Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Regularly Scheduled Programming

I feel like I have turned into your favorite Dog-Mommy Blogger and am feeling a need to delve back into issues that don't involve vets and dogs! Although, you should know that there is nothing quite so pathetic as a Jack Russell that has been shaved. Annie's whole back end is bare, the cast is up to her hip and she is laying in her kennel in Eric's room howling pathetically at the injustice of it all.

The good news being, OF COURSE, that she is LAYING in ERIC's room HOWLING. Thank you ALL again for your support, generosity and kind words. We can never, ever repay you.

"Foster" Parenting is Hard. Parenting is "Easy".

Miss Tiny is sitting up on her own! All of a sudden my tiny little newborn is a BIG CHUNK of a baby. Sitting, playing, babbling, blowing raspberries, giggling and reaching for me every chance she gets. She was so delayed, and now is so caught up, ahead in fact. She is scooting on her tummy, rolling around the room and expressing her opinion on many matters.

Miss Curious is talking and talking and talking. She can walk up stairs now just like a "big kid" one foot at a time. She took her diaper off and sat on the potty chair yesterday. She will sit and "read" a book, pointing to familiar objects.

I love it I love every single snuggle, every single, sloppy, baby kiss, every high pitched squeal of MAMA.

I try to understand. I try to make sense of it all. Because I sit by the phone, hours blocked away, hoping for a phone call confirming a visit. The phone has not rung in weeks.

I cannot understand choosing to miss these moments because every single moment is precious. They are growing and changing so much in such a short period of time. I try to freeze these milestones and seconds, minutes and hours into my mind so that one day I can recall their scent and feel of their chubby thighs when they are absent.

I am not sure it is possible to understand the understandable. And I am not sure I was cut out for the "foster" part of foster parenting. Heart Break is the job description.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Your Dog's Knee

Is all fixed!

She is resting semi-comfortably in recovery.

Thank You all again!
And Again.

Leaving a Baby Behind

So today was the day. Right now is the moment. I am NOT one of those people who refer to the dogs as my "fur babies" because I have plenty of human ones to keep me busy. My pets are not my four legged kids. My dogs are PETS. You know, furry creatures you feed and cuddle but don't get overly attached to.

Or so I keep telling myself.

Because today, with a sick feeling in my stomach, I know Annie is in surgery and I sort of feel like I have left my baby at the doctor's office.

Eric carried Her Royal Highness into the vet clinic this morning.

She was weighed. A healthy 9 kilos, or almost 20 pounds. Miss Tiny outweighs her now! She has a bandage around her middle because yesterday they shaved her and put on a pain patch.

Then we waited, rather anxiously, for the vet to come in and explain the final parts of surgery to Eric and I. Annie will need six weeks of bed rest. Yes, a Jack Russell on BED REST. This should be just a blast. Her bandage will be stitched to her leg. Oh and by the way, that $1600 dollar quote? Doesn't include pain meds or follow up visits. Joy.

Dr. M (M is for Marvelous, not Mediocre we hope) took a crying, shaking Annie into the back room to sedate and we said goodbye until we pick her up tomorrow.
I am thankful we could do this, nervous for the pooch and proud of how well Eric handled the stress today. Last night? Not so fun. We will see how tonight goes.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Stuck in a Rut?

You know you are stuck in a rut when you buy yourself new shoes. Well, new "used" shoes from a thrift store anyways.

And when you get home you realize that your "new" pair of shoes is absolutely identical to a pair of shoes you bought yourself LAST year at another thrift store in another city.

I now have two identical pairs of "new/used" shoes. What does it say about me that my taste in shoes is SO bad that I can find the same shoes a year apart, in two different cities that both fit me. And I like them so much I bought them again and didn't even realize it?


I spilled coffee on my keyboard. Yep. And then it made funny noises and now it no longer works. Me and my kids' (now working) computer? Friendly!


