Monday, March 31, 2008

Mother Nature Plays an Early April Fool's Joke

March 31, 2008
Eagle, Colorado

On the mountain: 16 inches

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Happy Birthday, Declan!

Oh, you adorable boy. You seem so grown up sometimes and then other times, still so little. You were such a gigantic thing when you were born and for those first couple of years, that I would always forget how young you actually were. I tended to treat you like a little man, not the little boy you were. One of your very first visitors in the hospital looked at you and said, “He looks like such a wise soul.” And she was right.

I can’t believe it was eight years ago today. In many ways, it seems like yesterday. I remember every single detail of your arrival and what it was like to hold you for the first time. You were a sturdy little bugger from the start. And very, very interested in what went on around you. It was clear from the beginning that you liked to look around and observe before you decided how you felt about any given situation. You’re still that way now—you love to try new things, after you check it out and assess the situation.

As our first born, you were, are and probably always will be, our little guinea pig. Your sweet, sweet nature can melt my heart. I remember when you were nearly three, we went to a party at a neighbor’s house. You had never seen a toy gun before. You picked it up and took it to the woman who lived there and said, “How does this work?” And then you called it a shooter. I remember walking behind you on your first day of preschool. You seemed so grown up, but now when I look at those pictures, you were so tiny—only three—in your Larry Boy t-shirt, excited to be going to school, but a little apprehensive to, about being a “big boy.”

Here you go! On your way into your first day of preschool--Sept. '03.

Neighbor and best pal, Ellie. One day on the way home you had a spat in the car. I heard Ellie say, "Well, then I'm not going to marry you!" And you said, "I'm not going to marry you either!" A few minutes later you whispered, "I love you!" And she whispered it back and then all was right with the world.

You have always been so schedule oriented with any little change setting you into a tailspin. And willful! Oh my. I’m certain you don’t remember your transition to a “big boy bed,” but I thought I was going to have a nervous breakdown. You wouldn’t stay in your bed for love nor money and so, after weeks of this, we put a baby gate across the door to keep you from escaping. Well, a lot of the parenting books said you might scream and cry for awhile, but it wouldn’t last for long. Apparently they never met someone like Declan Rooney. Because it was hours, HOURS, Declan. Where did you get that set of lungs and iron will? You monkey.

That same iron will has continued to guide you, mostly for the good. There was that battle of wills over pooping on the potty—I won’t go into that here since it’s your birthday—but most of the time you used your powers for good, not evil. You were so determined to learn how to ice skate and play hockey as soon as you knew they were building an ice rink near our house. You were only three, but you said you wanted to learn to skate. And look at you now! Hockey, skiing, snowboarding, mountain biking—I’m holding out for an NHL contract so you can support your parents when they’re old (which isn’t all that far off).

Other sweet, sweet memories are of you in kindergarten. Your teacher loved you because she would crack jokes and no one in the class would get them but you. I remember, and this will embarrass you, the first time you used the bathroom at school and you quietly went up and asked your teacher if she had any wipes you could use. “But she didn’t hear me,” you said. And so you went anyway and it all worked out.

Ready for your first day of kindergarten--August '05

Coming home after your first day of kindergarten. You loved riding the bus!

And then we moved. A huge, huge change for a little boy who thrives on the consistency of the same old, same old. It was hard for you that first year—spending part of your day learning in Spanish freaked you out a little bit. And just the other day you told me that all of those times you said you were sick and needed to come home that you were pretending. I used to do that to come home from school, too, and watch soap operas.

First Colorado Christmas--2006

After a few early bumps, you were over the hurdle and loved living in Colorado. It makes me a little sad to know that even after just a year and a half, you don’t remember much about Ohio. You even made a comment that you didn’t remember what your room looked like, which is hard for me. It’s the house where you were born, the house where Finn was born, the house where we had so much joy and also so much sadness, and you’ll only ever know it in pictures now. Then I think about all of the new, wonderful memories we’re making here and I feel better.

