Monday, December 20, 2010

Well, poop.

My M-spike went up a teeny bit to 2.7. The nurse emphasized that THIS IS NOT A BIG DEAL. The rational part of my brain knows she is completely right. I've dealt with this spike for five-plus years, and I've watched it do all kinds of weird things from month to month, and I know a one-time increase of .3 IS NOT A BIG DEAL. The irrational part of my brain (which is most of my brain, I think) doesn't like it at all. Oh, well. What can I do? I guess I'll put back the slightly unbuttoned photo of Bon Jovi for starters:


By the way, I'm now on 15 mg of Revlimid to try to help my blood counts recover. So we'll see.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Ralph

For a few years now, I've been hearing about The Elf on the Shelf from other mothers of small children. This December, I finally broke down and bought one. The Elf on the Shelf either strikes people as cute or creepy. I think he's kinda cute; Jay thinks the Elf is going to come to life in the night and kill us. You be the judge:


If you've never heard of The Elf on the Shelf, here's how he works: You purchase an Elf on the Shelf set, which comes with the cute/creepy elf and a storybook about him. The storybook explains that the elf watches you all day long. When you fall asleep at night, the elf flies off to the North Pole to tell Santa whether you've been naughty or nice all day. He can also relay messages to Santa about what you want for Christmas. The elf then flies back to your house, but he never ends up in the same spot as before. Every morning, he's somewhere else in your house, and you have to look for him. On Christmas Eve, he disappears, only to show up suddenly the following year on the day after Thanksgiving. (Or perhaps several days after Thanksgiving, depending on whether Mommy actually remembers that the elf is supposed to show up.)

WCK was a little bit skeptical when we first took him out of the box:

ME: He has magic powers.
WCK: This guy?
ME: Yes. He has magic powers.
WCK: This guy?
ME: Yes.
WCK: This STUFFED ANIMAL has MAGIC POWERS???!?!

But once I read her the book, WCK was totally into the elf's powers. She even dropped him with a little scream when I got to the part about the most important Elf Rule: Never touch the elf, or his magic will wear off. I wasn't aware of this rule, so this made getting the elf into his first WCK-watching position a little bit hard. I had to sort of shove him into a corner using the edge of the book.

WCK named the elf Ralph, and we have to hunt for him every morning. Ralph has never been in the same place twice. He's turned up on top of the fridge and on top of the nativity scene. He's been trapped in the entertainment center and has been found hanging from lamps and window blinds. This morning, Ralph was in the car. Ralph is a little crazy.

We have just another week left with Ralph, and I have to admit that I'll miss the little guy. At least Jay will stop hearing elf footsteps coming for him in the middle of the night.

Friday, December 03, 2010

Cat bed

I adopted Garland 13 and a half years ago, when she was just a tiny, tiny kitten. Like any nervous new parent, I went out and bought a bunch of books on cat care before I brought her home. Every single one of these books advised me to buy a cat bed for my new kitten. The cat bed was really, really important. Every cat needed its own bed. If I did not buy a cat bed, my kitten would certainly die.

I could practically feel the ASPCA breathing down my neck as I ran to the nearest Walmart and purchased a cat bed. Then I brought Garland home. And Garland proceeded to completely ignore the cat bed for the next 13 and a half years. It was like the cat bed was shielded by a Harry Potter invisibility cloak. Garland would sleep on the human bed, the couch, the floor, a dining room chair, even the top of the refrigerator, but she would not set one paw on that cat bed.

For reasons I can't explain, however, I held on to that cat bed and kept it around the house. I never let it go, even though we moved all the time: four different apartments and a house. I think I did it mostly out of habit, and because it made an excellent storage area for all of the cat toys that she refused to play with. (The cat toys were also required by the books for kitten-death prevention.)

Then, last week, out of the blue:



Yes. She started sleeping in the cat bed. All the time.

So, I guess the moral of the story is that if something doesn't work out at first, just give it a little extra time. Like 13 and a half years.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

I did it!!

I updated my blog every day in November!! Now I just have to sit back, relax, and wait for the prizes to roll in.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Don't worry. Be happy.

A few days ago, I saw a woman wearing a shirt that said, "Don't worry, be happy." I spent the next several minutes mentally correcting the punctuation. In my perfect punctuation world, the shirt would have said, "Don't worry. Be happy." I also would have accepted "Don't worry; be happy", but a semi-colon seemed just a little too formal in this situation. Then I pondered "Don't worry: Be happy", but I wasn't sure. I think it would be best to go with the period. "Don't worry! Be happy!" seemed a little hyper.

Then I realized I wasn't taking the shirt's advice, because I was worrying about it. Then I realized that worrying about punctuation makes me happy. What to do? What to do?

Really, I should have been worrying about something else entirely, such as how this woman managed to gain access to a time machine and transport herself back to 1988 to purchase the shirt in the first place.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Cancer-versary

I was going to call this post "Happy Cancer-versary!" but "happy" doesn't seem like the right word. I mean, nobody sends you cards or bakes you a cake on your cancer-versary. I'm not really sure what the right word would be. I'm not one of those cancer patients who is all deep and profound and wise. All I can think of writing is, "Five years. Still alive. That's cool."

So: Five years. Still alive. That's cool.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

We are thankful for ...

A few years ago, I started a Thanksgiving tradition. Every year around November 1, I draw an outline of a tree on a big piece of white poster board, and I write, "We are thankful for ..." in the middle of the tree. Then I cut a bunch of multi-colored leaves from construction paper. Every night before WCK's bedtime, the three of us sit down together, and each person writes what he/she is thankful for on a leaf, and we tape it to the tree. By Thanksgiving Day, the poster is completely covered. This year, WCK could write all of her words herself, with a little spelling help. She would never let us forget that it was time to "go do the leaves" every night. Here is our complete list. You'll have to guess who said what. (Hint: I didn't say "cup holders".)

Turkey
Our house
Our cat
Beer
Crayons
Mom
Nachos
Snow
WCK's school
Cousins
Aunts and Uncles
Friends
Grilling
Sunday School
Cup holders
Dolls
Running
Our church
Grandmas and Grandpas
WCK
Jimmy John (may he rest in peace)
Toys
Coffee
Reading books with WCK
Darth Vader
Food
Warm blankets
Medicine
Jay
Football
Book Club
Rainbows
Warm coats
Sunny days
Margarita's salsa
Drama Club
Our furnace
Mashed potatoes
Playing at the park
Frogs
Newts
Air Zone
Apples
Our cars
Planet Sub
Being healthy
Noodles
Grocery stores
Books
Plays
Exercise class
Batman
Men who cook the turkey on Thanksgiving
New Year's
Valentine's Day
Christmas
Easter
Fourth of July
Halloween
(someone in the family really enjoys holidays)

Friday, November 26, 2010

Runnin' fool

Yesterday I finally ran the Thanksgiving 5k with Jay and my sister. I'd say the worst part of the race was having to stand around and wait for the race to start, because it was about 20 degrees outside. I hate cold temperatures and I'm very wimpy, so I wasn't entirely sure I'd survive. Right before the race, volunteers were setting cups of water on a table. I picked one up and discovered a solid ring of ice over the top. Not a good sign. Then my feet and hands started to go numb. The D.J. started playing, "Hot! Hot! Hot!" just to be mean. I didn't stretch, because the thought of sitting on the cold, cold ground made me want to cry, only I couldn't cry, because my tears would freeze to my face.

