Friday, January 30, 2009

Fighting the fat

When Marielle was on treatment, she was on high dose steroids 5 days every 21 days. Now, steroids make you want to eat, you crave things, usually high fat, high salt things and honestly you do not want to fight with a 3, 4, or 5 year old when they are on steroids. The phrase "roid rage" might have been created to explain the rage that athletes using steroids get but believe me, you ain't seen nothing if you haven't seen a 4 year old in a fit of 'roid rage.

So, the entire time Marielle was on treatment, which was more than 2 years, we kept the house stocked with things she might crave, from sausages to chips to chicken nuggets. While on treatment, her weight crept up. When she started treatment, she was normal weight, maybe a slight bit on the slim side. When she ended her treatment, she was overweight.

It's kind of funny, in a weird way, because people picture kids with cancer as being very thin and sallow. But, for young kids getting pumped full of steroids, the "ALL look" is big, fat cheeks and a big tummy. (Steroids shift weight from other parts of the body to the stomach area.) So you wind up with a child who has a "beer belly".

I do not want my children, especially my daughter, to have to fight fat her entire life, which is pretty much the road I've been on, so I decided we were going to begin "operation eat right". Starting last January, I ditched all that high fat, high sodium food. We all eat healthier now.

My goal was not to have my girl lose weight, just not gain weight as she grew. As a result, she has grown 1.5 inches since last June and lost .6 kilo (about a pound). She is now a normal, healthy weight. I'm so happy about this and my hope is that she has now changed her tastes and craves healthy food.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Extreme Makeover Rockstar Edition Now Complete

We finished the last bit of Marielle's room makeover today. She hasn't seen it yet! I'm so excited for her to come home and see the wall! Her room is now complete. We are hoping that this theme will grow with her and it will be a long time until another room redo!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

What a way to pass an afternoon...

Curled up on the pile of freshly laundered clothes, catching the afternoon sunshine, our 6 month old kitten and our 13 year old cat, share cuddle time.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009


So the kids have been talking birthdays quite a bit lately, as in "I can hardly wait until I'm 10" or "I can hardly wait until I'm 12". And the subject of my birthday came up again not too long ago. Now, mind you, my birthday is in April, so it wasn't any time recently that we celebrated it.

But, last year, I turned 39.....again. And Marielle caught it and asked, "Can you do that, Mom?", to which my reply was, "I just did".

So yesterday she asks me, "Mom are you just going to stay 39 all the time now?"
I answered, "Pretty much, yeah".
She shook her head and said OK and walked away.

Just wait, little one, one day, you'll understand!

Monday, January 26, 2009


That's how Marielle's blood counts look. We had our clinic visit today. Her numbers are perfect across the board. Now, if you haven't walked this path, you can't imagine how it feels when we do a blood draw. My mind say, "Look at her, she's healthy, she's strong, she's doing great" and yet I worry until I actually see the results. I try to forget about it but it nags the back of my brain.

See, I just don't know if I could do it again....of course, I know I could if I had to, but 2+ years of chemotherapy, watching your child suffer the side effects, all the emotional turmoil that comes with it, well, it's the hardest thing I've ever done and I really, really don't want to ever walk down that path again.

So, I'm on a high today, hearing that her numbers are perfect, hearing the oncologist say that she's so strong (no lasting Vincristine side effects), she's grown 1.5 inches since summertime and lost .6 of a kilo over that same time period, which means the steroid weight is gone, gone, gone!

So, today, life is good!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Blood draw queen

Since Marielle decided to ditch the broviac, a mere 9 months into treatment (that lasted over 2 years) she's had well over 100 blood draws so far. Yesterday she went for another one. We are now able to go every OTHER month for blood draws, since she is more than a year off treatment! As always, she did really well. I think some adults could learn a lesson from her.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Rockstar room makeover part 2

So today we put up some of the wall decor for Marielle's new "rock star room". I think it looks pretty cool and there is still more to come (one more wall to complete).

Anyway, here's the wall opposite the bed....rock on.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

What a historic day....

Starting this morning, when the TV was on....a rarity in our house. As I woke up Marielle, she asked, "Mom, what's that noise?". It was the TV on, the pre-inauguration ceremonies on CNN. Ralph dropped the kids at school, I didn't want to miss a minute of the ceremony.

We had a talk with the kids, about how this marks the first time a person of color is becoming the leader of our country. Then I asked them if, someday, they could be president. Marielle said she would be too scared, Rico just said no. As both are naturalized citizens, not born U.S. citizens, they cannot become president one day. But, I hope that , over time as they grow up, knowing that people of color can do anything, as shown by President Obama, I hope that it will inspire them to reach higher, to want more, to strive to break boundaries.

Love him, hate him, hope for change, fear for the future, any way you look at it, today is a historic day. And as a mother of children of color, I am so proud of our country today.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Night time talks

One of the really down side of having a child who has had cancer....

Tonight, snuggling with Marielle in bed, she asked me, "Mom, when I die, will my room still be there?"

Of course, I gave the standard parent answer, "You won't die for a long time. You will grow up, get married, have children and die when you are very old. You don't have to worry about your room".

Her response, "Yeah, ok, but what if I die early?"

Now see, when you've had a child who has had cancer, you can't just shush that kind of question away. You can't say something like, "Oh, children don't die early" because you both know you'd be lying. Instead you take a deep mental breath and say, "Yes, honey, your room will still be there".

And that sucks. Even though your child is healthy. Even though treatment has ended, sometimes cancer "side effects" still come into your life.

Another tooth bites the dust....

Marielle has now lost 8 teeth, not that she's counting or anything. The tooth fairy brought her $2. She has begun to ask why I put a sticky note that says, "Tooth fairy" on my monitor whenever she loses a tooth. (The answer, of course, is so that I remember to go to bed early, so the tooth fairly can come and leave money for her.)

I have a standing offer of $1. for any child who allows me to pull out their loose tooth. Yesterday morning Marielle informed me that Daddy told her he would give her $2, if he could pull it out. Huh? Offering more money behind my back? That will not do. I promptly gave her a one time only offer of $5, if she would let me pull her tooth. The answer was no and she pulled it herself at school.

Rico, on the other hand, has lost 2 teeth and has $2. extra dollars to show for it. Hmmm, wonder which one will become wealthy?

Friday, January 16, 2009

Room makeover phase 2

So today, while Marielle is at school, we put up the new valance and changed out her bedding. It's beginning to look a bit like a rock star room now. We still don't have the wall decor up yet, that will complete the room make over, it's still being shipped. I just couldn't wait to see her expression when she saw her new bedding and valance so I had to put it up today.

Now, I can't wait for her to come home from school.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

You know you're raising a redneck when....

So Rico has one of those horses on a stick. I'm sure you know what I'm talking about, horse head, stick body. Lately, it's been one of his most favorite things to play with.

Yesterday he advises me that he has named his horse Wal-Mart. Ok. I thought, "Uh-oh somebody's been watching too much TV" (and seeing too many commercials). I told him that I think he and his sister need to cut back on TV time. He gives me a very strange look and then asks why. I tell him that if he's going to name a horse Wal-Mart, well, that means he's been watching too much TV.

He says, "But, Mom, I named him after the Christmas Carol. You know, the one that starts, 'Somebody's done been to the Wal-Mart".

And if you've never heard Jeff Foxworthy's Redneck Twelve Days of Christmas, then you won't know what this post is about. And maybe I need to reload Rico's IPOD.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Disappearing Hours

I want to know what happens to all the hours in the day...

Most days, I'm running around all day long and yet at the end of the day, I really can't tell you what I've done. Yes, yes, I know it's the same for most moms but really, where does the time go?

So I ran to Target, ok, I stopped at Starbucks, yeah, I talked on the phone with a friend for a while, homework with the kids, check, did that .....ok, I do have a turkey in the oven. Not just for Thanksgiving, you know. One bird, cost $5.99. That will make tonight's dinner, tomorrow we'll have turkey enchaladas and then I'll have a salad with turkey one day, a couple of sandwiches and then turkey noodle soup. You can't beat the number of meals you can make from one turkey for $5.99. Whoops, where was I? Oh yeah, what I did today....hmmm, do you think maybe going off on tangents takes a bit of time?

Monday, January 12, 2009

Hot Fun in the Summer Sun

No, it's not really summer, but you couldn't tell by being outside today. The high today....76 degrees! Unbelievable! It was already 69 degrees by the time I dropped the kids off at school and volunteered for a while in Rico's classroom.

I saw the movie Doubt today....very good movie. If it were up to me, Streep would get an Oscar for this role for sure. In addition, it's a move that makes you think and that makes you want to discuss it with other people, which makes a really good movie.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Spring Weather in January

Means fun in the back yard....

"Mom, can we have a clubhouse?"

I then proceed to write, "Rico's and Marielle's Clubhouse" on the playhouse....viola!

"But, Mom, I want one that says, 'Boys keep out'".

"Sorry, but you can't keep your brother out of the clubhouse."

Friday, January 9, 2009

Extreme Makeover

We are doing our own Extreme Makeover in Marielle's room. We started by painting. Marielle's walls were a light lilac, now they are light pink. Honestly, I can hardly tell the difference. But hey, she is thrilled that her walls are pink. "Pink! Pink! My favorite color, thanks, Mom." The room looks like a hurricane swept through it and barfed up stuffed animals. Right now, there are over 100 stuffed animals strewn about her room. They usually are on her bed with her. This picture is a picture of her room "before".

No, don't ask me how she sleeps with over 100 stuffed animals on her bed. When I ask her how she finds room and can we please move some off, she says, "But, Mom, they are my friends. I can't move them off the bed. They'd be lonely!".

Anyway, the painting was done yesterday and today we'll clean the rug and move the furniture back in. As I was doing her hair this morning, Marielle had a breakthrough. She said, "Mom, maybe we can remove some things from my room". I thought, "YES!" and was already mentally moving out about half of those stuffed animals. And then I asked her what she thinks should be moved and she said, "That picture and my hair stuff". Uh, not quite what I had in mind.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

The Tudors

Ok, so I should have something to blog about, but I don't. The only excuse I can give is this...the second season of the Tudors came out on DVD and mine arrived in the mail yesterday....enough said.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Life with a Border Collie

So we have a new kitten, she's about 5 months old now. She has this very strange habit, you see, she likes to clean her paws in the dog's water dish. Kind of like a mini bath, she puts in a paw, shakes off the water, puts in the other paw, shakes off the water...hmm, I wonder if she thinks she's part bird....

Anyway, we also have a Border Collie. Now, the Border Collie has decided that she will not stoop to drinking smelly cat wash water. So, if I put in fresh water, she will drink it. If I don't she goes over to the water dish, smells it and gives off one high pitched bark....which is Border Collie for, "Change this water now because I'm thirsty and I am not stooping to drinking this water".

Now, those of you who do not have Border Collies might think that I would just ignore this and eventually the Border Collie will get thirsty enough and just drink the water. Wrong. The Border Collie lies down at the water dish and then gives off the one high pitch bark about every minute until I either change the water or let her outside, where fresh, clean water is available. And yes, I've tried ignoring her and finally break down after about 20 barks in 20 minutes. After all, there is only so much barking I can take....and our Border Collie knows this.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Me vs the exercise bike

Ok, so there it is....the exercise bike. It's in the dining room. Right smack in my face every time I walk around, through, near the dining room. I did that purposefully, so that it wouldn't be hiding in the bedroom, where I wouldn't see it except morning and night. I want to see it. I want it to say in big bold letters, "Do the right thing and GET ON ME NOW!!!"

And yet, every day, it's a fight. I know, I know, I should get on it. I know it's good for me. I know it's the right thing to do. And yet.....

I get up every morning and say to myself....If I do one thing today, it will be to get on the bike. I take the kids to school and say, "I'll come right home and get on the bike. Get it out of the way, feel good about my accomplishment". Then I get home and find 100 reasons why I can't. I need to check my email. Oh look at how dusty the living room is. I think I need to vacuum.

You can always tell how good or bad I am about exercise by looking at my house. The cleaner the house is, the less I've exercised. See, I can't get on the bike if I just have to clean the bathroom, right?

I will say that in 2008 I got on the bike more times than I didn't. I did make myself get on and I felt better for it. Plus, I get really smug when I have ridden it in the morning....I walk around feeling like, "Ha, you slobs....I did 7 miles on the bike this morning". But, I also freely admit that over the holidays, the bike lost out more times than it won out. I'd walk by it thinking, yes, yes, I see you, I'll get to you and of course, I never did.

Now it's a new year and I've vowed to have the bike win more times this year again. I've given myself until Monday to be a slug. Then, my house will be dirtier once more and I will be more fit......

Friday, January 2, 2009

How my boy thinks....

Yesterday, when I took my shower, I noticed that the water was draining very slowly from the bathtub drain. I asked Ralph to take a look...maybe we needed to snake out the lines again. (We have tree root issues with the drain and every now and again need to snake out the line to get things moving.)

Marielle overhears this and says (in her 6 year old tattletale way),"I know why the drain is slow. Rico was shoving pieces of the bath sponge down the drain".

Uh, ok. So I called Rico over and had a little talk about how the grate was there for a reason, to stop things from clogging up the drain. Rico, unphased, said, "But Mom, the sponge wanted to go to see the ocean. It wanted an adventure! " Now how do you discipline that?

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy New Year

The new year has begun and so I've decided to close out Marielle's CaringBridge page and start a blog. Marielle is now over a year Off Treatment, it seems only right to close down the pages associated with her cancer. But, for anyone who wants to still see how she is doing or how we, as a family are doing, I've started this blog.

Yesterday, we met with Sheryl and her daughters, Bridget and Brianna at the Lawrence Hall of Science. The kids had great fun, running out quite a bit of energy and seeing the exhibits.

Sheryl and I yacked it up and could have continued talking for hours (days?) and still had more to say. I can't believe we've known each other online for so long and waited so long to finally meet in person about a month ago.