Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Decade!

And what a decade it was. Looking back on 2000 through 2009, this is what happened.

Our family added 2 children. We traveled to Guatemala 4 times.

We sold our house....we bought a new house. We lost a dog, we added a new dog. Three of our cats died. We added three cats to our household.

We made two trips to Disneyland.....

Marielle was diagnosed with leukemia, went through more than 2 years of chemotherapy, came off treatment and today is happy and thriving.

What a decade.....

Wonder what the next one will bring us....

Much love to all, Happy 2010

The Lappins

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The saga of my hip....

So, long story short, I've had torn cartilage in my hip for the past 8 months. It happened when I had GYN surgery and was under anesthesia. It's painful as all get out. It catches when I sit, but is especially painful when I get out of a sitting position as the frayed end of the cartilage gets caught between the socket and the hip bone.

I saw a specialist at Stanford last week, who does arthroscopic hip surgery. (There are not many docs who do this...only like 11 in the nation). He said I was not a good candidate for the arthroscopic hip surgery, less than 20% chance of success. He recommended a total hip replacement.

Now, I knew I had arthritis in that hip ... I found out after the cartilage tear. It was totally asymptomatic before the tear. But, according to my orthopedist, it's not that bad. He doesn't think a total hip replacement is necessary. He wants to save the hip. I'm all for the least invasive method possible. But...

So, what do we do? The pain is horrid...often debilitating at times. There are times I literally have to lie down for an hour or more, even on pain pills, to get the pain to subside enough for me to be able to walk. It's affecting every area of my life. I'm not a whiner. I have a high tolerance for pain but this thing is knocking me out.

So, today, the ortho and I decided to try a cortisone injection into the hip. If it works, it relieves the pain and buys me time. If it doesn't, well, then we'll figure out a plan B. The injection has to be done at an outpatient surgery center because it's guided by fluoroscope. We'll set it up for early next month.

Wish me luck.....

Monday, December 21, 2009

Christmas Celebrations....

Our Christmas celebrations began last night. We had a gathering with my Dad. It was a very festive time, gathering with my siblings and their kids (and spouses).

The kids are very excited because there is a new cousin (well great cousin? I guess you'd call him) on the way. My kids are by far the youngest of the bunch and they are thrilled that next year, there will be a new baby at the gathering, thanks to my nephew and his wife.

This is me and my Dad...

The kids were super well behaved, had a great time and were happy to get dressed up and go out.

The holidays are upon us!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Christmas...Hannuka...all that fun stuff...

Yes, I have a poser...she thinks she's a model... Here she is with her finished gingerbread train:

And here's Rico with his:

We usually do gingerbread houses, but this year I decided to try something different...

Of course, what I didn't think of is that Mr Construction Guy, aka Ralph, isn't here to build the trains, which meant I had to put the gingerbread together.

And lest you think it's easy, even with a kit, it's not....

But I did manage to get them together halfway decently...and the kids had a blast decorating them. That's what counts, right?

Marielle has had pneumonia. She's still getting breathing treatments. Here she is with her mask on getting a nebulizer treatment:

The kids in front of our Christmas tree:

And here are some pictures from the second night of Hannuka...

We really love this time of year!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Bedtime Stories

I know I'm a horrible blogger. I only write when the spirit moves me and that darned spirit is one lazy son of a gun, so I don't blog that often...

But since Ralph's been gone, Marielle has been sleeping in my bed with me. Every night. Now, I had looked forward to stretching out in the queen size bed, being able to lie any way I wanted and not have another living soul next to me, but Marielle had other ideas. She's concerned about me. She doesn't want me to be lonely at night. (It's very lonely sleeping alone at night, did you know that? Just as Marielle. When she's in her bed, there are no less than 25 stuffed animals on the bed with her every night so she won't get lonely.)

Have you ever slept with a 7 year old in your bed? Here's the thing...they move....a lot. They don't know about the "your side of the bed" rule. They don't realize that people normally sleep with their head at one end and their feet at the other. Oh, and Marielle is a "whapper". She likes to flail her arms around when she sleeps. She lifts them up and the allows them to come crashing down and believe it or not, half the time, at least,one lands on my face. Not fun, being woken up by a hand landing on your face in the middle of the night.

