Sunday, December 31, 2006

Was I too tough on origami?

I bet every busy mom asks herself that question at one time or another.

Yesterday, I mocked one of my neighbors for getting an "origami kit" for Christmas. Today I got an e-mail from my friend DeAnna, telling me that she ASKED FOR and received an origami book from her two sons. Then she sent me another e-mail full of links to Star Wars origami patterns. (Don't believe me? Check out this one). How little did I know. It looks like A LOT of people are out there doing origami. Now, I'm not sure how many of these people live productive lives outside of their parents' basements, but my eyes are still opened to the fact that origami is being done. A lot.

Sorry, origami.

What else did everyone get for Christmas? Please write in and let me know. Here are some of my coolest gifts:

1. DAVE BARRY'S AUTOGRAPH!!! Oh, yes, you read that right. My friends Elizabeth and Spencer sent me a copy of Peter and the Shadow Thieves autographed by THE GREATEST WRITER IN THE ENTIRE WORLD, DAVE. Spencer manages a Barnes and Noble and got to go to a convention where Dave made an appearance. This is probably the Coolest. Gift. Ever. It even says, "To Karen." "To Karen"!!! Dave knows my name!!! I'd sleep with it under my pillow, but it's a really thick book, and I'd probably have to go back to that chatty physical therapist.

For those of you who don't know who Dave Barry is: He's a Pulitzer-Prize-winning humor writer. He used to write a nationally syndicated column every week, and he's published dozens of books. When I was maybe 12 years old, I read his first book, Bad Habits, and right then and there decided I wanted to be Dave when I grew up. I still want to be Dave when I grow up.

Okay, now we're on to my second cool present, which was ....

2. Bunny slippers that heat up. Aw, yeah. They have these inserts that you put in the microwave for a minute so that the slippers get warm. Toasty and stylish!

3. Sesame Street Old School DVD. This is a three-DVD set of Sesame Street episodes from 1969 through 1974. This is a little before my time (I didn't get hooked on The Street until '76), but I'm amazed at how many of the segments I clearly remember. They must have rerun them for years. Remember The Ladybug Picnic? C is for Cookie? Mr. Hooper? Guy Smiley and Sherlock Hemlock? The original Gordon with the giant 'fro? They're all here!

I did get some other cool things, but I'll stop there for now. Now, what did all of you get? I promise that if it was something nerdy, like an origami book, I won't make fun of you.

Society will do that for me.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Blame the elves

When the going gets tough, blame fictional characters. That's what I do.

Lately, I feel I've been ignoring my poor old blog. I keep thinking of funny things to say -- well, at least they seem funny in my head -- but then I just never get to the computer. Usually I am ambushed by WCB, who wants me to read her all of her Christmas books again and again. "Read" is actually a strong word. Really, we'll look at a book for a few seconds and then WCB will toss it aside so we can move on to the next one. My side of the conversation goes like this: "'Twas the night before Christmas, and ...' OK? You're done with that one? Well, then, 'Every Who down in Whoville ...' OK ... " Her favorite one -- meaning we get to turn all of the pages -- was sent to us by her Great Aunt Berta, and it has a group of elves on the cover.

"Elf!" WCB will say, and if I don't respond within .5 seconds: "ELF! ELF!ELLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLF!!"

Always with the elves. WCB gets quite loud. I'm imagining the family next door: "Did you hear that again, dear? It sounded like a child yelling 'elf'."

It's because of these elves that I don't blog every day. Yesterday, for example, I wanted to write about how WCB and I took a walk through the neighborhood to enjoy the unusually nice weather. It also happened to be trash/recycling bin day, so we got to check out the discarded cardboard boxes from all of our neighbors' Christmas presents. I'm secretly hoping that they'll grow tired of their gifts by the time we have the annual neighborhood yard sale. I have dibs on the Little People castle a couple blocks over.

I also noticed that someone in the next cul de sac got an "origami kit." Ouch. Somebody didn't make the nice list this year, huh?

I could have told you all of this yesterday, but I was stopped by the elves.

I've also been wanting to write about WCB's big present from Santa, which is a toy kitchen. Toy kitchens are not only great fun, they're supposed to be "educational", because kids this age like imitating what adults do. I say, if she's going to imitate me in the kitchen authentically, she should just pick up the plastic toy phone that came with the kitchen and say, "Hello? Pizza Hut?"

Unfortunately, WCB doesn't yet have the verbal skills to order takeout --unless she'd like to order some cooked elf -- so she has to rely on actual pretend cooking if she expects to put any plastic food on the table. Today she made a plastic stew. Ingredients: plastic peas, plastic eggplant, plastic celery, one plastic egg (in the shell), one plastic block of cheese, and one plastic pink cupcake. Mmmm .... plasticly delicious.

I've missed the blog. I hope to report back to you again soon. As long as the elves don't stop me.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Merry Christmas, you wonderful old Building and Loan!

Two of my favorite movies of all time were on TV recently in celebration of the holidays, and, as with everything else, I have some minor quibbles with them.

Oh, I have quibbles with every movie, even my NUMBER-ONE all-time favorite movie, The Wizard of Oz. What happens to Miss Gulch at the end of the movie? Doesn't she still have the order from the sheriff that authorizes her to take Toto? That plot point is never resolved. I like to think she was killed by the tornado.

Anyway.

First up: The Sound of Music. Remember when Captain Von Trapp asks Maria if there's anyone he needs to go to to ask permission to marry her? And she says, "We'd better go ask the children"? Yeah, how did that conversation go? Wasn't that a little uncomfortable?

"Um, OK? Kids? You know how I never allowed you to grieve after your mother dropped dead, and then I turned into an emotionally distant jerk who was never home? And then I briefly came around for a while, faking you out by laughing at that goat puppet show, only to scar you psychologically once again by announcing that I was going to marry the Evil Baroness who clearly hated you? Ha, ha! Remember how I forced you all to kiss her on the cheek and call her 'mother'? Well, um, in just the last couple of minutes, I decided to dump the baroness and take up with your nanny, who isn't going to be a nun after all! But I swear, from now on we will have a stable home life. Well, after we become a show-biz family and then escape from the Nazis."

I think Captain Von Trapp needs help from Dr. Phil.

Next: It's a Wonderful Life. I've brought this up many times before, but it bears repeating. Why is it that Jimmy Stewart is relatively composed when he learns his brother is dead, his uncle has gone crazy, and old Mr. Gower poisoned some kid, but he loses it – really loses it – when he finds out that his wife is a librarian?

Not just a librarian. (DRAMATIC PAUSE) A librarian ... WHO WEARS GLASSES!

Oh, the humanity.

Anyway. I hope all of you reading this have a very merry Christmas. Stay away from the library, though.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Cancer or No Cancer

Last night, I caught about 15 minutes of that new game show, Identity. I'm not sure what the rest of the show was like, but in the part I saw, the contestant had to decide which of the two scantily clad women in front of him was a belly dancer and which one was a ... I don't remember ... a structural engineer or an accountant or blackjack dealer or something. They dragged this decision out for the entire 15 minutes and made it clear that it was the Tensest. Moment. Ever. The man was about to have a nervous breakdown. His family was crying. What if the woman wasn't really a belly dancer??!?!? WHAT IF?!?!?!

Tension? Dude. Sure, winning all that money is a big deal, but try sitting in a doctor's office, waiting to find out if you have cancer. That's tension. Maybe they should treat THAT like a game show. The doctor could keep walking into the exam room repeatedly for 15 minutes: "Karen, we'll tell you if you have cancer (dramatic pause) AFTER THE BREAK!"

If you didn't have cancer, balloons would drop from the ceiling, and your entire family would come running in, screaming. If you did, then the doctor could play the sound of a studio audience going, "Awwwww!" and you could get a consolation prize, like a free toaster. It's no fun to have cancer, but it is fun to make toast.

Monday, December 18, 2006

It's a Festivus miracle!

With all the excitement of a new blog template, I forgot to post the really big news: WCB is walking! Like, really, really walking! She just took off a couple of days ago. If she's really serious about getting to something -- say, she just HAS to rip the bow off of a wrapped Christmas present -- she'll still drop down and crawl to it, but she is walking for the most part. Last night, we were getting her ready for her bath, and she took off down the hall completely naked, laughing hysterically, joyfully streaking.

Joyful, joyful!

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Extreme makeover: Blog edition

I feel I've been ignoring the poor old blog lately, so I decided to give it a spiffy new makeover today. I switched over to the new version of Blogger, and I really have no idea what I'm doing. It might have some bugs that I need to get worked out. If you notice anything that's gone awry -- say, a link that doesn't work or something that causes your computer to explode when you click on it -- please let me know.

KA-BOOM!

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Puttin' on the Ritz

Multiple myeloma strikes again: This time it's taken the life of Peter Boyle, the actor best known for playing the dad on Everybody Loves Raymond. He also played the monster in Young Frankenstein, which my sister and I must have watched a million times when we were little.



I think we need an official motto: "Myeloma: The disease that only cool people get."

Friday, December 08, 2006

Hooray for Karen!

Frosty the Snowman is on TV tonight. Ever since I was a kid, it was always my favorite Christmas special of all, because the little girl who travels with Frosty is named Karen. You never see too many Karens in leading roles. It was always very exciting for me. Granted, she's blonde and thin and wears a miniskirt even in the snow, but we won't dwell on that.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Hallowed be thy TiVo

Today I was checking the suggestions on my "TiVo Suggestions" list and found ... a really, really long list of religious programming. If there was a religious show airing in the next two weeks, the TiVo had found it and wanted to record it for me.

