Saturday, December 31, 2005

Snowy barn park. Posted by Picasa

I'm so glad they get to grow up here. Posted by Picasa

We found some snow. Posted by Picasa

Why are kids fascinated with eating snow??? Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Granddaughter Ella

I have good days and bad. I cried myself to sleep last night. That started a bad period for me that I'm currently in. I know this is all a part of the process, but I'm really looking forward to the "moving on" stage, although I'll feel guilty when I reach it.

I haven't wanted to post much lately because I don't want to write about the sadness over and over. It's nothing I'll likely want to read about later. I know it can be healing, but I really don't have the energy.

Today, however, I found this photo and wanted to explain it before I forget. The day after my mom's memorial service, my dad told me to go check in my parent's room to see what Ella was up to. I grabbed the camera and this is what I found. She was sitting on the side of the bed that my mom was on for the last year. Her back to the door, she was busily cutting out pictures she had drawn for "'Opa" (what she calls my dad - German for grandpa). She would then tape them to the wall on his side of the bed so that he wouldn't be lonely.

She drew him a few "Oma" angels, as she calls them. I got one yesterday. She must have known I needed one. Posted by Picasa

Friday, December 23, 2005

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Monday, December 19, 2005

One last gift to her

This Christmas I planned on giving my mother a letter expressing my deep love and respect for her. At 78, she did not have a large need for material gifts. Words on paper seemed to be more appropriate for both of us. I’ve always written deep feelings in the cards I’ve given her over the years.

This is the letter I would've given to her on Christmas...I chose to read it to her instead at her memorial service.

Dear Mom,

I want to give you the gift of gratitude this Christmas. This letter will be an attempt to show you how much I appreciate you.

You are such a positive role model to me – as a mother, a wife and a woman. I’d like to share some memories with you that are examples of the qualities I most admire in you.

As a child, I remember your willingness and drive to expose Mark and me to all types of experiences. When we first moved to Minnesota, you made sure we had ice skating lessons. This was the beginning of many activities that you encouraged; dance, gymnastics, Indian Princesses, Camp Fire Girls, softball, tennis, golf, art classes, swimming lessons, clarinet lessons, skiing and so on. We were taken to the Children’s Theater, Theater in the Round and various museums throughout our youth. To this day, I have been shaped by the multitude of experiences I had as a child.

I am an extremely sentimental person and I truly believe it is because of the exposure we had to your parents and relatives and their German heritage. Instilled in me is a pride in a background that I’ve never really lived in. Your reverence for family heritage spilled over onto me. This is probably why I have so much of your parent’s furniture in my home and keep most of the drawings my children make each day. I love being surrounded by items that have deep meaning.

As I became a student, I always knew how important education was to you. Our weekly trips to the library, when I was in elementary school, are etched in my mind. Remember your rule? We were only allowed to check out as many books as we could carry. You would also check out some books – mysteries were usually your favorite. After we would get home from the library, I would run in my room and dive into some of my books right away. You usually waited till nightfall. I have vivid memories of you sitting in bed reading. Television viewing was restricted to an hour a day for many years so that homework and reading were kept in the forefront. Reading was an integral part of our life.

You instilled in me a will to want to be successful. Giving my all to my school work and music were expected. I used to resent the thirty minutes you required me to practice my clarinet daily, but I wanted the reward. Private lessons would be dropped if I didn’t fulfill this expectation. Now as a parent, I can only hope that my children will discipline themselves for a reward that isn’t electronic or filled with sugar. You gave me the greatest gift – the drive to do my best at any task or in any situation.

As the figurative head of our household, your strength was something I never questioned. I have always seen you as independent and determined with many educational and career accomplishments. It was understood that I would go to college, get a career and maybe – somewhere along the way – get married. Looking for a husband and becoming a mother were never priorities to me and I believe that is because of you. Fulfilling my own goals first was your unspoken mantra. You were single longer than most in your era, but you never settled for just anyone. You taught me that marriage wasn’t a goal. It was merely something that occurred along the way. I remember you telling me once or twice that you had plenty of proposals over the years, but you were waiting for the right man at the right time. I can’t imagine how hard that must have been back in the fifties. I have always been so proud of you for this.

Your loyalty to me is another asset that I deeply appreciate. Through all the struggles I’ve been through, you and Dad have stood by me. Each mistake I made was met with your frustration, but also with a steadfast love behind it. My strongest memory of this was when I divorced. I opened up to you with details that were so painful and yet you accepted me with open arms. As I struggled with my own self esteem and acceptance, you guided me through the healing. I can even remember when you directed me to church to get a cassette of one of Arthur’s sermons on “grace”. You knew what I needed to hear. You’ve stuck with me through ups and downs and never once have I doubted that you would not support my decisions 100%. You always present your opinion, but if I decide to go in a different direction, you stop expressing your thoughts and just encourage me through the journey.

Another trait you passed down to me was a respect for money. Your bookkeeping skills are phenomenal. I love telling my friends that you can account for every dime you have spent. If I want to know how much you spent on the kids for Christmas last year, I know you’ll tell me to go get your books – you’ll look it up. Unfortunately, I didn’t inherit your sense of organization and attention to detail. I don’t keep meticulous records, and my house and desk are a nightmare most of the time, but I do try to incorporate your values in this area into my life whenever I can. Just ask Chris, I often have a hard time opening my wallet.

Even though you appreciate the value of a dollar, the dichotomy of this is that you taught me how important it is to surround yourself with things of high quality. My earliest memory of this was shoes. You always insisted that we have good shoes – we weren’t allowed to buy any from a discount store. Our house was always decorated with the help of interior designers and you always dressed with attention to detail. When I was in eighth grade, my friend and I went downtown a few times on the city bus to bum around and buy chocolate stars at Woolworth’s. I distinctly remember that you insisted that I dress up for these trips. This made going downtown on the bus an event, not just an outing. You are the person who taught me how important it is to dress for success. I’ve always been proud of your great sense of style and taste.

These last seven years introduced me to a different side of you. Watching you fight cancer with such a positive attitude is so inspiring. Through the hair loss, intense fatigue and weekly chemo appointments, you never complain. It’s just a fact of life. Something you need to do – almost like a daily chore. You never allow anyone to dwell on the negatives associated with this illness. I quote you all the time to my students, “What you focus on is what you get.” Even though you’re in bed, you continue to be optimistic. (She would always say that she was in perfect health except for the cancer. “I don’t have any heart problems or arthritis, etc. I feel like I’m just sick – a little under the weather – not suffering from cancer.” This attitude continued till the end. In her diary, on the day before Thanksgiving just three weeks ago, she wrote, “Working on my thymus exercises (positive imagery meditations) 3 times a day and am feeling better – the cancer must be erased.”)

