Tuesday, January 29, 2013

A referendum on vegetables...

Last week at dinner I pointed out that Chris hadn't touched his vegetables.*
Chris:  They'll make me sick. 
Me:  I think that's awfully suspicious.  Let's take a vote.  Do you think they're really making Daddy sick or is he shamelessly using chemo as an excuse?
David, who knows where he inherited his genius for gaming the system, voted with me.  Ron didn't eat his vegetables either, so he voted with Chris, in the hope, I think, that father of the chemo patient is also a legitimate excuse.  Rand and Bryan voted for both of us.  Bryan because, "I voted for both your teams," and Rand because he's three.  Jacob voted for Chris because,
"I don't think cancer man should have to eat his vegetables."
So, cancer man won the vegetable referendum 5 to 4.

* Lots of fabulous cooks have been bringing us delicious meals, so I have to point out that these were just frozen veggies I popped in the microwave.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Three years old...

Some snapshots of what you're like at three...

You in the morning.

Every morning you toddle downstairs sucking your thumb and without your blanket which you expect me or one of your brothers to fetch for you daily.  Your first words are practical and succinct.
Rand:  Eat food.  Drink milk.  You hold me couch.
When I have my priorities straight, I spend about ten minutes snuggling with you.

You on chores.

Me:  Rand, go help your brothers clean up the gameroom.
Rand:  I not clean, Mommy.  I baby.

You on fashion.

You can take off your pants and underwear to go to the bathroom, but getting them back on is beyond you, so you spend a lot of time running around naked.
Me:  Rand go get your pants.
Rand:  Me not need pants, Mommy.

You on frozen food.

I told you I needed you to check the food in the freezer to see if it was cold.  I lifted your shirt and put a bag of frozen peas on your belly.
Rand:  (thinks for a second) Yeah, it's cold.  (Takes another bag of frozen vegetables and puts them on his belly and thinks.)  It's cold, too.
Now this is one of your self assigned chores.  Periodically you tummy-check the frozen vegetables to make sure they're still cold.

You at the movies.

We watched Brave together the other day.  The big black bear caught you completely off guard.  You screamed, threw your pizza down, sprang into my lap, whimpered and put my hand over your face.
Rand:  That so scary.

You on kissin.

When I put you to bed at night, sometimes I can't help but kiss you all over your face because you're just so cute in your little footy pajamas, clinging to your blankie, with your thumb in your mouth.
Rand:  (in a deep voice and with disdain that's not really justified by the footy pajama, blankie, thumb in the mouth scene)  That's nuff, Mommy.

I wish I had a picture of my favorite scene with you this year.  We were in the middle of the Shenandoah River during our cabin week last summer.  The water was moving fast enough that you were clinging to me but not so fast that we couldn't wade across.  We sat in the rapids halfway across the river, about fifty yards from either shore.  I found a seat on a rock.  The water rushed over my legs.  You sat on my lap with your little arms and legs wrapped around me, your head on my chest and your thumb in your mouth.  There were dragonflies everywhere - they landed on my arms and on the branches caught in the rocks around us.  Hot pink, blue, purple, green and yellow.  It was a poem.  I wish I had the words for it.

Monday, January 21, 2013


The cavalry went home yesterday,

But reinforcements arrived.

If we go unclothed or unfed or if my kids end up in therapy someday because they feel unloved, it won't be their fault.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Saturday, January 19, 2013

A different kind of pursuing...

I'm in a new phase of cancer. I'm not as desperate as I was in the uncertain beginning. I'm getting used to it, and that has its own difficulties. It's not overwhelming sadness but a sort of functional despondency that is my enemy now. The interminable drizzle rather then the tidal wave. In my sorrow, my fear, my desperation, I can lean on my Father in a way that's not possible when I ignore my reality. I find that if I don't periodically turn my mind intentionally toward the depth of what I'm facing and acknowledge the Beast that is cancer, I deny myself the comfort and strength available from my God.

Maybe that's why so much time in the psalms is spent describing in almost embarrassingly emotional detail the author's unpleasant circumstances.

They had to be here:

"My life is consumed by anguish
and my years by groaning." Psalm 31:10

Before they could get here:

"Yet you heard my cry for mercy
when I called to you for help." Psalm 31:22

It's a different kind of pursuing God.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Round 2...

Waiting for a room

Hanging up the kids' artwork for ambience

And motivational posters

Round 2, game on

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad
Location:Round 2...

Monday, January 14, 2013

Justified by a wrinkle in time...

We're reading A Wrinkle in Time right now.  Remember that part when Meg, Calvin and Charles Wallace are resisting having their minds overtaken by the man with red eyes?
"Calvin's voice came out in an angry shout.  'Fourscore and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.'" 
Me:  Boys!  That's why I forced you to memorize the Gettysburg Address.  Because someday you may be in a galaxy far, far away, on a planet that's been overtaken by an evil dark force, and reciting the Gettysburg Address will be all that stands between you and a total mind takeover.
Later in the book Meg resists by reciting the elements in the periodic table.  David decided to memorize them as well.  You just never know.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Neon is prettier than I thought...