This is odd. I don't know why the TiVo thinks I like religious programming. I can't remember previously recording anything remotely religious, unless you count A Charlie Brown Christmas. (Who doesn't love Linus reciting scripture? Before WCB was officially a girl, I suggested the name Linus. Jay said no.)

Then I figured it out: The TiVo saw my enormous backlog of Sex and the City reruns and is trying to save my soul.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Be aware o' that marrow, Part II

I realize it is now no longer Marrow Awareness Month, but I feel that one should be aware of his or her marrow each and every month. Don't you?

I now know of two couples who have joined the National Marrow Donor Program Registry, and in both cases, the process was very easy and, more important, FREE. This note is from my sister and her husband:

"It's so easy! T.J. and I just today started the process to become bone marrow donors. When I looked up the nearest bone marrow center, it was about 2 1/2 hours away from where we live, and I thought we'd need to travel there to have the necessary blood work done. But I called today and a very nice nurse said all we needed to do was print out a form from the internet and send it in. Then in a few weeks she'll send us a swab kit to get our DNA. She said they don't even need to draw blood any more. Its all paid for and free! So what are you (everyone else) waiting for? Apparently there is a 1 in 200 chance that you will be chosen, and if you are, it isn't a major commitment... just a few days to help someone out."

And this comes from my friend Elizabeth:

"Hi Everyone. I am one of Karen's friends from college and she and Jay are godparents to our second son. I just wanted to let everyone out there know how easy it is to become a bone marrow donor. It's something I had wanted to do for a long time, but the process seemed too confusing, or I was too lazy, but I kept putting it off.

About six months ago there was a national drive to get more bone marrow donors and a grant was provided to pay the tissue typing fee (that, as far as I know, is still $52). My husband and I participated in the drive here in Omaha. We had to read about what would be asked of us if we were asked to donate, fill out a short medical history (mostly questions regarding our lifestyle and health history that might affect our blood) and swab several parts of our mouth with a cotton swab (we even did it ourselves)). Then we were done. The whole thing took less than ten minutes.

A few weeks later we got information in the mail welcoming us to the registry. Now, it is our responsibility to keep in touch with them in case we move or develop certain health conditions (for instance, I'm currently pregnant and, therefore, not eligible to donate, so they took me off the list until I'm able again), and we just wait for the call that we might be a match and able to help someone. It used to be that you had to find a donation site, but now you can do the whole thing via mail. Just log on to http://www.marrow.org and click on "join now."

While I was signing up, a mother and father came in with their toddler daughter who was waiting for a match. They had, of course, already been tested for their daughter, but were there to join the national registry. Seeing that little girl was very touching and made me realize what a great decision I had made to take an hour out of my day to become part of such a great registry. Imagine who you might be able to help."

In both of these cases, signing up was free. I know that there CAN be a pretty hefty charge in some cases, though. For example, if you register online, you will have to pay $52. However, if you register in person or by phone, there is a chance that this fee will be reduced or eliminated, based on the donation center. I just invite you all to check it out and learn more about how it works. Click on the link in this entry or at the right and read more about it. If you end up signing up, be sure to let me know!

Thanks, everybody.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

I need therapy

I started therapy. Well, physical therapy. I've had tension headaches off and on for years. I finally asked my "regular" doctor (that would be my non-blood, non-cancer doctor) what I could do about them, and she sent me to a physical therapist who specializes in headaches. Today was my first appointment. I had to fill out one of those forms that says, "Have you ever been diagnosed with (long list of horrible diseases)" and for the first time ever, I had to circle "Yes" on the cancer spot. That was fun. It's like I simply can't get enough of all of this medical stuff. If I'm not going to them, they're coming to me: When I got home from the appointment, there was a message on the machine from my old bone-marrow-transplant case worker, who I haven't heard from in months, checking to make sure I was still alive, I guess.

Anyway, the therapist and I were chatting about WCB, and I told her that she doesn't walk yet. Remember those steps I got so excited about a few weeks ago? Yeah, she only takes, like, two a day, and then decides she's done. I still don't count it as walking.

"Oh, I once had a patient who didn't walk until 19 months," said the therapist. "Then, when she was an adult, she got these terrible migraine headaches. It turns out .... SHE WAS MISSING A PART OF HER BRAIN."

"A PART OF HER BRAIN?" I said.

"Yes," said the therapist. "A part of her brain. And her only symptom was late walking."

Great. As if I wasn't tense enough. Pretty soon I'll have to start non-physical therapy.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Thanks, Lenny!

Here's some news from the myeloma world that I'm a little late in posting. I would have blogged it earlier, but I was out of town most of last week eating my own weight in pumpkin pie. My brother-in-law cooked the turkey outside on the grill; it was excellent. Now I waddle everywhere I go.

Anyway, I learned this great fact last week from Beth's Myeloma Blog: Actor Michael McKean, also known as one of the members of Spinal Tap, the evil neighbor in The Brady Bunch Movie, and Lenny from Laverne and Shirley ...



... won Celebrity Jeopardy and split his winnings between the International Myeloma Foundation and another charity. This means the IMF got $25,000 from Lenny! Woo hoo! According to some other bloggers, he swept the category on -- heh -- Stonehenge. (Remember? From Spinal Tap? Oh, never mind.) But I think the very best part of this story is that he beat the U.S. Secretary of Education. Heh.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Be aware o' that marrow

I found out today from Amanda's blog that November is Marrow Awareness Month. I think it's pretty sad that it's nearly the end of November and even I had no idea this was going on, considering I'm much more aware of marrow on a daily basis than the average person. How does marrow slip under the radar? I'm sure that none of us missed the fact that last month was Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Heck, you could even get pink cupcakes from the Hy-Vee bakery to mark the occasion. I'm not trying to knock the breast cancer people; on the contrary, they have excellent awareness-raising skills. I think all of us marrow folks need to pull it together and spread the word. Maybe next November, we'll all be feasting on tasty marrow cupcakes. Mmmm .... marrow cupcakes.

Seriously, though, I invite all of you to take just a minute and learn a little more about joining the National Marrow Donor Program. It's a little more involved than donating, say, blood, but it is a lot less involved than donating, say, a kidney. You could save somebody. Maybe you could wind up saving me. Maybe you could be the one to ensure that everyone can continue to read this blog until I am 102 years old and die of a heart attack when someone -- probably my 72-year-old child -- finally convinces me to ride Space Mountain at Disneyland.

Wait, I can't die then. If I finally do ride Space Mountain, I need to live to blog about that. Make it 103 and a giant meteor falling on my assisted-living facility while I'm playing Scrabble.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Gloatin' about the 'globin

WCB had her 18-month checkup today. Everything is going well; the doctor was excited to hear about the step-taking, although she did remind me that most 18-month-olds can run. I figure I'm 31 years old and I hardly ever run, so it can't be that big of a deal.

She also asked how much TV WCB watches every day.

"Um," I said. "Sesame Street."

"Oh, that's not very much," said the doctor, pleased, and she moved on to other things. I'd neglected to mention that I've also memorized the theme song to Jakers! The Adventures of Piggly Winks and that I am dangerously close to developing a crush on Mr. Rogers. I certainly didn't tell her that once I lay awake at night, trying to decide if Sesame Street's Bob and Allen -- Allen's the guy who runs Hooper's Store now -- are having an affair. And if they are having an affair, isn't Bob a little old for Allen? Or does Allen see past the age difference because Bob is an excellent singer, is kind to Muppets, and knows how to knit? Remember when Gina adopted Baby Marco from Guatemala, and Bob knitted her a blanket? It matched his sweater, which he also knitted. Anyway, I imagine them double-dating with Bert and Ernie.

Maybe I need to get out more.

But the high point of the appointment is when WCB had to have her hemoglobin -- that's her iron level -- tested. It's a routine test for all babies her age, and it involved blood taken from a heel stick. The doctor went over the test with me, and explained that if the result was low, we would have to go to a lab for yet another test, which would involve an actual blood draw from a vein, and it could lead to more tests to figure out why the blood counts were low, etc. etc. I figured that of course it was going to be low. Blood never does what I want it to do. Plus, I can't seem to get enough extra doctor appointments and blood tests into my life. Bring it on, I thought.

The nurse came in and told me that most babies have no problem with the heel stick -- that it looks a lot worse than it actually is. Heh, I thought; this nurse has never met WCB. (Official motto: "Why react when you can overreact?") When I told Jay the story later, he said, "Didn't you tell the nurse that WCB screams at the sight of ladybugs?"

Anyway, one heel stick, two Daffy Duck Band-Aids, and a whole lot of screaming later, we had a hemoglobin number: 13.2. That is EXCELLENT! I wish my hemoglobin was 13.2. I could not believe the pride I felt at that number, and also a teeny bit of jealousy. 13.2. A little over a year ago, I would have forgotten the number by now, if I'd even bothered to really pay attention in the first place. "Oh," I'd say to Jay later in the day, "they did some kind of a blood test and said it was OK." Now, of course, I am completely obsessed with blood numbers. I almost want to make a scrapbook page about it. My daughter has perfect blood.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Ignore that drunken spike

I'm still awaiting Official Word from Dr. Hayman at the Mayo Clinic, but I was able to talk to her nurse. They did get the fax with my test results, and the nurse didn't seem to think that Dr. H would be overly concerned with my M-spike going up -- well, at least in the short-term -- because everything else is normal. The nurse pointed out that my IGG protein even went down a little bit. Do any of you myeloma people out there know how your IGG can go down and your M-spike can go up at the same time? If so, let me know.

