Friday, January 30, 2009

Bargain Brag!

I bought this $329 chair from Target for only $82.00!  Yay!

It was the last one in the store and was 75% off!  I had to take it out of the box and separate the components to get in it home in my teeny Corolla, but I managed.

I was on an endorphin high for the rest of the day.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Amazingly Cool

Charity Begins At Home

One of Intuitive Monkey's classmates has recently attached himself to our family.  It happened gradually.  I first noticed Mark, a small, scrappy kid, walking home by himself from school. He didn't walk with friends, as far as I could see, and no adult or older sibling accompanied him.

This troubled me, but once the kids are out of kindergarten, the school can't prevent them from going home alone.

When I was in school, we walked back and forth alone all the time. Things were different then. We also had an open lunch. At 12:00 the school opened the doors and children could leave and walk home in order to eat lunch there.  They would have to make it back to school before class started again.  I spent many a lunch period wandering around the neighborhood with friends, or going to the local corner store to buy candy. No supervision.  No need for permission.

It was a different time.

At the beginning of the year, I usually drove the kids home from school.  I was still recovering from treatment and couldn't handle the long walk combined with the 90 degree heat and humidity of Florida afternoons.  It wasn't until I became stronger and the weather cooled down that I would walk to the school, get the boys, and walk home together.  That's how we met Mark.

One day the Florida sky opened up and sent buckets of relentless rain.  I drove to get the boys and as I was picking them up, one of the teachers said, "Mark says he walks home with you every day."  I glanced into the crowd of kids and saw Mark edging forward.  I realized that no one was coming to get him.  He was going to have to walk half a mile in the downpour.

I explained that we didn't exactly walk home with Mark every day, but that I would be happy to give him a ride. We ran through the rain to the car and I took Mark home.  Once we arrived, I took him to his door, and told him I wanted to meet his parents.  His adult cousin answered the door and I explained that I had given Mark a ride home.  I left my name, number and address in case Mark's mother wanted to talk to me and find out who the strange woman was who gave her son a ride home.

Now Mark wants to come over and play each day.  He shows up at our house in the mornings needing a ride to school.  That's partly my fault.  When he had missed school one day, I asked him if he had been sick. 

"No, " he said, "I just didn't have a ride to school and it was too cold for me to walk by myself."

I told him to come by our house if that happened again and I would get him to school.  He took me at my word.

I don't mind Mark's visits.  I know from my brief encounters with his mother and adult cousin, and hints from his teacher, that Mark is on his own most of the time.  

I have several dilemmas.

1. Teaching Mark that he is welcome, but that we have boundaries. When his tire went flat, he asked us outright to buy him a new one.  When I had already taken the kids to school, he showed up late, needing a ride.  He needs to understand that we can't do everything for him. This is hard to navigate, because I know that some of his lateness is not his fault, but his lack of supervision.  He doesn't have anyone guiding him in the morning and waking him up on time. No one cares if he's late or not.

2. Being open to Mark, helping him, and welcoming him in our home without irritating his mother.  For the most part, I don't think she cares.  She works nights and is probably just trying to keep things together. However, I have to be careful not to overstep my bounds.  She is still Mark's mother and I constantly have to tell him that he needs her permission before he can come over.

3. Mark always wants The Rationalist and Monkey to come over to his house.  He asks constantly about this and I am running out of excuses.  There's no supervision at his house.  His mom is usually sleeping in the afternoon and I'm not comfortable with the adult cousin who is usually at home. 

I feel a certain amount of helplessness.  I identify strongly with the Marks of the world. I grew up in a home in which I was mostly on my own.  I spent a lot of time over at my friend's houses, envious of their normal families. My basic needs were provided for, but I had to rely on myself to get ready for school, make my lunches, and get my homework done.  

In some ways, I probably gained much of my self-sufficiency and independence from that type of parental neglect.  On the other hand, I always felt lonely and somewhat disconnected from my parents.  They weren't people I could go to with my troubles.

I look at Mark....and I see me.

Contemplating all of this, I wonder how much of my life is spent trying to fix what I perceive as my parents' wrongs.  I try to give my children the things I never had, which aren't material things, but consist of an engaged parent, a warm home, emotional support, playing board games, making cookies all sounds very Donna Reedish, I know.

I am subconsciously and vicariously trying to redeem my childhood.

I recognize this and also the tug that Mark's situation has on me.  The frustrating part is that there is only so much that I can do.  

We have the parents that we have.  We deal with the cards Life gives us. There is no magic wand that can right all the wrongs in our own lives or the lives of others.

We can only hope to add a little light, or provide a brief rest in the lives of others.  

Tuesday, January 27, 2009


I'm still alive.  

No major crises have kept me from blogging. I just seemed to have lost my e-voice for a while. I would get online, look through things, and sit with a blank stare on my face.

