Sunday, December 28, 2008

The case of the missing Grandpa and the headless maid

WCK's other big Christmas present was a Fisher-Price Loving Family Dollhouse. I picked it out because I thought it looked like a cute dollhouse; little did I know that every little girl in the whole entire world received one for Christmas this year. The house came with a mom, a dad, two baby twins, and a table and chairs. All other furniture and dolls are sold separately, and they were incredibly hard to find. After some searching (remember, Santa shops online), Santa found several rooms, and both of WCK's grandmas found a few rooms, and the house was complete.

Well, almost complete. We were able to find a doll set that came with a Grandma and an older brother, but we could not find Grandpa anywhere. After looking through the brochure that came with the dollhouse, we realized that Fisher-Price does not even make a Grandpa. Really? Why? Is Grandma a widow? Did she walk out on Grandpa? Is the "older brother" really Grandma's 25-year-old boyfriend? If you look closely at the mom and dad, you can see judgement in their eyes.

But after all the worry about finding the right people, WCK's favorite "person" in the house is the bathrobe stand that came with the bedroom set. You can see it in this photo:



WCK makes the bathrobe stand have all kinds of adventures. Earlier today, the bathrobe stand took the Loving Family's minivan downstairs and picked up some food at the Fisher-Price grocery store and took it back to the family. For some reason the bathrobe stand spends a lot of time cleaning the toilet (yes, the toilet came with a teeny little toilet brush), which makes me wonder if the stand is the family's maid. I say, if you're going to splurge for a maid, you might as well go all out and have the cleaning service send over one that has no head, so you can avoid any judgemental looks about the messy state of your bathroom.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Subway: Eat fresh

Santa came through: WCK got her set of plastic Subway food on Christmas morning. Whew. If you'll recall, WCK has been asking about this set almost on a daily basis since about August or September. She reminded Santa in person twice, and once via letter. She keeps asking me how Santa managed to find it, since we couldn't find it ourselves at Toys R Us. Santa is magic, I say. Also, he shops online.

Here's a photo of it from Christmas morning:



Now we spend nearly every moment playing "Subway". First, WCK tells us that Subway is closed, and we have to leave the room while she carefully sets all of the pieces on the coffee table. Then she tells us that Subway has opened, and we have to step up to the coffee table and order our sandwiches, salads, cookies, and bottled water. She prepares everything carefully and puts it on our tray, and then rings it up on her toy cash register. I usually pay via a fake credit card with WCK's photo on it that we got from a machine at Chuck E. Cheese. My mom even wrote "Subway" on some pieces of tissue paper, so we could wrap up the sandwiches and have them to go.

Is there anything better than plastic cheese?

Friday, December 26, 2008

Update

I found the receipt for the Little House set and discovered it cost about half of what I thought it did. Thank goodness. Now I can watch the episode where Laura and Mary have to save up a penny to buy a new pencil for school without getting stressed out.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

WCK can't go to college now because ...

... Jay got me the entire series of Little House on the Prairie on DVD. It's huge. It has 60 discs and comes in a case shaped like a covered wagon. I'm a little shocked.

Yes, I knew he was getting me something related to LHOTP, but I honestly assumed it would be, I don't know, one season on DVD or a book or something. If you'll recall, I mentioned how I coveted the giant set a few months ago, but no normal person would spend that much money on DVDs. Then again, are any hard-core Little House fans normal people? I once stood in line for hours in the blazing sun to meet the actor who played Almanzo, and I didn't see any normal people around me.

I alternate between feeling guilty and queasy over how much was spent on my gift and feeling a little giddy that I can watch the episode where Harriett takes over the town newspaper any time I want. Jay says I deserve it because I have to put up with him every day. Hmm. Putting up with Jay is not very difficult, but OK.

Anyway. Today I watched the one where Charles falls out of a tree and breaks his ribs and can't stack the sacks of grain for the evil feed-store owner. It was so good.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Goth girl

The following story is something that would only happen when my camera's not working:

Some of the party favors at WCK's third birthday party were little dinosaur stampers with the ink inside. We have a bunch of them left over, and WCK loves those things. She'll stamp anything that will stand still long enough to be stamped. I try to never let her play with them unsupervised, or the results would be ... ah ... colorful.

Today, however, a blue pterodactyl stamp managed to end up in her room during "naptime". (Actually, I call it "rest time" now, although she neither naps nor rests. It would be more accurate to call it "Trash your room time".)

When she emerged after trashing her room, she had painted both of her lips, her eyelids, her fingers, and her toes dark blue. She looked very Goth-like. The stuff mostly washed right off, although it was hard to get it all out of the little folds of her eyelids. I took my three-year-old to church looking like she was wearing a hint of blue eyeshadow.

By the way, I'm not sure where she got the idea to put on lipstick and eyeshadow, since she has never witnessed her mother doing either one. Unless you count chap stick.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

The horror's. The horror's.

I realized this morning that my sworn enemy -- the misplaced apostrophe -- made an appearance on my blog two posts ago. I have a serious problem with misplaced apostrophes. I know I need to relax a little bit about it, but I just can't. I'm thinking this qualifies as a mental illness.

Dear friends -- friends I have known and loved for years -- will use apostrophes incorrectly on their Christmas cards, and I will actually think -- for a split second -- that I'm not sure if I can be friends with them anymore. I recently visited the web site for WCK's school and saw the word "student's" when it should have been "students'", and I briefly considered sending her somewhere else.

In my defense, the Evil Apostrophe occurred in one of the questions on the Christmas quiz that I copied and pasted from my e-mail, so I didn't actually type it myself. Still, my apostrophe-hating brain should have picked it up right away. To make matters worse, the word didn't even need to be pluralized with an "s" at all. It was the word "reindeer".

That's right. The sentence, "Can you name all of Santa's reindeer's?" appeared on my blog.

The shame. The shame. I need to go lie down.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Cycle 20

OK, I had planned a photo that was going to be a dang hoot. It involved my Revlimid bottle and a gingerbread house made by WCK. Then my digital camera refused to turn on. After a minor panic that I had lost the photos of WCK's preschool Christmas party, a visit to the HP tech support web page and some fancy maneuvering, it seems to be on the mend, but it needs to rest and recharge. You'll just have to imagine the Revlimid and gingerbread.

This cycle, I am starting on 10 mg. I actually got REALLY excited to see what the 10 mg pills would look like. Yes, I am that lame. I was sure they'd be an exciting new color. Pink, maybe purple. Nope. They're blue and white, just like the 15 mg pills. Geez. If the drug company is going to charge $8,000 for 21 pills, the pills should at least look exciting.

The Christmas quiz

My friend Diane sent me one of those e-mail quizzes, only this one is all about Christmas. I decided to put it up on the blog instead of sending it by e-mail. Everyone else, join in!

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags? Wrapping paper

2. Real or fake tree? Real! We always go chop it down.

3. When do you put up a tree? Usually the weekend after Thanksgiving weekend

4. When do you take it down? A few days after New Year's

5. Do you like eggnog? I'm seriously addicted to it. I want to swim in a vat of eggnog. I want to be hooked up to an eggnog IV. I want an eggnog fountain in my yard. It's a good thing you can only get eggnog for one month a year, or I'd weigh 500 pounds.

6a) Favorite gift received as a child? Hmm. The first thing that comes to mind is a Strawberry Shortcake baby doll that blew strawberry-scented kisses. I also remember my grandma giving me Where The Sidewalk Ends, and I spent all of Christmas day reading it to myself and laughing.

b) Favorite gift received as an adult? Last year I got a pedometer watch that I am still obsessed with each and every day. 15,683 steps today!

7. Hardest person to buy for? Jay

8. Easiest person to buy for? WCK

9. Do you have a nativity scene? Yes. We got a basic set as a wedding present -- Mary, Joseph, and Jesus. Every year, Jay's family gets us a new piece to add to it. We now have all of the wise men, some shepherds, an angel, and various animals.