Heck, you wouldn't have been able to do this in Ohio!

I worry so much about how having a little brother with cancer may have affected you. You used to be so excited when SuperSibs packages would arrive for you. I think in the end you won’t remember too much about Finn being sick. It was confusing at first. I remember very early on after Finn’s diagnosis, I came home from the hospital after my 24 hour “shift.” I was so exhausted and sad and scared. We were in your room and suddenly I found myself crying. I took you in my arms and hugged you tight, but not before you saw my tears. You asked why my eyes were wet and I realized it was probably the first time you’d seen me cry. I felt like I’d taken away a little piece of your childhood. One of the hardest things, and one of the things I will never, ever forget, is your intuition when Finn was sick. Your very pointed question, “Is Finn going to die,” was like an arrow to our hearts. And I will never, ever forget not being able to say, “No,” like we wanted to do. But we had learned early on that you are not the type of person we can hedge with. You want the truth and you call us out when you think you’re not getting it.

MOST of the time, you are an awesome big brother. I love hearing you cheer on Finn when he’s trying to score a goal on you in the basement. I love it that you two like to sleep in the same room together on weekends. I love hearing you play together in your rooms when you wake up early (I love it even more when you play quietly and don’t wake me up at 6:15am on a Saturday). I love it that you have each other and will have each other to lean on for the rest of your lives. Also, you’ll need someone to complain to about our senility as Daddy and I get old. Brothers are good for that.

Now that's what I like to see!

And how many people would do THIS for their brother? You're amazing.

Oh yes, there are those times when you do things to get Finn’s goat and get him all riled up. Darn you. Sometimes I want to wring your little neck. You know how to push buttons—mine and Finn’s. You don’t seem to do it to Daddy. You two are like peas in a pod. You looked so much like Daddy when you were born that I wondered if I had been genetically involved.

You are so loved—beyond what I could ever describe to you. If you have children one day, you’ll understand. I love this age—I wish I could freeze you right now. You’re old enough to be trying some things on your own, but still young enough to want to snuggle each night and read together. I love that. Love it, love it, love it. And I love you.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Feet of Clay

Just in case my post from Sunday night (below) comes across as though we live in a plastic bubble (well, I'd never live in a plastic bubble because of the noxious fumes plastics give off, but you know what I mean) and we never eat anything bad for us, I want to set the record straight. I struggle on a daily (hourly) basis. I thought I'd list a few of my indescretions from the past 48 hours to enlighten you.

It actually started on Saturday night when I was filling Easter baskets. One chocolate, peanut butter filled egg for Declan, one for Finn, one for me. One Reeses Pieces eggs for Declan, one for Finn, one for me. Repeat pattern until eggs are gone.

Sunday morning. For some reason felt compelled to sneak some Easter candy before even eating breakfast. Continued this covert munching throughout the day. For dinner, I made a very delicious ham, that was, of course, made with nitrates and nitrates--a big yucky no no that none of us should be eating and it's in pretty much all things cured, like bacon, ham, sausage and all lunchmeats. And yet I happily made it, served it to my children and ate more than I should have. As a result of my chocolate and meat binging, I spent a good deal of the evening in the bathroom with an upset stomach. I won't elaborate on that.

Monday. Went skiing with Declan. He wanted eggs, sausage and toast before we left. Can't let the lad eat alone, can I? We usually ski with our lunch to avoid paying a million dollars at the resort, but as a special treat I told him I'd buy him lunch. After paying $16 for a plate-sized pizza that he didn't finish, I finished it for him because, I paid so much money for it, darn it. Last night we ate bangers and mash for dinner. Followed by chocolate chip cookies. . .and Easter candy when no one was looking.

This morning. Ate a great breakfast of oat groats and fruit. . .then when I was making some banana nut bread to take to some friends, I repeatedly took bites of the sweetened condensed milk which is one of the ingredients. I heard Martha Stewart say she does this, so to me, it's OK.

