Friday, June 30, 2006

New Music

I just discovered the Ditty Bops. Hooray for happy music.

It's been a good music week. Just downloaded the Joey Ramone version of Wonderful World and now a new band to enjoy. Oh, and the Burt Bacharach/Elvis Costello "Who Are These People?"

Neil Young ain't the only pissed artist. Pretty cool hearing the dulcet tones of a BB song with words like:

This stupid mess we’re in just keeps getting worse
So many people dying needlessly
Looks like the liars may inherit the earth
Even pretending to pray
And getting away with it

Hooray for musicians.

Hooray per pasta!

Huh. I babelfished "Hooray for pasta" in Italian, thinking it would be something cool sounding, like Viva la pasta or something. Nope. Hooray for pasta in Italian is Hooray per pasta.

"Le Big Mac."

Anyway, good day. Went and got (hopefully-prayerfully-knockwood-JuJu) Little Warrior's last blood count. And broke in my birthday gift, a pasta roller/cutter that fits my KitchenAid.

I am not in any way Martha Stewart. However, I really, REALLY like good food. So, for the last 16 years, I have spent quite a bit of time using my Atlas hand-cranked pasta roller/cutter.

OHMYGOD having an electric version is terrific. Frees up one hand, for one thing, making the whole process much simpler.

And for anyone who hasn't had homemade pasta ... run, don't walk, and get a roller/cutter. NOT an extruder. It's like a whole different beast than storebought. And if you do like I, and make semolina pasta ... well, the angels sing, the skies weep, however it goes.

We are being hopeful and thus, purchased tickets for The Husband to fly out at the end of July from and to New Mexico so we can go there to visit my parents. "But what about the results of her CT/MRI?" Well, we're hoping they're good.

Hey, what about that. We're being hopeful.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Alien Baby

Little Warrior is sitting on the floor, sock in hand, very happily and diligently dusting the bottom of the coffee table.

This is not behavior she is imitating from watching me.


Has LW been sneaking out of bed at night to watch "Martha"?

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Birthday Season is Over

...thank God, my butt is begging for mercy.

It is hard to lose any weight when you have two birthday cakes each on four birthdays spread through May - June. For The Husband's and my birthday, he had peach cobbler and I had a sacher torte.

Anyway, today was The Princess's 7th birthday. 7 years ago today, my mother, The Husband and my always-will-be-childless-by-choice sister saw her born ... two hours after I arrived at the hospital, had my waters broken by some strange doctor, and then was informed, "Oh, we don't have any anesthesiologists in the hospital right now."

So, I can say that I have had natural childbirth. However, since I had to have it while strapped flat on my back (all the pain, none of the work-arounds, like walking), I can say that epidurals are marvelous things and I enjoyed them mightily on my next two births.

Can I get one now? No? Well, a caipirinha will work.

Made a "from scratch" cake, and it happens to be the same one my mom used to make for my brother, BigShot, every year.

Chocolatetown Special Cake

* 1/2 cup boiling water
* 2/3 cup shortening
* 1-3/4 cups sugar
* 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
* 2 eggs
* 2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
* 1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 1-1/3 cups buttermilk or sour milk*

1. Heat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour two 9-inch round baking pans.

2. Stir together cocoa and water in small bowl until smooth. Beat shortening, sugar and vanilla in large bowl until fluffy. Add eggs; beat well. Stir together flour, baking soda and salt; add to shortening mixture alternately with buttermilk, beating until well blended. Add cocoa mixture; beat well. Pour batter into prepared pans.

3. Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely. Frost with ONE-BOWL BUTTERCREAM FROSTING. 8 to 10 servings.

* To Sour Milk: Use 4 teaspoons white vinegar plus milk to equal 1-1/3 cups.


6 tablespoons butter or margarine, softened
2-2/3 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup HERSHEY'S Cocoa or HERSHEY'S Dutch Processed Cocoa
1/3 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Beat butter in small bowl. Add powdered sugar and cocoa alternately with milk; beat to spreading consistency (additional milk may be needed). Stir in vanilla. About 2 cups frosting.


Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Menu bar code?

Anyone know of any good code for a drop down menu bar? I do web design, but am a graphics person, not a java person. I purchased from but the menu bar is quite buggy, and it freezes on people running it on Explorer.

I officially "retired" from all this Little Warrior was diagnosed, but this was a prior client.

I wish the world would let me do nothing but tend to my sheep.

Welcome to life, kid.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Back to Our Regularly Scheduled Program

Okay, back to regular life.

Get back to regular life.

Get back to regular life.

Huh. 'S not working.

I'm getting paralyzed again. Okay. Raise your right leg up, bend the knee, extend it forward ...

This is how to walk ...

Breastfeeding a Baby with Cancer

When Little Warrior was first diagnosed with cancer, I searched everywhere for information on breastfeeding a baby with cancer. I googled all kinds of permutations of +breastfeeding +baby +cancer and all I got was articles about how if you (the mother) have cancer, you should stop breastfeeding. Or how breastfeeding could offer protection against you (the mother) developing breast cancer.

Not helpful.

At the hospital, which is a Children's Hospital, I tried to find someone who could talk to me about it, specifically, were there certain things I could eat that would help, or certain things I should avoid? The sum total of advice I received can be summarized in this quote from one doctor:

"Sure, you can go ahead and breastfeed."

Well, duh, Sherlock. If breastfeeding is best with a 'normal' child, I'm certainly not going to put a baby with cancer on formula.

So, for anyone who ever happens to google the topic, here's my experience:

My daughter was 7 months when diagnosed. She's 13 months now.

She was exclusively breastfed til she was about 11 months. We would have started her on solids earlier, but, probably because of the chemotherapy, she just wasn't interested.

I have breastfed in countless waiting rooms, doctors' offices and of course, in the hospital. Little Warrior even got one of her echocardiograms nursing. She was being fussy, and we didn't want to sedate her, so I hopped up on the table, put her on my lap, and latched her on. The tech had no problem doing her echo/doppler.

In the hospital, we had no problems. One nurse put a sign up on the door saying "Knock! Breastfeeding mother inside!" but that was a pain, since they'd knock, then wait for us to yell "come in." With a sleeping baby, not helpful. I'm discreet, so we just pulled the sign down. And I mean, come on. This is my fourth baby. Modesty went out the window 3 kids ago. I think a medical professional could handle a quick flash of boob.

We were pleasantly surprised that when we requested her hospital crib be replaced with a hospital bed so that I could sleep with her, they didn't even bat an eye.

We were also surprised that the lack of measurability of breastmilk wasn't a problem. After her surgeries, as soon as she had taken a certain amount of pedialyte, I was allowed to nurse her. They just weighed all of her diapers and used that for a gauge.

Only challenges: when she went through surgery, she couldn't nurse for about 4-5 days. As soon as you know you'll be in that type of situation, request a breastpump. No matter how stressed you are, pump. Make sure you're pumping every 3 hours. A friend of mine brought me up some "Nursing Mother Tea" and that helped. (Or just fenugreek tea.)

Other challenge: I had never gotten Little Warrior on to a bottle. Didn't really have the need, since I was a stay-at-home mum. The only time this was an issue was when we needed to get "contrast" down her or the pedialyte. Well, they make giant syringes that you can request. It's going to be a pain, and Baby is going to be mad at you, but it's better than doing an NG tube, in my opinion.

Whenever LW gets a CT scan, they sedate her. Coming out of that, they've never required her to do pedialyte. They just let her nurse. After she nurses for a while (with no throwing up), we're free to go.

End result of all this -- realizing that this is purely anecdotal: Little Warrior's blood counts never dropped below range. She was hospitalized once for infection, but it was probably due to e.coli being released in her system during surgery. (Very common.)

To my eyes, she got skinny, but the doctors never worried about it. And apparently the skinniness was due to the tumors eating up all her calories, because after the tumors were removed (but while still on chemo), she began gaining the weight back.

I'd like to take credit for any of that, but science just doesn't work that way. Who knows? Maybe it had nothing to do with it.

But, if you are breastfeeding your baby already and s/he has been diagnosed with cancer ... well, first of all, I send you a giant cyber hug. I am SO sorry you're facing that. But next, let me encourage you to keep nursing your baby if at all possible. I don't have any information on nutrition for you, other than to say be sure to drink loads of water and avoid alcohol, since it can interfere with chemo. For the first month or so, I also avoided caffeine, but I'll admit that fell by the wayside. I had about a cup of coffee every day. I say "about" because I make a cup of coffee, I lay it down somewhere, I find it later, I microwave it, I set it down, rinse, lather and repeat until I finally give up drinking it.

Good luck. God bless. Boobie love.

What Her Shirt Says

To Do List:

Beat Cancer
Learn to Crawl
Take Over Earth

She's done #2. Hopefully done #1. And judging by her sauciness, #3 is just a matter of time.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

2Cool and Little Warrior

Okay, I'm only going to leave this picture up briefly, but it's just too cute, I had to share. This is Little Warrior expressing her delight at the new hair color of "2Cool" who used to babysit the other kids but is now either away at college or on some brainiac science internship. She came in town for the weekend, got her hair done and came out for a visit. How cool is that? 2Cool is just the most amazing young woman and this housewife is madly jealous over the purple hair.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Lion in the House, Conclusion

The Husband and I watched the conclusion of "Lion in the House."

WTF did we watch that????

It's a very good documentary. Extremely real.

WTF did we watch that.

A Blessing for a Plain-Brown-Paper-Wrapped Package


Right as I'm questioning any sort of call to ministry, I get a request to give a blessing. To what used to be euphemistically referred to as a "marital aid."

Damn, God sure works in mysterious ways.


Note: I have been quite "Blue" this week. Interesting. Going from being "blue" to being "Blue." Quite possibly a sign of healing.

Or just being a 12 year old boy trapped in a 37 year old mother-of-4's body.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

"Lion in the House"

Oh, and the first of two episodes of Independent Lens (PBS) with the "Lion in the House" documentary was good. All about childhood cancer, like I haven't gotten enough of that already. The Husband and I were bitchin' at the tv, since the description for tonight's episode said something about a family with a good outcome learning how to "be normal" again. I guess it's in the next episode because it sure as heck wasn't on this one.

Good show, though. Unflinching.

Sabbatical. Time Limit: Unknown.

I'm not going back into the pulpit. At least, not anytime soon.

Now that Little Warrior is hopefully-knock-wood-prayerfully-JuJu at the end of treatment, I have been contacted by some of the churches I do lay speaking for, about getting on their Fall schedule.

Have decided: nope.

I can't imagine getting in the pulpit. The only reason to stand up in front of a congregation is if you have something to say. For perhaps the first time in my life, I have nothing to say.

Maybe this will change.


God in the form of BusyLady

I have contended for a long time that where I see God is in the face of other people, and today God came in the form of my friend BusyLady.

BusyLady is, as you can imagine, a busy lady. She has enough energy for 10 people, and uses it for good, through her professional work as a counselor for hurt children, her volunteer work at our church, and through being an awesome mom.

She also lost one of her sons about 10 years ago. Acute Myelogenous Leukemia.

She came for a visit today, bringing her daughter to play with my hellions, enchiladas for my freezer, muffins and donuts for us, and incredible dessert for The Husband and I -- grown-up "Ding Dongs." Dark chocolate glaze ... yum. Stop your dirty remarks.

The last time she came to visit was when I had just received the call scheduling Little Warrior's surgery. I opened the door to her and burst into tears.

Happily, I didn't do that this time, though we both got teary at various times, having the conversation that only two people who have both gone through having a child with cancer can have.

She said SO many things I needed to hear. It was like being at the knee of the man on the mountaintop.

She is probably the most compassionate, thoughtful person I know, but she doesn't mind stating an opinion. Such as the whole issue of "things happen so we can learn lessons." F-- that! Yes, you can and should learn lessons along the way. But that doesn't mean it was worth it. Let me state that again ...


If I could take back the whole experience and not have the lessons, would I? Would we? Yup, we both agreed. In a heartbeat.

This part of the conversation came up because she recently helped put together a Mother's Day service with another friend. There was apparently something in it that said something about being a mother, and things happening so we can learn lessons. She swiftly changed that, explaining to the other friend, "This is very, very hurtful to any parent who has gone through a serious illness with their child."

Had I not gone through All Of This, I wouldn't have understood, either. That's one of those differences between being an adult and having cancer yourself, and your child having it. I know myself: I know that if I survived cancer, I would be like Linda Ellerbee, claiming that cancer was a gift to me, that it made the rest of my life better.

(As I've mentioned before, if I were not a survivor, I don't think I would consider it to be such a great gift.)

But if you're a parent, even if your child survives, you don't consider cancer to be a gift.

Well, there I go, attempting to speak for millions of people. Perhaps there are some parents who would disagree. But not me.

And not BusyLady.

I feel completely refreshed. What a wonderful gift she has. What a wonderful gift she is.