But once the race started, I got all warmed up, and I had a good time. I ran with my sister, and I had my iPod with all of my Bon Jovi/New Kids/Backstreet Boys/various other crappy music that I love. I hope I can do some more races and improve my time. Best of all, we could all consume an enormous Thanksgiving meal guilt-free. I'm thinking that the guilt-free eating should extend into several days of leftovers, too. Mmmm, guilt-free leftovers.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Hairspray fumes

I think today's teenagers get a bad rap. Compared to the young women of my generation, the young women of today are absolutely brilliant, practical people who will go on to achieve great things. What am I basing this on? When I was at WCK's school the other day, I noticed that 99.99 percent of the eighth-grade girls styled their hair like this:



It's just a ponytail with a headband around it. That's all it is. And all of them were doing it. It's like they all held a Secret Meeting of Eighth Grade Girls and said, "Look! We're not styling our hair ever again! Let's all make a pact to wear ponytails with headbands around them every single day!" How freaking brilliant is this? It would take about five seconds to do.

I think the reason I'm so impressed is that when I was in the eighth grade, every girl's hair looked like this:



Or this:




Or, if you were extra-fancy, this:



And if you ever did want to pull your hair back in a ponytail, it had to be something ridiculous:


Do you realize how much sleep we missed in the '80s because we had to get up hours before school started to construct our hairdos? Do you know how little attention we paid in class because we were constantly worried that our bangs were falling down? Do you know how many hairspray fumes we inhaled between 1986 and 1993? I never realized it at the time, but now I know we were all sleep-deprived, uneducated, and full of toxic fumes. I think we all have significant brain damage. I won't even get into the way our rolled jeans cut off circulation to our ankles.

But today's girls have it right, and I'm pretty jealous. They're all going to go far.

By the way, I have no idea who the girls in these photos are. I just Googled "80s Hair", and there they were. Poor souls.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Dairy Duty

Yesterday, I had "Dairy Duty." What is Dairy Duty? It's a volunteer position at WCK's school. The volunteer stands in front of the milk cooler at lunch time and passes out milk to all of the kids as they pass by. It's very demanding work.


This was my first time on Dairy Duty, and WCK was pretty excited that I was going to be there. She kept explaining what I needed to do. "You stand there, and you say, 'White or chocolate? White or chocolate?'"


I told her, "I think I'll say, 'Hello, ma'am! Would you like white milk or chocolate milk today?'"


WCK looked stricken.


"No, no, no! Don't say that extra stuff! Just say, 'White or chocolate'!"


Wow, how embarrassing to have a mom who won't stick to the Dairy Duty script! WCK would never live it down. She'd be in eighth grade, and kids would still be saying, "Hey, WCK! Remember the time in kindergarten when your mom didn't say, 'White or chocolate?' Ha ha ha!"


So I didn't say the extra stuff, and WCK still let me give her a hug and a kiss in the middle of the cafeteria when I saw her. At least I haven't become that lame. Yet.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Show-tune torture

At long last, the fact that I've had show tunes stuck in my head most of my life has paid off. This morning when WCK refused to get out of bed for school, I decided to sing "Oh, What a Beautiful Morning" from Oklahoma! until she complied. As you might recall, WCK hates my singing voice, so it went something like this:

ME: Oh, what a beautiful morning ...
WCK: STOP THAT!!!!
ME: Oh, what a beautiful day ..
WCK: STOP!! SINGING!!!
ME: I've got a beautiful feeeeee-liiing ...
WCK: YOU ARE BOTHERING ME!!!!

By the time I got to the part about the elephant's eye, she was up. Thank you, Rodgers and Hammerstein.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

American Music Awards

Oh, yeah! Watch until the very end ... and then run to set your TiVo/DVR. You're welcome.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Even my child makes fun of me

Heard from the back seat:

"Hey, Mommy, why don't they change their name to the OLD Kids on the Block? Heh heh heh."

(Pause)

"You know? Because they are all SO OLD! Heh heh heh."

Traitor.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Shake it up, just like bad medicine

I once pointed out that the Bon Jovi song "Bad Medicine" is very useful for making important medical decisions. (You can read about how I chose my current cancer treatment based on Bon Jovi's advice here.) Well, I've discovered it's also a great song to have in your iPod while jogging, simply because of the line that goes, "Oh, I need a respirator 'cause I'm runnin' out of breath!"

I want to laugh every time, except I'm too out of breath.

Is there anything that song can't do?

Thursday, November 18, 2010

A star is born

Yesterday was the big event: Opening night for the kindergarten-through-second-grade drama club production of "What Teachers Can't Do."



I guess, technically, it was opening afternoon. And closing afternoon, for that matter. I don't think "What Teachers Can't Do" will extend its run, which is unfortunate. It's not often that one encounters a play that explains so powerfully and beautifully that, yes, there are some things that teachers can't do. Also, there were free cookies at the end.

The kids acted out each page from the book, and they took turns playing the teachers and the students. The kids had decided that the teachers they were playing were their own homeroom teachers. The play opened with WCK writing on a chalkboard (actually, it was a big dry-erase board).

"WCK, tell us which teacher you are," prompted Miss Drama Club Teacher.

"I'M THE TEACHER ON THE FIRST PAGE!" announced WCK.

Huge laugh from the audience.

"But aren't you Mrs. NameOfYourHomeroomTeacher?" asked Miss DCT.

"Eh," shrugged WCK. "Sure."

She went back to writing on the chalkboard. Another huge laugh. She was not going to break character for anything.

I'd say the highlight of her performance was a scene in which two characters were supposed to be having a conversation on a playground, illustrating the dramatic point that teachers can't go down the twisty slide. It went something like this:

KID ONE: You should go down the twisty slide.
KID TWO: No, I can't.
KID ONE: You really should go down the twisty slide.
KID TWO: No, I really can't.

Meanwhile, WCK was acting the part of a child jumping rope on the playground, leaping exuberantly behind the two main actors and grinning at the audience. Scene stealer!

So, the play went well, and the teacher let us know that there will be another four-week drama club session starting sometime after Christmas, and the kids will work on an all new play. I can't wait to find out what it will be. King Lear? A Streetcar Named Desire? Les Miserables? I will keep you posted in January.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Where did you get that lovely clo?

Although I have been known to act like an evil Grammar Nazi from time to time, I usually try to correct WCK's grammar in a subtle, non-obvious way. I will usually repeat the correct word(s) back to her, as though it's just part of the conversation. For example, if she says something like, "I runned really fast!" I'll say, "Really? You ran really fast? That's great!" And so on. I figure it will just sink in after a while.

However, there is one thing that she does that I've never corrected because I find it so dang hilarious and cute. According to WCK, multiple articles of clothing are called clothes. If you have a single article of clothing, such as one shirt or one dress, it's called a "clo."

Really, this makes perfect sense.

She'll say things like, "Can I get a new dress-up clo?" or "Maybe we should get Daddy a new exercise clo for Christmas" or "I spilled oatmeal on my clo!" Not only do I not correct her, I just go along with it: "Yes, maybe we should get Daddy an exercise clo!"

This is going to come up on a spelling test in a couple years, and she's going to be really mad at me.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

They're diabolical!

WCK joined Girl Scouts a couple of months ago. When you're five, you're a "Daisy", and you wear a little blue vest or smock that makes you look like a tiny Wal-Mart greeter. I was pretty excited that she was finally old enough to be a Girl Scout, mostly because of the cookie access, but also because I enjoyed being in Brownies when I was a kid. I remember doing a lot of crafts, singing a lot of songs, and, once, going on a field trip to McDonald's, where I was absolutely fascinated to see how the pop machine worked. I think I earned a badge for jumping rope.

Well, today's scouts are much more serious. At her meeting today, WCK received a chart that will help her keep track of all of the ways our family is "using resources wisely." Why, sure! This is an excellent idea! I can remind WCK to turn off lights when she leaves the room. I can nag her to not let the water run when she brushes her teeth! This is great for girls to learn.