And we won't even talk about how on Saturday I made cookies for the firefighters to say thanks for hosting the St. Baldrick's event and I ate half the dough--no lie--in the process.

Hmmm, I'm reviewing all of that and thinking ick. And I wonder why I can't lose weight. But the point here is this is a constant struggle for me. And you know what? Sometimes I get sick and tired of trying to feed my children vegetables, so I just skip it. I feel like such a rebel.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Living Organically, Part One: You Are What You Eat

I know I talked way back in January when I was still posting on Finn’s CaringBridge page about how I was experimenting with raw food and then I never wrote anything more about it. Several people expressed interest in hearing more about it, so finally, here I go, but I’m approaching this in steps.

I rambled about a lot of things in that particular post, like how I don’t wear deodorant (which apparently freaked several of you out), and how basically we’re living in a totally toxic world and killing ourselves, slowly but surely. So I’m going to start with my eating transition, but then I’ll do other posts about chemical-free living. If the thought of this makes your eyes roll back in your head or disregard what I’m saying because you think I’ve turned into a crunchy hippie-type now that I live in Colorado, that’s fine, I understand. I’d probably think that, too.

But a few notes before I start with food: we started eating organically back in 2003, before Finn ever even got sick and when we still lived in Ohio, I haven’t been wearing deodorant for several years now so that also began in Ohio, and we also have been running a chemical-free household for about the past 3years, so that also started in Ohio. I just wanted to point out that I’m not a crazy hippie in Colorado. I was a crazy hippie in Ohio first.

Finally, I need to put a big disclaimer out there. I like to read and research things a lot. But that doesn’t mean that I think I know everything. I’m always interested in learning more. And more and more. Tara says I’m very high maintenance in the Need for Information Department. She’s right. But, although I have spent a lot of time researching and making the decisions we’ve made to run our household, these are the decisions we’ve made that are right for US. I don’t purport to say that they’re right for everyone and I don’t want anyone to take anything I say as medical advice. I don’t want to get sued!

If you’re interested in what I’ve got to say—great. If not—also great. Everyone has to make the decisions they think are right for their family and their budget and their health. I’m very fortunate that Eamonn supports all of my crazy research, ideas, and theories, even though they sometimes cost a lot of money. We decided long ago that in terms of health and safety, expense wasn’t going to be a reason we DIDN’T do something. However, as a result, our food bill is second only to our mortgage and we have had to economize in a lot of other ways to be able to afford to eat the way we do.

Bottom line, while I have done a lot of research, I certainly don’t know everything and I’m always interested in learning more. If there are a bunch of you out there who feel likewise and have info to share, even if it contradicts what I’ve said, please let me know. I’m definitely open to new ideas. Let’s face it—things change all the time and things I’m doing today may be proved totally wrong tomorrow. But if there are a lot of people who are interested in exchanging ideas about living organically, maybe we could start an online forum where we could all post and exchange info. Just a thought. Post a comment or e-mail me at nrooney@centurytel.net and let me know.

With that, I’ll segue into The Eating Habits of the Rooney Family which we’ll call Living Organically, Part One.

Eating. . .
My sisters are way more progressive that I am in terms of trying new ways of doing things; they were eating organically several years before we were. In fact, we used to make fun of them. When Tara would come in town for a visit, I’d say, “Do you want to eat our poisonous food or do you want to bring your own?” Eamonn and I would wonder why they would spend such exorbitant amounts of money for organic food. We thought they were totally crazy. Erin fed my niece something called oat groats. What the **** was an oat groat anyway?

