Life as MommyMo

Saturday, December 29, 2007

This is post #99

So I just noticed that with this post, I am just one post away from blogging 100 times this year. That's a completely arbitrary and meaningless milestone, but it makes me think that this blog is a two-year resolution that I actually managed to keep.

My resolutions for 2008, at least those discussed so far, are financial. Rob and I have been talking a lot about what we need to do to keep working toward our next adoption. That conversation has also sparked others about general "stuff" that we really should get taken care of. (I will also try not to blog with dangling participles next year, but that's a post for another time.)

Here they are, in no particular order:

1. Write down everything we spend for a month, then devise an actual and strict budget. It's not that we don't budget now, but we could stand to be stricter with ourselves. I have a feeling this will entail cash "allowances." A daunting thought, but a wise move, I'm sure.

2. Move Sam's savings into a real 529 and implement direct deposit from both paychecks.

3. Make annual increase in our 403b accounts.

4. (Most likely) Refinance our mortgage to a 15-year note.

5. Formalize our wills and living wills.

These make us sound very grown up, but the truth is that we probably should have done most of this stuff before now. There's nothing like the notion of a huge loan in your future to make you reassess, though!

I don't care what we have to do to make it work. Unless we were to get a rare "sibling call" at some point, I'm sure this is our last adoption. We'll do what we have to do, and then work to make up the time and money for college! That, too, is a post for another day.

Top 7 of 2007

I've seen a few blogs that posted the author's top seven photos of 2007... All of my favorite photos are ones I've turned into layouts that I've loved even more, so I'm posting those instead.





Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Christmas

I'm still a bit to surprised when I stop to think that this is our third Christmas with Sam. I can recall a couple of Christmases, in particular, when I just wasn't sure that we'd ever have a child to prepare for Santa's visit and watch as he or she ripped into gifts on Christmas morning.

Sam TOTALLY *got* Christmas this year. We faithfully opened the right day on the Advent calendar every day, talking about the fact that Jesus' birthday was coming. We sent a letter (and got an actual reply from "elves" in Santa Claus, Indiana!) to the Big Guy. We baked cookies. We decorated the house...even a tree in Sam's room. We counted "sleeps" until Santa left gifts to open. We talked about what gifts we'd give others we love. It was awesome.

The very best moment had to have been as David, Noel and the kids left on Christmas Eve... Wait. That sounded bad. Them leaving was not the fun part. The fact that we stood outside to wave goodbye when Sam spotted Santa's sleigh in the sky was the prize-winning moment. He yelled "I SEE SANTA!!! I SEE SANTA!! THERE HE IS!!!" so loudly that I'm sure any neighbor who was actually at home heard the commotion. I'm fairly sure you get just one of those totally magical moments when the anticipation is almost palpable.

Rob and I left for church just after the "sighting," talking the whole way about how amazing it was to witness Sam's joy. He stayed home with Nonni and Beth and baked special cookies for Santa before going to bed. For us, while it wasn't planned, it turned out to be nice to experience the candlelight service by ourselves. We missed having our moms with us, but it was sweet to just have some quiet time together.

Sam's been a bundle of energy since coming home from school on Friday night, so we spent today in our jammies and playing with our new toys. Sam is actually looking forward to going to see his friends tomorrow, so Rob and I will have a "date day," running after Christmas errands and doing some of the returning that is best done sans preschooler.

In other news... we had our first homestudy visit for our next adoption this week. We loved our new social worker. She was great about giving us all the new information on the process. I'm used to the agency giving us the longest timeline possible, so as not to set false expectations. Allison told us that there is a possibility we might have another child home next Christmas. I don't think it's likely, but the fact that it's even remotely possible is exciting. That left us to talk baby names again today. I think we're back to agreeing on a boy's name, but not so convinced about a girl's name. I am sure we still have time to ponder some more.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Big {BOY} Pants

Apparently there's something to be said for cold turkey. Sam's been ready to use the "big boy potty" for a long time now, but just tells us that he's "too busy" when it comes time to go. He's using the restroom like a champ at school, but just has zero interest at home.

Well, I decided that any kid who could tell me in these exact words -- Mommy, please leave the room so I can poop alone -- that he was feeling the urge was ready to ditch the diapers. So, that's what we did.

He used that line on me Saturday morning and I replied that I would, indeed, leave the room, but that I was going upstairs to get underwear. I told him that last was his last pair of poopy pants and so it was.

It's been relatively smooth sailing so far. We had one accident yesterday that I won't go into detail about, but I think the fact that the house was full of people gave him some stage fright. The mess was traumatic enough that I think it left an impression. Our only issue is that when we go to put a pull-up on at night, he wails, assuming he's failed at his mission and will not receive the coveted Crash N Go Speed Raceway that we've promised as a reward.

I'm anxious to hear how school went today. I'll be kicking myself for a while if the only step needed to seal the deal was me just decreeing that we were moving on to underwear. Now, actually finding underwear to fit a bottom that has stalled out at a 12-month size is a feat of it's own. I bought the teeniest skivvies I could find, but I'm thinking I'm going to have to see what kind of hot-water tricks I can do in order to keep the things on him!

In other, less personal and possibly yucky news, I finished the LO you see above in honor of Lauren Reid's feature on Dishin' The Digi Coast 2 Coast. The show talks up cool digital products for scrappers like me. I'm new to Lauren's team and was actually surprised that her "Wonky Templates" hadn't been on the show before. They're such fun to play with and stand out from so many of the other shapes elements that I've collected. For all those people I've taken to enabling lately, you can find these and many other fun things at her Oscraps store.

I'm officially on vacation for the rest of the year as of this afternoon! Nice that I've managed to pick up another bug. I hope it's just one of the colds that I've managed to fend off a couple of other times this year, or else I think I'll wind up spending the time I should be finishing up with Christmas plans laying on the couch trying to breathe. What a vacation that will be.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Challenge!

Lauren Reid posted a fun little challenge on her creative team blog a couple of days ago, and I had fun playing along today.

It's kind of a yucky day here... I like snow, but I prefer the cold, wet weather when I don't have to be anywhere. I woke up to snow, left for church in freezing drizzle and came home from church (only to have to return for a meeting an hour later) in sleet. My day got much better when I came home, changed into fleecy pants and scrapped by the fire!

In other news, we saw Ellie's vet at church today. We're not at all sure what to do, but she has a young dog she's trying to place that we are considering. He's only nine months to a year old and was found roaming Fairmount Park, scrounging for food in the trash. She's nursed him back to health and he's being fostered by a family who just doesn't have room for one more dog. They think he might be part Ibizan. He's reportedly great with kids and a really sweet little guy. Part of me thinks Frankie might be less mopey with a companion, but we're also not sure that a new dog when we're waiting for a new child is a good idea.

We'll keep thinking about it. I'll try to make the decision with my head and not my heart!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Missing Ellie

I've been putting off this post because it's just too awful to write about... After five years of various health issues, we lost Ellie on Tuesday, Nov. 20th. She was exactly seven and a half years old.

It's hard to put into words how hard it was to let her go. We had to make the same decision with Heidi just 18 months ago, but somehow, knowing that she'd had 16 years made it a bit easier to take. She was also a bit senile when she died and it was painfully obvious that the time had come. Ellie, after having fended off four major bouts of Immune Mediated Hemolytic Anemia, finally went into renal failure. The vet says the process had been going on for some time, but the end came more quickly than we were prepared for.

I think the saddest part for me was actually watching Rob grieve for the dog that was really his first pet. He had animals growing up, but none for very long, and none that he became very attached to. Ellie bonded to Rob the instant we picked her out of the litter, and he was the one to provide her extensive daily care. I knew that she was too sick for a different outcome when Rob was the one to finally say it was time to call the vet. He loved her too much to see her suffer another day and convinced me to let her go. The last two hours before going to the vet were possibly the longest of both of our lives.

Thankfully, pre-schoolers don't have the attention span to fully "get" something like this. We were totally convinced that Sam was going to be really upset and were trying to figure out what to do. As it turned out, we didn't tell him until after he came home from school on Wednesday afternoon. We sat him down and asked him if he knew what it meant when someone goes to heaven. He had a very brief conversation in which he asked if she was gone forever. When we said that she was and both of us started to cry, he asked, "Can we have pizza for dinner, please?"

A little comic relief didn't hurt!

We had a great Thanksgiving weekend otherwise. We were down at David and Noel's for dinner and spent the rest of the weekend hanging out and getting chores done. We saw "Home Alone" again for the first time in a long time and totally cracked up! Very mature, I know.