But, you know what else? One of the best things about having Marielle sleep with me, is when I crawl into bed. I'll lie there and look at that sweet, innocent, sleeping face. She looks so little, so young, as she sleeps. All the baby memories flood back to me. I have to really control myself, not to hug her. What is it about a sleeping child? It just moves my heart.

And you know what else? Both my kids are solid sleepers. I mean solid. I can turn on the light, turn on the TV, the dogs can bark, the phone can ring and they don't wake up, they sleep right through. But, when I crawl into bed, at least 3 times a week, as I'm lying there, drifting off to sleep, a little hand reaches out and holds on to mine, and I fall asleep hand in hand with Marielle. It's like she has mommy radar. She really doesn't wake up, she never remembers it in the morning, but there it is, that little hand grabbing mine.

Now, how can I not love that?!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Fun with the microscope

So Rico got a microscope for his birthday and this evening we were having a lot of fun with it. We looked at blood, saliva, salt crystals, hair and the mouth parts of a honey bee. The last one grossed them out the most. I just know it's going to be a fun activity we'll do over and over again.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

SST meeting today....

Here's how it went....
It was agreed that Marielle does not qualify for an IEP at this point in time. However, it is very likely that at some future point in time, she will be eligible. In other words, her tests are not bad enough at this point to qualify her for an IEP. But, as you know, her problems will continue to impact her learning, and it is very likely that she'll need the IEP in the future, as work becomes more difficult.
We did arrange a 504 for Marielle, which includes:
extra time to complete work

reduced homework and classwork...teacher will highlight problems/tasks that Marielle needs to complete

10 minutes per day of reading intervention with an paraprofessional to work on reading fluency and phonetic elements

Marielle will be able to take a break in the office, if she becomes anxious or overwhelmed(An adult will direct this, when Marielle says she feels sick.)

Marielle will work weekly with the school psychologist (to help her learn self identify how she feels when she's overwhelmed or doesn't understan things)

Preferential seating at the front/center of the classroom

Teacher will give visual and verbal prompts to help her stay on task

Teacher will repeat directions to Marielle and then have Marielle repeat them back to the teacher, to make sure she understands them.

Marielle will be retested (all children are routinely retested) in January and we will meet again after those tests to review determination for eligibility for IEP.
Marielle's tests scores were all over the map...not showing anything as far as strengths or weaknesses.

I think it went well....we got accommodations and the chance to revisit in a couple of months. I feel ok with it.

In some ways, this feels a lot like when Marielle was first diagnosed with cancer...a bunch of professionals speaking Greek and you are trying to understand what it all means and how it applies to your child. Welcome to the educational system. Not fun at all.

I want to also mention that we did hire an advocate and thanks to her help, it was much easier to understand and navigate through the system.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Ok so I've been remiss....

I haven't updated in forver....

Rico had a birthday...he's 6 now and very excited because 6 is SO much better than 5!

We went to Chuck E Cheese and then came home and had cake.

And, of course, today is Halloween....We have a Candy Corn Witch and Luigi from the Mario Brothers. They had a blast Trick or Treating, got lots of candy and then came home and helped give out candy.

We gave out every single piece of candy we had! 5 big bags worth and the kids still kept coming. We had to blow out the pumpkins and turn out the lights. We've never had so many kids!

But Marielle and Rico had a blast....the best Halloween ever!

Saturday, October 17, 2009


I haven't written much because I don't like too much out in a public least not until things are settled. We are preparing for Marielle's IEP meeting at the end of this month. This has taken a lot of my time but I know that we will be going in as prepared as anyone can be.

Her teacher told me at her parent teacher conference that she is "not working to her capabilities" which leads me to believe that the teacher does not recognize that Marielle has a disability but instead thinks she is being a slacker....not a fun place for Marielle or myself to be.

Send some love our way...because we need it!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

What's going on...

I haven't written much because there isn't much to write about.

We are starting to get into a routine with Ralph gone. It's weird, not having him here again, but we are all getting used to it.

We continue to have difficulties with Marielle and school and hopefully we can work them out.

Rico is thriving at school, is so into school, reading, math, etc., it's really fun to see.

Winter is about to come, as we are expecting our first storm of the season. We haven't seen rain, but for one day, since about May, so I'm actually looking forward to it. I can't wait to make my first fire in the fireplace.

