Thursday, May 6, 2010

We Must Be Doing Something Right

Really, we must be doing something right with these kids. Every morning as they race out the door they both shout "bye Mom love you Mom" without fail. Sometimes there's a hug, sometimes an ear-to-ear smile, but always the "love you Mom." We're the family that says "love you" as easily as "goodbye" and yeah, I love that about us.

Yesterday there was a fun event at a Bounce House to thank a few kids who raised a lot of money for the SchoolForce Read-A-Thon. Danny was the official recipient and he was allowed to bring a friend. I expected him to invite a second grade buddy. Instead he invited his sister. That's right. An eight-year-old boy invited his ten-year-old sister.

This is Week One of STAR testing, our state's mandatory school testing for children and the first time Danny has experienced such torture. Gracie pulled out a week's worth  of clothing for him and set it up on his chair, determined to smooth the morning stress for the brother who isn't an early riser.

The squabbles are there, the sibling brawls and jealous pokes.  There's an undeniable bond of family love, though, beneath it all. When I catch a glimpse of them together, tightly sharing some story that I have no place in I quietly rejoice. They need to become the kind of best friends who will survive childhood, survive parents, and create their own stories. I dream that someday years from now they will gather their spouses and children together, tell them tales of their shared past, their mother and father, and  all the many years of friendship and love. They will be the family I wanted to have, the family my parents wanted to create.  Even if I write a book, or find that give-back job, my family's success will be the only legacy I will claim.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

And I Didn't Even Cry

Saw the Agent of Doom today. It was time for the 6-month check-up and more. The oncology practice goes by the "2 week rule." If it is unusual and persists for two weeks, come in and get it checked. I had two  unusuals, both persisting for 7 weeks. Time to get checked.

A lump on my calf proved to be some weirdness on the muscle; my guess is that Roscoe nipped me on the calf and I just forgot about it. The jelly-bean sized nodule is weird, alright, but does not seem to be related to cancer.

The second unusual matter will be checked out further. Too much back and leg pain without apparent cause, and lasting too long, means another bone scan. It doesn't really feel like anything serious. I mean, I have aches in my bones, in my hip joints, sometimes down one leg. Doesn't everyone at my age? And it may just be normal aging, or overdoing the chores. The kicker is always that as a cancer survivor I have to have it checked out or, as the Agent says, I'm going to be really mad at either myself or him.

So, one more trip to the bone machine. I'm 99% certain the scan will be clean and that next time I complain of aches and pains the Agent will refuse to offer anything more than Tylenol. Guess I'll "enjoy" the test bounty while I can. It will afford another 6 months of anxiety - free living.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Holy Day for Us

Danny, at eight, did not expect to be excited by his First Communion Day. In fact, he seemed to want nothing more than to get it over with until just a few days ago when he started asking to practice receiving communion. Yesterday he was eager to open all his presents despite knowing that they were "religious" gifts. And, to my complete amazement, he was absolutely enthralled with one gift in particular: a cartoon-illustrated bible! The boy who resisted all efforts to study for the sacrament or even look at his preparation guides has already read half a dozen bible stories and is eager to read more.

The day was special in ways we didn't anticipate. We made it to church more than 30 minutes before Mass started, truly a new record for us. Danny, now into the spirit of the day, gladly posed for photos in front of the church sign, the banner he made, the altar... Due to some schedule change our family was now seated in the first pew and would be the first to receive communion. Since Danny really wanted to receive one of the perforated sections of host, this worked out to our advantage. (The large host that the priest holds up during the Mass is perforated into twelve sections, and we thought it would carry a special bit of grace to receive one on this day.) Danny was so delighted when he did receive a section that it was the first thing he said to me after returning to the pew.

Family lore has it that my mother forgot to say amen after she watched me receive holy eucharist for the first time. I thought it was a bit silly until today, when I literally forgot to receive holy eucharist. Father John said, "Hey, Mom," as I was walking past with Danny. If he hadn't said something I would have kept on going.

A lovely tradition at our parish took us by surprise. Seven pink cake boxes were brought in at the beginning of Mass and set up at the altar. Danny was hopeful that they contained donuts for each of the children! Father quickly explained that a parish couple had been making small First Communion cakes  for years now. When Danny was called up to receive his box and lined up with the other six kids on the altar, he was the only child to open his box. Of course! Everyone laughed at his expression of joy, and I hope the couple received their payment in full. We didn't get a chance to thank them but will be writing them a note this week. That cake was beautiful and delicious.

