Thursday, April 21, 2011


During our Passover Seder, we talked a lot about how this time of the year is one of transition. In the history of the holiday itself, we celebrate the transition from slavery to freedom, from being strangers to being at home, and being delivered from oppression. In the current practices, we discuss the transition of the season (I've heard that it is springtime in western PA but I haven't seen so much evidence), the transition from our normal diets to the Passover one, and even the transition between the parts of the seder.

I found the process of preparing the kitchen and food supply to be somewhat therapeutic, because I was thinking about it ahead of time and not buying things that we might not use and would just have to get rid of, not to mention that I like to buy fresher things anyway. But then once it came time to get rid of things, I was glad to give our food to wonderful people in our lives who do not celebrate Passover and to make a trip to the food bank with a laundry basket full of non-perishables. Not that it's stuff we wouldn't use, but really, we can easily just get more.

It's also the time of year that I swap out the clothing, packing up the winter wear and bringing out the spring and summer things. Mostly because I don't want to have to do it multiple times. It was a wonderful feeling that The Boy was in need of clothing because he had grown this year. Meatball was in need of clothing too--whatever The Boy was just wearing goes directly to him. Grandma was, of course, happy to shop for The Boy and get him new things to wear.

The Boy loves sandals and shorts; unfortunately, we're not really there yet in terms of the local climate.

Thinking about transitions and The Boy, Passover has marked points of transition for him as well. In 2008, he was an infant. A healthy infant. And it wasn't long before he was to become the cutest little oncology patient, and no longer a healthy infant. In 2009, he was still on treatment, and we had begun his relapse protocol. He was really sailing through it, and having very few issues with it. He had had radiation as well, which was not too taxing (except for the REALLY early morning wakeups). Right after Passover 2009, we began a stretch of time in which he was in the hospital more often than out of the hospital, from the end of April until the middle of August (including, naturally, the time of Meatball's birth).

The following year, in 2010, we attended the Passover Seders in Harrisburg and raced home to get him to chemo, only to learn, once we were there, that he was no longer going to be on treatment. Our feelings about that were very mixed--they took him off chemo because of the danger to his remaining kidney. So yes, we'd be getting a reprieve from the toxic chemicals, but those were the same toxic chemical that were keeping the cancer away. Also, if we were stopping treatment, were we trading one problem for another by counting down the days until kidney failure?

This year, from last Passover to this one, has been the most "normal" one we've had. In many respects, The Boy is a typical preschooler. There are plenty of issues through which we still work, but by comparison, they are minor. And most of them are variations of typical little kid problems, possibly magnified by his medical history, but some are just the 3-year-old behaviors that everyone knows and runs away from loves.

The Boy was wonderful, with the exception of a few tantrum-y episodes that he saves for us. Like during the first Seder when he decided that he needed to lock himself in the bathroom in order to go. But other than that, he was fabulous. He even "performed" for the family during the second seder, singing some of the Passover songs (working for treats, of course).

Work beckons...

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Upset Balance

Yesterday and most of today, Musical Daddy was away at a barbershop contest. And The Boy was just not himself.

It's odd, because we'll have periods of time where one or the other of us will be away for awhile during the day, working and doing lessons or whatever else, and things will be fine. But he just KNOWS somehow that Daddy is not as close by as he normally is, and something isn't right with the world.

Grandma and Grandpa stepped it up, as they always do, and their help is so valuable to us, but it wasn't the same for The Boy. He needs Daddy the most.

Everything was a battle with The Boy, particularly today. Everything involved him hitting us or trying to hit us. His fuse was exceptionally short, particularly when dealing with his brother. Fits all around. I did put him in "time out" of sorts, which I usually don't do, just for the purpose of getting him away from us, because he was really trying to hurt Meatball in the interest of playing a different computer game than the one that Meatball wanted to play with Grandma. I also declared no computer games for The Boy for the rest of the day. Not that it made much of a difference to him overall, but that way there was no cause for him to fight with Meatball about it. Frequently, Meatball does things to provoke The Boy. He's close in size and thinks he's big, so he pesters The Boy and eventually, The Boy fights back. This time, Meatball was just trying to play.

It's a bit stressful around here because we're trying to get things ready for Passover, so the house will be all set to go when we get back from our trip. Also, my 14-year-old cousin will be coming back here with us (well, with my parents and sister) for the remainder of her spring break. Tomorrow and Monday, we go out to eat, because there's pretty much nothing left in the house.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Passover is coming...

and I just realized that we're a week out. It just snuck right up on us, didn't it?