I've got some kind of bug...I don't think it's the flu because I haven't had a fever, but otherwise feel like I got hit by a truck...body aches are the worst, stuffed up, sore throat...same thing most people around here who are sick are experiencing.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Foo-Foo and Fuzzy's Great Adventure

Ralph took one stuffed animal from each of the kids up to Alaska with him. They picked one out,and had him take it, so Daddy wouldn't be lonely so far away from home. Before he left, I told him to take pictures of the stuffies on the trip north.

He emailed them to me on Saturday and I made a book on Saturday night, after the kids went to bed called, [U]Foo-foo and Fuzzy's Great Adventure[/U]. The kids were happily surprised when they got up on Sunday to see all the things that Foo-Foo and Fuzzy had seen. It's really cute...starts out with them belted into the passenger seat on the truck, there were pictures of them near signs of towns that DH had stopped in, with totem poles, looking out the window on the ferry to Juneau. Really a fun way to show the kids the trip that Daddy took.

I told Ralph that he needs to take more pictures now, so we can continue the story and so that the kids can see what Juneau is like.

Sunday, September 27, 2009


So Ralph got a's a one year contract, which is great. The only downside is that the job is in Alaska. So he left on Thursday and is currently in Canada, at Prince Rupert and today he gets on the ferry that will take him to Juneau.

I sometimes wonder if people who have pretty safe jobs even realize that there is a recession going on. I know this, people are shocked when they get laid off and then even more shocked when they realize how hard it is to get a job right now. See, even if a company is doing all right, they aren't hiring. People hear on the news that the unemployment rate in CA is what....10%, 11%? But do they realize what that translates to in actual people who want to work who are just unable to find a job?

Ralph retired from the Coast Guard in January, 2008. He would have liked to stay in, he was on active duty for the last 8 years, but he had too many years in, so he had to retire. In 2008, he worked a total of 5 months after retiring. By the way, we get no retirement benefits. He was in the CG for 34 years, but only 15 of those were active duty, so no retirement benefits until he is 60.

So he went up to Alaska last year for 5 months, the only work he could find. Then he came home and tried to find something locally. After about 6 months, he realized that there was nothing going on locally, so he broadened his search nationally. Finally, he found another job in Alaska.

Construction, especially large construction projects, are just not happening right now in CA. And even if they are getting funded, there are so many people lining up for those few jobs that it's pretty near impossible to get one.

We are very lucky in that we always have lived the life of saving. Always lived below our means and socked money into the bank. We have no debt, except our mortgage. I wonder how many people can say that, after having the breadwinner out of work for a year? That doesn't mean it's been easy. It hasn't been. But we made it. And now we have income again. And now we'll start to replenish our depleted savings accounts.

Monday, September 21, 2009


We went to a Brownie meeting today to see if Marielle would be interested in joining. It was rather chaotic...first meeting of the year and then I guess last year the Daisy and Brownie troop met in the same room and today the Daisy leader decided they need to break apart and have separate meetings, which just added to the chaos. The talked about what activities they wanted to do as the year went on, but they didn't have a specific activity for this meeting and Marielle was rather unsure about joining. Then, as the parents talked, the kids all started playing tag. After that, Marielle decided she did want to join.

So, looks like there's going to be a Brownie in the house....

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Let's Go Fly a Kite!

It was a perfect day for kite flying today...the weather was in the high 70's with a nice, stiff breeze coming off the Marina.

Ralph got the kites up into the air and then the kids took very short turns holding them. I really think that Ralph was the only one who flew a kite for more than 3 minutes.

But it was a lot of fun, anyway!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Monday, Monday...

Well, the good news is that Marielle had a blood draw today and everything came back perfect. Whew, a load off my mind. It's so hard, having had a child with cancer, when they aren't feeling good and the symptoms are nonspecific....head hurts, tummy-ache, sore throat, not eating, throwing up....

I flashback and think, "Oh NO" but with the blood results today, I feel much better.

We still don't know if Ralph has a job up in Alaska...we are hopeful and should hear very soon.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

I haven't written much...

Because Marielle is still feeling a bit under the weather, we are getting used to the new school year routine, I've been pulling my hair out about Marielle's teacher's attitude but don't like to put anything out there for everyone to read....

