frosted Flakes cereal, right?

Now, when I was a child, Frosted Flakes was my favorite cereal. And, not to rat anyone out, but, yes, we were allowed to eat junk food for breakfast when I was a kid...junk like, sugary Frosted Flakes.

Personally, Im not as nice of a mother as Grandma J and I dont allow my kids to eat sugary cereals, not even Frosted Flakes. Even though Pooper and Beauty swim for an hour each day, I try to make sure they refuel with "healthy" snacks....and I tell them all about the building blocks their muscles need, like proteins, etc. The exception, is once a week, is "snack day" on the swim team, and mothers bring all kinds of junk....their is no avoiding it, so I let them have it, but as a rule, I dont have junk in the house, even for busy swimmers.

THAT SAID.....who in the heck is the lady that thinks she can call out Michael Phelps for promoting Frosted Flakes?? Rebecca Solomon, a Nutrionist at Mt. Sinai Medical Center, has been all up in a ta-hizzle about Michael Phelps promoting a sugary cereal. She has been on talk shows, (cough,cough, attention-hog!) and basically bad mouthing this American Hero.

I might be annoyed if he were promoting, let's say, (Jamie Lynn) Teen Pregnancy, or, heroin use, or cigarettes.....because, Id be upset if my kids were involved in any of that, and I dont like people promoting it.

But for someone to say he is a bad example for eating a sugared cereal....well, Im pretty sure from the looks of his abs, and the fact that he just didnt go belly up when he hit the water, that the guy is A-OK in the "healthy lifestyle" dept. I realize that with his intensive workout, he gets to eat 12,000 calories a day, but Im gonna go out on a limb and guess that he doesnt eat it all in ice cream and big macs....for the record, when training for a triathlon, I thought I could eat all the ice cream I wanted, because, well, I was training and all...and guess what, it all turned to fat. But if Michael Phelps was leading an "on-the-verge-of-diabetes-life-style" he wouldnt have that body, and he wouldnt cut through the water at high speeds.

So, Id like to know, for the record, just what has Rebecca Solomon done to promote good health? I mean, what does she do personally, ...slamming Michael Phelps all over the media doesnt count.....

For example, is she breaking world records in athletic events to help promote fitness in children?????

Is SHE on the cover of the box of Fiber One????? (I bet she'd LOVE that!)

Would it be ok to follow her around, and the first time that she bites into something with more than a gram of sugar, we sound some alarms and bells and call her a FATTY FATTY 2 X 4???

Again, Im not a promoter of the sugared cereals, but this is a guy who has done quite a bit to promote fitness, discipline, dedication, exercise, and healthy living to our children, the last thing we need is some haggard windbag criticizing him.

So, Rebecca....let me know when you beat Michael's swim times, or when your body fat matches his....until then, go shove a bunch of bon bons in your mouth, and leave the guy alone!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

My new makeover

If you've met me in person, or seen one of the rare photos, you'll know, Im not into "makeovers". I dont want to get caught up in botox and arm tucks and fake implants in my bottom, because really, once you start that stuff, where does it end? Have you seen "Cat Woman"?? How about when fancy, rich, blonde woman, in their 50's all start to look alike, because their surgeons used the same pattern on their face???

Lately though, Ive noticed a wave of reformation taking place among bloggers. It started (or at least, I first noticed) when The Pioneer Woman did a complete revamp, and went uber-commercial. To be honest, I was a faithful, daily reader, and as soon as her blog changed, and she had a bunch of "tabs" and "sections" and such, I lost interest. It wasnt a conscientious thing....I just found it all too tedious to hunt around for the daily post.

Others bloggers have updated too....but I was happy with my blue header, with the house scrunched onto half of it, with the HEART SHAPED HEDGES that took 9.45 hours to create. Really, I couldnt have been more pleased with my "look."

But then, my own mother went all high tech. Not that it was a surprise, I dont think we hold the same views on "rejuvenation" know, and besides, I really liked it, I was impressed. And, then Pumpkin Delight got all glammed out, and I was like, WOWEE, this might not be a bad idea! Yesterday, my very own, siamese-twin-separated-at-birth gave her blog a new look, and it is SOOOO CUTE.

