Watcha Doin'?

Teenagers are awesome. I mean, they smell and stuff, but aside from that...well, they're also moody and have "issues," but really...aside from THAT, what's not to like? AMIRITE?

Except, you see, sometimes MY TEENEAGERS forget that not EVERY TEENAGER has a mom who blogs and monitors her child's online life LIKE A FUCKING HAWK and has SINCE THEY WERE WEE LITTLE ONES.

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The Gift I Can't Give Her

The sadness pops up everywhere. I keep trying to shove it back into a hole so I can be happy for her birthday, but it won't stay down. It won't stay stuck inside.

It comes out as tears.

It comes out as anger.

It comes out as hurt.

I can't give her what I really want to give her for her birthday.

I can't give her what she really wants for her birthday.

I can't give her her father back.

I'll never be able to give her that gift.

She asks for things I CAN give her and I get angry because I know that's not enough to fill the hole.

I know that THINGS don't fill emptiness.

So we cry.

We hurt.

We hug.

We heal a tiny bit more.

We keep loving each other.

We keep missing him.

We still have that hole.

We probably always will.

That's a hard thing for a mother not to be able to fix for her child.

It's more important that I teach her how to live with the hole than how to fix it, I think.

Healthier, maybe.

More realistic.

Let the raw edges have time to heal. Get stronger. Define us, but not own us.

Like a piercing we'll have forever. Always part of us; not the whole of us.

I wish I knew how to wrap it.

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Milestones: More On the Horizon

It's just days away, but every time I look at her, I can't believe he's going to miss it.

Hubs and Peanut

Peanut turns thirteen this year.

Bob would have been so proud of her.

I am so proud of her.

She is an amazing young woman.

Peanut at Millennium Park, Chicago

She is nurturing, funny, energetic, opinionated, loving, dedicated, and always up for an adventure.

I see so much of both of us in her.

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You make me proud, Pea. Keep being you!

Hairection

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Your 41st Birthday

You would have been 41 tomorrow. You loved being 6 months younger than me, so you could call me your old lady. Thought you were pretty damn funny.

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I'm not gonna lie. It's been a hell of a rough week. Worse than usual. I know it will pass, because it does. Every wave does, but this one feels enormous.

Peanut talks a lot lately about how unfair the world is. What she really means is how unfair it is that we lost you. I try to tell her that we were blessed with having you for the time we did, but I also tell her she's right.

It is unfair.

But life isn't about fair, unfortunately. It isn't balanced or pretty all the time. It has sharp edges. Some of it cuts you and leaves scars.

That's just a lot for a 12-year-old to understand. It isn't fair.

It's not easy being green.

Bug misses you something fierce these days. He waivers between wanting to sit in your La-z-Boy and not being able to be in the space where you died when his hurt is too raw. He's nearly as tall as me now. Your heart would melt if you saw him. Mine does.

He lights up your parents' lives, that kid. They adore him, and he still adores them just as much as he did when he was a toddler. As soon as they bring him home, they're asking when he can come back. I am so glad they have that connection to you through him and that he feels like their house is his second home.

Sun v Son

Peanut is so confident in her riding now. She's planning to show Jordan again this spring. We are blessed to have such a great facility, but even more importantly, an incredible trainer who "gets" her. Being at the ranch is a time when I see her relax, have confidence, and connect with the world.

And me? I'm lying here surrounded by a pile of your neckties. I was trying to organize some of your things into boxes for storage last night. The ties ruined me. I think I bought every single one of these ties for you. I remember attending events with you where you wore certain ties. I remember you asking me in the mornings which tie you should wear as you were getting ready for an important meeting or trip. So, I'm here in a pile of ties, covered in tears and snot, mostly me, not the ties.

His ties

Some people have suggested I make a quilt out of the ties, or a pillow, or skirt. Maybe I will. For now, I just want to curl up with them and remember you. And miss you. And cry on the eve of your 41st birthday.

I love you, and it's not fair.