I'm stressed because Ralph might have a job....that's a good thing, but it would mean a year away from us, up in Alaska, that's stressful and my hip is getting better but my knee on the other side isn't.

See why I'm not writing? Just hate to whine....

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Memory Problems

It has become more and more apparent to us that Marielle has short term memory problems....or maybe I'm just more aware of them or maybe she's not trying to hide it any more.

Prior to her neuropsych testing, she would try to hide it. In one blaring case, she and her brother had gone to Sunday School. They get a dollar each to buy a snack at the break. School is 2 hours and after an hour they break, have a snack and then resume.

When they got home, I asked Rico what he had for break and he said, "Oreos". When I asked Marielle she said she had Oreos, too. Rico said, "No you didn't you had goldfish". It was her response that gave her away. A normal kid would have said something like, "Oh yeah, I forgot, I had goldfish". Marielle said to Rico, which I overheard, "I can't remember what I had, so I'm going to say Oreos and you are going to back me up".

Talk about being hit over the head with a hammer. This response told me that not only did she not remember, but that she had been having a problem with memory for a while and had developed "survivor skills" to cover up the fact that she couldn't remember things.

Prior to this, her teacher had mentioned a number of times to me that she thought Marielle should be sent for testing, that at times she seemed like she "wasn't really there", her mind wandering. Well, after that, we set up testing with the school and the an independent neuropsychologist.

I told her that we knew she was having memory problems, that it was ok, that sometimes the medicine that kids get to get rid of the leukemia can cause problems and that they (the psychologists) were just going to have her do some worksheets and ask her some questions, so they could help her learn better and help her learn how to improve her memory.

On Tuesday (the day after the first day of school, not wanting to overwhelm her teacher on the first day), in Marielle's backpack, I sent a letter to her new teacher and copies of both reports. They were in a big manila folder and I ask Marielle to give them to her teacher. In addition, I mentioned to the teacher, while Marielle was in line, that Marielle had something for her and would she be sure to take it out of the back pack. I also included a copy of the book Educating the Child with Cancer with a note that I'd like the teacher to read the part about Late Cognitive Effects. Actually, I had reminded Marielle about them a couple of times and told her each time that they were for her teacher and when she turned in her folder, she should turn them in, too.

Well, Marielle comes home and here is the manila folder and the book. She had walked home and it made her backpack quite heavy to trudge home. I asked Marielle why she still had them...why didn't she give them to the teacher and she burst into tears and said, "I didn't know what to do with them, Mama, I didn't know what to do!"

I guess the good thing is that she is being more open and honest with me that she doesn't remember instructions. On the downside, it's very hard, as a mom, to witness this.

We have a meeting in the upcoming week to discuss 504/IEP plans with the school. Wish us luck.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Ok, this is funny!

Look behind Marielle on the right side....see the boy whose head is in the picture?

Well, I posted this pic on Facebook and got a note from his mom, who we know! See her husband took her kids and my husband took my kids and then they sat right next to each other and never introduced themselves. Had they done so, they would have realized that we know each other.

We'd met at the Relay For Life...

Funny, huh!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

First Major League Baseball Game

Tonight, Ralph took the kids to their first major league baseball game, the Giants vs. the Diamondbacks. It was a gathering made possible by Make A Wish for kids who have had or have cancer. They had a meet and greet with some of the Giants players before the game. Of course, Marielle was too shy to go over to any of the players, so I don't have any pictures with her and the players. She decided that Lou Seal, the Giants mascot, was safe, so here's a picture of them with him.

The giant coke bottle in the background houses 4 slides....2 forty feet slides and 2 twenty feet slides. The kids were too scared to try them.

They lasted exactly 3 innings before they wanted to come home. But, there was a home run in the second inning and for some reason, Rico felt he should have caught that ball. Maybe it's because he knows I have caught a ball at a major league game. (It was at Candlestick, the old ball park and it was a foul ball, none the less, I caught it fair and square and do still brag about it.)

The kids got pizza and drinks before the game, care of Make a Wish, which was nice. But I was a bit disappointed that there were no souvenirs....not a ball or a hat or anything. When the A's players came to Children's Hospital when Marielle was inpatient, they were very generous with the souvenirs, handing out balls and hats and such.

Still and all, they had a good time and I guess that's the most important thing.

Where was I? At Book Club!

First Day of School

So yesterday was the first day of school. It went really well. Rico is now in first grade and Marielle is in second.

Marielle was thrilled that I let her pick her outfit to wear. She wanted to look really "rockerish". Rico could care less about what he wore, except that he got to wear his new shoes, which we bought last week and I told him had to wait for the first day of school to be worn.

Of course, both kids were thrilled with their new back packs.

Today was really sweet, though. We had all the school supplies to bring along, so both Ralph and I went to drop them off. Ralph was with Marielle and I was with Rico. As the bell rang and the teachers came out, I went over to Marielle's teacher to let her know that I'd put some things for her in Marielle's back pack. (I gave her a copy of the book Educating the Child with Cancer and copies of her neuropsych test and school psychologist test results.)

So the kids went into their classrooms and I was standing and chatting with some of the moms, when all of a sudden, across the play area, Rico's teacher waves to me and then Rico comes out. He is crying. I come over and he said, "You left and didn't give me a hug or a kiss". So I walk him back in, holding his little hand and give him a hug and a kiss. Then I stand there for about 30 seconds and he looks at me and says, "Ok, go now".

Saturday, August 22, 2009


Have you heard of this site? Here's the addy:

Why am I mentioning it? Because it's a great site. You sign up to host parties for different things...they have all kinds of parties available. From toys to TV shows to food. Then, if you are chosen, they send you a party pack. In it are all kinds of goodies. Then you have a party and let them know what you thought of it. That's it. No catch. Sounds good, huh?

So, we hosted our first ever house party. It was awesome.

Here's a wonderful recipe with tuna, feta cheese, garlic and tomatoes. I made half without tomatoes because Ralph and Rico don't like tomatoes.

I made these cool finger sandwiches...they are made with a seasoned tuna medley that has sun dried tomatoes and basil mixed into the tuna, in a pop top type of can. You just open and make the sandwich...easy and they were really good.

Here's a recipe I made with tuna, tomatoes, olives, and pasta. It used the same tuna sensation product and turned out tasting really good.

The kids loved every one of the recipes I made, which actually surprised me.

Now, I have to tell you, I'm not a tuna type of person. I mean, it's ok, it's just not my favorite food. But I really loved the recipies that we got with the party package and was really impressed because not only did the adults love the food, the kids did, too.

So, let's see....we got free food, party favors, got to have a party and try new food and all for free! Sounds like a good deal to me!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

More Kittens....

I have no idea why they think the scooba is comfortable! But they craw up on it and sleep. (It's a robot floor washer.)

They are almost old enough to move on to their new homes.

In the meantime, they have been exploring all over the house. You never know where you might find one.

They are cute as heck, too.

Marielle will be especially sad when they leave. She loves holding them and walking around with them and playing with them.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

A Day At The Museum

We went to the Rosicrucian Museum today. The kids were pretty impressed. Well, except for Rico and one part.

They had an actual replica of a tomb. You had to walk into this dark cave to get to it. Rico was fine at first...Marielle held back. Rico said, "It's not bad, come on Marielle" and forged ahead.

Then he turned the corner to a much darker area and started crying. What we didn't realize was that there was a tour ahead of us with a docent giving a speech about the walls of the tomb. So here's Rico crying and a number of old biddies (sorry, but they were) shushing him. I gave him a hug, pulled him to a lighter area and he was fine.

But now, I just have to kid him about going back to the museum and spending the night to get him to behave!

It really was very interesting to the kids. This is the first "real" museum they'd been to.

They loved the grounds, too.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Clinic Day

Even though Marielle has been off treatment for nearly 2 years now, I still get nervous every time we have the blood draw and clinic visit. But, as has been our experience over the past 21 months, her visit was good, her blood perfect! So, we are done for another 3 months!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Five weeks old today

And it doesn't get any cuter than this!

"I didn't do it, I swear, I didn't hit her".....

They are running all around our room, discovering all kinds of new "playthings"...

Did you know cats are nocturnal? They love to wake us up at night to play. They have learned how to climb up onto the bed.

But how can you get mad at a face like this?