What should I say? What should I write?  Does it really matter in the scheme of things?  Am I going to spark some insight or change in the world that hasn't already been sparked?  Am I going to utter wisdom that has never been heard before? Am I going to bring forth an idea that hadn't previously been formed?

If anyone could turn blogging into existential would be me.

Sometimes I need to get over myself....always searching for the purpose of things which don't need any purpose.

Whenever I have taken personality quizzes, I wind up with some weird, wacky result, or so neutral that I can't be quantified. Once my personality was described as a type of person who would loyally perform the duties set before them and then, once the obligations were met, would abandon everything to go live on a mountain and paint.

Well...I don't paint, but there was some truth to the idea of soldiering on until I was free to do whatever I wanted and everyone else could go hang after that.  A. Small. Nugget. Of. Truth. 

Then there was the personality test that said I was like Gandhi; whatever that means.  Actually, it said that my type was a confounding personality, capable of surprising even it's closest friends and family of many years.  Private and public.  Serious and humorous. Simple and complicated.  I guess that's not too far from the elderly mountain painter who abandons everything she spent her whole life working on in order to be free on some mountaintop.

Of course, that might all be bunk.  I'm probably a very simple person with delusions of mystery.

Either way, I'm too self-obsessed.  Blogging feeds that.  Even though I'm not aiming for any acclaim for my blog, there still lingers the question of why I feel that the trifling things I do say are in a public forum, and not hidden away in a leather-bound journal tucked into a nightstand.

I'm thinking of reworking my blog.  This past year it's been more of a diary, keeping track of the ups and downs of my personal life.  I probably won't completely stop that.  It's nice to be able to look back at pictures of the kids and remember some of the things they've said.  I'm glad to have a record of  my thoughts about this past year.

However, I think I'd like to do something a little more structured and thoughtful.  I might change this blog, or simply start a new one.  I want to spend more time writing about something other than myself.

I'm not sure where that will take me...or if it will be like a New Year's Resolution that I never fulfill.

I'll let you know.

Saturday, January 17, 2009


The boys have been doing well at basketball considering their lack of training.  The coach who had been assigned to them flaked out and decided he wasn't going to coach after all. Unfortunately, he didn't bother to tell the parents and we showed up on game day with no coach and no practice. Luckily, the father of one of the other players stepped up and filled in and will be the new coach.

I've been taking the boys to the local park to work on their basic skills, like dribbling, passing and shooting, but they really need someone to put it all together for them.  Regardless, they are having a great time and have improved quite a bit.


Happy Birthday, Monkey!

Yesterday, we celebrated Monkey's 7th birthday. 

I was up at the crack of dawn making strawberry pancakes with whipped cream and bacon...a special birthday breakfast before sending him off to school.  The sugar high continued as I took in cupcakes for his class at lunchtime.

7's hard to believe.

We couldn't imagine our family without him.  

Thursday, January 15, 2009

I'm totally bummed because I haven't been able to train for my 5K at all this week. I thought my sore hip was a result of the crazy garage sale weekend  from a few weeks ago and the training I've been doing.

Now, I think I have pinched a nerve. When things didn't seem to be getting better, I decided to take a few days off from working out. I was sure that was all I needed. It's getting to be close to a week and I'm still having pain that comes and goes depending on how I  move my leg.

Unfortunately I can never quite tell what range of motion will set it off. I'll be mid-sentence, walking through the house, and then let out a huge yelp.  

The only silver lining is that I now know my kids will come running to help me if I ever fall and can't get up. Every time I let an unpredictable groan escape my lips The Rationalist runs up to me with a worried expression and asking if I'm OK.

It's good to have someone who'll call 911 if they find you lying on the floor.

In the midst of this, I keep recognizing that cancer has made me a hypochondriac. Pain in my hip...that must be metastasis to my hip bones from breast cancer. The dizzy spell I experienced a week and a half ago....that must be brain mets.

It's crazy.  I know it's crazy and very unlikely.  I know it's crazy, very unlikely and statistically against the odds in my particular case......but that doesn't stop the fleeting thoughts from passing through my head.

Hopefully the crazy will pass as I get further and further away from active cancer treatment.  It probably won't ever completely disappear because every day for the next five years I will be reminded by my daily Tamoxifen pill, and the hot flashes it causes. Yet, as aches and pains take their normal course over time, I might be able to begin to trust that my body isn't trying to sabotage me.

You know what they say, though:"Just because I'm paranoid doesn't mean that someone's not out to get me."

Yeah....the crazy will pass.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Reason #2,567 for having children

For the comic relief:

Hair....the Off-Broadway Production.

Here's me about 1.5 years ago:

More hair than I knew what to do with.  Enough for at least two other people.

Here's me after chemo:

What a noggin'!  