10. Mail or email Christmas cards? Mail

11. Worst Christmas gift you ever received? In junior high or high school, I got a pink sweater with pictures of cats knitted into the design ... and the cats had rhinestone eyes. And my mom made me wear it.

12. Favorite Christmas Movie? It's a Wonderful Life

13. When do you start shopping for Christmas? Not until after Thanksgiving

14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present? Well, this year I wrapped up a couple of things I found in the basement, but they had sentimental value. I hope the recipients see it that way, anyway.

15. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas? Seven-layer bars

16. Lights on the tree? Yes, but they can't all blink on and off at the same time.

17. Favorite Christmas song? The ORIGINAL version of "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" with the ORIGINAL lyrics, as sung by Judy Garland in Meet Me In St. Louis.

18. Travel at Christmas or stay home? How would Santa find us if we traveled?

19. Can you name all of Santa's reindeer? Yes, and for the last time, it is "Donder", not "Donner"

20. Angel on the tree top or a star? I got a cheap star from Wal-Mart -- because WCK claimed Christmas would be ruined without it -- and it fell off. But apparently just trying to put it on the tree kept Christmas from being ruined. Whew.

21. Open presents on Christmas Eve or morning? Growing up, we opened grandparent presents Christmas Eve and Santa presents Christmas morning. Now it's pretty much all Christmas morning.

22. Most annoying thing about this time of the year? The way the Christmas season starts on Nov. 1.

23. Favorite Ornament theme or color? Wizard of Oz. I have every Hallmark Oz ornament produced since they started in 1993, and a bunch of other miscellaneous Oz ornaments.

24. Favorite for Christmas dinner? I still don't know what I am going to make. WCK requested bread with butter, cheese cubes, and cookies. Sounds good.

25. What do you want for Christmas this year? Just a fun day.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Tweet tweet? Tweet!

Sometimes WCK pretends to be an animal, and I am always impressed by her commitment to her role. A few days ago, she was a tyrannosaurus rex, and she would only communicate by roaring. Tonight, she was a bird, and she'd only communicate by saying, "Tweet, tweet!" in different tones of voice. She also would not get into the bath until I called it a "bird bath", and she would not brush her teeth until I told her we were brushing her "beak." She spoke non-bird language long enough to tell me we could only read bedtime stories about birds, so we read, "Are You My Mother?"

She would not break character for anything else, even a potty break. She is a fine actress. I hope she mentions me in her Oscar speech.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Surprise!

I love to be surprised, but I almost never am. For some reason, the people who give me gifts always tell me about them ahead of time. Today, Jay and WCK went out on a Secret Mission. When they got home, WCK ran upstairs excitedly to find me.

"MOMMY! MOMMY!" she yelled. "WE GOT YOU A PRESENT!"

"Just don't tell me what it is," I said. "I'll be surprised on Christmas Day."

"OK," she said, and paused for about two seconds. "IT'S LITTLE HOUSE ON THE PRAIRIE!!"

She then started dancing around singing, "It's Little House on the Prairie!" over and over.

At least I don't know exactly what it is. Is it a book? A video? A tin cup with a shiny penny inside? I can't wait to be surprised.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Lazy newsletter

Nearly every year since Jay and I have been married, I've written a Christmas newsletter and sent it out with the cards. This year I was feeling lazy, plus I already write about our family almost every day in the blog. What more could I say in a Christmas letter? I finally decided to order some personalized postcard-like cards that I found for really cheap online, and I added a line that says something like, "For updates on our family, visit (the blog address)."

Would Miss Manners frown on this? Probably. I still thought it was a good idea, until I realized that I usually make our family sound semi-respectable and mature in the Christmas newsletter by pointing out all of the respectable things that we actually do (We volunteer at church! I'm the Community Service Director for my stay-at-home-moms group! Jay works really hard and is a computer genius! WCK wants to be an astronaut when she grows up!). When people visit the blog, though, what are they going to find? Videos of Jordan Knight with no shirt on.

I'd vow to start making the blog more respectable from now on ... but do you know how many Shirtless Jordan videos are available on YouTube? A lot.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

The anniversary

I was really sad when the NKOTB concert was all over and done with, and even sadder that I'd no longer be posting videos on the 11th of every month as part of my concert countdown.

Then I realized I could still post a video every 11th ... to celebrate the anniversary of the concert.

Don't worry. I'm sure YouTube will run out of NKOTB videos eventually.

In the meantime, have a funky, funky Christmas, everyone:

Still stable

Results are in. M-spike is 1.7, which means I'm still stable. Let's hope I can keep pulling this off for another six months!

Monday, December 08, 2008

Santa Encounter II

Another big Christmas event: WCK actually sat on Santa's lap! This was a real mall Santa with a real beard. This one was an Authentic Old Guy who did not have any visible tattoos. WCK would not make direct eye contact with him, but she did smile for the photo and then reminded Santa -- while not looking at him -- about the Subway set. She also sent him a letter today. (Exact content of letter: "Dear Santa, Hi. How are you? I want the Subway set. Love, WCK") Santa can't say he wasn't reminded about that Subway set.

I'm brand new to this sitting-on-Santa's-lap thing, so all of you Santa veterans will have to answer this: Are you supposed to tip Santa? I noticed the dad in front of me in line shook Santa's hand and smoothly slipped Santa a folded-up bill, just like smooth rich guys do in movies when they want to get a good table at a fancy restaurant. Santa casually slipped the bill inside his sleeve, like this kind of thing happens all the time. Really? Really, Santa?

I did not tip Santa when it was our turn. I guess I'm getting a lump of coal this year.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Drama

I am thinking my three-year-old deserves an acting scholarship to a prestigious drama school. Examples, just from today:

WCK has watched Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer twice already this season. Her favorite part is the ending, when the big snow monster puts the star on top of the tree. Today, when we were decorating our own tree, she asked if she could put the star on the top, just like the big snow monster. I explained that we don't have a star for the top of our tree.

WCK threw her hands in the air.

"CHRISTMAS IS RUINED!!!!!" she cried.

Later, that same day ...

I was trying to help WCK get ready for church, and she was crying -- dramatically, of course -- that she did not like church and did not want to go. I was trying to explain all of the nice things about church, when she interrupted me.

"Stop talking!" she said. "I am TRYING to be SAD!"

I can't wait until she is a teenager. Can't wait.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Iron Woman

I had my four-week checkup at the Cancer Center today. Dr. GPO was really excited to hear about what Dr. H had to say. He agrees with the plan. I'll be starting on 10 mg of Revlimid for my next cycle.

The only results I have back are from the CBC. My hemoglobin is a butt-kicking 13.4! I think that's the highest it's ever been in my entire life. How did I pull that one off? My hematocrit is 38.2, which is also the highest it's been since I've been diagnosed, I think. That might be another all-time high, now that I think about it. There were times years ago -- back when I was "healthy" -- when I was turned away from donating blood because I didn't have a hematocrit that high. Anyway, all of those red cells are nice and robust and healthy. Thanks, red cells!

I'll find out about Spike next week. Hopefully he's continuing to keep a low profile.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Santa encounter!

In Christmases past, WCK was terrified of Santa. We only have one decent photo of her with The Big Guy. It was taken when she was six months old, and she was, technically, asleep.

This year, however, WCK has apparently learned how Santa operates. She's no longer afraid. She's working the system.

I will explain. Months ago -- maybe in August or September -- WCK saw a photo in a catalog of this set of toy Subway food:

She has been coveting the Subway set ever since. I told her that she was going to have to ask Santa to bring it. Since then, it's become her Red Ryder bb gun. She is obsessed with the Subway set. She looks for it at every store we go into. She brings it up multiple times a day. (As an Official Representative of Santa, I can tell you that she will be getting the Subway set on Christmas morning. I will be picking up pieces of fake lunch meat throughout 2009.)