The highlight of the weekend was probably our Lowe's find yesterday. They had a $119 pre-lit Christmas tree on sale for $59.99. There was a sign on it that said for "one day only," the tree was just $29. We had a quick conversation and decided that rather than decorate a tiny tabletop tree for Sam's room, that we'd actually put this six and a half footer in his room! We went to KMart across the street and picked up some glittery Martha Stewart shatterproof baubles, some red and silver jingle bells and the requisite tractor ornaments. We still need garland and a tree topper, but we had a blast decorating Sam's very own tree today. He wants to sleep with the tree lit up, but we've convinced him otherwise. I can't wait to sneak in there on Christmas Eve and leave a gift or two for him to discover when he first wakes up on Christmas morning!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

I'm sweet and sassy

At least that's what Robin Carlton tells me! This was a seriously fun week for scrapping. I made Lauren Reid's creative team last weekend and nearly FELL OFF my chair when I got an email from Robin Carlton asking me to join her team, too! It's really good that I'm on vacation this week. I have so much to play with!

I also was more than pleasantly surprised to log on to the Digi Dares this week and find my layout posted as last week's random winner. A-shopping I will go...

As I type, my muse, Sam, is standing a few feet away with a GIGANTIC balloon hat on his head. The contraption has a fishing pole thingy on the end of it, and Sam is chasing the fish like a horse trying to get a carrot. It's hilarious. He got it as our friend Milana's birthday party and has been amused for about three hours and counting now. Of all the days for my camera battery to be without a charge!

When we went to leave the party, Sam thought we were going to go without the balloon hat and proceeded to yell, "NOT FAIR, DADDY!" as we tried to urge him out the door. When Rob told him to stop yelling and rethink his attitude, he replied "I'm taking you to the pet store daddy. You're going to be like a sad puppy and no one will help you."

HUH??!!!!!

On a more somber note: Occasionally I ask those who are of the praying persuasion to pray for specific things if and when they read this. I feel like it's just been a week of bad news in many respects. Please keep the family of four-year-old Andrew in your thoughts... Andrew's dad works with me at ACS. The whole family is just amazing. Little Andrew was diagnosed with an rare and aggressive cancer a couple of years ago. He passed away this Wednesday and would have turned five next week. I have thought about this little boy constantly since meeting him and his dad about two years ago. I know who I'll be Relaying for this year...

Monday, November 12, 2007

I'm such a happy scrapper today!



I have seriously loved Lauren Reid's designs since discovering digiscrapping just over a year ago. Words cannot describe how excited I was to learn that she'd selected little ole me for her Creative Team. I've spent just a few minutes exploring her CT message board and she has some seriously talented and hilarious girls working for her! It's going to be a blast.

AND... despite having my first upper respiratory germ fest in a while, I'm happy for other reasons today, too. Even the sensation of drowning while running a marathon cannot dampen my giddiness over driving a Prius for a few days. I know I'm a total dork for feeling that way. I've been wanting a Prius for a while, but decided to stick with my trusty Sienna for the time being. Well... the Sienna needed a little bodywork, so the lovely people at Cherry Hill Toyota loaned me a shiny new hybrid. It is seriously fun to drive. I am totally bitten by the bug again and will be sad to have to return the spiffy little car for my gigantic minivan.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Pre-Trick-or-Treat drama

My dreams of a child who enjoys the eve of All Saints Day as much as his nearly middle-aged father does are dashed once again.

We went through WEEKS of prep to prepare for this day. We carefully selected a Sam-approved costume. We discussed said costume with everyone who would listen. We compared the get-up to that worn by Fireman Sam himself. We went to two Halloween parades. We ate candy every night just to prove that it's all worth it in the end (ok... that last one is just pure self-indulgence, really.)

All for naught.

That pouting picture? It's mild compared to what ensued when Ms. Krystyna (GASP) asked the kids to sing Halloween songs. Sam's response was nothing short of melodramatic. He whimpered. Then he whined. Then he cried. Then he bawled. Then he gave up and left the group to curl up with me.


The poor kid! It's a holiday that's supposed to be fun. I will admit his mood brightened when I became the mom passing out Cheetos to all of the kids in his class. He even smiled and asked for "more cheesy puffs, please!"

We'll see how it all goes tonight. I think it's possible the cold he's fighting just wasn't allowing him to be his chipper self. Well... I'd believe that line myself if the child had EVER enjoyed Halloween. He just cries and whines every year.

We kept Sam home from school yesterday in the hopes that he'd rest up and be happy today. He woke up crying this morning. I asked him if something hurt, expecting him to say his throat hurt or that his nose was stuffy. An aside: his nose should have hurt... His face and bed were totally covered in blood this morning. It looked like some horror flick had been filmed in the bottom bunk while he slept.

But, no. What hurt Sam today? "My arm."

Off to school you go!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Sad day


Well... I haven't blogged in a while because the biggest thing brewing in my personal life was job-related and I didn't think it prudent to do too much speculating before the proverbial chickens had hatched. Turns out that was wise. For the first time in my career, I did not get a job that I interviewed for. Blogs have ears, so I don't want to put pen to paper too much in discussing what the job was and the reasons I was given for the decision, but suffice it to say I'm sad today.

The good news is that I'm blessed to have a job that I love. I said from the get-go with this other opportunity that I wasn't looking, but wanted to consider a position that took me in a new direction and might have reduced my national travel. It's still frustrating. I'm too Type A! Not to mention competitive. When I want something, I like to think I can get it! Who doesn't, though.. right?!

I like to think I'm an emotionally healthy person and that I lived up to my own personal standards today. I took the whole experience as a maturation process (as my mentor so nicely put it.) Going through the motions of an interview forced me to give some deliberate thought to where I can see my career going, and I close this chapter with some good ideas in that regard. I'm also incredibly lucky to have friends in many of the right places. When a few of my closest work friends heard the news, I immediately started getting condolences backed up with discussion of other opportunities. I'd put a few discussions on hold to consider this most recent position, so it's nice to know I'm still marketable... no pun intended!

In other news... Sam CRACKED US UP at dinner today. We decided to take the night off and go out to dinner. While waiting for our meal to arrive, Sam was playing with a new truck at the table. Rob leaned over to give Sam a sweet little kiss on the head, and Sam replied with, "Daddy... What are you DOING to me?!"

Rob said, "Well... I'm just being affectionate. Do you know what that means? Can you show Daddy some affection?"

Sam quickly shot back, "Daddy... Do you need me to take you to the doctor for your affection?"

We laughed so loud we drew attention to our table. How typically "three" is it to think affection and infection are the same thing? I think he's only aware of the word "infection" because I keep telling Rob to call the doctor because I think he's fighting a sinus infection.

Sam's other hilarious moment of the day came on the way to school this morning. As usual, when he saw a large truck, he told me that he was going to grow up to be a big rig driver. I asked him if he knew what Daddy's job was. He said, "Yes. Daddy is a teacher. Maybe I'll be a teacher too. As long as I can drive my 18-wheeler to school. Wait. Maybe I'll be an 18-wheeler teacher!"

Good deductive reasoning, my child. Indeed, it is possible to teach people to drive big rigs for a living.

When I asked Sam if he knew what Mommy's job is, he had to think.

His response? "Mommy... Your job is to fly on planes and take care of me."

Not really that far off, actually!

Thursday, October 04, 2007

I spoke too soon

I opened my big mouth before I should have on two accounts.

First, did I actually have the gall to whine last weekend that the adoption "personal data form" was too long? Silly me. I was rewarded for my disloyalty to the process with a big fat pack of papers in the mail on Monday morning. Holy cow. I really did forget how much paperwork there is!

One more rant about the sometimes ridiculousness of this process: Why, oh why, do we need to get fingerprinted again? Don't they track serial killers based on decades-old prints that are on file for years? Is there something about my faulty fallopian tubes that made my fingerprints change since April of 2005? If there is, I will happily stand corrected. For now, I just don't get it.

My second premature celebration is, as you may have guessed, related to the @#$@ fever. It's back. Not with the vengeance that it could be, but still. I cursed myself by actually typing the words, "Am I cured?" to Dr. Fancy Pants. Smart man that he is, he replied that only time would tell. Apparently "time" meant just under 12 hours. That's about how long it took me to go from 97.4 to 101.6.

A coworker suggested it was stress after a particularly trying and disappointing week at work. I wish that's all it was, but perhaps it does provide some perspective.

Speaking of stress, for my fellow Stand Up and Scrappers, is it just me, or does the whole anonymous-wait-for-the-results-for-days-on-end-ness of this whole thing make it just a wee bit stressful? Especially for a hobby! I obsess in ways that I didn't even know I was capable of.

I'm all posted up for this week, though. That's my strategy. Create, allow just a few hours of indecision (not days,) and post away. That leaves much more time for self-doubt... which I'm even better at!

Saturday, September 29, 2007

I forgot

I'd forgotten how much paperwork is really involved in adoption! I guess I'd blocked it out... The agency director told us yesterday that she'd send over the "personal data forms" that go with our application so that we can fill them out this weekend. Those three words are an awfully innocuous description for what feels like the third degree on paper!