A few family members came to bear witness and celebrate. We went out to a simple lunch at Danny's favorite restaurant. Danny repeatedly said how special the day was, how surprised he was by that and how happy he felt. He is still wearing the cross necklace we gave him and I know it is more than jewelry.

I didn't expect the day to be transforming for Danny but it was. I feel a little transformed myself.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

No News Was Better Than The News

I didn't get the class scholarship. Rats. And despite what I wrote yesterday I do care mightily that I lost out. I thought the instructor would visit my blog, yes this very blog, and be blown away. Fact is, I don't think she even stopped by for a peak. Guess my wish for a fairygodmother/writing coach to appear and sweep me into publication heaven is a bit unrealistic.

Once I scoop my feelings up off the blogosphere I'm going to hunt up another class.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Waiting for an Announcement

Waiting isn't something we choose to do. We wait because we can't get in to see a doctor, or we wait for a friend who is frequently late. I suppose if we continue to see someone we know is going to be late than you could say we choose to wait, but for the most part we are forced into waiting. How we handle it is totally up to us.

Today I've been waiting to hear if I won a scholarship to an online writing course. Thought it would be announced first thing in the morning. Nope. Waited until 10:00 before emailing the instructor for an estimation of when the announcement would occur; a girl needs to take a shower after all. "Sometime before the end of the day" was all I learned. When does the day end for you? Are we talking close-of-business day, early evening put-the-kids-to-bed day, or middle-of-the-night day? No clues were given. Right now it's 6:32 and there's no announcement. I know this because I check every few minutes.

I'm driving myself nuts. It's okay if I didn't win the scholarship.  I just want the waiting to be over.

I'd better sign off. I have to go check that website again.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Come To Our House, We'll Bake You a Cake

Three of us are sitting at the kitchen table, doing our homework while the dog is chewing contentedly on a rawhide. One of us is in her 40s and blogging but hey, I feel youthful today and writing is what I consider homework. The peace of being together while engaged in separate activities defines family for me. As we grow in different directions we may find our only common bonds are family ones. If I work hard enough, these bonds may be enough to keep us tethered tight.

When I was a child, the bonds with my brother and sister were loose, and now I see how rapidly they unfurled once we reached the freedom of adulthood. Maybe I'm ready to step away at last from the remnants of my family of origin. A few nasty shoves from the nest have helped me reach this conclusion. But mostly it has been the creation of my own family that has shown me how to love and receive love, and to recognize when love is not present. We are a wise family.

At dinner tonight we resolved to throw open our doors and be welcoming to those who wish to visit us, no matter how chaotic our lives, messy our rooms or nutty our dog. Amen.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Shredding the Bowl (Or, Do You 'board?)

Wearing clothes I did not sleep in today. What a refreshing change! Think I dipped a little too deeply into the blues last week. The sun is out today and I'm fueled by coffee, children and hope.

I drew the lucky straw today and brought Danny to his skateboard class. I once owned a skateboard myself, and without benefit of lessons lost interest after nearly knocking myself out. These days Park & Rec departments are offering classes taught by awesome guys barely out of their teens. Danny's teacher is Mike Manidis, owner of Atlas Skateboarding in San Mateo. Mike is a natural teacher, the kind of guy you want teaching your kid any and everything. After the first lesson Danny was relaxed, moving and ready for  more. Now, after six lessons, he is begging to practice everyday and wants to bring his board on the trip to Chicago! Love to see that kind of confidence building in him.

We await with trepidation news from the University of California regarding a new round of layoffs. Joe would like to retire in a few years and being forced into an "early retirement" would be a disaster for us. Perhaps it would be wise to postpone travel; I know better than to put off the trip back home, though. Time skips along, and while the kids are still willing to be seen in our company we want them to experience a major city, revisit dear friends and see old haunts. I want to show them my old town, and see it through their eyes. Memories created at 8 and 10 last beyond childhood, I believe. Sometimes money is meant to be spent despite the caution of the times.

Having being so confident about spending this "money" I'd like to go on record as saying I'd really, really like a great job or book advance to drop into my lap about now!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Just Wondering

Are they pajamas if you wear your clothes to bed? And then wear them the next day?