Yesterday, we went to a Christmas puppet show at the library. When it got over, we had about an hour to kill before lunchtime, so I decided to stop off at Barnes and Noble so WCK could play with the train table. I didn't know that Santa was going to be visiting the children's department that morning.

There we were, minding our own business at Barnes and Noble, when Santa burst into the children's area. I expected WCK to have a heart attack or go screaming for the elevator. Instead she watched Santa with calculated interest. She waited for him to sit down and then she approached him cautiously. She waited for all of the other kids to take their turns, and then she marched up to Santa, got right in his face, and exclaimed, "I WANT THE SUBWAY SET!!!!"

Santa, who appeared to be a young, inexperienced Santa who was nervously trying to cover up the tattoo on his hand (B&N couldn't get him some gloves?), actually seemed a little intimidated by WCK. "Uh, sure," he said. "I'll have the elves start building that for you right now."

This was good enough for WCK. She took her free candy cane and marched off to the elevator. Mission accomplished.

Of course, I did not have my camera with me. Of course.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Three years, one day

I was diagnosed with multiple myeloma on November 28, 2005. Goodness knows how long it was secretly lurking around in there. Years, probably. I also had to undergo weeks of testing to find out what it was, but Nov. 28, 2005 was the first day a doctor handed me a print-out of my biopsy results and told me that myeloma was definitely what I had.

I went home and spent weeks and weeks Googling myeloma, only to read the same horrifying statistic over and over again: If you can believe the Internet, most people only live three years after diagnosis.

Well, look at me now: It's been three years and one day.

I have beaten the odds.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Thankful

I decided to start a new Thanksgiving tradition this year. Several weeks ago, WCK helped me draw a tree on a big piece of poster board. I wrote "We are thankful for ..." in the middle of the tree trunk. Then I cut a bunch of leaves from construction paper. Every day, Jay, WCK, and I each write what we are thankful for on a leaf and stick it to the tree. We've forgotten a few days here and there, but we've mostly been pretty faithful to it. When both sets of grandparents visited this month, they got to add some Special Guest Leaves.

When we first started, WCK wanted to include random items, such as "flashlights" or "windows" (Although, really, aren't you thankful for windows? Think how dark your life would be without them). By the end, though, she was telling us she was thankful for her family and her friends. Aw.

Today, WCK brought home a fabulous paper-bag turkey she'd made at preschool. The turkey had two feathers sticking out of its back. On one of them, the teacher had written, "I am thankful for my family." The other feather said, "the animals." Now, I'm not sure if WCK is thankful for her family AND "the animals", or if "the animals" is just a way of describing her family, a continuation of the thought from the first feather. You know: "I'm thankful for my family -- the animals!!"

Anyway, here is our complete list from our Thanksgiving tree so far. You'll have to guess who said what:

We are thankful for ...

WCK (mentioned by both Mommy and Daddy)
Mommy
Daddy
food
Barnes and Noble
Daddy's cereal
school friends
grandparents
children and grandchildren (this was mentioned several times on the Special Guest Leaves)
turkey dinner (also, "Thanksgiving dinner". This was a popular answer)
our home
good doctors
Garland
our church
leaves
grocery stores
our family (mentioned a few times)
The New Kids on the Block
WCK's school
Daddy's coffee
our car
stickers
Aunt Jenny
Uncle T.J.
Cousin L.
Aunt Kim
Uncle Pat
The upcoming new baby cousin
Aunt Patty
flashlights
movie night and pizza
medicine
football
ceiling fans
cupcakes
chocolate raisins
toys and the toy store
books
President Obama
our beds
the playground
windows

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Portrait-oholism

Jay, WCK, and I got family photos taken at Portrait Innovations last week. Portrait Innovations is a very dangerous place for me. After your photos have been taken, you sit down in front of a huge computer screen with the Photo Lady and pick out the poses you like the best. This process takes a while, so Jay usually takes WCK home while I pick the photos. I'm left all alone with the Photo Lady. This is not good.

I always end up ordering way, way more photos than anyone could possibly need. The thing is, while you're sitting there at Portrait Innovations, you think you are actually making good choices. They must pump some Unwise Photo-Selection Drug through the air vents. You absolutely believe that all of your relatives are going to want to own five eight-by-ten photos of your child. You're convinced that every single person you know is going to want to receive a photo of the whole family wearing Santa hats. You think that if you don't order enough pictures to get the free CD, you will die. And so you place your unwise order.

When you return home, your order seems a little bit excessive, but you don't necessarily feel bad about yourself.

When the photo drug wears off about a week later, you examine your photos and realize you truly have a problem.

Yesterday, I got out my giant packet of photos and laid them out on the dining room table, trying to figure out which relatives would get which photos. (Attention, relatives: I hope you like looking at photos of my child, because you will soon be able to wallpaper your homes with them.) Jay walked by and stared at my piles of photos in disbelief.

"I know!" I said. "I don't know why I ordered these!"

"It's a disease!" shrieked Jay.

Anyone know a good place to go for Portrait Innovations rehab?

Saturday, November 22, 2008

My parents are laughing at me now

When I was very young, movies were rated G, PG, and R. Anything that wasn't rated R was OK for kids to watch. Then, when I was about 11 or 12 years old, the Evil Movie People introduced the PG-13 rating, and my parents decreed that I couldn't see these movies until I was actually 13.

Of course, this was The Most Unfair Thing Ever, and it resulted in a lot of drama and crying and carrying on. All of the good movies -- all of the remotely cool movies -- were rated PG-13. I believe I've already posted about the Infamous Dirty Dancing Incident.

Yesterday, WCK spotted a newspaper ad for the movie Bolt. I'm not sure what Bolt is about, but the ad showed a cute doggie, a kitty, and a hamster. She said she wanted to see it in the theater.

I'm nervous to take WCK to the theater. We've been twice; both times I selected the most benign G-rated movie I could find. At home, we do a lot of fast-forwarding through "scary parts" or spend a lot of time saying things like, "It's OK. Lightning McQueen is going to be OK, I promise." The first movie we saw in the theater was Curious George. Harmless, right? After 30 minutes, she fled the theater in terror. A year later, I took her to Clifford's Big Movie. She actually made it all the way through the movie and seemed to enjoy it at the time, although now she will repeatedly tell me that the Clifford movie was "scary." What? The only thing scary about Clifford is the idea that such a bland movie could get made in the first place.

Anyway. Our newspaper has a column about movies for kids. I checked this column to learn that Bolt is rated PG for some "scary" parts, such as chase scenes and explosions. I want to avoid these things, not necessarily because I think they'll warp her mind but because I don't want to fork over a pile of cash for movie tickets only to have to flee to the lobby after 10 minutes.

I explained that Bolt is rated PG, and only big kids get to see PG movies.

She immediately collapsed and began sobbing, as though channeling the 11-year-old me.

"But I wanna see PG!!" she wailed dramatically. "I WANNA SEE PG!!"

And so it begins.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Mutant Alien Midget Turkeys

These cookies are supposed to be turkeys. No, seriously. They are.



I tried copying them from a photo in the newspaper. I had been hanging on to this photo for a year, since I spent last November at the Mayo Clinic and didn't feel like making turkey cookies back then. Actually, I think my mom offered to make them for me, but I didn't think we should put forth effort to bring more cookies into my life, since people kept sending me snacks in the mail and the nurses kept bringing me cookies every morning and I kept stopping in the Mayo subway system to get junk food on my way to and from appointments and my mom kept cooking me enormous meals. Rough life, I know.

Anyway, my cookies do not look like the newspaper cookies. To begin with, my sugar cookies turned out much smaller than the perfect newspaper cookies, and that is why the turkeys' feet are all the way up by their beaks. Also, I realized too late that the Newspaper Turkeys had mini-M&Ms for eyes instead of the full-sized M&Ms. That's why my turkeys look like aliens. Maybe they are just very surprised.