I mentioned that on Saturday I hosted what was basically a model seder. There's a certain smell in the kitchen when you have those Seder plates out...with the raw horseradish and the haroset (which is a mix of chopped apples, walnuts, cinnamon, and wine or grape juice that tastes a little like pie), coupled with the smell of soup and possibly gefilte fish. And it makes me happy, because Passover is a bunch of fun with the family.

I've been doing my best to manage the "exodus" of bread products and other non-Passover things from our fridge and freezer so we don't waste them. And of course, anything that is already opened is no longer kosher for Passover, even if it is supposed to be otherwise.

The Boy has been singing some songs at school for Passover, too. I'm excited! He knows the first part of the Four Questions. Meatball doesn't, but he likes to hear it and asks for it again. They both sing "Dayenu" as well.

We will travel to Harrisburg as we always do. This will be The Boy's first Passover since his treatment. We rushed back last year to get him in the hospital for chemo, to be told that we wouldn't start quite yet, and then when we went in, we were told that he was done with it.

Today I'm working. I'm substituting for high school band and music theory. This is one of those programs where many of the kids seem to live in the band room. Not dissimilar to the high school program where Musical Daddy worked in terms of band room culture, quite a long time ago now. I haven't gotten a feel for exactly the type of program that it is, although I know that it is a musically sound one, at least starting at the junior high level because I've been in there too. The kids are all helpful and want to do their work, which is nice. I'm not feeling very well today, unfortunately. I didn't get enough sleep, and I think I have a cold. And I'm in my third trimester of pregnancy, so everything takes a little bit more effort.

Wait, what? How did that happen? That was fast! But I think that since my due date is July 13 and today is April 11, I'm just now entering into the third trimester. I guess I'm 27 weeks on Wednesday. Am I ready to have THREE children?

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Onion Breath

It's been a busy few weeks and weekends for us. Not in a bad way at all--lots of good things!

Last weekend included a fantastic comedy show attended by Musical Daddy and myself. Without children (definitely NOT age appropriate, nor would they get it anyway). The following day, we toured the women's hospital where I'm going to be having baby #3. You know, whatever his name might happen to be. I feel MUCH better about the place, as I had heard some things about it being too intervention-happy, both during labor/delivery and postpartum. Not to mention generally unfriendly. What I had forgotten in listening to some friends (of many different mindsets, not just the crazy hippies like me) talk about this hospital is that it couldn't possibly be any worse than the place I had my other two kids. You know, where the C-section rate is nearly 50%, and they push formula at every shift change it seemed. If I could feel comfortable there, then certainly a place that is MORE motherbaby friendly will be even easier.

A friend who just had a baby there about a week ago (unmedicated VBAC by the way!) and had also had 2 other births out of state also had positive things to say.

After that was a 2nd birthday party for a friend's son. My kids love this little boy and it's so cute to listen to them call him by name. Our friends got a guy with a Barney suit to come and do some games and singing and dancing, and photos of course. He did a nice job; the only thing that I'd improve with regards to his act is that it's hard to hear him talking through the big costume head and a wireless mic system might really help. But other than that, all the kids at the party were very cute and very good.

I worked a few days this past week, as did Musical Daddy. Gets crazy around here when both of us go to work because poor Grandma is in charge of the kiddies. She does an amazing job and we love her for it, but it's still hard for everyone because everyone is exhausted.

Then last night, I went out with some friends to the casino that is here in town. Definitely not Atlantic City. But, it was also a cheaper night than it would be had we been in AC. 3 of the 4 of us who were there are pregnant. Two of us with kid #3 and one with kid #1. Our designated drinker 4th person has a 1-year-old. Great time. Lots of penny slots, which were fun. I don't know how much I actually spent on the slots but I finished the night down $23, plus $9 for food. That's a pretty cheap night out, I think.

Tonight we hosted some friends for an international dinner. It was a pretend Passover Seder! They aren't Jewish, any of them, so it was a neat experience. The kids were good, too. Typical kids, a little eating, a little playing, a little wandering, but it's to be expected.

Thursday night was tricky--I was making the soup for today and for some reason, Meatball REALLY wanted to eat some of the onions. So, as I was cutting them for the soup, I would give him pieces.

Fast-forward a bit and he's just not cooperating about going to bed, which isn't like him at all. Instead of snuggling in for a hug while I sang him his songs, he was screaming at me with his onion breath.

Finally he went to sleep a little after 9.

Anyhow, laundry calls, but we're still here and still doing just fine!