Monday, August 17, 2009


I was looking at the pics of the kids who are being honored at the upcoming St. Baldrick's event. There are a couple of AML kids who I was hoping would be honored. I have no way of getting in touch with them, but thought it would be great it they were included. I scanned the pics, reading the diagnoses and looking at the pics to see who I recognized. That's when I noticed some of the kids didn't have their ages listed. Of course, I knew Emily and Holly were being honored. Emily had Ewing's Sarcoma. Holly had AML. AML. Just like Lindsay. 1 in 2. There was another child who didn't have an age. A little boy. I had to click on his page. Why did I do it? He had neuroblastoma. That's what they originally thought Lindsay had, after they ruled out ALL. Old wounds opened. Even as I cried for this boy and his parents, I also cried for Lindsay and for myself. There are some pretty simple statistics. I think about that Doors Song. Five to One, Baby. One in Five...

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Mommy Day

What a funny concept. A mommy day. Last week I think I worked about 55 hours. I ended the week with a 10 hour Saturday (no lunch) and arrived home at 6:30 pm. Matt says to me, "I think what you need is a day with the kids all to yourself. You've worked so much this week." I was thinking I needed a mommy day at the spa. Evidently Matt needed it more.

Of course, he's right. The more I'm away from the kids, the crabbier I get. And he and I are so so so very bad about splitting up when I'm home from work. He might go outside to cut the grass or run to the pharmacy, but that's about it. He rarely goes out with friends. By rarely, I mean he's done this once in the past 2 years. It happened to be on our 10th anniversary. And I happened to be working. (Don't worry, Grandma babysat).

Really I'm painting this picture of workaholic mother, enmeshed family. Nothing could be further from the truth. Well, maybe the enmeshed part. But whatever. I never bought into the 90s bullshit psychology that a close family is a pathologic family.

Back to Mommy Day. So Matt announces he's taking the camera, his book, and hitting the road. I'm thinking, why don't I get to take a novel with me when I head to work every day? So we kicked him to the curb, and started the mommy day right. With a cup of coffee and some arts and crafts. By arts and crafts, I mean, Michael colored one of the 8 million coloring books we were given when Lins was in the hospital. This particular coloring book is filled with Princesses. Michael's favorite. It has been colored many many times over.

"Michael, may I color her hair?" ... "NO!" So I got out the hole punchers and started making Halloween confetti (I know it's 2 months away, but last Halloween was spent on the 9th floor of Brenner's Children's Hospital. I'm really looking forward to this year. What was amazing is that Lindsay, who is generally all about being entertained by mom, was playing on the other side of the room with absolutely no interest in what I was doing. I watched for a while and it occurred to me that Michael wasn't really interested in whether or not I participated in the project. So I quietly got up and started doing some cleaning. This went on for 20 or 30 minutes.

Initially I felt guilt. It was supposed to be Mommy Day. Isn't it my role to entertain and enlighten? But then I thought about John Holt. Oh, right. There are things that need to be done. The linens need to be washed. Lindsay also had things that needed to be done. She needed to create her own world of children playing inside her doll house. And Michael had important tasks as well. He needed to color and re-color Belle's beautiful hair. Seriously. We each had our own important task. And at that moment, peaceful co-existence was all that was required. Later, the task at hand was football and more physical and mental interaction was required. And I loved that just as much!

It turns out that Mommy Day was a big success. Matt re-joined us in the afternoon. I was hoping he would be a little refreshed. But, it turns out he spent the day reading on a park bench, photographing the neighborhood, running several miles and then cutting the grass. He was every bit as exhausted as when I came home from work yesterday. Poor fellow. Guess he really is going to need that trip to the spa.

Friday, August 14, 2009

zoo blues

We used to be anti-zoo. Not that we protested and handed out fliers about understimulated animals. We just generally had a bad feeling about zoos. Now that we have kids, we've visited 4 zoos in 4 states (see the above photo).

It's amazing how priorities shift.

People defending zoos generally mutter something about conservation and then something about education. The conservation bit may be true. What do I know? I've never worked in a zoo. But I'm not so sure on the education bit. Now, from an unschooling perspective I supposed I should embrace the fact that kids are running, jumping, looking, investigating.