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We Celebrate: My Son Turns 14

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Dear Bug,

I never thought your fourteenth birthday would fall on the seven-month anniversary of your father’s death. I never thought your fourteenth birthday would fall on the seventh day after your aunt had a heart attack and was lying in a hospital in the ICU. But that’s the thing about life, even the way you came into this world and who you are – they couldn’t be planned, not completely. And the way you handle these events, who you are, your compassion, your spirit, they way you love your family? They make me proud to be your mother.

You are turning into a man with a deepening voice, a shadow above your lip, and the growing patience that comes with maturity. You are uniquely you—inspired to share the details of your every thought and idea, narrate your days, and infect the world with your enthusiasm for the the things you love.

Not all who know you will realize how deeply you feel or understand their emotions, but you are the barometer of this house and the people around you. You feel deeply, whether you want to or not. I know, and I love that you share those feelings with me. I know it sucks sometimes to feel things so strongly.

It breaks my heart every single time I see your face to know that your father is missing this, but I also see him when I look at you, so I know that he’s not truly gone. You have his spirit. You have his drive. You have his compassion. You are so clearly his son, yet clearly still so very you, and I am so very proud of you.

Happy 14th Birthday, Bug!

Love,

Mom

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Fearless: How We Do

I hated middle school. In fact, I rarely find an adult who didn’t. My children have been homeschooled the past couple years, by their own choice. This year, my daughter has decided she’d like to go to public middle school. Seventh grade. On purpose. I support her decision 100%. Why? Because she needs to do this.

Here’s the thing, though. On the first day of school, most of us, myself included, usually did our best to blend in, especially in middle school. You wanted to wear what everyone else was wearing, make sure your hair looked like everyone else’s hair, same shoes, same backpack, all that shit. Not my kid. Wonder where she got that from?

She has different priorities. Not only will she know not one single kid when she sets foot on campus, she wants to make sure she stands out, looks different and makes a statement. She is fearless. Today we spent the afternoon getting her hair dyed purple—part of her master plan. (I swear, I’ve made her watch Mean Girls.)

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She has clearly adopted her father’s attitude that if you don’t like her, there’s something wrong with you. And, there just might be a little bit of her mother in there, too--that part that doesn’t give a shit what other people think, although it took me longer than middle school to get to that point.

She and I don’t always see eye-to-eye on everything. We make mistakes. I screw up. She screws up. It’s part of being a family and human. But, we talk about it. We work on it.  And, hopefully, we learn from our mistakes and make things better as we go along. I do know, I wouldn’t pick any other kid to be my daughter. This one’s a keeper.

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I love you, Peanut.

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Handy Skills To Have When Your Husband Gets Cancer

Pharmacist

I've long fancied myself an amateur pharmacist. Back in the early 90s, I even bought myself a copy of the PDR at the DeAnza flea market. I always want to know why something is prescribed, how it interacts with other medications, the best way to take the medication, side effects, ways to minimize side effects...all that stuff. Who knew how handy that little hobby would become?

Now I use two iPhone apps to manage Bob's chemotherapy and medications. One is called Epocrates. It was recommended to me by a pharmacist/friend. The other is called iChemo Diary. Epocrates is much like a PDR. I can use it to look up medications Bob is prescribed/administered. It allows us to ask informed questions from our medical professionals and more than once we have been complimented on being well-educated about his treatment. As one doctor said, Bob is the one person who will always be present when a medication is administered. It's key he know what he is being given and why. The diary application allows me to keep a record of the medications and chemo drugs Bob is given along with his symptoms each day. A record of this information can then be emailed if needed.

If you don't have an iPhone, get a notebook, write this stuff down. Ask questions. Ask to talk to the pharmacists, even in the hospital. I did. You can. You have hired these professionals to work for you. They are typically quite good at what they do and happy to answer your questions.

Nurse

Dressing changes, injections, flushing IVs -- these will become second nature to you. You'll be afraid. Trial by fire works best. You do it because you have to. That's a pretty compelling reason to get shit done.

Master Delegator (As opposed to a master-baiter...fish on your own time)

You may suck at the daily household chores, but you can delegate like a mofo. Do it. I do. It keeps us sane. Well, as close to sane as we get these days. Our laundry is done. Our house is clean. Our fridge is full. Our kids are cared for.

