MRI Update

Just a quick post to let everyone know what little I found out at the oncologist on Monday. Right now it looks as though I will need another six week round of radiation. The good news is (was there good news?) that the doctor has said that I can put off starting the treatment until just after the holidays. That is good not just because the holidays would be hard if I was feeling awful from the treatment, but also because to get the radiation the girls and I are going to have to move to Iowa City (more than three hours away) for the six weeks.

There is still a lot we don’t know yet and I will update this as soon as I know any more.

Thanks to everyone for their good wishes. It means the world to me.

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Emily turns four!

Even as I write these words I can’t imagine that I have a child that is four years old. How could that possibly be? It is only made worse by the fact that Claudia looks so much like Emily did at 18 months and so I seem to be reliving Emily’s babyhood at the same time that she is growing in to a school-age child in front of me.

On Sunday, the 30th, we got together with Eric’s family for birthday party number one. Emily decided on an Eloise themed cake from a bakery for the event. Here she is looking longingly at the piece she picked out: Eloises face from the very center of the cake. Of course, why not that piece?

For some reason Blogger won’t let me put the one of her sticking her face into the cake to eat it, so you’ll just have to imagine that.

After we ate she opened gifts. Slippers are nice.


Birthday cards are… confusing? Painful? Personal attacks?


On Emily’s actual birthday, she opened the gifts from Eric, Claudia, and me. This was a small, understated affair that consisted of her taking possession of her own store, which she has lusted over for more than a year, since we went to the Omaha Children’s Museum.

She also received some dolls and doll clothes, which were also a big hit even though it sometimes seems as if every vertical surface in our home is covered in dolls and their gear. Because what every house full of real baby crap needs is a bunch of pretend baby crap.


On Saturday, Emily finally had her first “friends” birthday party after having to postpone it a week due to illness. There was nothing understated about this affair. It was a “Tea at the Plaza with Eloise” extravaganza. And, I think Eric put it best when he said, “Well, this is a real manly man party.”

The girls began with a scavenger hunt for boxes containing different dress up items. Once they collected them all, the girls gathered at a large, tulle covered mirror to dress for the tea party.



The glint of the sun off the mock-rhinestone jewelry was blinding.

Once dressed, the girls enjoyed a spot of tea.

Next came the gift opening. I have never given a child’s party before and I must say that we had a stroke of good luck here. When it came time to open the gifts, the party girls were looking a little ticked off that Emily planned on keeping what they had brought for her, so we decided that it was a fine time to hand out the goodie bags, which in this case were pink hat boxes filled with little china tea sets and other treasures for the girls to take home. Emily got to open her gifts and the guests got to open their. Everyone was happy.



Lastly, each girl got to decorate her own five-inch cake. The results of all the piped frosting, colored sugar, and sprinkles mounded on top of the small cakes was more than a little nauseating for the adults present. All the girls got to eat one slice of their cake and then the rest was sent home with them in a bakery box with personalized label and tied with a ribbon. Well, all the girls except Emily had one slice. Emily dumped her frosting and sugar into a mountain on her cake and then dug into the center with a fork.
Is it just me or is there a theme of bad cake manners here?

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A blog AND a digital camera? God help us all!

For my birthday I got a digital camera and so I have been documenting everything in our lives since then. While it isn’t what I would call an exciting life, it is a full one.

This week:


A) We all continued to be sick and grumpy, but there were moments of comforting kindness to be found here and there.


B) Emily and Claudia rediscovered the joy of suckers. Sadly, Emily has yet to master the precise art of headband wearing, which drives me crazy.


C) Claudia continued to enjoy the freedom of being able to feed herself. These pictures are from two separate meals but on the same day.


D) We took in my nephew Ryan’s elementary school football game with our dear friend, Evie. I am not just “not a fan” of sports; I loathe sports. But I do get a kick out of all of the ten year-olds out there in their giant pads.

E) And, lastly, Thursday night we took part in the Belmond Fire Department Open House by riding around town on top of a fire truck in the 20-something degree weather. This is life on the edge in a small town, hanging perilously off an engine cruising down Main Street in the dark.

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Heathen…uh, heaven help me


I don’t know about anyone else but I had very specific ideas of what my kids would be like, or at least what the first one would be like. It would be a girl, like me (sure enough.) That girl would have dark brown curly hair like I did (Curls? Yes. Brown hair? