Monday, June 29, 2009

Lazy Monday? Heck no!

We woke and pretty much went straight to the Valerie Fund Center. The Boy was accesses in case he needed blood. Long story short, he didn't, his counts were great. Mommy left for a while for her ob appointment. The Boy was very upset about it, but he fell asleep while being mad. That was fine by me - we listened to some soft music while I read a textbook.

When Mommy came back, we de-accessed him and gave him his epigen shot. He was none too thrilled about that, also. We travelled from the hospital to the school where I'm teaching summer arts stuff.

The school is fine. It'll do. There's no air conditioning, which I'm really unhappy about, but I'll get over it. We ate lunch at a local diner, which The Boy didn't like so much.

When we got home, Mommy napped whulethe boys rested. We went outside after a little while, and when we went back in, we played until dinner. After dinner I had a phone meeting for an hour and a half, and then I helped put him to bed. Right now, his face and hands are on my shoulder. What a snuggle man.

The other baby is a little closer - the doctor said that she's dilated a little bit. Nothing imminent, but there's hope. We are planning on travelling together up north while I teach, because I don't want her being home alone with The Boy when I'm an hour away.

Interesting times, indeed.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Post-chemo weeks

Today was kind of the "poster child" for post-chemo times. The Boy slept in this morning, waking and moving at 7:45 instead of his normal 6:30 or 6:45. He was up late last night, but not obnoxiously so; 9:30-ish was when he settled in. He pulled us out of bed and had a light breakfast of his usual yogurt & wheats / Special K, and he barely touched his egg. He played and lounged around for a few hours, then threw a fit when Mommy left to go to Home Depot and the craft store. In the process of calming him down, he fell asleep on my shoulder in the lounge chair - the first time in a long time that he's done that. We woke when Mommy came home, and we had lunch. He ate two eggs for lunch (that being what he wanted).

After lunch, he & I went for a walk around the neighborhood in his wagon. Well, he was in the wagon - I pulled. We stopped at Quikchek for coffee and by the F's for chatter. He followed F's daughters around for a little while, then came and rested with Musical Daddy while I finished kibitzing. We went back home, and he rested for another hour on the bed, snuggled up to Mommy.

After a couple of Elmo episodes, we went outside for about an hour, playing on the slide and in the new sand for the sandbox. I figured that, every other week or so, we'll change the sand and thoroughly clean the inside and outside of the sandbox because of the accumulation of insects on, in, and around the box. We played in the sand, then played in the garage for a little while before heading back inside to rest. He fell asleep next to Mommy and Musical Daddy while Daddy read and Mommy fixed the elastic on some of the cloth diapers.

He woke up an hour later and got hungry quickly. He and I had a light dinner; Mommy joined us soon afterwards. After dinner, he had some free play time - we let him roam around the house and play where ever he felt like playing. That's fine, as long as someone is there to make sure he doesn't screw around with stuff he's not supposed to - like wine glasses, sharp implements, electric outlets, etc. Tonight, he played with Playdoh, his trains, the buckles on his booster seat, the wineglasses (which we stopped quickly), the empty Mountain Dew (Diet) plastic bottles, and a pot lid. Not all at the same time.

We put him in the bath, which he was quite enthusiastic about. It was his first bath in almost a week - no bath (other than a wipedown) at the hospital, and we've been lazy since Friday night. We webchatted with Grandma, now The Boy and Mommy are going to bed while I exercise. I'll work out, shower, spend some quality time with The Wife, and pay this month's bills. I'll get to bed around midnight tonight, but accomplishing bill paying and reading 120 pages of my Grounded Theory textbook is a pretty good work day for me - considering I had a nap and a half with The Boy, a walk, and great outside playing.

But, this is what it's like. Slow paced days, with activities spaced by periods of rest and relaxation. Should be okay when the new baby arrives, I hope - we're going to need time of slow paced life.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Statistics vs Real Life

Tonight, The Wife discovered that a little guy on the Wilms Tumor Listserv lost his battle with cancer and passed away. He had bilateral Wilms, like The Boy, but - unlike The Boy - he had an unfavorable histology on one side and a favorable histology on the other. The Boy has two favorable histologies, thank G-d. It was, apparently, quick, as far as death from cancer complications goes.

It's a little scary. The survival rates for relapse Wilms Tumor with favorable histology is, I believe, somewhere around 90%. Not the 95% that pre-relapse (is that a word?) Wilms has, but still pretty darn good. Statistics go out the window when you're discussing real people, though. When it's your son, statistics can take a flying leap.

Sort of. I'm still somewhat comfortable with odds above 50-50, as that still feels like we've got a fighting chance. (The odds are well above 50-50, incidentally.) But, every time we hear about another little person that loses the battle against Wilms Tumor, it feels like the clock ticks a little closer to midnight. There's no realistic, logical background behind it: he had a different, more severe case of Wilms that kept relapsing and kept relapsing. Thus far, we'd been NED on all of The Boy's scans since the second surgery and the start of the relapse protocol.