Anyway, I finally got the results in the mail from the Cancer Center and I was able to go through every number in my usual anal-retentive way. The nurse is right: Everything else that's not protein-related is perfect. It's like there's a party in my blood, and everyone's invited. All those cells were in there having a good time when my M-spike showed up uninvited and drunk, hit on all the other cells' girlfriends, and then started throwing up in the potted plants. So far, all of the other cells are completely ignoring him. Keep it up, cells. None of you had better start listening to his drunken rants or letting him spike (ha!) the punch. Red blood cells, I'm talking specifically to you.

Monday, November 13, 2006

That's one small step for WCB ...

SHE'S TAKING STEPS!!!!!
SHE'S TAKING STEPS!!!!!
SHE'S TAKING STEPS!!!!!
SHE'S TAKING STEPS!!!!!
SHE'S TAKING STEPS!!!!!
SHE'S TAKING STEPS!!!!!
SHE'S TAKING STEPS!!!!!
SHE'S TAKING STEPS!!!!!
SHE'S TAKING STEPS!!!!!
SHE'S TAKING STEPS!!!!!
SHE'S TAKING STEPS!!!!!
SHE'S TAKING STEPS!!!!!
SHE'S!!!!!
TAKING!!!!!
STEPS!!!!!

That's all. You can go back to what you were doing now.

Friday, November 10, 2006

The biggest, fattest M-spike in all the world

I just talked to the nurse. My M-spike is up to 4.6. It was 4.2 on August 30. This isn't a good thing. Maybe Dr. GPO didn't spit out his coffee, but it had to have dribbled out of the side of his mouth just a little bit.

Fortunately, the nurse said that all of my non-protein numbers are normal. My hemoglobin is starting to go back up (That's good). I'm getting the full set of results sent to me in the mail, so I'll have more details on everything in a couple of days. In the meantime, the Cancer Center is faxing the results to Mayo. We'll see if Dr. Hayman spits out her coffee or not.

Deep breath.

No news is ... not horrible news?

I still don't have my results, but now I am operating under the theory that the longer they take to get back to me, the less horrible the results have to be. Last December, when I got some "bad" numbers, I got a call from the doctor himself less than 24 hours after I had the blood drawn. This is never a good thing. You don't want test results that make your doctor spit out his/her coffee and sprint to the phone. You want results that are so boring that they're set aside and left for somebody else to call you later, once all of the coffee-spit stains from the other, sicker patients are all cleaned up.

Anyway. I just left a message. I was told a nurse would call me. I think I'll go lie down in front of the Tivo.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Back from Oz

We went to see Dr. Great and Powerful Oz yesterday morning. My parents were here to watch WCB, so Jay got to come with me.

The Cancer Center just moved to a brand new facility, which is much, much, much nicer and bigger than the old one. It just opened yesterday, and I had the distinction of being the first patient that Dr. GPO saw at the new place. I hope that's a good omen. He gave us his usual 10-minute pep talk about how I'm never going to die, I gave three vials of blood to the lab people, and then I went in search of a flu shot. They were implementing a bunch of new procedures at the new building, so nobody was sure where to put me or which forms I needed to give to whom in order to get my shot. I finally ended up waiting around in the chemo room, in one of those big chemo easy chairs.

Those chairs seem pretty comfy, but they're probably not when you're getting chemo for five hours. That's what was going on with the guy sitting next to me, who was eating a can of peanuts and peacefully working his crossword puzzle while the nurse hooked him up. I guess I can't really complain about my own situation, when all I needed was a shot. As promised, I did not have to bring home a Pee Pod. Woo hoo! Jay and I stopped at Hy-Vee and brought home doughnuts instead. Much more appealing than the contents of a Pee Pod.

The results are supposed to be back tomorrow, but I think that is doctor language for "two weeks from now." We'll see.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

It's that time again

Tomorrow morning I go back to Dr. Great and Powerful Oz for my two-month blood test. I still feel fine, so I'm hoping those Godcellas aren't messing around. Wish me luck.

Despite the fact that it is blood-test time, which is never a fun time, there are still things to get excited about. Just now I was at Wal-Mart, and they were giving away free samples of bottled Ben and Jerry's milkshakes. That's right: Now Ben and Jerry's comes in liquid form, so you can ingest much, much more of it at an even faster rate. Woo hoo! I had some fabulous chocolate flavor; I wondered how often I could keep going back to the free-sample table before the sample woman got suspicious. Maybe I could put on a disguise. I'm picturing a fake moustache and an affected British accent. It could work.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Got milk? Heck, no.

WCB has two big issues that arise out of her extreme stubbornness: One is her refusal to walk, and the other is her refusal to drink milk out of a cup.

She would drink milk nonstop out of a bottle -- back when she was still getting a bottle, that is. She will drink water nonstop out of cup. She just will not drink milk out of a cup. If I put a milk-filled cup on her tray, she says, "No! No!", turns the cup upside down and begins shaking the milk onto the floor.

A friend suggested that I try some fancy "smoothie" drinks. I was excited to find some Yo Baby yogurt drinks in the organic section at Hy-Vee. WCB loves Yo Baby yogurt more than anything in the world. If a container of Yo Baby and I were trapped in a burning building and WCB could only save one of us, she would rush inside to save the Yo Baby. Then she would eat it. Then she would look around for some more. And then she would call the fire department. These drinks are the same thing, only liquid. I had her now, I thought.

I put the yogurt drink in a cup, and ... WCB acted like I was trying to poison her. "No," she said, then, adding for clarity: "No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No." (Pause) "No."

She made herself turn red until the yogurt was removed from her tray, from her sight, from the universe.

Moments after I took her out of the high chair, far away from the expensive, organic, richly high-fat, tasty, fruit-flavored yogurt, I caught her eating a clump of dirt.

Maybe I should mix dirt in with her milk. Would that be wrong?

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Christmas in November

First off, Halloween was great. WCB was the WCD -- World's Cutest Dorothy. I wish I could post photos of her here. Just imagine the cutest little girl in the world in the cutest Dorothy dress in the world and then magnify it times 100. That's what it looked like.

Yesterday, WCB and I had nothing to do, so I decided to take her to Barnes and Noble to see if they had any cute children's books about turkeys. I did find one ... but only after searching around for the teeny, tiny Thanksgiving book section that was hidden behind an enormous Christmas display. It was November 1, people! November 1!

Is it just Barnes and Noble that has gone mad? No, my friends. Later that day, I got into the car to drive to exercise class, and found that Kansas City's 24-Christmas music station has already started up. This is just wrong.

Don't you remember when you were a kid, and it seemed like it took FOREVER for Christmas to come? And this was back in the Olden Times (the '80s), when the Christmas season didn't start until at least the day after Thanksgiving. Don't you think starting Christmas on November 1 has to be absolutely agonizing for kids?

Won't somebody please think of the children?

Monday, October 30, 2006

The End of Normal

Today is the one-year anniversary of My Last Day as a Normal Person. On a tiny scale, it's sort of like how everyone feels about September 10, 2001. You know: On September 10, you were out at the mall or lying around watching TV or whatever, and everything was fine, and then the next day the world started falling down, and from then on you went to the mall "so the terrorists wouldn't win."

October 31, 2005, I got up, dressed my five-month-old as Princess Leia from Star Wars (OK, maybe the term "Normal Person" is relative), and went to a Halloween party put on by a stay-at-home moms' group that I belong to. When Princess Leia and I got home, the light was flashing on the answering machine. It was a nurse from my doctor's office calling about my test results.

Aw, I thought, it's my low iron again. I've had slightly low iron off and on for years, but I've never really worried about it. As soon as I get a roast-beef sandwich in me, it goes right back up. I figured I'd call back and get another lecture about eating more red meat and leafy greens. Instead, the nurse told me that my protein level was too high. I'd never heard of this.

"What does that mean?" I asked.

"It means you have too much protein," said the nurse.

This nurse, by far, would turn out to be the least helpful medical professional I'd encounter through this whole thing.

She told me I needed to go to a "specialist" to get this protein thing sorted out, although she never mentioned several key details, such as, "He's an oncologist" or "He works at the Cancer Center." I didn't know anything about doctors, so I didn't think to ask. I wrote down the name of the doctor and the appointment date, thinking this was all very bizarre. Why couldn't my regular doctor just tell me what was wrong? As soon as I got off the phone, I went straight to the Internet and Googled "high protein." All I could find was a rare disease called multiple myeloma, but the Internet claimed that it only affected people over age 70 -- mostly men -- and came with a whole host of nasty symptoms, including bone pain, infections, and kidney failure. Most people who had it had just three years to live. I sure didn't have that.

A couple of days later, I got a letter in the mail from the Kansas City Cancer Center.

The letter confirmed my appointment and then explained that I would need to go to such-and-such building for my first appointment, but then I'd be going to another-such building for my chemotherapy appointments. I called Helpful Nurse back in a panic.

"Oh, we're not sending you there because we think you have cancer," she lied. "It's because he's also a blood expert."

"Well, I guess I needed to check," I said, "because just I got a letter telling me which building to go to for my chemotherapy."

"Oh, yeah," said Helpful Nurse, "they did change the chemotherapy building."

Let's take a brief time out for a side note here: Back when I was in college in South Dakota, I had a great linguistics professor who never failed to crack me up. She was from New York. One day, she told this story: "The first time I came to South Dakota, I called my husband and said, 'We're not moving here.' He said, 'Why not?' I said, 'BECAUSE THERE IS A JOHN DEERE TRACTOR AT THE AIRPORT!' He said, 'So?'" (Dramatic pause) "We later divorced because of his inability to understand metaphor."

