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!