$1352.41 Total amount raised on PayPal. THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU! My boys have raised the rest by selling excess hockey gear, working for the neighbours and hitting up their grandmother. We have the option of a vet a bit of a drive away that can do the surgery for less money, however he has no open slots for over two weeks. We will consult with him today to see if Annie can wait that long. Sadly, we don't think she can. IF however, he tells us she can wait for surgery without it causing too much damage, we will donate any leftover funds to our local SPCA. I hope that is acceptable to all of you. And I am still waiting for all those emails from readers asking for Trip-Pee to come for a visit. We would be SO happy to send him to you for a vacation! Annie goes to the vet this afternoon for a pain patch and surgery, if we can't wait, is set for tomorrow afternoon! THANK YOU!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Beat A Kie!!!

Actually its "Biteqash" but its pronounced BEAT A KIE and that is Chilcotin for Dipnet Fishing. It was an amazing day learning more about the customs and culture of my girls' people. And I got an A on my first test!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Full Disclosure

I figure since so many of you are now co-owners of our dog (THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU) I should probably fill you in on her quirks.

Because, yes, although she has been a Godsend for Eric she does have her, shall we say, excentricities. Those quirks include things that have caused our neighbours to swear, throw things at her and generally despise all things Jack Russell.

Actually, I am pretty sure I despise all things Jack Russell too. Do not get me wrong, I LOVE Annie, but they aren't exactly high on the list of "ideal pets for busy moms". And I have two.

Annie was a rescue dog. Coming to us via 2 previous families that both found her "quirks" too difficult to handle. She bit, growled and generally bossed around small children. She tried to eat the mail man. She scaled fences wtih the agility of a squirrel. She barked incessently when we were not home, and ate the inside of our vehicle when we took her with us.

Kennel? Oh kennel. Yes. Horrifying memories of trying to cage a dog who would not be caged. Lets simply say that every time a kennel came into view, her bowels would explode. She actually ate through a plastic kennel once, slicing her neck up in the process. The metal ones? Destroying that was child's play.

She has, with much work and some medication, turned into a great little dog. I mean, she will still try to eat you alive if you come to the front door unless you are family, and even then if you have a new haircut or are wearing a different coat than the one you left the house in, she reserves the right to bark loud enough to raise the dead, BUT she is a good little pup and much loved.

Then of course, we got Trip-Pee (aka the Bad Decision of 2009). Trip is free to a good home. Trip is free to a half decent home. Trip is simply FREE. Come get him. Be warned, he pees twice his body weight every day. Most of that indoors. His brain has atrophied from lack of use, and his only passion is BALL!BALL!BALL!BALL!BALL!BALL! I had hope with Annie that one day all that work would be worth it. With Trip-Pee? I just see 14 more years of paper towels and lysol wipes.

I talked to the vet today and scheduled Annie's surgery for Tuesday afternoon (THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU). I requested a two for one deal where we could do a brain transplant on one dog and fix the other's leg. Strangely, the vet declined. Let's just say, if Trip-Pee breaks a leg, I won't be announcing my grief publically.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Well Now ...

Miss Curious just came out of the bathroom chewing on a tampon. A CLEAN tampon at least. Reminds me of the time when we had friends' over for supper - PARTICULAR friends, if you know what I mean - and Caden came out of the bathroom with a tampon stuck up each nostril. Again, CLEAN tampons, although by the look on our friends faces, I am not sure that made it any better.

Both babes are teething, or sick, or both. According to the rather harried doctor that saw us yesterday, it is NOT the swine flu. And, ah, QUIT WORRYING. Apparently I come off as somewhat of an over protective mom. Miss Tiny, my little "failure to thrive" and "fragile underweight" baby is a total CHUB of a child now. Doubling her weight since her arrival here 4 months ago, she is now over twenty pounds and A-C-T-I-V-E. As in can hyperactivity BE diagnosed in a six month old? Lord help me. The speech therapist discharged Miss Curious when I told her that she now has over 50 words. Apparently 50 words in a 16 month old is NOT something to be concerned about. Again, that over protective mom vibe might be sending off some signals.