Then I actually read the chart and saw that I, personally, would have to use the resources wisely and stop living the lazy, irresponsible lifestyle that I work so hard to maintain. For example, one of the things she needs to check off is, "Ask parents to eat more meals with the family at home instead of going out to eat at a restaurant."

Really, Girl Scouts? You want to take away my free ice cream at Jason's Deli? You want me to cook? Have you no souls?

I won't even get into the one about how you should help mom/dad hand wash the dishes instead of running the dishwasher. It's simply inhumane.

Monday, November 15, 2010

The candy bar

All that remains of WCK's Halloween candy is what I consider the cruddy stuff: Tootsie Rolls (especially the fruit-flavored Tootsie Rolls -- blech!), Smarties, Dum Dums, Laffy Taffy. In other words, they're all my least-favorite kinds of candy, yet I keep on eating them because a) they're kinds of candy and b) they're in my house.

I finished off the last Laffy Taffy just now, and I had a few questions. If you're not familiar with Laffy Taffy, it's fruit-flavored taffy that comes in a wrapper that has jokes printed on it. Supposedly, the jokes are submitted by people across the country, but I did an Internet search and can't seem to find a way to submit the jokes. This is surprising, because I thought for sure I'd find a list of guidelines for Laffy Taffy joke writers:

Laffy Taffy is currently accepting jokes for our 2011 candy wrappers. Please follow these guidelines when submitting jokes:

1) Joke must be lame.
2) If joke is not lame, it must make no sense whatsoever.

The Laffy Taffy corporation cannot accept any jokes that do not meet these guidelines. If your joke actually makes people laugh, it will be rejected. We maintain our strong commitment to making humor-loving people everywhere crumple up our wrappers in disgust. Keep this in mind: Would your joke make the wrapper-reader roll her eyes and exclaim that her five-year-old could come up with better material? If so, we want your joke.

Seriously, here was one of the jokes on the candy I ate this morning, submitted by Terri T. of St. Charles, Mo.: "Why do some people never go bald? They have a re-seeding hairline!"

I mean, I still ate the taffy, but I wasn't very laffy about it.

My point, and I do have one, is that there are no pieces of good chocolate candy left in the bucket, except one: a full-size Three Musketeers bar.

What the heck? Our neighborhood seems like a fairly sensible place. I can't believe someone was giving away full-size candy bars. I don't know who it was. You hear stories about this kind of thing happening, but in my 35 years, I'd never seen it actually happen. Growing up, I'd always hear stories about how so-and-so's cousin's sister's friend was able to go trick-or-treating in the Millionaire Neighborhood in Omaha, where the heir to the Godfather's Pizza fortune was giving away full-size candy bars as well as cans of pop with dollar bills wrapped around them.

Could you imagine having an entire can of pop all to yourself? Plus, you'd get an entire dollar, which meant that you could go out and buy two more cans of pop! Luxury! When my sister and I were allowed pop, we always had to split one, although I would usually add extra ice to her cup to make it look like she got more.

Unfortunately, my unreasonable parents would never agree to drive me over to Omaha's Millionaire Neighborhood on Halloween night, which meant we were stuck with the sensible people in our own neighborhood who liked to give out those peanut butter chewy things in the orange and black wrappers. How I survived this difficult childhood, I do not know.

But here we are today, with a full-size Three Musketeers casually sitting in the Halloween bucket, like this kind of thing happens every day. WCK, for some odd reason, doesn't seem to have much interest in it. Maybe she doesn't realize how unusual it is. I'm not sure what to do with it. I'm not going to feed my five-year-old a gigantic candy bar, and while I could easily consume three mini-size Three Musketeers at one sitting, eating one giant one myself just seems wrong.

I think I'll keep it around for a while, just so I can stare and marvel at it. And I'm not sure how to end this post, so I think I'll close with another Laffy Taffy joke:

What kind of key doesn't open a lock? A monkey!

Sigh.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Whew!

Our Internet keeps going down today. For the moment, it is back up, so I have to squeeze in a quick daily blog post before it goes back down again. I know this is not the most creative post, but earlier I was trying to blog from my phone to no avail. That post was going to read, "I am blogging from my phone!", so at least this post is more creative than that post. In theory.

Nothing will keep me from winning that decorative gourd! Nothing!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Cool running, part two

OK, I think I finally figured out the correct route of the 5k. I did a much more realistic practice today, and I'm pretty sure I'm right because my time seemed much more accurate.

Notice that I did not say that it was a fast time, but I ran the entire way and did not die. Not dying is much more important than being fast. I have my priorities. Also, on race day I'm not going to have my cell phone or car keys in my pocket. Once I shed all of that excess weight, I should just fly.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Pretty, pretty princess

WCK brought home an assignment from kindergarten last week. We had five days to work together as a family to decorate a paper turkey any way we wanted. WCK decided that our turkey should be a princess turkey, and away we went.

WCK colored the turkey, made the necklace, and helped me with the tinfoil crown. She also put two little rings on the end of the turkey's wings, which you can't see in the picture. I designed the tissue-paper skirt. Jay made the magic wand and the little shoes.

The result was the loveliest turkey in all the land.


Thursday, November 11, 2010

How about a short-sleeved t-shirt?

Yes, Bon Jovi is no longer unbuttoned! My M-spike went down again, to 2.4. Woo hoo!

Also, I apologize for posting this photo, especially on Veterans Day. After looking at it for a while, I realized it's probably really bad flag etiquette. I Googled flag etiquette, and I couldn't find anything that specifically said, "The flag shall not have Bon Jovi placed upon it", but I think it's implied.

Oh, well.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Speak 'N Spell Lady, we hardly knew ye

Getting my Revlimid every four weeks is a million-step process. Fortunately, I have some really great nurses who handle 99 percent of everything (faxing the such and such to so and so and getting the correct blah blah code and all of that. It's very technical.). My job is to see the doctor, have all of my tests, and then call the hotline at Celgene, the drug company that makes Revlimid, and take an electronic phone survey. Apparently, the taking of this survey assures everyone involved that I'm not pregnant, thinking of becoming pregnant, or looking pregnant women directly in the eye.

For 30 cycles of Revlimid, the survey was administered by a computerized female voice. I always thought she sounded like one of those Speak 'N Spell toys from the early '80s. "Have ... you ... shared ... your ... Rev-li-mid ... with ... an-y-one? Press one for yes ... two for no ... or three for ... don't ... know." Early on, I lamented that Speak 'N Spell Lady was too impersonal. I thought that if someone was going to ask you all of these intimate questions, it could at least be a compassionate human voice.

After a while, though, Speak 'N Spell Lady started to grow on me. She became familiar, almost comforting. We were buddies. She was easy to talk to. I felt like she was on my side. Even though she never said it, I was sure she looked forward to my calls. I always looked forward to my favorite question: "Have you had your womb or uterus surgically removed? Press one for yes, two for no, or three for don't know."

What man put option three in there? What man??

Yesterday, I called to take my survey and something seemed a little off. Something wasn't right. What was it?

It was a compassionate human voice!

Speak 'N Spell Lady is no more! What happened? Did her batteries die? Did she get another job? After all of her years of service, she was fired and replaced by a human. I blame the economy.

Having to answer to an actual human just isn't the same. I mean, it makes sense for a computer to say something awkward and weird like "womb or uterus", but I can't believe an actual living woman got the script for this survey and didn't laugh until she peed.

Farewell, Speak 'N Spell Lady. Maybe someday we'll talk again, perhaps at the insurance company's 1-800 number or at the drive-through car wash, but I have a feeling that, somehow, it just won't be quite the same.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Meanwhile, back at the cancer center ...

I had my monthly checkup today. Everything looks OK so far (I get the other numbers later in the week), but the Rev has continued to push my white-cell counts down. "This is the lowest I want to see your white cells go," said Dr. GPO. My white cells are doing the limbo.