Over years of hearing about organics and oat groats, it started to sink in. Right. Why would we want to eat something that had chemicals sprayed on it? At first when I started my research frenzy, organizations like Consumer Reports said things like, “If you wash your fruits and vegetables with dish soap (which I still also do because it grosses me out to think about the people/places/things that come in contact with our food), you’ll remove the pesticides from the skin of the food and it will be similar to organic food,” or something like that. OK, but what about the INSIDE of the food, I remember thinking? It reminded me of a line from a song called “Maybe It’s Imaginary” by Kirsty McColl (I know I posted this on Finn’s site before, so bear with me) that goes:

We wash all the food and we peel off the skin
But what is the point if it's poisoned within?
Now I don't know why we say OK
Maybe it's imaginary, hope it's not too late

I mean, yeah. You can’t wash away whatever it’s been grown in. Happily, a few years later, Consumer Reports has totally gone the other way and hopped on the Dirty Dozen bandwagon and now advises that there are certain fruits and veggies that we really should eat organically (they recommend meats and dairy, too). A really great Web site is www.ewg.org. It’s for the Environmental Working Group and on their site they have a grocery shopping list that you can print and carry in your wallet with you when you go to the grocery store. Personally, I can never remember all of the 12 items, so here’s a list:

• Apples
• Cherries
• Grapes, imported (Chili)
• Nectarines
• Peaches
• Pears
• Raspberries
• Strawberries
• Bell peppers
• Celery
• Potatoes
• Spinach

But I really recommend downloading and printing that list in case you’ve got a non-existent memory, like me.

I know that the FDA says that the stuff sprayed on our food is “safe,” and I don’t wish to sound like a conspiracy theorist, but I don’t have a whole lot of faith in the FDA these days. These are the people who happily brought us Vioxx, Ketek (a prescription drug I actually took 3 years ago, but was recalled because it actually caused organ failure and it was known, but they released it anyway—nice), and a whole host of “oops, that drug has some big problems” issues. After spending more than 10 years around organizations that do a lot of lobbying and going to Washington D.C. myself and seeing the lobbyists work on Capitol Hill, I’ve seen enough to know how it works. Things happens, drugs approved, legislation passed, etc., because of the powerful lobbying train. Again, I don’t want to sound like a crazy freak, but the FDA is overworked and understaffed (there are lots of articles in the mainstream press about it anyway, so it’s not just me) and I don’t really have any faith when they tell me, “Um, right, that won’t hurt you. We think.”

Trying to rationalize to me that “there’s just a little bit of stuff sprayed on your food, not enough to cause any damage.” I just don’t buy it. Because what if that little bit in our food and that little bit in our lotion, shampoo, hairspray, cleaning products, and what we breathe in the air all adds up to a lot of something that our bodies can no longer handle? And it’s not just the stuff that’s getting sprayed, it’s the very ingredients of the food itself. Plus, when the FDA says it’s “safe,” they’ve only said it’s safe for adults—think about the effects multiplied many more times on the smaller bodies of our kids. And have you noticed how many more pets get cancer these days? They’re an even smaller microcosm of our world.

As you can see, our transition to where we are today has been a huge domino effect. We started off eating a few things organically and as time we went on we just went whole hog. Obviously we ramped things up significantly once Finn got sick. I don’t know if the things we do, eating organically, trying to live as chemical-free as possible, will make any difference in the end, but personally, I don’t want to take that chance. Before Finn got sick, I used to be cavalier—you’ve got to die of something right? But, I don’t want it to be cancer. I don’t want my kids to have cancer. I don’t want to see anyone else go through what Finn did. And if that means I have to go to the ends of the earth, spend my time researching and testing crazy theories, I’ll do it. Happily. Besides, I’m naturally curious that way and trying new things, with food of course, is something I consider fun. Freak.

So we started with the Dirty Dozen and it just grew from there. We had an ideal situation in Ohio—close to stores that carried lots of organic products, we belonged to a co-op where we could buy most of the stuff wholesale though; near a butcher who raised and butchered his own meat and made his own lunchmeat; pretty close to a dairy where we could buy raw milk; we belonged to a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) where we got inexpensive organic veggies straight off the farm.