The hyperactivity might simply be part of living in our house? Can it be contagious? If you have ANY ideas on how to explain to a rather smart but single minded Jack Russell Terrier that she is on TOTAL BED REST until her surgery (THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU) I would LOVE to know. A frantic call to the vets' office today and a request for valium (for the dog, not me) was forthcoming. It looks like surgery is scheduled for Friday, or maybe early next week if the surgeon is unavailable. (THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU) The vet told me that they have also received calls of donations directly and we are overwhelmed.

All told, $1100 was raised through PayPal. I am not sure what is at the vet's office and someone let me know that they have sent me $100 directly. The vet has agreed to let us do a payment plan option for whatever is not covered. Annie will be walking around wrapped in bubble wrap for the next 10 years and I promise to cherish the gift you have given us, and teach my sons the same. (THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU).

I am particularly proud of Tanner who has plastered the neighbourhood with fliers. "12 YEAR OLD BOY TRYING TO RAISE MONEY FOR HIS DOG'S SURGERY. IF YOU HAVE YARD WORK PLEASE CALL ###-####". He has been put to work after school this week and is thrilled. That reminds me, I am also particularly proud of Greg who has done a bottle drive and offerred to sort all our recycling to collect that money for Annie as well. Eric is amazed at how STRANGERS and his BROTHERS love him and want to help HIS dog. This has been a very, very good thing, my continual tears aside.

There is nothing like walking around in a state of awe at the kindness of strangers. This has been a HARD year. A very, very hard year. In some ways it continues, and yet, despite the continual exercise in being humble and overwhelmed, I have learned SO MUCH . So much about accepting and gratitude and receiving. Its hard. I would so much rather be on the sending side of things and I cannot wait until I am. But for now I know this is a lesson I needed to learn.


Tuesday, September 22, 2009

No words

I thank you from the bottom of my heart. More importantly Eric thanks you. With a look of awe and tears in his eyes, he thanks you.

You have donated almost $900. I dont know how or why but you did. I cannot even begin to know how to say thank you.

I thank you, not for me, not even for Annie, but I thank you for Eric.

One day, I promise from the bottom of my heart, I will pay it forward. You have all taught my sons a lesson that is invaluable and I thank you.

Monday, September 21, 2009

I need a Vet

At some point last week Annie began to not put any weight on her leg. I waited a few days hoping she would get better but she hasn't. I held off taking her in because even the cost of the Vet Exam is not in the budget right now. What I didnt expect is that we would come out being told she needs surgery. Apparently in the course of running in the yard with Trip-Pee, she tore the ligaments in her leg. She has a cranial cruciate ligament rupture.

That's sounds scary, and it is. But worse, it's expensive. Sixteen hundred dollars worth of expensive. Our vet is saying there is no other way. She is completely restricted from any movement until surgery. The surgery estimate is at least $1600. That's ALOT of money at anytime. Its really a lot right now.

Annie is not my dog, Annie is Eric's dog. She is his therapy with 4 paws and I have done nothing today but cry over the possibility, or rather impossibility, I am faced with.

I am NOT asking for money, but I am asking if any of my readers are Vets. It would be much easier if you were in BC obviously, but I need to know if this surgery really is our only option. I need to know if there are cheaper alternatives, or if this is it.

I am not asking for me. I am not even asking for my bundle of fur, I am asking for my son because I cannot tell him this. I cannot fail him in this way. I just can't.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Who Has Time for Deep Thought

Miss Curious is quick. Q-U-I-C-K.

I am old and slow and tired. (or at least older, slower and taking less naps than she is)

Last time it was Rice Crispies. In case you wondered, a family size box of Cheerios is easier to clean up than a family size box of Rice Crispies.

Either way, our cereal bill has gone up.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Back To School

Can you spot which of my kids was somewhat less than thrilled to be going back to school?

Friday, September 18, 2009

Dear Editor: Thoughts on Racism

In response to this article about a despicable act of racism that happened to a family near us, I wrote this little piece and submitted it to our paper. Pass it on.

Dear Editor;

It was gratifying to read of the outrage of my neighbours and fellow citizens in the face of the racist slurs and violent attack against the King family in Forest Grove. I myself heard comments like “disgusting” or “how could they” or “I had no idea this could ever happen in this day and age”. Righteous indignation rising up against what was truly a despicable act of racism towards a family that happens to have African-Canadian members. Most certainly they deserve all our support!