One of the greatest attributes I love about you, though, is your non-judgmental attitude. You are interested in people first, not their skin color, religion, sexual orientation or class. It took me until I was in my twenties to really realize this. Remember when I rented a room with that marketing Vice President in Uptown? She was very eccentric with lots of different ideas. You embraced that. I couldn’t believe it when I told you that she read Tarot cards and you wanted her to read your cards. I was nervous because of the diversity of her friends. I didn’t want you to be uncomfortable. You laughed out loud, after I gingerly told you that most of the men who would be at our house were homosexuals. “Why would I care?” you said. I doubt you ever realized how eye opening that moment was for me.

Finally, I need you to know that it has been an honor to be your daughter these past forty one years. You are an amazing woman. Your integrity, intelligence, loyalty and elegant grace exude from you. I was so lucky to be born into this home.

I love you more each day, Carol

Saturday, December 17, 2005

One more day

I've never had a more hectic week, nor more painful. Thank you to everyone who wrote such meaningful comments since this all began. I appreciate them all.

Today is her Memorial Service. No body, just family and friends gathering in a chapel room at her favorite church. There will be a roaring fire, a wreath over the fireplace and lots and lots of pointsettias. I will speak along with a few others.

I can barely remember the last funeral I attended. I hope we can memorialize with her spirit in mind.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

My mom (on the right) with her best friend from high school and college. I think she's about 20. Posted by Picasa

The end.

Nurse #2 woke me at 5:00 AM to tell me that my mom had just died. I was with her till about 1:00 AM when she finally settled down and seemed to be somewhat comfortable. Even as I write this I am still shocked. This all happened too fast.

I've had so much time to prepare, but I'm not.

Monday, December 12, 2005

The beginning of the end - Part 2

I don't know where to begin.

My mother has deteriorated dramatically. She is very jaundiced, her eyelids are dark, she slips in and out of sleep, she throws up bile every few hours and she had her first "restless" episode. That's medical-ease for delusional talk. Around 11:30 PM last night she asked me to tell the person she was on the phone with that she couldn't talk anymore. She wasn't on the phone.

Hospice is now in place. A hospital bed is in our living room. A commode was delivered. At 3:00 PM today, Don came - our first nurse for round-the-clock care. The social worker helped us talk through funeral plans. The case worker told us she will probably die this week. Needless to say, I won't be going home at 5:36 tonight. My husband and kids will come on Saturday. My mom's sister is coming from Florida tomorrow night.

She is very uncomfortable. My brother is numb. My dad is angry (feels it should be him). And I'm just sad. Really, really sad.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

The beginning of the end.

I’ve been awake since 4:30 AM. The thoughts racing through my head are awful. I don’t wish them on anyone. Around my neck is a necklace carved from bone in the shape of an edelweiss flower. My German-immigrant grandfather gave it to my mother in 1955. On his own, he went to a jewelry store in Chicago and picked it out for his daughter. She gave it to me this summer along with that story. This is the first time I’ve worn it. I stumbled upon it this morning. I don't even know what I was looking for, but the minute I saw it I knew I wanted to wear it today.

I’m on an airplane. Nothing I expected to be doing this morning as I went through my day yesterday. In fact, I’m supposed to be at work right now. It’s 9:20 AM. Parents and prospective students will be walking through our doors in 40 minutes for our Saturday recruitement event and I will not be there to welcome them. Instead, I’m going to Minnesota to be with my mom. Did you know the going rate for a flight from Salt Lake to Minneapolis eleven hours in advance is $1,168! Thank God my mother gave me her password last month. I have stolen her last World Perks miles. Unfortunately, she won’t need them. Yesterday her oncologist told her that she would be dying this month.

The men in my life all knew. My husband and my brother are sad, but not surprised. Chris, I believe, feels that her body is just too ravaged by the six years of chemo. He’s not happy about it, but has a better acceptance of its fallibility. My brother sees her more often and started accepting the inevitable in the last week or so as her normally sharp math skills, and memory, have started to fail. She asked him the other day to take over her checkbook. I could probably write volumes on my mother’s bookkeeping skills. Suffice it to say that her inability to no longer calculate the accrued interest on my loan from her is hard to believe. My father just knew. He watched both of his parents die from cancer so maybe he senses the timing in situations like this.

The two of us women left over were fairly clueless. My mother went to her doctor appointment yesterday afternoon following the same routine she has for the six years since she started weekly chemotherapy. She would bathe, put on makeup, put on her wig, get dressed and grab her purse. The last two appointments, or so, my dad has had to help her walk to the garage. Her weakness has gotten worse and she can’t rely on the walls to keep her balanced anymore. As she was getting in the car yesterday, she panicked for a second, “Glenn, my calendar…my purse. I left them by the bed.” My dad knew exactly what she meant. She carries a little pocket calendar in her purse to record all of her doctor appointments. In fact, just three weeks ago, I bought her a new one. She wanted the two-year model, 2006-2007. Neither my mom, nor I, balked at her request. I didn’t even think about it until this very moment. (Ok, now I’m crying in public.) He brought her the purse already knowing that she wouldn’t be scheduling anymore appointments and drove her to the doctor. My father tells me that the conversation was very frank. The doctor said that there is no available treatment option left that would make any sense. Her blood test results indicate that the liver tumor is growing rapidly. He went on to say that her life expectancy was very short. Weeks…maybe four. He described the coming symptoms. It will be fairly painless. Since her body can no longer filter things through her liver properly, her body will fill with toxins and then she will slip into a coma and die. According to him, it is a pretty good way to die. He said that. (I guess I can’t be too upset with his candor. There are not a lot of easy ways to tell someone they are dying.) I asked my dad how my mother handled it. He said that she was surprised. Like me, she was expecting another option. This doctor has given us options for over seven years. At this point she just said, “Well, that’s that.”

I found out during my commute from work. I had a hair appointment scheduled last night so I decided to call before I went in. My Dad answered the phone. Up until last week, my mother answered the phone EVERY time it rang. Now she answers every third call or so. He recounted the doctor visit and then said that some people from Hospice services were coming this morning to talk to my parents. He then wanted to talk through the funeral. In detail. I was on a busy freeway in Salt Lake City (home of the worst drivers on this planet) sobbing. He wanted help and advice on who should be at the wake, etc. It was almost surreal. I cut him off when I reached the salon and told him I’d call in the morning. He suggested after the hospice meeting. Little does he know that we will be able to talk it all through in person.