These are things you can do for yourself, but they are also things that other people can do for you and often want to do for you. My laundry doesn't need me to do it. It's just as clean if someone else washes it. My kids are much happier playing with their cousins or hanging out at their grandparents' house. They have enough unfun stuff going on in their lives right now. Wherever they want to be that gives them joy, that's where they will be. Flexibility is the name of the game.

Researcher

Everybody who knows me knows I love doing research. This helps us show up to appointments informed, ask relevant questions, and explore options for Bob we might not otherwise know about. If you aren't comfortable doing research online, ask around. Somebody you know will help you. Librarians love doing research. Most of us geeky internet people love it, too.

Therapist and Professional Grown Up (Or at least have the costume so you can fake it til you make it)

You'll need to seek professional help, but you'll also need to provide it at times. Your husband may need your amateur armchair psychology skills, but what I'm talking about here is the kids. Supporting my spouse hasn't thrown me for the kinds of loops that supporting my kids has. My kids can drop me to the floor.

Your kids will need your help in the middle of the night, in the middle of the day, without warning, and in the oddest manifestations. You need to be ready. You might think your teen just has his head up his ass, but in fact, he's stressed about the fact that his father is at death's door and he doesn't have the words to express it. You have to be ready to set your own grief aside, set your own exhaustion on the back burner, and take one for the team. In our case, this is made more intriguing my our son's special needs (Asperger's and Tourette's Syndromes).

When your tween needs to hug you for the hundredth time, needs another horseback riding lesson and you don't know where the money is going to come from (but you know it is her one sanctuary), you will find a way to provide because she is a child and you are an adult and that is your role in this deal. You are the grown up. She is the child.

You do it because you love them more than you love yourself. When our children look back on this time in their lives, the one thing we want them to remember, above all else, is that they were surrounded by love and laughter.


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Telling The Kids About Their Dad’s Cancer

Bob’s first night in the hospital, I got home around 12:30 am. Both kids were still awake, anxious, wanting to talk to me, wanting the information that we’ve always given them – wanting the truth.

So, at 12:30 am, I explained to my 11-year-old daughter and 13-year-old son that:

Yes, Daddy’s cancer is still attacking his body.

No, the radiation did not help.

Yes, we have fewer options for fighting the cancer.

Yes, Daddy is still going to fight the cancer.

Yes, you may overhear other family members say Daddy doesn’t have much time left to live because one doctor believes that, however, not every doctor agrees with him. And we don’t agree with him.

Our daughter cried for a while, hugged me a lot, and spent a while in our bed that night before she popped up and said she was okay and would be heading back to her own bed where she sleeps better.

To grandmother's house we goOur son meditated on it. He came into my room to tell me he had to visions of Daddy in his meditations. In one vision, he saw Daddy with “very feeble, but with no cancer in his body. In another, it was two years in the future, but Daddy was dead. I’m going with the first version, Mom.” I love that kid.

It was around 2 am by the time I got the kids settled and myself to bed that night, but I have limited priorities in my life right now – my husband and my children. They had been texting me at the hospital in the hours before I arrived home, so I knew it would be a late night. When your father is lying in a hospital bed fighting for his life, bedtime is a moot point.

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Decisions You Have To Make For Yourself, And They Suck

Califmom BW 09The scientists studying human cloning need to hurry the fuck up. I need two of me, immediately. Like yesterday. I need one of me to take my husband to the hospital Christmas Eve, and one of me to pick my children up from their grandparents’ house and bring them home.

I need one of me to spend the next three days at inpatient chemo with my husband. And I need the other one of me to spend Christmas with my children who are too young to be allowed into the hospital to visit their father thanks to the “nobody under age 14” rule. (Thank you H1N1 virus.)

But, these damn cloning scientists seems to be taking Christmas off, unlike the doctors who will be working to save my husband. Cloning slackers.

After today’s surgery, Bob got to come home for the night. We go back tomorrow to do a new chemo regimen, in the hopes that it will do a better job at getting the cancer into a complete or near complete remission for the transplant process.

The chemo regimen they’ll do this time is called R-ICE chemotherapy. RICE, RICE, BABY -- but I don't think they have a dance for it yet. I'll have to work on that. Anyhoo, it’s another common regimen used for treating lymphoma that’s recurred, and is often used prior to transplant.