So, I caved, and I decided to go check things out. I'll admit I was hesitant about how to do it. Grandma J is a whiz at this stuff, but I cant do all of that techno-art. But, with all the others, I thought, just maybe I could do it.

The templates that I saw were incredible, It made me have overwhelming urges to scrapbook and get all artsy. The directions said it would be easy, just copy and past this little code...blah, blah, blah.

After convincing myself to go ahead, and, Ill admit, actually being excited and looking forward to my new "look"....even if it wasnt going to take out the deep, canyons on my forehead.....I did it. I changed my blog.

I clicked save. And "View Blog", and .........yeah, you're looking at it. The darn thing didnt work.

This is my luck with makovers, and quite honestly, it's the very reason I dont even bother with botox. Because I KNOW, that Ill be the one that has some allergic reaction, or gets an infected batch, and winds up with "elephant man" syndrome on my forehead (no offense to those with EMS.)

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Sharpies and Chihuahuas

We have been busy here, with the hustle and bustle of getting ready for the new school year.

The other day, we had, "Let's get ready for school day"....which included immunizations and school supply shopping.

My kids are WAY behind on immunizations, for a few reasons, including;

A. I only do their shots 2 at a time, I dont see the need to overwhelm their bodies with foriegn invaders.

B. I skip some shots altogether, like Hep B. It's passed via bodily fluids, so I figure if my kids want to grow up and be prostitutes and IV drug users, they can add Hep B to their list of possible consequences, but since they arent engaging in that behavior now, Im not putting that into their system.

C. When Pooper was sick, vaccines were off limits for everyone, due to his fragile immune system, and we have only recently been given the green light to restart the process.

So, we made an appt. for Beauty and Little One to resume their shots. If Pooper is the epitome of bravery, Beauty is the epitome of non-bravery. When she had blood tests last year, she ran around the doctors office screaming, and eventually crawled under a chair and could not be pulled out....she ended up grasping for things, and tore things apart. yeah, fun times.

We talked about the upcoming shots, Pooper even gave her a lesson in how to get through...and I told her she could scream and cry all she wanted, but she was not aloud to run, or move at all, because it is dangerous to do when a needle is involved.

When it came time for the immunizations, I gave Beauty the choice of going 1st or 2nd. She wanted to go 1st. I told her the only thing about going 1st, was the Little One would be watching...and if she acted too upset, it would frighten Little One and make her upset too. Beauty assured me she was ready to be brave, and wanted to go first. Fine.

Sure enough, as we sat down to get them, she went into hysterics, kicking and screaming and trying to escape. I held her with all my might, so that her arm wouldnt move, and soon the torture was over (although the hysterical "horror-film" type screams went on for quite some time, only calming down when we entered TARGET.)

You see, we were off to Target to shop for school supplies. Each kid's class has a "list"...with VERY specific required items....things like, "10 count, crayola washable markers, classic colors." There are about 15 items, and all of them are idenitified in this similar manner.

Now, as you can imagine, I can find the 8 pack of classic colors, washable......the 10 packs I find are in "bright colors" .....or, non-washable.

The 24 pack of #2 pencils have to be the Ticonderoga brand (really?? why???) and, naturally, there are 5 other brands, but not, we do this shopping task, which takes f.o.r.e.v.e.r. and with 3 kids, 2 of whom just had shots, 1 of whom is way past her nap time, and they other 2 approaching nap's not long before the crying and whining sets in.

We did pretty good though, getting most items, although we never did find the Crayola 24 packs of crayons that both kids had on their list.

I promised Beauty, that if she got her shots (without destroying persons or property) that she would get some new "fancy" shoes. She wears a uniform, so her shoes are the one area where she can sort of let her fashion sense shine through. I was going to get her some sensible shoes, but also let her pick out an extra pair. She went with some rubber soled, sketchers, with lots of pink and black and glittery ribbons criscrossing the slip on. Very pretty.

