Friday, July 31, 2009

Ready to do something drastic . . .

. . . or somewhat drastic, anyway. One of my girlfriends at book club last night had recently gotten a new hair color - the most luscious shade of dark chocolate I think I've ever seen. And now I can't stop thinking about it!

I've been coloring my hair since I was a teenager, and I've tried enough hues that I honestly don't even know what my actual, natural color is anymore. I'm guessing a dingy, mousy brown. With lots of gray. I've been platinum, strawberry blonde, dark brown, dark auburn, and for the last few years . . . I dunno . . . copper?? I'm ready for a change. Stay tuned.

And that's the most exciting thing I have to say right now, folks. Other than the fact that Michael had a really rough week with this first post-surgery cycle of chemo. But he's not crazy about my blogging about him, so I won't say anything ;p

Monday, July 27, 2009

Here we go.

Today will be the first of eight cycles of chemo for Michael. We knew that he would likely be starting this week, but weren't sure it would be today. He goes in to his oncologist's office every week, whether or not he is currently undergoing chemo, to have his PICC line flushed out and to have blood drawn. He was supposed to start chemo two weeks ago, but he had some issues, and his oncologist wanted to wait a bit. Michael had a CT scan about a week and a half ago to try to determine the source of this mystery pain he's had now for several weeks, and the scan showed nothing unusual. So he went in to Dr. A's this morning to have his PICC line maintained, etc., and figured he would tell him to come back tomorrow to start chemo. But apparently, Dr. A decided to go ahead with it today.

So, every other week for the next 16 weeks, Michael will go in to his oncologist's office and sit with an IV drip of chemotherapy for a good part of the day. He will then be sent home from those visits with an infusion pump which will continue to pump the chemo into his bloodstream for 48 hours.

Here's what it feels like for me: you know that nervous anxiety you get when you're slowly cranking up the hill on a roller coaster, knowing that once you reach the top there is going to be some kind of drop, but you're just not sure how steep or far the fall will be? That's what this feels like to me.

I can't say what it feels like for Michael. He's got a really positive attitude about the whole thing which has, and I'm sure will continue to, serve him well.

Sunday, July 26, 2009


Sometimes a few days will go by during which I don't post anything on either of my blogs, either because life is getting in the way of my blogging (haa!), or I just don't have anything particularly noteworthy to say. Whenever more than a couple days go by without my blogging something, I will get a note from somebody, either by email or Facebook, saying they notice I haven't been writing and asking what's up. It's cool when that happens . . . makes me feel all like I matter and stuff :)

Anyway. I really have nothing particularly exciting or deep to write about at the moment, so I'll just give a general update on things as they stand in our little corner of the world:

It's been just about 6 weeks since Michael's surgery. It's been a slower and more trying recovery than we imagined it would be. He's doing okay, but living with some chronic post-surgical pain, which is a total drag. It's a mystery, as his doctors can't seem to determine exactly what the cause of it is, but they don't seem particularly concerned about it. Michael is managing it the best he can, and honestly, his attitude and outlook are way better than my whiny ass would be in his shoes. I love him, I'm in awe of him in so many ways. I wish he felt better though. Despite all this, he's healing from the actual surgery quite well and will likely start back on chemo this week. I am dreading it, actually. I remember very well what the chemo did to him before his surgery, and how helpless I felt to ease any of it for him. He's ready to move forward though, so I have to be ready as well. The only way to get to the other side of this is to go through it. He is also likely to start working again this week, part time, and probably mostly from home to start.

Summer break is already about half over. We went into this summer looking at it as a wash, as there was no way to plan anything or sign the kids up for any activities not knowing how Michael's recovery would be. In some ways, it has been the Lost Summer of the Lost Year, but still, it certainly hasn't been all bad. Michael and the kids have gotten to spend more time together than ever before, and it's been really great for all of them. I know that will be the hardest aspect of Michael returning to work - for him and for the kids. Although we didn't enroll the kids in any summer activities, we have been doing plenty of park days, playing at the fountain, going for walks, and playing in the water outside here at home. Kevin is in high demand among his friends and has been spending quite a bit of time with them. He went on three separate sleepovers just this past week!