Fortunately, the children I served them to at a party this morning didn't care what the turkeys looked like and -- heh -- gobbled them up.

Do you think anyone will Google "Mutant Alien Midget Turkeys" and find this post?

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Cycle 19

Can I ever get off Revlimid?

YES I CAN!



Paid for by Little Capsules for Obama.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Good news from the north!

My Mayo appointment went very well. Dr. H was extremely happy with how I've been doing, and we now have an Official Plan to get me off the Revlimid, at least for a while. I already have my next batch of 15-mg pills for cycle 19, which starts in two days. Once I'm done with those, though, I will start taking 10-mg pills for three cycles. If I can remain stable for those three cycles, I will then start taking 5-mg pills. If the 5-mg pills keep me stable for three cycles, I CAN QUIT!!! This means it's possible that I'll be on a Revlimid break in about six months.

Also, since I'm no longer taking dex, Dr. H says I can quit the Coumadin right now and take an aspirin a day instead. I guess there's only a big risk of blood clots when you are taking Rev and dex together. Now I can stop wearing my medical alert bracelet, although I actually think I'll kinda miss it. It's pretty ... in a medical-alert bracelet kind of way. It can be my souvenir.

If I'm able to quit the Revlimid this spring, life will go back to the way it was when I had smoldering myeloma: No more pills, and I'll only need to see a doctor once every three months for blood tests.

It's all very exciting. Everyone cross your fingers for six months of stability.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Back at Mayo

We arrived in Rochester this evening. It was a long drive, and we miss WCK a lot, but I'm trying to look on the bright side: We got to go out to dinner at a nice restaurant for adults that did not include crayons on the table or paper place mats or somebody dressed up like a cartoon animal. I think I violated the "no fatty foods the night before your blood test" rule, though. First I take illegal flash photos at the Sprint Center, now this! I'm out of control! Will my reign of terror never end?

Tomorrow morning I'll have my fat blood drawn and drop off the Evil Pee Pod, and then we'll see Dr. H in the afternoon. After that, it's straight back to Kansas City. I'll let you know how everything goes.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Still can't get this song out of my head ...

... so the rest of you get to have it, too. Watch at your own risk:

Stable!

Monday is my six-month checkup at Mayo already. Doesn't it seem like I was just there? I feel like I should go visit my stem cells and bring them flowers or something. I'm dreading hauling out the Pee Pod, but I will have good news to share with Dr. H: My latest M-spike came back at 1.6 again! I'm still stable! I've bought myself another month off dex, and possibly a conversation with Dr. H about tapering off the Revlimid. Keep your fingers crossed!

Maybe my blood has benefited from all of the positive New Kids vibes. Speaking of the New Kids, I can't get the song "Two in the Morning" out of my head. This is another song that I used to laugh at when I heard it in the car (actual lyrics: "Gotta know if you're mad at me before Grey's Anatomy"), but it was great in concert. Now I can't stop singing it. Remember a few months ago when I got "Summertime" stuck in my head until it became a borderline mental illness? It's exactly like that. WCK keeps yelling at me to stop singing. I don't really blame her.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

I also took an illegal video

The Concert.

I still haven't completely recovered. With the help of Diet Coke, I managed to get WCK to Open Gym yesterday morning, but then I spent her naptime in bed and the rest of the afternoon lying motionless on the couch while she watched every episode of Word World in our TiVo. I'm still not feeling well. I think I'll have a migraine for about a week. The Concert was that good.

On Tuesday I made two trips to Target to get my outfit together. The centerpiece of my outfit, of course, was my t-shirt from the NKOTB concert in 1990. I held on to it all these years, and it still fits. Even when I went through my "I'm too cool for the New Kids" phase, I held on to that t-shirt. I must have known, deep down, that I was going to need it again.

While I was at Target, I picked up a long-sleeved, neon pink shirt to wear under the t-shirt, neon pink shoes and socks, neon pink hoop earrings, and a big sparkly pink headband. I topped off the outfit with a denim jacket covered in enormous NKOTB buttons. Remember those buttons from the '80s that were about six inches across? I wore three of them on my jacket: Donnie, Jordan, and Jon. I had to send the jacket through Sprint Center security separately and get wanded by a second security guy, because the buttons were setting off the metal detectors.

When the concert was over, I realized my Jordan Knight button had been lost somewhere in the chaos. I just thank God it wasn't the Donnie button. I think some good is going to come out of the lost Jordan button, though: I read in the paper the next day that some big business seminar was going on at the Sprint Center; I hope some stuffy businesswoman finds my Jordan Knight button under her chair and decides to stop being stuffy. Maybe it will give her an instant flashback to her youth, she'll decide to quit her demanding job and, say, pursue her childhood dream of starting a cookie company or a boutique for pets.

Anyway. I knew my outfit was a success: When my friend Abigail came to the door to pick me up, she laughed harder than I've ever heard her laugh before. I thought she was going to have a stroke.

Friend nearly has a stroke = outfit is good

After adjusting Abigail's legwarmers, we headed downtown. We had dinner at a place called Chefburger: Lots of burgers and fries and "spiked milkshakes". I had an enormous milkshake filled with Kahlua. It was the best milkshake I've ever had, although it might be the reason I still don't feel well. Worth it, though.

When we got to the Sprint Center, we took an escalator that seemed to go up into outer space. Our seats were supposed to be at the very top of the arena. When we got there, a Sprint Center employee said that they were closing off the top section because the concert didn't sell out, and that we could have seats closer to the stage. Score!

The concert itself was amazing. They did all of their old hits, plus several songs from their new CD. I thought I hated the new CD, but -- and maybe this was an effect of the giant Kahlua milkshake -- in concert, these songs were dang good. Probably one of the best songs in concert was one I always thought was one of the worst on the CD, "Dirty Dancing." (Actual lyrics: "Ooooh, it's so crazy! She's like Baby! I'm like Swayze!") When I hear this song in the car, I laugh. In concert, it totally rocked!

Here are some photos mostly taken in direct violation of the Sprint Center's "no flash photography" rule:

This photo was legal:



Here they come!!! WOOOOOOOO!!!!



Here you can see Joe, Jordan, and Jon. I'm a little bit worried about Jon. I don't think he really wanted to be involved in this. He's being a good sport, I guess:


A view of the stage and the crowd:

They were singing "Single" from their new CD:



A rare photo: They let Danny get in front!



Donnie! I LOVE YOU, DONNIE!!!!!



There was a second, smaller stage in the back of the arena:



A strategically placed wind machine blew off Jordan's shirt. Aw, yeah. Jordan works out, ladies.



Say what you will about the silliness of The New Kids on the Block or my silly obsession with them. I saw them in concert when I was 14 years old, back when I was seriously in love with all of them, and I still remember that concert being one of the happiest, most exciting, most joyful experiences of my whole, entire life. My friend and I were delirious with happiness for weeks, just because we thought Jon Knight waved at us. That's the beauty of being 14. Those of you who are well over 14: When was the last time anything made you delirious with happiness for a few minutes, let alone for a few weeks?


On Tuesday night, I got the chance to be 14 years old all over again for just one night. I'm sure the thousands of 30-something women all around me were feeling the same thing. How many times does that get to happen? Apparently, only once every 20 years. You'd better believe that when they come back in another 20 years, when they have to sing "Hangin' Tough" while leaning on their walkers and when their teeth start falling out in the middle of "Step by Step", I am going to be there. Front row. Maybe I can catch the fallen teeth.





Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Tonight! (Da da dada) Tonight!

That's right. The concert is TONIGHT.

Raise your hands in the air! And wave 'em like you just don't care! And if you're ready to rock with The New Kids on the Block, somebody say, "Oh, yeah!" (Oh, yeah!)

I will update tomorrow, provided I am not arrested for throwing my bra. In the meantime, hang tough, everyone:

Monday, November 10, 2008

Good grief!