The biopsy was done to determine if the lymphoma tumors that have been growing rapidly the past week are of a new type. This will help the team at Stanford decide if a different transplant approach is warranted. The initial plan was for an autologous transplant, which requires a complete or near complete remission of the current lymphoma. Otherwise, an allologous transplant becomes the next option. In that case, they’d start looking for sibling donors. Good thing he has a bunch of those! God bless a good, horny Catholic family.

Now, if I can just figure out how to make two of me before tomorrow. I have two kids who want to be home and a husband who’s health is in a precarious state who doesn’t understand why I won’t just leave him at the hospital to go be with the kids. Men. They can be dense fuckers sometimes.

Thankfully, the kids are old enough that we discussed opening gifts with Daddy on Sunday when he comes home. They get that. We'll just move Christmas by 2 days. Christ wasn't born on the 25th of December, anyway. God will get over it.

Bug asked me to text Santa to let him know we’d need to postpone our delivery by two days. No problem, dude. I’m on it. Then, my boy who never worries about his dad, at least not in words, the kid who never uses his cell phone, texted me and then called me tonight. He’s worried. He wanted me to say prayers with him. Part of his prayers for the past 6 years have included people we know who have passed—my grandparents, and my two girlfriends who died of cancer in their 30s and their families. (Non-standard, I know. He's a non-standard kid.) I didn’t maintain. He said, “Mom, it sounded like you either got sad there or we had some static on the line.” No, dude, I got sad there. “Yeah, Mom, I’ve been feeling sad, too. I’m getting worried.” I’m worried, too, bud.

Peanut texted me in the middle of the night last night. Her stomach hurt. She wanted to come home. She misses her animals. Dr. Doolittle, that one. Both dogs and our 20lb. cat sleep with her most nights, piled onto her twin bed. They surround her during the days while she does her school work. She’s homesick. She needs the surroundings that calm her. Her best friend/cousin is out of town for the holidays, which adds to her lost-at-sea feeling, I’m sure. I wish I could just take her with me to the hospital. If they didn’t have a record of her age, I’d lie and say she was 14. She certainly looks it, and it would reduce her anxiety immensely to be with us. She’s the kid who needs to know what’s going on to feel calm. I text her during the day when I can. She wants to know why she can’t just be home alone while I’m at the hospital all day, just so she can be home, where things are familiar. The kid is breaking my heart.

This is what it’s like to be a mother, and a wife, and to love so much you want to be able to cut yourself into pieces for the people who need you most and who you most want to be able to support and love.

Cloners. I blame your lazy asses. Scotty, too. Should have been able to beam my ass back and forth by now.

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Somewhere Between Zen and Mommy Dearest

4145693281_2f80c4732b_o A few days ago I started to get glimpses of The Calm. I started to let go of trying to plan for the unknown. I started to Just Be.

Realizing I couldn’t make Monday get here any faster. Realizing I couldn’t make the cancer change it’s shape or course. Realizing I couldn’t plan for the unknown. I started noticing my stomach wasn’t in knots. My shoulders weren’t hanging out with my earlobes. My tongue wasn’t trying to bore a hole in the roof of my mouth.

I had taken my hands off the wheel. (Thank you, Peter, for writing those words when I needed to read them most.)

Well, mostly.

My hands were off the wheel, but I was still turning around to yell at the kids in the back seat. I am the mom, after all.

Instead of exchanging gifts with each other this year, my husband asked if we could do a family portrait before he starts to (in his words) look like an alien. This is the one gift he wants from us. That’s all.

In the Hallmark version of this movie, the kids put on their well-coordinated outfits (lovingly chosen for them by a mother who doesn’t want to appear on Awkward Family Photos) with somber, yet joyful, attitudes as they prepare to give their father this one special gift.

In reality, it required a fucking crowbar to get them to bathe. A cat of nine-tails was required to get them into their respective outfits and shape their hair into something other than a rat’s nest. On the drive to the location, Bug started to chant about how much he hates jeans. Upon arrival, he stood in the parking lot, refusing to open his eyes. Asperger’s and Tourette’s aren’t the best syndromes to be dealing with when you’re trying to do a photo shoot. Even when you’ve prepped.