As for me, aside from taking care of the kids and the house and blogging, I've been reading more than I have in a long time. I've pretty much sworn off TV - it wasn't a conscious decision, I've just lost interest. So I've been making my way through about a book a week lately.

And that's about it.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

They say you never forget your first time . . .

. . . and I suspect that's true. Today was my first time. I know that's probably hard to believe, but it's true. Really, after all this time, I was thinking - hoping! - that it might never happen. I know what you're thinking: "How can today have been your first time with all those kids you have?" Let me assure you, the kids have nothing to do with it.

Anyway, so, yeah, today was my first time. The guy was actually very nice, very courteous . . . although I didn't get his name. But the whole thing was over pretty quickly, and it wasn't nearly as traumatic as I always imagined it would be. I always figured I would cry if and when it ever happened, because I tend to be a big, emotional crybaby like that. But no tears, no pleading on my part, we just got down to business, and then it was over and I was on my way.

Yes, I got my very first ticket today. A speeding ticket. For doing 41 mph in a 25 mph zone :( The truth is, I really didn't know the speed limit was only 25, although I realize ignorance is no excuse. I saw the motorcycle cop a second or two too late. While I honestly didn't know if I was speeding, I'm kind of in the habit of hitting my brakes and slowing down when I see a speed trap (doesn't everyone do that?), but it was too late, he got me. Right as I passed him, he pulled behind me, flashing his lights. Damn. I've been driving for 23 years, and this is my first ticket ever. And the worst part? I can no longer gloat to Michael that I've never gotten a ticket.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Look what Michael got me for our anniversary

Hilarious and practical :D The man makes me laugh, I'll say that for him.

Last night after all the little kids were in bed, we left Kevin in charge and went out for dessert and drinks . . . mmm!

Monday, July 20, 2009

8 Years

Today is our anniversary. Eight years of wedded bliss. Okay, truth be told, it hasn't all been bliss. In fact, the first couple years of being married was downright rough, what with Michael's adjustment from footloose and fancy free and my (probably unreasonable) expectations, having come out of a really bad marriage and not having any idea what a healthy relationship looked like, either from experience or observation. But we stuck it out and worked through it all, and eight years later, here we are: six kids, a mortgage, plenty of ups and downs and chaos. But it's perfect, our life together, with all the bumps and bruises.

A look back:

We got married on the beach. Here we are before the ceremony, stealing a kiss. I love this picture of us.

Making our way onto the beach.

Our friends made a big heart in the sand for us to stand in during the ceremony.

Everyone was barefoot, and the waves were literally lapping at our toes. It was sunset on a Friday evening, and we were surrounded by about 25 of our closest friends and family. The pastor who married us was the husband of a friend of mine.

Here we are, exchanging vows.

Michael also wrote and made vows to Kevin and gave him a medallion with three interlocking circles, representing the unity of the three of us.

We're a family now!

Michael and I spent our wedding night on this Chinese Junk, anchored in the harbor. It was very romantic and different.

The following day we had a big party to celebrate our new marriage. Here we are cutting our wedding cake.

(How sad that I look at this picture and think "Wow, I looked so thin and fabulous back then! Boy does it make me feel like crap now!")

The day after the party, we headed off on our honeymoon: a week spent on Maui and Kauai. It was paradise!

And here we are now (or recently, anyway), a little older and wiser, a little more careworn, but happier together than we've ever been.

Happy Anniversary, Michael. I love you.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Living on

It took us a long time to figure out who Lilah looks like in the family. She definitely looks like the twins' and Joey's sister, but she's always had a look all her own that the other kids don't share so much. It was only in the last year or so that I realized that she looks like my dad.

Lilah today, age 2 years 9 months.

I don't know exactly how old my dad is in these pictures, but I'm guessing 8 - 10 years old. There's a definite resemblance, especially in the eyes.

