Thursday, February 26, 2009

Bad Dog...

So today, Cisco, our Lab went to the vet for his annual check up. He's healthy as a horse....and as big. He tipped the scales at a whopping 115 lbs. Now, we knew that he'd be a big lab, his dad was over 85 lbs but uh, I guess he's been dipping in at the food dish a little too often.

The hard thing is that we also have a Border Collie who is normal weight and if we feed them together she will nip and growl and keep him away from the food. So we usually let her eat then just put food out and let Cisco eat at will. Well, that won't be happening anymore. He's on a diet. Two cups of food a day. No treats. Well, maybe just a few if I cave. He really is food driven and I use treats to get him to do what I want him to else do you get a 115 lb dog to do what you want him to do?

Monday, February 23, 2009

And the winner is....

Sweet and hot stewed chicken! That's what I cooked yesterday and it was great. Ralph loved it, the kids loved it and so did I. Not something I would normally make but it was good. Not too hot, not too sweet, just right. And I made a side of rice cooked with coconut milk and that was a big hit, too. So, the cooking show paid off for us!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

The Oscars and Terry

Terry was a friend of mine, one of my best friends when I was in my 20's and early 30's. Terry was smart, quick witted and never afraid to speak his mind (and even had a glass of wine poured over his head by another friend for doing just that). Terry introduced me to movies...well, he didn't introduce me to movies in that I'd been to movies before we were friends, but he did introduce me to movies in a whole new way. With Terry, I saw newly released films, artsy films, documentaries and classics.

We always saw them on the big screen. We went to obscure little theaters and saw Dark Victory and Now Voyager, Citizen Kane, What Ever Happened to Baby Jane and lots of Hitchcock classics, from Rear Window to Vertigo, from Rope to The Birds.

We saw Mel Gibson and swooned over him in Gallipoli and knew that Gallipoli was 100 times better than Chariots of Fire, though Chariots of Fire got all the fanfare.

We also loved to watch the Oscars, separately, and the dish about them the next day. Who was wearing awful dresses, who was stunning, who looked like a fool accepting their reward, who shined.

One of the last times I saw Terry, he was in a hospital bed and he had dementia which came from AIDS, which he was battling against. He thought he was living in a different time zone than we were (maybe he was, who knows) and his lover told me not to expect him to be lucid, he hadn't been for many days already.

I saw him the day after the Oscar telecast. And we dished....he seemed totally lucid to me. We talked about gowns and movies and who deserved the Oscar they got and who should have gotten one but didn't. We had a grand old time in his hospital room.

As we left and walked down the hallway, his lover pulled me aside and started crying and said, "That's the most lucid I've seen him in days. I put on the Oscar telecast but I didn't know if he even understood it was on. But he talked to you, really talked to you and knew what you were talking about". What could I say?

Terry died not a week later. We were there at the end, but Terry was not conscious. I never spoke to him again.

I will never watch the Oscars without thinking about Terry. Even now, more than 15 years later, I still think of him when I watch them. I still wish I could dish about the Oscars with him.

Terry, wherever you are....I love you and I miss you. Oh and about the whole Heath Ledger getting an Oscar for portraying the Joker thing....


Ok, maybe I have strange kids, but the one thing they beg for is the Cooking Network on TV. Other kids might want to watch cartoons or videos, not mine. They beg me to put on the Cooking Network.

Yesterday was overcast and cold, but they played outside for a lot of the afternoon. Luckily, we have neighbors with kids our age and the kids were all running around in front, playing with bikes and scooters. And luckily, I have a husband who likes to putter around in the yard, so he cut the grass and then weeded and then moved to cleaning his truck bed out, so basically he was outside watching the kids while they were out there playing.

When he was done and the kids came in, they begged for the cooking shows. Ok, I caved. They'd run around enough to burn off a lot of calories and watching food brings in a lot fewer calories than eating it, right? The problem with letting them watch the cooking shows is that I get sucked in and watch them, too.

If they were watching a cartoon, there is no way I'd be interested, even if I were in the same room. I'd have a book in hand and be doing my own thing. But cooking shows, well, I just get sucked in. Most of the time, the dishes that are being cooked are too time consuming for me. No way I'm going to spend more than an hour and a half preparing a meal. Some are just too wild for me, too hot and spicy, too froofy, you know what I mean.

Then, there are the ones that look interesting, that I just might be able to make, that look like they just might taste good. I'm not an adventuresome cook. I can cook, I do cook, just about every day. But I'm not adventuresome. But I'm going to be today. It's raining and grey outside and we don't have anything planned. I'm going to let them watch more cooking shows when they get home from Sunday School. And I'm actually going to try a new recipe. One that lets the chicken stew for 2 hours. And then I'm making a side dish with coconut milk in it. There, take that! I hope it turns out....I'll let you know.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Out of the blue...

"I hate my brown skin", this is what Marielle said yesterday, out of the blue. Oh, no, I've always told her that her skin is so lovely...where did that come from? I told her that people pay money to get their skin brown, they pay for spray tans, just to have skin her color.

Then I went on to tell her that I wished I had skin like hers. I told her the true story of when I was in Denmark for 3 weeks with my aunt, uncle and cousin and we spent every day for 3 weeks at the beach. Everyone else got beautiful tans....I got red. Really red. On the beach, everyone called me "the tomato" and it was true. No tans for me....just red. She laughed and I think she felt just a little bit better.

Friday, February 20, 2009


I swear Rico is the luckiest kid around. Last year, at Bingo Night at the school, he won. This year, twice Marielle needed only one number to win and what happens? They call 3 numbers in a row for Rico and he wins. Of course, Marielle was crushed.

But there's an upside in that Rico won swim passes and he hates swimming, so guess who's going to use those swim passes? Marielle, of course,

Tuesday, February 17, 2009


I'm really not a superstitious person. Really. I don't mind Friday the 13th, we own a black cat, well, you get the picture. But it's awful hard not to be superstitious when it comes to your child and cancer. But, I decided it was finally time.

Marielle finished her chemo in November, 2007, so 15 months ago. Not only that, she had her broviac removed well before treatment ended, actually back in May 2006. But, I couldn't bring myself to throw out all the broviac care supplies. I tried. Many times. I'd open up the cabinet, see them, think "now it's time" and then close it and walk away. Was I tempting fate, throwing out the broviac care items?

Now mind you, these are not things you use in everyday normal life and they take up a whole lot of space, a whole shelf in the linen closet. They don't have a use if you don't have a broviac. I mean when was the last time a normal person used saline flush or heperin? When was the last time you needed a surgical mask? Or just for fun, blunt end canulas? See where I'm headed here?

Today, I put superstition aside and dumped these things once and for all. I took a step toward belief....belief that cancer is behind Marielle for good. Belief that these are things we'll never need again. And I'm feeling proud of myself....and just a tiny bit scared that I'm tempting fate.

Monday, February 16, 2009


One of the beauties of being a mom is being able to see the world through your child's eyes.

Today, for the first time "in real life" Marielle saw and felt hail. Not that long ago, we were sitting in the living room, fire roaring, watching a TIVO'd version of Sunday Morning when suddenly, it was raining hard outside. Our eyes were drawn from the TV to the storm outside. Then, it happened. The rain turned into hail.

I said, "It's hailing" and grabbed Marielle and we rushed out the front door and into the storm. Neither one of us stopped to think that she was barefoot but maybe that just enhanced the experience. We reached out to the little bits of ice falling from the sky. I grabbed as many pieces as I could and threw them into Marielle's hands.

And we laughed and danced in the hail.


We went bowling yesterday, a very cool activity to do on a rainy Sunday afternoon. Rico was a bit discouraged but the balls are still so heavy for him and he refused to roll it down like a baby so he was throwing them one handed and didn't do that well.

Marielle was a star! She got a lot of spares and I don't think she or I knew quite how she did it.

Of course, Daddy outshown everyone with his high game being 232. Guess all that time in Alaska with not much to do, since he doesn't hunt and doesn't fish, gave him lots of practice and improved his game.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Happy Valentine's Day!

Yesterday I had the pleasure of helping out in the classroom for activities and then the party for Marielle's class. It was a lot of fun for me and the kids. The kids made love bugs and valentine's. My job was to man the store. Each child was given 15 cents in plastic money and then had to come and buy what they wanted on their valentine. They could choose feathers (3 cents ) or pompoms (1 cent) or stars (3 cents) or yarn and so on.

It was a lot of fun to watch the light bulb go on in some of the kids heads. Although they've talked about what a nickel is worth, I think for many, this was the first time that they understood that if something is 3 cents and you have a nickel you can use it and get change back. I would ask, "What is a nickel worth" and they would, by rote answer, "Five". And then I'd ask, "So if you have 5 and this costs 3 and you give me your nickel what do I give you back?" and the light bulb would go on and they would say 2 and smile. I think they were more excited that one coin turns into 2 coins of change than the fact that they bought something for their valentine.

After the crafts were completed, it was time for ice cream sundaes and cookies. Which, needless to say, were big hits. Nothing like sugaring up a classroom full of kids and then sending them on home to their parents!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Valentine's Day

Today Ralph picked the kids up from school and then took them shopping for me for Valentine's Day. Now, Ralph isn't always exactly the greatest in picking out heartwarming gifts. Past gifts have included the hangers (yes, plastic ones for my closet) and let's not forget the banana holder but I think this year he and the kids got something I'm sure I'll like, since they came home with bags from Sees.

Monday, February 9, 2009

So, so what, I'm still a rock star...

Marielle would love to be a rock star. She talks about it all the time. She talks about her concerts, she holds concerts for us all the time. She makes up tickets. She puts on her Ipod and we watch and listen to her singing along with the Ipod and then we have to vote. She wants to hear these words when she's done, "You're going to HOLLYWOOD!". Yeah, she likes American Idol.

Marielle wrote her first song. She brought it to me, she had written it down, then she sang it to me. It goes like this:

The sun is bright and shiny
If we ran
We would sweat.
The end

I think maybe she should consider becoming a country star.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Lessons Learned

Yesterday we were at the annual Tamale Party put on by the Bay Area Guatemalan Adoption group. It's just a group of friends who started the group so our kids would be able to interact with families like ours. Anyway, there were a lot of people we hadn't seen for a while. There are gatherings in the summertime but we don't get together in the wintertime. And since the gatherings are just for fun, sometimes we go, sometimes we don't and sometimes we see some old friends, sometimes we meet new ones.

There was a pinata for the kids, actually there were 2 pinatas, one for the little kids which was a pull string and one for the older kids, which was a "whack it". My kids had only just graduated to the "whack it" pinata this year. They really are not used to whacking things and were scared of the noise and the violence of the whack it one until a couple of months ago.

So the pinata got whacked and out fell all the goodies. Marielle and Rico are not scurriers and grabbers. They look around, see a candy, pick it up, look at it some more, maybe put it back down, then look at another candy, ok, this one can go in the bag, then look, there is a toy, maybe I'll take this one. Well, you get the picture. For them, it's not about grab all you can get, it's about finding the right candy, the right toy.

So Marielle had maybe 7 pieces of candy and a really cool pen. It was one of those pens with a see through body and glitter in the body. I only saw one of them come out of the pinata and was really glad that she got it because she's really into pens. Then I saw her talking with one of her friends and she traded the pen for a piece of laffy taffy. Horrible trade. In my mind, a very one sided trade, giving away that great pen for a mere piece of candy.

I told her "no more trading" and walked away. Later, in the car, I told her that she really needed to pay attention to what she was trading, that trading a beautiful pen that she really liked for a piece of candy wasn't a fair trade. She looked at me and said, "Mom, it wasn't about the pen. I wanted to make my friend happy. And I did."

Thank you for that lesson, Marielle. I have learned a good lesson from your pure heart.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Dogs in the Night

So we've been in a drought. We have had hardly any, maybe no, rain so far this year and very little in December, too. The days have been unseasonably warm, feeling more like spring than winter.

But last night, a storm blew in. After having had so many sunny, nice days, it felt good. As I ran the dogs out at 2:38 this morning (they seem to always have to go out at night, what is up with that?) I felt the electricity in the air.

I love the feel of a storm as it's coming in. The air is so fresh, so charged. I found it hard to come back into the house, standing outside the back door, in the middle of the night, stormy and wet but the feel of the air was just so good on my skin.

Ok, I guess it's not the worst thing to lose a bit of sleep in the night running the dogs out if now and then I get to catch the front of the storm coming in.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

So you think you might be having a bad day?

Think again.

Please pray for Brett and his family. My heart just aches and breaks for them:

Monday, February 2, 2009

There was a game on?

Yesterday, the high was in the low 70's. A perfectly warm, sunny afternoon and the kids had a mini golfing party to go to that started at 3 p.m. Do you think we watched the Superbowl?

Ok, I'm sure if you live in the land of ice and cold, there was a lot of expectation of something different to do yesterday. I'm sure some folks, well, maybe a lot of folks, who live in Pittsburgh and Arizona, thought yesterday was a big deal.

But for us, when I mentioned watching some football, after the mini golf party, the response I got in our house was, "I hate football". The kids were disappointed that one of the few TV shows I allow them to watch, which is America's Funniest Home Videos, was not on because of the football game. Yes, I know the Superbowl was on another channel, but for some reason ABC chose to move AFV to 10 pm in our time zone and there was no way the kids were going to stay up and watch it then. I did TIVO it for them, so maybe we'll watch some of it this afternoon, after homework and reading is done.

I admit that I did watch a bit of the game, mostly the last part of the 4th quarter. It was a good ending, very exciting, how you want a football game to be, a question of which team will win, right down to the last minute. But mostly, we just ignored football in our house.