As Canadians, we often consider ourselves beyond racism because overt acts of prejudice like this are rare but I honestly wonder how many of those same people who expressed horror at this attack have laughed at a “black” joke? Commented on “Chinese drivers”? Forwarded an email or two that attacks immigrants as not being Canadian enough? Ignore the woman passed out on the sidewalk and justify it to themselves that it’s “Just a drunk Indian”?

I want to challenge my fellow community members that were horrified by this overt act to take a stand as well against the little acts of prejudice that happen around us every day. Do you know that your teenager calls his friends “Nigga” on Facebook? Do you let your child imitate an Indo-Canadian neighbours’ accent? Do you stop jokes, or sweeping generalizations about our friends and neighbours when you hear them? Do you stop yourself from making assumptions about the people you see at the park or at the mall?

It’s not ok to steal a little, or drink and drive a little and it is not ok to be “racist a little”. ALL prejudice and ALL racism hurts, and sometimes the little things hurt more because they are not acknowledged by the community.

Some will say that their prejudice, comments or jokes are justified because a certain group is prejudiced against them. My response? Be responsible for your own house! There is never an excuse to do something wrong just because someone else is doing it too. My children deserve better and so do yours, no matter the color of their skin, their language of birth or the composition of their family.

If you are not part of the solution on ENDING racism you are part of the problem. I want to be part of the solution so that we are just as horrified by the racist jokes as we are by the spray painted home.


Monday, September 14, 2009

Nature Vs. Nurture

Greg and his full biological little sister. Look alike much?

I suppose we could debate endlessly about whether Nurture or Nature is more influential in the lives of adopted children. To be honest, I don't really CARE which is more important because together they make the unique mixture that are my kids. There are HOWEVER certain things about raising children I did not give birth to that will never cease to amaze and surprise me.
I come from a family of chocoholics. Loving chocolate is so ingrained in our psyche I could not imagine a family gathering, dinner, dessert, treat or DAY without it. Greg and Eric prefer VANILLA. Vanilla pudding, vanilla yogurt, vanilla ice cream. In fact, not only do they PREFER Vanilla, they really don't even really LIKE chocolate. I find this hard to even fathom and tried for many years to convince them they were wrong. Indoctrination on the wonders of chocolate have not worked. In my cupboards there are VANILLA flavored items. My poor, poor grandmother who worked for a chocolate company for years, feeding my addiction, was shielded from this travesty of good taste. I suppose maybe its a secret plan that this way the boys dont have to share with the rest of the family?
Greg and Eric like GRAPE JELLY. A slimy, congealed, disgusting excuse for jam. GRAPE JELLY. YUCK! Not sure if this one is nature or nurture though as I am good naturedly blaming their former foster mom for that exposure. I tried for several years to convince them of the wonders of Raspberry Jam or Strawberry Preserves. I almost succeeded during those tween years. But now? If I expect them to help me schlep in the groceries, I have to concede and buy them some of the things they want. Grape Jelly also lives in my cupboard next to that disgusting Vanilla Pudding.
Where I KNOW nurture wins out is in their obsession with hockey. Obviously they get their athletic ability from their biological parents, particularly their sports obsessed father, but hockey? That's all us. Would they have been obsessed with another sport if they were not part of our family? Probably. Given the chance, Greg would have loved to play football. However, it is wonderful to see talents and skills naturally given to them find a venue where they can thrive and excel. And the wallet paying for it? ALLLLLLL nurture.
School? That's a mix. One does well in school with no struggles what so ever. Their biological father is a smart, smart man but quit school earlier than I thought was possible to quit. The "go to school, work hard, get an education" drilled into them is definitely nurture, the smarts to do it? Nature. On the other hand, one has to work VERY hard in school and needs some supports. Those needs are apparent in many members of his first family, but the supports were never provided to them, making the school battle often too difficult to win. So, educational needs? Nature. Ensuring those educational supports are given? Nurture
There are certain foods and tastes and are also obviously nurture, or more probably, cultural. When the boys' birth father sent us a list of his favorite foods, the boys had only ever eaten one item on the list (fried chicken). Stir frys and salads, salmon and rice are much more a part of our daily fare than collard greens and grits or biscuits and gravy.
The boys joined our family ten years ago this week as little people. Pre-schoolers with pre-formed likes and dislikes that we had to work to get to know. Until really getting to know their biological family, it was difficult to know what was from their foster parents, what was from their experiences in their first family, what was coming from us and what was there genetically. NOW we have this experience with two babies that are developing tastes and interests day by day.
The girls LOVE salmon. As in LOVE salmon. Miss Tiny is just starting to eat strained baby foods (apple sauce and pureed pears), but last night managed to down an entire fillet of baked sockeye salmon - screaming for more between each bite. This is the traditional staple food of her people. Is it a genetic, primal, cellular taste for a food that has been eaten for thousands of years by her family? It sure seemed like it to me. That would be NATURE at work.
Their disdain for little girls and deep affection for all things teenage boy? I would say that's nurture. The fact that Miss Curious can say ZAMBONI? Definitely Nurture.
I cherish the wonder of raising kids with unexpected likes, dislikes and talents. No need to fit the mold of me and mine. Although seriously!!?? VANILLA?? yuck!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Chilcotin Lesson Part One