After talking through every emotion I was having, for over two and a half hours (cut and highlights!) with my hair stylist, I felt better. I think if I had had to go directly home after I had received the news, it would have been harder. I needed time to regroup and grieve. By the time I got home, I was better able to focus on my kids and help get them to bed. Around 9:00 PM, I decided that I needed to see my mom right away. It’s amazing how skewed your thinking can get in situations like this. I had been very concerned about my responsibilities at work. I had to be reminded that it really doesn’t matter. If I were in Chris’ shoes, I probably would have said the same things to me that he did, but I’m not. I’m in my shoes. I’m the one who has to face the consequences of missing more work.

Thankfully I listened. In the scheme of things, family is ALL that really matters. My brother and I will both spend the afternoon with my parents today. No spouses, no grandchildren – just the four of us.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005


So my mom went in for her procedure today. Attempt number four. Spoke to my dad tonight. After all the waiting and hoping, it was a bust. The gastric doctor wasn't able to get a stint into her liver bile duct. Apparently the mass that blocks it is too large. She told my father that it is probably a "large" cancerous tumor.

We are back to square one. My mother will have to consult with her oncologist, but my father believes the writing is on the wall. When this blockage was first detected, the doctor said that if her blockage wasn't corrected - her life expectency would be short. I have no idea what "short" means, but probably weeks.

Last night, my mom and I got in a fight. Just like the old days. She heard my kids in the background and I said something about them being "out of control". She quickly told me that I say that many times a week. She went into a lecture, of sorts, telling me that I need to take control of my out of control children. She reminded me that she hadn't parented like that, etc. It was awful. I became defensive, child-like and started crying. I was so mad at her, but so guilt-ridden at the same time.

How are you supposed to act with a mother dying of cancer? What's the protocol when their illness is in its final stages? Hell, I've never even been around anyone close to death, let alone know how to handle it.

I want to plan for the holidays, but how can I? I need to calm down and take this one day at a time. Until she meets with the doctor, I will continue to have hope.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

The latest

The view from our car, on our way home, the other day. Winter is here.

My mother is still waiting for the blockage/tumor, in her bile duct, to be fixed. She was set to have a stint put in over a week ago, but they discovered at the last minute that her blood was dangerously thin and they couldn't go forward. It was rescheduled for yesterday. Her levels were checked on Thursday and everything was fine. So, for the second time in a week, she fasted for the day and then went to the hospital thinking she was going to have a tube inserted down her throat all the way to her liver. Mentally, this was taking its toll. She easily gags normally, and lately she's been losing her swallowing reflex, so she was nervous about this to say the least. Also, for the second time, she was in the gown - on the table - ready to go when a problem was found. Her potassium levels were low. This comes as no surprise to me and Dad. She hasn't been taking her potassium pills. She hates them. They are large and she can't swallow them without chopping them up. One of the reasons that I call her daily is to check on this. Sometimes it works - sometimes it doesn't. Obviously it wasn't working well enough. I feel like I've caught one of my students cheating. She's been nailed and her punishment was pretty harsh. They started her on a potassium IV infusion and checked her into the hospital for the night. She got home this afternoon, exhausted and wiser, with her procedure re-scheduled for Monday.

She's had a severe stomach since yesterday. I'm afraid that the blockage is really starting to affect her digestive system. The doctor has informed her that they may not be able to put a stint in after all. They don't know if the blockage is actually a tumor, but they assume so. If they can't open the duct, she will have to wear a bag on the outside of her body for the rest of her life. Once her liver is functioning properly, she can go back on chemo. She's been off for about 7 weeks now. That is too long.

Understandably, my father is tired and dejected. This is my mother's third or fourth stay in a hospital this year. From his perspective, things are just getting worse every day. His recovery is going well, but he still can't drive. - not until Dec. 8th (6 weeks post surgery). I have a sense that he's having trouble staying hopeful. He's where I was last week. This week, I feel better. More positive and confident with modern medicine. I just want her to get back on chemo.

A typical Saturday

Posted by Picasa
 Posted by Picasa
Usually we have large plans for our weekends. We have errands to run, projects around the house, cleaning, laundry, and usually we'll try to throw in at least one fun family activity. This weekend, however, is quickly turning into a total bust.

Not one thing around the house has been done, not one Christmas gift was bought today and the laundry chute is still full of dirty clothes.

Because I knew that we wouldn't be going on a lot of fun, creative outings, I was feeling guilty. The kids, sensing my weakness, begged to do some painting. We have painted in this house ONE time. It was outside, last October. The kids sat on the driveway with their pumpkins and some paint. I walked away for about three minutes. When I returned, they were both naked and their pumpkins and bodies were full of paint. It was extremely hilarious, but it taught me a good lesson. NEVER leave your children unsupervised with paint.

Now, I certainly have my moments as a parent. I have never claimed to be good at this job. I TOTALLY fly by the seat of my pants. However, I do try to keep my repeat mistakes to a minimum - until today - when I gave in to their unison chants of request for a painting project. I cleared the dining room table. Put down newspaper. Got out three brushes. Four paint colors. Cups for paint. Paper. Then I laid out the rules. Don't mix colors. Share the brushes. Keep the paint on the paper. And most importantly - keep your clothes on.

Things went really well for about 15 minutes. I was even able to hold a phone conversation, but I certainly got distracted at this point. The kids lost interest fairly quickly and I cleaned up most of the paint cups, etc. About thirty minutes later, I realized that Harrison had been in the bathroom for too long.

I think the pictures tell the rest of the story pretty well.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Harry's Christmas Spirit

Harry grabbed my camera a few weeks ago and took this picture. Note the refrigerator and the empty magnet container.

Like all of us, Harrison likes other people’s things over his own. When he was really little, we discovered that we could take him to the train table at Barnes and Noble for hours on a cold Wisconsin evening. He loved it. For his second Christmas, we ran out and bought him his very own Brio starter set with the cool Pottery Barn train table. He liked it, but never as much as the one at the Hannah Andersson store or the bookstore. I can’t blame him. The ones at the store are always glued into the perfect configuration with the Round House and every wonderful extra imaginable.

In our neighborhood, Harrison is lucky to have four 5-year-old playmates within two blocks. Each of these playmates have MUCH cooler toys than we do. Then the inevitable started. Slowly at first. Harrison would express interest in a neighbor’s truck or dinosaur and it would be at our house for a visit. These visits lasted from a day to a week. Sometimes the toy would get to visit for a month, although these were usually only the loud toys.

One day a large white stuffed animal entered our home creatively named “Baby Seal”. Cute, yes, but LARGE and WHITE don’t really mix with our SMALL and DIRTY home. For about two months Baby Seal has been Harrison’s best friend. His original owner never really grew attached to Baby Seal and has willingly let him visit indefinitely. In fact his owner offered to give Baby Seal to Harry, but after careful consideration we decided that Baby Seal's aura would not be the same if Harry adopted him. It was much more special thinking that he was on loan. So the magic continues. Baby Seal goes everywhere with him. For the last six weeks or so, each Friday, for Sharing Time (a.k.a. Show and Tell) he “shares” Baby Seal. EVERY Friday. From what I can gather, he gets up in front of his classmates and just shows it to them. No dialogue. No seal facts. I think he thinks it’s just wonderful enough to carry itself without a lot of annoying verbal distractions. Baby Seal sleeps with him, goes on errands with us, and travels “home” every week or so for a time out. Yep, if Harrison gets in really big trouble, the worst punishment in the world is to send Baby Seal home for a time out.

There are definite benefits to having this large, cumbersome animal - with a large, cumbersome flipper that knocks off all the refrigerator magnets at least once a day – he cleans. His long fur is very conducive to picking up the dust on our hardwood floors. He is now a shade of grayish white. The only thing I can compare it to would be the color snow becomes, in mid-March, on the side of the road in Minnesota.

Tonight, while making dinner, I tried to distract the kids (as they were starting to get a bit stir crazy and wild) by asking them some questions.

Me: “What should we get Mr. P (Harry’s teacher) for Christmas?”

Harrison: “I know, I know!!! Baby Seal. Mr. P. LOVES Baby Seal.”

I was swelling with pride. My son was showing a completely unselfish and giving side of his personality. He was willing to give his most prized possession (well…it’s really Emma’s, but who’s keeping track) to his favorite teacher.

Me: “Oh honey, that’s so kind of you. Do you really think you want to give up Baby Seal?”

Harrison: “No, Mom. We have to get another one.”

It was nice while it lasted.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Where did you come from?

When I grow up I want to be a genetics counselor. The field of genetics fascinates me - I’ve even taken some classes. On a field trip to Myriad Genetics last spring, I think I was the only one (besides our school’s biotechnology instructor) who listened the whole time. I have so much to learn, however. Two people. Similar genes and DNA, yet very different. She likes pink, outfits that match from head to toe and babies - real or toy. She likes to organize things and put things in bags or piles. I like charcoal gray, separates and teenagers. I am not organized and usually survive in messes and chaos. Ella is a girly girl. I’ve expounded on this in the past, but she just continues to surprise me with wonderful anecdotes that I really should record more often. Her femininity just oozes out of her. I am her opposite. I care about my appearance, but have never worried about the details. Our differences, though, are intriguing to me and I am finding a whole new world to discover through her.

Yesterday our family all went into an outlet store to find some ski pants for Harrison. As I rummaged through the boy’s section for outerwear, Ella found the girl’s clothes section fairly quickly. She started slowly by picking out a black velour beret. Then she found a leopard print skirt and a coordinating black velour top with leopard print collar and cuffs within seconds. She was a woman on a mission. Suddenly I fell victim to her pursuit. She needed black shoes. There were none in her size. We quickly got rid of Harry and Chris and ran over to our favorite shoe store. In minutes we were purchasing tall black boots. She was absolutely giddy. She wanted to run back to the van and try on her new outfit. If it hadn’t been 25 degrees out, I probably would’ve let her. I think it was one of the first times that I had ever purchased an entire outfit from head to toe. I felt a connection to her. I got it. We were both beaming about her finds for quite awhile.

Ella is such a blast. I love her individuality and sense of style. I love that she wants to wear her shoes on the wrong feet “just because.” I think its fun that she likes to wear hats. At age three and a half, she is such a little person. Grasping my hand, she will go almost anywhere with me. I’ve never met anyone more excited about trips to the grocery store. She will grab a hat, the perfect shoes and then she’s ready to go. I can always rely on her ability to make simple errands much more fun.

I’m so blessed to have her in my life.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Mixed emotions

It’s taken me this entire four-day weekend to finally get to a point where I feel a desire to write about how I've been feeling lately. When everything going on seems to be negative, I don't want to focus on it.

It’s our busiest time of the year at school and missing 12 of the last 18 days (flu and my trip to Minnesota) has really made things difficult. I try to only work a solid eight hours, but that’s really impossible. I’m so behind I could stay for twice that, but I cannot give much more. My entire being is wrapped up in caring for my family and my parents. Each evening I call my parents to help with anything they may need. I try to cover the basics. It’s as if I’ve never left. I’m still monitoring my parent’s health. There are so many things to check - calls to doctors, appointments to track, medication and rehab to monitor. I’ve heard that I’m a member of the sandwich generation. Taking care of my kids and my parents. It’s true. My parents are slowly, but surely, letting me take control of many of the details in their life. Unfortunately, this role I’ve been dealt is sucking me dry. Before this weekend I was feeling extremely burned out. I’ve had a good break, though, and am feeling much more refreshed.

Thanksgiving with friends, leaves raked before the snow fell, time to do laundry and clean, time to play with my kids, lots of take out and dinners out – these things make for a perfect weekend. The kids even sense a more relaxed air in the house. They managed to keep their bickering to a minimum.

I wonder how much we would get done if Mom didn’t have cancer, if Dad hadn’t just had surgery, if Chris’ job was so demanding or if I didn’t work at all. I might even have time to make turkeys.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Look at the goodies I found in Harrison's backpack tonight! I guess he got to dress up for their Thanksgiving feast at school today. Main dishes: marshmallows and pumpkin shaped Jello. That's all he can remember. Posted by Picasa

Christmas berries

(I just had to get the penis post down!) Posted by Picasa

Friday, November 18, 2005

Getting down to basics

Harrison to Chris: Boys have short hair and penis'. Girls have long hair and no penis'. Posted by Picasa

Thursday, November 17, 2005

More bad news

I’m lying on my couch, for the second day in a row, suffering from the stomach flu. I think the emotional strain of my stay with my parents has taken its toll.