My point, and I do have one, is all I could think of after that phone call was, "Wow. Helpful Nurse has the inability to understand metaphor."

I guess there are worse things than having cancer.

Anyway, I wouldn't get my official diagnosis until late November, but October 31 is when it all began. The End of Normal.

Friday, October 27, 2006

L. Frank Baum is spinning in his grave

Thanks to my friend Barb for alerting me to this photo, which is one of the most disturbing things I've seen in a while. Remember that I change diapers all day, so I've seen a lot of disturbing things.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

The Infamous Blood Test

Today is the one-year anniversary of the Infamous* Blood Test that started this whole stupid cancer mess. It was just a routine part of my annual physical. "Oh," I thought, "they're just going to check for cholesterol and stuff. Oprah always says you should know your cholesterol level."

Come to think of it, I never did ask what my cholesterol level was, what with them finding the cancer instead. I'll just assume my cholesterol is fine. Don't tell Oprah.

This means that these evil cancer cells have been lurking in my blood for at least one year now, probably a lot longer, and ... I'm still fine. I'd never know there was anything wrong with me if it weren't for that one test. In the past year, I've felt completely healthy. In the past year, I've had two colds and a touch of WCB's recent stomach flu -- hardly cause for me to run off to the doctor to be tested for cancer. And since the cancer hasn't required any sort of treatment in the past year, either, is there a point in knowing about it?

It's funny. But not ha-ha funny.

*Doesn't the word "infamous" remind you of The Three Amigos? "El Guapo isn't just famous -- he's INfamous!"

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Republicans call; WCB throws up

Wow: I haven't blogged in a whole week. I think that's a new record for me. I haven't been doing much except dodging phone calls from every political candidate in the state of Missouri. Just as I typed these few sentences, the phone rang again. We even got a couple of messages from the Republican party. What? Neither Jay nor I have ever voted Republican, or even thought kind thoughts about a Republican candidate in our entire lives. Why are they calling here? If they vant to suck my blood, they are more than welcome to it. Mmm ... cancer-filled treat.

Where was I?

Oh, right. I haven't been doing much that is blog-worthy. Yesterday, poor, poor WCB had her first bout with stomach flu. I had my first bout of having to clean up after someone with the stomach flu. Did you know that vomit can fly? For a while, I wasn't sure if I should call the pediatrician or a priest. If anyone knows how to get baby throwup out of a board-book edition of Go, Dog, Go, please e-mail me. Fortunately, everyone is doing much better now.

See? I told you it wasn't blog-worthy. You really need to take these warnings more seriously.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

It's even in prime time

Anyone see House last night? The patient was a little old man (played by Joel Grey from Cabaret) who was dying of some mysterious horrible disease. House wanted to find out what the disease was; the little old man just wanted House to inject him with morphine and kill him. House made a deal: If he didn't figure out what was wrong within 24 hours, then he'd go ahead and kill the little old man. So the expert medical team stayed up all night long -- so long that the makeup department had to put dark circles under their eyes and muss their hair -- until they came up with a diagnosis.

Multiple myeloma.

Of course, you knew this couldn't be the real diagnosis, because it was only 7:20, and House never pins down the true diagnosis until at least 7:45, often later. Turns out that around 7:45 they figured out that poor Joel Grey had amyloidosis, which is a condition related to myeloma, where the protein builds up in the organs. He died at the end of the episode, possibly because the dark-circle-eyed beautiful woman doctor injected him with morphine after all.

I'll tell you that I did have a brief moment of triumph when I saw how relieved House was when he thought it was "only" myeloma. "There are treatments," he told the little old man. "You're not terminal." House should know, I thought. He is a SUPER GENIUS. Plus, he's totally faking an American accent, and you can't even tell.

I like it when fictional characters help me feel better about my life.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Et tu, Foo Foo?

Before WCB was born, someone gave us a little storybook version of "This Little Piggy." I noticed that several lines had been changed to make the rhyme more pleasant. Instead of

This little piggy had roast beef
This little piggy had none

it now reads

This little piggy had cookies (as not to offend vegetarians)
This little piggy had fun (as not to offend non-vegetarians)

I always read it the "right" way in protest. Cookies, my eye. This morning, I discovered that's not the only rhyme that's been sanitized for our protection. WCB and I attended a baby music class and witnessed the most bizarre interpretation of "Little Bunny Foo Foo" I've ever heard.

For those of you who didn't attend Brownie camp in the early '80s, "Little Bunny Foo Foo" goes like this:

Little Bunny Foo Foo hopping through the forest
Scoopin' up the field mice, and boppin' 'em on the head
Down came the good fairy, and she said,
"Little Bunny Foo Foo, I don't want to see you
Scoopin' up the field mice and boppin' 'em on the head
I'll give you three chances, and then I'll turn you into a goon."

The song repeats with good-for-nothing Bunny Foo Foo wasting his three chances, until -- poof! -- the good fairy turns him into a goon. The song ends with a delicious pun: "The moral of the story is ... hare today, goon tomorrow!" Needless to say, this was one of my favorite songs EVER.

Today's version, however, eliminated the good fairy and had Bunny Foo Foo's parents very un-poetically putting him in time out and telling him to think about the bad choice that he made to hit the field mouse. Bunny Foo Foo then realizes that hitting is wrong and that he should use words instead. He apologizes to the field mouse who then forgives him and the two play happily together.

I'm not making this up. I can't make this stuff up.

"Hare today, carefully considering the consequences of my actions and coming to the realization that violence -- in all its forms -- is wrong and detrimental to my relationships with mice" just doesn't have the same ring.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Therapy dropout ... no graduation day for you ...

We think we might be done with the baby physical therapy. Today's session was 45 minutes of WCB crying, trying to climb over us in terror, doing her famous Ray Bolger impression whenever we tried to get her to walk, and yelling, "No! No!" at the therapist.

"Really," I shouted over the WCB screams, "she can walk with a push toy."

"Oh, I believe you," came the voice of therapist from somewhere behind the wall. He'd ducked down behind a ledge so WCB would act more natural. She could still sense he was there. It's like how dogs and bees can smell fear. WCB can smell physical therapists.

So, he left it up to us to decide if we'd come back again. We kept our appointments open for now, but I'm pretty sure we're going to be done with the therapy. Sure, maybe she'll have to crawl across the stage to get her Harvard diploma, but after today, we're willing to pay that price.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Scary story

I guess it is a good time of year for scary stories, but I only like it when I am pretend scared.

Here is an absolutely horrifying story from today's Kansas City Star about the Kansas City Blood and Marrow Transplant Program. Supposedly everything is fine now, but in 1998 and 1999, an abnormally high number of patients were dying after their stem cell transplants. It was discovered that the stem cells were frozen improperly, sometimes left to sit at room temperature, and patients were receiving transplants of dead cells. Yeah, nice.

The story claims the doctors realized the mortality rate was unusually high, yet they continued to admit new patients to the program and failed to tell them about all of the deaths. It all came out in the open when a lab tech finally blew the whistle. Now a bunch of patients' families are suing, including the family of a woman who had myeloma and died from her transplant. Not only did she get a faulty transplant, the woman's daughter says that doctors at the transplant program told her the transplant could cure the myeloma. Um. No. There is no cure for myeloma.

Anyway, when I first saw the article, I nearly had a heart attack. I was a patient at this transplant program in November and December last year. A doctor there is the one who initially diagnosed me; then in early December he said he wanted to start me on thalidomide in preparation for a transplant. That's when I hightailed it to Mayo. Again, the article says everything is OK now -- there are new doctors, new procedures, fewer deaths -- but you just never know.

Scary, scary, scary.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

That Elmo fella is all right

Alternate title: I've been watching way, way, WAY too much PBS.

Over the summer I came back to watching Sesame Street on an almost daily basis, after a 25-year-ish hiatus. And I was hugely mistrusting of Elmo. Elmo is a "new" muppet to me. I grew up with the originals: Bert. Ernie. Guy Smiley. A Snuffy who was invisible to everyone but Big Bird. But now, I have to admit, Elmo has grown on me. Maybe I need to get out more, but I find him clever and I laugh at his jokes. Then, today, a two-daddy family was featured on "Elmo's World." OK, maybe "featured" is too strong a word, but the video montage about different types of families contained a fleeting glimpse of an unmistakably two-daddy family. Way to go, Elmo. Stand up for what is right!

Now if he'd only quit emotionally abusing poor Mr. Noodle.

Saturday, September 30, 2006

You gotta love Peanuts

An anonymous reader sent me the link to this Peanuts cartoon. Heh!

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Meanwhile, at the baby therapist's office ...

Today WCB had her first physical therapy appointment at the children's hospital downtown. Official diagnosis: She's stubborn.

Well, yeah.

The therapist says that there is nothing wrong with her. She COULD walk; she just doesn't want to. And, after observing the family in action, he said that Jay and I are making it worse by not letting her get frustrated. Can't reach a toy? We'll get that for you, sweetie. From now on, we're supposed to let her do stuff for herself and fall down and cry. We tried it once at the therapist's office, and I almost started crying myself.

We got a bunch of exercises to do at home, and then we go back and see the therapist again in two weeks. Sounds so simple, but WCB is already wise to the exercises and won't do them. For example, instead of holding her hands while she walks, we're supposed to lightly hold her elbows and let go. The second we touch her elbows, her legs go limp like Ray Bolger in The Wizard of Oz. I guess she's going to while away the hours conferrin' with the flowers.

Everything will work out. Nobody crawls to kindergarten. Do they?

Monday, September 25, 2006

Why I can't wait until Halloween

The tiny Ruby Slippers are here!!