WCK and I belong to a large stay-at-home moms' group, but we've also belonged to a small playgroup with just seven or eight other moms since WCK was just a few months old. After three-plus years, our little playgroup is still going. We meet twice a month at someone's home.

When all of the kids were tiny babies, these playgroups were pretty low-key affairs. The moms would usually just sit on the floor and talk. Now that all of the original kids are big kids who like to be entertained, and now that everybody -- well, except me -- has at least two children, the moms have been getting more creative with these playgroups. The last few have featured very fun, creative crafts and snacks. Today was my turn, and I wasn't sure what I was going to do to keep the kids entertained. I don't think my house is very exciting.

Then I asked myself the question everyone should ask in times of crisis: What would Charlie Brown do?

Aw, yeah. I served up a Charlie Brown Thanksgiving feast. That's right: Popcorn, pretzels, toast, and jellybeans:




I'm not sure if the kids really got it, but the jellybeans were pretty popular. I only wish I'd had a ping-pong table to use as the dining room table, and a trained beagle to serve the food. Maybe next year.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Hunter gatherer

Jay's work client right now is a pork company. I'm sure there's a more technical way to refer to them, but I'll just call them "pork company" because, well, they sell pork. He works in the Official Pork Company Building, and every once in a while they offer free meat to the employees. Jay says that someone will come over the PA system and announce that the free meat is available. Before the announcement is over, people are leaping from their desk chairs and sprinting wildly toward the promise of free meat.

Jay finally managed to sprint past the other hunters and lay claim to two racks of ribs. He brought home his fresh kill, and I cooked them up with an entire bottle of Gates sauce, like a good Kansas Citian.

It was just like Little House on the Prairie when Pa would go hunting and bring home the meat for the family. After dinner, Jay played the fiddle and I got scarlet fever and went blind.

Friday, November 07, 2008

I'm from Io-way

I was at the grocery store this morning, and the check-out lady noticed I was buying party-type food. She asked what was going on. I said that WCK's grandparents were coming to visit.

"From Iowa, right?" she said.

Hmm. I'm at this Hy-Vee all the time (I was there twice today), and I'd been through this check-out lady's line before, but I couldn't remember if I'd ever had a conversation with her about the fact that I'm from Iowa. I said that these are the grandparents from South Dakota, but my parents live in Iowa.

"I knew you were from Iowa," she said, "because of your accent."

What? I have an accent?

"I have an accent?" I said.

"Yes," said Check-Out Lady. "YOU REALLY DO."

I didn't even know an Iowa accent existed. I thought the whole point of being from Iowa is that you didn't have an accent. That's what sets us apart from those poor, unfortunate souls up in Minnesota. Now I am very self-conscious. If anyone knows what an Iowa accent sounds like, please let me know, so I can quit doing it.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

We thank you very sweetly for doing it so neatly

Wow. Republican rule is coming to an end. Now I know exactly how the Munchkins felt when the Wicked Witch of the East died.*

*Although I will never understand why, if she was truly oppressing them, they were allowed to have their own government and military system. Does this bother anyone else, or is it just me?

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Happy Election Day!



I thought I was very clever in coming up with a good Election Night dinner. I revealed it last night with great fanfare.

"I'm going to be making Barack-oli cheese soup," I said.
"Yeah," said Jay.
"I said," I repeated, "BARACK-oli cheese soup."
"Mmm hmm," said Jay.

Either I'm not as delightful as I think I am, or Jay has spent the past 14 years building up a powerful immunity to my puns. I can't really blame him.

He must be immune, because I am dang delightful.

This post brought to you by Concrete Geese for Obama.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Proof: Men do not notice what you are wearing, ladies

When I left for the grocery store today, WCK was in her room taking a "nap". (No sleep actually occurred during this "nap") She was wearing a long-sleeved brown shirt, jeans, a naptime Pull-up, and no shoes.

When I returned from the grocery store, WCK and Jay were watching football together in the living room. WCK was wearing a neon green t-shirt, pink sweatpants, a pair of bright blue Dora the Explorer underwear (sticking out of the pants), and a pair of brown shoes on the wrong feet. I laughed and asked Jay what was going on with WCK's outfit.

Jay was confused. Jay looked at me like I was insane. Jay had no idea that

a) what WCK was wearing was any different from what she had been wearing all morning, even though they'd spent most of the morning together and
b) that there was anything at all unusual about her outfit.

Obviously, WCK had changed her clothes herself during "naptime". She even pulled off her Pull-Up (which was thankfully clean and dry) and threw it on the floor. Her father did not notice. I asked him if he really thought I would dress her that way.

"Sure," he said. "I'd take her out in public in that outfit. What's wrong with it?"

The fact that I have the most fashion sense out of everyone in this family is chilling. Absolutely chilling.

Lady and the Tramp can be confusing

My child is upstairs singing the following song:

"We are Chuck E. Cheese if you please! (da dum dum dum) We are Chuck E. Cheese if you don't please!"

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Hummus hands and other Halloween treats

Our Halloween was great! We had beautiful weather, so we could trick-or-treat coat-free!

In the morning, I took WCK to a theater in Union Station to see Busytown. This was a play for preschoolers based on Richard Scarry's books. I remember my mom taking me to plays all the time when I was little, so I was excited to take WCK to her first play. We all love Richard Scarry at our house, too. WCK seemed to enjoy it very much -- except for one brief part with firefighters. Apparently firefighters are scary in any form, even when they are wearing animal ears and singing a cute song about putting out a pretend fire.

Later, I tried to make a creative, healthy, pre-trick-or-treat meal. I made these pumpkin oranges ...



... which were filled with fruit cocktail. You were supposed to chop up the orange innards and put them back in, I mushed them up so badly taking them out that I was only left with juice. The cocktail worked, though.



These carrots are supposed to look like a disembodied hand rising up out of hummus "dirt". Maybe if you squint really hard.



And the main course ... pizza mummies! Woo hoo! Of course, WCK only ate the eyes.



After the mummy meal, WCK put on her bumblebee costume, and we hit the neighborhood. We were able to do a few more houses than we did last year. After we got home, though, WCK became OBSESSED with handing out candy to other kids. I think that was more fun for her than the trick-or-treating. She stood at the window yelling, "Come to our house, people!!" I let her eat one little bag of Sour Patch Kids, and she was absolutely wired. We finally got her to sleep around 10 p.m.

This morning, we discovered that the Great Pumpkin had been to our house. He took away about half of WCK's candy and left a toy in its place. I love that Great Pumpkin. He's my favorite fictional character.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Half-Pint. Full price.

Today I opened the newspaper and read jaw-dropping news. The entire series of Little House on the Prairie is being released in one giant DVD set. It has 60 discs and includes every episode and all of the made-for-TV movies. Anyone remember the movie where Baby Rose gets kidnapped in Mankato on Christmas Eve? Aw, yeah!

Then I saw the price: $300. I guess I will have to Netflick it.

As soon as I read about this, I had to run to e-mail my sister. Then all of this thinking about Little House got me to reminiscing about my lunch box in first grade. It was the Most. Awesome. Lunch box. Ever:



The lunch box has disappeared. I think in some unwise fit of "I'm too cool for this now", I must have sold it at a yard sale or thrown it away. I think the same fate befell my Hangin' Tough Live VHS tape. How could I have been so foolish? How?

I discovered I can get the lunch box on ebay. If I want the one in pristine condition with the thermos, it is $115. Scratched and thermos-free, it's $40.

Hmm. $40. I could get eight Little House DVDs for that.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Which old mommy? The wicked mommy!

WCK had a rough morning. I think nearly a month of pacifier-free sleep deprivation is finally catching up with her, because she was just not herself. She was misbehaving terribly during our trip to the pumpkin patch, and she was picking on smaller kids. I don't really have a Discipline Plan for these types of situations, as she is usually very well behaved out in public. (Really! She is!) She usually gets along very well with other children. (Really! She does!) Today, however, we had to have several Serious Talks about throwing rocks, pushing people, etc., and she was pretty annoyed with me by the time it was all over.