Well Chilcotin is a TONAL language full of 47 consonants and 6 vowels. FORTY SEVEN CONSONANTS of which very few actually sound like anything you would say in English. Lots of tongue clicking and mouth blowing and generally trying to manipulate my teeth, tongue and lips in ways they have never moved before.

The class is full of FLUENT Chilcotin speakers, many of whom this language is their FIRST spoken language and they are taking the class to increase their reading and writing skills. Its an interesting skill to read a language with English letters (some extras) that make completely different sounds. Its more interesting when you know nothing of the language and are not used to hearing it or speaking it.

My goal at the end of this course is to be able to put together a dictionary of common terms and phrases for other foster parents, or non Chilcotin speaking adoptive or biological parents could use to teach young (pre-school age) children some common words or phrases.

So, dear readers, consider this your first lesson in Chilcotin Language. You have to imagine the sounds because there are many sounds for which there is absolutely NO POSSIBLE WAY to write it in English but I will do my best. Punctuation in the middle of the word usually means a pause and hard sound. ? means the same.

Tsa - Beaver (pronounced SAH with a slight T sound at the beginning of the word)

Seta - Father Se?aba: Daddy (pronounced Seh PAUSE Aba)
Seban - Mother Se?Inkwel: Mommy

Tsaguy - Hat (saw-gooey)

Ha?anh - Yes! (Ha PAUSE ah)

The focus of today's lesson was on fish (lhuy pronounced h-looey with some nasal sounds thrown in for good measure) and fishing. My spelling list for next week includes these words. Lord help me!

?ek'un: Roe / Eggs

Benagh: Fish eyes

?eteqash: Dip Netting (e/te/ki)

biteqash: Dip Net (be-ti-ki)

gnedelh: fish coming (ha-deln)

xalwig (with a cap over the w and a line through the i): fish jumping (hall-wick)

?et'elhjinsh: fishing with a rod (e/tell/gee sorta kinda lots of tongue sounds I cant ever say)

sex: Fishing with a gaffe hook (sahh)

betl'es: Slime on a fish.

ts'eman: sockey salmon

Jas: Spring Chinook salmon

Jens: hook (pronounced Juss)

yatu - ocean

biny: lake (been)

It was assumed, I found out, that my husband must be a "Nenqayni" (Nen-Ki-Nee) or First Nations Person if I was taking the class, and many were surprised to find out I was there for my kids. But all were welcoming and I had the opportunity to sing and drum with my new friends, embarrass myself thoroughly by completely tripping over my tongue repeatedly, and learn many new things.