A big thank-you to WCB's "Auntie" Barb for sending them from Columbia, MO. They're still a little too big for WCB's dainty little feet, but I am going to MAKE those suckers fit. If you can't tell how tiny they are, here they are compared to my massive adult-sized ones ...



Yes, I own my own Ruby Slippers. Don't make fun.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Jar-Jar vs. Audrey Hepburn

I know nothing about fashion. I guess this was pretty obvious two posts ago when I wrote about wearing snot-covered sweatpants. You don't see those too often on the runways of Milan.

The last time I was even remotely in the know about what was considered cool-looking was back in my junior high and high school days in the late '80s and early '90s. Back then, the big rage was skinny jeans. Really, really skinny jeans. They had zippers on the ankles so you could unzip them to actually get your legs inside, and then re-zip them so they remained snug against your legs. If your jeans didn't have the ankle zippers, you could go the jean-rolling route, where you'd fold over the cuff and then roll the bottom of the jeans up tightly against your ankle. Then you would accessorize with puffy socks that matched the color of your shirt. Of course, all of the cool kids could successfully roll their jeans and get them to stay that way for eight hours straight. Mine would always unravel as I rushed from gym class to Life Science, so I'd have to stop and re-roll in the hallway about five times, lest somebody else see me with denim more than a millimeter away from my ankle and condemn me to social ruin. These were rough times to live in, children.

Back in my day, only the nerdiest of the nerdy would even THINK about wearing bell-bottoms. Maybe if it was "Sixties Day" during homecoming week, you could get away with it, but everyone would still be talking about it the next day.

So you can only imagine my horror, my absolute horror, when suddenly flared jeans came back "in" again about eight or so years ago. It took a while for me to finally break down and buy a pair of "boot cut" jeans, and even then I called my sister practically sobbing. "I look like Jar-Jar Binks!" I wailed.

Just when I had finally gotten used to the Jar-Jar Binks look, just when I was embracing my inner Jar-Jar, what comes back in again? Skinny jeans.

The Gap even has a commercial now proclaiming that they have "skinny black pants". It features Audrey Hepburn dancing around to AC/DC. Oh, good. Because when I think of the body type of the average American woman -- and I'm including myself here -- I automatically think of Audrey Hepburn. It's like looking into a mirror.

But the real wake-up call came the other day when I was walking through the neighborhood with WCB in the stroller. I was wearing my usual daytime uniform of the aforementioned unwashed Snot Pants and a three-year-old souvenir t-shirt from the Bubba Gump Shrimp restaurant in Minneapolis, which was tastefully accessorized with chewed-up -- and not by me -- dried green beans on the shoulders.

Just on the other side of the street, I spotted a high school girl walking home wearing ... exactly what girls wore to high school when I started in 1989: Oversized shirt, denim skirt, tight leggings, and little flat shoes.

This made me think two things: 1) I'm really, really old. 2) If only I had saved all of my clothes from 1989, I would have a small chance at being cool again.

Unfortunately, the only item of clothing I saved from that era is my New Kids on the Block Hangin' Tough 1990 World Tour Official Concert T-shirt, and I could only pull that off if I had an air of irony about me, which I do not. In fact, I have secret hopes that they'll get back together. My favorite one was Donnie.

Anyway, my point, and I do have one, is that I just can't keep up. I'm sure by the time I decide to go for the Audrey Hepburn pants, the Jar-Jar pants will be back in style. I guess I should just sit tight, hang on to my Jar-Jars, and try to scrape the green beans off of my shoulders.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

... but they do have a Wal-Mart

Last month, I wrote about our visit to Yankton, South Dakota. My two best friends from college went to high school there. Much of Jay's extended family lives there. It's about 25 minutes away from where I went to college. I worried a little that calling it "Crankton" would hurt the town's reputation. Turns out that Yankton has much worse PR problems:



If you can't read the small print, it says,

"It's a federal prison in the middle of nowhere. Nobody you know has a clue where it is. There's no airport, no bus station, no Amtrak. In summer, the mosquitoes are mean and hungry because there aren't a whole lot of people around. Commit a gun crime and you're alone. In Yankton."

The line about the mosquitoes is my favorite. "Well, I was going to go on a murderous rampage, but I just can't stand being itchy."

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

How to stop worrying about cancer for a couple days

Spend those couple days trapped in the house with a 16-month-old who has a cold. Make sure this 16-month-old seriously believes that she will NEVER. WILLINGLY. GO. TO. SLEEP. AGAIN. Now you are no longer Amazing Cancer Girl; you are just an ordinary mom with streaks of snot on your sweatpants and splatters of grape-flavored Children's Dimetapp and Yo Baby yogurt on your t-shirt, and the only thing you can really focus on in your sleep-deprived haze is not your cancer but the fact that you are really, really starting to hate the little orange dinosaur on Barney, simply because he is a terrible actor and keeps bobbing his head too much. Don't quit your day job, little orange dinosaur.

It was a welcome break.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Just because it's funny

This photo has nothing to do with anything, but I got it in an e-mail recently and couldn't stop laughing.

I PITY DA FOOL WHO DOESN'T LIKE SOCK MONKEYS!!


Wednesday, September 13, 2006

It's the small things that make me happy

Like really small. Like the size of a postage stamp. Check it out!



YES! A Judy Garland stamp! I almost started crying at the post office this morning, I was so excited. I see they chose a Judy image from the "A Star is Born" era, which is perfect. On the Judy Garland spectrum, this time period is exactly halfway between Cute Judy:



... and "This Is Why You Should Never Do Drugs" Judy:



I can't wait to go send some mail.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

La Vida Myeloma

OK, I realize this will be the third post in a row that mentions my friend DeAnna's online adventures (have you watched Tomzilla yet?), but now I have something stuck in my head that won't go away until I post it on the blog. So here it is.

When DeAnna linked her site to my site, she wrote, "She's my best friend from college and she's got cancer. Tune in and live la vida myeloma!"

La Vida Myeloma. I had to write the words to that song. I had to. There was no choice.

And so, after a day of complete obsession, here it is. (I was going to apologize to Ricky Martin first, but then I thought, no, Ricky Martin still owes all of us an apology for the song "Shake Your Bon Bon." Rhyming "Himalayas" with "C'mon, I wanna lay ya" should be a punishable offense. Possibly by death.) Anyway. The rhythm works best if you pronounce it "my-uh-loma" in your head. Everybody sing!

Livin' With Myeloma
By Cancer Girl

I have a rare condition
Too many plasma cells
Doc feels a premonition
My marrow's shot to hell

She'll make you take your clothes off and go dance with the x-ray
She'll stick a needle in your hip, take lots of blood away
Collect pee for one whole day!

Come on!

Upside, inside out
She's lookin' for myeloma
She will wear you out
Lookin' for myeloma
I know she is well-read
She has a cool diploma
Now there is no doubt
I'm livin' with myeloma
Livin' with myeloma

Woke up at the Mayo Clinic
In a funny patient gown
She pierced my bone and she took my marrow
That scar's gonna hang around

She's not gonna treat me 'til my body goes astray
Now I live a crazy life, gotta worry every day
Will my bones start to decay?

Come on!

Upside, inside out
I'm livin' with myeloma
What's it all about?
Gotta Google myeloma
I know things could be worse
I could be in a coma
But I could do without
This stupid myeloma
This lousy myeloma

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Tomzilla and the goose

In case you didn't get enough of adorable Tom, here's another movie he starred in about a year and a half ago: Tomzilla. It's absolutely chilling the way he ravages that poor town. Children under 18 months are advised not to watch, lest they get ideas.

Also, my friend DeAnna has a new web site: http://www.deannamiller.net/ Everybody check it out!

And now I have to explain this comment on my blog:

Pee Pod: I think that you should dress it up in a skirt and put it next to the goose.

We have a giant goose made out of solid concrete sitting on our front step. It used to belong to my grandmother, but I inherited it a couple of years ago. What is so special about this giant concrete goose, you ask? The goose has more clothes than I do. Yes. The goose has numerous outfits that I dress it up in depending on the holiday or my own whims. Current outfits include the following:

Winter coat and earmuffs
Bumblebee
Chicken
Pink flamingo
Nebraska Cornhusker football player
Vampire (with bloody fangs!)
Nun
Pilgrim
Easter Bunny
"Birthday party" outfit (complete with party hat and noisemaker)
Uncle Sam

I order most of the clothes online from Goose Clothes Galore. I'm thinking of getting it the Rudolph ensemble for Christmas. What do you think?

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Play Doh-a Constrictor

My friend DeAnna made a fun, five-minute movie starring her little boy Tom. It's called Play Doh-a Constrictor, and you can view it on YouTube by clicking here. Tom is not yet three, and he's already famous. I hear he did all of his own stunts.

If you all remember, Tom is WCB's future husband, and we will all be celebrating their wedding at The Mall of America someday. If there are any little girls under the age of three reading this blog, don't get any ideas, ladies. Yes, Tom is a handsome devil, but he is spoken for.

Sometimes, though, I worry that our plan to push them together could backfire. Nobody wants to go out with a guy her parents approve of. Maybe we should use reverse psychology and imply that Tom is bad and dangerous. If any of you run into WCB on the street, maybe you could just hint around that you saw Tom smoking or driving too fast or embezzling funds.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Roundin' Up a Cure

Yesterday's Kansas City Star featured an article about a myeloma fundraiser to be held here in KC this coming Friday. It's called "Roundin' Up a Cure" and is an evening out with a cowboy theme. You can read more about it, buy tickets, or send in a donation here.