Monday, June 19, 2006


So, who am I going to be now?

Obviously, this has changed me. Fairly obviously, I will now also be looked at a bit differently by those who know of our past 6 months.

Obviously, I should be me.

Not so obvious anymore -- who is that, exactly?

You Say It's Your Birthday. It's My Birthday, Too, Yeah.

Tomorrow is The Husband's birthday.
Tomorrow is my birthday.

That's not a typo. Or a metaphor.

We were in college together, on the fencing team, when I found this out. Sitting around with other team members, eating Chicago-style pizza and drinking Shiner Bock, we were talking about genealogical signs. "I'm a Gemini," sez me. "So am I!" sez he, "When's your birthday?" "June 20." "Me, too!" he says in amazement.

I didn't believe him. Figured that was one of the worst lines I'd ever heard.

He showed me his license. I still didn't believe him. I'd never met someone who shared my birthday before.

It was such a gift from the universe, my b'shert and I having the same birthday. He's exactly one year older. I tease him that I was his first birthday present.

In truth, it is the other way around. From my 10th birthday until when I met him, my birthdays were not a real celebration. Three days before my 10th birthday, my 23-year old brother committed suicide. So you can imagine the feelings swirling around our home every year at that time.

Not that my family didn't try. In fact, on my 10th birthday, just the day after my brother's funeral, my other brother took me and two friends to see a movie. Superman. Won't ever forget that. How smart and loving was he, to do that?

Through the years, we'd have cake and presents, sometimes a party. But it always felt forced. I'm sure my parents would have loved to just hole up under the covers that time of year. But they pushed on.

So, you can connect the dots here. To share the same birthday with my best friend ... it gave me my birthday back. And every year, it's like a little gift from the heavens saying, "You two are special. You were meant to be each other's."

It's been a heck of a year. In only 6 months. But I had him to share it with, dividing the sorrows, multiplying the joys.

Happy Birthday to us.

Saturday, June 17, 2006


On the Thursday morning post, in detailing what happens at a chemo appointment, I wrote:

Hold breath and say prayers that there is blood return after sticking the needle in her.

Well, here's what happens if there isn't any:

Move Little Warrior in all different positions trying to get blood to come back. Hold her down. Hold her up. Forward. Back. Arm up. Arm down. (All the while, LW is screaming her head off -- who wouldn't be?)

Pull out needle. Restick it in. Repeat the above. No??? Still???

Consult with nurses. Go to see doctor. Wait for doctor. Talk to doctor. Doctor says you have to reschedule and come back tomorrow for an alteplase treatment (Drano for your veins).

Come back the next day. Wait two hours. Get alteplase treatment and wait the necessary two hours. Repeat paragraph beginning "Move Little Warrior ..." STILL???

Consult with nurses who say Little Warrior will have to get her chemo via IV (bad). Wait. Nurse comes back and says, "We're going to try it one more time." Puts in more alteplase. Waits one hour. Nurse tries again, repeating over and over, "This will work, thankyouJesus. This will work, thankyouJesus."

Jesus responds and pink comes back through the tube. Then blood.

You love the sight of blood now. ThankyouJesus.

Get chemo. Drive home.

In the rush hour traffic, you flash back to that day in January, when you also sat in rush hour traffic. With Little Warrior in her seat. As you tried to get to the Children's Hospital because there was something showing up on an xray and holy shit they're saying it might be cancer. They're Saying It Might Be Cancer. If you repeat it enough times, maybe it will start to make sense. Maybe you'll be able to believe it. You couldn't stop crying.

You're not crying now. Little Warrior just finished what is hopefully-knock-wood-thankyouJesus her last chemo treatment.

They say the cancer is gone.

They say the cancer is gone.

They say the cancer is gone.

Maybe, if you repeat it enough times, it will start to make sense.

Maybe you'll even be able to believe it.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Not So Fast ...

Nothing bad, but we couldn't get The Last Chemo yesterday. Little Warrior's port didn't have a blood return, so we had to go get a chest Xray to make sure it was still in the same place. It was, so we go back this morning for altaplase treatment to dissolve the clot, then, after two hours, chemo.

But it's all looking good. The Husband asked The Oncologist about future treatment if it recurred, and The Onc said, "I'm not even thinking about that." Which is what we wanted to hear.

Fun with a baby in a waiting room ...