I’m struggling somewhat here in Colorado. Groceries are crazy expensive. We joined a CSA out here, but it’s 3x the price. The raw milk is about 2x the price. I have trouble finding organic meat. Surprisingly, Costco has it most consistently. So we just have to do what we can, when we can. But some of you have mentioned that you have trouble finding organic things—I feel your pain.

The most important thing I’m trying to do now is remember to read food labels. There are chemicals, additives and artificial colorings and flavorings in everything, and there is more and more current, reliable research about what these additives are doing to us, and more specifically, our kids. Last fall a study in a British medical journal showed that certain very common food additives cause ADD-like symptoms in kids about 1 hour after consumption.

Here’s a link to the article from Time magazine if you want to read it.

Unfortunately, these additives are in almost everything we eat, even the snack foods that the kids at Declan’s school can purchase. How much sense does this make? We let them eat these snacks, they go out to recess, and then right when these additives are kicking in, we ask the kids to come back inside and learn. Totally counterintuitive. We’re asking the impossible of them. No wonder there are behavioral problems in schools. I’m currently working with our school to replace the things like Doritos and Cheetos, etc., and all of that crap, with healthier alternatives. Tara has already succeeded at Garvin’s school. My hero. We don’t want to be snack Nazis—there’s a time and place for fun food—but not as a matter of course and definitely not at school.

One day last fall I took the kids to Costco and we were sampling our way around the store, as usual, and we tasted Activia yogurt. Declan liked it and asked if I would buy it for him to have as a snack at school (they have snack time in the morning). Yogurt? Of course! What a healthy choice, right? Only I didn’t read the label until we got home. High fructose corn syrup. Ugh. One of the worst and most unhealthy sweetners. Another thing we sampled that day was these single-serve containers of grapefruit (don’t get the wrong idea, my kids will choose junk over health food every single time, but Declan happens to love grapefruit). Again, what a great snack idea! Not. When I got home and read the label, it had one of the preservatives in it listed in the British study. Dang it! In grapefruit? Is nothing sacred?

But I say these things to point out that for all of my “watchdoggedness” I get tripped up all the time and I need to do better, too. It’s frustrating because most processed grocery store food is full of all kinds of stuff that manufacturers use to make things taste “good” and make things shelf stable, but we really have no idea what the effects on our bodies are going to be.

Personally, I think that we’re now starting to see the results—definitely higher rates of obesity and diabetes, but in my heart, I feel like the higher rates of cancer are all a part of it. How can it not be? Our bodies just weren’t designed to deal with all of this.

Do I think I’m going to cure the world of cancer and all of its other ills by ranting on like this? No. Do I think that anything is going to really change in my lifetime? Probably not. Do I realize that even back when people were eating only natural foods grown on their farm and not putting chemicals on their bodies that people still got cancer? Yes. Do I think that some people, no matter what they do, are just more susceptible to cancer? Yes. Do I think that Declan and Finn, or maybe Declan and Finn’s children will look back and think, “Holy cow! I can’t believe the things they used to put into food!” Yes.

There are so many things in life that we can’t control—the quality of the air we breathe, and obviously the water we drink after that totally gross report of prescription drugs in our drinking water, the kinds of toxic waste that are dumped into the ground to filter back into our lives, etc. So my feeling is that we need to control what we can and protect ourselves that way.

Last fall I heard a woman speak about nutrition and women’s health. Her style and manner of speaking totally turned me off—she had a really in-your-face presentation style and I sat there thinking, “Who the hell do you think you are talking like this to me?” Well, who the hell she is is a two-time leukemia survivor (same type as Finn) who after her illness has gone on to get her PhD and become a nutritionist specializing in women’s health issues. And as I sat there listening to her, I realized that the reason she presents the way she does is because Americans need a huge kick in the ass. We just aren’t getting it! What do we need? A whole bunch of people to start dying of cancer before we wake up and smell the coffee? Um, hello! We have eaten like crap for about a generation and now we’re paying the ultimate price—literally with our lives. I’m not trying to be melodramatic here, just matter of fact. We. Are. Killing. Ourselves. And unfortunately, we're killing our kids, too.