It's hard to find the words to articulate how this makes me feel. I don't believe in Heaven. I believe that we go on existing after death by living on in our children and in our children's children, and in our loved ones' hearts and memories. If this is true, then my dad lives on. He's been gone for 10 1/2 years, and I still miss him, so much sometimes that it can still bring an ache to my chest and tears to my eyes. But seeing him in Lilah's face makes me feel the connection, still.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Mommies and Daddies

My friend sent this essay to me recently: Be Careful What You Wish For. It hit home for me on a number of points.

I've always felt like Michael is the better parent between the two of us. He's infinitely more patient, and definitely more fun. And the kids usually seem to like him better than they like me, too (that's the thanks I get for all those hours of blood, sweat and tears they call labor and birth!). I'm the hardass, the "bad cop." I'm the one who yells all the time (which Michael likes to gently chastise me for . . .), I'm the one who, by the end of the day (hell, by lunch time) is ready to rip my hair out from all the whining, endless demands, and ungratefulness of these little . . . ahem . . . people.

I've always had a sneaking suspicion, however, that if placed in the position of having as much togetherness with the kids as I am privileged to have, he might come a little unhinged too. And this suspicion has turned out to be at least a little bit right, as proven by the last few weeks that Michael has been home. He's yelling more (which I gleefully bring to his attention - of course! Do you really think I'd pass up an opportunity like that??). He's exhibiting frustration at having to tell them the same damn thing 14 times before any kind of response is forthcoming. He's a little harried at being pulled in several directions at once with their demands. And me? I'm positively enjoying it. You might even say I'm gloating a bit. See, it ain't so easy, is it?! Still, he's got me here as his teammate, so he still hasn't reached the level of total immersion that I experience daily, and he won't reach that point because eventually he'll go back to work. I'll really miss him then ;)

Wednesday, July 15, 2009


My friend, Megan, sent me this article recently: Hair Pulling: My Hands Were My Enemies.

I've touched on Annabelle's hair-pulling propensity before, but I don't know if I've ever given the full background on it.

When she was still a baby, probably around 9 or 10 months old, she started pulling her eyelashes out. I would notice her doing it when I was nursing her. It freaked me out a little. However, after a while, it seemed like she had stopped doing it. Around that time, purely by chance, Michael and I came across a documentary on TV about a condition called Trichotillomania. I had never heard of it before and had no idea that there were people out there who had a compulsion to pull their hair out. I remember feeling scared, remembering Annabelle's recent eyelash-pulling phase, and relieved that she seemed to be past it. However, it was only a short time later that she began twirling her hair. It went hand-in-hand (and still does) with finger sucking: she sucks the two middle fingers of her left hand while twirling/pulling her hair with the index finger of her right hand. I know there was a period when she was a toddler when I did realize that she was not only twirling her hair, but also pulling it out. I brought it up to our pediatrician who assured me that it's a common habit among small children, and most of them eventually outgrow it. I frequently had to trim Annabelle's hair because she would twirl knots into it. This is why Annabelle's hair has always been so much shorter than Daisy's, or even Lilah's.

It's hard to say exactly when, but at some point during the last year, it became clear that Annabelle was pulling her hair out in earnest. I have heard the sickening sound of her ripping the hair out of her own scalp. I have seen the locks of pulled out hair in her bed and scattered on the floor. It's difficult to put into words the feelings this evokes in me, as her mother. Heartbreak. Frustration. Anger. Sadness. Helplessness. It's really a form of self-mutilation when you get right down to it. How is a parent supposed to feel knowing their child is engaging in such self-destructive behavior - and can't seem to help it?

I first tried that nasty-tasting stuff you buy to stop thumb sucking. I thought if I could break her of the finger-sucking, the hair-pulling would stop too. But she really didn't mind putting that stuff in her mouth. I began wrapping her fingers in tape quite a while ago in an attempt to break her of both the finger-sucking and the hair pulling. Kevin was a thumb sucker, and we were able to break him of that by keeping his thumb wrapped in a Band-aid for a few weeks. With Annabelle, though, it does only seem to be a "Band-aid" solution. The moment the tape comes off, the fingers go into her mouth and into her hair. If I stay on top of it and keep her fingers wrapped around the clock, her hair grows. And in fact, I didn't have to trim her hair for about 6 months just this year because I was keeping her fingers taped, she wasn't pulling, and her hair was growing out nicely.

