Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Making Plans

Well, it's December 31st--just a few short hours to complete my 2008 resolutions. I'll report on how I did on those tomorrow, once the year is officially over.

Looking ahead to 2009. I haven't made any concrete, life altering resolutions yet. Best get started on that, I guess.

But, here are some thoughts I've been having lately. I'm kind of liking this blogging thing. Being away from CaringBridge (because, thank God, Finn, and the whole family, is healthy) has allowed me a certain sort of freedom to break out and write about. . .well, really anything I guess. It's also made me think a little about where else I might write in 2009. This introspection is kind of a long time coming, and it's mostly stemming from concerns about future finances.

Have I talked much about what I "do" in the real world? I feel sure I've talked about the fact that I'm a freelance writer (Insert huge disclaimer here. If you're reading this blog and thinking, "You're kidding me. The author of this drivel is an actual writer??? Please note that I write this blog in total stream of consciousness and I don't go back and edit myself. I turn in slightly more professional results to my clients. Not that I don't think you deserve the best here, but this is me writing the way I talk, not the way I write. How about that for ridiculous?).

People get all excited when I tell them I'm a writer. And then they ask what I write and assume I'm going to say children's books or articles for the New Yorker. I wish. My two biggest clients are two state CPA societies, meaning that CPAs in several states read my material in the bi-montly magazines their state society produces, or they may read electronic news I've pulled and edited specifically for their interests as well. When I tell people I work for state CPA societies, they think I'm a CPA. I'm not. But I do play one on the Internet. Just kidding. My undergraduate degree is in Journalism and I have an MBA in marketing (the common sense degree). I could tell you a fair bit about International Financial Reporting Standards, but I'm guessing you'd prefer I didn't.

Say what you will about the CPAs, I've heard it all (and possibly thought it myself), but I enjoy working with them. Sometimes I write technical stuff, sometimes I write fun stuff, like profiles of members who have interesting hobbies (example: the 74 year old woman who is a CPA and is also an avid hot air balloonist--that was pretty cool). Anyway, I like it and it pays the bills.

But I'm feeling a need to branch out and see what else I can do as well. Could I write for a high end magazine? Heck, I don't know. But I'll never know if I don't try. My Dad was reading some of my stuff while I was here and trying to convince me I could write for the New York Times. Well, of course he's going to say that--he's my Dad. That's what Dad's do. I've been thinking about it though and if it's the economy that makes me break out of my historic CPA shell, so be it.

I'm also contemplating writing a book about Finn's cancer journey. It pops up on my Outlook to do list each week: "Write a book--hahahaha." I want to cross that off. I'm not sure who the market for this book would be yet though.

Anyway, the reason for this ramble (and my blog is the only place I can ramble--clients who pay by the word do not appreciate rambling) is that one of the things I'm thinking about doing this year is really beefing up my blog by posting more often (probably on a Monday thru Friday schedule), seeing if I can get more traffic here (because I'm convinced there are dozens more people out there who want to read more about ME), and. . .and this is a big one. . .possibly putting advertising on here. Ack. I can't believe I just said that. BUT, I'm saying it because I'd love your feedback. Truly, I'm doing it because I need to see if I can generate some revenue. I don't know what the blog advertising brings in--probably not much--but I need to try and find out. I want to know how you feel though. Would it drive you away? Because that would make me sad. And lonely. Is anyone else out there reading this who has advertising on their page? Thoughts? Advice? Warnings? Musings? Let me know. If this were a different economic climate, I wouldn't even be considering it, but these are the times that try women's soles--which means we need to raise money to buy new shoes. And maybe blog advertising is the way to do it.

So hop over to the guestbook and let me know what you think.

Happy New Year!

Monday, December 29, 2008

Is it over?

Is it time for the kids to go back to school yet? Just kidding. We're having a really nice Christmas break and I'm enjoying having them at home. . .except that I haven't been able to ski, which vexes me greatly.

My Dad arrived on Christmas Day and the boys enjoyed the surprise. Dad enjoyed the surprise of having to circle and attempt landing three times at our regional airport set amid the mountains. If they hadn't landed on that third attempt, it was back to Denver and a 2 1/2 hour shuttle ride up the hill.

We've been sledding on the days it hasn't been too cold. On Christmas evening, we were out sledding when an elk herd came through the draw where we were and watched us. Very cool. I figure I burned about 8.2 million calories wading through the thigh deep powder to get to the sledding hill (burning 8.2 million calories sounds great until I considered that I probably ate 10.6 million calories in Christmas cookies after we got back). I had to look back every few minutes to make sure the boys were still with us. It would be bad to lose a kid in the snow on Christmas, wouldn't it?

I had to work at the ski school Friday - Sunday where we had huge crowds. Where are these people finding the money to spend like that? I've been amazed. The entire state of Texas seems to be here on vacation. Now, I don't mean this in a critical way at all, just making an observation, but I've never seen so many wild looking fur coats, massive purses, or fake, um, body parts (skiing showing your cleavage?), as I have seen these past few days. Don't get me wrong--I'm glad tourists from everywhere are here. I just find myself staring at times because I can't imagine what kind of money must be spent on these coats, purses, and, um, body parts.

Today we're going snow shoeing. The boys are dismayed because they would rather sit at home and play on the Wii, which Santa brought. I'm proud, and possibly distrubed, to announce that I happily pummeled the entire family at Wii boxing on Christmas Day. Nothing like cheering about knocking out your family on the holiest of all days. My arms are still sore. Seriously. Personally, I'm going to steer clear of the Wii Fit. We don't own it, but several friends do. One friend, who isn't even 40 had her Wii Fit tell her that her age is actually 55.

I just don't need to start the New Year that way. Denial. It's not just a river in Egypt.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas!

Well, I tried mightily, but I couldn't get The Rooney Times uploaded in a way that was readable. It's slightly more readable on Finn's Caringbridge page. So head on over there if you want to check it out. It's small, but those with laser vision might be able to read it.

Wishing everyone a Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 22, 2008

NYC at Last!

Finally, our trip to NYC!

You can see the grown up pictorial of our trip HERE.

Declan's view of the trip is HERE.

And Finn's view of the trip is HERE.

Here's a rundown of what we did:

Monday, December 8
-Drove to Denver in a driving snowstorm.

Tuesday, December 9
-Went to KOOL 105 FM and taped a segment for the Make-A-Wish Colorado radiothon that was scheduled to air on Monday, December 15.
-Visited our Denver clinic to say hi and Merry Christmas to everyone. Finn's little buddy Joshua happened to be there that day getting his chemo and IGG!

Wednesday, December 10
-A limo picked us up at the hotel in Denver at 5:30am. The boys didn't know that we were going to the airport via limo, so it was a fun surprise.
-Our flight ended up being delayed because of heavy rains in NYC (nice), so we landed about 45 minutes late.
-Yet another limo picked us up at LaGuardia, and George, the driver, graciously detoured us to McDonalds so we could get something to eat since they starve you these days on planes.
-After a lunch stop, George took us on the "scenic" route and drove down the east side of Central Park on 5th Avenue on our way to the Plaza Hotel.
-It was pouring rain.
-We got to the Plaza and Mickey, who works outside, met our limo and whipped open the door with a flourish, welcoming the boys to the Plaza Hotel and showing them both where Kevin (Macauley Culkin) pulled up when he arrived at the hotel. We were ushered in with pomp and circumstance--the manager came out to greet the boys (and us) and were all very nice.
-Eddie, a bellman who was there when Home Alone 2 was filmed there, escorted us to our room. He was so great our whole stay, paying special attention to the boys and showing them around.
-When you stay at the Plaza, you have a butler. Isn't that hilarious? So even though there was a plate of cookies and candy and milk for the boys and a cheese and fruit plate for us, our butler also brought us complimentary drinks. I think I had water. Crazy, I know.
-We headed out to find some dinner. In the pouring rain. Ended up getting slices of pizza because places right around the hotel didn't look too kid friendly (read: expensive).
-We did a lot of walking. The boys did a lot of complaining. I immediately missed the BOB stroller, which we had sold via Craig's List and the woman picked it up from us when we were in Denver the day before. Come back, BOB, I miss you!
-When we came back from dinner, Finn complained that he didn't feel too well. . .
-We all piled into bed and watched Home Alone 2: Lost in New York. What else would we watch? I think I fell asleep before the boys did because I woke up later and had to turn off the TV, which was a struggle because it's this high tech panel system that the boys had already worked out, but I hadn't.
-Around midnight, Finn woke up screaming and crying and clutching his left ear. After trying to soothe him for about 45 minutes, I woke Eamonn up and told him we needed to get Finn to a doctor. I called the front desk where I was informed that a doctor could come directly to the hotel. . .for a minimum charge of $800. Hmmm, what are our other options? Urgent care about 30 blocks away--which Eamonn pointed out is only about a mile and a half away, but it seemed like much further. The good news is that when you're traveling through NYC at 1am, there isn't much traffic so your cab fare is pretty reasonable.
-Three hours and a double ear infection later, we were back at the Plaza. We all laid back down at about 4am.

Thursday, December 11
-We all slept in.
-Instead of going out and exploring in the morning, per our original plan, we stayed at the hotel to maximize our time at the Plaza!
-Eddie gave us a behind the scenes tour of the Plaza that is closed to the public because it is now private residences. Finn enjoyed sliding across the floor to the elevator like Kevin.
-At noon another limo picked us up and took us to John's (I think) pizzeria where we picked up a cheese pizza and ate in the limo. . .just like Kevin. Unfortunately, Finn was still a little under the weather and didn't enjoy any pizza.
-We drove to FAO Schwarz, which is ironically across the street from the Plaza so we just went in a big circle in the limo (which took an hour because of NYC traffic!).
-Finn rallied while we explored FAO Schwarz which was, of course, crazy crowded.
-Our driver on this day, Carlos, was waiting for us when we came out, and took us to our new hotel, the Doubletree. Can I tell you how cool it is to have a driver waiting for you on the street? I could get used to this!
-Originally we were supposed to go to the Empire State Building, but we figured Finn's head might explode on the elevators, so Make-A-Wish rescheduled that visit.
-It was pouring rain.
-So instead, we went to Macy's and ate chicken soup, which thrilled Finn to no end, mailed letters to Santa to take part in the Macy's donation to Make-A-Wish for every letter put in their Santa mailbox, and then we went to Santaland. I remember going to Santaland on the 6th floor of Lazarus in downtown Columbus growing up. This was reminiscent of those days! I loved it! So did the boys. Declan sat on Santa's lap. Finn did not.
-Then we went outside, in the pouring rain, and looked at the Macy's windows, which were my favorite of all we saw.
-There was a huge line of people to get a cab, so we took a pedi-cab back to the hotel. That guy worked hard for his fare with four of us piled in there. At least NYC is relatively flat.

Friday, December 12
-Up and out early to the Today Show. Eamonn left at 5:45am to secure a spot, but called by 6am to tell us that we needed to get there ASAP to be sure we got in. I had to rush everyone out of bed and we took off. Then there was the wrong turn I wrote about in the earlier post. Sigh. Such a great way to start the day. Combine that with being hugged by a giant mouse and Finn was none to happy. Declan was all about getting on TV though.
-After the Today Show, we went back to the hotel and gorged on the breakfast buffet.
-The rain had cleared away and the skies were beautiful at last. We went to Central Park and took a carriage ride. Finn wondered if he could ride in the trunk-like thing at the back like Kevin. We said no.
-After our carriage ride, we enjoyed several hours walking around Central Park. The boys played in the park and we walked to the Dakota Building and Strawberry Fields.
-We all went into Tavern on the Green to go to the bathroom. Eamonn and I both took boxes of matches so we could say we'd been there.
-We ate lunch at a hot dog stand. Disappointing. The hot dogs have shrunk!
-We were due at Rockefeller Center to go ice skating at 2:30pm. We got there a little early so we went for hot chocolate at a deli on a side street. Coming out of the deli is when we had our James Gandolfini Encounter.
-Skating at Rockefeller Center. It's fun to say we did it, but it's chaos! Thanks to Make-A-Wish, we didn't have to wait in the huge lines outside, but you go down to this room smaller than our basement that's full of a zillion people trying to rent skates, return skates, and put their stuff in the bag check area. I'm sure a million fire laws were being broken in there. But once we got through that melee, being out on the ice itself was fun. The big tree is right over the rink and everything is decorated, so it's a great atmosphere.
-Friday night we met my cousin, Michael, and his wife, Kim, for dinner. We went to a local Irish pub and the boys behaved in a manner that I feel certain will cause Kim and Mike to not have children.

Saturday, December 13
-Ate breakfast at the hotel again. Each day our server was so nice and would give us extra Doubletree chocolate chip cookies for the boys to take with them as a snack for the day (as if they needed more sugar).
-We were scheduled to be at the Statue of Liberty at 10am. Again, big crowds, but because of Make-A-Wish, we didn't have to wait in any lines! Someone met us at the ticket booth and escorted us straight inside. Security there is tighter than to fly on an airplane--seriously. We had to take off our belts, barettes (me, not Eamonn), and not just coats, but any sweaters, etc., as well.
-Jeremiah (Eamonn's cousin) and his friend, Christie, were also in NYC that weekend, so we had planned to meet up at the Statue of Liberty. We were on the ferry ahead of them.
-If you have plans to go to the Statue of Liberty, you can no longer actually go up inside it (since 9/11). You can get there early and get special tickets into the base of the monument, which is a good museum. You can then walk up to the top of the base (sounds weird, I know) and have a great view.
-I wish I'd taken a video of the boys when they saw Jeremiah. They screamed his name, ran and jumped all over him, and then he picked them both up at the same time and swung them around. Too cute. But I need to work on my quick draw to get my camera out fast enough to capture these Kodak moments.
-From the Statue of Liberty we took the subway to the Empire State Building. Again, star treatment. This was Finn's favorite part of the wish! Eamonn and Finn stayed out on the observation until after the sun went down. They're both "warm" people. Declan and I, with our reptilian tendencies, got cold and had to come inside to watch the sunset.
-We then took the subway on up to Washington Heights to visit with Eamonn's cousins, Mary, Kaitlyn (Mary's daughter), Gerry, Gerry's wife, Mary Jane, and Aunt May. We had a great evening with them and it was fun to see the inside of a New York apartment. Mary drove us back. I don't know how someone drives up in that traffic, but they grew up doing it!

Sunday, December 14
-Our last day! Finn was distressed it was time to go home.
-We took another walk to Central Park and rode the carousel. Then we walked to see Balto's statue and roamed past the zoo.
-Mary had told us about a model train display in a building near our hotel, and so we went to see that. It was amazing and Finn was in hog heaven.
-Another limo picked us up at 2:30pm and it was back to the airport for an uneventful flight back to Denver.
-We landed during snowy weather and yet another limo took us back to the hotel. We got to bed at about 11pm.
-It was hard to sleep without all those taxi horns. Kidding. I don't know how people in NYC sleep at all. I guess you just get used to it. Oh yes, I'm a small town girl at heart.
-We called into the radio station and did a post-trip interview LIVE, which meant Finn didn't get to talk. Apparently they are familiar with the adage: don't work with children or animals--because really, I have no idea what he might have said.
-By 1pm we were home.

And thus ends the trip of a lifetime for us all!

I waited for a limo to pick me up and take me to the grocery store that afternoon, but no one showed. What a letdown.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Twelve Years

December 21, 1996

And Happy 50th Anniversary, Uncle John and Aunt Shirley!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

I swear pictures are coming . . .

My goal is to get the NYC pictures finished tomorrow and more info about our trip. I spent most of this week trying to figure out how in the world we could have possibly amassed that much laundry by being away just one week, finally getting and decorating the Christmas tree and baking some cookies. We took so long to get a tree this year that I started to wonder if we should bother getting one at all. Between working this week, school parties. . .and yes, I admit it, a few powder days at Beaver Creek I'm running a little behind. I hate being behind at Christmas.

Tomorrow is another day!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

I Wish I Could Change The World

Taking part in the Make A Wish radio-thon on Monday was an eye opening (ear opening) experience.

Once again, I'm reminded of how lucky we are. Yes, our son had cancer. It was (still is) scary. But statistics are on our side.

During the radio-thon, we heard stories of kids who died just days, or even hours in one case, after their wish was fulfilled. That puts tears in my eyes right this very second.

There are so many stories. Too many.

So Laurie told me about this family who recently took their own Make A Wish trip to Disney. Honestly, I think I felt a piece of my heart break off when I read their story. Both of their children have a terminal illness called Sanfillippo Syndrome. You can read more about it on their blog, but the bottom line is both of their children are slowly dying.

Friends of the family are trying to raise money to help this family move to a home that can accomodate the childrens' changing needs. You can read more about the efforts of their two college friends at A Hundred For A Home.

I know I throw requests out there for donations for different organizations now and again. We all have our favorite charities. I have mine, you have yours. But I feel compelled to donate to this family because I can't even comprehend how you lose one child, let alone two. It must be agony if you can survive it and still feel.

Shannon, the mom, calls her blog "Exploring Holland." Here's why:

WELCOME TO HOLLAND by Emily Perl Kingsley

I am often asked to describe the experience of raising a child with a disability - to try to help people who have not shared that unique experience to understand it, to imagine how it would feel. It's like this...

When you're going to have a baby, it's like planning a fabulous vacation trip -to Italy. You buy a bunch of guide books and make your wonderful plans. The Coliseum. The Michelangelo David. The gondolas in Venice. You may learn some handy phrases in Italian. It's all very exciting.

After months of eager anticipation, the day finally arrives. You pack your bags and off you go. Several hours later, the plane lands. The flight attendant comes in and says, "Welcome to Holland". "Holland?!?" you say. "What do you mean Holland? I signed up for Italy. I'm supposed to be in Italy. All my life I've dreamed of going to Italy."

But there's been a change in the flight plan. They've landed in Holland and there you must stay. The important thing is that they haven't taken you to a horrible, disgusting, filthy place, full of pestilence, famine and disease.

It's just a different place.

So you must go out and buy new guide books. And you must learn a whole new language. And you will meet a whole new group of people who would never have met.
It's just a different place. It's slower-paced than Italy, less flashy than Italy. But after you've been there for a while and you catch your breath, you look around....and you being to notice that Holland has windmills...and Holland has tulips. Holland even has Rembrandts.

But everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy...and they're all bragging about what a wonderful time they had there. And for the rest of your life, you will say "Yes, that's where I was supposed to go. That's what I had planned."

And for some time, the pain of that will never go away...because the loss of that dream is a significant loss.

But, if you spend your life mourning the face that you didn't get to Italy, you may never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things...about Holland.


What a beautiful, poignant way of saying life doesn't always turn out like we planned.

We had so many people--friends, family, total strangers--reach out to us when Finn was in treatment. We can never repay any of that because you can't put a pricetag on compassion. Without it, we never would have made it. So our goal is to just keep paying it forward when and where we can.

I'm going to head on over and donate what I would have spent on coffee this month. OK, I actually don't drink coffee, but I'm going to pretend I do and donate that amount anyway.

And then I'm going to be grateful that even though life didn't exactly follow the path we thought it would, where we are right now is pretty darn good.

Blogger friends, please help spread the word. . .

Monday, December 15, 2008

Home Again, Home Again Jiggety Jig

My cousin Laura said my Aunt Jane used to say that every time they drove into the garage after returning home, even from the grocery story, and it drove her (Laura) nuts, so I giggle every time that phrase pops into my head.

We're home after an amazing trip. Much to write about, many pictures to show, but much work to do first. I took the boys' cameras in to be put on CDs so I can post "their views" of NYC, which should be hilarious.

Back wtih more, hopefully soon.

Friday, December 12, 2008

The Rooneys Take Manhattan

Yea! Out and about in NYC today--no health problems to speak of. Unless you count that unfortunate incident skating at Rockefeller Center when Finn was playing with the glass doors and got his hand shut in it. Fortunately not broken. I don't think I can take another trip to the doctor's office here. I'm not sure our insurance can either.

Up and out early this morning to the Today Show. Eamonn left the hotel at 5:45am to secure a place along the barriers. I anticipated a more leisurely arrival at 7am. Then Eamonn called and said I had to be there by 6:30am instead. It always goes so well when I have to rush the kids in the morning. We actually made great time getting ready and would have arrived at 6:30am on the dot when security started letting people in. That is, we made good time until, despite Eamonn's careful directions, I turned the wrong way on 48th and walked 3 blocks in the wrong direction, which technically isn't a big deal when you're a big person, but when you're dragging two little people along with you at 6:20am, it's slightly more problematic. So we arrived at the Plaza area slightly frazzled and sweaty, but the boys were fortunately in good spirits. . .until we made them stand out in the cold for 2 1/2 hours.

According to my mother, we did appear on screen twice for a grand total of .6 milliseconds. We wanted to wait around a little longer to see a segment that was supposed to be shot in front of where we were standing, but the boys were in meltdown mode at that point, which I guess is understandable given that we'd dragged them out before dawn and not eaten breakfast.

Small World Encounter #1--the people standing next to us at the Today Show were from a town 15 minutes away from where we live in Colorado.

Small World Encounter #2--We were walking through Central Park and offered to take a family's photo and then they offered to ours. Turns out they're English (Eamonn is English). They asked Eamonn where he lived now: Colorado, of course. They are headed to Colorado on Monday. Really? Where? Beaver Creek. The resort where I work this year at the Children's Ski School, about 20 minutes from our house and where they will be taking ski lessons this week.

Notes. Matt Lauer is pretty short. Al Roker is very friendly, but also short. Matthew Broderick--short and adorable. Finn does not like people dressed up as characters. Like Despereaux, the mouse who was constantly on the Plaza today, causing Finn to spend much of the time crouched at our feet behind the banner. He did accept all of the free Despereaux swag though. Hypocrite.

Finally, I have had a famous person sighting that is verified by Eamonn. In the past I've seen famous people, but Eamonn says if he doesn't see them, too, it's an unverified sighting--like the time I saw Kate Hudson and Chris Robinson walking down the road in Malibu. I maintain to this day it was them. Totally. I mean, how to you mis-identify someone who looks like Chris Robinson?

So this afternoon we were walking out of a deli after having some hot chocolate and cookies and waiting for our skating time at Rockefeller Center, James Gandolofini drove by in a black SUV. Total eye contact. I kept staring at him and thinking, "I feel like I know this guy." Stare, stare, stare. Not in mean way, just dopey and quizzical, which is how I look most of the time anyway. So suddenly Eamonn calls out, "Hey, James!" Like he's friends or something, but I pointed out that his friends probably call him Jim. Anyway, James/Jim gave us a little wave and ultra cool smile. We started to tell the boys about it, but they were yelling "Elmo!" which I thought was strange because I didn't recall James Gandolfini ever playing a character called Elmo. But then when James' SUV moved, I could see someone dressed as Elmo across the street. Finn had no intention of going near Elmo, but apparently just wanted us to know Elmo was in the vicinity.

A long, good day. Is it bedtime yet?

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Home Alone 3: Sick in New York

No, I'm totally not kidding. Finn's Make A Wish trip has not gotten off to a very auspicous start. First, late leaving Denver and late into NYC because of rainstorms. . .read, a very bumpy flight which caused me to exclaim a few things I shouldn't have in front of my children. Oops.

I'll write more later about our stay at the Plaza because they were so wonderful there, but I only have 3 minutes on this Dick Turpin of a business center computer which I'm having to pay for. What the?

Anyway, Finn wasn't feeling too well last evening and finally woke in the night with ear pain. After a time of unconsolable crying, we all loaded into a cab sometime after 1am and went to an urgent care in Manhattan where we discovered he has a double ear infection. Three hours and two trips to a 24 hour pharmacy later, we were able to get back to bed at about 4am.

Needless to say, Finn wasn't up to much today, but we did get a little behind the scenes tour of the Plaza to see where "Kevin" was Home Alone in New York. At noon a limo picked us up and took us for pizza. . .except that Finn didn't feel well enough to eat it in the limo. Then we went to FAO Schwarz where he did perk up for awhile.

Then back to the hotel for nap. We had to call and skip our scheduled visit to the Empire State building because we didn't think his ears could handle the trip to the top. So MAW staff have graciously arranged for us to try again on Saturday afternoon.

After Finn napped, we went to Macy's where we found chicken soup! Happy day. Finn actually ate for the first time in about 24 hours. He seems much more cheerful now. After visiting Santaland (which was amazing) and sitting on Santa's lap (Declan, not Finn), we looked at the Macy's windows. . .in the driving rain. And then took a pedi-cab back to our hotel. . .in the driving rain. We're a bit soggy.

So our plan is still to head to the Today Show tomorrow morning, BUT we may go towards the later part of the show instead of the earliest part because we're not sure what Finn's state of health will be first thing in the morning. So set your TiVo (I don't even own TiVO so I have no idea what this even means) and hopefully we'll be on their with our sign at some point!

Must run now. Time is ticking on the meter and I have to go put on some dry underwear.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Waiting to Take a Bite Out of the Big Apple

Mother Nature has an ironic sense of humor. We've had a warm, dry fall in our neck of Colorado. As in, no snow at our elevation. The resorts? Plenty, and I'm grateful for that. The economy could use it. But while we've had a few dustings at our house, that's about it. I guess we did wake up to a few inches in the days after Thanksgiving, and I got all excited that this was IT for the year--no more looking at brown grass until March. But no. It warmed right back up again and the snow was gone. Until yesterday afternoon when it was time for us to get ready to drive to Denver. Typical. If we're driving to Denver to go on a trip, it will snow heavily. Even if it's June.

Fear not. We made it in fine style, despite the nearly whiteout conditions at certain points.

Our hotel is really nice--the boys have declared it The Best Hotel Ever. Wait 'til they get a load of the Plaza, I say. Make A Wish had a backpack waiting for Finn that was loaded with goodies like cars, gummy worms, disposable cameras, flashlight and an iPod shuffle. Good grief. We're going to be spoiled rotten by the end of this. Finn graciously shared his items with Declan. I love it when they get along for 2.2 seconds. It does my heart good.

This morning we went to a Denver radio station to tape the interview for Monday. If you go to and scroll down, you'll see the promotional info on the fundraiser, which features a picture of none other than the Mighty Finn. You can listen to the program live on the Web from 6 - 9am MST on 12/15. I can only imagine how my voice will sound on the radio. It's all about me, you know. Not about the money Make A Wish might raise, which I hope is a lot because this is the first time they've ever done this and they've probably wiped out their coffers sending us to stay at the Plaza for a night. Anyway, if you don't have 3 hours of your life to spend at your computer Monday morning, they're supposed to send me an MP3 version of the interview which I can allegedly post on my blog. Allegedly. I have no idea how I would do that given my past history with trying to upload videos. We'll see. Or hear, as it were.

We also had a chance to visit the clinic today and by coincidence, Finn's buddy Joshua was there today. Top that off with lunch at McDonalds and a swim in the pool and I think we're already ready for bed. Seriously. We're heading out to join the geriatric set of Denver for an early bird dinner at 5pm so we can go to bed at 7pm. The boys don't know it, but a limo is picking us up at 5:30am tomorrow to take us to the airport and then the adventure begins.

Eamonn just called me from the hotel room, because you know how it is in this day and age of technology, he can't actually come down to the business center of the hotel in person, to tell me that Jeremiah will be in NYC this weekend, too, so hopefully we'll get a chance to see him.