So, anyway, I get to take two weeks off Rev instead of the usual one week. It's a vacation. What am I going to do with myself? I need to find a beach to lounge on or something.

Monday, November 08, 2010

Cool running

I'm planning to run a 5k in a few weeks. Technically, I haven't signed up for the 5k, but I've told everyone I know that I definitely do plan to hopefully maybe definitely maybe sign up, so that's the same as signing up, right?

The race course is in a park, so this morning I went there to try it out. I figured that once I was done with my practice run, I'd be writing a blog post about how I'd collapsed, how I'd never make it through the actual race, and how I hoped the other runners on race day would be nice enough to gingerly step over my corpse, or at least kick it out of the way so it didn't trip anyone.

It turned out that ... I did great! I had my upbeat running playlist on my iPod, and I flew on winged feet all the way through the course. I didn't stop to walk once! When I finished, I felt like I could keep on running! I checked my watch, and my time was excellent!

Weirdly excellent. Suspiciously excellent. Physically impossible excellent.

After returning home and carefully studying the map of the course, I realized that I'd started and finished in the wrong place, and I'd missed out on at least a mile or more of the actual course. Oh.

I'll have to try it again in a few days, and I'll probably be writing that corpse-themed blog entry then.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Arrr, matey!

Today was the annual Holiday Gift Mart at church. WCK's favorite part of the gift mart is the children's store. I think I posted about the children's store last year: Only kids are allowed inside, so that they can secretly shop for their parents. You send your kid into the room with a fistful of money and then lurk around the door, trying not to look inside. The kids choose from a bunch of inexpensive gifts that people have donated (WCK, always a smart shopper, only spent $1.50 total on gifts for Jay and me). Volunteers help the kids wrap the gifts, and then then they reappear with their packages, all ready for Christmas morning! Yay!

Or maybe not. The downside of the children's store is that it's held on Nov. 7, which is light years from Christmas morning. WCK always makes us open our gifts as soon as we get home.

This year, she got me a very cute little heart-shaped jewelry box with flowers on it. I asked her what I should keep in it.

"Oh, you know, some jewelries, or, really, anything you'd keep in your treasure chest if you were a pirate."

Saturday, November 06, 2010

The Dinosaur Play

Today we took WCK to see a children's play about dinosaurs called -- what else? --"The Dinosaur Play." The actors encouraged audience participation. Between the sounds of what seemed like hundreds of kids "participating", and an actress who decided that her apatosaurus character needed to roar loudly over everyone else's dialogue, it was hard to make out the plot.

From what I could tell, the play was about a dinosaur egg that needed to hatch. First they tried to recruit a cranky male triceratops to hatch the egg, but he flatly denied being the egg's father and stormed off. The loud apatosaurus finally hatched the egg, only to discover -- shocker! -- that it was a baby triceratops! She adopted the baby, the male triceratops returned to rescue them from a t-rex, and they all escaped together to a swamp to start a new life together.

Was the triceratops indeed the father? Was he going to make an honest woman of the apatosaurus? It was never explained.

I'd ask Jay, but he napped through most of it. Lucky.

Friday, November 05, 2010

There's a video, too.

It's only Day 5 of this daily blogging thing, and it's already starting to stress me out. I mean, I have lots of other things to do today, such as take care of my child and Google the NKOTBSB tour (not necessarily in that order). Anyway, it turns out there is an official video (about the NKOTBSB tour, not about how to take care of a child ... although I probably need one of those).

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Let's all try to remain calm.

Well, you can try to remain calm, but you surely won't when I tell you that THE NEW KIDS ON THE BLOCK ARE GOING BACK OUT ON TOUR WITH THE BACKSTREET BOYS!!

That's right. It's NKOTBSB.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Exciting times at Catholic school

WCK goes to a Catholic school. I did not go to a Catholic school, and apparently I missed out on a whole lot of exciting things that never happen at public school. When I picked WCK up from school yesterday, she could barely contain herself:

"Mommy! Today someone dropped Jesus on the floor and his head fell off and rolled away somewhere, and the teacher had to stick it back on with tape!"

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

It's that time of year again

Once again, I've signed up for NaBloPoMo, which is short for National Blog Posting Month. If I post something every single day for all of November, I'm eligible to win something from a list of fabulous prizes, which includes a scarf, a meal-replacement shake, and a hand-painted gourd. How exciting! There is nothing like a gourd for motivation!

Monday, November 01, 2010

Mmm ... tapeworm sandwiches!

For at least a year now, WCK has been completely obsessed with tapeworms. (Read this old post if you would like some kind of an explanation, but really, there is no good explanation.) Every year on Halloween, I like to make some kind of fun Halloween meal -- mummy pizzas, mummy hot dogs, carrots that look like witch fingers, things like that. When I was looking for ideas for this year's meal, I came across a recipe for "Tapeworm Sandwiches", and I knew they would be an enormous hit at our house.

Well, almost. Jay fixed his own meal and did not eat a Tapeworm Sandwich. I don't know why:




I cut hot dogs into strips and boiled them until they got curly and worm-like, and then served them on a bun. I then got out the ketchup and asked WCK if she would like some bloooooooood on her tapeworm sandwich, and of course she did. I also had bloooooood and some mustard, but I wasn't sure what the mustard should be.

"SPOOKY GOBLIN SLIME!!!" said WCK.

Ah. Tapeworm sandwiches with bloooood and spooky goblin slime. Delicious.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Master Thespian

Earlier this month, WCK appeared in a kindergarten production entitled, "The Littlest Pumpkin in the Pumpkin Patch." I thought that staging a Halloween program instead of a Christmas program was a genius move on the part of the music teacher because

a) Now there is one less thing to do at Christmastime. Praise the baby Jesus!

b) The kids got to wear their Halloween costumes as the costumes, so there was no staying up late the night before to construct, say, a sheep costume or a pine tree costume.

Anyone who wanted a line in the play went through a rigorous audition process of raising his or her hand. Everyone who raised a hand got a line. WCK did not raise her hand, but she was still very excited for the play. She practiced the songs every day and night at home. She knew everyone else's lines. When the night of the play came, she ended up in the back row on the opposite side of the auditorium from where Jay and I were sitting. We got to watch a little tuft of her hair -- or what we assumed was a tuft of her hair -- singing the songs. It was a magical evening.

A few weeks later, I found out the school was offering some after-school enrichment programs. These are one-hour programs that meet after school once a week for four weeks. Offerings included arts and crafts, cooking, kickball, drawing, things like that. I read all of the descriptions to WCK, and she announced that she wanted to do ... drama club.

Jay and I were confused. Jay and I are very non-drama-club-type people. In fact, whenever we go to any kind of stage production, we both share a secret, horrible fear that we might get picked out of the audience to go up on the stage, where we would instantly collapse and die. This is one of the reasons Jay has refused to attend a Renaissance festival for 12 years. We did not understand how a person with our shared DNA would want to be voluntarily running toward a drama club instead of running away from a drama club, screaming.

"Do you understand what that is?" I asked her.

"YES!" she said, dramatically. "I WANT TO BE IN A PLAY!"

I couldn't really argue with that, so I signed her up.

Yesterday was the first meeting. WCK was thrilled with drama club. She reported that they're doing a play called "What Teachers Can't Do", and she'll be playing one of the teachers. I was very excited for her, and I asked if that's what they'd be rehearsing for the next three meetings, because the club only meets for three more weeks.

"WHAT?" shrieked WCK. "I THOUGHT THE CLUB MET ALL YEAR!!" (Insert loud, fake crying here)

Apparently, she is learning something about drama.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Button up, Bon Jovi

Test results are in. M-spike went down another teeny bit to 2.7. Hurrah!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

I'm number one!