With everything else going on lately, though, I've become lax about the tape. And one day recently when I was washing her hair, I discovered that she had gone on a hair-pulling frenzy and pulled half the hair out on one side of her head. I just wanted to cry - I think I did cry. How can my little girl be doing this to herself?? I don't have any answers.

I had to cut all of her hair very short just to even it all out:

She cried the entire time.

I know she still looks cute with her short, short hair, but that's really not the point. I am at a loss about this. I don't want her to grow up with this uncontrollable compulsion. I imagine that at some point we're going to have to get into some kind of behavioral therapy.

I just don't know if I can handle one more thing right now.


Things are not going so well. Michael is experiencing some complications that have set him back in his recovery, and are bringing his spirits down. It's been tough, to say the least. I think this whole thing has been more difficult even than the aftermath of Finn's birth. Our whole existence lately, it seems, revolves around Michael's state, and in the midst of that the kids are off on summer break and we're trying to keep things as pleasant and normal for them as possible. One day runs into the next; most days I have no idea what day it is, what with Michael being home all the time, until I look at my calendar to see what therapy or doctor appointments we might have.

Michael was supposed to begin chemo again this week, but because of the setbacks he's having, his oncologist has decided to delay it for now until some things get figured out and resolved.

I am trying to keep a positive outlook, but it's not always easy. My patience is wearing more thinly than normal, and tempers are flaring even between Michael and me on occasion.

The whole thing pretty much sucks.

Friday, July 10, 2009

The sex talk

That Joey. Here's a synopsis of the conversation he and I had last night:

Joey (hugging me): "So, do you think you'll ever have another baby?"
Me: " . . . Daddy??"
Michael: "No."
Me: "Probably not, Joey."
Joey: "Darn. We need another baby. So, do you really make a baby with Dad?"

Oh God. Here we go. Shit.

Me: "Ummm . . . yeah."
Joey: "How?"

Crap. I hate these conversations. I'm not a prude . . . at least I don't fancy myself one. But these talks are always so uncomfortable. Makes me positively squirmy.

Me: "You know, I have this book . . ."
Kevin: "No! Not the book! He's too young! That thing scarred me for life!"

(He's referring to Where Did I Come From, which I gave to Kevin when I was pregnant with Lilah, so he was 9+ then. He was horrified by it. Horrified.)

Me: "Umm, okay. Well, I'll tell you the same thing I told Kevin at your age then. When a mommy and a daddy love each other very much, they get as close as they can to each other, and sometimes a baby starts growing inside the mommy from that closeness."
Joey: "But how?!"
Me: "If you want to know more, go ask your father."

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Fun at the fountain

Finn's PT was canceled this morning, so we headed to the fountain to cool off instead :)

(Those are all mine except for the little boy in the beige shorts.)

Wednesday, July 8, 2009


A lot of people are wondering how Michael is doing. In all honesty, he's not crazy about my blogging about him, so it's a fine balance figuring out how to let people know how he's doing and document my side of things, while respecting his privacy.

It's been 3 weeks and 1 day since his surgery, and he's doing . . . okay. I won't say poorly, but I won't say great either. It's two steps forward and one step back, it seems. The frustrating part is that when a person goes in for that kind of major surgery (at least this was our experience), they paint a very text-book picture of what you should expect. They really don't tell you much about possible, or even likely, setbacks or complications. So it's slow going. I worry sometimes more about his mental state than his physical state because I think he's having a hard time being laid up, and there is just no way to know when he'll be back to 100%. And next week he starts back on chemo . . . sigh. It's difficult to imagine how he's going to be able to cope with that while still not being fully recovered from his surgery.

But, apparently, people do it. So we just have to think positively.

As for me . . . yeah. It's difficult and frustrating. And I often feel helpless and overtaxed. Tempers are running short around here.