AND, in other exciting news, I just keep rambling on, don't I?, Eamon (Eamonn's cousin) and his wife Nicole have been staying with us for the past few days, and they have decided to relocate to the valley! Over the course of about 24 hours they found a place to live and got Nicole a job as a ski instructor. They'll be back in the valley with all of their stuff in just one week. Ah yes, remember those days of being young and childless and you can do things like move across the country at the drop of a hat and then get up the next day and go to work without even batting an eye? Actually, I'm not sure I was ever capable of doing something like that. But, we're crazy excited to have them living so close to us (Even though they'll probably never have children now after spending so much time with the boys, sorry Theresa).

AND, our friends Lisa, Brian and Aidan arrive back in CO from the UK for a visit next week after we get home.

Many exciting things going on.

Must run. Early bird calls.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

When You Wish Upon a Star. . .

Guess where we're going next week?

I've been dying to tell you this for ages, but as of today, I have the information and itinerary, and it's official: We're off to New York City next week for Finn's Make A Wish trip! ACK! I'm not sure who is more excited--Finn or me?

So here's the backstory on how Finn came to choose NYC for his wish trip. . .

During the steroid pulse of Finn's chemo (5 days every four weeks), he would become so incredibly irritable, his legs would ache, he would drink alarming amounts of fluids, and eat processed foods with wild abandon. It sucked. Probably more for him than for me, I'd wager. During those 5 days each month, he'd like on the couch, eating and drinking. . .and watching movies (come to think of it, there are 5 days each month I'd like to spend doing the very same).

Anyway, much to my dismay, he typically wanted to watch the same movie over and over and over again until I wanted to gouge my eyes out with a sharp stick just so I wouldn't have to hear the same dialogue over and over and over. . .you get the picture. But we pretty much let him watch whatever he wanted because let's face it, he felt pretty shitty. And I don't mean to be crass here, but there's just no other way to describe it.

Two years ago Finn got hooked on Home Alone. Just ask my mother. We had just moved and I recall her sitting on the couch with Finn, rubbing his legs all day, and watching Home Alone three consecutive times. Appalling to me, but then again, Grandmas are good at that sort of thing.

After Finn had memorized the lines from Home Alone, he started asking if there was a Home Alone 2. There was, but I had never seen it. I was a fan of the original, which Andrea and I went to see and laughed until our sides were sore--especially when the iron falls on Daniel Stern--and I had no intention of tainting my memories of the first movie with a sub-par sequel. But then I looked at my poor steroidal child on the couch and got the sequel from the library: Home Alone 2: Lost in New York.

And the rest, as they say, is history.

Since that fateful viewing of the movie two years ago, Finn has been determined to get to New York City. We thought it was a phase that would wear off. It didn't. At the park we played Home Alone 2. I always had to be the burglar and Finn always outsmarted me. At home he set up elaborate booby traps. I never knew when I was about to be decapitated by a strategically placed string or when I might find myself stuck in the bathroom with the door tied shut. Oh yes, he was hooked.

Last winter when we started the wish process, we told Finn there was this organization called Make A Wish and he could do anything he wanted. For awhile we wondered if he'd choose NYC, but he'd also asked if we would ever go to Disney. So we weren't really sure what's he'd come up with. We shouldn't have wondered. From the first words, "You can do anything you want to do. . ." It was New York City. Really? You don't want to do something like. . .Nope. New York City. And he has never wavered once.

Immediately we had to watch the movie again, but this time was different. I sat next to him, pen and paper in hand, and he directed me to take notes. When he saw "Kevin" do something in the movie that he himself wanted to do, he instructed me to write it down. We did this about five different times. The list was always the same:

1. Stay at the Plaza Hotel
2. Go ice skating and eat chicken soup afterwards (Kevin doesn't actually eat soup in the movie. I think Finn added this in because he loves chicken soup.)
3. Go to the Empire State Building
4. Go to the Statue of Libery
5. Ride in a limo and eat cheese pizza
6. Go to the toy store (we had to explain the the toy store in the movie was a pretend store, but there was a different toy store we could visit)
7. Go for a carriage ride in Central Park (Kevin actually hides in the back of a carriage when he's escaping from the burglars. We emphasized that burglars would not be chasing us.)

So today our itinerary arrived and may I just say that Make A Wish is just, like, WOW. I don't even know how to put into words the effort they have put into making Finn's wish a reality.

We fly from Denver on Wednesday, but we'll go to Denver Monday night because Make A Wish has asked if Finn can do a radio interview on Tuesday morning! Good grief--fortunately it's not a live interview so they can edit out any wild, random comments he might make on the air! His segment will be taped and will air on KOOL 105 some time between 6am and 10am on 12/15. Make A Wish Colorado is having a big fundraising drive that day. And, we may end up being on again that day for a post trip report--I'm not really sure. We'll see how it all pans out.

But Make A Wish is putting us up in a hotel for Monday and Tuesday night and then taking us to the airport via limo. The boys don't know about that so it will be a fun surprise.

Here's a rough outline of the trip:

-Fly to NYC
-Stay at the Plaza Hotel (yes, we're staying at the Plaza for one night!)
-We'll probably spend the rest of the day exploring around the hotel and area nearby. Personally, I don't think I'll ever want to leave the Plaza. They'll probably have to call armed guards to pull me out the next day.

-Move to a new hotel (boo hoo). I guess it's OK if the Plaza wants to actually have paying customers come in.
-Another limo will take us from the Plaza to the new hotel. The boys are going to be in for a cold, hard dose of reality when we return home and our limo transforms back into a 1999 dirt-covered VW wagon with 160,000 miles on it. Like Cinderella returning home from the ball. . .only replace the glass slipper with a snow clog and it will be a little more realistic.
-Actually, we won't go directly from the Plaza to the new hotel. We will be going to a famous pizza shop and picking up pizza that we will eat while we drive around town (does one really drive around NYC in all that traffic? Heck, who cares! We're eating PIZZA in a LIMO in NYC! I don't care if we just sit there!)
-The limo will take us to FAO Schwarz where my children, who have become small town boys, will be so overwhelmed by all that they see they will have seizures on the top floor of the store.
-Later that day it's on to the Empire State Building! I'm going to have to watch An Affair to Remember and Sleepless in Seattle this weekend.

-Now, brace yourselves everyone. If you can, tune in to the Today Show on Friday, Dec. 12. It is our intent to get our bodies down there bright and early and find a spot on the railing to hang a banner that a local sign company graciously donated to say THANK YOU to Make A Wish. I hope it works because they have made this trip possible. Good grief, someone please TiVO it for me.
-On Friday we'll also be skating at Rockefeller Center (and I guess eating soup afterwards) and enjoying the giant Christmas tree.

Our schedule is crazy full, but I also hope we can get to Macy's and see Santaland and also the decorated windows there and at other stores. I used to love looking at the decorated windows at Lazarus Downtown. Ah, those were the days.

-We're scheduled to go to the Statue of Liberty.

-Heading back to Denver

-Drive home from Denver

Wardrobe issues are causing me angst. We're going to one of the most cosmopolitan cities in the world and I will be wearing. . .corduroys, fleece and snow clogs. My style is distinctly, um, mountain. Make that Stay At Home Mom Mountain. I'm sure I'll fit right in.

So there you have it: Finn's wish come true!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

What's the Weather?

I have watched this about 10 times and it alternately tugs on my heart and makes me laugh.

Then I think about how he mooned his class last week (true story). And then I feel like I need to lie down with a wet cloth over my eyes.

PS--Andy, I got your comment right when YouTube finally finished uploading. I'll know next time. Thanks!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Techno Boob

OK, I'm totally stymied. I want to upload a video of Finn singing, but it's 144 megabytes and most sites only let you upload a maximum of 100. I know I could reshoot the clip and divide it into the two songs he sang, but that sort of wrecks the spontaneity of this mornings performance when I whipped out the camera and when he was just singing away.

So how do people do it? I see longer videos uploaded all the time. Instead of using something like Photobucket or doing it directly through Blogger, do I need to upload it to YouTube and send people there to view it?

And, with all of that said, I've never actually been able to upload a video to this blog. I think. The only time I feel like I did it and worked was when I embedded a video on Finn's CaringBridge site after our trip to England last year. Remember sideways Big Ben?

All you experienced bloggers, I need you!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

I'm so full of scalloped oysters that more photographs are the perfect thing for today. Plus, I think the tryptophan is kicking in. I'm feeling really drowsy.

As a random aside, I made my own gravy today and it actually worked. A first.


Like my new avatar? It's me peeling potatoes this morning. Declan was taking random photographs and I thought a picture of me on my blog peeling potatoes was totally appropriate since it is the room of the house where I spend the most time.

Some fall pictures from Colorado and other miscellaneous stuff.

Monday, November 24, 2008

A Week of Pictures

I realize I have been totally remiss in posting links to pictures recently. OK, I haven't actually been remiss, I've actually been lazy about uploading, editing, titling, and posting pictures. With all of the School Drama this fall, pictures just fell by the wayside.

So this week I'm going to make up for that. Try and contain your excitement. It'll be hard, I know.

Basically, I'm exhausted from cooking a "Thanksgiving feast" for 100+ kindergartners today and posting pictures seems like an easy way out tonight. I don't think I can come up with anything clever to say about cooking for 100+ kindergartners except that:

1. It is clear my calling is not in the foodservice industry.
2. When you work all morning and get hungry enough, you will partake in the feast even though you SAW what was happening as the 100+ kindergartners "helped" with the food preparation. Basically, you just hope that the 350 degree oven does its job.
3. You can actually cook for 100+ kindergartners with just one stove and a microwave when you have to get creative because the cook decides she's not going to let you use the school oven. Except for the pies. She will let you put 5 pies in her oven, but she will neglect to tell you that it's a convection oven and the pie will cook in half the time, and no, don't worry about it, I'll watch that pie for you and take it out when it's ready. Or blackened. Whichever comes first (blackened). As an aside here, have I mentioned before about my theory that there is a certain type of person who works in the school foodservice system or drives the buses? One and the same. They all intimidate me.
4. It is annoying when parents who did not help prepare the food for the 100+ kindergartners show up and eat leaving nothing for the parents who were at school all morning preparing the food for the 100+ kindergartners. Seriously. Some of us were scraping food out of the bowls at the end to see if there was anything left. And they didn't pay. I had to come home and have a bowl of cereal.

So instead of writing any sort of post about cooking for 100+ kindergartners, I'm just going to let you look at pictures of our vacation in August. 'Bout time.

I think I miss summer.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Oh, the Irony

As I was pulling up to the grocery store today, I noticed a woman using the same reusable grocery bags from Whole Foods that I have. Way to go! Save the planet!

Then I noticed she was loading her groceries into a Hummer.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

New Baby Alert!

No, not me. Thank goodness. Had I mentioned that my little sister was pregnant with her FIFTH baby? I know, I don't know how it is that we're related either.

Anyway, Caroline Lenore Myers joined our clan last night at about 10pm MST making a grand total of 8 grandkids for my parents now. I am Aunt Bobo for the 6th time!

Introducing Caroline Lenore!

Mom and Erin with Caroline. I need to note here that these pictures are courtesy of Erin's friend Laurie. Thank you, Laurie, for the pictures! Ashley and Laurie were both present for the birth! I say way to go, girls. I tend to not have a stomach for such things like, you know, birth.

Have I ever mentioned why all my nieces and nephews call me Aunt Bobo? It started back when Garvin wasn't even a year old--he's 10 now! I had this outfit that I LOVED. Remember those one piece romper-style thingys that had the big wide legs? It looked like you were wearing a big long dress until you moved and then people realized you were actually wearing pants. I can still picture it. Oh, how I loved that outfit. Such '90s fashion.

Eamonn, on the other hand, hated it. He called it The Clown Suit.

One time when Tara and Garvin were visiting Ohio, we were all at my Mom's. I recall sitting around on the floor and playing with Garvin and trying to get him to say "Natalie." I must have been wearing The Clown Suit, because Eamonn said, "He might as well call you Bobo the Clown. You've already got the outfit and the crazy hair, all you need are the floppy shoes and big red nose! Say it, Garvin! Bobo!" And say it Garvin did. From that day forward, I have been Aunt Bobo. I'm not sure any of the nieces and nephews know I have a real name.

So whatever happened to The Clown Suit? Alas, it's gone, probably a rag for some auto mechanic somewhere by this point. Or if I think happier thoughts, maybe someone with great taste found it at the thrift store and is wearing it while panhandling on the streets of Columbus this very second.

Friday, November 14, 2008

I Hate You, Germs

At the rate we're going, by Christmas break we'll be receiving a notice that Finn will have to repeat kindergarten because he has missed too much school.

He missed days 3 and 4 because he apparently was exposed to something THE VERY FIRST DAY of school and had a terrible cold that became a sinus infection and then had to go on antibiotics As an aside, the nurse said she had several kids come to her office THE FIRST DAY with strep throat. But I digress. Then Finn missed half a day not too long after that when I had to take him to Glenwood to see an ENT. Then there was the infamous week out of school for the food poisioning/teacher who wouldn't let him go to the bathroom incident.

Then last week he came home with a raging case of pink eye and missed Thursday and Friday.

About mid-week this week, he was complaining of a sore throat. ARGH! And sure enough, last night he woke up with croup. Guess who was home with me today? I've got to do some serious voodoo this weekend and get him healthy because I have a spa day scheduled for Monday to finally use the certificate Marci gave me last December. I tried to use it last spring. But Finn was home sick that day. Coincidence? I think not. The germs are conspiring against me, I just know it.

If people can send notes to school saying, "Please don't bring nuts to school. My child has a severe nut allergy," can I send a note to school saying, "Please do not send your child to school sick. I know you are using school for childcare and you don't want to take a day off of work to stay home with him/her, but your child's sniffles can end up keeping my child home for a week. Please reconsider. And perhaps you could teach them about washing their hands as well?"

We did actually send a letter to parents in Declan's class when he was in kindergarten. No one gave a crap, quite frankly.

Is my annoyance showing?

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Historian

We've been reading the Mrs. Piggle Wiggle books which were favorites of mine "when I was a girl." When we read together, we always check to see when books were written.

Me: "Oh my gosh! This book was written back when Grandma was a girl!"

Declan: "So when was that?"

Me: "It was in the 40s."

Declan: "So Grandma was born in 18. . ."

Me: "Nineteen! Grandma was born in the 19s!"

Hysterical laughter from all parties in the room.

The Pharmacist

Finn: I think I need to take Ambien CR.

Me: Really? Why?

Finn: Because there are two layers. The first layer helps you fall asleep. The second helps you stay asleep. What do you think?

Me: I think you've taken enough medication to last you a lifetime. I also think you're watching too much TV.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Thank You, Veterans

This morning the boys' school held a Veteran's Day ceremony. Each child had the opportunity to make a candle for military service personnel in their family. The boys made candles for Skylar, Jeremiah and Rob.

Finn placing a candle for Jeremiah, who is on active duty with the Air Force and served in Iraq last winter and spring. Jeremiah is Eamonn and the boys' cousin.

Jeremiah's candle

Finn and his candle for Jeremiah

Declan placing candles for Skylar and Rob. Skylar just retired from 29 1/2 years in the Air Force (active duty and later reserves). Skylar is married to Eamonn's cousin, but he's "Uncle Skylar" to the boys. Rob served with the National Guard in Iraq from Sept. '06 - Oct.' 07. Rob is my cousin and the boys' cousin.

Declan with his candles.

Skylar's candle.

Rob's candle.

Jeremiah's candle.

I was surprised at how emotional I felt. Really, I've been this way since 9/11. I can no longer hear the National Anthem without tears coming to my eyes. On Sept. 12, 2001, we were here in Colorado at the opening ceremonies for the World Mountain Biking Championships. It was the first time I'd heard the Star Spangled Banner since the terrorist attacks the day before and I just stood there with tears streaming down my face and it's been like that pretty much ever since.

Today one little girl and her mother came up together to place a candle. Both were crying. A father? A husband? An uncle? A brother? A cousin? A sister? An aunt? A friend?

Several vets attended the ceremony as well. I went and thanked a Navy vet who had served in WWII and was there with his great grandchildren. Tears welled up in his eyes when I shook his hand. If you have never seen Band of Brothers, watch it. The most compelling parts are the interviews with the actual soliders who served. Sixty years, SIXTY YEARS, later, these gentlemen still get emotional when they talk about their time of service and the friends they lost. They talk about how when they came home, they couldn't talk about the war, even with their wives and children. But they were changed forever. And they were just in their late teens and early 20s. I can't even fathom it.

So to Skylar, Jeremiah, Rob and the countless others--thank you.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Because I am too mentally out of it to come up with a blog topic tonight. . .

. . .I stole this meme from Leeann instead.

Bold the things you’ve done and will admit to:

1. Started your own blog
2. Slept under the stars
3. Played in a band
4. Visited Hawaii
5. Watched a meteor shower
6. Given more than you can afford to charity
7. Been to Disneyland/world
8. Climbed a mountain

9. Held a praying mantis
10. Sang a solo
11. Bungee jumped
12. Visited Paris
13. Watched a lightning storm at sea
14. Taught yourself an art from scratch
15. Adopted a child
16. Had food poisoning
17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty

18. Grown your own vegetables
19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France
20. Slept on an overnight train
21. Had a pillow fight

22. Hitch hiked
23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill (and got caught by my boss, I might add)
24. Built a snow fort

25. Held a lamb
26. Gone skinny dipping
27. Run a Marathon
28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice
29. Seen a total eclipse
30. Watched a sunrise or sunset
31. Hit a home run
32. Been on a cruise
33. Seen Niagara Falls in person
34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors
35. Seen an Amish community

36. Taught yourself a new language
37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied
38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person
39. Gone rock climbing (on a wall)
40. Seen Michelangelo’s David
41. Sung karaoke
42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt

43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant
44. Visited Africa
45. Walked on a beach by moonlight
46. Been transported in an ambulance

47. Had your portrait painted
48. Gone deep sea fishing
49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person
50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris
51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling

52. Kissed in the rain
53. Played in the mud
54. Gone to a drive-in theater
55. Been in a movie
56. Visited the Great Wall of China
57. Started a business
58. Taken a martial arts class
59. Visited Russia
60. Served at a soup kitchen
61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies
62. Gone whale watching
63. Gotten flowers for no reason

64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma
65. Gone sky diving
66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp
67. Bounced a check
68. Flown in a helicopter
69. Saved a favorite childhood toy
70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial
71. Eaten Caviar

72. Pieced a quilt
73. Stood in Times Square
74. Toured the Everglades
75. Been fired from a job
76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London
77. Broken a bone
78. Been on a speeding motorcycle
79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person

80. Published a book
81. Visited the Vatican
82. Bought a brand new car
83. Walked in Jerusalem
84. Had your picture in the newspaper
85. Read the entire Bible
86. Visited the White House
87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating
88. Had chickenpox
89. Saved someone’s life
90. Sat on a jury
91. Met someone famous.
92. Joined a book club

93. Lost a loved one
94. Had a baby
95. Seen the Alamo in person

96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake
97. Been involved in a law suit
98. Owned a cell phone
99. Been stung by a bee

I'm off to Denver tomorrow. And yes, my snow clothes are packed.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Eight Facts About Me

Mom on the Run tagged me for a meme: Eight Facts About Me. I love these things. Mostly because I get to go on and on about myself. As if I didn't do that all the time anyway. But this is now an official license to Go On and On About Myself Ad Nauseam.

Here are the rules:

1. Each player starts with eight random fact/habits about themselves.

2. People who are tagged need to write on their own blog about their eight things and post these rules.

3. At the end of your blog post, you need to choose people to get tagged and list their name.

4. Don't forget to leave them a comment telling them they're tagged and to read your blog.


Eight Facts About Me:

1. I am fairly certain I can consume more popcorn than anyone in the world. There are many things in my life I could sacrifce. Popcorn isn't one of them. I gave a PowerPoint presentation about it once.

2. I have a recurring nightmare that I have coral growing out of my feet. Under the coral, my feet are orange.

3. Lima beans make me want to retch. My sisters don't like them either. One time my mom put lima beans in her homemade vegetable soup. We didn't speak to her for days.

4. For good luck when I fly, I carry a piece of a blanket, called a silkie, in my pocket. It's not the original silkie I had when I was young--I tragically sucked that up in the vaccuum cleaner when I was in college. So I went to the fabric store and bought a whole roll of the silkie stuff and just snip off pieces as I need them when I fly. To my knowledge, I have never flown without it. One time when we were in England I thought I lost it. I thought I was going to have to stay in England indefinitely (which I wouldn't mind, actually). Then I found it and we were able to come home on schedule.

5. I have very curly hair. My sisters have totally straight hair. No one can believe we're related when they look at our hair. But I guess they could also be mystified by the fact that my sisters have thin thighs and I don't. Personally, I would rather have thin thighs and straight hair.

6. My favorite sitcom of all time is MASH. I could watch it endlessly. One day I dream of owning the entire series on DVD. My dad looks and acts like Alan Alda and even runs like him. He also runs like Dick van Dyke. He runs like a cross of Alan Alda and Dick van Dyke. I wonder if my sisters and I have told him this? I suspect we have.

7. I am a middle child. Totally.

8. When I was in college, I used to stay with people's kids when they went out of town. Once I had a job that was a week long. Then I had a week's break before going back for another week with the same kids. By the middle of the last week, I developed a nervous tic in my eye. I called my mom and told her I was never having kids and that I REALLY meant it. She laughed at me.

I could go on, but I'll stop per the meme's instructions.

I'm tagging: Ashley, Laurie, Kristie, and MARCI!!! Leeann, I'm leaving you alone because you just did one and I don't want to cause you meme stress.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

And so it begins. . .

I feel like maybe I should have ordered the boys' snowboots already.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

THERE you are!

First, thanks to everyone who signed the guestbook on yesterday's post (see below). It really is so much fun to see who all is out there stopping by and reading. I have tons of new blogs to visit!

Speaking of which, did anyone notice how Ashley and Laurie brazenly refused my request to identify themselves? The nerve! Ha ha! Those two ladies are my sister Erin's BFFs over yonder in Utah and I spent time with them a few weeks ago when I went to visit Erin. I had met Laurie before, but it was the first time I'd ever met Ashley. It's always important to know the kind of hooligans your little sister is keeping company with. Stop by and check out their blogs sometime!

And how about you, Maryanne, lurking down there in Texas! An interesting tidbit about Maryanne, who I used to work with in Ohio: we both had dogs with the same name. Can you get over that madness?

I also noticed a disturbing trend: As Tracy pointed out, I would have very few readers if it weren't for Kristie. I mean seriously. Are there, like, five people who visit my site who didn't find me from Kristie? I think those five people are from my family. And Maryanne, of course. But good grief, I hope Kristie never stops blogging or I'll have to shut down my site.

I loved seeing where people are from. Truly, it's all over the U.S. And if we throw my sisters-in-law in, we can hit the UK as well. I guess we could say I have readership in Mexico, too, because everyone I know seems to have moved or will be moving there shortly.

Thanks, everyone, for humoring me and signing in!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Steady as He Goes & a Question for the Rest of You

When we first met with Finn's new teacher, Eamonn was positive it would be a good move for Finn. I was more cautiously optimistic--afraid to be too excited after getting our hopes up several times with Finn's former teacher (did I mention Eamonn loves me for my positive attitude?).

All last week I wanted to write to you and say, "YAY! This is it! It's perfect!" But I didn't want to eat crow yet again.

But now, after a week and one day, I feel like I can say, "YAY! This is it! It's perfect!" Finn is like a different kid from the person he's been since about the second week of September. No complaints about not liking school. No crying. No timeouts (except for that hitting incident the first day).

And, truth be told, it's still early days yet. My Mom, who taught kindergarten for 30 years, reminded me that there will still be bumps in the road. But, I have a happy heart for the first time in a long time. Because I know Finn is going somewhere he not only doesn't hate, but actually enjoys each day, I have been able to settle down and get some work done. No, my house still isn't clean, but at least I'm making my deadlines and getting myself back on some sort of track.

I want to say a huge thank you to all of you who have posted or e-mailed with your support through all of this. It was a hard time. Certainly not as hard a time as when Finn was in treatment, but hard in a different way. I spent a lot of time feeling sick to my stomach, wandering aimlessly around the house and worrying. I'm an excellent worrier. But hearing from all of you was great and kept me going. Some of you even have sensory kids and sent tons of advice. Amanda--thank you for the sensory diet! You all have helped me more than you'll ever know.

So it was interesting to me to hear from all of you and I'd love to know more about where you are and how you came to find us. Of course, don't feel like you need to breech any Internet security like saying, "My name is Ann Smith and I live at 555 Park Lane in Oxford, Ohio. Come and get me cyberstalkers!" No, I certainly don't want you to reveal anything that would identify you. But, I would love to know general info like: My name is Natalie, I live in Colorado, and I found you because you commented on Pioneer Woman's site. . .or something like that. Or whatever you're comfortable with. I'm just so curious about all of you.

Or maybe I'm just nosy. I guess I should just call it what it is.

Let's set a record for the number of comments! Who are you? Where are you? How did you find me? I'm dying to know!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

What the Heck. . .

. . .is going on in Mexico that everyone suddenly wants to move there?

Did I ever tell you that my sister, Tara, and her family are spending the school year in Lo de Marcos, Mexico? She left in August. Did I tell you this? Did I? Did I? I have an infamously faulty memory.

So I was sad that they were going. We knew for a long time that they would go. They probably would have gone sooner if we hadn't moved. For years they've been talking about going somewhere for a "foreign living" experience and finally settled on Mexico. I was in denial about it for a long time. I just got used to talking to her multiple times a day and seeing her multiple times a week and now--cold turkey. It's weird.

But they're having a good time and I know they'll be back. It's only ten months total.

Then two weeks ago my BFF, Marci, informed me that her husband's job is taking them to. . .Mexico. . .for THREE YEARS.

What's up with that? Has everyone suddenly gone mad for tacos and churros? Are sombreros becoming the fashion rage and I just don't know it and am about to miss out on something?

I don't know, but I feel annoyed at Mexico.

Erin has a lot of slack to pick up. I think she's already tired of me calling every 10 minutes. It's going to be a long 10 months/3 years for her.

We can all keep track of Marci on her blog though: www.wearemakingarunfortheborder.blogspot.com.

Adios, mi amiga! No beba el agua!

Monday, October 27, 2008

A Successful Day

"Finn had a good day," were his teacher's exact words.

Now when I asked Finn about his day, he happened to mention, "I hit some kid." Nice. Why? "He was making a lot of noise and wouldn't be quiet." So we had a discussion that we don't hit people (as if we'd apparently never had conversations before that we don't hit people). He did get a "time out" as a result: he had to clean up the toy area. Much more to my liking than sitting facing the wall.

And then we had a further discussion about repercussions at home if he is hitting people at school. Don't want you to think I'm lax on discipline or anything.

A Good Start

Given that it's only 10:13am on Monday morning, I don't really have anything to report except that dropping Finn off at school this morning was uneventful. Did you hear that? UNEVENTFUL! Never have I been so excited to write that word before.