Here's another thing Dr. GPO told me yesterday: He said that he has 14 myeloma patients right now, and I'm the healthiest one out of all of them. Now, I have no idea who the other myeloma patients are, or how he is judging "healthy", or if this is even true, but it's always nice to have someone claim that you're the best at something, right? So I'm feeling pretty good about this.

I'm finding my new status oddly motivating; in fact, it's what got me to go to the gym this morning. I can't slip from the coveted number-one spot. What if some 25-year-old smoldering MM patient slips in there with a sleek little M-spike, glittering white cells, and high, perky hemoglobin? I refuse to be runner-up. I have to stay on my toes. I'm not getting any younger, you know.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Dr. GPO quote of the day

Dr. GPO: The man cracks me up. Somehow the conversation got around to my stored stem cells, which are still safely tucked away on ice after nearly three years:

"Bone Marrow on Ice. That sounds like a Disney program that's coming to the Sprint Center."

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Bulk beer

Today I was buying Jay some beer at Sam's Club. (Yes, I know the fact that Jay asked me to buy him beer in bulk raises some interesting points, but that is not the main point of my story.) I had my wallet at the ready, because I was sure the cashier would ask for I.D. He scanned the beer, and the words, "IS MEMBER OVER AGE 27?" flashed on the cash register display.

The cashier didn't even pause for a tenth of a second before he pounded his finger down on the "yes" key, or whatever it was he pounded to allow me to buy the beer. He didn't need to think. Boop! The beer went through.

OK, seriously, Sam's Club Dude? Seriously? You didn't even need to stop for two seconds to wonder if I was, maybe, 26 and a half?

Dude.

I don't usually drink beer, but now I think I need some. In bulk.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Quit Playing Games With My Heart

Last month, I heard a delightful rumor that New Kids on the Block are going back out on tour with the Backstreet Boys. I have yet to hear if the rumor is actually true, but I'm saving up my money for front-row seats, just in case.

I have to admit that I'm a little (OK, a lot) too old for the Backstreet Boys, and I don't know anything about them. I don't know the names of any of the guys. I have no idea which one is their Donnie (the bad one), their Jon (the quiet one), their Joe (the cute one), their Jordan (the relatively talented one), or their Danny (the unpopular one that everyone tolerates). In fact, if you intermingled all of the members of the Backstreet Boys with all of the members of 'N Sync, I would have absolutely no idea who was who. Justin Timberlake was in 'N Sync, right? I think I know who he is, although if he got lost in the Backstreet Boys/'N Sync crowd, I might not be able to pick him out. They all kind of look the same.

But I do have one connection to the Backstreet Boys. I've been carrying around a secret about them for 13 years, and now I'll admit it: That one song, "Quit Playing Games with My Heart"? I think it is really, really, really good. In fact, I think I love it.







This song came out in the summer of 1997, right after I had graduated from college and started working at my first Grownup Job. The song would always come on the radio as I was carpooling to The Grownup Job with a group of Fellow Grownups, who would always roll their eyes and complain bitterly about how much they hated the song, and the Backstreet Boys in general.


"Yeah!" I'd announce, hoping I sounded convincing. "How incredibly annoying!"


The real truth was that I secretly loved "Quit Playing Games With My Heart." It was catchy, and yet it made you ache for some poor guy whose heart was at the center of some sordid game. I couldn't get it out of my head. What could I do about it, though? This was 1997. You couldn't download embarrassing music from iTunes in the privacy of your own home. If I wanted to own "Quit Playing Games With My Heart", I was going to have to go to the mall and buy the CD (or the tape, if I wanted to listen to it in my car), where I risked running into someone I knew and/or a sarcastic sales clerk. I could always come up with a cover story ("It's a birthday present for my 13-year-old niece ... who lives ... far away ... in Canada"), but I'm not a very good liar, and I'd probably choke if confronted. "It's for my nephew! I mean my niece! I mean, I REALLY LOVE THE BACKSTREET BOYS! DON'T LOOK AT ME!"


No, it was just too risky.


So I carried on my forbidden love affair with "Quit Playing Games With My Heart" in secret. We were together only at fleeting moments, usually when I was alone in the car or getting ready for work and the song would happen to come on the radio at exactly the right time. We went on like this for most of the summer, and then the radio stations gradually stopped playing the song, probably to make way for the next Backstreet Boys song. (And for the record, "I Want It That Way" is a pretty awesome song, too. You know you secretly agree.) We drifted apart.

Then I heard the news last month about the Backstreet Boys teaming up with NKOTB, and all of my memories of "Quit Playing Games With My Heart" came rushing back. Now that we live in the Modern Age, I was able to immediately download the song from iTunes. Now, at long last, I can listen to "Quit Playing Games With My Heart" as much as I want. We're back together, and it's not a secret anymore.

I'm Karen. I'm 35 years old, and I really like songs by the Backstreet Boys.

I'll take it one step further: I'm Karen. I'm 35 years old, and I realize I have really, really, really crappy taste in music. All of my pre-set radio buttons in the car are to '80s lite rock stations. I've heard the John Tesh Radio Show. More than once.

And it's all OK. I am now fully at peace with my crappy taste in music. In fact, it could have some benefits. I don't think anyone would ever steal my iPod. I always picture the iPod thief checking out my playlist and then gently setting the iPod back down, realizing that he'd been about to steal from someone with serious mental and/or emotional issues.

"Dudes," he'd say, upon returning to the Den of iPod Thieves, "she actually downloaded Clay Aiken performing 'Mack the Knife'!"

The other iPod thieves would rush to hold him as he gently wept.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Brought to you by the letter M

WCK has been in kindergarten for over a month now, and life is different. I'm still sort of a stay-at-home mom, but not really a stay-at-home mom. I'm sort of, a little bit of a working mom (I'm doing a bit of freelancing right now), but not really a working mom. I am busy -- really -- but I'm not quite sure where the day goes. I think I spend a lot of time talking to myself and then wondering why the house is not spotlessly clean after I spent the past five years of my life repeating to myself, nearly hourly, "As soon as she goes to kindergarten, THE HOUSE WILL BE SPOTLESSLY CLEAN!"

Yeah. I'm staring at a sink of dirty dishes right now. It didn't happen.

And here's another surprising thing: Kindergarten has changed in the past 30 years. When I went to kindergarten, it lasted three hours. We were expected to show up, color pictures of Humpty Dumpty, eat a cookie, and try not to wet our pants. It was not a tough curriculum. Now, kindergarten lasts all day. They have P.E. and music and art and Spanish and computer lab. They start reading by the second week. And now kindergartners have homework.

I clearly remember not getting official homework until fourth grade. I remember this, because in third grade, I desperately wanted to have homework like the older kids. I imagined myself, sitting peacefully at home, working on my homework like a mature adult, appearing smart and worldly. "I cannot play," I would say to my younger sister. "I have homework, something a mere child like you could never understand." I would do my math problems as slowly as possible at school, just so I'd have no choice but to finish them up at home, as my mature, intelligent homework. My teacher figured out what I was doing and told me to knock it off. And that was the end of that.

But WCK started bringing home homework this week, and she's only five years old. The first few days were painless. One day was a worksheet where she had to identify shapes and color them certain colors. The next day, she had to bring in something that started with the letter M. She picked a monkey mask, which I felt should have gotten her extra credit. The third day, she had to take an apple to school. It was a breeze!

Then, last night, she had to write 10 capital letter M's and 10 lower-case letter M's. WCK hates handwriting. Hates it, hates it, hates it. It's been her chief weakness since her first year of preschool. I haven't pushed it a whole lot, because it just wasn't very fun.