I’ve had an especially hard time this week after hearing the results of my mother’s CAT scan. They found a tumor that is blocking a tube leading from her liver…I don’t know much, but what I have extracted from my mom is that it is blocking the bile process. It’s a pretty big deal. Her doctor gave her two choices: 1) go see a “gastro” doctor - get a stint that will open the blockage and then continue with chemo or 2) let nature take its course (she would only probably live for about six weeks.) Again, I was completely taken aback. Shocked is an understatement. I still find it hard to believe that she is so sick. She said she needed to sleep on the information before she decided. She told me that she did not have any strong feelings one way or another.

I spoke with her on Tuesday and she decided to call the gastro guy because “…I might not make it till Christmas if I don’t.” Fortunately on Tuesday night she found the strength to call Sid – her mentor in positive thinking/imagery/healing methods – and after their conversation she says she feels better. She’s willing to fight, or as she put it, “…I’m not ready to give up.”

I feel like I’m on a roller coaster. I prepare for the worst and then things get better. I’m not in denial, though. I know that a tumor on her liver is extremely dire, but I’m just glad that she has hope. The last thing I want for her is fear or depression.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

I'm home...finally.

It was so hard to leave, yet so hard to stay another day.

Mom told me that she would be fine and that I wasn't to worry.

I had a hard time sleeping last night. I kept seeing their faces every time I closed my eyes.

The kids surprised me by meeting me at baggage claim. It was so wonderful. Two little ones clinging around my knees. My husband's kisses seemed much sweeter.

We spent the day together doing lots of nothing. Fantastic, yet awful. I'm not sure how to feel happiness when so much sadness is back in Minnesota. Posted by Picasa

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Just when I let my guard down

Took Mom to her oncologist's office this afternoon for an appointment to review her blood work from last week and then get treatment afterwards. They decided to skip her chemo last week due to not having some important results. Since my mom has been so fatigued, they decided to give her body an extra week of rest.

I tried to talk to her on the way to the doctor, but she would not talk. I am pretty good at talking about difficult subjects, but this was different. She wasn't budging and actually got irritated with me for probing. As we waited for the N.P. to come into her exam room, her irritation got stronger. She was really upset to be waiting. I tried to keep up the banter, but she wanted none of it.

Then the news came and it was not good. Her blood work showed some liver distress or malfunction. It also showed problems with her kidney and her cancer tumor marker went up - not significantly, though. It was definitely a strike out.

Cat scan tomorrow. Results on Monday. It could be her chemo or it could be the cancer. Neither answer is better than the other.

I made pot roast tonight. I even made gravy. She seemed to like it. I held her hand after dinner for a little while and she let me.

The rain cloud that just won't leave

It’s hard to write about things going on here as they are tragic and boring all at the same time.

If I stop thinking, I actually get bored – or content – with the day-to-day routine my parents and I have established. My dad has made strides, but is still a bit shaky and fatigued. I really hope that he is much better by Saturday. Mom is the same. She skipped chemo last week and it hasn’t made much of a difference in her energy level. We will find out today if the chemo is working. If it isn’t, we don’t think there is any more chemo for her at this time.

My brother and his three kids are coming for dinner and another family meeting. I am tempted to have a serious heart to heart with Mom before that. No one has talked with her about her deep thoughts. Dad doesn’t want to upset her and I hadn’t considered that things were really that bad until now.

I was watching something the other day that had to do with cancer or illness. I was overwhelmed with sadness. I mean the wave hit me and I just started crying. Out of the blue. The dark cloud over my parents’ house is HUGE. It just emanates through every conversation, meal and routine. Everything in the house is the same, but everything is SO different.

I get to leave. I will call daily and continue to try and support my parents in every way I can, but I will be far away. My dad has to stay. He never gets a break. I feel really bad for him.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Day Nine

My dad and my nephew on Dad's first night home from the hospital.

I think I’ve hit the wall. I didn’t make her walk to the kitchen table for breakfast. I didn’t feel up to the fight. I also didn’t “make” her take her potassium pill last night. Again – I didn’t feel up to the fight. I have to cut her pills up so she can swallow them. She has a lot of trouble swallowing. Can you imagine gagging on eight tiny pieces of bitter pill after you’ve already struggled to get your meal down? Dad and I have been conspiring about how to crush them up and put them in her meals. She won’t consider it – says she can taste the graininess. We’re thinking we will have to be very sneaky about it.

Took Dad for a blood test yesterday and had to come clean. I broke the rear view mirror off the Olds Saturday night. I was so nervous about telling them that I waited till yesterday morning. I figured that if I told them right when they could call the dealership and insurance, it wouldn’t be so painful. (Yes, I am still afraid of them yelling at me at age 41.) They were amazingly understanding. I think the surgery has been a great thing for my dad. I don’t like that he had to go through such a dramatic procedure, but he seems much more cognizant of the bigger picture AND my mother’s situation. He now knows how it feels not to be hungry. He knows how it feels to have people poking you in every available vein all the time. He’s more interested in healthy eating and getting exercise. He wants to maintain his quality of life. He never wants to be bedridden.

I’ve started knitting. When I was in grade school, I asked my Oma (German for Grandma) to teach me to knit. I tried and tried, but never caught on. I had her show me in junior high and high school. Nothing. I just couldn’t get it. Since then, I’ve asked my mom a few times and even my mother-in-law. When Harrison was born, I had a Martha Stewart Baby Magazine that had a beautiful “easy-to-make” knit blanket. I bought needles and yarn, pulled out the instructions and began. I managed to cast on one row and that’s about it. I carried the yarn all the way to Utah and it’s been sitting in my basement for over a year. For some reason, I threw three skeins of yarn into my suitcase and the needles – one still had that row of yarn cast onto it. I showed it to my mom and she taught me AGAIN how to knit. For some reason it really clicked this time. I understand how to do it and I want to do it. I thought I would ditch the baby blanket idea (for obvious reasons) and make a scarf. Mom told me that it would be a very wide scarf, though, so now it is going to be a baby doll blanket for Ella. My question, though, is how to do old ladies do it? Knitting really makes my knuckles sore. I must be doing it wrong.

I think we have found some pajamas for my mom. Land’s End. They have petite sizes. She is very picky. They have to be long sleeved, but cannot be too long. They have to be long pants, but not too long. She wants a crew neck, but it can’t be too wide. The package is scheduled to arrive tomorrow. I hope they work. This may be the last straw for me. If I have one more pair of pajamas shot down by her specificities, I think I may explode. That would not be good. My mom has to control things she can control - the size of her dinner plate, the temperature of her water, the sleeve length of her pajamas. I just need to take more deep breaths.
This trip has taught me a lot. I have a better understanding of my mother’s situation. I truly think she is dying. She doesn’t think so, but I need to be prepared. My dad and I have talked about the future more than we’ve ever done before. I have been forced to think about all of these difficult things that I’ve never wanted to think about. Most of all, I appreciate what I have. I miss my “other” family very much. The kids are fine, but I’m not. I need them in my life. I need Chris.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Each day is a little better

I’m pretty emotionally drained which tires me out, and takes any incentive to write or exercise or do anything, right out of me. Things are relatively better, though. My father is home. He checked out of the hospital before dinner on Thursday night. His adjustment to home has been good. He can get around amazingly well, but was really irritable for about 24 hours. Taking care of two of them is very similar to taking care of my two children. My mom even yells for me from her bed for her morning glass of juice. (Just like Harrison or Ella yell for their first glass of milk.) Yesterday morning my mother had to tell me that she had an accident. In bed. (Just like my Ella who isn’t quite potty trained in her sleep.) I didn’t even flinch. I just got her out of bed and stripped the sheets. I put down a towel, covered her back up and started the laundry.

And so the days go by. Breakfast, Dad’s walks, errands for them (still searching for a pajama set that is small enough for my mom’s increasingly smaller frame), lunch (my mom’s biggest meal), laundry, organizing closets, and dinner. It’s hard to keep track of all the medications and appointments, but my dad will set up a spread sheet in no time, I’m sure. To say he’s analytical and thorough are understatements.

My brother showed up last night for a family meeting. After meeting with the oncologist, and talking seriously with my dad, we have to start planning for all scenarios. After about an hour and a half, we realized that there are no easy answers. They want to go to Florida, but we worry that Mom is too weak to fly. She promised to start eating more to gain strength and to stop sabotaging her recovery (she doesn’t do her physical therapy or take all of her meds consistently.)

I have this increasing awareness that my presence makes a difference. My mother responds to me better than my father or brother. I’m very torn. I feel I should be here for her all the time, but can’t just leave my family. I want her to come and live with me, but we don’t have the room. I called Chris last night and told him we need to add on to the house. That went over well.

We need to take this one day at a time. My dad will become stronger every day. They have asked me to stay another week. I will be away from my husband and children about 14 days, but I know that my absence is necessary. Harry and Ella are being cared for. Chris has been amazing. He never complains and continually tells me how great everything is going.

My heartburn is still there, but my overwhelming anxiety seems to be lessening…or it could be that I’m just getting used to it.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

I think I need to buy some Tums

Thank you for all the supportive comments. I truly appreciate all the thoughts and prayers you have sent my way. Please continue to sent good thoughts, but direct them to my parents - they are the ones who really need all the help they can get.

Weirdest thing - I’ve had this pain in my chest for about two days. At first it was intermittent, but now it’s constant. It’s on the right side. For a moment I thought I was having sympathy pains for my dad, but I decided that was a bit melodramatic and realized that this is what heartburn must feel like. I’ve also been really tired. REALLY tired. Since I’ve arrived in Minnesota, I’ve been sleeping at least 8 hours, but I’m still exhausted.

About two and a half weeks ago, I had a terrible workout at my spinning class. I was breathing hard, sweating buckets and buckets and I got that pain in my chest. It scared me until the physician to my right reminded me that my heart is on my left side. (Thank God she went to medical school.) I left class after an hour feeling embarrassed that I couldn’t keep up. I shook it off to too much exercise that week and cut back last week.

Now I’m getting a little concerned. I know it’s stress. My body is finally starting to revolt to all of the stuff going on in my life. I’m not sure what I can do to alleviate any of this.

Dad and I have been talking a lot. Mainly about Mom. About her future – their future. She is obviously not doing well, but she truly believes that she will get better. Dad doesn’t agree. We actually had THE talk. The one about what will happen when she’s gone. It was awful. This is so hard on him in so many ways. She is not that easy to deal with right now. She is very demanding and not extremely appreciative. She is very angry with my dad and he’s not sure why. I’ve been doing marriage counseling since I got here. I talk to her, and then I go talk to him. Back and forth, back and forth.

Tomorrow she has an appointment with her oncologist and a chemo treatment. I plan to tell her doctor that she’s depressed. Also tomorrow, my dad comes home and will need some extra help at first. He can’t lift or drive for a month. We really have no back up plan for getting them help, if needed, after I leave. Every time I try to talk to them about this, the subject is changed or put off until later.

I think I know where the heartburn is coming from. This is one of those moments in life when you realize that no one is going to help you - that you are the only one. You are the one who has to fix the problem. I have to pull my head out of the sand and learn about all of this “senior citizen” stuff. Things like health proxies, Medicare, assisted living centers, protecting assets and whatever else I need to know.

I’m worried that I am not too good at any of that, though. I’m better with helping buy her some new pajamas and finding low sodium foods for him. The heartburn is telling me that I need to do all of that AND figure out who they can call, after I leave, if my mom falls again.

I need more time here. How can I do everything I need to do before next Tuesday? How can I stay away from my family any longer than that, though?

Monday, October 31, 2005

Mom and Dad

She likes apple juice on her night stand first thing in the morning. Six ice cubes in her water. Tea is required at each meal. Lunch is her bigger meal – her appetite wanes as the day goes on. She doesn’t like chicken or cookies anymore and wonders why I can’t remember that. Her wastebasket goes between her purse and slippers right beside her bed.

I can hear her snoring as she sleeps. I can hear her breathing when she’s awake. It’s labored and loud. She is bald and rarely wears her wig anymore. Her head hangs down when she is sitting upright to eat. She’s too tired to hold it up. She wears a nightgown and robe all the time, but wants a long sleeved night shirt and pants instead. She doesn’t like how her gown gets all bunched up. I will shop for those tomorrow.

He is naked in a hospital bed with only a backless gown. Tubes drain his wound, a pacemaker keeps his heart regulated and a pillow lies vertically over his chest and pelvis. His mood is pragmatic and calm. He is uncomfortable, but amazed that he feels as good as he does. He’ll probably be in for a few more days.

Each fingertip is black and blue from all the glucose testing. Insulin is needed for awhile as his body recovers from the shock of surgery. He has swollen calves and ankles supported with white hose. I have only seen the top inch of his incision. It’s thick, red and ominous. His biggest concern is for his wife. “Go home, Carol. You know she falls.”

In two or so days, I will have to care for both of them in their home. It scares me to death.

Saturday, October 29, 2005



It's still dark outside when it really should be light, and I have a splitting headache from all the noise at Harrison's school carnival last night, but I'm still happy! Why? Because my dad made it through his surgery and the closing went through without any glitches.