Normally, Sunday would be a day of dread for Finn. A day filled with, "I don't want to go to school tomorrow." Bedtime would be a drag--prolonged with angst, anxiety and inability to sleep. Not so this weekend. Never once did he say he didn't want to go to school. A small step, but an important one.

I feel anxious because I feel like we're "on trial." I still feel like people think Finn's SPD issues are behaviors that just need to be disciplined out of him.

Time will tell.

I did see Finn's former teacher this morning. Slightly awkward.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Still at Home

I'm here to report that there's nothing to report. Finn and Declan both are home from school today. What the?

First, as you know, Finn has been home all week because of The Final Straw with his former teacher. What happened was that on Sunday, Eamonn and Finn both ate some chicken that had been in the refrigerator too long. Only neither of them was sick yet by the time the boys went to school Monday morning. Over the course of the morning at school, Finn began complaining to his teacher that his stomach hurt. Soon he was crying and saying he needed to throw up. Apparently the teacher didn't think that a child who has vomited more times in 3 1/2 years than most people will in a lifetime could actually know that he needed to throw up. So the teacher refused to let Finn go to the bathroom or go to the nurse's office saying, "I don't believe you." Finn kept crying and saying he needed to be sick and eventually he threw up all over his table. I can't imagine--sitting there with that feeling that you're about to throw up and not being allowed to leave the room. This was the first time that I felt totally irrational about Finn's situation and felt like going over to the school and confronting the teacher and just screaming at him. But I didn't.

As I was driving home from Utah, I got a call from the school that someone needed to pick Finn up. Fortunately Eamonn was still close to home and went to get Finn. After I got home I was talking to Finn about getting sick at school and asking why he didn't go to the bathroom and the whole story came out. That was when Eamonn and I agreed that Finn wouldn't go back to school until the situation was resolved.

Finn spent the rest of the day in a great deal of discomfort--a lot of stomach cramping and vomiting. He couldn't even keep small sips of liquid down. And then Eamonn's vomiting kicked in. There is a bug going around school, but we're pretty convinced that it was a mild case of food poisoning because Eamonn and Finn ate the chicken and Declan didn't. And Eamonn is one of those people who never gets sick. The last time he was sick was in 2001 when he had shingles. Seriously. Declan has shown no signs of being sick and now, I haven't either, even after being in very close proximity to the offending bodily fluids.

So Tuesday was spent recuperating. Finn really didn't eat much that day--mostly crackers and a baked potato.

Yesterday Finn's eating was pretty much business as usual. It was his birthday and because he wasn't starting in his new room until Thursday, he was still home. He ate mostly normal food and requested McDonald's for his birthday lunch. I drove through the first snow of the year to take him and all seemed well.

In the late afternoon, we went over to school and met with Finn's new teacher. We briefed her on Finn's background and she went over the schedule with him. He spends time in her room four days a week and he seemed comfortable in there.

We came home and ate Finn's birthday dinner--his favorite tortellini--and "chocolate pie" which he had requested as his birthday cake.

Everything was fine at bedtime. The boys asked to sleep together in Finn's bed, which they usually only do on weekends, but we said it was OK because it was Finn's birthday.

At 2am, Finn woke up screaming and vomiting. I have to confess, I haven't seen vomit like that since the chemo days. I forgot how much that kid can project. It took us two hours to get everyone cleaned up, settled down and back to sleep. The dirty laundry generated is still in progress.

So Finn is home for obvious reasons. Declan is home because he's exhausted and has huge circles under his eyes.

I'm counting down the minutes until we all take naps.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008


Tonight we got the word: On Thursday Finn will start in a new classroom.


Let the new angst begin. Because I've always got to have a littlst angst going on somewhere apparently.

So we told Finn at bedtime that he would be moving to a new classroom and he was really excited. It isn't Mrs. Angel's classroom, however. Our OT, after spending time in three classrooms on Monday, made a different recommendation based on several factors, one of which is the mix of kids already in each room. Mrs. Angel has some really challenging kids, three of whom the OT suspects are undiagnosed sensory kids, and is very concerned that putting Finn into the mix will be like dropping a match into a powder keg. No good.

The room the OT chose for Finn is a room where he already goes each day for reading so he has a relationship with this teacher already. According to the OT, this teacher, we'll call her Miss P, has a very caring attitude towards the kids, but also has a lot of structure, which Finn seems to crave. She is a mentor teacher at the school and so has a lot of experience under her belt. She was also the school's teacher of the year last year.

And ironically, a few weeks ago, Finn asked out of the blue, "Why can't I be in Miss P's class?" So he already had her on the brain and felt connected with her.

I have already exchanged e-mails with Miss P and we will be going to visit her room tomorrow evening so that Finn can spend some time with her one on one to prepare him for his first day in the class on Thursday.

I'm happy to have him at home another day. Tomorrow is his 6th birthday and I'm surprised he isn't already downstairs asking to open presents. We told him he had to stay in bed until 6:45am!

We feel good about the direction we're heading. Time will tell if this will be a good fit or not, but we felt we wanted to give it a try. If it doesn't work for some reason, it tells us that we probably need to consider something more non-traditional for Finn at this point, but we have high hopes that Miss P and her teaching experience will help us salvage Finn's kindergarten year.

And now it's time to wrap presents.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Home for Now

How many more times can I come here and post totally absurd information about Finn and school and have you keep believing me?

Is this a rhetorical question? I'm not even sure. And I'm the one writing this post.

We had such high hopes that today would bring us the answers we all sought--that Finn's OT would have a cut and dried answer for us about which room would be best for him. And that he would move there right away. Then rainbows would appear in the sky, flowers would bloom (even though I think it might be snowing), and a band of angels would burst into the Halleluah Chorus.

Yada yada yada. (That Seinfeld episode was on tonight so it's on my brain) As if.

While the OT did give an impressive summation of the classrooms and does have a recommendation, unfortunately NONE of the rooms is ideal, which of course, is realistic when you think about it. How could any of the rooms be absolutely perfect? It was silly of me to think it would be an easy thing. Surprisingly, her top recommendation isn't Mrs. Angel's classroom because of the mix of challenging kids she already has. Plus, we don't even know if the OT's top teacher pick even wants to take on the challenges that having Finn moved to her room will present. The principal didn't call me back today. Probably because she's trying to figure all of this out, too.

I feel disheartened.

To make matters worse, there was an incident between Finn and his teacher today, and I don't even have the heart to write about it tonight, that has prompted us to make the decision that Finn will not return to school until this situation is resolved. As far as we are concerned, Finn will never return to the classroom he has been in so far this year.

For now, I'm going to try to get some sleep. I drove back from a great weekend at Erin's to discover that Eamonn and Finn have a horrible stomach virus. It could be a long night.

Did I mention I feel disheartened?

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Maybe I Missed My Calling

Yep, it's a Thursday night Two-Fer. There's another new post below this, so read on. . .

My first job out of college was for Quest International. Quest is a "skills for living" curriulum for kids that teaches, among other things, life skills, service to others, and drug and alcohol education. My job was in media relations. With my degree in Journalism, this was right up my alley. As an aside, when I was in high school, I was the worst Quest student ever. It was spring semester of senior year. Need I go on?

But I loved my job at Quest. First, I worked in a mansion (not kidding--you can check it out at: http://www.bryndu.com/Home.html). It was in the amazing little town of Granville, which was quite a drive each day, but I loved being in a rural setting. Anyway, something else I loved was that the Quest executive team was made up almost entirely of educators. Coming from a family of educators, I felt very at home there, especially with the vice president of my division. He was the nicest man--you could tell he'd been a great teacher.

So I recall one late afternoon going into his office and having to deliver some bad news. I don't even remember what it was now, but I remember sitting down with kind of a frustrated harummph, waving my arms and explaining everything. Apparently I did so with great drama. Dave, the VP, studied me for a minute and then said, "Did you ever consider a career in theater? Because really, I think you would be quite good." It made me laugh and then we discussed whatever the situation was more rationally.

I'm thinking now that I must always walk around in some state of melodrama. I think I'm mostly joking, but apparently no one else does.

I got a phone call from my dentist's office today. They asked me to stop by. When I got there, they presented me with a gift certificate for a massage! I was so taken aback. I thanked them profusely, but then asked why? Why did I deserve a massage? They said I'm always talking about how I need to go for a massage. My melodrama must be way over the top. Maybe I need to rein it in a little. But heck, if it got me a massage, perhaps not? Heck, I'm trying for a new car next time.

And, I'm thinking that I should get an agent--just in case.

I'm off to visit Erin this weekend for a little sister time!

Breathing a Little Easier

More likely than not. That was the phrase we heard tonight when we met with the principal again. We went over to school for conferences, both boys are super geniuses, of course, and stopped in for an update and to hear what the principal had observed in Finn's classroom this week. Apparently she saw a lot of the same things we did and now is saying that unless something major occurs and Finn's teacher radically changes his teaching style over the weekend, the move is "more likely than not" to happen.


So now we wait to see what Finn's OT recommends on Monday. My heart is a little lighter tonight. Except now I'm dreading the turmoil he'll feel when the change takes place. I know in the long run it will be better though.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Because I Know You Hate It When I Leave You Hanging. . .

. . .but we're kind of hanging here ourselves.