During the presentation the woman spoke about how she has a certain way of eating and takes certain supplements, as does her young daughter. She said that people often ask her how she gets her daughter to eat in this healthful way. And what she said next really resonated with me: “What kind of steward would I be for my child if I didn’t?” Zing. That hit home on so many levels. We are our children’s stewards and I will do anything to carry out that mission.

For more than a year, Finn has been taking a whole food supplement, approved by his oncologist, of course. He takes a “gummy” version of it, but the company also makes chewables and capsules. I felt like I saw results with Finn and so we all started taking it (I’m a big fan of it and if anyone wants more info about it, I’m happy to share it via e-mail, but it’s one of those network marketing things and I don’t want to be pushing products on my blog, so contact me separately if you want more info). The only person who wasn’t taking it was Declan because he didn’t like the taste. Boo hoo. They also make capsules, but I hadn’t thought to offer those to Declan. Anyway, after I heard this woman speak, I realized I needed to take charge in my own house. I came home and the next morning I lined Declan’s options out for him. I said you can choose from the gummies, chewables or the capsules, but you’re going to take this. He said, “OK, I’ll take the capsules.” I nearly fell over. But I felt like it was a hugely important thing in my attempt to be a steward for my children. And that’s what I’m determined to be from now on.

I’m not kidding myself. I know that doing all of these things doesn’t guarantee that I, or Declan or Eamonn will never have cancer, or that Finn will never get cancer again. Or that we won’t have some other serious illness. But I want to know in my heart that I did everything I could to prevent it. And if something would happen, I’d like to think that nutritionally, we have a leg to stand on and maybe mitigate some of the effects of medicines we have to take, or recover faster.

As a comical aside and preparation for my next post, which will be more about food, specifically raw food, if you get BBC America on your TV, watch a show called You Are What You Eat. You’ll be grossed out. A nutritionist confronts people with horrible eating habits and then helps them revamp. Even though it takes place in England, their diet isn’t too far from ours—not enough fruits and veggies—and way too much processed food that doesn’t provide any of the nutrients we need, and in fact, leaches them from our bodies. You’ll learn how your tongue, your fingernails, skin, and hair are all windows into your inner health. I find it so interesting. Plus it’s inspiring when these totally overweight people start eating and exercising and lose weight.

OK, so that’s the first part of your homework: Watch You Are What You Eat if you can.

The second part of your homework is take a look at what's in your cupboard. I think you'll be unpleasantly surprised at what's in there hidden in things that are marketed to us as healthy--things like high fructose corn syrup, partially hydrogenated oils, artificial colors, sulphur dioxide, and a whole lot of things that shouldn't be eaten. Check out your fave snacks and see. Maybe you're more with it than I was and you've already figured this out. If so, yay you!

If you feel like it, post your results about what you found. Sharing info is the only way we'll all learn more.

I’ll be back in a few day with more about raw food.

Oh my word. This post is so long. Is anyone still awake?

Sunday, March 16, 2008

St. Baldrick's Day Baldness

Well, another St. Baldrick's Day has come and gone. The fundraising goal for Eagle was $35,000. I have to say, I had my doubts as to whether or not we'd reach the goal. Yes, people were generous, but that seemed like a lot! I'm happy to report, as of 5pm yesterday and before the "official" tally was in (they're counting today as we speak), the total was. . .$50,501! Now, that of course is an estimate and donations are actually still coming in, but it really is so amazing.

Declan's total as of today: $520.28--his class brought in over $230!