I kept having visions of the chick in the first Star Trek movie who was taken over by V-ger:, she's prettier than me and her head is much smoother.

Finally, I had some peach fuzz by the end of October:

By November I was rockin' a very thin, gray buzz cut.

Now, I have some nice helmet-hair with which I can't do a single thing, but which at least covers my head.

I look a little butch, but I'm not complaining.  I won't have to keep the hair out of my eyes when I run that 5K in February.

A few more months and I will probably have a nice little afro as my curly hair grows out.

I'll be sure to post an updated photo for comparison.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

I have been crazy busy this past week.  

I had planned to have a garage sale at my dad's house after the New Year in order to empty out the rest of his things before starting construction on the termite-ridden structure.  DH was going to come with me, do the yard work, help organize things and be my garage sale assistant. At the last minute, we received word from the recreation dept. that there would be a basketball practice on January 3rd, the same day as my garage sale.  

I couldn't change the date.  Every other Saturday for the next two months will be chewed up by basketball.

The only solution involved taking two cars to the in-laws, DH 's parents, spending New Year's Eve with them, leaving the kids, bringing the dog, driving two cars to my dad's, working together for a day, sending DH back to pick up the kids, take them home, handle the practice on Saturday, and me staying behind to do the garage sale, meet a person who wanted to buy my dad's motorcycle, and clean things up afterward. 

I'm tired just typing about it.

On the upside, things went fabulously well at the garage sale.  I sold practically everything I put out and succeeded in putting a huge dent into the mess that was my father's workshop/garage. We should be ready to hire a contractor to begin repairs in a couple of weeks.

The only negative was dealing with avid garage-salers.  They are a special breed, these bargain hunters, simultaneously cheap and frivolous in their spending.  They nickel and dime you to death.  Everything I put out was priced incredibly cheaply: $10 for a circular saw and accompanying blades, $5 for a mini-chainsaw, $15 for an electric lawn edger.  The point was to move things quickly.  Yet, despite my rock-bottom prices, people still wanted to negotiate.

Most of the time I didn't care. Every once in a while someone would push me too far, like the man who wanted me to lower the price for my dad's 37-inch TV from $60 to $15, and he was serious.  I told him I would rather give it to someone than sell it to him for $15.

Another person balked at the $25 price tag on a brand-new microwave.  She wanted to pay $10. I said I would go down to $15 and she hesitated.  I finally told her that if she could find a brand-new microwave for less than that she was free to look elsewhere.  Her friend convinced her to buy it.

I had to remind myself that the primary goal was not to make money, but to empty the house. I'm sure my dad would have had another heart attack if he had to watch people buying his things at such low prices. 

Still, I'm glad to have one more giant task behind me.

While I was cleaning up the house, I decided to be adventurous and pry off  small pieces of drywall to see just how bad the termite damage was in the wall studs.  There's a reason they say "ignorance is bliss".  One wall had several studs that were eaten halfway through the wood.  The other wall...well, let's just say that ashes to ashes and dust to dust would be an apt description.  The area I had exposed had an empty space where the stud was supposed to be, and a huge pile of dust at the base of where it used to connect to the floor. 

That's bad...very bad.

Every time I think about the situation, I wonder what my dad would have done when he retired and got ready to sell the house.  Probably, he would have done some superficial repairs and tried to sell it.  Although I know that he was aware of the termite issue, and was trying to battle them with do-it-yourself type treatments, I don't think he knew how bad the situation was. Without opening up the walls he wouldn't have known the extent of the problem.

I could imagine him going through the roof about it.....swearing, trying to find a cheap way to fix it himself, or letting the next owner worry about the problem. It would have seriously ruined his retirement plans and greatly upset him.

A large chunk of the money he had saved for his retirement will be used to fix the house.  That would have killed him.

I'm just grateful that he had done such a good job of preparing for his retirement, because there's no way we would have the money to make these repairs if he hadn't.

At the very least, when things are finished, the house should be in great condition and ready to sell, or rent out.

Now, I'm just recovering from my busy weekend and enjoying the first day of school after the Winter Break.  I was happy about it.  I have a long list of things I need to get done today. Intuitive Monkey, however, greeted the day with tears. While I was making the morning coffee I heard gentle whimpering.  I entered Monkey's room to find him half-dressed, sitting on the floor and crying. When I asked him what was wrong, he said he didn't want to go back to school because he didn't have fun there.  He then proceeded to sob uncontrollably, already mourning the long lost days of playing Wii, going to the park, staying up until 9:00 pm, and reading Power Pack comic books.

Life is tough for a soon-to be 7 year old.

Coaching Update

Alas...I have been restructured out of my coaching position. 

I'm not sure why.  

I think they didn't like my mentor.

*really it was a simple reorganization....I swear.*