So, it ws a busy day, and the week has continued on in a similar vein.

Just today, as we were preparing to leave for church, Little One (who can now reach the counter tops!) had a black sharpie pen, as in a PERMANENT MARKER. It was all over her, all over her dress (which is a pretty sundress, that matches Beauty's)...and.....all over (and I do mean, a large, central area) our hard wood floors! We havent figured out how to get it off without taking off the, if you have helpful hints, please pass them along.

We finally got out the door and were driving to church when Pooper said, "When I grow up, I want to get a red bug car, and a chihuahua."

it was at that point, that My Honey put his head in his hands, and wondered how much more difficult fatherhood was going to be.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

No offense, but....Im just sayin'.........

Tonight was the magical summation of all that my little swimmers have accomplished this summer. It was the Swim Team Banquet.

Last year, Pooper got a medal (not this year, because he is in a higher age swimming with older kids now.) This year, no medals, but fear not! every child get's a trophy (at least they did last year.)

So, the banquet is held at a community park...there is a playground, a few tables (to hold the food), the necessary public restrooms, and a large grassy area where everyone gathers round with blanket and chairs and umbrellas.

First things first...we have a new "pop up" thingy. Those things that you sit under to block the sun. We got one for 4th of July, because, hello....not sure how we ever survived any of the previous Independence Day bashes without one...especially 2 years ago in the smoking heat when I was just a few weeks away from deliving Little One, and could barely walk....but I digress.....

We put up the "pop up", and realized that it only works between noon and 12:30. because, if the sun is anywhere besides directly overhead, it doesnt do much to block it.

Take tonight, it began at 5pm. Here in S. CA, we have the sun in full bloom til 8pm. however, it's not overhead, and the pop-up is pretty much worthless. So, after putting it up, and scooting it here and there, hoping to create a patch of shade to sit in, we gave up. And, we sweated a bit in the was in the low 80's and felt about 1 degree warmer than it actually was (according to but it was also humid, and, Im not into that.

Then, the kids got their "trophys" which, this year, were medals. They were really cool, and engraved, and my kids love them so much that they are sleeping with them on....but, later on, they wanted to know when they were gonna get their trophy. have it on. The medal is instead of a trophy. The both looked at me puzzled, and I went on about the Olympics and gold medals, etc. and they smiled and ran off with friends.

Now, typically, we eat....and then the awards are given, coaches gifts are passed out, etc. culminating with a slide show at sunset.

Tonight, however, there was a change up.

You see, the "taco guy" , as he came to be known, was a bit "late".....

By 5:30, he still wasnt there, and our coach decided to go ahead and start with the awards, and eat later. Fine.

After the awards, there was a lot of mumbling about the "taco guy" ...and, apparently he was coming from Los Angeles and was stuck in traffic.

Now, this was curious to me. Ok, not curious, it was more like, "HUH???? LOS ANGELES?????"

We had this guy last year, and the tacos and trimmings were FANTASTIC. BUT, we live in Southern California...and besides being a good 2 hours from Los Angeles (maybe 3 or 4 during rush hour)....we have tons of delicious, inexpensive Mexican restaurants and catering joints....many within a few miles. Seriously. Why did we hire a company hours away? I could have guessed he would be late.

So, anyways, the kids played, and the parents chatted....and the coaches gifts were given out, and the mumblings about the "taco guy" continued, like, "Where in the heck is that taco guy???"

People began to talk.........Some people had heard that we had already paid him $400, and the check had already cleared....maybe he had taken off with the money. Or, maybe he was broken down on the side of the road (and all I could think of, was some guys sitting on the freeway shoulder, EATING TACOS.) Apparently, he must be the one guy in the USA who doesnt have a cell phone to call us, because nobody had heard from him.

7pm came and went, and we were starving (ok, not STARVING as in our Colombian Family "starving"...but, you know what I mean.....)and we decided to join the other 3/4 of the swim families and call it a going and getting some food elsewhere!

The coach felt bad, the banquet-organizing-ladies felt bad.....but, hungry is hungry, and we just didnt want to hold out any longer.