But there we were, faced with 20 letter M's for this required homework assignment. I love my child, but trying to help her write the letter M 20 times was an absolute nightmare. Couldn't we start with something simple, like O? I never knew how had it was to write the letter M. I now know why I'm not a teacher and why I do not home school my child. WCK and I make a great mother-daughter pair in nearly every other way, but we cannot write lower-case M's together. It's like how you really, really love your husband, but when you have to go grocery shopping together, you begin to wonder, somewhere around the spaghetti-sauce aisle, if you can get the marriage annulled.

After about 15 harrowing minutes, we finished the M assignment. Thank God. I'm very hopeful the teacher will not expect the kids to learn any more letters for the remainder of the year. That's totally possible, right?

OK, fine! I'm here! I'm here!

My in-box has been flooded with complaints about my non-updated blog. Well, OK, it was, like, two friends saying, "Hey, what's up with your blog lately?" but I figure that's about 99 percent of my readership, so I'd better get moving. I'm totally fine -- just lazy.

Speaking of lazy, so's my M-spike. I got my latest results last week, and it made a meager drop from 3.0 to 2.9. In other words, it just sat there on its big M-spike butt and didn't do anything. That's not necessarily a bad thing. It's not a super good thing, but not a super bad thing, either. The good news is, I'm no longer anemic! I admit that I cheated on my blood test by eating red meat for an entire week, but apparently that works. Thank you, Five Guys Burgers and Fries!

This means that Bon Jovi gets to stay at his current level of shirtlessness. Again, I suppose it depends on your point of view whether this is a good thing or a bad thing:



And I promise to go back to blogging more. I have a couple of things to write about, but I invite you to send me topics so that I never suffer from blogger's block again. Like Michael Scott on The Office, I'm a wizard at improv.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

My crazy grandkids, part II

Once again, I was put in charge of my grandkids, Bear and Bunny Bunny Bun Bun, while their mother, WCK, was at kindergarten. I was a little apprehensive after what happened last time, but they were so nicely dressed that I was sure they'd behave themselves.



Well, it didn't take long after kindergarten drop-off for all heck to break loose. First, they got into the laundry I was folding and threw it everywhere.



Then they decided to inflict psychological torture on the cat.



They tried playing hide-and-seek ... in the crock pot.



Don't even ask me how they got up here.



I'd had enough. Before WCK left for kindergarten, I'd asked her what I should do if her kids were naughty again. She said, "Just call their usual babysitter."
Their usual babysitter? Who is their usual babysitter?
Her name is Lizzie.


As you might imagine, Lizzie is tough. You don't mess with Lizzie. She was a lifesaver. She had them quietly doing chores around the house in no time. Whew.



Monday, August 30, 2010

Ramona Forever

When I was growing up, one of my favorite book series was the Ramona series by Beverly Cleary. I bought WCK a collection of Ramona books for her fifth birthday, hoping that she'd enjoy them as much as I had. Also, I wanted to show her that there are much better alternatives to (gag) those awful Junie B. Jones books.

My plan worked. WCK loved Ramona, and we spent the entire summer reading all eight books in the series. I looked forward to reading every night, so I could re-live the Ramona adventures I'd long forgotten about. Remember when she gets mad at her family and gets revenge by squeezing an entire tube of toothpaste into the sink? Or when she tries to be funny by cracking open a hard-boiled egg on her head ... only to realize her mom packed a raw egg in her lunch by mistake? Or when she wore her pajamas to school under her clothes? Or when Picky-Picky died? I could go on and on.

I'd never read the last book in the series, Ramona's World, because it was published in 1999, so it was fun to discover a new Ramona book together. We went to the Ramona and Beezus movie, which was actually pretty good, and not just because Aidan from Sex and the City played the dad. Although that did help.

Our Ramona reading prompted Jay to run out to the library and get the Henry Huggins books. Every night, I'd read a chapter of Ramona, and then Jay would read a chapter of Henry. Ramona makes cameo appearances in the Henry Huggins books, too.

When we got to the last chapter of Ramona's World, WCK and I actually felt a little sad. We talked about how much we'd miss Ramona, but I told her that pretty soon, she'll be reading by herself and she can read all of the Ramona books over and over again.

Our next book series? Little House! Aw, yeah! Take that, Junie B. Jones!


Saturday, August 28, 2010

Meet my grandson, Bunny Bunny Bun Bun

Yesterday morning before school, WCK appeared in the kitchen with a doll stroller containing Bear and Bunny Bunny Bun Bun. Attached to the stroller was a camera, as well as baskets containing supplies, such as plastic food, bibs, and toys.



WCK informed me that these were her kids, and, seeing as I was their grandmother, it was my job to look after them all day while she was in school. She left strict instructions: "You can take them anywhere you want, except the desert, because they are both very scared of rattlesnakes."

My plans to explore the vast deserts of Kansas City dashed, I decided we'd spend the day hanging out around the house. Like a good grandma, I took photos to show WCK what her kids had been up to all day. First, we got out the toys she'd packed and played for a while:



We hung out with Garland:



We went outside, although we only went on the back deck, out of fear of neighbors, I mean rattlesnakes, spotting us:



We worked up big appetites hiding from rattlesnakes, so it was time to put on bibs and enjoy a healthy lunch of plastic vegetables:



And then a good nap in WCK's bed:




After their nap, I left them sitting quietly, nicely reading Bear's favorite book ...



I turned my back for a second, and ... THEY CLIMBED TO THE TOP OF THE KITCHEN CABINETS!! WHAT THE HECK? GET DOWN FROM THERE! YOU KIDS ARE BEING NAUGHTY!




Whew. I finally got them down. That was a close one. WAIT A MINUTE! NOW THEY'RE ON TOP OF THE LAMP!!! Those dang kids!



WCK found it hilarious that they'd climbed so high. Easy for her to say; she's off at luxurious kindergarten all day while I have to chase after her children. I was worn out. The time to go pick up their mother could not come soon enough.



Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The shirt is back!

My first round of Revlimid (or, technically, my 27th round of Revlimid) was a success! My M-spike dropped from 3.5 to 3.0. Yay!

See? I told you bad medicine is what I needed.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

THE FIRST DAY OF KINDERGARTEN

Today was

THE FIRST DAY OF KINDERGARTEN

and everyone survived. I clearly remember crying for my mother on my first day of kindergarten, but WCK was completely calm and composed. Her school offered a little gathering for parents called "Tea and Tissues". Right after drop off, you could come hang out with the other parents, have a doughnut, and cry if you wanted to. Really, I think it was a way to bribe parents away from hanging out in the kindergarten classroom all morning. If you leave your kid, you get a doughnut. Mmm, yummy doughnut.

WCK wanted to know why it was called "Tea and Tissues."

"You can go have tea with the other moms and dads," I said. "And they have tissues, in case some of the moms and dads cry."

WCK was floored by this. "Why would the moms and dads cry?"

"Because we'll miss you so much," I said. "Maybe I'll cry. I'll miss you. Are you sure you don't want to skip kindergarten and stay home with me?"

WCK did not have time for this nonsense.

"Mama," she said impatiently, "I need to go to kindergarten so I can learn. Maybe it would help you if you had a stuffed animal with you."

Hmm. Maybe it would.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Nervous breakdown

I've been away from the blog for a while. I'm happy to say that WCK passed the "turtle" level at swimming lessons and is now an official duck. We took a trip to Omaha to see college friends (and their kids), who we haven't seen in a long time. WCK and I have been spending many hot days swimming in an icy-cold pool near our house. We got together with our moms' group and built gumball machines. (Actually, the moms built the gumball machines while the kids lost interest and ran off to play. Mine looks like it was crafted by a five-year-old, though, so I think I'll tell everyone WCK built it herself.)

Mostly, though, I've been spending most of August trying really hard not to have a complete nervous breakdown about

THE FIRST DAY OF KINDERGARTEN!!