Eamonn's total as of today: $1,930

The event started at 1 p.m. and the place was immediately jammed--literally cheek by jowl. The Eagle Valley Children's Chorale gave a performance first. The first shavee was the fire chief, resplendent in his kilt. Then people moved in a crush to line up and the shaving took off. Last year we only had 3 barbers and it took the entire four hours to shave everyone. This year, the 8 barbers were on a mission and they had nearly 80 people shaved in less than 2 hours.

There were clowns, which freaked Finn out, food and a silent auction. And I couldn't believe how many walk-ins we had who wanted to get their heads shaved or who just walked in to donate. In something out of the Twilight Zone, this man walked in with a parrot on his shoulder. He said he used to live next door to the fire station and wanted to come in and donate. Of course, he and his parrot became somewhat of a sideshow. I kept looking at the parrot and wondering, "Does it ever poop on his head?" I worry about things like that.

Anyway, instead of rambling on, I'll just say that a picture is worth a 1,000 words and send you on to a slideshow, which also has pictures of Declan's birthday party.

But before you go, thank you, thank you for your donations and support. It was an incredible day and you were all a part of it through your generosity. I love it that this money is going to PEDIATRIC cancer research. Love it!

Declan's b-day and St. Baldrick's pics

Friday, March 14, 2008

Springtime in the Rockies

I don't know all of the actual words to the song that goes, "When it's springtime in the Rockies, I am coming back to you. . ." It just reminds me of my parents watching The Lawrence Welk Show on Saturday nights when I was little (followed by Emergency--hello, Randolph Mantooth). But was this what they were singing about?

Because somehow I pictured green grass, blooming flowers, and blue skies. Anyway, for those who want to engage in spring skiing, this is actually a sight to behold. For those who are ready for spring--not so much.

All About Declan
I love it when I can have a huge post about Declan. When your brother has cancer, sometimes, not all the time, but sometimes, you might have to blend into the background a little. You don't really want to, but stuff goes on and you sort of get the shaft. Your parents don't mean to, but sometimes it just happens.

Last Saturday, March 8th, was a day that was All About Declan. It was his last day of the Snowboard Outreach Society program that he did this winter. For five weeks this winter, Declan got up at 6:30am on a Saturday morning, which is earlier than he even gets up to go to school, and go with a group of kids from his school and one other school, and learn to snowboard. He had been dying to learn, and frankly, from what I've seen, he's now a convert. I wonder how many times we'll actually ever see him on skiis again?

Anyway,last Saturday was the last day of SOS and parents were invited to go, too. So Eamonn and Declan sent the day in Vail--Eamonn on skiis, Declan on a snowboard. Then Finn and I came to Vail as well for the "graduation" ceremony. A day of snowboarding with your dad, pizza for lunch on the slopes, a graduation ceremoney, all the cake you can eat, and then your mom sitting in the audience snapping pictures of you and clapping her hands every time you say something clever. That's a day all about you. And I'm glad for him when it happens.

Getting ready to ride

Work it, kid, work it

I didn't realize how much smaller Declan was than all of the other kids in his group. He went into an older group so he could be with Garvin. But then Garvin hit a tree on the first day of SOS and was never able to rejoin the group, leaving Declan on his own with the older kids. He made it!

Gabby, Declan's instructor, is telling the group about Declan's determination to stay with the older kids. He's eating it up. Nothing like being the center of attention. Ham.

The whole riotous gang

Declan and Gabby

Below are two video clips where you can actually see Declan snowboarding. Eamonn is trying to ski and film at the same time so don't watch these if you just ate. Or if you get motion sickness easily.

So now that I think about it, today has been all about Declan, too. He's had his birthday party tonight at the bowling alley arcade. We're having it early since his birthday falls during spring break. Because who wants to have a birthday party where no one shows up? I guess this would be infinitely cheaper for us as parents--no need to have so many quarters in my pockets that my pants fall down, but a bummer for Declan. So there you have it. A post all about Declan.

Oh grrr. Those clips aren't showing up. Angst. Angst. Angst.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Declan is Going Bald

Well, apparently I have to take back everything I said about Declan. He has registered to shave this Saturday!