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Hopefully, knock wood, pray pray, Last Chemo

Little Warrior is waving goodbye to the Teletubbies and softly saying, "Ba-ba!"

It's just to effing cute.

So, today's the day. (Hopefully) Last Chemo (knock wood) (please, God).

Her appointment is at 1:15. Here's how it works:

Get to Clinic. Sign in. Go sit down. Wait between 10 - 30 minutes. Get called back to sign forms. Go to Infusion area, sign in and sit down. Wait between 20 - 40 minutes. Get called back so that LW's port can be accessed and blood drawn. Hold breath and say prayers that there is blood return after sticking the needle in her. Loop up the tubes and securely bandage up her port site so she can't pull it out. Go back to the infusion waiting room. Wait about an hour while they examine her blood.

Get called back to see the doctor. Wait 30 minutes in the doctor's examining room, trying to keep LW from eating the ear-scope thingies or launching herself off the exam table. (Note to self: go charge up DVD player after this post.)

See doctor. Ask doctor list of questions. Realize that if doctor ever shows alarm, you're going to be really freaked out, because in all this, he's always acted quite laid-back. Nice man.

Go back to infusion area. Wait 30-60 minutes for the chemo to be prepared and nurse to bring it.

Get anti-nausea drug in port. Then a saline flush. Then Vincristine. Then Dactinomycin. The Zofran (nausea) is put on about a 7 minute drip, but the actual chemo just goes in with a push. Boom, boom. Saline flush. Heparin push.

Stop at the Candlelighter's Desk on the way out to see if there are any parking validations left. At $10 a visit, very valuable.

And there's our day. Oh, mixed in that is something very important:

Walk around with Little Warrior in the sling. Get oohs and aahs from all the nurses. Be told over and over that she's the prettiest baby in the world. Watch adults begin talking baby talk.

Long day? Yep. Any complaints? Nope. The fact that we live where we can get this, the fact the we have the resources to do so ... no complaints here.

Tonight, we'll be celebrating. "Going Off Treatment." Granted, "last chemo" has a better ring to it, but The Husband and I can't quite cross that superstition line.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

On Caitlin Flanagan (phhhbt)

I just read Caitlin Flanagan's book "To Hell With All That" -- primarily because I'm a masochist who will read the two extremes of feminism and anti-feminism (I even read the Dr. Laura book, for cripes-sake) and bore my husband by shouting out "neither of these camps represent me!"

And, I will admit, there have been times when I've been surprised to find something good in a book that I thought for sure I'd hate. No, not the Dr. Laura book. It was stupid and mean, not surprisingly. But I read "The Surrendered Wife," the book darling of many fundamentalist conservatives and was shocked to find that not only did it make some good points, but I couldn't figure out why the fundies liked it. (I won't go into all that now. Just check it out from the library and give it a chance. It's more about "don't take on everything, allow your partner to genuinely partner with you" than surrendering. But you can see how her title is more eye-catching than mine.)

Anyway, so I checked out the Flanagan book, since it's getting lots of press. I did hate it, but not for the reasons I thought I would -- the press invariably picks up her quotes about there being something lost when Mom works -- but because it was such an odd book. The kind of book where you would think an editor would say, "Um, I don't get your point?"

Happily, since I don't have the time right now, someone has done a much better job than I at discussing this:

More later, from the Feminist-Stay-At-Home-Mom-in-Tennis-Shoes.

Piss, vinegar, and fear

Little Warrior is looking so good. Pudgy, and showing some piss 'n vinegar. Last night, I sat down with a bowl of cheerios for myself and a cup of cheerios for her. Well, she crawled over and began taking handfuls of mine. (Luckily, I like mine without milk.) I explained, 'LW's cheerios, Mama's cheerios ...' LW grabbed onto my bowl with both hands and I'm not entirely sure what she said, but I don't believe she was echoing my words. And frankly, I believe she used language not becoming a young lady.

I tried to wrest my bowl away from her, unsuccessfully, and somewhere in the confusion, she also managed to get my spoon away from me.

So ...

I ate Cheerios out of the box, by the handful, while LW very carefully maneuvered the spoon in the bowl to dump cheerios on the floor.

We're so proud. Using a spoon at 12 months.


I'm afraid to be happy.

I'm afraid to be hopeful.

This goes against my personality. I am an "eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we die" kind of person. We can't really prepare for the worst, emotionally, so we should enjoy today.