Next class we are going dip net fishing in Farwell Canyon. This is a traditional activity that my girls' family does still to harvest fish for the winter. It is also something I have never experienced, would never ever be able to before and now will be able to share stories of first hand with my kids. Except for the fact I am pretty sure its not quite legal for me, as a white chick, to be dip net fishing, it should be alot of fun! I will be sure to let you know if I get arrested.

The Things We Do

There are many things transracial parents do for their kids. We might pull out "ethnic" art like I have done in the picture above in the girls' bedroom. Instead of pictures of Barbi or Poo Bear, I framed pictures from a Native Artist and bought dream catchers.
We might change the tone of our holiday celebrations, where we spend our vacation times, or where we worship.
All those things are a step ahead of simply dressing our kids in their "national costume" once a year, or worse, pretending that race, culture and nationality don't matter and we can be a happy multi-racial family without ever examining what that means.
I do not just consider myself a white mom of black or brown kids, I consider MYSELF now part of a minority family. It is MY responsibility, and mine alone, to make sure that our home is a sanctuary from the pervasive cultural messages my children will receive outside our front doors that White is Better. It means I never put my black child in a tshirt with a white super hero on the front. It means I have consciously put myself into situations where I would be the minority so my child could be the majority sometimes. It means I address and discuss difficult and uncomfortable racial realities with my children long before I want to. It means I bring my children to hear the voices and stories of those like them, knowing that no matter how much I want to, I can never truly understand their experience as young,black men.
Somethings are easy. I made conscious decisions about the books I buy, the music I listen to, the history I teach, the art on my walls in order that if reflects the diversity of our family and lays the foundation for the kids so that they are confident in the history of their people, their place in this world and that their sense of self as a minority person is not erased by having white parents.
Obviously as they grow up this becomes their own doing, but I know that they have learned the rich history of the African American experience. They know black inventors, musicians, artists, scholars, warriors, politicians and pastors as children while it was my responsibility to lay that foundation.
And now we are a tri-racial family. I have always thought that it would be very difficult to adequately support more than one culture in a home. My efforts have always been vested into the African American and African Canadian experience. My girls are Chilcotin . A history as difficult, as rich, as amazing and as tragic as any I have ever studied before.
I know I am not their adoptive parent, but I AM parenting them. My girls deserve all the dedication, respect and honor that the boys have received. And so today I take a huge step and start a university level language course in Chilcotin. Considered a language at risk, only 1200 people speak it today. But those 1200 people are my girls' people. Their grandparents and aunts, uncles and cousins. They lose so much by being away, they don't need to lose their language as well. So I will try, hard, to learn what I can and then pass that on to them.
I am terrified.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Not So Smart Teenagers

Dear Teenagers,
If you are in the kitchen singing along to your IPOD and the words you are singing include the phrase "She's a Sexy Girl" and your mother asks to see the song you are listening to, and by the time you bring it to her, the song playing is titled "I Walk The Way of Jesus" your mother might figure out that you changed the song.
Denying this is futile. I love my new IPOD. Thanks.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Run For Your Lives!

The end is nigh.

Miss Curious, sixteen month old wonder child, just got HERSELF out of her playpen.

It is possible I will never shower again.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Back in the Swing of Things

So I took pictures of the boys on their first day of school that I would LOVE to show you.

Miss Curious ate. ATE. part of my SD Card Reader.

Or she fed it to the dog? I am not really sure. Either way, pictures are on my camera. The cord? The cord was lost a long, long time ago. And this is the cheap, little camera mind you, because I think I mentioned that Eric dropped my expensive, wonderful and beautiful camera in the creek back in August. So I am down to a cheap little digital camera without a cord and no card reader.

You know, if I didn't have kids or dogs, my house would be in one piece. If my husband didn't touch anything that is. Did I mention he downloaded a virus onto our second computer, which is now the square dust collector in the corner?

Four kids, a job seeking husband and I all fighting for one computer? Guess who is winning.

Yes it would be the job seeking husband. The progressively more stressed out job seeking husband. If you pray, please keep it up. You can only apply for so many jobs without hearing back before you get depressed and very, very scared. I think we are there.

Speaking of scared, so were my sons today. Did you remember how confusing those combination locks are? Two to the right, one to the left and then BACK to the right? Try and tell that to a nervous, stressed, over tired 13 year old who has memory problems. Then I had to tell him he had to take the tape off the back that had the number on it.

Sort of defeats the purpose, don't you think?

Speaking of defeat (Its a night of segues!) Trip is defeating my last ounce of patience. For those that follow my Facebook Saga Status Updates, I am not ready to give up yet. For those that don't, HE PEED ON MY PHOTO ALBUM. Not just ANY photo album though, he peed on JAZZY'S memory album. Other than my grandmother's rocking chair, I probably don't have anything more precious in my possession. He pee'd on it.

There is no way to add anything productive to THAT story.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

And Your World Stops

I was asked to be a beta tester on a new Cancer Support site (I will tell you about it more later) and to share my story. Here is the little article I wrote about my experience with diagnosis.

And Your World Stops - Cancer. ME?
by Jensboys

Spring Break 2009. Life was normal. Our old normal anyways. I am not sure I will ever forget that week. My husband and I took our four sons to a hockey tournament our oldest was playing in. My sister, her sons, my mother, our two dogs all crammed into a couple of hotel rooms. Silliness, jokes, long walks on a beach between games.

When the tournament was over we returned to my sister’s home, over tired and with lots of laundry, we were surprised by the unexpected visit of my dad. He took my sister and I out for supper, alone. The first time in the entire 15 years I had been married that I was alone with my sister and my father. We ate and laughed and shared crazy stories about our sons, my father’s beloved grandchildren. As we drove away from the restaurant my dad pulled over, and with tears in his eyes told us he had been diagnosed with terminal colon cancer in his liver. 9 months. N-I-N-E months.

We hugged, we sobbed. We questioned. We recoiled in horror. We had to tell our husbands, our children. My dad, my precious, young father with CANCER? I could not, I cannot imagine life without him.

That was a Friday, and the next Wednesday I dragged my emotional, exhausted self into the hospital for the final stage of kidney donation testing. Many months before I had begun the process to donate my kidney to my cousin. I explained the situation to the surgeons, social workers and nurses sent to examine me. I told them about my dad and his cancer. I said I didnt know if I could still proceed with the donation process, but I did want to finish the testing. They agreed to proceed and I had a CT Scan and a Nuclear Renalgram the next day.

My family and I left my sister’s home exactly one week after hearing about my father’s cancer. Its a long drive with 4 kids, over six hours and there was so much to process, so many tears to shed. The next day my beloved grandmother, my support, my friend, the rock of my world, died.

In one week I had heard I would be probably losing my father within the year, and lost the woman who had been my biggest support and cheer leader. I shattered. Sobbing, I held my husband and said I could handle no more. No more. My world was falling apart.

I returned to my sister’s home alone, leaving my 4 sons with my husband. We were responsible for planning my grandmother’s funeral and the executors of her will. There were 10,000 details to plan. Pictures for the video, music to be selected, family to call, eulogies to write. It was overwhelming and sad. Clinging to each other, my sister and I relied on each other in a way only sisters can.

Donating my kidney was far from my mind in the midst of this trauma and loss. Grief and fear were consuming my thoughts. Thursday morning, as my sister and I drove to the lawyer’s office my surgeon called and left a message on my cell phone. I listed to the voice mail as we pulled into the parking lot. It was urgent, he needed to speak with me immediately. I returned his call.

My sister frantically called our mother as she listened to my half of the phone call. Tumor in my kidney. Cancer. Come into the hospital as soon as possible.

I slid into shock. There I sat in the lawyer’s office signing documents for the death of my grandmother. My dad was dying and I had cancer. CANCER. Me? Only a week before that same surgeon had said I was in “ideal health” and a “perfect donor”.

Between signing papers as the lawyer ran out of the room to make photocopies I called my husband. I called my dad. I called a friend. Unemotional, calm, and totally in shock.
My husband left work, grabbed our sons from school and made the 6 hour drive in 5. I really could not even talk about it, and I certainly could not process it.

8 am Friday morning my husband and I entered the hospital doors. We ran into the surgeon in the elevator. You know its not good when they don’t make eye contact and although agknowledging us, he never once smiled. My palms dripped with sweat as I clung to my husband’s hand.

I sat in that office chair, where I had sat only a week before as the “Healthy Donor”. I sat there as the patient. The patient with cancer. My CT image on the screen over his shoulder he explained that the tests had discovered a tumor on my left kidney. A small tumor, but cancer none the less.

“Renal Cell Carcinoma”. I am not sure I had ever heard those words before, but they became ingrained in my mind at that moment. I don’t remember much except that the doctor kept saying he was sorry. Sorry it was there, sorry I was dealing with this, so, so sorry.

There are no real treatment options for RCC other than surgery, or so I was told. We left that office with the knowledge that I would be shortly scheduled for surgery.

The next day I buried my grandma. The next day I read her eulogy. The next day I told my extended family I too had cancer. Too raw to really feel, I ached to connect with this act of saying goodbye to a woman I would miss every day the rest of my life, well at the same time fearing for my own death with every breath.

There is no greater horror I have experienced as a parent than I did the day I sat my sons down to tell them that I too had cancer. The same 14 year old who had just been told his grandfather was seriously ill, the same 13 year old who was scared beyond belief at the changes happening around him, the same 11 year old who had held his dying great grandmother’s hand to tell her he loved her, and my precious 8 year old who wiped my tears as his own fell into his lap. My sons, eyes filled with fear, being told that their mother had cancer too.

We made it sound like it was slightly more serious than your common cold. “Mommy will be fine”. “Mommy will be fine”. “Mommy WILL be fine”. But kids know what cancer means. The Terry Fox run they participate in every year has taught them enough. People with cancer are sick. People with cancer die. And truly a part of me died that day along with their innocence that parents live forever and really bad things never happen to us.

My tumor came out on May 11. Stage 1 Grade 2 RCC. I am extremely lucky. An asymptomatic cancer was in me, a 35 year old woman with absolutely no risk factors. I would have never, ever, ever known until it was too late except for the fact I decided to try to donate my kidney. That act to safe another, saved my own life.

Life has gone on. One week after getting home from the hospital we very unexpectedly added two baby girls to our family, then aged 2 months and 12 months. 6 kids have forced me to keep on, to heal, to move forward and to leave the kidney cancer behind me.

My dad responded beyond our wildest dreams to the chemo offerred to him. His doctor suddenly is talking in years versus months.

I have a 90% chance of being alive in 5 years, maybe more if you factor in my age and health. And still, late at night, or with every new ache I wonder. Growing old is no longer my right, I realize, but hopefully, God willing, it will be my privilege.

Thanks for reading,

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Call Me Crazy

I have admitted defeat. This animal will never, ever not pee in the house.

This is how my day started:

Remember Trip? I might have mentioned him before. And before. And maybe possibly before.

You can't say I didn't warn you.

Last night an accommodating, non-blog reading overnight guest invited Trippy to sleep with him.

Right around 11:30 pm Trip decided to relieve his bladder.

Did the dog whine at the door?

Did he jump off the bed?

Did he even move away from our guests body?


And our guest? He slept in it rather than wake us up.

After apologizing profusely, our gracious guest brought me his laundry, washed himself off and left rapidly saying an "unexpected trip had come his way". No pun intended.

Do you want to know how my afternoon went?

Miss Curious took a long, long nap. Longer than usual. At least that is what we assumed she was doing. Napping that is.

She wasn't. Pants off. Diaper off. Two hours of play time? You can only imagine the mess.

Really cleaning up dog pee off the guest's laundry wasn't all that bad.
Desperate times call for desperate measures and she is DEFINITELY smarter than me.

Oh and my evening? You would like to know how my evening went?
Tonight we are sorting out new school supplies. New pencils, crayons and markers to bring tears of joy to a tired mother's eyes.

What I forgot to mention to the boys? PUT UP THEIR OLD SUPPLIES.

Take your hand off your direct dial line to Child Protective Services. That is marker, not blood. She thinks she is so funny.