It doesn't change the fact that it is a little freaky and scary right this second, since The Wife told me about this other child. In an awkward sense, I'm not looking forward to the post-treatment time with The Boy, because he won't be getting scans quite so frequently and won't be under quite as much attention as he's getting right now.

Rest in peace, Pablo. I hope the next world treats you easier than this one.

Baby Wood

So, a fact about having a boy that nobody ever told me... blood engorges the Boy Part, creating a (not-so-)tiny piece of Boy Lumber. It happens, I guess, the same way it does for an adult: during sleep, during excitement, and randomly.

The Boy just started squirming and complaining, and Mommy checked the diaper to see if he had to go potty. Nope. The Boy was sporting an impressive... eleventh finger.

Good for you, Boy. I'm proud of you!

Happy Anniversary, Sweetheart.

Five years ago, I married The Wife in a beautiful ceremony at The Bethwood in Totowa, NJ. We had a very nice wedding, with our closest friends attending and our entire families present. It was a brilliant and fun weekend for everybody, with - miracle of miracles - no negative feelings, arguments, or anything that I was aware of.

Since then, we've had wonderful times: fixing up our house, trips to the shore and Florida and Pennsylvania, breakfasts and dinners and surprises, one and a half sons and friends and their moments.

Since then, we've had some terrible times: The Boy's diagnosis, my health issues, a couple of job changes, arguments and fights, family members acting idiotically and having their moments, friends who've drifted away.

All in all, I would marry her again and again and again. It was probably the best decision I ever made, and I'm thankful for it. Through good times and bad times, she and I have been there for and with each other, every day.

And to think - it all started when we both went to see friends' steel drum band debut their version of "The Thong Song."

Friday, June 26, 2009

Home again, home again, jiggity-jig...

I'm glad I did all the touch-typing courses on our old Atari 800; The Wife is asleep in the chair (she can't sleep with The Boy right now, because he's all chemo'd up), and I'm sitting on the couch in the dark, typing. The only issue is the Macintosh keyboard, which is a fraction of an inch smaller than what I'm used to typing with. This causes me to miss words occasionally. Whatever. That's why G-d invented the delete key.

We got home around 7:30 tonight, which is WAY early for a chemo visit. Since he only has the VP-16 on the third day (no carboplatin - only twice) and that only takes an hour, we merely had to wait for counts and for another kidney test to come back from the labs before we were discharged. It was a little awkward in the late afternoon - three adults and one cranky boy in a small hospital room is not ideal, particularly with The Wife feeling unwell and Grandma fed up with me. S'alright. We survived, including a massive puking by The Boy cause by a bad stomach feeling post-chemo. That's why G-d invented Zofran.

The day went by relatively quickly. The Wife and I cleaned the toys then went out for breakfast. Breakfast without The Boy is boring. We went to my school and did my music inventory, then arrived at the hospital around 12:30. I got there at one because I stopped at the comic book store and got involved with a discussion about the merits of a single comic book distributor versus the merits and pitfalls of a multiple distributor system.

Yes, I'm a geek. You knew that already.

I got to the hospital and banished the womenfolk from the room. They were really, really antsy at this point, particularly Grandma, who hadn't been out of the room since she got off the train on Wednesday. They were gone for almost four hours. My father was around for an hour or so. The Boy was very cute and very affectionate: he yelled, "Dah-Dee! Dah-Dee! Dah-Dee! Dah-Dee!" and tackled me about six or seven times. He played so well, including taking the numbers from his wooden puzzle and reassembling the numbers in the correct order.

(This happened: He picked up the 4, studied it, then put it down. Picked up the 9, studied it, put it next to the 4. Picked up the 7, studied it, moved the 9 over and put the 7 between the 4 and the 9. Picked up the 1, studied it, then put it down to the left of the 4. I'm not making this up, and this wasn't the first time he's done it. Pretty good for a 22-month old, no?)

He played with all of his toys and read from some of his books before settling down. He sat quietly with me for a while and was just settling to sleep before Grandma and Mommy came barreling in like a herd of heffalumps, waking him up and startling him to activity. He eventually settled down and napped for a bit before dinner and the puking drama afterwards.

Tonight is diaper hell night. I did the 11 and will get the 3, and Grandma is doing the 1 and the 5. The Wife will be skipped out on tonight; being 9 months pregnant and REALLY uncomfortable kind of gives you that right. Her body is swollen like... well, like The Boy's body gets when he's been over-saturated with IV fluids. She's only really comfortable in the adjustable hospital bed or in the lounge chair, so it looks like I'm on Boy-chasing duty for the next few days. We'll see. It doesn't look like she'll be delivering any time soon, but - again - babies have minds of their own. When they want to be born, they're going to be born.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Home at night

It is lonely at night, without The Boy. It's quiet and easy around the house, which is weird. I know that they say parents enjoy the break, and I guess I do - but I hate the fact that he's ripped from us on a regular basis.

Tough night getting out of the hospital. The last few times I've left him, he's shrieked, "Dah-Dee! Dah-Dee!" until I was out of earshot. I know that he gets over it quickly, bit I still feel awkward.

We got home and I exercised, and it's pretty much straight to bed. We're going in early tomorrow, so that we can go see the new Transformers movie in an afternoon matinee. I'll bring some of my math papers and get a buttload of reading done as well.

Long day. Kind of boring because there's so little variety. Same room, same four walls, no real opportunity to take him to see different stuff.

Maybe, now that he's over the whole chewing on toys thing, we can arrange for some playroom time. I wish he'd let us put a mask and gloves on him, because then we'd definitely allow him playroom time.

Cute today: he saw a couple of babies in the admitting room and was absolutely fascinated. He wanted to look and to touch them. I think he's going to be a great big brother.

Also cute: him leaning in to smell the flowers in a painting on the wall, then to the pot of fake daisies. "Lah-wuhr! Lah-wuhr!"

Scared another one...

A med student just opened our door to ask if she could come in and give a quick physical / medical history to The Boy. She did that without washing her hands at the sink right outside the room or without using the Purell dispenser right next to the door. When she opened the door and asked, we said, "Fine, but you have to wash your hands before you come in."

"I will, but I just wanted to check if you were available."

"That's fine, but you have to wash your hands first."

"I'm going to, I just..."

"Well, you've now brought whatever's on your hands to the doorknob."

She left.

Medical students are cute. They're like bunnies: tentative, scared, and unsure. Reminds us of the resident that came in without washing his hands: when we asked him to wash, he said, "I'm okay. I washed my hands in the last room." Umm.... no. I don't think so. Wash your hands in here, where we can see you. I'm not entirely sure what kind of third world country you came from, but in America we wash our hands before handling immune-compromised chemo patients.

Bad fatherhood...


In my defense, he did ask for it. Multiple times. And, the doctor did say that we should give him what he wants to eat or drink...

Besides, everything runs on Dunkin!

Morning has broken...

We woke up at the usual time, more or less. Dressed, breakfast, ran down the slide once or twice, then hit the road for the hospital for chemo. We arrived at the hospital around 8:30 and were told that they were preparing the room for us. At 10, I sent The Wife home to do some shopping & clean up the kitchen a bit. (I'm refraining from the typical barefoot, pregnant, & in the kitchen jokes here, because I'd like to potentially father more children.) At 11, they sent us up to the lobby on the fourth floor to wait.

At noon, we got into our room.

That's a REALLY long time. The Boy was cranky for much of it, which isn't ideal. He was tolerable, all things considered, and he napped from eleven to twelve, waking in time to transport to the room.

We're in the isolation room in the stepdown unit, which is a new place with a different floor plan than what we're used to having. I set up the room as best as I'm capable, but - being a man - it's doubtlessly wrong. We'll see.

He had lunch - RICE RICE RICE and some chicken - and lots of apple juice. They brought me Starbucks, which let me make the Airplane! joke of, "How do you like your coffee?" "Like my men - hot, black, and strong." (Paraphrasing, here. I know the "like my men" comes after the hot black and strong line.)

Now, he's sitting on his playmat, yelling at the television for playing credits. And, here's Mommy!

Yankees & Cablevision

Anyone a Cablevision subscriber, out there?

The Yankees and Cablevision have offered a package for Cablevision subscribers, to stream the baseball games over the internet. It's $50 for the year, or $20 for any given 30-day period.

As you might know, I'm a baseball fanatic. Like, huge huge huge huge huge baseball fan. The hospital doesn't get the YES Network, which is the local sports station that carries the baseball games.

Here's what I'm hoping: I'm hoping that one of my readers is, or has a friend or family member that is, a Cablevision subscriber and baseball fanatic that is planning on getting this package. I'm also hoping that that person could contact The Wife or me, and set us up with a password so that we can watch the ball games while we're at the hospital.

Thanks in advance. I definitely appreciate it!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Getting blood, still getting chemo!

Getting blood is really, really boring.

We left this morning around 8:00 and hit the diner for breakfast. The Boy really impressed the hostess and a standing person by reading the letters on a "stop" sign. He had an egg sandwich with an English muffin and enjoyed most of it. We arrived at the Valerie Center at 9:15, he was accessed, and blood was taken for counts.

We walked across the street for The Wife's 38 week checkup and ultrasound, and the ultrasound was first. The Boy saw the ultrasound machine and flipped out; when the lights went out, he melted down completely. I took him back across the street, where we found out that he needed red blood cells but no platelets. The blood came around 11:30, and it took until 3:00 for it to finish.

So, what do we do? He fell asleep when the benedryl and tylenol was given, which is the stuff to reduce the inflammation from new blood. He slept until around 1-ish, and we had lunch and watched an episode of Dollhouse. Grandpa came by for a little while at this point. He woke up, and we watched an episode of Sesame Street together. We then chased him around the playroom for a while. Then, we went home.

Boring. Just, boring. Thankfully, The Wife and I were both there, so we were miserable in company. He had two really, really large poops while we were there, which was fun.

Chemo tomorrow. Grandma tomorrow afternoon. Transformers tomorrow or Thursday. It's been a really good run out-of-hospital!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Taking a Break from Grading...

Not school grades, of course, because that ended last week. This is grading the post-assessments for my math & music project. I'm not entirely convinced that the comparison between the pre-assessment and the post-assessment is actually going to work, considering how much the project changed in form and in scope since the pre-assessment was designed, but that's just my own perfectionism coming through. It'll be fine to get the degree, then I hone my work afterwards. I still have about 20 tests to grade, which should take me the equivalent of one episode of Scrubs.

The Boy had a very good day today.

We all overslept this morning. My alarm - which is a track from my iPod - went off at the appropriate time, but the volume level was not set correctly, because it had been playing for twenty minutes by the time I actually awoke. That's okay, because things are really relaxed on the teacher day, anyway. I dressed, updated the iPod, ate a quick breakfast, and headed out. The Boy was quite upset when I left, screaming, "Dee! Dee! No! No!" It was quite heartbreaking, in one sense, but nice in another sense. Most mornings I get a backhand wave and a "Bye-bye!"

For some reason, "Dah-Dee!" has been shortened to "Dee!" It's very cute. My father calls me "C," mostly because he hasn't called any of his sons (me in particular) by their given names without going through at least one or two of the others in years and years. Still, it's sometimes tricky to know when The Boy is calling me or just identifying his favorite letter.

Once he calmed down and ate breakfast, Mommy and The Boy joined me at school. The poor kid has had major cabin fever for the last couple of days - a healthy kid should never be confined to the house, and it's rained for the last two weeks around here. So, they came to school today, I gave him a set of drumsticks and let him go nuts on the percussion equipment in the back of the room. It was quite cute. They stayed for about two hours while I did assorted teacher / cleaning things: stacking chairs, putting percussion equipment in closets, throwing away a few trees' worth of papers, filing stuff that I should file, and organizing stacks of papers into recognizable and usable forms. They left, I stayed and ran around my room for another two hours, then I went home.

The day is very fluid; teachers are coming and going all the time. Most of the summer, we're all there on a regular basis anyway, so there's no "checklist" or anything like that for us to follow on the last day. I know that I'm going to take The Wife in on Thursday or Friday in order to do a comprehensive music and instrument inventory.

But, I digress.

I got home at noon-ish, to find The Boy asleep. He woke up, and we all had lunch. I spent an hour puttering around the house and straightened things up, and The Boy had his physical therapy session. At the end of PT, Mommy, The Boy, and I laid down for a quick nap, which lasted about two plus hours. We played once we woke up until dinner, and once I finished mowing the lawn, we played on the swingset for a while. He climbed up the ladder and went down the slide about two dozen times, which was really, really great! It's so good for him and his strength to climb up that wooden ladder and push himself down the slide. He gets so excited about it, that we loved to watch him.

Easy to bed tonight for him; he fell asleep in about ten minutes. He's probably going to be getting blood tomorrow, because his color behind his eyelids is much, much lighter than usual. Chemo on Wednesday.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Father's Day

Last Father's Day, we were two days from The Boy's diagnosis. What a weird feeling - that was one year ago, but I feel like I've lived a lifetime.

What do I want for Father's Day? Easy. A card, hopefully with some lines and scribbles drawn by The Boy. I want to nap with him for a little while. I want a little bit of sun, so we can play outside. That's all. I'm pretty easy when it comes to this stuff.

Birthday and Christmas, I want presents. Father's Day is an excuse to spend time together. Besides, everything I want I have: beautiful wife, 1.9 children, a house, a car, and several hundred thousand dollars in medical bills.

Well, I do want an iPhone. It'll wait until The Boy's treatments are done. June 2011, when the iPhone 3GSTU comes out, I am so there. Maybe it'll be 64 gig at that time. That'd be cool.

Stubborn little monkey...

The Boy is sandwiched between the two of us, in that partially grumpy and partially snuggly "I Need a Nap" mode. The only problem? He's been like that for an hour now. The two adults in the picture are exhausted, but he seems to be carrying on just fine. Stubborn little monkey.

Right now, it's my wife's turn to nap while I play goalie. That's fine. She's 8.67 months pregnant and likely needs it more than me, who is just lazy. I had 20 minutes, until woken by my brother calling on the landline and on the cel phone. Whatever.

No news on the baby front. I still feel like it's coming soon - in the next week. My wife is entirely unconvinced. She had another "false contraction" this morning, which is when the uterus tightens and releases. There's no pain; her belly just becomes hard.

Chemo will start on Wednesday and run thru Friday. Next time, we'll push it back to Monday, then to Friday or Saturday. I'm not thrilled about the late chemo start - don't want to lose another week - but this might let us see Transformers on Thursday or Wednesday, and that's cool.

We still have no plans on what to do with The Boy if she goes into labor on a non-chemo time. Huh.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Enough about me. How's The Boy?

He's been great all week. It's been a really, really good week for us, and Thank G-d for that. He's been happy (for the most part) and playing quite a bit all week.

Wednesday, he and I got some sustained time together in the afternoon. We played outside on the swingset for quite a long time! He has continued to greatly enjoy rolling a ball down the slide and chasing after it - or having Daddy or Mommy chase after it. He climbed up onto the platform and actually stood up briefly, which is a big accomplishment - I think he's a little afraid of heights right now. He gets very nervous up there and doesn't want to stand up. Wednesday, he did stand up, albeit briefly. He also went down the slide by himself - backwards, on his belly, but he did the entire thing by himself. I helped him sit up down the slide the next time, which he was a little wary about doing. He loves his swing.

Wednesday, he also came to school during lunchtime, with Mommy (obviously). He played around with the percussion equipment in the back of the band room. That room is like a gold mine for him: lots of stuff to play with, and ALL of it makes LOUD noises! He loves the bass drum and the bass drum beater. Thankfully, he hasn't discovered the gong yet. He will, though. Funniest part of the whole thing - when my colleagues and I were talking about next year, he came running at me (well, waddling quickly at me) YELLING at the top of his lungs, "Dah-dee! Dah-dee! Dah-dee!" One of my other teacher friends said that she knew The Boy was in the building because she heard a "Dah-dee! Dah-dee!" from down the hall. Very cute.

Yesterday, when I got home from school, the three of us passed out for a nap. I did turn on Elmo at the start of the nap, which my wife gracefully reminded me was a bad idea for getting The Boy to sleep. I would like to inform the jury that this reminder occurred 45 minutes into the movie, so I'm not entirely at fault, here. They were both passed out when I left for the doctor's and graduation.

Chemo will start next week. We'd like to do it on Sunday, then push back to Saturday next time, then Friday before that. They don't like to start chemo on weekends because the Valerie Fund is closed on weekends. We don't want to push it back to Friday and have another week slip past, even though it wouldn't be a horrendous thing because I actually have next week off from work. Whatever. We'll do what we need to do.

Sigh. I can't win for playing.

I've written about ten first sentences to this blog, and none of them work. I'm not unhappy, I'm not happy. I'm not depressed, I'm not jubilant. I'm not relieved, I'm not concerned. I'm not busy, I'm not free. It's just... life.

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times..."

Let's see. My niece graduated from high school last night. I'm very, very proud of her. She's a great kid, and it's been a real pleasure watching her grow up. It's been more than just a pleasure, considering the amount that I've been involved in her life! I'm lucky to have helped such a smart, sweet, motivated, and beautiful young woman start to reach her vast potential. She's headed to Lockhaven University next year, to be in their honors program for physician's assistant. That's pretty cool.

Yesterday, I went to an ENT guy. I've been having a lot of issues over the past couple of months with my voice and my ears - a niggling little left ear ache was a minor concern, but the biggest concern was the condition of my voice. Considering the lengths that I go to sing correctly - tension-free, stress-free singing - the fact that I was starting to lose my voice after around fifteen minutes of singing is concerning. After spending fifteen minutes scraping hardened wax off of my left eardrum (which might have been one of the two or three most painful things I've gone through in the last year or two), I got my vocal cords scoped to find a small nodule on my left vocal fold. What does that mean?

No singing, two months. Basically. Vocal rest, as much as possible. Thank G-d it's the summer, although I'll be interested to see what happens with the summer program that I teach in. Watch me teach the voice classes again. It'll be interesting, conducting the Dapper Dans with no ability to sing for a while. (I know, I haven't had the ability to sing yet in my life, why should I worry now?)

My ear still hurts, and my nose and throat still feel funny from having a device stuck down there. At least, I think that's why those things are crazy right now. I have a feeling I might be coming down with the cold that J gave me at Dapper Dans rehearsal last week. This isn't a bad time to get sick - The Boy has great counts right now, so as long as I avoid craziness, we should all be okay.

I'm done teaching the lessons for my math degree. I think it was a success; at least, the kids seemed excited by the whole thing. I think there's a book in there, somewhere - "Fifteen minute music lessons to better mathematics," or something. The whole thing needs some honing, obviously. I need to start analyzing the results. I have paper stacked to around three feet high that needs to be sorted and categorized. Ah, grounded theory... I think I know what I'm going to find, but real-life data has a tendency to sort itself into odd patterns.

I got home from graduation last night and spent some nice time with the family. The Boy and I played for a while, then D from down the block had some school-related questions for me. That was nice, because it stopped raining and The Boy was suffering from major cabin fever. (He is his mother's son, after all! I can gleefully seat myself on the couch for a month at a time. Not her, so much.) He & I talked, and The Boy and The Wife ran around outside for a while. The Boy wasn't so interested in D's doggie, but he did pet her a little bit.

When we got back in (and I got ticked off following the Yankees horrendous, embarrassing, statement-of-mediocrity loss to the awful Washington Nationals), we put The Boy to bed. I had a late dinner and joined him around 10:00. That was great, except for the whole "awake at 4:15AM" thing that my body decided to do. Sigh. Some days, you can't win for losing.

Today is the last day of school for students. Yesterday & today, I'm bringing my Playstation to school and playing Rock Band with my students. That's fun. I still have to clean up my room to acceptable levels - take inventory, clean and organize the music library, start throwing away trash and items that I haven't used and never will use, clean up my computer as best as I can, and prepare further for the marching band season. It sounds like a bigger job than it actually is; I don't have a huge music library, and an afternoon or two next week will finish the job quite thoroughly in that regards. The computer backs itself up on an external hard drive every day, so that's pretty much done - just delete the crap that I'm not going to use, and we're golden. Throwing stuff away is something I'm good at. I don't think the small marching band trophies from 2001 and 2003 are really going to be useful; I'll keep one or two of the big ones from each year, or - better yet - forward them to the new high school band director.

That'll make a nice welcoming gift for his first day on the job next week: stack about fifty marching band trophies in his (small) office. Kind of funny, actually.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Nice Day, Redux


GeoTagged, [N40.76386, E74.30248]

Nothing new to report. I went home earlier than normal, and The Boy and Mommy were out back on the swings. Well, The Boy was inthe clubhouse, and the preggo was standing on the ground and helping him roll the ball down the slide. This is hysterical for him and much more fun than actually riding the slide.

The physical therapist told us that it was important that The Boy get outside and walk around in the grass. He needs to strengthen his legs, and walking on the uneven surface is the best way to do it. Lord knows that, when he's in the hospital, he doesn't get enough walking because he is confined to his hospital room.

We played in the back yard and went out to the front and played with some driveway chalk. He loves that chalk! He can pick the letters out for his name, requesting us to draw them one at time.

He then graced me with a little bit of snuggle / tv time, and I napped before my singing rehearsal. He is an extremely snuggly little boy, and he loves his hugs and kisses.

Baby Bear is still comfy inside Mommy, but I have a feeling that it is going to be soon. Don't know why; maybe it's just wishful thinking.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Finally...


GeoTagged, [N40.76386, E74.30248]

Today was a very good day, indeed.

I came home from school to find a napping family. I joined for some snuggles, which were thusly dispensed. I went outside to work a short time later, and they came with me. When I finished, we played on the swings and in the fort before going around the front of the house and writing with chalk. The picture came as part of The Boy's enthusiasm over rolling the ball down the slide - he got bouncy and excited and squeaky when we did it, to our joy.

Dinner came shortly thereafter (not before a minor meltdown over raisens, which The Boy can't have because of the potassium in dried fruit). He ate well, then tore around the house for a while.

Funny bit: he went into the bathroom and stood by the tub, saying, "Shower! Shower!" so, we stripped him down and let him play in the dry tub with his tub toys - until he proceeded to pee and poop at the same time. Heh.

He also drank from a plastic cup - a non-sippy cup, with no lid. Until he put the cup on our bed, with the expected result. I'm glad I don't have to sleep in the wet spot.

We packed him into the bedroom and he fell asleep. It was a good day.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Walkathon


The Walkathon was awesome. It was really an amazing and uplifting experience for us all, and definitely worth the price of admission.

The "fun" started on Friday night, when Grandma decided that she was going to win the "most spirit" contest. A thorough trip to the dollar store and to the party store lead us to decorations for the banner, water bottles with "Team The Boy" on them, and a few pom-poms. Some irritation was passing back and forth in Musical Daddy's household, but I spent the night doing math work and was thus spared most of the irritation. (My observation of, "If you use a long pole to attach to the banner, then how are you going to get it into the car?" was met with outright hostility. Looking back, it's kind of funny.)

The morning dawned overcast, and we were all up at 6:40. We had breakfast, loaded the cars (two cars to bring all of us up), and left at 8:12 - about ten minutes later than expected. Parking was an absolute nightmare, so we just parked on Lakeside Drive, on what we thought was the far end of the park. Turns out, it was the perfect spot! We went to the registration table, and I waited about a half hour on line to get my number. It was well-organized, except for the approximately 250 walk-up runners that showed up for the day. That gummed up the works, but - whatever.

After I got through the line, I changed into my Valerie Fund shirt and had an interview with the weather man from CBS, which was a big sponsor of the event. Cool thing: several people said they saw me on TV! I'm a star. The Wife was supposed to do that talking, but I did it; one of my students works at the station with the weather guy, so that was our contact. The Boy was quite cute.

Anyway, they had lots of tents with coffee, water, soda, pizza, hot dogs, face painting, banner painting, etc. It was really cool. After the interview, it was about 9:20, and the run was delayed until 9:45 to accommodate the extra runners. I recaffinated myself - I was pretty well vibrating from the large cup of coffee I was drinking mixed with the adrenaline of the race, and I wanted to keep that. We got to the starting point, waited another five minutes, and we were off!

My cousins J & K were running, and The Wife's cousin M ran as well. It was awesome. Verona Park is a nice run, and there were a LOT of people running. I got passed pretty roundly during the first mile, as I expected. What I didn't expect was the number of people that I passed at the same time! I concentrated on maintaining my pace and ignoring the people around me who were going faster. The competitive part of me wanted to try to keep up, but the experienced part of me realized that I wasn't going to run 5K in 20 minutes or less.

I wound up running 30 minutes, finishing in the top third-ish of people. When I finished, I caught up with the family, changed my clothes, and chatted with the later arrivals. This was the point where it started to rain.

Over the next hour, before the walk started, the rain got progressively harder. The Boy was having a nice time, walking around and being a major focus of attention by a lot of people. There was a great turnout for this - we won a trophy for "Most Team Members." We were supposed to be one of the ribbon cutters, but there were so many walkers - almost 1,500!!!!!! - that we couldn't find the start in time. The walk got going, and we lost a good chunk of the team for a little while.

The Boy was absolutely asleep at this point, which was cute. except for the pouring rain. We made it a quarter way around the course, and decided that that was enough for The Boy. Frankly, I was getting a little overstimulated as well - LOTS of people, LOTS of noise, LOTS of stuff and tired (emotionally and physically) from the run is a bad combination for me. So, The Boy, Grandma, and I left and went to Grandpa's house to dry off. I showered, we played, and he fell asleep again.

They finished the walk, had the quick awards ceremony, and we all headed back south. the rest of the day was kind of a blur - we all slept about three or four hours, as the whole event was emotionally overwhelming. So many people came out to show their support for us - over 40 in our team!!! So many people came out to show their support for the Valerie Fund - 1,500 walkers and 500 runners, FAR more than they expected.

In a way, I felt like we were at our wedding. What I mean is, so many friends and family came out with us, and I feel like I didn't get to spend time with any of them. I feel kind of bad about that, because I love our friends and family, and we wanted to show our appreciation. I think they understood. I mean, no one could fault me for taking The Boy out of the rain.

It was a great day, and we had a lot of fun. This was a great weekend, and I hope we follow it with a non-hospital week!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Valerie Fund Walkathon

We won a trophy for most members. That was cool. There were 500 runners and 1,500 walkers at the event - far surpassing anyone's expectations. That was also cool. I finished the 5K in 30 minutes, which was really, really cool for me. I had a couple of cousins there; cool, because we usually only see them at weddings and funerals. The Boy had lots of fun seeing all those people and things, an that was cool. We raised almost $10,000, which was amazingly awesome.

It poured rain from the start of the walk, which was the only uncool thing.

More details later. This is from the iPod.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Sad little man...

Last night was one of those clingy nights. The Boy was a Momma's Boy last night, and Musical Daddy was just not doing the trick. That's okay, I guess, but made trickier by the fact that Mommy is preggo and needs to pee every thirty seconds. She goes to the potty, he flips out.

Freely admitted "selfish Daddy" moment: I was in the middle of a video game, the first in several weeks, when Mommy got up to go to the restroom and The Boy started to cry. I let him cry until she was done, because I was in the middle of a game. I could have gotten up, but I had just settled down and was tired.

I was paid back by not being able to fall asleep until nearly two AM. Karma has a way of balancing things out quickly and thoroughly.

I had a great discussion with my friend B last night, who suggested going to church (not as an employee) to get a restful, peaceful, spiritual experience. It's funny; I've never been a big subscriber to that, mostly because I had a "must keep moving or will implode" personality imperative since - well - birth. I don't sit still well, never done it, never will. Sitting still is boring.

Except with The Boy. There's my religious experience.

You're telling me that, lying down in bed with The Boy, with his head on my shoulder, thumb in mouth, his eyes intently watching me... the eyes start to droop, pop open, droop, pop open, repeat... then stay closed, breathing slows, finger hooks around nose, sleep starts. That's not a religious experience? If not, then I misunderstand religion. That's all that I particularly need.

He's the only thing I've ever stayed still for, and I don't predict much (past Baby Bear) that will do that for me. I know those memories, and those feelings, are precious treasures that will be mine forever.

Weekly Update

23SDD9JDAV8A

That was from The Boy. He loves his letters and numbers, that's for sure. "D" is a particular favorite, as is "2" and "3." "S" turns out to be another favorite to say. Yesterday, we walked to the comic book store, and we stopped every minute or two to read letters and numbers on signs and license plates and windows and stuff. It makes sense - The Boy spends enough time motionless due to his treatments and hospital stays that all he has to do is learn his letters and numbers at an early age. He doesn't "get" how they work, but that's okay.

I know it's been a while, but - as my last couple of posts have said - it's been an insanely busy week. Here's the bullet points:

- My concert went well. Far better than I expected, and I had high expectations. They're happy with me right now, and it's reflected in my numbers. My 8th grade band is up to 50 from 39, 7th grade band is down a handful (not unexpected), and 6th grade is up to the mid-70's from 70. I want 200 kids, and we'll get there.

- The barbershop show on Sunday went even better than that, although we only had around 120 people in the audience. Whatever - we sang great, and we presented a nice, tight 200 show, 35 minute intermission excepted. We followed it with a wonderful buffet dinner, which was a nice reward and treat for the guys.

- The math project is going well. It's interesting, and I enjoy doing it. I think that it's going to work, although I don't necessarily think that the way that I'm doing it is the most efficient or the best. This weekend, I need to do the post-assessment, and I need to figure out exactly how much I can change the format of the test before the comparisons become invalid. Why? I don't want to spend 90 minutes testing kids. It needs to fit inside one period.

- Most importantly, The Boy had an uneventful chemo, a good weekend, and he came home on Tuesday night. It was very, very nice to have him home, and he's been excited as heck. It turned out to be a two week hospital stay this time, with me pulling night duties during the nights that Grandma wasn't around. That makes sense, as it's easier for skinny ol' me (broad shoulders, yes, but I'm not 8.25 months pregnant) to fit in the bed with The Boy than the wife to fit there.

When he got home Tuesday night, he was awake until around 11:30 because he sleep patterns got so screwed up by this hospital stay. Plus, he was his usual little tornado self, which was so wonderful to see!

The Valerie Fund Walkathon is this weekend. If you haven't contributed yet, please consider it: https://www.thevaleriefund.org/walkathon. It's supposed to be a great day. Come walk with The Wife, or slow job with Musical Daddy at the pre-walk 5K run!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Halfway through the week...

...and I'm still alive and no more insane than I was at the start of this heck-week.

The concert went swimmingly on Monday night. I mean, really, really well. My supervisor, principal, and vice principal were absolutely thrilled. I haven't gotten any "official" letter back from any of them - like, a letter than can go in my file saying that I'm an awesome guy and a helluva teacher - but I think they're going to wait until the concert season is done and write a group missive. Whatever. I slayed.

I even threw in a Bill Engvall joke: "The next piece is 'Themes from Harry Potter.' Not the book, the movie." That was really good, because I threw the line away at the end of the introduction, then gave the audience some time to get it. Most didn't, which made it funnier to those that understood the joke.

Marching band went well on Tuesday, also. Big problem for me: emotionally, I just wasn't there. I couldn't get excited or passionate about intervals, marching technique, horns up, any of it. I just couldn't drum up the enthusiasm. It's too early. I will get there; I know, by the end of August, I'll be up and bouncing about marching band. With the new director coming in - whomever he is - and the concert season and the master's project, I know that some stuff is only going to get cursory attention.

I spent last night at the hospital - left with the band bus after the national anthem, and got to the hospital around 9. It was a surprisingly easy night. I did the 10:15 diaper change, then I promptly fell asleep. The nurse did the 12 & 2 changes (thank G-D that they're cool about that, even though it's there job - they could be a little resentful about Mr. Sleeping Beauty, but they aren't), and I did the 4AM change because I just happened to be awake. The Boy woke as I was finishing the job, and he sat up and saw one of his shoes at the end of the bed. "Shoe! Shoe!" he said, grabbing it and playing with the velcro. I put "Goodnight Moon" on the television, and we were both asleep before the end of "There's a Nightmare in my Closet."

Goodnight Moon works on Daddy just as well - maybe better - than it works on The Boy.

The nurse did the 6:15 change, and I hit the snooze button until 6:45, when I went to school.

The master's project teaching is going well. It's kind of fun, because it's different. Long term: 15-20 minute lessons, about 35-40 of them, published in a book with examples and worksheets and stuff.

The current planned release date of The Boy will be Monday morning, assuming everything stays consistent. Chemo will be done on Friday, and Diaper Hell will be over Saturday afternoon. I'm excited about The Boy coming home, I really am - I'm running out of energy and would like a bit of a break.