During the photo shoot, Bug was doing his best impersonation of Marvin the depressed robot from Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. His dad and I reminded him this was the one gift his father had requested this year. “Yeah, I know, that’s why I’m trying not to complain constantly.”

In an effort to guarantee my position as Mother-of-the-Year, I whispered into his ear, “When you complain to the person you’re giving the gift to, it’s no longer a gift. This may be the last Christmas gift you get to give your father, so I suggest you pry your head out of your ass and skip the complaining altogether.” Or something along those lines. It may have been kinder, it probably wasn’t. While Bug is overly sensitive about some things, there are other things that require a rubber mallet approach in order to grab his attention. Sometimes, it’s hard to gauge which one you’re dealing with. This felt like a Rubber Mallet situation. Either way, I’d been sitting in the passenger seat of a car going God only knows where (literally) and had reached the end of my rope, so he was getting a Rubber Mallet approach.

God bless him and his teen angst if he didn’t reply, “I know, Mom,” in that droll way they do—one party snotty attitude and one part “fine, I’ll do it if you’ll just get off my case.” Just like I did any time my parents asked me to do ANYTHING when I was between the ages of eleven and nineteen.

So, yeah. I’m expecting my Mother-of-the-Year plaque in the mail any day now. I’ll also be doing a shitload of explaining about how mothers make mistakes and say stupid things—this mother in particular. I have a gold medal in that event—over a decade running now. I’m actually a record-holder in a few events, which is why we call it the Therapy/College Fund.

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The BOB or Bob: Which one is it kid?

I’m supposed to be making a pumpkin pie right now. Instead, I’m resting my back, waiting for Bob to get home with some ingredients I need.

Bug is supposed to help me bake. He loves pie, and that’s not just a vocal tic. Well, it is and it isn’t. He has a vocal tic: “I like pie.”

It’s fairly awesome as far as vocal tics go. He’s had it for so long, that we make a game out of it. He says it. We repeat it back. He repeats it back to us. We ask him if he likes pie. He asks us if we like pie.

A few months ago it morphed into an interest in making pies, and he developed a recipe for a pie of his own, which he prepared. It was delicious.

But tonight, he doesn’t have it in him. When I asked if he’d help me his tics, not the pie tic, but others, started to flare (a sure sign he’s stressed). I eased up on the pie request and asked for his help with other tasks I can’t do because of my back. He helped with the laundry, unloaded part of the dishwasher, and went to take a shower. When he came back, I dished up his dinner.

“Why don’t you want to make the pie, Bug?”

“Mom, I’ve just had a really bad day.”

Huh. He hadn’t really done much today, including giving me any indication his day was anything other than ideal. “What was bad about your day? You didn’t even do much today.”

“I mean, I have had a bad five months, Mom.” He paused. “I haven’t felt good for a looong time, Mom.”

“Haven’t felt good physically or haven’t felt good emotionally, Bug?”

“Emotionally, Mom. I think Dad’s thing has actually been bothering me.”

Then he changed the topic to his computer and something completely unrelated for a few minutes as he plopped himself down in his spot on the leather sofa. (Just like Sheldon on The Big Bang Theory, Bug has a spot.)

I walked the short distance down the hallway to my room, leaving my door open. “You know Mom, things have also been really bad for me since the BOB* was installed on the TV,” he shouted down the hallway. “It was a lot better when Peanut and I just took turns watching the TV.”

Nice try, Bug. We know emotions are hard, love. That’s why we try to give you and Peanut lots of space when you ask for it, and words to identify the emotions that can be confusing, and hugs when it feels like the world’s out to get you. We won’t always get it right, but we’ll always try and we’ll always love you most.

*BOB is a TV time manager. Each child has a PIN they enter that enables the TV/computer/game system (whatever’s plugged into BOB) to be turned on. We had turned off our cable/satellite TV about 3 years before Bob (not BOB) was diagnosed with Cancer and hadn’t missed it much, but decided to turn it back on when he started chemo since he’d be holed up at home for quite a few months. Fine for the adults, horrid for the kids. The got lazy about they’re viewing, argued over what to watch, whose turn it was, just obnoxious. Since Daddy still wants the cable, this was the down and dirty solution.