The fundraiser is being held in honor of two men who recently died of myeloma. One of them, Robbie Speer, was just 37 years old and lived just two years after his diagnosis at age 35. He had the Chromosome 13 deletion, so unfortunately he had a much more aggressive form of the disease than I do. His story is chronicled in his wife's blog, which tells of his three stem-cell transplants and other treatments. It wasn't until very late in his treatment that he was able to get access to Revlimid, a drug that was still considered experimental and was only available through trials at the time. Now, about 7 months later, Revlimid has been approved by the FDA, and Dr. Hayman says it's most likely the first drug that I'll be treated with, once I need treatment. This just shows how quickly research is moving in myeloma, and fundraisers like this can only help find even better treatments.

Go check it out! Here's the web site again: http://www.roundinupacure.com/

Saturday, September 02, 2006

It could be a hat or a brooch or a pterodactyl

My friend Rachel had an excellent idea: Now that the Pee Pod has entered retirement (at least for a while), we should have a What To Do With the Pee Pod Contest.

Keep in mind that I'm talking about a fresh, unused Pee Pod. This is a gross contest, but it's not that gross. Rachel suggested planting flowers in it. I say it would make an excellent goldfish habitat.

Other ideas?

Thursday, August 31, 2006

"Have a nice winter!"

That's the last thing Dr. Hayman said to us as we left the appointment yesterday. If everything continues to turn out like it did yesterday, then we will!

My M-spike is still holding steady at 4.2, which is exactly where it was on July 5. My x-rays were all completely fine: no lesions, no change since December. My hemoglobin (iron level) is down just another tiny bit at 11.8 (normal range is 12.0 - 15.5), but Dr. Hayman says she's not too concerned about that yet. She said I could try taking an extra vitamin or iron pill to see if that helps. If the myeloma is causing the anemia, however, I could take all the iron I wanted and it wouldn't do any good. I've been plagued by low iron for years, though, so it's totally possible it's just my failure to eat red meat and not the myeloma. We'll see. Everything else I was tested for (kidney and liver function, calcium level, white cell counts, platelets, etc.,) was completely normal.

Because I'm holding steady for now, I'm going to continue my two-month doctor visits here in Kansas City through the winter, and we won't go back to Mayo until the spring, unless, of course, something bad crops up in my tests. Dr. H gave me a form to give to Dr. Great and Powerful Oz so he can fax her all of my results and she can review them in Minnesota without us having to go up there every time. I just called Dr. GPO's office to make my next appointment; I go in on Nov. 6.

And here's the most joyous news of all: Dr. Hayman says I can stop the Pee Pod tests for now!!! YES!!! YES!!! YES!!!! How I have waited for this day.

So ... it was the best we could have hoped for. After July's scary appointment and the need for more x-rays, I honestly thought that this appointment was going to be The Big One -- the appointment where everything went ka-plooey in my bone marrow. Now I have at least a two-month reprieve from going ka-plooey. Big sigh of relief.

Oh, and the physical therapist's office called about WCB's appointment. They can't get her in until the end of September! I figure she'll either be walking by then and we can cancel, or she'll be a non-walking 16-and-a-half-month-old and we'll be freaking out, so it works either way.

Now I'm off to have a nice winter.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

The Happiness Hotel

If you ever have to go to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, DO NOT stay at the Days Inn downtown. I picked it because it was a little cheaper than our last hotel and is within walking distance of the clinic. It had the Most. Uncomfortable. Bed. Ever. I'm counting the mattress that Jay and I bought at Sam's Club when we were first married. As Jay and I huddled in the sinkhole that was our mattress, I said, "Do you remember the hotel that Kermit and Fozzie stayed at in The Great Muppet Caper?"

"YES!" said Jay. "YES! THAT IS EXACTLY WHAT THIS HOTEL IS LIKE!"

Well, except for the singing muppets and the cool double-decker bus.

We're sitting here in the waiting area on the 10th floor of the Gonda Building. My appointment with the doctor is in about an hour and a half. I had all of the tests this morning, including the x-rays.

When you have x-rays here, men go through one door and women go through another. Then you're shown to a changing-room area so you can put on a gown. They call you back in groups of four, and then they ask each person to give her birthday, just so they know they have the right person. I was the only person in my group not born in the 1930s. I was the only person not starting conversations with the words, "Betty and I were driving home from our bridge group, and ..."

Then they give you something to change into, depending on what you're going to have x-rayed. I noticed the others in my group either got just a gown or just a pair of shorts. I, on the other hand, had to go the Full Monty and put on a gown, an enormous pair of green shorts, and some little green slippers made out of foam. The slippers had happy faces on the toes. Maybe I should have asked if I could keep them, because they were kind of fun.

My x-ray techs were a little cranky and kept snapping at each other. Obviously, they did not take the time to look at my happy-face toes. I had to get A LOT of x-rays, and many of them involved very weird positions. ("Now put your arms over your head, bend your knees, and roll over on your side." "Now put your nose and your forehead up against this board.") I have to say, though, that the x-ray table was much more comfortable than the bed last night.

So now we wait. The waiting room is really filling up. Once again, I appear to be the only person around here not born in the 1930s.

I'll let you know how it goes.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Here we are at Mayo ...

Jay, the Pee Pod, and I made it here tonight after a long drive. WCB is at home with her grandparents, and I miss her, I miss her, I miss her. I've already called home twice. My mom claims that WCB said "G'night!" tonight at the end of her Goodnight, Duckling book. I'm so sad I missed it. At least I did not throw up in the hotel parking lot again. Plus, we have cable at the hotel, and I'm watching pre-crazy Tom Cruise in Top Gun, which is one of my guilty-pleasure favorites. Never, ever leave your wingman.

Here was the best bumper sticker we saw on the way: Republicans for Voldemort.

Heh. You have to be a Democrat and a nerd to appreciate it. Fortunately, I am both.

Tomorrow starts early with Pee Pod dropoff, a blood draw, and x-rays. We meet with Dr. Hayman around 2:30, and then we'll head out right after that. I'll try to get my results posted here on Thursday. Wish me luck.

G'night!

Friday, August 25, 2006

Contested Development: Season Two

I forgot to post this piece of news yesterday: WCB had her 15-month checkup, and Dr. Nervous Nellie wants her to see a physical therapist at the children's hospital to figure out why she's not walking yet.

Because I don't have enough doctors' appointments in my life. Because I don't have enough to worry about. At least now I can worry primarily about WCB needing physical therapy instead of my own fatal disease. Yeah. Good. Fine. The therapist is supposed to call in the next couple of weeks.

Maybe they can give us some help, though, because I really would like her to walk. She has to walk by Halloween, because she is going to be Dorothy, and there is no crawling allowed on the Yellow Brick Road. They're ruby slippers, not ruby knee pads.

Dr. NN said it could be as simple as a confidence issue: WCB is physically able to walk -- she just doesn't know that she can. Now, look at this child. Does this look like a child with a confidence issue?



OK, don't answer that.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Great-Grandma

My great-grandma passed away yesterday. She would have been 102 years old in October. Her mind started to go a few years ago and the past few years were difficult for her, but I will always remember all of the stories she used to tell us when we were growing up. She grew up on a farm in rural Missouri, and she'd tell us about riding her pony to school in town. Of course, my sister and I thought getting to ride a pony to elementary school would have been the Coolest Thing Ever, but Great-Grandma said she was so embarrassed. None of the city kids had to ride ponies to school.

The story we'd always beg for was the Old Blue Story. It's a pretty horrible story, actually. Great-Grandma's dad gave her some chicks to raise so she could sell them and afford to go to high school in town. No one else in her family had ever been to high school, so it was a pretty big deal. Then one day, her sister Helen's cat, Old Blue, killed a few of the chicks. Grandma warned her to keep the cat away from the chicks, but, no, he got to them again. That's when Grandma and her other sister, Dora, put Old Blue in a bag and threw him in the pond and drowned him.

See? I told you. Horrible. But my sister and I found it fascinating. Before you get the wrong idea, know that my grandma really was an animal lover and a kind and gentle lady. She just really, really, really wanted to go to high school.

I think my favorite story, though, is the one about how she and Great-Grandpa eloped. Great-Grandma started teaching in a one-room school house when she was 16, just like Laura Ingalls Wilder. When she was 19, she and Grandpa decided to run off and elope over Christmas vacation. The school board was going to fire her because
A) Nobody would elope in the middle of the school year unless she had to get married and
B) Married women couldn't be teachers.

Grandma had to get her landlady to go before the school board and testify that she was a nice girl and didn't have to get married. They let her finish out the school year, but then she had to quit because of the whole married-woman thing. She did eventually go back to teaching and taught second grade in Omaha for many years.

I feel very lucky that I got to grow up around her. WCB is named after her, and they got to meet last summer. Not many people come face to face with their great-great grandchildren.

Great-Grandma was my age in 1935. World War II hadn't started. There was no TV. Could she have imagined that her great-granddaughter would be writing about her on something called the Internet?

Anyway. We'll be back on the road tomorrow, headed up to Omaha for the funeral. Then we'll be home for about a day and a half and head up to Mayo already on Tuesday. Time flies.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

A scary home companion

I received the following comment from Amanda about my last entry:

"LOL...Tom Brokaw in the cereal aisle...too funny. But do you think that he's a Count Chocula man or a Frankenberry man?"

Hmm. Actually, now that I think it over, I'd think that he'd go for a no-nonsense kind of cereal. A full-of-fiber, made-for-a-man, tastes-like-sawdust, fair-and-balanced kind of cereal. That's just my own personal theory, though. If anyone else has ideas about what Tom Brokaw eats for breakfast, please weigh in.