Sixteen pages of essay questions! I've already spent three hours writing today, and I'm only on page nine! I know.... I know... It's all worth it to have a baby, but I can't help but whine a bit that while I know it's important to thoroughly screen people before allowing them to adopt children, it's crazy how much information you have to give. I can't think of a single bio parent I know who had to recount all of their childhood traumas, every single family member who might have ever had an extra drink or a slight case of the crazies before they got pregnant.

I know. It's different. I don't really mind, but I'd certainly forgotten how intrusive this process can really be. No wonder we were so happy to have a break for a while when we finalized Sam's adoption!

I did take a break from the Inquisition to scrap a page from Sam's first field trip last week. I like how it turned out. I obsessed over scrapping what was such a big, yet little, day. I have no idea why I made it such a big project! I think Stand Up and Scrap stress is starting to rub off on all my scrapping! I might scrap a few more pics of the day once Lauren Reid re-releases Abby's Orchard. She didn't have it in her new ScrapArtist store, but I PMed her at My Scrapbook Art and begged just a little and she said she was going to touch it up a bit and sell it again. WooHoo!

Friday, September 28, 2007

Good news times two!


This has been a pretty good week at our house... Nothing too out of the ordinary, and -- thank goodness -- no new embarrassments with Sam to report. He did have his very first field trip this week. We went apple picking. Sam had a blast, and I said another little prayer of thanks for a job that allows me the flexibility to be there for those fun moments.

I have been keeping track of my temperatures for so long now that I'm starting to think the thermometer might just permanently attach itself to my head (we have the funky looking arterial artery type), but it's finally all over. I suppose I should still knock on wood or something, but I've been fever-free for eleven days now! I've checked in with mulitple doctors this week and the consensus seems to be that the antibiotic did the trick. We'll never know for sure what I had, but one doctor said he's fairly sure it was an infection in my heart lining, secondary to something else I must have had early in the year. My mom gave me some after-the-fact stress by explaining that this particular infection can lead to cardiomyopathy. THANK GOODNESS someone thought to give me drugs on a whim! To quote my favorite doctor, " Sometimes it's good to be all about the science. Sometimes it's good to just throw caution to the wind and do whatever it take to find a cure." You can say that again!

So... The Great Fever of 2007 stories should officially be a thing of the past. So long!

The other, much bigger news, is that Holt finally called today. We have our personal information forms to fill out this week and will be invoiced for our home study update on Monday. That certainly feels official. It feels right to be back at it again, but I was slightly disappointed to learn today that timelines have stretched to 21 months from application to homecoming.

I'm a silver-lining kind of girl and told Rob that at least we won't ever be facing payments for two kids in daycare at the same time. And I can certainly go ahead and make the car trade I've been thinking about... Those car payments will be half-over by the time we have another child to care for! It's not much, but it's a bit to early to really start to dwell again on how long this really will all take. I would like to say we won't obsess like we did waiting for Sam, but no one I know who's gone through it a second time has indicated that it gets any easier!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Embarrassment, preschool style

We had our first real taste of public humiliation at the hands of our son tonight. We ran to Target to pick up a few things and on the way out, Sam was doing his usual routine of talking to anyone who dared make eye contact with him. As we walked past a nice looking older lady sitting on a bench just past the registers, she smiled at Sam and said a very cheerful hello.

What does my child respond with? "Hi," perhaps, or, "Hello?!" Maybe a "look at the new stickers my mommy and daddy just gave me?"

Nope.

"Hey, Mommy! Where is that lady's tooth?! It's missing!"

I walked out of the store MUCH more quickly, just trying to shush him with a simple, "I don't know" response.

That didn't do the trick. He followed up, still within earshot with, "Did the tooth fairy leave her a present under her pillow, Mommy?!"

The embarrassment could have ended there, but that would not have been torture enough for Mommy. Instead, Daddy has to, while still in the store, ask me if the woman was, indeed, missing a tooth. His interpretation of what qualifies as a "safe distance" and mine are NOT the same.

I'm sure it's just the first of many times one of us will embarrass the other!

In other news, I think I *may* have actually gotten an answer to my phantom medical woes of the past few months. To recap, many doctors have poked and prodded to find the source of a long-term "fever of unknown origin." Last stop was my gynecologist to make sure my hormones weren't out of whack. They're not. Or at least no more so than they were through all of our years of regular doctors visits for ectopic pregnancies. That doctor suggested that since he was the "end of the line" as far as check-ups go, that perhaps we should try a course of broad spectrum antibiotics to see if it makes a difference.

Lo and behold, as much as I didn't think it would, it seems like it might be working. I've only have a fever three of the last ten days, which is quite a record for me. I relayed this new development to the infectious diseases specialist (also known as Fancy Pants doctor) and he said that he was in favor of another, longer course of that same antibiotic to "finish" killing whatever germ seems to be responding. It sounds like the last-ditch theory of a secondary infection that may be culture negative might just pan out.

I will be thrilled to be done with all of this, but perhaps just a wee bit peeved that it took months and months for a drug that even Sam has taken to do the trick!

I'll stop now, so as not to appear as though I am looking a gift horse in the mouth.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Week One


The first week back at daycare was, by far, the most successful we've had thus far. Sam adjusted like a champ. He might be a little bit more tired than usual, but not a single (major) meltdown was had for a whole week!

The closest we came to any sort of trauma related to school came on Day 2. Sam is not quite back in the get-up-early groove, and slept through Breakfast Room time. Well, the Breakfast Room is chock full of cool trucks AND his favorite teacher, Ms. Mary, calls that room home. The pull was just too great when we arrived and had to go straight to the Owls room. The poor thing flopped right down in the hallway and wailed that he wanted Ms. Mary and her trucks! More than one door opened, with a teacher peeking out to see what the commotion was! Ms. Krystyna came right to the rescue. She scooped Sam up and pulled down a bucket of Matchbox cars. The tears were gone in an instant. Crisis averted!

Ms. Krystyna seems like she'll be a fabulous pre-school teacher. She sent home an impressive letter about all the kiddies will learn in her class this year... And she's one of THOSE who gave homework on the first night! Sam spent Tuesday night searching the house for the perfect item that starts with the letter 'A' to take in for "Show and Share."

"Show and Share..." What about political correctness made us change the term "tell?" by the way? Is it too bossy and directive for the under-4 set? Has Barney convinced the world that everything about the world requires sharing?! I really don't mind, I just found it mildly amusing when I first heard it. Sam can use all the reminders he can get about sharing... Perhaps some wise teacher decided he wasn't the only one with a case of the gimme-that-back-it's-MINEs!

Tomorrow we're off to the Holt Family Picnic with Kim, Ted and Ethan. The boys may get more out of the car ride with Hard Hat Harry playing, but it will be nice to see some friends that we don't get to catch up with very often. There are a few new babies that I can't wait to hold! The reality that we're ready for #2 has been slowly sinking in this week.... We may have a new baby by next Christmas. I can hope!

Monday, September 03, 2007

Back to School

Being the wife of a teacher means that Labor Day weekend is always bittersweet. Sweet to spend a few relaxing days enjoying what's left of summer; bitter to know that the craziness of the school schedule is starting again. I still have to pinch myself sometimes, though, to think that I have a child of my own also tied to the big Back to School schedule.

Sam heads back to the daily grind of the Laurel Tree Academy tomorrow. It's cool when you're three to just see it as finally getting back to see your little friends and the routine of circle time, playground antics and group naps. I actually think he's ready. Mommy and Daddy are only so entertaining for so long when you're as social as our dear child is.

We were reminded just how social and in need of constant pre-schooler contact Sam is this past weekend when we hit Jellybean Jungle for Sam's friend Adam's birthday party. A few kids from his room at daycare were there, and their eyes all just lit up upon seeing one another. That little taste of the first day should make life easier tomorrow.

Tomorrow night may be another story. We've gradually been sleeping until about 7:30 each morning, and Sam's bedtime has slipped into the 9:30 - 10 p.m. range. With school comes Daddy up at 5:30, Sam up by 6:30 and back to bed by 8ish. That bedtime has always worked for me, personallly, so I selfishly don't mind. I tuck Sam in, then read for a while before enjoying my own kiddie bedtime!

In other scrap news, for anyone who cares, I committed to "Stand Up and Scrap" this weekend.
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketBasically, Stand Up and Scrap means I bought a kit I would have purchased anyway for a nice donation to the "green" cause and will try to hold my own over six weeks of scrap challenges. I'm intrigued by the fact that the contest is, in theory, totally anonymous. There is definitely a group of "famous" scrappers out there, and a few seem to dominate most of the buzz that's out there. I have no delusions that I'll get far, but the thought of a year's worth of products from my favorite shop makes it just silly not to play along.

Finally, for anyone who's read this far... the REAL news is that we're back "in process." We, ironically, spent Labor Day filling out the paperwork for our next baby! We completed all of the necessary forms and printed the pictures that have to go along with it. We go to the notary early this week, write the checks, and we're off!

We did the math tonight, and it's actually possible that we'll have a new baby nestled in our house by Christmas of next year! My mom is definitely thinking pink, but while we are not indicating a gender preference, we both seem to have an inkling that #2 will also be of the male persuasion. Maybe that's just because we have a name for that one!

My friend Ted is apparently tickled when his name is in my blog, so I'll close by publicly putting a teensy bit of pressure on him and Kim to consider applying, too, so we can enjoy the torture of the wait together. I figure we'll be sharing every gory detail anyway, so we might as well do it simultaneously. Easy for me to say! So... no pressure Ted. Kim and I can just pass the time before you apply by going digiscrap shopping. ;-)

Friday, August 24, 2007

Good news and reality check

The good news is that the gallium scan was negative. NO CANCER. WooHoooooo!! I go back to the doctor again on Thursday to discuss some endocrine tests, but the worst of the search is over. Thank goodness.

The reality check happened this morning at breakfast. My father is in for a visit. Sam was drinking out of his favorite Kansas mug. We talked about how Grandpa lives in Kansas. Grandpa asked him where Sam, Mommy, and Daddy live. Sam replied that he didn't know.

We decided to make the questions less complex:

Grandpa: Where does your mommy live?

Sam: Ummm.. At a hotel.

Uh-oh.

I did revist the issue a few minutes later and he said he knows we live "like a family" and even knew our town and street name.

That's a relief...

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

He's growing up

First, suffice it to say that the prep from two nights ago was quite effective and I now regret making drinking it sound like the worst part of the ordeal. Such superlatives leave me no room to convince anyone how bad it was. Enough about that. I shudder to recall the drama.

We took Sam to shop for a new nap mat for daycare today. We found one he really wanted online, so went to JC Penney's to see if they had it at the store. They didn't, but we did end up finding some pretty cute clothes there to get the new school year started in style. Both Rob and I were both fascinated and kind of sad to see that he's getting to be big enough that he can pick out some clothes on his own and know what he's doing. Combine that with the new haircut, and it was almost surreal to catch a glimpse of him shopping and be reminded what a little person he is.

He's always been a good talker, but he's also amazing us with the things that come out of his mouth. The "why" questions have started in full force, but he often dreams up answers of his own. He saw a bunny in our backyard this morning, and came up with a chapters-long story about how the rabbit had found herself in our neighborhood and where she was planning to go next. It's so cute to listen to!

Sam has also become quite the reader. He's got the patience for much longer bedtime stories and even "reads" a couple of them himself. I'm amazed to hear him recite all of his "I'm DIRTY" book, complete with the lines about "hydraulic rams and a specialized, maximized loader bucket."

Monster trucks are still dominating playtime. Not only does my child memorize stories, he's great at remembering songs. His current favorite is the incredibly annoying theme song to Hard Hat Harry's "All About Monster Trucks" DVD. A close runner-up is the "Schipoopie" song from The Music Man soundtrack that Rob has apparently been playing as background noise. I myself haven't even dared ask why he owns such music.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Now I know...

Disclaimer #1: I work for the American Cancer Society and truly, truly believe that regular colon screening according to published guidelines is one of the most critical health actions an individual can take to avoid a cancer diagnosis.

Disclaimer #2: Discontinue reading this post if you don't care to read a slightly more...um... personal update than you might have in the past.

So... The Fever of 2007 persists and Fancy Pants doctor ordered one last screening to make sure no stone is left unturned in the big hunt for possible malignancy. This last test is called a gallium scan. It seems it's a rather uncommon procedure and involves the following: an injection of gallium on Day 1. A 60-minute scan on Day 2. Another 60-minute scan on Day 3. It also involves the changing of the camera equipment in the nuclear medicine facility and thus can only be scheduled either first thing in the morning or as the last appointment of the day.

And... oh yeah... If you didn't know, it also involves a "bowel cleanse." That's a little tidbit that they don't tell you when you call to schedule this lovely scan. "Ms. Becker, our protocol indicates no prep is needed for this test. You will feel a slight pinch when receiving the injection, but no other advance preparation is required. You will feel no pain during the exam."

Ok... So the scan itself might not hurt (though I do have to lay still for an entire hour, which is darn near impossible for me) but the lovely little kit they send you home with -- did I mention I wasn't warned about this?? -- is plenty painful enough.

I had a few hours of intense water consumption leading up to the first actual dose of magnesium citrate. That left me plenty of time to consult Dr. World Wide Web to see what I might be in for as the day progressed. I found very little information, but did read one message board post that I chose to hang my hat on and cease the research process. That post indicated that the specific prep I was prescribed was far more palatable than the more common Go-Lightly that is used for colonoscopy.

Well, after having consumed the innocuous looking powder substance just moments ago, I am giving notice to my boss the minute I'm due back from vacation next week. I'm quitting a career I love to devote my entire life to the flavor enhancement of intestinal preparatory solutions.

It's THAT bad. I don't like anything salty, so the description on the package that called this particular pharmaceutical a "saline laxative" should have been my first clue that I was in for a less-than-tasty experience.

I should also add that in addition to not being warned that I was going to need to "prepare" myself for the scan, I also wasn't told that the prep involves a completely liquid diet for three entire days! The first thing with any flavor all day turned out to be, without exaggeration, the nastiest thing I have ever ingested.

I literally gagged down eight ounces of Lo-So Prep and then ranted to Rob about the injustice of the entire situation for a full ten minutes before he escaped to "do something upstairs."

Without belaboring the most unpleasant part of this whole experience, you've probably gathered what I have to look forward to for the rest of the night. I can't believe I'm already this miserable, and the "purpose" of the prep hasn't even commenced yet. At least the next dose of medication isn't liquid. Some genius must have tasted the stuff and figured no one would subject themselves more than once.

I'm also convinced that the beyond horrific taste of Lo-So Prep is quite possibly why the American Cancer Society recommends colon screening just once a decade (after a clean colonoscopy beginning at age 50 unless you are in a high risk category!)

Rant over. For now.

Monday, August 06, 2007

True Companion

August 7, 1998 doesn't seem like it could have possibly been nine years ago. I certainly don't feel old enough (well, on most days!) to say I've been married for nine years. Even harder to believe is that Rob and I have been together for more than half my life now.

I'd get all sappy and sentimental, but I'm sitting here blogging next to my dear husband who would not only make fun of me for doing so, but may not remember what significance the date holds. That's probably not a totally fair statement. If you asked Rob when our anniversary is, he'd know the date right away. Ask him what he's doing on Tuesday, August 7th, though, when you're a volunteer just trying to schedule a Relay wrap-up meeting and he'll reply, "Ummm. I think there's something on that day. I can't remember. Oh, well. Sure! We'll be at the wrap-up meeting. What time?"

Had I not diligently read my email from our staff partner, we would have spent tomorrow night in the company of the other Haddon Twp. Relay For Life volunteers. As sweet as that group of people is, I'd rather not spend my anniversary that way. It wouldn't be the first time, however. I seem to recall another wrap-up meeting for the very same Relay that was ALSO held on our anniversary. At our house. At Rob's invitation. Once is enough, no?

So... I've gently reminded Rob of the special day, and he called to arrange for a babysitter with a whopping 18 hours to spare. My beloved is nothing if not a planner!

Actually, I'm really happy with our plans. It will be nice to go out together and just spend some time hanging out. We're going to see "Hairspray" and then to dinner at Elena Wu. It's exactly the kind of date we might have had ten years ago, before demanding jobs and an adorable toddler changed our schedules entirely.

I'll close with a bit of sap... Rob and I may sound like "The Bickers" on occasion, but at the risk of speaking for him, too, I think we're happier now than we've ever been. There's something incredibly comforting about truly having a partner in everything you do. We know each other better than anyone else and would still rather spend time in each other's company than with anyone else in the world. Too bad there's not more time to spend!

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

An un-update

I waited patiently for two weeks after having sixteen tubes and four jars of blood products sucked out of my arms to have ZERO to show for it. Well... that's the half-empty interpretation. My blood tests were totally negative. The half-full version of the story is that even more of the serious stuff has been ruled out. I'm headed for one more scan to find "occult cancer," which means yet again that the doctors are thinking a particular type of malignancy is a possibility. While that sounds ominous, I don't believe it's what will be the end result.

Using my stellar diagnostic skills, I suggested a possible solution myself that Dr. Fancy Pants actually agreed with! So... next stop: endocrinology. Basically, I'm hopeful that my inkling that my fevers are temperature fluctuations from some hormone imbalance proves true. Then... no more doctors!!

Monday, July 30, 2007

Rediscovered

After my dad's father passed away last year, my dad sent me a small envelope containing photos of my parents that I'd never seen before. My mom didn't keep any pictures after she and my dad divorced, but I was happy to have some pictures of all of them to keep for posterity. This picture is the only one that I think exists of all of my grandparents together at the same time. The original is pretty faded, so I had a good excuse to play around with Photoshop and scrap the picture for my own album.

This promises to be an interesting week... I go back to the Infectious Diseases guru to get my results tomorrow. I have a suspicion that they won't have found anything new, but I'm hopeful that I'll leave there with some answers. Answers or not, I board another flight this week, but this time with Rob and Sam. It should be fun, exhausting and interesting to have Sam at the nationwide Relay Leadership Summit with me this weekend. Everyone is looking forward to him being there, but I'm a tad nervous about managing to host breakout sessions, help direct general sessions, support Rob as he speaks in front of 600 fellow Relayers AND watch Sam simultaneously. Something tells me that he won't stay quiet just because Daddy is up on stage! I'm keeping my fingers crossed that the volunteers from Colleges Against Cancer find Sam as adorable as I do so that I have a pair or two of extra hands when there's a lot going on!

As I said to Kelli this week, it takes a village to raise a child around Relay.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Sportin a new 'do


After 10 minutes of screaming that made it seem more like two hours, Mr. Sam has a new look. It's hard to believe this is the kid who came home to us with long flowing locks. He plays hard and sweats like a beast, so we took the plunge and cut his hair off today. An unintentional, yet welcome, side effect of this drastic aesthetic measure is that we can avoid another trip to Kids Kuts for a very long time if we so choose.

We also spent today at Lukas' second birthday party. We all had a great time. Sam is in his glory when there's a moon bounce, cake and lots of kids to play with, so he came home deliriously happy and totally tuckered out.

He made some social/bonding headway today, too. He's usually pretty stoic about physical affection with most anyone but Rob and I. During the entire ride from Lukas' house to ours, Sam bemoaned the fact that he left without hugging and kissing everyone at the party. This complaint came AFTER the fact he made me stop in the middle of the cul-de-sac so that he could smooch Aunt Noel and Uncle David before we headed out. I just love watching him love other people!

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Back to the drawing board

It's sort of back to square one with all of the fun medical testing. I finally saw the esteemed Infectious Diseases expert today... The good news is he doesn't subscribe to our friend Ted's school of thought and is not considering quarantine as a necessary measure.

The latest is that the Epstein Barr numbers are apparently "meaningless" now that we know the malignancies associated with that virus have been ruled out.

The new plan is to test for many other varied and crazy illnesses, mainly because as the new doctor puts it, I'm "no help at all as a patient." Translation: I give them no symptoms other than fever to go on, so they have no idea where to start.

All of these doctors visits could go to my head and make me think I'm more popular than I am. Everywhere I go now, it seems a whole gaggle of people come in to check out the weird patient. The nurse that precedes a visit at any doctor visit always asks how long I've had a fever. When I reply "about three months" as I did today, the response is always the same. It's some variation of "holy cow" or "Oh my G-d." Since when did they start teaching that as a smart bedside manner in nursing school?

I am heading to Denver, then to Phoenix for meetings starting tomorrow, so I'll be camped out at LapCorp as if there were a new iPhone waiting behind the door for me. I only have about one hour before needing to be at the airport to get half of my blood sucked out. Seriously. I left the doctor today with THREE prescription slips filled with teeny tiny doctor's writing... All names of interesting things to check for. My personal favorite is cat scratch disease. Hmmm.. Wonder where I could have picked that up? Maybe there was an outbreak in some city that I didn't know about and I contracted it from a hotel shower curtain or something. The doctor's the expert. I trust him and will just stick out my arm and keep my mouth shut.

My favorite question of the visit was this: So, you travel out west for work? Were the Santa Anas blowing at any time while you were there?

Uh... Paging Dr. House??

All kidding aside, this doctor is clearly insanely smart and experienced. It was actually interesting to watch his mind work. He also has a great bedside manner. He made me feel like he's concerned and going to get to the bottom of this, but also that I don't need to panic about anything. Even knowing it will take two weeks to get results, I really don't mind waiting that long. Up until now, I've been itching to get results so I know what to worry or not worry about. I feel like I'm in good hands and will just be a patient patient for now!

I'll keep you posted. I'm amazed at how many people have been so gracious about telling me that they're concerned and praying. It really does make me feel better.

My friend Andy should probably take the job of prayer team captain after today. He emailed to check in and say he and Anne were still praying down in Georgia for me. I asked him to say a little prayer for George, too. He sent a reply saying that he would, and not 10 minutes later, I found out George was released to go home straight from the ICU. That's some quick service! The minister himself didn't seem to be able to work that kind of magic... I don't care how it happened. It was good to see George at home and looking good tonight. It puts so much in perspective to see someone you care about go through so much without warning.

It reminds me to do a better job of hugging my family and enjoying life. Worry doesn't make life any more certain... It's always good to be reminded of that.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

MommyMo revisited

I keep meaning to "capture" this little memory but forgetting...

When I started this blog, and was not feeling much creativity when it came to finding an appropriate title, I chose "Life as MommyMo" because I just LOVED the fact that Sam would ask for more kisses by saying "Mommy... MO!"

That phase didn't last much longer once he figured out to say more than a word or two, but I kind of liked remembering it every time I logged on to blog something new.

Well... Lo and behold, Sam actually called me "Mommy Mo" the other day. I'm fairly certain he hasn't been reading my blog, so it's not like he hears that combination of nonsense words anymore, but nonetheless, that's what he started calling me. It took me a day or two to figure it out, but I think I've figured out why the name has resurfaced.

Around the same time that Sam started with the kissy "Mommy...MO" requests, we gave Rob a shirt for Father's Day (2005) that has Snoopy on it and says "One Cool Daddy-o." A bit corny, but Rob had officially been a dad for just five days when the gift was given. It seemed perfect at the time because Rob was a huge Peanuts fan as a kid and we attempted to find decor that would allow us to decorate Sam's room with Snoopy as the Flying Ace. No luck, so he just had airplanes!

Anyway, for two years now, we've been referring to Daddy as "Daddy-o" at our house. Sam also started calling me "Mommy-o" not too long ago, then decided to add "o" to almost everything he said. That apparently got boring after a day or two, so he started learning to rhyme, toddler style. Somewhere along the line, he morphed all of that into calling me "MommyMo." As fast as he's growing up, it's so fun to be reminded of some of the babyish things he used to do!

Sam pretty regularly shows us how he's maturing. Rob and I went with my mom to the Farm to Fork dinner at Tortilla Press tonight (a belated Mother's Day dinner from my Mom to me and, as she also put it, a reason to celebrate a clean CT scan. She looks for any reason to celebrate!) Rob's mom was here to babysit. They played for a long time, and little Sam was tuckered out. When Nana went to put him to bed, he pretty much kissed her goodnight, then dismissed her to go let the dogs in! He heard them scratching and told her that she'd "better go take care of Frankie now, Nana. He wants to come inside." He used to whine and find a billion reasons to have us come back to his room, but after sending Nana on her merry way, he tucked himself in and went right to sleep... No more baby!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

The saga continues, but good news for now


By now, most everyone knows that the BIG test came back with great news... No purple shirt at Relay for me! I tried very hard to be pragmatic, but truth be told, I was nervous once I heard we needed to "look for malignancy." My doctor tried to tiptoe around the "c" word, but from the moment he uttered those words, I was scared.

I think that's why, even with good news to report, it's been so hard to put virtual pen to paper and confirm that the CT scan showed no cancer. I did this with the ectopic pregnancy a few years ago... When things are that serious, I tend to talk about them when I'm actually with someone, but have a hard time writing about it. It's like the permanency of writing it down bothers me or something.

Anyway, I should get over that because for now, things are looking much brighter. I still have a fever, but I'm optimistic that with a scan of just about everything but my toes, we've ruled out really yucky stuff. I'm off to an infectious diseases specialist next week. Ironically, I'm seeing the same doctor who cared for Andrew. He was so good to Andrew, particularly as things neared the end, that I have a special place in my heart for him. I certainly never expected to see him as a patient myself, but if he can figure out what the heck my weird blood numbers mean, I'm happy to go.

I included the pic of Sam at the top of this post because given all that I've been worried about lately, I'm feeling even sappier than usual about how lucky I am to have Mr. Sam in my life. It's hard to take yourself too seriously when you have a three-year-old whose favorite thing to do is hang upside down from the couch and hum the theme song to Little Einsteins. That kind of reality check is good for anyone!

Sam's in another Nonni phase right now, too. He keeps waking up and asking what time Nonni is coming over. When she left here after a brief visit to use our computer last night he sat on the step as usual, waiting for her to give him her usual honk and yelled, "Bye-bye, cutie pie!" Even our neighbor across the street laughed out loud!

Friday, June 29, 2007

Tests

Thanks for the calls, comments, emails and prayers. I appreciate it! I'm off for a round of tests today that I HOPE gives me a real answer. I can't imagine there's too much more to check out, but as fascinating as I find medicine, there's clearly a ton I don't know... even when they try to spoon feed the info. to me!

Sam has settled into his summer at home pretty nicely. He and Daddy have a little routine going that seems to work. Up around 7, morning snack (don't utter the word breakfast or you'll get an early morning dose of the whines) and then off for an hour's walk in the wagon. Hopefully when I feel like an hour walking around won't kill me, I'll be able to join them!

They come home, have another snack, play outside, then we all have lunch together. Most days, I'm able to help get him down for his nap before getting back to work. By the time Sleepyhead wakes up, I'm winding down for the day. There are the occasional errands and playdates thrown in, but as long as Daddy keeps the schedule moving, Sam's a happy guy.

He started copying us again, which I always find amusing. I don't know what he *thinks* we've said, but if you ask him a question that he chooses to answer in the affirmative, he replies, "Absolutey positooney!"

He also must have listened to Mommy, and hearing the words repeated back were hilarious and a bit embarrassing at the same time. I sound like that?!

Rob said he was going to do something. Can't recall what it was. Sam looked up at him, exaggeratedly shrugged his shoulders and said, "Are you KIDDIN' me, Daddy? You must be kiddin."

Uh Oh. Good thing we swore off swearing a long time ago...

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Lyme Away

It's not Lyme that I have. I don't know what it is right now, but further, more detailed tests showed that it's not "tick disease" as my boss so nicely calls it.

I made an appointment today since I still have a fever (9 weeks and counting) after three weeks on antibiotics. He had more in-depth results that had come in. Now we know it's not Lyme, but another test that's positive isn't conclusive either.

If you're the praying kind, I'd appreciate all the prayers and positive vibes I can get. I am determined to stay calm until I know more, but this is not fun!

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Gotcha Day, Take 2!



I just tucked Sam in for the night, and had the sweetest chat about how lucky we are to be a family.

It was almost to the minute two years ago tonight that we waited anxiously in Terminal D of the bustling Philadelphia airport for Sam to arrive from Seoul. The journey from his loving foster mother's home to ours in New Jersey was over 24 hours, and according to his escort, he hadn't slept AT ALL while flying. That fact alone made him none too happy when he was handed over to us. Luckily, with a little bit of sleep under his belt, he turned into a giggly, happy baby who quickly learned how to keep his parents in stitches.

As happy a day as this is for us, there's a bittersweet element, too. I can't help but think that his birth family has no idea that today is significant to a little boy they loved so much that they had to make the heart wrenching decision to place for adoption just so he'd have a chance at a life they couldn't give him. I can't help but think how his foster family, after caring for him for 11 of the first 13 months of his life, must have been so sad to hand him to an escort at Holt, knowing they may never see him again.

I know that we have become the family we were meant to be. As painful as some of the parts of Sam's earliest days are, he is forever a part of a family that loves him more than anything on Earth.

Last year, Sam was too young to understand why we were so excited about this day. It's different this year. He is still too young to understand much of what we talk about, but he did repeat several times that today is "Gotcha Day."

He gets the important parts: there's an airplane involved, the word Korea is somehow associated, lots of people waited for him to arrive and they waved flags while they waited, and we now we celebrate how blessed we are to have each other.

We started the day by watching the video from the night he arrived since Rob has to be at his school's graduation tonight. Sam's seen the video many times before and calls it "my movie." He watched intently this morning, identified everyone who was there, and waited with bated breath to see his own arrival.

He was very cute... When he finally saw a glimpse of a tiny version of himself, carried in a podaegi on his escort's back, he ran to the TV and pointed, shouting, "There I am! That's me. I'm HERE!"

He watched his reaction on the screen go from smiley, to hysterical, to calm again. He turned to us and said," Mommy, Daddy, look. I was crying, and you made me feel all better. I'm not sad anymore!"

It's so ironic to hear him say that, since his mommy cried happy tears several times today. I just keep thinking of our special night two years ago and seeing what an amazing little person he's turned out to be.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Baby James

I just peeked in on a blog that is chronicling the struggles of a family whose son, James, is battling Wilms Tumor. James was adopted from Korea and diagnosed less than two months later.

It sounds like the family has had some good news following surgery yesterday. I hope he continues to improve, though there's still a long road ahead.

Please check it out and pray for Baby James: http://jrjschrandt.blogspot.com/

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Wardrobe update

I'm a bit too tired for a full Relay recap right now. I couldn't possibly do it justice in my state of exhaustion, but at least a couple of people commented on my earlier wardrobe nightmare post, so to put your mind at ease, here's a brief bit of justication for this weekend.

1. I promised no more bandannas. I lived up to that one. It was 92 degrees and ridiculously humid this weekend, but I wore my melted coif proudly. Better to have bad hair than sport a purple pirate look.

2. Mismatched clothing? I handled that one with ease, too. Regular purple polo and khaki shorts for the entire event. I do think they were a few sizes bigger by the afternoon, stretched out from the dampness of the day, but at least I was wearing coordinated colors.

3. Pasty white legs? Well, that would have been a good trend -- at least healthwise -- to continue. Not so much. The humidity meant lots of sweating. Lots of sweating meant the SPF 55 I applied just slid right off. I now look like a splotchy lobster. I have a bright red "V" from the polo shirt and patches of crazy burn on the backs of my knees! Who gets burned there?!

I'm off to apply more aloe spray and take a nap.

Here's a newspaper article on the event, for your reading pleasure:
http://www.courierpostonline.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070603/NEWS01/706030393

Thursday, May 31, 2007

What was I thinking?

This weekend is one of the biggest of the year for our family. It's Relay weekend! Besides it being the culmination of a year's worth of planning, it's the time we set aside to formally recognize how blessed we are. We began Relaying five years ago to celebrate Rob's (and our dear friend Lisa's) fifth year cancer-free. We drank the purple Kool-aid, so to speak, and here we are five years later, ready to celebrate Rob's TENTH year free from cancer. Relay is not just my full-time job, it's an enormous part of our identity as a family.

It's gotten to the point that the Becker name is synonymous with Relay For Life for many people. We both bleed purple, so when it came time to film a new recruitment video for Relay nationwide, my lovely coworker decided that Rob was the perfect spokesperson for survivor involvement.

Some background: There are 3.5 million people involved in Relay, including 500,000 cancer survivors. We know that we can make a huge impact (even beyond the $400 million we'll raise this year) if we mobilize those participants to do other things year-round that fight the disease. Rob is a textbook case of someone who dipped his toe in the Relay pool, and went on to be on the front lines of the cancer fight. I'm proud, can you tell?

Back to my story... Because Rob was chosen to be in this new video, we have a four-person film crew joining us at the Relay this weekend to capture his story and footage of all of us celebrating together. Because that film crew is coming, the local paper has decided that they want to do a feature on Rob, too.

I work in PR. That means I like to promote good stuff that can help other people. It also means I like to stay behind the scenes! So, you can imagine my horror when I found out that the paper, with a circulation of 80,000+, wants background photos. I was digging through our stash, trying to find a few good shots of us at Relay, and came across the photo you see above.

Which brings me to this bit of well deserved self deprecation. WHAT WAS I THINKING?

No one should be so dedicated to an event that they see fit to go out in public, much less be photographed, like that.

I do recall that I started out the day in jeans and that tshirt. My hair was not covered, and the boots made sense in the wet grass.

Let's review what's wrong with that picture:

1. Purple bandanna? It says "cancer sucks" on the back. I promise to leave that bit of headgear to the teenagers from now on. It looks like a costume on me.

2. Since when did my ears look like I belong with the Keebler elves?

3. Turquoise shirt (that I had no control over... it was the committee shirt), olive shorts? I was not getting dressed in the dark, so that should never have happened.

4. White crew socks, brown hiking boots with that same turquoise shirt and olive shorts. Even worse.

5. How many things can I possibly attach to my body and clothing?

6. Can you tell that I am also wearing sunglasses with that outfit? All of this is resurfacing like a bad, repressed memory.

I have several quite stylish friends who will probably have a hard time forgiving me once they see this picture. They will say that years of hard work and training were clearly lost.

I will say, to redeem myself even a teeny bit, that I work for the American Cancer Society. Those pasty white legs are proof that I'm living up to our cancer prevention standards. There. I'm at least good at my job, even if I look like a nightmare doing it.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Invaded

I owe this blog a nice post about all of the birthday festivities of the past weekend, but that's bound to take some time. I'll get right on that.

However, let's just say we wrapped up Sam's final birthday soiree with a few new housemates that made me none too happy. I recall saying last week that I had NO IDEA how I got Lyme Disease. Now I know.

You don't need to live in the woods to find deer ticks. You just need to come to my house. INSIDE my house to be exact. I found not one, but TWO deer ticks (a male and female -- according to Google Images) in the house on Sunday evening. They were both taking nice leisurely strolls, one on the ledge upstairs and one on the kitchen table.

I think everyone who was here might have thought I was crazy for calling at nearly 10 p.m. to tell them to do a check, but I'd feel awful if someone actually ended up with Lyme Disease on my watch.

Rob, who's been quite nonchalant about the whole thing (with the exception of fogging the whole backyard before guests arrived. Twice. But, really, that was probably just to keep me quiet) is now stripping down to his shorts to have me check him out at least twice a day. Those little bugs are a bit more threatening when they might actually bite him!

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Sam's big day!



Sam's the big THREE today! He's been waiting for this for a long time... though he tried to convince us he was about to be FOUR for more than a few weeks. He's satisfied at being just three for now, particularly since he seems to know that cupcakes, parties and presents are involved.

I woke up this morning with many of the same emotions I recall from last year... I am thrilled to have this amazing boy to call our own, but am a bit sad at the thought of how much his birth family must be missing him today. I hope that they can somehow know that he's loved by many and a happy, if mischievious, little boy.

Happy Birthday, Sam!! We love you!!

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Sneaky little buggers

Five weeks of fevers, way too many needles, regular doctor visits and an xray thrown in for good measure and I finally have a diagnosis.

My doctor's office called today to say that I have active Lyme Disease. I have absolutely NO IDEA how I got it. New Jersey is a high risk area, but I haven't been laying around in the woods lately! I am sure there are other ways to come in contact with deer ticks, but I'll be darned if I know what they are.

I have to take horse doses of a antibiotics for three weeks, then see if I'm cured. I guess my fever finally going away will tell for sure.

Not fun news, but it's at least good to know what the deal is. "Fever of Unknown Origin" is not a fun clinical label. My silver lining? I get fabulous service at my doctor's office and the lab. They know my voice when I call and have been quite helpful. Let's hope I don't need their services much longer!

The doctor's office made sure to tell me to take my pills with food and get plenty of rest for the next three weeks. Um, I have a son who's turning three tomorrow and Relay is in nine days. Rest isn't exactly easy to come by in these parts!

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Still no answers


Either my doctor really is worried about my "fever of unknown origin" or he's practicing voodoo on me illegally.

I got sent for MORE bloodwork. He's testing for more specific ailments now. We had a nice long chat in the office on Friday. He pretty much told me that he's thinking two things right now: it's possible that I either have rheumatoid arthritis or that I'm just plain weird.

No joke. He actually phrased it by saying, "Well, we know you're weird. This just might be more proof." Gotta love a doctor with a sense of humor.

In addition to a funny bone, my family physician also has a keen fashion sense. I own the footwear pictured in black. I had those shoes on when at the office. He was checking, ostensibly, for swollen lymph nodes in my lower legs when he stopped and said, "those are really cute shoes."

Totally deadpan. Which is not surprising if you know my doctor. To say his delivery is typically dry is an understatement. Who knew that a snazzy pair of Rocket Dogs would liven him up so?

He followed the cute shoes comment up with, "I've never noticed before that you have incredibly small feet. Seriously. What size shoes do you wear?"

All I could think was that I'd wound up in the Twilight Zone somehow. I'm at my quiet-as-a-church-mouse doctor's office for a disease with no symptoms whatsoever. A sizeable percentage of our conversation ends up being about my little feet with fancy shoes, not the underlying illness that, so far, has necessitated multiple diagnostic tests and trips to be physically examined by every doctor in the practice. (There are only two, by the way, but that sentence sounded more dramatic than if I'd said "both doctors in the practice." It's my blog. I can be dramatic if I want.)

Before I sign off, I want to wish the very best of luck to my bud Leslie... She's one of the approximately 4.2 people who actually read this sorry blog and she got a very fancy pants job with the Billy Graham Evangelical Association this week. It's the American Cancer Society's loss, but she is, after all, going to work for God. (Leslie -- I should tell you that my brother-in-law, when I was pondering my offer from the ACS a few years ago, likened working for the Society to working for God Himself. Now you'll be able to tell me if that's true or not.)

Monday, May 14, 2007

A teeny update


Frankie got out AGAIN. He must have figured that he knew the tricks now, because as soon as we tried to leave for church yesterday, he ran... Rob tackled him just two doors down, though. It helped that he had real shoes on this time. He'd been wearing mandals for the Saturday excursion.

Mother's Day was so nice. Rob let me sleep a little bit. He insisted it was because it was Mother's Day, but I also think he was tired of hearing me roll over all night, audibly wincing.

On that note, I don't heal as quickly as someone Sam's age does, but I am getting better. I will see how much fun traipsing through the airports turns out to be a bit later today. I'm grateful to have been assigned seat 2A by trusty US Airways. No bumping into my left elbow. My right knee is another story. Enough whining.

For those who have followed the great fever trials of the past few weeks, in a weird way, I have a new symptom that actually makes me very excited to know that I might get this figured out FINALLY! Now I know it could be from falling, but I started coughing a bit last night (again, normally not at all exciting) but it really hurts near my left ribs when I cough now. I sound like a glutton for punishment, but if it hurts to cough, I have a fever and my xrays turn up any fluid in my chest, I'll have diagnosis and be able to move on with my life. Yippee!!

If I bruised ribs or something when I fell, I'm going to be really irritated. I'm only turning 33, not 93. I don't need new aches and pains. I'm sleep deprived enough to make me feel plenty old enough, thank you very much.

I'm off to Atlanta now...

Saturday, May 12, 2007

And he's off...

Ah, how easy it is to take for granted how well trained your pets are. My seven-year-old dogs, usually too lazy to do much other than bark at the mailman, recalled the good ol' days tonight.

I remember when they were just wee pups, all too eager to watch for the first glimpse of a crack in the front door so they could take off running, their weary humans chasing them down, screaming like lunatics the whole way. We had more than one such episode before deciding the doubts we might have had about invisible fencing were nothing in comparison to our very real fear of two adorable dogs getting squashed on the King's Highway.

Turns out there's not much warning when the batteries for said fence go kaput.

Frankie's were apparently shot, and he took off like a shot out the front door. I know it was a combination of the commotion of the company over for the evening and the thunder that was rolling through, which he is absolutely terrified of.

He got out the front door, realized that he could escape, and did just that. He RAN straight down the street, Rob chasing after him. I tossed my purse on the sidewalk, yelled at Sam to stay with Aunt Kim on the driveway (thankfully Ethan was staying, too, which helped keep Sam in place) and hopped in the car. Ted, thank goodness, was already running down the street, too.

The biggest mishap came when we got to the corner. I thought Frankie looked like he wanted to jump in the car, so I leaned over and opened the door. He ran off again, straight for the busiest street in the area. I ran around the car, shut the door and attempted to run back to drive off again, when I slipped on a few wet leaves. I was airborne long enough to think about how much it was going to hurt when I hit the ground.

In one fall, I managed to scrape both hands, both elbows and my right knee. My left knee got a nick or two, but not much. I had no idea I could hit so many parts of my body on the ground on the way down. I'm not tall. It's not like I had far to fall!

I yelled for Ted to drive the car, leaving him to frantically wonder if it was more important to run after my husband and dog or ignore my request so I wasn't left laying in the middle of the road. Thank goodness he followed Rob, because they caught Frankie soon. They even had time to come back and get me as I hobbled down the street toward home.

I did get an interesting lesson in human behavior through all of this. We must have looked like loons too crazy to help as we tore through the neighborhood. There was a couple sitting in a minivan right near where I wiped out. They didn't even roll down their window as I lay in the street to see if I was ok. Once I got up and literally drug my sorry rear back home, they did seem as though they were following me. At that point, I decided that I didn't want to deal with them, so I forced myself totally upright so that they wouldn't ask me anything. They turned around and left.

A nice lady down the street must have seen me coming because she came outside and asked if I needed ice or to sit down. That was nice, but Ted and Rob arrived just then.

I'm all patched up now, and remembering how much it really does hurt when you scrape skin off of your body. I'll remember that next time it happens to Sam.

A quick Sam funny... I told him we were going to Fort Dix to see Ethan and the airshow. After a hundred questions as to why we were going, he moved on to "why does Ethan live there?"

I replied that Ethan's daddy is in the military, so he has to live there.

Again... "Why, Mommy?"

"Because he works for the government..." (That should end the conversation, right?)

Not so much...

Sam stopped asking "why?", long enough to squeal... "EEEWWWW! I don't LIKE the GOVERNMENT!!"

I swear, he did not learn that from me.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Reason to hope???

I had stopped visiting Rainbow Kids for a while for my own mental health. Seeing JaeHo continue to be listed was too hard to see and just left me feeling frustrated and helpless. I caved today and scoured the Asia list, but don't see him on it.

I HOPE that means good news for him. I want to believe he's found a forever family to love him!

A few things have delayed our formal application, but I think we're just going to send it in now, and figure things out as we go. We ended up having to take out a small loan we're weren't expecting to be responsible for, but are going to keep working to get that resolved and focus on the exciting parts of a new baby. I think any social worker who reviews our case will understand our situation and be more than willing to see that we're capable of raising two kids.

I have proof, too, that Daddy is ready for another baby. He asked me out of the blue the other day what we were going to name the next kid! As some people know, this is not the easiest of subjects for us (as Rob only likes super traditional names or insists on the goofiest nicknames for the names we do agree on) but during a rare lunch alone last weekend, he brought the subject up on his own. Not only that, he'd been doing some thinking...He'd made up his mind on a girl's name!

I think he'll still let me vote, though.

Monday, April 30, 2007

The secret of toddlerhood... and some good news.



Being back on the road after quite a few welcome weeks at home has taken its toll. I'm tired! I've spent most of my time at home just hanging out with Sam and Rob. Someone has to be there to keep the tendencies of a headstrong three-year-old in check.

For anyone who's not a parent, there's a little secret that other parents don't let you in on until quite late in the game. The glass-is-half-full side of me thinks it's those who have been there trying to protect the vulnerable sensibilities of newer parents. The secret? The Terrible Twos? Yes, they can have moments of terribleness, but overall, it's just nature's way of inching you into the real jungle of child rearing, otherwise known as life with a three-year-old.

My adorable child has a will of steel and a vocabulary that would make any school marm proud. Sounds cute when you see it presented on a pretty blog page. When it's screaming, face down, fists pounding on your kitchen floor... not so much. The thing is, it's kind of endearing to hear Sam repeat words like "delectable" that are beyond his years. When he repeats phrases like, "Don't be fresh with me" as "No, Mommy. Don't YOU be fresh with ME," THEN throws in "1...2...3" with his finger held up for good measure, you know you're in for it!

He's also decided AGAIN that his bed is no place to spend a night alone. Why should he stay nestled in his cute Cars sheets, surrounded by puppy, blankie and about 42 of the 60 Thomas the Tank Engine trains that he holds so dear when he can wedge himself between Mommy and Daddy, randomly talk (in that one, single volume that toddlers seem to have) just as we've fallen back to sleep and flop around like a sea otter who just can't quite make it back to water?

I went to the doctor today and she asked if I have any unexplained bruises. I replied that I can explain all of them. They come from sleeping with a 36-inch-tall kid who seems to need the space of Shaquille O'Neal to get any rest.

I did say I have good news. I do.

I posted to a thread on DigiShopTalk that turned out to be a conversation about why the same dozen or so scrappers make all of the creative teams. I bemoaned the fact that creative teams should be about promotion. Ostensibly, that's something I'm expected to know a thing or two about, but apparently that credential doesn't go far in scrapbooking circles. However, one super sweet designer saw my post, checked out my gallery, and asked me to join her team. Her designs are great, so I can't wait to get started.

Maybe scrapping with nice, soft, pretty things will soften the stories of Sam's crazy antics that are bound to come over the next few months.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Leonard Revisited


You may recall reading about Sam's new friend "Leonard Lewis Lion." He's turned out to be a keeper. Sam still plays with him daily, but his name has changed. To Leonard The Lion King!

I might add that we had not yet seen the movie "The Lion King" when Leonard got this grand promotion. Aunt Jenny took care of that and sent a copy home. Now our house is a symphony of Disney/Pixar noises. We go from Lighting McQueen gutteral engine revs to a *different* engine rev representing Frank the Combine Harvester to an all-out roar in homage to Simba. Sometimes if it comes out really deeply, Sam tells us that it was Mufasa or Scar.

He either has quite the imagination or an incredibly discerning ear.

I do know that his hearing has allowed him to nearly memorize The Lion King after having only seen it a couple of times. Even though he never truly appears to be watching it.

Case in point: After Sam's bath and the ritual of where-is-Sam-I-can't-find-him-he-must-be-down-the-drain antics, I toweled off his hair the other night. Sam never likes this, but on this particular night, rather than just whining and insisting I stop, he put out his hand and said "Mommy, you're messin with my MANE!" Needless to say, I laughed hysterically, so he's repeated it hourly ever since.

We had a great weekend... Sadly, it was the first Saturday we could recall spending together in a while. We just hung out together, I scrapped during naptime, and we ended the day dyeing Easter eggs for the first time. There's a reason the boxes say it's an activity intended for those older than five years. What a mess! And even pretty colored, Cars-wrapped eggs could not get Sam to do more than lick the outside of a peeled egg. Still just chicken. Stay tuned for future protein updates.

We did a long day of family visiting today, but it was great. Sam had a blast playing with everyone and finding that the Easter Bunny locates him wherever he goes! I tried to explain that the day is less about chocolate and jelly beans and more about Jesus, but I don't think he got it. He knew he was more spiffed up than usual for church and did manage to repeat that it was "Jesus' big day" a few times, but I think the lesson about the Risen Lord will take a few more years.

Monday, April 02, 2007

JaeHo update

My hope has some basis in reality, as it turns out. There's been a flurry of activity on the Holt board when we noticed that older children are now being listed for adoption in Korea.

Under the "old" system, children were removed from any possible referral list upon turning three years old. It seems that the upside of the new rules is that older kids are being referred!

I'm SO happy to know there's still a chance that JaeHo will find his permanent home. I know he's being taken good care of where he is, but no one can doubt that a family of your own is the best place to be. He seems to be doing well, so I hope a family that can help him progress will see his file and bring him home.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Lessons Learned at McDonald's


First, to update my last post, we're sitting at T minus 5 hours now till Daddy lands and, truth be told, I'm a wee bit sad. I'm really going to be happy to see Rob and missed his company even more than I imagined I would, but Sam and I have had a great weekend together. It's been really nice to have some special Mommy time.

Well, nice except for the burst of energy he got last night that ended with me clutching a bag of frozen peas to my bloody, swollen nose. It's not broken. just bruised, but it was ugly and painful (and still is if I sneeze or scrunch up my nose!) It went like this: sticky hands needed wiping, Mommy bent over hyper son to wipe said hands, son -- apparently quite elated at the sight of a fresh wipe -- bolts STRAIGHT up out of his little chair and directly into Mommy's nose. My last deviated septum repair was no picnic. I hope not to repeat it.

So... back to the lessons I learned in McDonald's today.

After church, Sam said he was hungry (not surprising since he fed Ellie his breakfast.) A quick mental inventory of both the refrigerator and my cooking skills landed me at McDonald's for a McNugget treat. We rarely go to "Ronald McDonald's house," (we're a Wendy's nugget family) so Sam was delighted.

He behaved like a perfect gentleman, which translated into eating very slloooowwwwllly. His meandering pace left plenty of time for chat.

I learned a few things:

1. Sam DOES know how to whisper. You wouldn't know it most of the time, but the child IS capable of lowering his voice.

2. He also rather enjoys the particular brand of Muzak piped into this McDonald's location. As if he wasn't eating slowly enough, we stopped every few minutes to "groove" to a new song. It was mostly MoTown, which I like, too so it could have been worse. Each time the music caught his attention, he'd put down his nugget, swing his arms in the air, and wiggle around in his highchair with his eyes squeezed shut. He'd occasionally peek out at me mid-groove and demand that I "rock on" with him. Those quotes really are his.

3. He might possibly be getting ready to sample a new protein source. We're still all about beige food in our house, but he's starting to take notice of beef when it's nearby. He even asked if he could try another child's cheeseburger. She just stared at him as if he had horns. I don't blame her.

I also had a sweet moment with an older man who was hanging out enjoying his coffee with some pals. I am fairly used to being noticed when in public. I'd be less conscious of it were I even remotely convinced that it was my stunning good looks attracting attention or if I hadn't been approached one too many times by rude strangers demanding to know all sorts of details about Sam's place in our family. (For the record, the answer is always that I AM his REAL mom and that NO, he'll probably never speak Chinese.)

Anyway, this particular man was definitely noticing us, but not in a way that seemed offensive. He was just a cute guy trying to make Sam smile from across the room. When he got up to refill his coffee cup, he paused at our table and introduced himself to Sam. He asked him what his name was. Sam replied, "I'm Sam Andrew Becker!" in garbled toddlerese.

When I translated that his name is Sam, the man's face just lit up. He bent down to look Sam in the eye and told him that his name was Sam, too. (I later heard him marvel to his pals that he hadn't met too many kids named Sam...) They shook hands, gave each other a high five and he was on his way.

He seemed to take a few extra seconds to fill his cup and then turned back to us. This time, he bent down next to me and had tears in his eyes. He told me how lucky I was to have such a beautiful son and that he could just tell that we were going to have a wonderful life together.

Of course, I know this to be true, but it was so moving to have someone else phrase it that way. So often, people tell us that Sam is lucky to have been adopted by us. I suppose that could be true, but I know that it was Rob and I who received the real gift when he joined our family.