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You Aren't Lazy - You're Just Being Green

WESTLAND, MI - JULY 7: Emile Blair, 11, of Wes...

Image by Getty Images via Daylife

The next time someone accuses you of sitting on your crack, popping that popular recreational drug, Zoloft, tell them you’re taking one for Al Gore.

Here’s a quick list of ways I like to keep things eco-friendly (it’s all about perspective, people):

  • Conserve water – Skip that shower/bath for yourself or your kids. Keep a stick of deodorant handy and a bottle of Febreeze by the front door. No one will be the wiser.
  • Conserve energy – Keep a/c costs down by keeping the kitchen cool by serving up cereal for dinner. Having guests? Order take out and re-plate upon delivery. It’s all in the presentation (and the wine, don’t skimp on the wine).
  • Reduce fossil fuel consumption – Let the kids walk to school. Draw them a map the night before and there’s no need for you to even get up, which means no need to turn up that heater in the morning. (Or homeschool, which requires no driving or walking to school at all.)
  • Save electricity – Put the kids to bed when the sun goes down. When nature turns out the lights, it’s lights out for little Johnny. More time for Mommy and Daddy to get their freak on.
  • Reduce, reuse, recycle – This works for laundry, too. Turn those underwear inside out, kids. You’ll get another day out of ‘em. Those socks aren’t dirty until they’re stiff, and those jeans are fine until they can stand up on their own. Hang that bath towel on a hook when you’re done with it. When it stinks like your butt, it’s time to wash you or wash it. Probably both.

If you want to learn more about dropping the bar a notch, check out the fabulous writers over at Aiming Low. They’ll take you there.

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Tied Shoes and Ponzi Schemes

Tied ShoelacesImage by sobriquet.net via Flickr

I taught my son how to tie his shoes today. Not that two-loop fake tie, but the tie that actually stays tied. He’s 12. It was time.

When you’ve got a kid with dexterity issues, you put these things off. Aspies are notorious for having trouble with things like dressing themselves. Show me a teenage boy in elastic-waist pants with slip-on shoes and a collarless shirt, and I’ll bet my mother’s underpants he’s surfin’ the Autistic Spectrum.

Bug’s been having me tie his shoes every damn day before welding camp. (They require you to wear real shoes, hence the ties.) After exposing my crack to the crack smokers in the hood outside camp one too many times, I decided to teach Bug the real way to do this shit.

As we cruised along the freeway toward camp, I had Bug put his right foot up on the dashboard. “Okay, make a bunny ear loop thing using the right lace with your right hand and pinch it. Now wrap the left lace around that looped ear and shove a piece of it through…Oh, fuck. Hold on. I have to merge. Okay, make the loop again. No. With the other hand. A bunny ear. Here, let me show you with my iPhone charger. Like this. Yeah, I know it doesn’t look anything like a shoelace. Try putting your left foot up instead so I can see your foot better while I’m driving. Oh, nevermind. Let’s just do it when we get there. I don’t feel like killing a shitload of people trying to teach you to tie your shoes while I’m driving. Yes, you can turn NPR back on. Yes, I see the humor in the fact that his name is Madoff and he made off with everyone’s money. Do you know what a Ponzi scheme is? Uh huh. Yeah. Really? From a podcast? I see. Yes, I’ll help you with tying your shoes when we get there.”

We park. I get out. Ass crack exposed. I tie his right shoe to demonstrate. Bug does a fumble-fingered attempt at the other shoe, making the mistake of a too long second loop that results in the single loop final tie. We’ve all done it. It happens. I make him do it again. This time he succeeds.

As we walk into camp, I tousle his hair and say, “Bug, I’m glad you learned to tie your shoes. Now I know you’ll be able to move out of the house, go to college, and teach your kid to tie his shoes some day. Plus, it’s about fucking time.”

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What To Look For In A Man

Mothers across the world and throughout the ages have shared what they think are key attributes to look for in a mate.