Amanda's mention of Frankenberry, though, reminded me of something I meant to post to the blog months ago. One day I was at the grocery store, and I noticed that Frankenberry looks just like Garrison Keillor. You be the judge:





I kept my amazing discovery under wraps, because the first and only person I told -- Jay -- thought I was completely insane. Then when I was searching for images for this blog entry, I discovered that the woman who created Frankenberry for General Mills is also a writer for A Prairie Home Companion. AH HA!! Coincidence? I think not.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Crankton, South Dakota

The name of the town is actually Yankton, South Dakota. My friend DeAnna, who now lives in Minneapolis, grew up there. When she was back for a visit a few months ago, she found herself at the store, pushing a grocery cart behind a particularly cranky woman.

"Yankton?" DeAnna said loudly. "They should call it Crankton!"

And we have been calling it Crankton ever since.

Disclaimer: Actions of above-mentioned cranky woman do not reflect the attitudes of the other good citizens of Yankton. In fact, Yankton is the hometown of former NBC News anchor Tom Brokaw, and I can't imagine him ever becoming cranky while grocery shopping. Can't you see him strolling down the aisle, wearing a casual turtleneck, pausing to look at a box of Count Chocula and then chuckling knowingly, like he always did after a light-hearted news piece, such as a feature on a water-skiing squirrel?

Anyway. This is why I haven't posted in a while. We were spending some time in Crankton.

Jay's grandma (that would be WCB's great-grandma) turned 90, so there was a nice party at her house; lots of friends and family arrived to wish her well. We also went to the annual Riverboat Days Parade downtown. All of those noisy Shriner cars and honking fire trucks were a little bit scary for poor WCB, but at least we kept her away from the guy in the giant chicken costume. That would have added hundreds of dollars to her future therapy bill.

Now we're all home, and WCB was so exhausted from all of the excitement that she slept in until 8 a.m. today. Yay, Crankton!

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Ah, music to my rear! *

* I was trying to think of a funny line from MASH, and this was the only one that popped into my head, probably because my sister and I laughed about it for days and days. Charles was playing his French horn, and Hawkeye walked into the tent and said, "Ah, music to my rear!" Still cracks me up.

Anyway.

I got two more entries in my Fantasy Doctor Game. Keep sending them in if you got 'em, folks. My sister said:

Okay, you mentioned Hawkeye Pierce in one of your posts. And as cool as that would be, I'd hate to be in a hospital in a war zone. Somehow, having bombs fall on you as you recover would complicate things. So, as an alternative, I'd go to the hospital where they all went after the war. Remember the very short-lived "After MASH"? Heh, if humor is the best medicine, how about having Corporal Klinger run around your room in a dress?

And who doesn't love Klinger?



A few years ago when we were still living in Minnesota, Jay and I went to a St. Paul Saints (minor league) baseball game. Because it's minor league, they have to do all of these crazy stunts to get people interested. For example, every season they'll get a cute little piggy, give him a cute name such as Hammy Davis Junior or Kevin Bacon, and then have him do tricks between innings. Then, when the season is over, they'll have a big barbecue ... and eat him. Nice.

The night that we went was MASH-theme night. For example, they actually flew the ball in on a helicopter. They landed it on the field, and a group of people dressed as MASH characters ran out to the helicopter with a stretcher, put the ball on the stretcher, and then ran it back out for the first pitch. It was all very fun, but when we first arrived, I didn't realize it was MASH night. I did notice, however, that the man taking our tickets was wearing a dress.

I spent quite a long time thinking to myself, "Well. Good for him. Good for him that he's comfortable enough with himself to wear his dress to his job as a ticket-taker. And good for the St. Paul Saints organization for not minding that he wears his dress to his job as a ticket-taker. Good for them. Good for him. Good for everyone! This almost makes up for the pig-eating. Peace on earth!"

Yeah. Turns out he was just Klinger.

Moving on: My brother-in-law voted for Dr. Nick Riviera from The Simpsons:




He'd be on my list, too! Not only does he provide inexpensive medical care, but he successfully put Homer on the gain-60-pounds diet. "Instead of chewing gum, chew bacon!"

Hmm. This whole post has me craving a pork product of some kind.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

More TV celebrities

In the last couple of days, two very important people were on TV talking about cancer. The first was DavidE, a fellow blogger who was on a local talk show here in Kansas City talking about prostate cancer. I missed the live show, but was able to watch the video of it online. He did a great job talking about the disease and helping to raise awareness. He seemed so relaxed in front of the cameras. I'm glad there are people out there like this, because if I had to go on TV and talk about cancer ... well, does anyone remember when Cindy Brady got to go on that game show and then completely freaked out as soon as the red light turned on on the camera? That would be me.

Anyway, the video is no longer available online, but David is hoping to put up his own video on his blog soon, so check back.

Last night, NBC Nightly News featured Kathy Giusti, founder of the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation. Giusti was diagnosed with myeloma 10 years ago, when she was in her mid-30s. She and her sister started the foundation a couple of years later, which has since raised over $60 million for myeloma research. It's also changed the way research is conducted so that new drugs can be developed faster. Thanks in part to the MMRF, there have been three new myeloma drugs introduced in the past five years. The news story was great; you can read it and watch the video here.

Friday, August 11, 2006

I'm not a doctor, but I play one on TV

Thanks to the three additional people who played my Fantasy Doctor game. I guess there are a few people out there who aren't too busy fantasizing about George Clooney. Hey, anyone remember when he was on The Facts of Life?



Rad!

Anyway. Yvette said her dream doctor is Matthew McConaughey, who played a doctor in The Wedding Planner. I say it doesn't matter if he's playing a doctor or not; he eases the pain.



Next, Rachel voted for Dr. Greene from E.R.


Ah, Dr. Greene. He was somewhat nerdy looking, at least in the world of TV doctors, so you knew that he was really smart. I've had this theory for a long time, ever since a young, good-looking dentist wanted to take out my wisdom teeth several years ago. He didn't even go by his last name. He went by "Dr. Luke."

"I want someone who looks like he studied in dental school," I told anyone who would listen. "Not someone who looks like he spent all of his time chasing women and serving as kegmeister of his fraternity." Nobody bought my argument. The teeth came out. I'm a really terrible dental patient.

Anyway. Poor Dr. Greene. Too bad about that killer brain tumor, as well as that killer plane crash in Top Gun. It wasn't Mav's fault, even though he blamed himself.

Finally, DavidE suggested the cast of St. Elsewhere.



I never watched this show. I think maybe it was on past my bedtime, or maybe it was on opposite Alf. Remember Alf? He's back. In blog form.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Get a haircut and get a real job

After months of denial, I finally admitted to myself that WCB needed a haircut. Desperately. The back of her hair is all cute little curls, but the front part was long and straight and hanging right into her eyes. She was starting to look like Sawyer on Lost.

I took her to a special hair salon for babies. Laugh if you must, but ... OK, I can't think of a way to finish that sentence. All of the chairs for the little kids are shaped like airplanes or cars, and each hair-cutting station has a TV screen and a DVD player so the kids can watch Elmo while their hair is being cut. The stylist tried to get WCB to sit in a little airplane, but she (WCB, not the stylist) panicked and clung to me like a little monkey. In the end, WCB and I both put on matching pink smocks, and she sat on my lap in a big-kid chair. We watched The Adventures of Elmo in Grouchland and got the stylist to take some fun mother-daughter pictures. When it was over, we got a special "Baby's First Haircut" certificate with before and after photos and a baggie of her curls.

Now she has these sweet little bangs that go across her forehead. It reminds me a little of the hairdo that Hayley Mills had in The Parent Trap. I think she also looks way older. She could get a fake ID that says she's 18 months, and nobody would bat an eye. She could go into a store and buy whole milk for her 10-month-old cousin.

I can't show you the actual before and after photos, since I never publish photos of WCB, so you'll have to rely on these visual aids. They are surprisingly accurate.

Before:



After:

Monday, August 07, 2006

Excuse me, sir. Is this the Delta house?

After much discussion, Jay and I decided that Warren Buffett could use some more money, so we ordered a new couch and loveseat from Nebraska Furniture Mart over the weekend. We've had our old set since before we got married, and it's all worn out and holy, and not in a blessed-by-a-priest kind of way. It's also had numerous, um, encounters with various baby body fluids. I won't go into more details just in case you've actually sat on our couch in the past. You might want to go take a shower now.

We ordered the optional stain-protection treatment for the new couch. That's $84 well spent, I say.

Side note: I did once own a couch that was even grosser than that one. I bought it from the Goodwill for my first apartment in college. Total price: $11. I spent weeks spraying it with various "odor neutralizers" and finally decided to keep it covered with a quilt at all times. I sold it at a yard sale two years later for $20. A profit deal.

Anyway. The new furniture arrives on Friday, so we had to figure out how to get the old stuff out of the way. Last night, we decided to haul the old couch out the front door, down the lawn, and through the back door into the basement. Once we squeezed it out the front door, we paused for a moment, thinking we should just leave the couch out on the lawn and pretend we live at a fraternity house. Jay and I would be the lowly pledges; WCB would order us around and whack us with paddles. That's pretty much how our household functions anyway, so why not add the convenience of an outdoor couch and throw in some booze?

In the end, we disbanded the frat and moved the couch into the basement. Not bad for someone whose bones could fall apart at any second. I felt like I should give my doctor a call. "Why do you need to do x-rays? I can carry a couch down my lawn." I mean, really, let's review:

Things I can lift:

1. Weights at strength-training class twice a week
2. A 20-pound child
3. A couch

X-rays, smex-rays. I think my frat brothers would agree.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Beware of duck

Just when you thought WCB couldn't get any cuter, she invents a new game called Attack Duck.