It's been a rough couple of days with the boys.  I'm having to relearn how to homeschool taking into account my new mental state.  Homeschooling with basic human kindness was challenging before we tossed cancer in the mix.  Now I'm operating at a default stress level that means that one of my poor children can drop a Cheerio or misspell a word and be faced with CRAZY.  

Yesterday morning was unpleasant.  Later in the day, I met my best girl at the science museum.  She asked how things were going and I told the truth.  (Seriously, these days you shouldn't ask me how it's going unless you're braced for some ugly.)  We met back at Janet's house for lunch.  She handed me a gift certificate for a facial.  While I got massaged, moisturized and relaxed, she played Legos with my boys.  When I picked up my guys (who were so much cuter than they had been two hours earlier) she had our dinner prepared and the kids' lunch for today packed.  Seriously, what can you even say?
"Friendship glows in the dark."  -Cat Lane*

* From a Cancer Sucks care package sent by some of my Virginia people.  

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Santa claus cancer policy...

Household H has slowly evolved a Santa Claus policy that works for us.  Basically, we're not anti-Santa; we think he's a fun guy.  Over the years, we've found that Santa has faded into the background organically as we've tried to add Christmas traditions more aligned with, well, the stuff Jesus talked about - feeding the hungry, reaching out to the lonely and hurt,...  Our basic policy is:

  1. Play along in a reasonable way* with the ones who still believe.
  2. Let the ones who don't believe stay up a little late on Christmas Eve to eat Santa's cookies and leave out a Santa gift for the uninformed.
  3. Answer any direct question honestly and forthrightly after, perhaps, a bit of dodging.  (What do you think?  Why do you ask?)
We've brought that Santa policy to cancer.  The boys know Chris has cancer, that there are a lot of different types of cancer and that his is treatable.  We decided not to address, "Is Daddy going to die?" unless they brought it up but to answer that question honestly when confronted with it.  Man, that's a tough balance.  I want my children to absolutely depend on me for the truth.  But, the truth sucks, and cancer is certainly not age-appropriate for them (or really me, for that matter).

The folks at MD Anderson gave us backpacks loaded with goodies designed for the children of patients.  One of the items is a set of color-coded wrist bands** for displaying emotions.  

When we handed out the bags, I was fairly certain that two of my children would turn the bracelets into weapons, one would try to do whatever his brothers did and one would use them for the purpose for which they were intended.  I was right.  That evening, Jacob was wearing his wrist bands.
Me:  I see you're using your color bracelets.  Tell me about that. 
Jacob:  This is because I know you love me, and this one is cause I'm worried. 
Me:  Whatcha worried about buddy? 
Jacob:  I'm worried cause Daddy has cancer.  Is he going to die?  Is he going to die from cancer?  (puts on blue "Sad" bracelet.)
Sigh.  We talked about what I do and do not know.  What follows is what I wanted to say (with some 7-year-old translation), but I'm sure it was garbled and a little rambly because
  1. I write better than I speak.
  2. Holy shit, he's 7 years old, but he's got to be able to depend on me for the truth.
Basically, I don't think Daddy will die from this, but I don't know for sure, just like I don't know for sure that I won't die in a car accident tomorrow or find a lizard in my cereal bowl.  I do know for sure that God loves me and he loves Jacob and he loves Daddy and none of us will die until we're supposed to and no matter what horrible things happen to us they're not because God doesn't care or can't help.  He loves us and whatever happens to us will be used for our good and his glory which kind of makes God seem like an emotionally detached psychopath unless you remember that he didn't spare himself and turned the suffering and obedience of his son, Jesus, into the most healing and beautiful thing the world has seen (in my humble opinion).

So, I didn't say exactly that, but I got in the ballpark and will, no doubt, have many more chances to rehearse that particular speech.

* For me, stuffing stockings and leaving out Christmas cookies for Santa is fun.  Waiting in line for an hour to talk to Santa at the mall is not fun.
** Wrist bands is the correct euphemism for boy bracelets, right?

Cotton bowl...

My dad is a rock star and got Chris and Bryan (the 30-something, not the 6 year old) suite* tickets to the Cotton Bowl.  Here they are heading out of town.

David attempting to stow away.

Me and the boys ready for the game.

Dropping off one by one.

Chris and Bryan at the game.

* Literally suite tickets - in a suite at the 50 yard line.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

2013, you make me nervous...

We had a fabulous New Year's Day.

A slacker lunch prepared by me...

Later a gourmet dinner prepared by Janet and delivered by Bryan...


Lots of games*...

And shenanigans...

* We played Dominion (Bryan gave us all a beating), Escape, chess (even Rand played a toddler version where you move pieces around at random and he always wins) and Pandemic.  In Pandemic the person who has been sick most recently gets to go first.  I felt like my stuffy nose should trump cancer, but Chris vehemently disagreed.  

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