But in the traditional sense, there is very little educating going on. And since this is what most zoo-defenders are implying, that is the point I will argue. Sure, there are placards everywhere. "This is the North American Bumble Parrot. It hops from bush to bush, and poops more than it eats." But no one is reading that. They're looking for the next hot dog standing. Or throwing their quarter into a machine that flattens pennies.

I'm not judging. I barely keep up with my own monkeys at the zoo. There is very little soaking-in-of-knowledge. I take the "I'm a veterinarian, what do I know about monkeys?" approach.

So, while I love the zoo from an unschooling perspective, I'm not so sure about whether zoos serve the greater good. Animals pacing. Birds confined to small areas without the option of flight. Eh?

That said, the NC Zoo seems far superior in terms of animal welfare and mental health than the others I've visited. Again, just a feeling, not an expert opinion. God forbid I offend someone.

family bed

I slept 11 hours last night. Michael couldn't sleep so I climbed into bed with him. That was 8 pm. I woke up at 8:50 with his fingers tugging gently at my hair. I think he had been awake the whole time. I fell back to sleep and when I woke up 20 minutes later, he was out.

I snuck out of the kids room and climbed into my own bed. Some time later, Lindsay climbed in to our bed. And later, Michael too. This is the way it goes. We play musical beds. And, generally, the sleep is blissful.

I slept until 6:45. When I woke up, I was rested. But would have rather snuggled even longer with the monkeys. They were sound asleep, side-by-side, in between me and Matt.

Tonight, after all that sleep, I'm restless. I'm need a good book. Something smart, complex, but not pretentious. Any suggestions?

Thursday, August 13, 2009

What's Better than a Polar Bear?

Evidently nothing.

Today I asked Lins, "What is your favorite thing in the world?" I was trying to come up with ideas for her 1-year-after-being-admitted-to-the-hospital party (we've got to come up with a better name). Without missing a beat she says, "Polar bears."

Okay. Polar bears. Well, I was hoping for a food. Or an activity. But polar bears. Hmm.

So, I tried again. "Lindsay, what's your second favorite thing in the world?" Again, without missing a beat. "Flamingoes."

Hmm. Okay. Flamingoes.

"Mama, ask me my third favorite!"

"Okay, Lindsay, what's your third favorite thing in the world?" a second's pause ... "Trains!"

I was starting to get tickled. "And your fourth favorite thing?" She was laying on my lap, head upside down, staring directly at her little table. "My little table."

"What about Michael? Your family?" She smiled. "Yes, yes, yes. Mama, you're my fifth. And daddy, you're my sixth. Polar bears, then flamingoes, then trains, then my table, then..." then... she lost her train of thought.

Don't you just love love love children?

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

cash for cancer

When Lins was in the hospital, we absolutely resisted/ avoided/ shunned other cancer parents. It may sound strange. But becoming part of the "cancer club" was absolutely terrifying. You may as well sign the resignation. Admit defeat.

Fast-forward 6 months. Not a single day passes without the thought, "Is she pale?", "Is the cancer back?" When you mention this worry to friends, other parents even, they look a little surprised. Really? they ask. I try to keep quiet. Not acknowledge the anxiety. Or at least not pass it on to others.

So, something had to be done. Daily worry, fear, dread, anticipation. That's no good. I started looking at other kid's cancer pages (Caring Bridge sites). Something I swore I'd never do. I didn't want to get sucked into that world. And then another mom posted a fundraiser. St. Baldrick's. Get it? Bald-rick's.

I started nagging Matt. You should shave your head. Really. Lindsay would love it. And I nagged some more. I was practically begging him to join the cancer club. Finally I gave up. And that very day I came home and he had raised about $600.

We've been hitting up everyone we know for donations and on Sept 12, he's going bald. It will be almost a year to the day that Lindsay's hair fell out. Of course we can turn any day into an anniversary right now. This fundraising has jerked us out of our self pity and worry. Every hour on the hour we check our totals. We're like kids at Christmas, waiting for Santa to come. Hopefully he's bringing cash. It's going to a great cause!