Later, I heard her singing softly to herself: "Ding! Dong! The mommy's dead!"

Nice. Nice. I think I'll go lie down under a nice, quiet house for a while.


Sunday, October 26, 2008

A good day.

I had a good day today. It began with my child completely behaving herself at church. Shortly after communion, she did ask loudly, "MOMMY, IS IT TIME TO GO HOME NOW?" but, c'mon, you know everyone was thinking that. My child was the only one who was brave enough to admit it.

After that, I went out to lunch and got a pedicure with some friends. My toes are now bright blue. I base my toe color purely on what will entertain WCK. My toes were purple until today.

When I got home, it was time for family pumpkin carving. The photo is a little blurred. I get a little nervous about using actual candles inside pumpkins these days, so I was very excited when I found these awesome electric tea lights at Joann's Fabric. They're orange and they flicker; you can't even tell they're not real candles. WCK picked the designs: Kitty, "nice ghost" (as opposed to "scary ghost"), and bat.




After the carving, we had crock pot chicken from this recipe I found online. It was insanely easy, and WCK actually ate her entire portion of food, which is almost unheard of in our house. Usually when I cook something for her, she eats, like, one molecule of it and says she's full.

A good day.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

A lesson in homonyms

Several months ago, I found a dinosaur matching game in the one-dollar bin at Target. This is probably my best Target-one-dollar-bin purchase EVER. WCK and I play the dinosaur game almost every day. After we match up our dinosaur cards, I tell her that we'll each count up how many pairs we have.

Yesterday, I forgot to say that we'd be counting the pairs.

"Mommy," said WCK, "aren't we going to count the peaches?"

McSexist

I have an ever-evolving relationship with McDonald's. I used to eat there now and again and never thought about it too much. Then, about a year or so before I had WCK, Jay and I watched Supersize Me, and it scared us out of our wits. We did not set foot in a McDonald's until WCK was two years old. We were driving to Iowa and couldn't find anywhere else to stop. Since then, I've realized that McDonald's is actually a really good place, if it is used responsibly. For example, I don't think WCK realizes that they serve fries there, as we always order apple slices with her Happy Meal. I always get one of the big salads, which are exxxxxxcelllent.

We only visit McDonald's for the following reasons:

1. When we need to bribe our child. I know this is wrong, but McDonald's made last week's flu shot a completely painless ordeal.

2. When we travel. This also goes hand-in-hand with the bribery, because sometimes the promise of McDonald's on the road is the only thing that can convince WCK to leave her grandparents' homes. Also, we've discovered some interesting locations. The McDonald's just outside of Rochester, Minnesota, is really fancy and has a reading area, video games, and a giant Happy Meal that kids can climb in. A McDonald's in Mitchell, South Dakota has a robot Ronald that sings to you.

3. When it is a cold and/or rainy day, and I feel like I'll go insane unless I take WCK somewhere she can run and climb for an hour. McDonald's play areas are amazing things.

4. When they're giving away Wizard of Oz toys in the Happy Meals. These are for me.

Still, I have one big issue with McDonald's. Why is it, whenever I order a Happy Meal, the person behind the counter must ask me if I want the "boy toy" or the "girl toy"? Why can't the counterperson just ask if I want the Hello Kitty or the Batman? The Barbie or the toy car? My little girl honestly prefers the toy car. And if a boy wanted the Barbie, more power to him! I don't think a McDonald's worker should stand in his way.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Cycle 18

A handful of pumpkins helps the medicine go down ...

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Beware the church van

My last post was about talking to a newly diagnosed myeloma patient on the phone. He had a lot of questions, of course, and one of them was this: "How long do the doctors say you're going to live?" Nobody has ever asked me that since my diagnosis, but in the past few days, I've gotten several e-mails from a bunch of other newly diagnosed people also asking about how long I'm going to live.

No doctor has ever told me, and I've never asked. I don't really want to know. I don't believe in the three-year statistic, because, well, that means I am going to die next month, and I'd be really cranky if I missed the New Kids on the Block concert.

Dr. GPO is overwhelmingly positive about my lifespan. He once told me that I would never die of myeloma. "You'll probably get run over by a church van before you die of myeloma, " he said.

That made me feel a lot better about the myeloma, but now I'm a little bit afraid of church vans.

Monday, October 20, 2008

I hope I helped

A year or so ago, the International Myeloma Foundation asked me to be a "Patient-to-Patient" volunteer. This is a free service where the foundation matches up a newly diagnosed patient with one of us old-timers. (Yeah, I'm an old-timer!) We talk on the phone, and the old-timer is supposed to give the newbie information and advice and support and all of that good stuff.

Anyway, I signed up for this, and then nobody ever called me, until today. I talked to a really nice 69-year-old man who was just diagnosed with smoldering MM and admitted -- understandably -- that he was scared and upset. After you get diagnosed with myeloma, you get all of these horrifying statistics thrown at you. The most common one is that you have three years to live. Why do they use these statistics anymore? Why? They suck. Anyway, I think after this man talked to me and realized that I've been around for almost three years and I'm not at death's door, or anywhere near death's door, he felt much, much better. I felt glad that I could help.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

A dream realized

I've been attending Mr. Stinky Feet concerts on a regular basis since WCK was about a year old. Every concert follows the same basic format. Twice during each show, Mr. Stinky Feet goes out into the audience and hands out little paper feet to a bunch of kids. If you receive a foot, you get to come up to the stage (or to the front of the library or gym or wherever we are) and play a little tambourine in his "band" during one song. In order to receive a coveted foot, you must be sitting quietly on your bottom and raising your hand.

It's been my lifelong dream (or at least my two-and-a-half-year dream) to get WCK into the Stinky Feet Band. I'm not sure why, since I would never, ever want to perform on stage myself. In fact, Jay and I both share the same great fear: That someday, without any warning, we'll get pulled out of an audience and forced on to a stage. This is why Jay will not attend Renaissance Festivals, because you just never know. I figured WCK was genetically doomed.

Following family tradition, WCK had no interest whatsoever in joining the Stinky Feet Band -- until last summer, that is. Suddenly, she really wanted to get into the band. I wanted her to get into the band. We both wanted it so much we could taste it. It was absolutely painful, then, when Mr. Stinky Feet would pass us by time and time again, even though WCK was clearly doing a great job of sitting on her bottom and raising her hand. Whenever the subject of a Mr. Stinky Feet concert would come up, she'd tell everyone, "Mr. Stinky Feet didn't pick me to be in the band." It was a very sad subject around our house.

And then. It was Friday night. We sat patiently in the audience of a Mr. Stinky Feet concert. WCK raised her hand. Mr. Stinky Feet raced out into the crowd, just a blur in a Hawaiian shirt. When the dust cleared, we looked down.

WCK had a paper foot in her lap.

We looked at it in wonder. She was Charlie Bucket with a Golden Ticket. Wide-eyed, WCK walked slowly toward the stage, clutching her little paper foot. It took her quite a while for her to get to the stage, but once she got there she did an excellent job with her tambourine and never once got stage fright. Mr. Stinky Feet sang "Buggy Hop." I stood off to the side and took about 100 photos and a video.

When she wins her first Tony Award, I'll post that video on YouTube.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Eye caramba!

A few weeks ago, Grandma Kathy gave us some mini-muffin tins. I realized they'd be perfect for Creepy Eyeball Cupcakes. We took them to an early Halloween party today, and they were easily the creepiest-looking food item there. Mwa ha ha ha HA!



WCK didn't really get what they were supposed to be, but I suppose it's a good thing that my three-year-old is not familiar with disembodied eyeballs.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

WOO!

I'd been putting off calling for my latest test results, because I was convinced they were going to be bad. This is a very mature attitude, I know. I decided today that I'd better just call; I mean, I have plenty of candy pumpkins to turn to in the case of bad news. It turns out that my M-spike has gone back DOWN to 1.6! Woo hoo hoo hoo! I'm nice and stable -- at least for this month.

I think I'll have a candy pumpkin anyway.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Every October, they take over my life ...


Safe Place

WCK's classroom has something called "Safe Place." Safe Place is a cozy little nook with a bean bag chair and some soft toys. The kids are encouraged to go there when they feel overwhelmed and need a break, or if they're acting up and need a time out. Yesterday, WCK got into the car after school and cheerfully informed me that the teacher had sent her to Safe Place because she'd been hitting her friend Charlie. What? Whaaaaaaaaaaaaat?

We had to have a Serious Talk about how you don't hit your friends, blah blah blah, but all WCK seemed to care about was the fact that there are puppets to play with in Safe Place.

This morning she was still talking about Safe Place and asked if we could have one at our house. As naive as I am, I thought this sounded like a good idea. She already has a little pink chair and a basket of books in a corner of the living room, so I told her that could be her Safe Place. She then proceeded to hit me and say, "I just hit you! I get to go to Safe Place!" She gleefully ran off to sit in her chair and read her books.

Hmm. I have a feeling the Safe Place method of discipline is not working. Remember in Shawshank Redemption when the released inmates would purposely try to get back into prison because they couldn't handle life on the outside? It's exactly like that.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Whew.

I found the pumpkin. It was in WCK's playhouse in the back yard.

I feel so much better. Losing a giant vegetable outdoors is much more socially acceptable than losing one inside.

YouTube is trying to kill me

Emotionally, that is.

Only a month to go in my NKOTB vigil, and I've hit a snag. Apparently, Sony has taken over most of the NKOTB videos on YouTube and disabled the links, so I can't post them to my blog. I had to search high and low to find just one that would work.

We've been together for a long time, YouTube. Do you hafta leave?

Friday, October 10, 2008

Here's how disorganized I am ...

I have managed to lose an entire pumpkin.

Not a little toy pumpkin. Not one of those teeny little pumpkins that you use for decorating. It's a real, full-size Halloween pumpkin that WCK's grandpa got for her at the grocery store a couple weekends ago. WCK had been playing with it and lugging it around the house, and now it is gone.

I suppose we could also file this under "Here's how lax I am with rules", because, really, wouldn't most sensible mothers make "Don't lug giant vegetables around the house" one of their top household laws? I don't have many household laws. As I write this, my child is staring at the TV and she is not, technically, wearing any pants.

The pumpkin is somewhere in the house, but I don't know where. I'm hoping it'll turn up by, say, Fourth of July.

Life lessons

Perhaps you have a child who claims she has to go potty every time you are out in public. This child never, ever actually uses the potty out in public; she simply likes to go look at the potty and then wash her hands. You remain vigilant and dedicated, however, taking her to the potty every single time she requests a potty trip, even though you know full well that the child is not going to actually use that potty. You have interrupted multiple restaurant dinners multiple times to go look at potties. You have made long treks across parks and maneuvered through Barnes and Noble displays and walked out of church to locate a public potty, only to have your child refuse to use said potty. Still, you remain cheerful and optimistic.

The very first time in your child's life that you decide to ignore your child's pleas, the first time that put your foot down and declare that you are not walking across the park one more time simply to go look at another potty, your child will pee her pants in public.

Or so I have heard.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Bottomless peck

Jay, WCK, and I picked apples at an orchard over the weekend. I had never been apple picking before. It was very fun, and we ended up with a peck of apples. I never had any idea what a "peck" was, other than the amount of pickled peppers that Peter Piper picked.

Our bucket didn't seem very full at the orchard, but it turns out that a peck of apples is a lot for our little family. It seems like we have been having apples at breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks, and we've hardly made a dent in our peck. The number of apples in the bag never seems to go down. It's like the apples keep having babies or cloning themselves overnight. Thinking I needed to get creative with the peck, I found a recipe for Apple Pie Pockets. I made those yesterday afternoon and WCK "helped". (Mostly, she kept trying to eat the cinnamon-sugar mixture.) Now we are constantly eating apples and apple pie.

Does the "apple a day keeps the doctor away" philosophy hold true if the apple is inside a pie? I say yes.

Monday, October 06, 2008

I have problems. Do you?

My friend Jenifer has tagged me to write a Quirkiness MeMe. This means she wrote a list of her seven weirdest personality quirks on her blog, and now I'm supposed to do the same thing. (Really, Jen, you thinking liking to clean things is a problem? Can you come over and clean my house?)

At first I didn't think I could do this. I didn't think I had any personality quirks. Then I started to really think about it and I realized that, um, I have some real problems:

1. OK, first there is that whole black jellybean addiction.

2. If I see an apostrophe used incorrectly, I nearly become homicidal.

3. I have a firm belief that "Over the Rainbow" was only meant to be sung by Judy Garland. No other versions allowed. If I hear someone else singing it, I become incorrect-apostrophe insane. I've always said that when I become a billionaire, I am buying the rights to "Over the Rainbow", and I am not allowing anyone else to sing it. Maybe we can bring out Liza Minnelli if there is some kind of Rainbow emergency, but that's as far as I am willing to go.

4. When I buy a brand new book or magazine, I hate it if somebody else reads it or even looks through it before I get a chance. Sometimes Jay will pretend to look at one of my new books, just to see me freak out.

5. I have a really strict Christmas policy. Christmas shopping, decorating, music-listening, etc., cannot begin until the day after Thanksgiving and must end immediately on the day after New Year's. Kansas City radio stations start playing Christmas music on Nov. 1, and it just gnaws away at my soul. One time, I got into the car and saw that Jay had been listening to a Christmas station prior to Thanksgiving. We had to have a Serious Talk.

6. I can't sleep without a sleep mask: You know, those little masks that you'd imagine, say, Miss Piggy or Lovey Howell from Gilligan's Island sleeping in. When we first bought our house, our bedroom was really bright in the mornings. Jay got me a little sleep mask sporting a row of ducks swimming above the saying, "Quack off! I'm sleeping!" I soon became addicted to the duck mask. I've gone through tons of them, too. After a while, they even get worn out and the straps fall off, and you can see imprints of where my eyeballs were.

7. My head is filled with lines from movies and from The Simpsons. Often, quoting lines from The Jerk is the only way my sister and I communicate. This isn't as anti-social as it seems, as lines from The Jerk can be applied to most situations in life. Any time I hear somebody say "St. Louis" in any context, I immediately think,"No! Navin Johnson!"

The next step is to tag other people to post their own list of quirks on their own blogs. I tag these guys:

Abigail
Brooke
Jenni
Renee
La Cootina

Saturday, October 04, 2008

The Pacifier Fairy

The Pacifier Fairy paid a visit to our house yesterday. She took all of WCK's pacifiers away and flew off, ready to deliver the pacifiers to little babies around the world. She left exciting toys in place of the pacifiers.

WCK and I had been talking about the impending visit from the Pacifier Fairy for weeks. WCK told me that the green pacifier actually belonged to her stuffed frog, so Froggy should get his own toy that he would "share" with her. I discussed this with the Pacifier Fairy, and she agreed to WCK's terms.

The fairy arrived yesterday during naptime, although newly pacifier-free WCK wasn't actually napping. While I listened to her completely destroy her room upstairs, I lay on the couch and watched an episode of Oprah about how all mothers in America are tired and completely overwhelmed. Obviously these mothers have "standards", such as not allowing their children to trash their bedrooms. Obviously these mothers do not have the help of imaginary fairies.