The only thing I'm upset about? I never got my cocktail.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Cocktail hour cannot come soon enough Friday night

I ‘m feeling content and cozy tonight. I’m happy to be where I am at this moment. Literally and figuratively.

I love my house. It is small, but suits our needs right now. Ok – I lied. One SMALL bathroom is not enough for four (plus an occasional visit from a large, clumsy 12 year old step son), but we manage. Built in ’27, it has just enough character to satisfy my need for an old house, but it’s not so old that it’s falling apart and in need of constant care. In the evening, we rarely use the overhead can lights and turn on lamps. After dinner, instead of cleaning up, we just turn off the big lights and flip on our under cabinet lights. If you can’t see the dirty dishes – it makes it hard to clean them up. It’s our theory and we’re stickin’ to it.

Anyway, the ambience at night is really nice. When the kids are bathed, smell clean and using “inside” voices, it just all adds up as a great moment. That’s what happened tonight. Both of the kids were happy. They played well together, and for the most part, there were few conflicts of any sort. I think I’m so content because I’m feeling thankful for what I have. I’m thankful that my family is healthy and that we don’t have to get up early tomorrow to go to a hospital.

My mom called to make sure I knew what was the latest for tomorrow. Dad’s cold will not get in the way of him having surgery first thing in the morning. He has to be at the hospital at 4:45 AM. Surgery is scheduled for 7 AM. It is supposed to be over by noon. FIVE HOURS. I didn’t realize it was going to be so long. Now that I’m a fan of Grey’s Anatomy, I have a pretty clear visual of what I assume the scene will look like. The thought of heart/lung machines and his chest cracked open for that long is pretty weird. I can only hope that his surgeon, (and his hot, young assistant surgeons), will all be thrilled at the prospect of giving my dad a new valve and a longer, healthier future. Sure there’ll be a few harrowing moments, but in the end my dad will come through with flying colors and they’ll all go to some neighborhood bar tomorrow night and talk about how cool it was to touch my dad’s beating heart.

I will wait all morning for my brother to call and tell me that everything is fine. I will also wait for my realtor to call and tell me that our closing (also in the morning) went smoothly. Tomorrow is the 28th. Finally. Our vacation home is going to a good family.
I do feel peaceful, but I can’t exactly tell you why. I think it’s because I know I am going home. My parents desperately need me and I’m looking forward to helping them. I will miss my kids and my husband terribly, but I’m keeping my perspective. There will be plenty of Halloweens for me to enjoy with them. My parents will probably never need me this much ever again. They are my biggest fans. Their loyalty to me is unsurpassed. I cannot wait to give back

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Did I teach my son to say that?

Harry is not a big talker. Not the kind to give me lots of details about his day. I have to go to my neighbor to find out what’s really going on in his class. Today, however, was a little different. Usually I have to beg to get even tiny tidbits of information about anything going on in his Kindergarten world. Not today. I give credit to a stranger. An important stranger - Harrison's first substitute teacher.

Me: “Did you smile for your picture today?” (retakes – first one is pretty horrid)

Harry: “I didn’t get my picture taken today. We had a substitute today and she got all freaked out and forgot.”

Me: “What?”

Harry: “Yeah, she got mixed up and forgot.”

Me: (fuming because now I’m stuck with the goofy original picture due to this woman) “That’s okay – we all make mistakes.”

Harry: “Oh – you know what else happened? Julian got hurt on the playground and she really started freaking out.”

Me: (not sure if I should laugh or be alarmed) “What happened to Julian?”

Harry: “He got hurt and ran inside. She was really freaking out.”

Me: “She thought Julian was lost?”

Harry: “Yeah, she was really freaking out.”

Monday, October 24, 2005

Stuff going through my head

This is a picture of my office. I'm in the one on the right. My school just moved into a new building and this was obviously taken before completion. It's much better than the portable classroom we were housed in last year, but I really wish I had a window. I should be thrilled to be in a new space, but I'm not. I don't like my job right now. That's all I'll say.

I think I'm more worried about my dad's upcoming heart surgery than I thought. I find myself crying about it at the weirdest moments. He has a cold that won't go away. He may not be able to have the surgery this Friday if he doesn't get healthy. I have a plane ticket for Sunday. I hope I don't have to change it.

The details for our house closing this Friday are all coming together. I will probably find it hard to celebrate due to my dad's surgery and the fact that we lost our SHIRTS!!!! on this sale.

My mom's health status is starting to get to her. She casually mentioned to me, at the end of a phone conversation this morning, that she thinks she's heading into a deep depression. Ummm. I don't know how to handle that. I can't tell her to get out and keep busy - she's bedridden. I guess I knew this was coming.

I'm happy that Ella's asthma is under control. She is back to her happy, semi-compliant self.

As I mention weekly, life can be tedious. I am very lucky to have a best friend in my husband. Without his cooperation and support, I doubt I could get through all of this. He puts up with my deer-in-the-headlights perma-look lately. I seem to just stand in the middle of rooms and spin around - not knowing why I'm in that room or what I need to be doing.

I'm kind of mad at God. I wish that my mom could get a break.

I love Fall in Utah. It's warm and colorful.

I'm exhausted most of the time. I think someone should invent a coffee that could keep me awake, yet never give me the shakes.

That's it for now.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Watch out, Emeril!

I get to stay home this morning with the kids because Ella is not "significantly better" by today which means we need to go back to the doctor. Her orders.

I jumped in the shower hoping they would both stay put, but I had this feeling.

Sure enough - when I got out, Harrison had the bowl for pancakes out, the mix and a glass of water. He had gone ahead and mixed up the batter without me. No measuring cups needed. My first instinct - besides wondering how we were going to use the five gallons of batter he had mixed up - was to assume that his pancake mix would be bad. Not as good as mine - the one I create by following the dirctions impeccably.

I added a bit of mix because the dough seemed watery. I made some pancakes before my addition, though. Wouldn't you know - his mix was better. His pancakes were lighter and fluffier. Damn kid. Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

I need a do-over

In the college class I’m co-teaching, “Essentials of College Study”, we cover all sorts of wonderful topics that would make anyone a better student and, in general, a more efficient human being. Since the semester began, we’ve helped our students discover their learning styles, taught them how to use their time more efficiently and how to read more effectively. I did a fun unit on memory and how to retrieve information from your brain when you need it and now I’m teaching them about note taking (YAWN) and taking responsibility for yourself (SOMEONE HAS TO!)