We met with the principal yesterday. It was a good, rational meeting where all parties made their concerns known. The principal is hoping that our goals aren't mutually exclusive, but we're not so sure. She wants to help bring the teacher along in his experience. We say great--send him to training, but move Finn because there's no way that the teacher is going to be able to develop the experience he needs in a short enough time to help Finn this year. And will his heart grow three sizes in one day? I think not.

So next steps: the principal is going to observe in the classroom and talk to the teacher. We are to meet again on Thursday to see what her thoughts are. Meanwhile, Finn's OT is going to observe the three female teachers (we eliminated the other male kindergarten teacher just because the deeper voice and louder tones seem to aggravate Finn's SPD) on Monday. So we'll then see which classroom the OT feels is most suitable for Finn.

I'm not sure what to think. I came away with the thought that this is something the pricipal is willing to consider, but it's not a done deal. She made the comment, "Let's see what's salvagable." But then again, she also asked for the OT to observe and pick a classroom. Eamonn, on the other hand, came away from the meeting feeling that the change would take place; it's just a matter of time.

Mars and Venus in action.

But really, I'm going to adopt Eamonn's perspective. First, it's what I want to hear anyway, and second, he's usually a better at reading people than I am. I'm terrible at it and am almost always wrong.

So that's it. The Waiting Game is on. Meanwhile, Finn had two good days at school on Monday and Tuesday (figures), but then was back to "hating" it last night and this morning. I'm so desperate just to yell, "It's OK! We're going to move you and get you a great new teacher who will hug you and love you!" But of course, I don't know that for sure yet, nor do we know who the teacher will be or when this will happen. I just want him to have some mental relief.

In fact, I want some mental relief myself.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Little Pitchers Have Big Eyes

I've been trying to update all evening, but Declan has been sitting next to me on the couch and peering over my shoulder at every Web site I've surfed tonight. Eamonn is away riding the 24 Hours of Moab (24 hour mountain bike race--yes, he is mad) and the boys and I are hunkered down watching a movie and listening to sleet on the windows. Tonight is supposed to be our first snow at this elevation and we're under a winter storm advisory. The Denver news channels were calling for 4 - 8", but Weather.com, which is frankly way more accurate, is only estimating an inch or so. No big deal. Although I'm ready for some snow, it's probably good that it's not a major storm because I don't have my snow tires on yet.

We're sitting here watching Return to Witch Mountain, the very lame sequel to Escape to Witch Mountain. In this movie, Tony and Tia return to earth and Tony is captured by evil-doers who are trying to steal plutonium. The only improvement I see over the original is that Tony and Tia are no longer wearing those burgundy colored nylon windbreakers snapped all the way to their chins. I lobbyed for the original Escape to Witch Mountain, but was voted down.

So, I couldn't update with Declan peeping over my shoulder because I don't really want him to see my ranting about Finn and school. We had our meeting on Wednesday and it really confirmed our feelings and we are scheduled to meet with the principal on Tuesday about moving Finn. Finn's anxiety issues continue and this just can't go on. He's going to have a nervous breakdown before he turns 6 in 11 days. Nice.

As Eamonn and I were getting our ducks in a row for meeting with Finn's teacher, we talked about what our objectives would be. As Eamonn described it, we decided to "gather data." We didn't go to confront the teacher or get in his face, but we did want to hear from his mouth what was going on in the classroom. By his own admission, he is a 22-year-old man (even younger than I thought) who doesn't have a "warm fuzzy" personality. His words. He's not going to hug the kids or work to console them. They're pretty much left to their own devices.

Sadly, I had Finn's preschool friends here for our once-a-month playdate on Friday. One of the little girls from preschool is also in Finn's class and her mom told me she has been crying at school, too. So it's not just Finn, and it makes me sad that many of them in there are struggling.

Other comments by the teacher: he's struggling to have patience and not get angry, he's actually getting more cold (how can THAT be possible???) as time goes on because he feels like they should be "getting it" by now. Oh yes, heaven forbid we should give a 5-year old more time to "get it."

The teacher also spoke about how it drives him crazy because Finn and another girl keep coming up to him and talking to him constantly and don't seem to have the patience to wait to talk to him. It's always so nice to hear how your child is driving someone crazy. Sometimes he needs "space" from Finn. Or how about when your child was crying last week, instead of consoling him, the teacher told him to "dry it up." Nice.

We were unamused to hear about how the discipline methods have changed in the classroom. Originally there was some sticky note method where when they got a warning, they had to put a note on their number at the front of the class. Finn had said that he had to sit cross-legged facing the wall. We wondered if that was true. It was. And a little more. Not only do they sit like that facing the wall, they have to keep their backs straight--no slouching. If they slouch, they get in more trouble. Unfortunately, a symptom of many kids with sensory disorder is that they don't have much core strength. We're working on it so that he'll have the necessary muscles to sit at a desk and hold a pencil as required, but that will be slow to develop. Basically, sitting like the teacher was requiring was impossible for Finn which led to more discipline problems. I just love a good viscious circle.

I'm sure it's hard. I'm not a teacher because I know I couldn't handle being in a small room with 22 little people all vying for my attention or commiting various acts of chaos. And from the description, it is chaotic in there. He's a first year teacher who hasn't hit his stride yet and is still trying to find out what works. I get it. Totally. And your average kid might be OK in there, just sort of rolling along. But it's not working for Finn--nor will it ever work for Finn. Too much water under the bridge at this point. Finn is never (and yes, Mom, I'm going to do exactly what you said I should never do, I'm going to say NEVER!) going to forge the kind of bond he needs with the teacher to make it work. The only option left is to move him and see if that can salvage Finn's relationship with SCHOOL.

Nope, I'm not a teacher. In fact, when I took one of those future employment aptitude tests in high school, it said I should be a forest ranger. Totally serious. I wish I would have done it and then perhaps I would not be a writer who waxes poetic about the latest FASB pronouncements. Kidding. I like what I do, but I do think I would have been a good forest ranger. My point here is that I wonder what the teacher's aptitude test said? Prison warden? Or at the very least, 4th grade teacher.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Lame Blogging

I know. I am a lame blogger. Not lame as in limping or wounded, like lame as in weak. What a good 90s word.

At any rate, I just submitted all of my articles to a client for the next edition of their magazine and now I'm free. Sort of. I was just a few (6) days late. Makes you want to hire me doesn't it? But all that aside, I was finally able to upload pictures from our trip to Ohio/Michigan/Niagara Falls in August and then a few more from our activities this fall so far. My goal is to have them up tomorrow. Or, if I feel crazy, tonight. But right now I don't feel too crazy.

As an update on what's happening with Finn. . .same old, same old. We're meeting with the teacher tomorrow to go over some ideas, but the situation remains stressful for everyone. By reading between the lines with Finn, because you know how it is with kids--you're never quite sure what the heck they're saying--he doesn't like school because he's away from me and he's there for so long. On the surface, it's separation anxiety. But why? Why after a successful year last year is this happening? Yes, it's every day, but how did we go from Finn being with me 24/7 during treatment and then to preschool 3 days a week with no problems to where we are now? No, something else is at play here.

Our interpretation is that it's a combination of things. Eamonn and I feel we're seeing the result of spending four of your five years of life in a medical setting instead of with kids your age cropping up (socialization and coping skills), his sensory issues, and a teacher who is struggling to find his own way in the world. I could tell you a few stories that would curl your hair about how Finn receives multiple timeouts a week--where he is removed from the group and has to sit facing the wall. Or when the teacher took away a reward sticker Finn received from the doctor and threw it in the trash. Yep. All true. And out of the mouths of babes. When Declan heard about the sticker incident, he said, "Who does that to a little kid?" Our thoughts exactly. Yes Finn was probably playing with the sticker after being told not to. But wouldn't you take the sticker, put it on a piece of paper and give it back after class? Why would you throw something away that a child received as a reward from SOMEONE ELSE unless you had no common sense or are just a jackass?

From what we can deduce (yes, we moonlight as Nancy Drew and Frank Hardy), Finn doesn't feel successful at school. Who would with what's happening? He feels like nothing he does is right and instead of someone modeling the right behavior, he's just being punished for the "wrong" behavior. I'm not excusing Finn. I'm certain that he does speak out of turn and has trouble keeping his hands to himself. But despite our best efforts here at home, we need to feel like the classroom is a supportive, caring place. And it's not. Finn's anxiety tells us this without a doubt. What 5 year old wakes up at 5am and says he doesn't want to go to school because there's no one to look after him there? A 5 year old who is lacking whose confidence is shot and doesn't feel safe, that's who. If this was high school, I'd tell him to suck it up because we all have to learn to deal with people and teachers we don't see eye-to-eye with. But this is kindergarten--the year that sets the tone for your life in school! I don't know about you, but I remember kindergarten! I remember every year of elementary school and how much I loved it. Middle school? Not so much. But elementary school? It shouldn't be this hard for a kid.

So today I let the principal know that we will be meeting with the teacher tomorrow, but we are discouraged and frustrated. She asked if we felt the teacher wasn't a good fit for Finn. Um. Bloody freaking right. So now it's out there that our intent is to move Finn, sooner rather than later. It's actually is a relief that she knows this.

I'm getting gray hair.