It's in two days. Really, it will be fine. Fine. Just fine. Do you think parents are allowed to bring along a personal bottle of wine to the FIRST DAY OF KINDERGARTEN? It wasn't listed on the school supply list, but I think it should be.



Saturday, July 31, 2010

Disturbing coloring sheet number two



So, Frisky Frog and his two best friends, Rubber Chicken* and Big Bird with Fangs, indulged in some recreational drugs and then went boating. Disaster struck just feet from shore. The frog was the only one who managed to make it back to land, despite the fact that he was still stoned out of his mind. He grabbed the handset of a phone that just happened to be lying in the sand, not noticing that it was not connected to an actual phone.

"Duuuuuude," he whispered into the phone. "Heeey, duuuuuude ...."

Fortunately for Rubber Chicken and Big Bird with Fangs, Rescue Octopus had already slapped on her lucky sunglasses and a fresh coat of lipstick, and was on her way to save the day.



*Many thanks to Tim's Wife for the Rubber Chicken idea.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Stingray to the rescue!

WCK started swimming lessons last week. I was pretty nervous about signing her up for swimming lessons, because, well, I was terrible at swimming lessons. Just terrible. I have one happy memory of swimming lessons: My first summer, I won a bubble-blowing contest underwater, and I was rewarded with a little paper bag filled with Jolly Ranchers. It was the first -- and last -- time I ever won an athletic contest. It was the most thrilling day of my life.


Swimming lessons were all downhill from there.


I can't remember how many years I had to take swimming lessons. It was probably three or four, but in my memory, it seems like I took decades of swimming lessons. I never made it past the "beginner" level. I grew to be embarrassingly old to still be in the "beginner" class. The class after "beginner" was called "advanced beginner", which means I couldn't even pass the most basic of the beginner classes. Actually, I think I finally -- just barely -- passed the beginner class. I seem to remember having a deal with my dad that if I finally got out of the beginner class, I could quit swim lessons altogether, because even my own family seemed to sense how hopeless the swimming-lessons situation had become.


The story my parents absolutely love to tell is how -- when I was around WCK's age -- my whole class was in line for the diving board. I was the last kid in line. They looked away for a few minutes, and when they looked back, I was still the last kid in line. No matter how much time went by, I was always the last in line. They finally figured out that I was letting everyone go ahead of me, over and over, because I did not want to go off the diving board. Hey, diving boards are scary! Finally, the teachers figured this out, and one of them walked me up the diving board and down to the edge, and then grabbed my arms and lowered me down to the teacher waiting in the water.


Oh, how far the bubble-blowing champion had fallen.


But I am happy to report that WCK is doing really well at swimming lessons. She's always happy to go to her lesson and follows the teacher's instructions with a big smile on her face. She's in a class with three other four- and five-year-olds, and they're all just the cutest things ever. I can already tell she's learned new things since last week.

The different class levels are named after sea animals. WCK is in the "turtle" class, which is the very beginning class. Level two is "duck", level three is "penguin" and so on. There are a total of 10 levels, all the way up to "whale." The other day on our way out, we discovered a table of free coloring sheets featuring the different swimming animals. Now, WCK has picked up lots of free coloring sheets in her day, but I have to say that this coloring sheet is the most awesome kids' coloring sheet I've ever seen in my life:





Yes. What is the backstory here? Apparently, the poor turtle experienced a near-drowning, no doubt because his dad allowed him to quit swim lessons before he reached the "advanced beginner" class. A lady stingray, all dolled up in false eyelashes and lipstick, passed by on her way to a formal affair, saw the struggling turtle, and rushed to his aid. As she was about to give him mouth-to-mouth, she discovered, to her horror, that she was completely helpless. (WCK pointed this out: "How can the stingray help the turtle, Mama? She doesn't have any arms!") Just as the poor turtle was seeing a flock of turtle angels beckoning him to crawl slowly into the light, an ambulance screeched to a halt, and -- PRAISE THE BABY JESUS! -- out popped a life-saving duck. Or possibly a flamingo.

See? Greatest coloring sheet ever.

Friday, July 23, 2010

This calls for some leather pants and a vest

With the whole brouhaha over my needing to start treatment again, I'd convinced myself that this month's test results would be sky-high and horrible. Dr. GPO gave me the usual pep-talk about how slow-moving my disease is, saying, "This is not 'Get-Out-of-Dodge' disease." As much as that cracked me up, I didn't believe him, and fully believed I'd be getting the heck out of Dodge pretty soon. Whatever that means.

Since this is a mostly family-friendly blog, I wondered if I'd be able to use the photo of Jon Bon Jovi wearing nothing except what appears to be a tiny sailor hat, since my M-spike would surely be high enough to warrant such a photo. This photo exists; just Google it.

P.S. The hat (or whatever it is) is not on his head.

Anyway. I was pleasantly surprised this morning to find out that my M-spike is 3.5, which is completely stable from last month. In fact, it is down .1, which really doesn't mean a whole lot, since the tests were at different labs, blah blah, but it makes me feel better. So, in celebration of the .1 decline, I found a nice Bon Jovi photo that appears to be from the late '80s or early '90s and features a lovely vest-sunglasses-leather-pants combo:



I'm wondering if he's trying to look cowboy-esque, and I'm thinking that real cowboys would make him get out of Dodge.

My first round of Revlimid arrives on Monday, and if it does its job, JBJ will be wearing a tasteful turtleneck sweater any day now.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

You'll have to speak up. There's a ladybug in my ear.

WCK went to a science camp for preschoolers/kindergartners at a nearby elementary school last week. In the past, WCK has been less than enthusiastic when I've suggested any type of lesson or camp, but when I told her there was a science camp available, she perked right up. WCK is very serious about being a scientist when she grows up. She also wants to be a check-out person at the grocery store.

From what I could tell, WCK enjoyed the science camp very much. Five-year-olds aren't big on giving detailed information when you ask for it, but I was able to gather that they learned about seeds and dirt, growing vegetables, the weather, and bugs. Bug Day was her favorite day.

There were about a dozen or so four- to six-year-olds at the camp. The teacher was a young, enthusiastic guy named "Jetpack Jason." I'm not sure of his qualifications, but he wore a white lab coat, so you know he was official. By the end of Bug Day, though, Jetpack Jason looked a little weary.

"GUESS WHAT?" said WCK. "Jetpack Jason brought in REAL LADYBUGS, and (Name of child) thought that he got one of the ladybugs in his ear, and Jetpack Jason had to look for it in his ear, but he couldn't find it."

I'm not sure what Jetpack Jason was getting paid, but I'm sure it wasn't enough.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Bad medicine is what I need

For the past month, I've needed to make a decision about my next line of myeloma treatment. Would I return to the Revlimid, or would I enroll in a clinical trial at the Mayo Clinic? In my last post about my choices, I asked myself, "What would Bon Jovi do?"

I know, I know. Nearly every person, at some point in his/her life, reaches a crisis and asks the question, "What would Bon Jovi do?" We've all been there. Bon Jovi rarely answers in ways that one can understand. One day, however, I was listening to my iPod, and I realized, BON JOVI WAS TELLING ME WHAT TO DO. Have you ever listened closely to the song, "Bad Medicine"?

I ain't got a fever got a permanent disease (Exactly. Myeloma is a permanent, incurable disease that I'm going to have to manage over the long haul, so I don't want to move on to the next drug until I've exhausted the first one.)

It'll take more than a doctor to prescribe a remedy (I need to weigh all of the options and make this decision myself)

I got lots of money but it isn't what I need (The fact that the trial drug would be free doesn't really factor in here, since I only have a $20 co-pay for my Rev, and monthly travel expenses to Rochester would be much more.)