As a "plan B" they ordered pizza....but, how long would that take...both to arrive, and to get through the line of families?? So we left.

So, If you are reading this coach....or banquet-organizing ladies....I dont mean any offense, it was a great banquet (minus the food)....but, maybe next year we can get our food from someone that lives closer to home, like, less than 100 miles from home (since, we dont live in Minnesota or anything).....Im just sayin'.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Bursting with pride

Please excuse any splatter or spray, but I am bursting with pride and I cant contain it.

Yesterday was Swim Championships. That's where all the kids from the county's a gigantic (and a bit chaotic) event...and the top performers move onto finals, held next week.

Beauty and Pooper both swam 25 yard backstroke, and 25 yard freestyle (Beauty actually did a 25 yard freestyle twice, because she was also in a "free relay")

Beauty is one of the only 5 year olds on our team, I think our team has 150 or 200 kids....she is tiny, and slow....but, let's face it, how many 5 year olds can even make it on to a swim team and do the workouts?

The best thing, is Beauty L.O.V.E.S swim team, with pink puffy hearts. And, she has no idea that she is the slowest, she thinks she is the SUPERSTAR, and after every race, she is beaming with joy, and says, "Did I get first place???"

For her backstroke, her previous best time was 52 seconds.....and her time at Champs was 45!! That is huge to drop so much time...really. She was first place in her heat (they have 3 heats)....and she was so proud of herself and as she walked back from the pool to our little "hang out" (we bring a pop-up and relax in the shade...we arrive at 7:30 am to warm up, and the meet doesnt end til 2pm)...but walking back, all the families from our team were cheering and telling her what a great job she did. She had the widest smile, I was so proud of her.

Then Pooper had his backstroke. His previous best was 29 flat, and he did 29.13. Again, I was so overjoyed. While it wasnt his "best" and he just missed going on to finals ....his time of 29 is new (last year he was at 34 and got a medal), I was glad he swam at his best, even if he didnt go a bit lower.

Next up was the 25 freestyle, and Beauty didnt let me down. Her previous best time was 58, and brace yourselves....she got a 42!! Seriously!! She has swam at meets all summer, and she is always in the high 50's at best....Her 42 was phenomenal, and I was just to pleased.

Then, Pooper's 25 free was up...and it happened so fast, I missed it!! I could scream, I was poolside, and I turned to figure out what event was up, and the next thing I know, I missed it. My Honey came running up to me, in huge disbelief, and said, "did you see him go! He got 2nd place" UGH. I waited for the results to be published...his previous best time had been 30 seconds....and his new time, 25!!! WOWEEEE.

Then, Beauty was in a relay, where 4 kids each do a 25 free.....and she did a 42 again! The fact that she was able to keep her time, especially because this was the last event of the day....we had been there all day (no naps) the 94 degree heat...and she did another 42...that was fabulous!

Just a bit of info....there are usually several heats, so even when my kids get 1st or 2nd in their heat...once scores from all the heats are combined, their standing is different.

The kids were a bit bummed, that they didnt win any medals, and arent going on to finals..but I explained to them, that Beauty swims in a 5-6 year old group. She is only 5 and most of the kids are fact, there are kids from Andrew's grade swimming...who turn 7 this month. So, being the youngest is tough. It's the same thing for Andrew, he is in the 7-8 group, and there are kids who are about to turn 9 in that group.

Next year, my kids will be the older ones in their group, and it will be medals and finals galore, I am sure :)

I am so proud of my kids. They worked hard, swimming every day, practicing is not always fun, it's hard work, but they do it and it's exciting to see if pay off in such fast times.

BTW, Beauty's "free relay"...she was the final leg.....and her team was last place....and as she climbed out of the pool (she was the last kid out)..she looked around and said, in typical Beauty style, "oh mom, I dont see any other kids getting out, I think I got first place!"

Friday, August 8, 2008

I am loved

I may not be getting any pettipoint chairs, antique beds, or other family heirlooms from Grandma J , but I do have, at least, two people that love me enough to pass something along.