Declan's St. Baldrick's Page

And there's no turning back. He gave a presentation to his class today, asked for donations, and invited everyone to watch him shave. Oh dear. Will there be tears? What about that giant flat spot on his head from when he was a baby? It's going to be out there for God and country to see now.

So go Declan! I need to buy some hats. And some sunscreen.

Finn and I are in Denver at our favorite hotel: Hampsten Fun and Suites. Not the actual name, mind you. This is how Finn reads the sign.

Tomorrow he has a sinus CT at 9am and then over to the clinic for what might be one of his last IViG infusions. Then we'll likely have his port taken out in April. Why the sudden rush? Our insurance company notified us they were dropping us as of May 1. Nice.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

In the News

The article about Finn ran in today's Vail Daily. You can check out the online version at: http://www.vaildaily.com/article/20080307/NEWS/13857080.

Hmmm, I wish we had our 15 minutes of fame for some other reason--like winning the lottery! But hopefully people will see this and come to the St. Baldrick's fundraiser or donate, which is a great outcome!

The girl who wrote the article was really sweet, as was the guy who came to take the pictures. There were a few tiny inaccuracies in the article, but really minor and no one but a cancer parent or a doctor/nurse would probably pick up on them. Eamonn has already seen the print version and apparently there are a lot more pictures in it. I'll see if I can scan them in, but for now I'm taking his word for it. He's skiing and I'm not motivated enough to walk and get a paper yet this morning! Sad, I know.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

A Bunch of Random Thoughts and Information All Rolled into One Post

1. OK, we have to start with this:

The little monkey looks pretty cute--and I only mean looks. Tonight his behavior was such that he was in his pajamas and ready for bed at 6:45pm. That should tell you something.

Anyone care to place bets on how long it is before he breaks these?

2. Thank you so much to everyone who has donated to St. Baldricks. All I have to say about that is we have the best friends and family. And strangers. Linda Wallace, I don't know if we've ever met, but thanks!

3. I should have better things to do, but I can't go any further without commenting on . . .J. Lo and Marc Anthony's choices of names for their babies: Emme and Max. What? Are they total fans of Dragon Tales? Maybe that show will be out of vogue by the time the kids are old enough to realize they're named after cartoon characters.

4. I don't think I ever said Happy Birthday to Eamonn on here. It was Feb. 17th. I grilled him steak for dinner.

But first he had to dig out the grill.

And then he had to suffer through a store-bought pie the boys chose for him instead of a delicious homemade carrot cake like he usually gets. Maybe next year.

5. Declan's school was able to take part in a theater program. They did two class plays:

The Cricket

He played a man who tries to trick the cricket.

And The Little Ant

He was a narrator.

Then he decided to be in the school play. Because, you know, we don't have enough after school activities going on or anything.

The play: Holiday in the Rain Forest

His role: Stone person 10. Seriously. He had two lines. He practiced every day after school for two weeks.

That's Declan on the far right. I like how Stone Person #9 looks like a werewolf.

Garvin and Tara graciously attended the debut:

6. I thought spring was here, but apparently I was wrong when 6 new inches of snow fell on Saturday night/Sunday morning.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

7. I have flossed my teeth 64 out of 64 days in 2008. I'm shooting for 365. I'm using up a lot of floss. I tried to take a picture of my own teeth to show you my pearly whites. But when I looked at the pictures, I realized that there are some yellow spots on my teeth you might not care to see. So I scheduled a dentist appointment instead. And after watching me try 153 times to take pictures of my teeth, Finn wanted me to take a picture of his mouth.

So here it is.

I always thought he had the cutest little mouth when he was a baby, sort of shaped like a bow.

Anyway, it's hard to take a picture of your own teeth.

8. Sometimes when I work, I watch TV. Tonight, I turned the TV on and was mindlessly watching for awhile when I realized I was watching Thomas the Tank Engine. Alone.