I'm trying to.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

I just stepped over part of a castle ...

...a Barbie castle to be precise. It is behind our living room couch, with assorted paraphenalia scattered about. Ken is lying face down amongst a crown and some little dishes. Christmas Cookin' Barbie is on her back, her arms stretched toward the heavens in supplication. Birthday Barbie is away from all the rest; the newest in the neighborhood, the others think she is snobbish, but she's probably just shy. And Fairy Barbie is twisted in an odd, unnatural position, obviously the victim of foul play.

The other flotsam and jetsam of Bo Peep's 4th birthday are scattered around the rest of the living room. The kids are in the kitchen, eating the leftover hot dogs and cake. (Strawberry with chocolate frosting and chocolate with butter-rum buttercream frosting.)

Mom ate way too much today and is here, at the computer, nursing a Coke zero. Little Warrior is in her high chair, suspiciously looking from her cheerios to the cake that the others have. Mom needs to learn how to make Crisco (non-dairy) frosting.

The Husband is putting dishes in the dishwasher. Such a nice man. And smart, too, since he didn't eat his stomach to distension.

Thank you for Today.

Friday, June 09, 2006

"Small Bald Circus Freaks"

Watched the "Autopsy" episode of House last night, dealing with a terminal 9 year old cancer patient. (No, not from my TIVO word list. I got addicted to House while we were in the hospital, and I'm eagerly watching all episodes, new and old.)

Freakin' GREAT episode. Poetic, with the episode being bookended with Christina Aguilera's "Beautiful" at the start and Elvis Costello doing the same song at the end.

(Note: I am so tired of falling in love with songs that are unavailable. I am like a straight woman who keeps getting crushes on gay men. First, it was Dave Matthew's "Glory, Glory" from For the Love of Winn Dixie. Now, Elvis Costello doing "Beautiful." Neither one are available. $%#!!)

Anyway, I relate to House's disdain of sacred cows, his rejection of sloppy sentimentality. I can be the biggest sap in the world, but I think that often what masquerades as sentimentality is dishonest. We don't want to get down into our real emotions. It's messy and scary. Or we're afraid that our true monster selves will be revealed.

Cancer, Baby wrote a terrific essay about this (and was lambasted for it), specifically on the topic of "survivor worship." I share the thoughts she had (sadly, she passed away recently) -- the flip side of survivor worship and any of the accompanying platitudes -- "He fought cancer and WON! He's a WINNER!" -- is the flip side. So, if you fought cancer and died, does that mean you're a loser?

Don't get me wrong -- I know that attitude can make a difference. But sometimes, it can't.

I remember being in a study group several years ago that was reading Conversations with God. One of the flakier members of my group asserted that one cannot die until one "chooses" to do so.

What a load of crap.

So, Dr. Greg House is fighting any sentimentality about this little girl with terminal cancer. He says he doesn't buy into the whole brave little patient spiel, that there have to be whiny, bratty little cancer patients, too. (Parents will be the first to agree with this. In fact, some have nicknamed the bratty behavior "Stinky Cheese.")

But, he gets to know this little girl. A very special, matter-of-fact, appallingly brave little girl. And despite his vow not to go see her leave the hospital -- the "parade of small bald circus freaks" -- he has to. She has affected him.

Because the truth is, there is an amazing amount of bravery that these kids have. And a lot of wisdom and maturity they get along the way.

When I was a child, I spake as a child ... well, when I was a kid, I read The Diary of Anne Frank. And totally didn't get it. Why was she considered a hero? I asked. She was just writing about normal everyday things.

And now I have put away my childish things. And I understand that what made Anne a hero was her ability to write about the normal everyday things ... while in an attic ... while hiding for her life.

Little Warrior is amazing. I have to force medicine down her three times a day. 5 times, if it's a Bactrim day. She fights me tooth and nail. And after we're done, she cuddles with me. And plays. And tries to climb up the step from the living room into the entryway.

She knows, if she can just climb that one step, the world will be hers.

Pavlovian Pizza

I think that for most people who went to the college in the past 20 years, we have a Pavlovian urge towards takeout pizza when life gets stressful.

We were repeatedly conditioned for this non-homey comfort food. When things got stressful, it was time to order a pizza. Cramming for 3 exams at midnight? Call Domino's! Boyfriend done you wrong? Dial up Pizza Hut!