Some tell their daughters to look for a man with a good job. Other mothers tell their daughters to look for a man who tells them he loves them every day. My friend Traci tells her daughters to look for a man who takes out the trash.

Today, I shared with my daughter what I want her to look for in a man, as she sat in front of two computer screens, playing Runescape on one, Fiesta on the other, and watched out of the corner of her eye as I tugged and yanked, attempting to extract my Fujitsu ScanSnap from the stronghold of cables in the spaghetti-pile of peripheral connections next to her.

“Peanut?”

“What?”

“When you find the man you want to spend the rest of your life with, do me a favor.”

“What?”

“Check his cables.”

“Okay.” ::giggle::

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Wrapping Up

Primary School in "open air", in Buc...

Image via Wikipedia

As our school year comes to a close of sorts, I’ve been looking back through photos and posts in our private blog, among other notes and things that will be used to create our portfolio of the year.

It’s astounding to see how the kids have grown this year, mentally and physically. They no longer peruse the shelves of the children’s section of the library, having moved on to more challenging reads. Their feet are nearly as big as my own. They’re developing interests and identities that continue to reflect who they are and what they believe.

Peanut remains one with nature and her animals, climbing trees, surrounded by dogs, cats, and rarely spotted wearing shoes, indoors or out. When she’s not out exploring with her friends of the two- or four-legged variety, she can be found with her nose in a book (most likely historical fiction) or online, interacting with her Australian mates on Runescape, checking out the latest music videos (I won’t tell you the artists for fear of embarrassing her), or emailing local friends. She still loves planning events, organizing things, and is quick-as-a-whip at math.

Bug loves science as much he did when he was 5, and his knowledge continues to grow with his own exploration, 4-H projects, and field trips to The Tech. He shares his father’s love of gaming, but takes it a step further by designing games. With multiple game design courses under his belt, and kudos from every instructor, he’s certainly shown an aptitude beyond his years. He’s broadened his reading genres this year beyond the fantasy realm to include historical fiction, and even a little historical non-fiction. He completed a few UC-level U.S. History courses earlier in the year that piqued his interested.

The emotional maturity Bug and Peanut have developed in the past few months, dealing first with my surgeries, then with their father’s cancer diagnosis and treatment, has been nothing short of impressive. I could not have asked for more flexible, loving children. We have been open and honest with them. There have been tears. There have been questions. It has been hard, but we will survive. We are blessed with great support from friends, family, and professionals who help us when we need more than we can provide for ourselves.

We are blessed.

Much love to all who have made this journey an easier one for us. You have a special place in our hearts.

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Couch Surfing for Love

I did not time my cold right, at all. Bug went home with my parents last Sunday just as I started coming down with a cold and just as Hubs’ white blood cell counts began their cyclical chemo-induced descent that peaks between 10-14 days after chemo is administered.

I had big plans for Bug’s time at my parents. I was going to do that dreaded task of getting into your kid’s bedroom, into the deep dark corners, where you cull out the remnants of coldPokémon half-chewed by the dog, LEGO pieces separated from their brethren, and furry balls that may or may not be viable life forms.

Instead, I spent the week prone, on the couch, with the world’s awesomest new superhero waiting on me – Chemo Boy. He doesn’t wear a cape, but he does sport a Green Bay Packers beanie cap that is quite fetching.

I also sported a variety of surgical masks, which I’ve taken to drying pig noses upon using scented markers. Hey, if I can’t sleep in the bed, at least I can have something watermelon-scented to keep me company. Right?

It’s sexy too. You have no idea. Hawt, I tell you.

So, as my cold lingers in its half-assed state, Hubs’ counts continue to drop until he gets his Neupogen shots Monday and Tuesday. These are the shots that jump start your bone marrow into cranking up production. It also makes your bones ache like a mofo. Total suckage on that level, but a big thrill for the immune system to get a jump start.

And for me, a huge bonus. I may be back in my Tempur-pedic love nest by Tuesday night. I am about done surfing on this sofa. It’s nice and all, but it’s damn difficult to get inspired to shower and get dressed when you’re living on the couch. It’s just a step away from living in a van down by the river, ya know?

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