Thank you Pumpkin Delight for realizing that it's not just the middle child that is forgotten....and for including me in your friendly game of tag. You are a cool chick and who knew that it would take blogs to introduce us to such fun friends, who dont even live far away?????

Pumpkin's game of tag requires that I list 6 of my quirks, so here we go.....

1. I hand wash all my dishes THOROUGHLY before putting them into the dishwasher. Ive never trusted a dishwasher, because, Ive never seen hands and a scrubber in there. So, I hand wash everything, and then use the dishwasher as a "sterilizer", using a short cycle.

2. I am very organized, to a fault. Like Grandma J, at my previous jobs, my desk was always clean, with everything in it's place. My expectations for my home are the same, however, I never have the time to keep up with my expectations.....the clothes in my closet are organized by color...but if I dont have the time to put clean clothes away correctly, they dont get put away at all. Hence the laundry pile up. If I dont have the time to wash all my dishes correctly, then they sit in the sink. I would rather things not get done, than to do it poorly....that goes for cleaning my floors (must be done by hand)....Im sure if I relaxed my standards, my house would be cleaner, strange.

3. I am the world's pickiest eater. I dont like ANY cooked vegetables, except corn, which has virtually no nutritional value, so it's not like a healthy vegetable and it does me no benefit to like it, but I do. I do like some raw vegetables, SOME, but not many. I wont eat ANY type of seafood, and dont ask me to try it and tell me it's not fishy, I wont try it. I wont try any food I dont like, because Ill gag. And this food aversion goes to anything with cream cheese, sour cream, mayonnaise, blue cheese, and so on.

4. I am determined to have children that are NOT picky eaters. While they eat plenty of junk....I dont buy any for them at home. At home, they only drink water or milk (juice is high in sugar.) I dont have processed "snack foods" for them, instead they can have cheese, yogurt, fruit, veggies, or whole grain cereals for snack. Beauty is known to have a baggie of broccoli for her snack. I rotate through vegetables and fruit, having 2 different types of each, each day, so that they have a wide variety. I dont let them use sauces and condiments, because A. they are too messy and B. I want them to learn to like the food, not just cover up the taste. I provide balanced healthy meals (when we arent eating junky drive thru.)....So, yes they eat crap, but not at home, so that they are accustomed to eating a variety of healthy foods and it has worked, they really like everything (except for Pooper....thanks to the chemo thrashing his taste buds, but he USED TO like everything, and we are having success at getting him back to that place.) And, while I dont force them to eat anything, the only options at my house are healthy. At dinner, they need to just take one bite of everything....nothing is forced, but if they are hungry they will eat what is served, and Im happy with the success of this plan.

5. I feel quite strongly, that people should respect the sleep of others. It makes me angry when people wake me up, or when they are loud and inconsiderate when others are sleeping. It's just rude. Friends that slam cupboards or talk loudly when others are sleeping, were never fit for roommates. I carefully judged people by their consideration-of-others-while-sleeping habits. Standing at the top of the stairs, in front of someones bedroom, and yelling down for something, is just not acceptable, although, in my lifetime, Ive known several that do that...and it's rude!

6. Im a multi-tasker, even while driving. I can drive a stick shift, and get dressed, and eat a taco, and talk on the phone, and put on mascara, and sing to the radio, all at the same time, and I do it safely. The new California law, requiring that you use a hands-free phone device is silly. (and I havent bought a hands-free device yet.) What's the big deal if your hands are free....if you are using them to apply make up and eat lunch? Dumb law.

My second thoughtful friend, is KJ at Travel Girl Since she may be my future in-law (when Little One marries So-So) her "tag" may be the closest thing I ever get to having something passed down from family.

KJ's game involved completing the following timeline:

20 years ago I...............

1. Was enjoying my first year after college
2. Was involved in a serious car accident, when I was hit by a big rig truck on the freeway, and was thrown into a ditch on the other side of the road.
3. Began my career as a counselor with abused children
4. Loved to go dancing at Chesters

10 years ago I...............