So now, as an adult, when stress hits, it's time for pizza. That was what happened to me the other night. I had a perfectly good soup ready to heat up for dinner, but after the stress of doctors not really making me feel better about Little Warrior's CT, I turned to The Husband and said, "I need pizza."

And it tasted terrific. Am eating cold pizza now, with hot coffee, one of the world's truly unappreciated breakfasts.

Granted, when I got this urge for pizza, I didn't know that it would result in 12 hours of stress and worrying about whether we should take LW to the ER.

Hi, Irony.


Note: yesterday, as I was washing the "severe gastrointestinal symptoms" off of LW's butt, back, feet, hands and neck, I sent out a grin to Rev. Sean. And it still might be the tomatoes. Per our pediatrician: "Don't give her any dairy. And if you give her anything tomato and she reacts, don't give her tomato anymore."

Sometimes, low-tech is quite refreshing.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Didn't see that coming ...

Gave Little Warrior a few bites of pizza. Specifically, little bits of cheese. Which she'd had last week.

Rash around the mouth. Eyes puffing up. Her crying. Red ears. Vomiting. Rash slowly going down the length of her body.

Can we say "dairy allergy"?

Which none of my other kids had, nor The Husband or I.

She's fine now, almost back to normal. I'll call the clinic in the morning, plus I already have an appointment with the kids' pediatrician for tomorrow. (Yes, we would have rushed her to the ER had there been any breathing difficulties.)

God DAMN it. What, cardiomyopathy and cancer weren't enough?

A Clash of Coincidences, or More Fun With Tivo

With Tivo, you can program in "wish list" words to see what shows come up with those words (or actors' names). It's like Google for tv.

I'm lazy about deleting my wish list words, which is why "Christmas" and "Halloween" are still on there.

Interesting tidbit: on just about any day throughout the year, you can watch a Christmas or Halloween episode of some show. For some reason, now, that seems remotely comforting. If I need it to be Christmas today, it can be.

One of my other wish list words: cancer. I don't know why. It's the same motivation that lead me to watch pregnancy shows while pregnant or baby shows when one of my babies was first born. I want to see other people going through what I am, in some fashion.

Which explains why today, I watched the episode of Murphy Brown wherein she buys a wig and joins a breast-cancer support group, and "The Doctor," a really good movie made in 1991 starring William Hurt as an insensitive ass of a doctor who gets cancer.

Predictable? Sure it is. Doesn't mean that I don't wish every single medical student would watch it.

Got a call from a BabyDoc today. By BabyDoc, I don't mean someone who treats doctors. I mean one of those interns / fellows/ apparently-12-year-olds-that-they-give-medical-degrees-to-these days.

The oncology team had a meeting today and discussed Little Warrior's last CT. Overall, nothing bad. However, there are some "abnormal" areas near where they cut on her kidneys. Most likely, these are the nephrogenic rests that we suspected would be there. This isn't bad, in and of itself. These "rests" can turn into cancer, but they don't necessarily.

Right now, they just need a baseline so that they can compare future CT scans. So, they may do an MRI on Little Warrior. Nothing to worry about yet. Not that that's stopping me.

By the way, a few weeks ago, I wrote about how I don't believe in the "power of prayer" in the traditional sense.

That doesn't mean I don't pray anyway.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

It's looking good

The radiologist and another doc report that her CT looks clear. Tomorrow, since she is such an interesting case, her CT will be perused by all the hospital oncologists at one of their presentations.

Silly doctors. The reason why she is so interesting is because she keeps saying, "Wowwww" at everything we do. And she wants to eat palak paneer rather than cheerios. And when you make an "Mwwah" kissing sound at her, she'll bump her head up against your lips to get kisses.

But hey, they can think she's an interesting case if it helps the next Little Warrior.

Monday, June 05, 2006

No CT results. Chocolate.

The oncologist is in Japan. Which is why we haven't heard anything.


Well, while I'm waiting, howsabout some "lighter" recipes that aren't too bad? Both for chocoholics. First, brownies. Simple. Buy any brownie mix and rather than water, oil and egg, mix in a heaping cup of plain, low-fat or fat-free yogurt. Might need to add a bit of water, but I'm sure you know what brownie batter is supposed to look like. Bake as directed. A little tangy, but not bad at all.