Last April, the Easter Bunny brought WCB a duck puppet that quacks to the tune of "Rubber Duckie, You're the One" when you move its mouth. A few days ago, I decided to make the duck "attack" her by pecking at her tummy while quacking. WCB thought this was the Funniest. Thing. Ever.

Now we have to play Attack Duck at least 50 times a day. As soon as I take her out of the high chair after breakfast, she crawls over to the duck and brings him back to me. If she had her way, we'd do nothing but play Attack Duck until bedtime. There is little relief from Attack Duck. "Maybe Daddy will play with you for a while," I said, after a particularly Attack-Duck-intensive day. WCB crawled over to Jay, ripped the duck off of his hand, and handed it back to me. I'm a slave to the duck.

To play Attack Duck properly, WCB must first be boosted onto the couch. Then I put the puppet on my hand. After the first "quack", WCB shrieks in mock horror (It's so funny to me that a 14-month-old understands mock horror) and flings herself onto the pillows, laughing hysterically as the duck continues to attack.

Sometimes, I recite the Shel Silverstein poem "Boa Constrictor" using the word "duckie" instead:

Oh, I'm being eaten by a duckie
A duckie
A duckie
I'm being eaten by a duckie
And I don't like it--one bit.
Well, what do you know?
It's nibblin' my toe.
Oh, gee
It's up to my knee.
Oh, my
It's up to my thigh.
Oh, fiddle
It's up to my middle.
Oh, heck
It's up to my neck.
Oh, dread
It's upmmmmmmmmmmffffffffff . . .

The other day I noticed my hand was even a little sore from quacking all day long. How do I explain this one to the doctors? "It's an old Attack Duck injury," I'll say.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Four things

I got this e-mail forward from my friend Elizabeth. It's one of those quizzes where you answer all of the questions about yourself and send it to all of your friends. I figure my friends are sick of getting these from me in their in-boxes (because I just love them and always do them), so I figured I'd just post it to the good old blog. If you have a blog, I invite you to post answers of your own.

Four Things About Me

Things you may not have known about me.....

Four jobs I have had in my life
1. Stay-at-home mom
2. Greeting card writer
3. Copy editor at a car magazine
4. Babysitter

Four movies I have watched over and over
There are way more than four that fit into this category, but here are the first four that come to mind ...
1. Cocktail (Even though Tom is Officially Crazy now, I still love this movie in a "So bad it's good" way; I need to buy a DVD copy because my VHS is about shot from overuse. Sad.)
2. Forrest Gump
3. The Jerk
4. Most Judy Garland movies. One I can never get enough of is "For Me and My Gal" with Gene Kelly.

Four places I have lived
1. Council Bluffs, Iowa
2. Vermillion, South Dakota
3. White Bear Lake, Minnesota
4. Kansas City, Missouri

Four TV shows I love to watch
1. Lost (on DVD. I'm only partway through Season One, so if anyone makes a peep about what happens in Season Two, I will keeel you.)
2. Scrubs
3. The Office
4. My Name is Earl
(I'd list Arrested Development if it hadn't been taken off the air. Grrr.)

Four places I have been on vacation
Again, there are way more than four, as my parents were big believers in the Great American Road Trip.
1. Alaska (And this one was a road trip! I was seven. My sister and I were in the back of the truck ... I think this is a whole separate blog entry)
2. England
3. Disney World
4. New York City

Four of my favorite foods
1. Mashed potatoes and gravy
2. Chips and Margarita's salsa
3. Chocolate chip cookies
4. Black jellybeans

Four Places I would rather be right now:
1. Anywhere that's not in this house, since I've been spending about 23 hours a day here during the heat wave
2. Disney World
3. Disneyland
4. In bed asleep

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Aw, come on!

You blog-reading party poopers! Nobody else wants to play along with my fictional doctor game? You can't tell me that you've never wished George Clooney was your child's pediatrician. Everyone has. Admit it. If you don't come up with another idea, I'm just going to assume every reader of this blog is sitting around the pediatrician's waiting room, fantasizing about George Clooney. Even the men. Even the people who don't have children.

I did get a response from John W:

Marcus Welby, MD and nurse Julia. LONG before you were born, I think. Dr. Welby, although a family doctor, treated anything, including leukemia on at least one episode and breast cancer. He was the older, unorthodox one whose top priority was always his patient. Dr. Kiley was his young, by-the-book assistant. Julia had her own show, but I think she would have worked well with Dr. Welby. Oh, and if I should ever get pregnant, I would go to Dr. Huxtable.

Oh, ME TOO!! Not only did Dr. Huxtable give all of his patients his home phone number, he would drop everything the second one of those women had a single contraction and rush off to the hospital, no matter what zany thing his family was doing. Like, even when the rest of his family got to meet Stevie Wonder, Dr. Huxtable went to deliver a baby. Plus, he was always trying to eat hoagies without Claire knowing about it.



On a side note: Does anyone else remember when they were all lip synching to that Ray Charles song, and Rudy went, "BAY-BAAAY!!! BAY-BAAAY!!"?

That cracks me up just thinking about it.

Friday, July 28, 2006

The dream team

In my last post, I mentioned how I wished the cute guy from House was my doctor. That got me to thinking: Which fictional doctor(s) would you like overseeing your care? I've put together my own medical team. I invite you to do the same.

First pick, of course, is Dr. Carter from ER. I'm talking about the mid-'90s Carter -- the cute, preppy, good-hair Carter, not the "I got stabbed, and now I'm on drugs and Dr. Benton had to take me to the rehab clinic, and now I'm all fat and scruffy and going to Africa every five seconds" Carter.



Then we have J.D. from Scrubs. Zach Braff and I have the same birthday. Same year, too.



And you can't forget Dr. Baker from Little House on the Prairie. He'd drive his wagon right out to your farm, and you could pay him in chickens. If something really horrible happened, like, say, you suddenly went blind, he could refer you to a specialist in Mankato.



And, finally, Hawkeye.



Who is on your dream team? Dr. McCoy? Dr. Huxtable? Doogie? Let me know.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

This old House

I've finally started watching the TV show House on DVD and I love it (Netflix is a glorious thing. I think everyone should sign up). It's about a horribly cranky doctor who hates his patients but is brilliant at diagnosing weird conditions. All of the other doctors will look for the most obvious thing ("This woman has a brain tumor!"), while Dr. House will put together all of these subtle clues and then reveal that she doesn't have a brain tumor after all! It's a tapeworm in her leg!*

It makes me think I should go see Dr. House: "You don't have myeloma after all! It's a tapeworm in your leg!" A worm I could handle. Karen the Killer Bullfrog could eat it.

I also like House because the oncologist is played by the guy from Dead Poets Society who killed himself because he couldn't be in a play. I always thought that was a stupid reason to kill oneself (well, unless it was a really cool play, like Bye, Bye, Birdie), but I've always really liked that guy. I wish he was my oncologist.


* Actual plot of the pilot episode. Seriously.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Pods and smashed frogs

Thanks to my neighbor Rob, we now have an Official Nickname for my Mayo Clinic jug: The Pee Pod.

I wish I only had to put two pees in the pod; unfortunately, it has to be 24 hours' worth.

I also wanted to clear up a comment that my sister left about my childhood pet frog. The particular frog she was talking about did not escape. I released him into the wild at Big Lake in Council Bluffs (yes, past citizens of Council Bluffs were creative enough to come up with a name like "Big Lake") because the crickets he ate cost 75 cents a week. It was coming out of my allowance, and, whoa, that was pretty steep. I like to imagine that he is still alive, 20 years later, fat on free crickets, and enjoying life.

I did have another frog, though, who lived out on the front porch, and he did escape. One morning, I noticed his cage was empty. Later that day, I was riding my scooter down the street and noticed a frog-shaped stain in the Grahams' driveway. Oh, it was incredibly traumatic. Then again, riding that scooter almost always ended in trauma. It was homemade: two pieces of wood nailed together with old roller skates nailed onto the bottom. It was held together by a couple of Wall Drug bumper stickers and the Will of God. I fell off that thing onto the cement on a daily basis. I think I had non-stop skinned knees for about three years.

At least I lived to tell about my cement encounters, which is more than Smashed Frog can say.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Karen was a bullfrog ... was a good friend of mine ...

Ah, what a fun weekend. Our friends Elizabeth and Spencer were here from Omaha with their two little boys, ages three and one. The one-year-old is WCG -- World's Cutest Godson, although Elizabeth told me I should refer to him as NB -- Naughty Baby. He's just very free-spirited and likes to climb stairs and laugh about it.

They're both very sweet kids. The three-year-old likes to play with toy cars from the movie Cars. I haven't seen the movie, but I now know that the purple one is named Ramon, the red one is named Lightning, they're best friends, and they like to drive around the living room. A lot.


We got photos of all three of kids together in the bathtub. I'm going to need to start a file: "Photos to Show WCB's Prom Date in 2022."

On Saturday, we all went to Science City, a kids' science museum at Union Station in Kansas City. I was hanging around the animal display when Jay came sprinting up to me with some marvelous news: One of the frogs on display was named Karen.

Sure enough:




It was a little upsetting, because, well, it wasn't the most attractive frog in the world. I'm a big fan of frogs in general, but take a look at this sucker:



Nice.

The Internet article I found said that they have loud, obnoxious voices and are very aggressive and will attack people. I'm sure poor Karen The Frog is just misunderstood. If I had to live in a cage at the science museum, I'd attack people, too.