1. Was living in AZ, otherwise known as "hell"
2. Was dating My Honey
3. Was still working as a counselor, this time in juvenile hall
4. Was eating a lot of ice cream and staying out of the sun

5 years ago I..............

1. Was told my 2 year old, Pooper, had cancer
2. Was also the mother to an infant girl, Beauty
3. Moved into our current home
4. Was still in my 30's.

3 years ago I.........

1. Was still in the midst of my son's battle with cancer
2. Had given up on having a 3rd child, after some miscarriages
3. Made an attempt at re-entering the counseling field (the overhead is just too high for part time work.)
4. Had completed an olympic distance triathlon

1 year ago I............

1. Had a new daugher who made me smile
2. Was sending Beauty off to her second year of preschool
3. Was rejoicing that Pooper was off chemo treatments
4. Spent my days at the pool for Pooper's swim team practices

So far this year...........

1. I have spent more time at the pool, as Beauty and Pooper are both on swim team
2. I enjoyed time with my children, who are all doing well.
3. I have become a Dove Chocolatier
4. have started a new blog (and made some great friends.)


1. I promoted to a Team Leader with Dove
2. I went to the pool :)
3. I took the kids for frozen yogurt
4. I didnt clean one bit of my house


1. I spent a lot of time on the phone
2. I took the kids to the pool
3. I talked to my dear friend S
4. I finally gave my future daughter-in-law her birthday gift


1. The kids will have swim championships
2. Ill get hot and cranky
3. The kids will get hot and cranky
4. I hope we all stay off each others nerves and appreciate the victories of their swimming

Next Year...........

1. I will earn a great family vacation with my Dove Chocolate business
2. I wiil have 2 kids in school from 8:30-3
3. I will have lots of time to do special things with Little One
4. I will continue to thank God for all the miracles, blessings and mercy He has given our family.

Now....TAG! You're it! Rebeckah at Life with Kaishon Tell us all about you.....quirks, could be therapeutic to focus on you after all the hard work helping others :)

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Ola, Como Esta?

Pooper came up to me, holding a large book, which was opened up with his pen and paper tucked inside.

Mom, I cant find "pizza" or "pasta" in this Spanish Dictionary, can you help me?

Me: Those words are Italian, and they probably say them the same way in Spanish, why do you want to know how to say them?

Pooper: Well, Dad said that we are probably gonna go to Mexico next year, and so I am putting together some useful things to say, so that I know how to speak Spanish when we go there.

Me: Oh, well, what are some of the other things you have written there?

Pooper: Es su surpiente dorado?

Me: And what does that mean?

Pooper: Is your snake Gold?

Me: Sounds like your ready to go, World Traveler!

** we later found out from a friend, that "oro" is the correct word for gold, and I looked up and saw that "dorado" actually means gilded.

I later called My Honey, to inquire about this upcoming trip.

Me: Hey, Pooper's here obsessing about a trip to Mexico that you told him was happening next year.....

My Honey: Oh, yeah....uh....

Me: All I want to know, is this going to be a lets-help-out-the-poor-and-build-a-house-or-visit-an-orphanage kind of trip to Mexico, or a tropical-vacation-to-Cabo-or-Cancun kind of trip to Mexico? Because, while I'm not a drinker, your kids have me seriously considering a Margarita!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

The day that changed my world

Today, we will go to the pool, just like we did exactly 5 years ago.

On that day, August 6, 2003, we went from splashing in the water, to driving to the hospital, in a matter of hours.

In the morning, I was in the midst of happy, laughing children, by nightfall, we were surrounded by dying children.

I will never forget my first phone call with the oncologist, confirming that Pooper had cancer, telling me it was aggressive and that he needed to be admitted immediately.

We were told to plan to stay for at least 2 weeks, maybe a month. I had no idea what I would do with Beauty. She was only 6 months old, still nursing, and she couldn’t stay with us in the hospital.

All the things that mattered in my life, were cast aside, all things except trying to save Pooper.