Chocolate spread: make some yogurt cheese by draining low-fat plain yogurt in cheesecloth overnight. Mix together some cocoa powder, a bit of granulated sugar (could use Splenda, if you're into that) and hot water to make a thick chocolate syrup. Well, between a syrup and a paste. Mix with some of the yogurt. No, no measurements. You're smart. You can figure out what you like. Eat it heaped up on a graham cracker. Or:

Chocolate no-crust cheesecake: Mix together an egg, some vanilla, and about three big spoonfuls of the chocolate yogurt cheese. Pour in a custard cup or some single-serving thing you have that's oven-proof. Put that in a larger pan that you've poured some water in. Bake at 350 for about 30 minutes.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

National Cancer Survivors' Day

Today is National Cancer Survivors' Day. Perhaps Little Warrior could celebrate this already, hopefully she's been cancer-free since her surgery.

But, we just don't know.

Maybe next year we'll be celebrating this. I'll bake a cake.

We still haven't received the results of her CT scan back yet.

"The Girl Can Fry Fish"

The Husband went out Friday on his yearly overnight fishing trip with his buddy, Nice Guy. And if you think this wife missed the opportunity to crack "Brokeback Mountain" jokes, you are sorely mistaken.

Caught enough fish to feed three adults and three children, heavily supplemented with sweet tater fries and (groan with me) fried dill pickles. We only fry about twice a year, so when we do, we fry everything in sight. Wait, where's the dog?

Growing up, I had tons of fresh fish, and never any purchased fish, since Daddy was, and is, a fisherman. Once The Husband married into the family, Daddy taught him the proper way to clean a fish, and me, how to cook it. (If it's a dry or fish that can be strong, like sheepshead, be sure and soak it in buttermilk. If it's moist like trout, don't soak it in anything.) Toss it with cornmeal/flour, then fry 'em up at the hottest temp your fryer will go to.

"I saw your wife the other day, uu huh, and she's ugly..."
"Yeah, but she sure can cook!"

Or fry fish.

Best Way to Fry Pickles

Get some good, sour dill pickles and cut 'em in chunks. "Hamburger slices" are too thin, so cut them yourself.

Crush yourself some Cap'n Crunch cereal real fine.

Set out three bowls: first, flour. Second, egg. Third, the cereal crumbs.

Dip pickle chunks in flour, then egg, then cereal.

Deep fry real hot.

Enjoy. And ignore any jokes about trailer trash.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

The Secret Handshake

Had an interesting experience today.

Rather than going downtown to The Big Medical Clinic where Little Warrior gets her care, I was able to just go 10 minutes away to a pedi office, since all she needed was to get blood drawn.

While I was signing in and talking to the receptionist, there was a pharmaceutical salesman standing there. You know the type -- very polished, very manly.

"I couldn't help overhearing," says he. "I have a child being treated at The Big Medical Center, but you can get the blood draws done here?"

Yep, says I, then ask him what his child is being treated for.

He gives me the little wave-off that I know I have given others not in the Childhood Cancer World and says, "Oh, it's this rare thing called rhabdomyosarcoma."

I point to Little Warrior. "Wilms Tumor."

I remember hearing about how Masons supposedly have some secret "sign" they can give each other. It has been mythologized in stories such as how Sam Houston and Santa Anna met up and gave each other "the sign," and thus didn't kill each other.

We had given each other "the sign." As soon as I said "tumor," he knew that we were in the same club. The club that no one wants to join, but once you're in, you're in. So, we began chatting, exchanging when our children were diagnosed, finding out that we knew some of the same doctors (both are categorized as "solid tumors" which affects which doctors you see), etc.

He looked at Little Warrior. And cried. This big ole polished, manly guy. I figured it was because his son was diagnosed more recently than LW. And with a condition considered to be more serious than Wilms. But explained himself. "I can handle it, my son having this. But seeing other kids with it. Your baby ..."

So, we each had insight for the other. Mine was simple -- he now knows that he can get blood draws out by his house, a highly useful bit of info. His was deeper. I have been a bit surprised at the clinic that the other moms (it's almost always mothers, not fathers) weren't friendlier. I'd seen some chat with others, but not with me. I found this odd, since I'm usually the type that complete strangers come up and chat with in the grocery store. I finally figured that maybe it was because they've seen me breastfeeding my baby. Hey, nothing else made sense!

Except this ... perhaps, even for the moms whose children have cancer, seeing a baby with cancer is just a little too much. A little too raw.

I don't know. But I feel a bit more kind about it, so I guess that's all that matters.