We'll get through it, though, we will.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

A basket for my bike

Two years ago Michael got me a bike for my birthday. Although I did use it quite a bit for a while, usually going riding with Kevin, sadly, it's been put away in the garage for so long now that I had nearly forgotten about it. I was reunited with it recently, though, when I was out looking for something else in the garage.

I started thinking today how often I get in my truck to drive to the store, which is only a few blocks away, to pick up one or two things. And then I started thinking how cool it would be to ride my bike instead . . . if only I had a basket. So today I went to the bike store and bought a basket for my bike:

Cute, huh?

And then I started thinking how I could actually make this my getaway vehicle . . . I could throw a book in that basket, ride down to Starbucks and enjoy my morning coffee alone with a book. Mmmmm, sounds delicious.

Friday, July 3, 2009


The final part of my interview on Aberration Nation is posted, if anyone is interested:

Thursday, July 2, 2009


Seven years ago, this was us: Michael, me, and our brand new baby boy, Joey.

If memory serves, he came out screaming and crying and didn't stop for pretty much his first whole year. However, the pictures we have tell a different story. Look at that face! Such a sweet boy . . .

I get sentimental on my kids' birthdays. Their babyhoods and childhoods just seem to be zipping by so quickly. I was going through some of Joey's baby pics today, looking for a few to post here, and I came across this one of his Grandma Peggy (Michael's mom) holding a sleeping Joey. I love this picture. She only got to see him a few times before she passed away a little over three years ago. I wish she could have known our kids.

So today that baby boy turned 7 years old. He's quite a kid: quirky, smarter than probably all of the rest of us in the family, adoring brother.

This morning he crawled into bed with us and snuggled up to me, and he was all arms and legs and elbows and knees. That baby softness and pudge is gone. He's a boy now. He hasn't called me "Mommy" in a year - like Kevin, he decided when he turned 6 that he was too old to call us Mommy and Daddy anymore. But I know a couple years from now I will look at pictures of him now and think "Gosh, he was such a baby . . ."
Happy Birthday, my boy. I love you with all of my heart.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009


Last night we ended up in the ER. Michael and I, that is (and Finn came along for the ride). Michael had a post-surgery setback. We were there until 2:00 a.m. On the upside, Alycia, our babysitter, has shown once again what a godsend she is. I called her a little before 11 p.m., knowing we had to go to the ER and not knowing what to do about a houseful of sleeping kids. She didn’t answer her phone, and I didn’t leave a message, but she must have checked her phone and saw that I had tried to call, because just a few minutes later, after I had awakened Kevin and told him that I had to take Dad to the ER and he was going to have to be in charge, Alycia called. No questions asked, she just said, “Do you need me? I’ll be right there.” I still cry when I think about it, how she just knows, and how she’s just there for us.

So we made the anxiety-filled drive to the ER, with Michael doubled over and moaning in pain, and we got there and it was standing room only. It was a freaking nightmare. First you have to wait your turn to fill out intake paperwork, then you have to wait your turn to be triaged, then you have to wait your turn to be seen. It was insane. We were told that there were some people there who had already been waiting for 3 hours. I made a stink and told then there was no way Michael could wait 3, or even 2, or even 1 hour to be seen. They ended up putting him in front of a lot of other people (sorry!), but we still ended up being there for close to 3 hours.

I feel so frustrated and discouraged. I think Michael and I both foolishly thought that by this time – 2+ weeks after surgery – he would be much more recuperated than he is. It’s been very difficult. I feel spread so thinly, and it feels like everyone in our house is being cheated in some way. Kevin has been helping out so much, and I feel bad about that. I feel bad that I haven’t done any fun summer activities with the kids, that so far, our summer has consisted of doctor appointments for Michael and therapy appointments for Finn. I’m finding myself asking for more and more help from Michael, which makes me feel bad too. Tomorrow is Joey’s birthday, and next week is Finn’s birthday, and I don’t have any plan for either, and I just feel like shit about it.

Is life ever going to be normal again?