Gonna take more than a shot to get this poison out of me (Amen, Mr. Bon Jovi. Amen.)

I got all the symptoms count 'em 1,2,3 (Actually, I don't have any symptoms, other than mild anemia, but I still think we can still consider the previous lyrics messages from the Universe.)

And the rest of the lyrics don't really apply to my situation, but why don't we take a nice dancing break?

First you need
That's what you get for falling in love
Then you bleed
You get a little but it's never enough
On your knees
That's what you get for falling in love
And now this boy's addicted cause your kiss is the drug

Your love is like bad medicine
Bad medicine is what I need
Shake it up, just like bad medicine
There ain't no doctor that can
Cure my disease

Bad, bad medicine
Bad, bad medicine


Anyway. Fully trusting this message embedded in '80s hair band rock, I went to my appointment with Dr. GPO today and told him I wanted to try 25 mg of Rev alone, without the dex. I didn't tell him Bon Jovi told me to do it, but he agreed that was an OK plan, and he thinks I'll get some kind of response from Rev alone. I'll have my blood tested after the first four-week round, and if the Rev isn't doing anything, I'll add in a low dose of dex. Fair enough.

When I got into my car after the appointment, what was on the radio right then? Jon Bon Jovi singing "Blaze of Glory." I cranked it up, but after really listening to the lyrics, I realized it's about how, if you're about to die anyway, you should make sure to die in a really cool way. Hopefully, that one's not a message from the Universe. Bon Jovi moves in mysterious ways.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Tooth recycling

This post goes out to all of my fellow pack-rats out there. You know who you are. The next time you're attempting to clean out a drawer, and you turn to your spouse/significant other and say, "But we can't get rid of this! What if we need it again for something really important?" and your spouse/significant other points out that you're holding an envelope containing a human tooth, you can tell your spouse/significant other this story:

WCK lost her third baby tooth today. The tooth had been wiggling for quite some time, so she was ecstatic when it finally came out. We had a little celebration, and then I got back to unloading a mountain of groceries. A few minutes later, I noticed WCK walking to the downstairs bathroom with a toothbrush in one hand and the tooth in the other. When I questioned this, she said she was just going to brush her tooth so it would be clean for the Tooth Fairy.

Am I to blame for what happened next? Should I have intervened, forbidden her from brushing said tooth, or, at the very least, walked to the bathroom to make sure she closed the drain first? Instead, I just said, "Well, make sure the tooth doesn't go down the drain."

"Oh, it won't!" said WCK. Of course, mother. Don't you trust me not to drop a tiny, wet, slippery object down the drain?

Exactly two seconds later, cries of anguish rose up from the bathroom.

"MOMMY!!! I DROPPED MY TOOTH DOWN THE DRAIN BY ACCIDENT!!!"

Of course. Of course.

Now, I could have used this as an opportunity to teach an Important Lesson about listening to your mother, not washing tiny objects over an open drain, etc., etc. Let me tell you, though: You've never seen true human misery until you've seen a five-year-old who has just lost a tooth and then lost that tooth. We sat on the bathroom floor and rocked while she cried for the lost tooth and I repeatedly reassured her that the Tooth Fairy didn't care, that this sort of thing happened to kids all the time, and that the Tooth Fairy still left them money. WCK didn't buy it. The worst part was when she wailed, "AND I WAS SO HAPPY!"

After about 20 minutes of sobbing, I had a brilliant idea. I managed to calm her down, and suggested that she sit in the dining room and draw a picture to leave for the Tooth Fairy. Then I slipped upstairs.

Oh, yeah. I still had her first two baby teeth in the top drawer of our dresser. The pack-rat triumphs!

I slipped back downstairs to the bathroom, and pulled the old tooth out of my pocket. "WCK! Come quick! I found your tooth!"

WCK came running. "That's my tooth?" she said.

Oh, please, I thought. Please don't let this be like the episode of Diff'rent Strokes where Arnold's goldfish dies and Mr. Drummond replaces it with a new one, and Arnold can totally tell.

"Yeah," I said. "I was able to dig it out of the drain."

"How did you get it out?"

"Oh," I said, realizing that I hadn't really thought through how I'd explain this. "I was just able to."

(Long pause while WCK evaluated my in-depth explanation.)

"OH, I'M SO HAPPY!!!!"

Success!

"The next time I lose a tooth," she said soberly, "I will be really careful when I brush it over the drain."

She'd better. There's only one spare tooth left.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

The fabulously festive Fourth Food Fest festivities

We spent the Fourth of July at my parents' house in Iowa, along with my sister, brother-in-law, niece and nephew. We had lots of fireworks, and lots and lots and lots of food. Jay and my bro-in-law love to grill, so when they get together, they go wild. Jay brought his own grill along, so we had two Weber grills fired up all weekend.

Saturday night, they treated us to this main course, which we'd all admired on the show Man vs. Food:



Yes. That's right. It's a bacon cheeseburger with a grilled Krispy Kreme doughnut for a bun. It was delectable. My dad said that maybe the myeloma cells would be so scared of what I was actually putting into my body that they'd jump right out. I'm thinking that my arteries are so clogged now that the myeloma cells simply can't circulate anymore. Don't worry; I also made a salad that we could place in the center of the table and admire, which made this a healthy meal, right?

The next day, we had lots more family and friends come over for a party with a luau theme. We had obnoxious Hawaiian shirts, paper leis, tons of grilled appetizers ... and this guy:




Yes, they grilled an entire pig. It was pretty yummy, as long as you ate the parts that weren't smiling at you. I can't wait to see what they grill next year.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Happy little bluebirds fly

Since the moment WCK was born, I've dreamed of the first time she'd watch The Wizard of Oz with me. I had high hopes that she'd be ready for it pretty early, considering she was being raised among stacks of Wizard of Oz memorabilia, and I started singing her the songs the day she was born. Unfortunately, WCK was not going to turn out to be a Mini-Me when it came to Wizard of Oz. She went through a horrifying phase around age two, where she wanted absolutely nothing to do with it. It brought tears to my eyes. I was a wreck.

Eventually, WCK warmed to the idea of Oz. She'd play with Oz toys and look at Oz books and listen to the songs. She'd even "play Wizard of Oz" and act it out with me, but she still did not want to watch the movie. She kept telling me over and over, "Mama, I will watch it when I'm five."

Ha HA! She turned five in May! Ha ha ha ha ha!! In your face, WCK!! I knew she couldn't back out of it! I'm sure the word of a four-year-old is legally binding and would hold up in a court of law should she try to sue me. I was going to get that child to watch The Wizard of Oz, so help me God. Now I had to make a plan. As the Wicked Witch of the West once said, "It's how to do it. These things must be done deeeeeelicately."

Well, I found out that a movie theater in Kansas City, Kansas was showing The Wizard of Oz on the big screen for free this morning. I explained this to WCK, and then I bribed her with a trip to the T-Rex Cafe afterwards if she sat through the entire movie with me. WCK would walk on hot coals to get to the T-Rex Cafe, so she agreed.

This is the difference between five-year-old WCK and five-year-old me. If you'd told me, at five years old, that we were going to go watch The Wizard of Oz at a movie theater, I would have sat down by the door -- or maybe even out in the car -- forgoing all nourishment, sleep, and bathroom breaks until the time came to leave for the theater, even if the movie happened to be weeks or months away, because what if the person driving us to the theater accidentally left early, without me?

Heck, I'd do this now.

But the movie went very well. We got there really, really early (again, see the description of five-year-old me). It was so good, I cried, like always. Then we ate our bribery lunch. After we got home, I still wasn't sure if the movie really affected WCK. Later, I found her Pooh Bear wearing Tinkerbell wings and a mask. "It's a flying monkey, Mama!"

Oh, yeah: