Tuesday, November 30, 2010

So...who needs what?

A humorous thought regarding an exchange with Musical Daddy this evening as I was preparing to leave for rehearsal:

He told me, as I said that I'd be leaving shortly but not yet, that I'd need gas for the car. I said I'd just go at that point to get gas for the car and get some of their iced tea at the GetGo while there.

When I got in the car, the tank was about...1/5 full. Emptied past the 1/4 mark but not at the point where it was about to hit the E. I looked at the miles that I drove from the rehearsal site and realized that *I* didn't need gas for the car. I had no problem driving 2.6 miles each way on a close-to-empty tank.

HE, on the other hand, would have a heck of a time driving 35 miles to work in the morning had I not filled up the tank.

I certainly don't begrudge him the fill-up. I'm glad to do it. If he asked me to get gas for the car every time he needed it, I'd do it with a smile. But just to be clear...*I* did not need gas this evening.

That's all.

Pictures, again!

Found a better way to share--here is the whole shoot.

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Saturday, November 27, 2010


We got photos done yesterday, and they’re already available online! Their security is better than it used to be, so for now I’m just going to provide links to the photos. They came out wonderfully.

I can’t believe how much the kids have changed.


The Boy

The Kids

Our Family

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


No one can pull at your emotions quite like children. Particularly your own.

On Tuesday, I was pulled repeatedly. And I was TIRED. But by the end of the day (and after having escaped the melée for a few hours to go to orchestra rehearsal), I promised myself that, rather than dwell on what an awful day it was, I'd sit down and write about my children. Not the "oh my goodness get down off the coffee table!" or "You're five feet from the bathroom and you can't be bothered to just sit yourself on the potty and go?" moments, because I already talk about those enough.

Of course, I didn't do that on Tuesday. I tried to do it yesterday but as my pies cooled, I was interrupted by Meatball, calling for nighttime milk. He has yet ANOTHER cold. You'd think that a breastfeeding toddler would have some sort of immunity to something, but then, he also spends an inordinate amount of time putting things in his mouth. We also need to do a better job, for our part, of washing his hands before he eats. The Boy is doing quite well in that department because he washes his hands after using the bathroom.

So now we're onto today, which is also Thanksgiving Day.

Rewind 1 year. We had just gotten The Boy out of the hospital in New Jersey for the last time. His stay there was unexpected, as was the timing of our move. We were a mess. Everything was awful.

Now? The Boy is better. That's the most important thing. And Meatball is happy and healthy and doing very well. They're happy. We're happy. Even though we're not yet where we want to be professionally, we'll be fine soon enough.

I love Thanksgiving, despite having a plethora of negative associations with it such as hospitals and illnesses. I love being able to spend the time in the kitchen concocting delicious food. It is therapeutic--everyone else knows that they'll get to eat it, so they entertain the children for me. I made pies--pumpkin, pecan, cherry, and apple. The cherry pie was with my own pastry crust, and the apple pie was from scratch, so I hope it's good. Pecan pie isn't that hard to make, as I found out. Turkey went in the oven this morning and will cook all day. Mom made stuffing and is working on sweet potatoes.

I'm thankful for my family with whom I will share this feast. I'm thankful for my parents for saving our family as they did when they took us in and continue to have us here. I'm thankful for my siblings for their help and for their being so generous with our parents' attention. I'm particularly thankful for my husband, who is an amazing person and an amazing father. And for my charming, intelligent, interesting children.

And nothing says "thankful" like a report of no more cancer.

I'm sure I'll have more to say later, and pictures to post, but right now I need to get to work.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Sick sick and sick

Yesterday my mother was sick, Musical Daddy was sick, and I was sick. And the kids were perfectly fine. Today Musical Daddy went back to work and my mother and I are feeling at least somewhat better.

Fortunately, the children were very kind to us. Meatball spent more time than he otherwise would sitting in our laps, and The Boy was very good as well. They watched a LOT of television yesterday, and quite a bit today as well. We just had such a hard time functioning. Meatball napped for 3 hours in the middle of the day, and The Boy relaxed while I napped.

Meatball is just new territory for us. By the time The Boy was this age, he was already pretty sickly from cancer treatment. He wasn't too hard too keep up with. Not this one--Meatball ends up dancing on the coffee table if you turn your head for a second.

Musical Daddy and I discussed this issue, and I said I hoped that Meatball would get bored with it. Musical Daddy said that he'd probably keep dancing on the table through college (infer what you will, I guess)...my question was, would Meatball experience a dancing-on-the-table latency period?

Monday, November 15, 2010

David is NED!!!

No evidence of disease!! No tumors!

We're having cake for Grandma's birthday tonight. And pizza and pasta.

I also have a lesson to teach in half an hour. Not so much in the mood, because I'd rather just stay home, but you gotta do what you gotta do.

He cares not at all...

The Boy fell asleep during the ultrasound. He cared not a bit about the procedure. He did, however, enjoy the fish on the ceiling. Perhaps he is dreaming about fish.

More likely, he is dreaming about the cheese sandwich that, thanks to lateness down here, may very well not be his for yet another long while. Sigh.

I miss my sammich.

Here we are...

Let the "hurry up and wait" commence!

We are in the radiology waiting room along with a good chunk of the rest of the population. Including some angry babies.

If we don't have time for a cheese sandwich, I'll be mad. The Boy will flip his lid. Hopefully we will get in for the ultrasound and x-ray in short order.

Scans Today

Not scans...but it's easier to say than "chest x-ray and abdominal ultrasound." Hopefully those things will be clear and he won't need scans in addition.

Somewhat off-topic--kids don't care if it's your birthday.

I took The Boy out for pancakes, figuring that if he had a nice big pancake breakfast, he would notice less that he was required to have a late lunch. I left Meatball home with my mother, figuring that for 45 minutes he could sit and watch TV with her.

It's her birthday today, and Meatball puked last night's dinner all over her bed. According to her report, he didn't do it on purpose, either. When I got home, I dressed him, nursed him, and gave him some oatmeal, which he was all too happy to eat.

I did order her a cake...and I am washing her bedding.

Anyhow, I'm not too nervous about scans but at the same time...of course I'm nervous. Because all it takes is a little bit of something to grow wrong once again, and we're back in cancer-land. We're trying to be normal, and this is the time when we realize that...we're not, and we have this cloud that hangs over our heads. The Boy said his belly hurt last night, and of course we worried. He had to poo and that made it better, but even so...

It has been 7.5 months since The Boy was sent home from the hospital because we were DONE with chemo. We didn't know we'd be done; had we finished the whole treatment, we'd probably still be doing it now. Of course, had we finished the whole treatment, who knows what would have happened to The Boy?

This past weekend was an amazing Wilms Tumor Symposium in California, spearheaded by the Pablove Foundation. I haven't yet read about what was learned and what was discussed but apparently many of the big experts on Wilms Tumor were there.

The general feeling I get, based on what has been going on with other Wilms kids, is that The Boy would likely have been treated differently, and maybe should have been, but at the time, the doctors he had went with the advice that the experts were giving. It is tragic that there have been so few advancements in treatment but at least encouraging that more studies are being done and organizations such as Pablove are really greasing the wheels.

Tonight we're having pizza, pasta, and cake with my mother and my aunt, for their birthdays. I love cake.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Because we haven't had any bad news in awhile...

The Boy had his hearing test today. He was very cooperative. He played the games that the audiologist asked him to play. She was very nice and very helpful, and the tests were well-designed.

And there was no question that he now needs hearing aids.

He can hear us when we talk to him and he can hear the TV. But he doesn't have the high frequencies so much, and he has lost some of the middle frequencies as well at soft volumes.

We need a hearing aid appointment and an ear-nose-throat appointment, and then that's what we get.

We are also supposed to investigate alternate preschool options through the school system, which could jeopardize his starting kindergarten an extra year late.

And, since we're not sure if the hearing loss is complete from the Carboplatin, we will keep monitoring.

We were feeling WAY too home free.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Over in the meadow...

We're watching this adorable little movie in which they sing this song. It's a counting song. And a very pretty song.

Our visit to Michigan has so far been pretty nice. Low-lights out of the way first: Meatball was a giant pain last night in terms of going to sleep and staying asleep. He was then a cranky boy all day today, which is out of character for him; usually he is a very happy and playful little guy, provided that he gets his sleep. I blame the remnants of his cold and the dry heat in the hotel room.

Musical Daddy picked up a cool mist humidifier that is perfect for travel--you take the thing and insert a water bottle. I'm not sure yet if I feel the difference.

The Boy hasn't been great with the potty today--4 for 7 with all of the misses being messy ones. Not surprising, because he isn't comfortable enough with the routine when he is clothed, much less when he is in a strange place. Good thing we brought extra pants.

Musical Daddy and I aren't feeling too hot, due to lack of sleep and dry air, and probably Meatball's cold. Other than that, we've had a great time.

First, we slept in. Thankfully. We gave the boys some banana and fruit bars to take the edge off and we headed out to Ann Arbor for some Bagel Fragel breakfast. This was a place that Musical Daddy and I frequented when we were living there. It was close to the music school area and close to where his apartments were located. The guy who owned the place recognized us and even remembered us the last time we visited. He has since sold the place, but it has grown since we were last there, probably 5 or 6 years ago. They expanded it into the next store area and added a TV and couches. It used to be pretty much only a take-out place. I can't tell you how many pesto chicken bagel sandwiches I ate when we lived there.

Next some sights around town. It's amazing how we feel like such strangers there, but that kinda happens when you get old and visit a college town. It was football time, too. An amazing defensive battle took place today as I heard...that is, if you believe that the only good defense is a good offense. Scores of 60-something on both sides, in 3 overtimes. Michigan won.

We got back to the car with screaming Meatball strapped to me. Fun. Both children fell asleep in the car, and we didn't really feel like moving them. So we sat in the hotel parking lot and watched a TV show on the iPod.

When it was lunchtime, we drove around the corner to Mr. Pita, another frequent favorite of ours. It's a great place that serves wraps and salad. Frequent post-gym fare--Champions Gym after school, followed by Mr. Pita for dinner. I enjoyed Mr. Pita so much I ordered trays of it for my recital. Which was over 8 years ago. Anyhow, I was really glad to have it. The Boy had pita pizza, and Meatball picked at a few things but wasn't that hungry.

We met a friend and his kids, who are older, at Marvin's Marvelous Mechanical Museum. It's a neat place--if you're in Southeastern Michigan and have any interest in old games and silly machines that do stuff (like the old fortune tellers, and instruments, and games), check it out. It is a decent arcade as well, in the style of Dave and Buster's, but smaller and more crowded. And with much more antique flair. The kids didn't really play together...but that's to be expected. Unless the older kids have a certain flair for dealing with little ones, they're just not going to. And the 10 and 7 year old don't have too much in common with the 3 and 1 year old. Except for a cute trip on the little old merry-go-round.

Naptime followed, thank goodness.

Dinner was at a restaurant with train decor, picked out by the friends we met there. We had a nice dinner even though Meatball was more than a little bit antsy and needed frequent walks around. The food was delicious, and The Boy was a gentleman. Great food and great service. It's called Station 885, in Plymouth, Michigan, if you're ever out that way. I highly recommend them. They even did a nice job of managing the food with the kids, such as bringing more bread and bringing the noodles as soon as they were ready.

One of our friends who was with us has a newborn daughter, just 4 weeks old. He's exhausted. I told him that it's just a season in his life and he'll get through it. Also, that things start to look up after they start smiling at you, and for her wife, it would likely be just a few short weeks until she will start to feel like she isn't ALWAYS nursing the baby, because they get more efficient as they get stronger.

Tomorrow's plans include breakfast with one of two friends, lunch with another old friend (old because I've known him for a long time, not that he's any older than I am), and a 4:00 chorus show. Then we go home.

The kids travel fine in the car, and The Boy was even fine about using the restroom when we stopped, but they don't take well to changes of scenery, especially Meatball. He also doesn't get the concept of hotel stays being fun and relaxing. The Boy is amused, I think, but not very secure in his surroundings in this strange place. Although HE got plenty of sleep last night.

Why not take a trip, I thought? We don't have much else going on in our lives to prevent us from doing so. And as the kids get older, they'll have a better time.

One of the things I'd like to do is to plan a longer trip that has lots of fun stops along the way. You know..drive 2 or 3 hours, then do something for an hour or two, then drive a few more hours, et cetera. And, preferably, family to visit with and stay with instead of hotels. Expense notwithstanding, the boys feel more comfortable in houses and have room to run around. This place isn't bad, as we're in a small suite and they do have some more space, but it's not the same as having several rooms to visit (and more toys with which to play, of course).

I'm really hoping that the stuffiness in my nose is from the dry room, but I'm not feeling too optimistic.

Hopefully we'll all have a better night.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

I want to go back to...


We're spending the weekend there, to see some friends and to see a small barbershop show. The show was the impetus for the trip taking place this weekend; the fact that there are friends to see makes the trip that much more exciting.

From Pittsburgh to the general Southeastern Michigan area is a 5-something hour trip. Might be closer to 6 with the kids and stops and such. Much more palatable than the 10 or 11 hours it would have taken from New Jersey.

It's been a tricky week, with Musical Daddy leaving the house long before dawn to go to his new temp job. It's a job that involves working with his hands, putting things together and lifting things. Very different from teaching music, or math. He likes the fact that it doesn't stress him out and the people seem to have their heads on straight, although he's not crazy about the drive or the early wakeups. Additionally, it seems like we've just had a lot of extra stuff going on this week. He isn't working tomorrow, which is nice. Instead, we're going to a Shabbat program at The Boy's soon-to-be preschool and then leaving for our trip.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. Tuesday morning, we visited this preschool program. It is a part of one of the Reform Jewish congregations in town. The Boy would be able to start in January. His class, with him, will have 3 boys and 6 girls. There are two teachers in the room, so a ratio of 1 adult for every 4.5 kids isn't bad at all for that age group. We stayed to check things out for awhile. The Boy did a puzzle at the table and played with those foam peg boards along with another boy. The class has some structured activities and some unstructured activities. There are two little toilets in the room, which fascinated The Boy but not enough to make him want interrupt his playing to try and go on one.

The teacher was very receptive. I told her about The Boy's medical history and about my current concerns with him. He is socially awkward and more than a little stubborn. And the potty thing...he's mostly there but not quite. He forgets sometimes if he is busy playing, and he is more likely to still have accidents when he is clothed. "Academically" he knows a LOT because he had the time to learn it with us and on his own instead of being able to go out and run around. The teacher assured me that the kids all get into a routine together, with procedures in general and with the potty in particular. They have certain times that they all try and go, and they also figure out that whatever they are doing will wait for them.

There are scholarships available, so this isn't going to cost us a fortune.

I liked the feeling of the school. I liked the idea that they focus very little, if at all, on "academics" for the 3-year-old preschoolers, and same goes for the next year. The kids are learning to spell their own names, but that's about all I could tell. They do projects and talk about holidays and of course they have a Shabbat celebration on Friday. The Boy loves that stuff and does it on his own; he needs to build castles with other friends and chase them around. I'm also pretty keen on being able to spend a bit of time with just Meatball. Although I fully intend to devote some of that time while The Boy is in school to a friend who needs the time and the company.

Meatball is saying more and more words every day. He'll echo just about anything (so we need to watch our mouths!) but even more amazing is the stuff that he says without being prompted. One of the highlights of yesterday and today was him saying the word "potty" and actually sitting on the Elmo potty, although with clothes on of course. Potty training isn't TOO far away for him, believe it or not.

I'm doing laundry and have to pack for us all. We're very excited!