It’s a different world. Pediatric cancer is consuming, in many ways. The treatments are all experimental. Nobody can tell you exactly what to do, what will work, it’s a matter of finding our way, trying things, adjusting medications, monitoring for the life threatening side effects, it’s a literal tight rope of killing cells and saving cells, with no guarantees.

We were thrust into a world of total isolation, the fragile immune system of a child with cancer kept us from being around people. No more grocery stores, church (as much as you desperately need it) or other public places, our only other human contact was with the other children, bald children, frail children, children fighting similar battles, and the caring medical staff.

Nothing prepares you for the constant nausea your child will endure, the intense stomach cramping as the chemo eats away at their bodies, the burns on their bottom from the chemo in their stool and urine. To watch a healthy child wither, become weak, cry out in pain, wears on your spirit.

You go through the needles, the tests, the constant trips back and forth from the cancer clinic, the hospital and home. It’s impossible to schedule appts and times, as lab results dictate each step, when to take more, when to pull back, and Pooper’s body would be constantly fighting off infections, resulting in frequent fevers.

Each fever would mean an immediate trip to the hospital with a minimum impatient stay of 48 hours. Pooper was at risk for sepsis, a bacterial infection that could spread quickly through his body, and often led to death. Any fever required that we rush up to the emergency room.

On a whim, his temperature would rise, and I would need to find someone to care for Beauty. It was usually Grandma J, who would put everything aside, so that I could stay in the hospital with Pooper.

While my mommy friends were spending their days at gym class and playdates, I was assessing lab results and watching my child in a hospital bed.

Friends drift away, between the isolation and the depressing routine of your life, very few are able to stay by your side. But new friends are made, mostly nurses, other cancer mommies, and caring prayer warriors.

The vision of a little girl being carried into the cancer clinic, dead in her parent’s arms. Sounds of “code white” being echoed through the halls, watching crowds gather outside a hospital room to tell a child a final “goodbye”, the smell of rubbing alcohol, used to sterilize the site of a needle draw, all remain etched in my memory. My most vivid memory, is when our oncologist told us the treatment was not working, that Andrew’s prognosis was very poor. I remember looking at him on the bed, he still had his full head of blonde hair, and the thought of having to let him go was devastating.

This was our world, for more than 3 years. Even though treatment ended, the fear and anguish never completely go away.

We still have regular blood tests, a constant reminder that the cancer can come back. The visits to a plethora of specialists don’t let you forget that the effects of the chemo can go on for years. We have no guarantees, the risks are high, and we spend a lot of time keeping them in check.

We are grateful to God for healing Pooper, for restoring him, for protecting him, for allowing him to run and play again.

By all outward appearances, Pooper is perfect. Nobody would even guess that he spent much of his childhood fighting for his life. One would not imagine the incredible pain and suffering that this young boy has endured. The many scars on his chest, from 5 surgeries, are reminders of his confrontation with a formidable foe. We have not forgotten, nor can we, as the treatment that saved his life, has put him at risk for future cancers.

But we have made it to 5 years, for that we are thankful. In all honesty, we did not think we would see this day with Andrew. We never imagined that he would be here, swimming, reading, playing, laughing, driving us crazy sometimes. He has overcome so much, and we know that it was through God’s healing that we can celebrate this 5 year milestone.

And while nothing will ever be the same, many things are better because of cancer. There is little I want to miss in the lives of my children. It is not a burden to volunteer in their class, help organize their team sports, or spend time creating new experiences. These are precious gifts, memories being made that might not have been. Each birthday is a celebration of God’s mercy, each one will be special, each one is cherished.

I can go to the gym and clean my house later, but there are no guarantees on the time I have with my children.

Ill end this blog, as I have a competitive swimmer, who goes to championships this weekend, and he needs me to cheer him on at practice, oh, will I cheer!

In celebration of Pooper’s achievement of reaching this 5 year milestone, and in memory of the many friends lost…whose mommy’s can not write this post, whose mommy’s can not sit by a pool and watch their child splash and play….please consider having a virtual glass of lemonade, the link is on the side of the page…the money will be used to fund pediatric cancer research, thanks.