When "naptime" was over, Froggy got a Land Before Time Chompin' Chomper action figure:



WCK got a Snuggle-Kins wolf pup:




WCK was really happy to see the toys. Once the excitement wore off, however, reality set in. WCK realized that she would NEVER SEE THE PACIFIERS AGAIN. The past 24 hours have been rough. Lots of screaming, not much sleep. I've had to explain over and over that once the fairy takes the pacifiers, she can't bring them back. She's pretty tough, that Pacifier Fairy. You really don't want to mess with her.
This is my top parenting rule: Let fictional characters do your dirty work.

The Big 500!

Blogger tells me this is my 500th post! FIVE HUNDRED! I say this calls for a big party:


Monday, September 29, 2008

Erin Go Bra!

We went to South Dakota over the weekend to visit Jay's family. On Sunday, we were able to participate in South Dakota's first Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure with a lot of Jay's family members, including his Aunt Mary, who is a breast cancer survivor! Woo!

Jay's sister had the task of coming up with a good name for our team. She noticed that a lot of the team names, like everything else in the world these days, were centered around breasts. There was "The Breast Team Ever" and my absolute favorite, "These Boobs Were Made For Walkin'". We also saw a group of women wearing t-shirts that said, "Save the Ta Tas" and a group of fraternity guys wearing shirts that proclaimed "PHI DELTS (HEART SYMBOL) BOOBS!"

I'm sure their love of boobs is purely scientific.

Anyway, since everyone on our team is Irish, the name of our team was "Erin Go Bra". Heh. Erin Go Bra did very well, in that everyone crossed the finish line eventually. Here is a photo I took from the very back of the crowd as we finished. Those of you familiar with Vermillion will recognize the luxurious Prairie Inn as we make our way to the Dome:




I decided that if I ever get a team together for a myeloma run/walk, the name of our team will be "The Dexy Midnight Runners."

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Cycle 17

Land sakes, it's a litter of stray Revlimid pills on my doorstep! Shoo, pills! Shoo!

Stay away from Supergirl

On Tuesday, WCK accidentally brought home the wrong artwork from preschool. The picture she brought home actually belonged to a girl I'll call "Supergirl". We knew that it belonged to Supergirl, because she had clearly written HER OWN NAME across the top of the paper. In addition, she'd colored everything on the page very neatly inside the lines.

Jay and I stared at this paper in wonder. We could not believe someone in WCK's class could write her own name. Is this the norm? WCK will usually make one teeny mark on a piece of paper and claim that it's a tree, or the letter A, or a kitty, or a dinosaur. Some days she acts like she doesn't even know her own name. "My name is Mr. Stinky Feet," she'll tell us. (Other days, her name could be Pooh Bear or Owl or T-Rex)

This morning when I dropped off WCK, I mentioned to the teacher that we had Supergirl's artwork in the backpack. "You know," I added, "the Supergirl who can WRITE HER OWN NAME."

The teacher explained that Supergirl is much older than the rest of the children. She must have a birthday right after the Aug. 1 cutoff. This had me feeling much better, until I realized that I'm going to have to keep WCK away from Supergirl in the years to come. You know, Supergirl is going to be the first one in her class who can drive all of her classmates around in a car, or buy tickets to R-rated movies for everybody, or be the designated beer-buyer in college.

Now that I think about it, several of my friends in high school had fall birthdays. Maybe that's why I hung out with them.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Bleh.

M-spike is up to 1.7. Not a huge deal, but it was 1.5 in July and 1.6 in August, so it is very slowly clawing its way back up. My IgG is back above 1600, too, which is back above normal. I'm still not going back on the dex this month, though, even though I obviously need it to keep Spike from crawling upward.

Bleh.

Friday, September 19, 2008

This is only a drill

A couple of weeks ago, WCK's school had a fire drill. The teacher told me the drill made WCK a little bit nervous and that she cried (WCK cried, not the teacher. Although if I had to be in charge of 18 three-year-olds, I'd probably cry a lot. And drink.).

When I picked WCK up on Tuesday, the teacher told me that they had another drill, and that WCK cried again. This one was a "shelter in place" drill. I'd never heard of this before. Back in my day, we only had two kinds of drills: Fire drills (everyone went outside) and "disaster" drills (everyone went into the hallway). I think the disaster we were officially preparing for was a tornado, although I suppose a school hallway can protect from a wide range of disasters -- nuclear war, swarms of locusts, bear attacks -- so they didn't want to label it for just one particular disaster. I remember we always had to take our math books with us during disaster drills. The theory was that if debris started to rain down on us, we'd put the math books over our heads and be protected. This was either a really dumb plan or math books were made out of heavy-duty materials in the '80s. I'm not sure.

Anyway, WCK's teacher explained that a shelter in place drill is in case "someone gets into the school who is not supposed to be there, and we have to call 911." I'm guessing that "someone" = "gun-toting maniac". Later, I Googled "shelter in place" and found the same drill can be used in case of chemical attacks by terrorists. Nice. Either way, the kids all go into the bathroom together, close the door, turn off the lights, sit on the floor and "hide".

I can't say that I blame WCK for crying over this one. I mean, I'm glad --very glad -- that the school has a plan to protect my child, but knowing that that it's necessary for three-year-olds to have to prepare for these kinds of things makes me want to start crying myself. Maybe WCK wasn't crying out of fear: She was presenting a moving commentary on today's society. Cry away, WCK. Cry away!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Yet another reason why cancer is tough

I already have my six-month Mayo checkup set up for late November. In general, this is a good thing. However, today I opened up my mailbox and found ...

(Dramatic pause)

A fresh Pee Pod.

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Why it's tough to be a 30-something cancer patient: Reason #234

OK, I know there are a lot of reasons why it's tough to be a cancer patient and a) I haven't had to face very many of them and b) the following complaint is probably the least of any cancer patient's worries, but I'm going to complain anyway.

When you're a cancer patient in your 30s and you have to take your kid with you to your checkup, there are no toys to play with in the oncologist's office.

This is understandable. When I look around the waiting room, I estimate the average age of the other patients to be about 80-ish. Once in a while, you'll see a baby who is there to wait for Grandma (or, from the looks of it, Great-Grandma), but most of the time you hardly ever see any kids.

I took WCK with me to my appointment today. Don't get me wrong; she was very well behaved, I don't think she's too scarred for life from watching them draw my blood, and everyone seemed just tickled to see her. Dr. GPO even brought her a granola bar and a bottled water from the vending machine. That's probably the most kid-friendly snack at the Cancer Center; it's not like they give out lollipops to their patients. Now that I think about it, though, maybe they should.

Still, it's tough to sit in a completely toy-free environment for two hours when you are three, so I brought along an enormous tote bag filled with books, toys, and snacks. The nurse thought my bag was hilarious. WCK did play with all of the stuff I brought, and then we ended up looking at pictures of animals in a National Geographic. WCK saw a photo of a chimpanzee throwing a rock and declared, "THROWING ROCKS IS NOT NICE!" I guess she has been listening after all.

Anyway, my CBC looked OK, except for low white cells. Dr. GPO was positively giddy over last month's results, and he said I have the lowest Beta-2 Microglobulin he has EVER SEEN. Cool.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Advertising

Back in the Dark Days of Dex, I'd usually end up having to go grocery shopping on Dex Day or Dex Crash Day. This probably wasn't the best plan, but it's usually how things worked out. I'd be staggering around Hy-Vee, struggling to get my brain to function, wishing I could just stop and lie down next to the cart for a minute. I always felt like people were staring at me like I was insane. It's not like other people could look at me and understand my situation. I don't look like I'm a typical cancer patient. There were times I wished I had a giant sign taped to my body that said, "I'M ON CANCER DRUGS AND MY BRAIN DOESN'T WORK RIGHT NOW! PLEASE BE NICE TO ME!"

I don't want sympathy. I just want people to know why, on dex days, I have to stare blankly at the Ziploc bag display for, like, ten minutes before I can pick the one I want.

Today at Hy-Vee, I passed a woman who didn't look anything like a cancer patient, either, but she was wearing this shirt:



Heh.