All of these techniques and skills have some things in common – they insist that the student is motivated and that they are organized. WHO WOULDN’T BE MORE EFFECTIVE IN LIFE IF THEY COULD BE THIS WAY!

I’m sitting at my desk at school writing this, instead of planning for today’s lecture, because I’m still winding down from my morning BEFORE I left for work. It’s mid-morning and I’m still frazzled. As I prepare to tell my students, this afternoon, how to organize the things they hear in a lecture into legible graphic organizers, I am feeling hypocritical. I can’t organize my sock drawer, let alone my lesson plan or work priorities.

This morning I turned off the alarm at 5:00 AM and fell back asleep until 5:08 AM. Not a big deal, but enough to throw me off a bit. I jumped up and grabbed my bike shorts, etc. and went into the bathroom to change. I decided that I was too tired to put my contacts in at that moment and went to the kitchen to get some water and a graham cracker. I turned on my laptop and checked many of my favorite blogs and the news. Out of character, I thought of a cute little post and proceeded to enter it. It didn’t post right and I fussed for about 5 minutes until I realized how late I was. At 5:45, which is when I’m normally in my car, I ran into the bathroom and realized that I still had to put in my contacts, pull my hair back and fill my water bottle.

I made it to my spinning class on time, but was a tad flustered. I was home at 7:04 and the kids were just coming out of their room. The starting gun had fired.

Harry: “Moooommmm? Ella is getting out of bed even though she’s sick.” (Ella has a bad cough, and because she has asthma, we take her to the doctor often. Harry went with yesterday.)


Me: “It’s ok – it’s time to get up anyway.”

Milk was put in sippy cups and the two were sent to the TV to watch cartoons so that I could get ready for work. I then picked out their outfits and laid them on their beds. It’s now about 7:11 AM and I hear Chris starting the shower. “HEY! I need to get in there first,” I screamed. “I’ve been out here doing SELFLESS things and … well…let me go first.” I got my way and took a really fast shower followed by a quick application of minimal makeup.

At this point, I am trying not to be mad at Chris. He has been working really late hours lately and needed to sleep in a bit. I raced into the kitchen and started making three lunches. Of course, I try to incorporate all the food groups and won’t buy those pre-packaged snack-able thingys. I started cursing myself for that. Washing pea pods and cutting apples into slices is FOR THE BIRDS on days like today. At 7:28 AM, I’m somewhere in the middle of the lunch making process, when I realize that the kids are not dressed. I turn off Mr. Rogers and tell them to get dressed before the TV will come back on. Ella doesn’t like her shirt. “I want the one with the flowers!” “This one?” “No.” “This one?” “No.” “This one?” “No.” It was at this point that I lost it. I still had no idea what I was wearing today. My hair was sopping wet. My kids hadn’t eaten breakfast and the backpacks weren’t even organized yet. I had a melt down and grabbed EVERY shirt in Ella’s drawer and threw them on her bed and the floor. It took me three handfuls to empty the drawer. With a crazed look in my eye, I screamed, “PICK ANY SHIRT YOU WANT – I REALLY DON’T CARE.” Harrison knew this was his moment. For once, he was the “good” child. The compliant child. “Look Mommy! I’m all dressed.” It was a scene that I never want to see again. I was thankful that Chris was still in the bathroom with the fan on and couldn’t hear me.

I walked out of their room and finished the lunches, got myself dressed, and started drying my hair. I really thought I had more time, but when I went to put shoes on the kids, I noticed the clock – 7:58 AM. I need to be on the road at 8:00 to get to work at 8:30. I am ALWAYS the last one to arrive. I turned off “Arthur” and tried to calm my voice while I whisper-screamed orders to my two kids: “Get your coats on! Let me tie that shoe again!” “No – you can’t have any more cereal. We’re out of time.”
The coffee (an absolutely NECESSARY companion for my morning commute) was still brewing as I raced out the door with Harrison’s coat and backpack. I noticed, at the end of the driveway, that I had forgotten his lunch. I ran up the driveway to the back door and into the kitchen. No lunch. Chris was at the front door yelling to Harry to come and grab his lunch. I raced out the front door, practically knocking Chris over, and grabbed the lunch like a runner grabs a baton in a relay race. We ran down the sidewalk to the neighbor’s with Ella right behind us - a bowl of cereal and a spoon in tow. I rang their doorbell, tried to be cordial, but ran back with Ella as fast as I could.

As I entered the kitchen again, I grabbed my stuff and screamed for Chris to move the van out of the way of my car. (We have a huge garage that could hold our cars, but we prefer giving our plastic swimming pools plenty of room to breathe and let them occupy the garage, so our cars sit single file in the driveway.) I ran out to the car and had to turn right around to get coffee. I have become an expert at pouring my coffee into a travel mug while simultaneously carrying a laptop backpack, purse and lunch bag on individual fingers in one hand so that I can hold my keys in the other and open doors.

As I finally proceeded down the street at 8:09 AM, I was breathing hard. My phone rang when I was about three blocks away. I had forgotten some papers I wanted to bring today, but I just didn’t have the time or energy to turn around again.

I do realize how I can make my mornings run more smoothly. I KNOW that I can lay out clothes the night before. I KNOW that I could make lunches the night before – or prepackage the lunch dry goods on Sunday for the week. I KNOW that I could use my time while I’m waking up, before exercising, more effectively. What I don’t know is how to find energy to do all that at night. My peak energy period is morning. I don’t have a lot of energy at that time, but I definitely have more than after a long day of work, making dinner, giving baths or running errands. By 9:00 PM, I am done.

Chris announced to me, somewhere in the middle of all the chaos of this morning, that he would be working late tonight. I cannot wait to finish my day, pick up the kids, make them dinner, clean up the mess from last night, this morning and tonight in the kitchen and then fall on the couch for whatever drama or HGTV program interests me.

The cycle of life, right now, is tedious. I’m finishing this post in class while I let my students work on an essay I assigned. I asked them to analyze this quote: “Good or bad, everything we do is our best choice at that moment.” Dr. William Glasser. The assignment is an exercise that has them delve into the concept of self-responsibility. I probably need to write an essay myself. I think we all need reminders about this once in awhile. It’s very easy to lay blame or make excuses. Here’s to a better tomorrow!

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Early roots of feminism

Me: What did you and Spencer play at recess today?

H: We played a game.

Me: What game was that?

H: The saaame game we allllways play.

Me: What game was that?

H: (Nonchalantly) Ummm, the girls chase the boys all over the playground.

Monday, October 17, 2005


She looks how I feel.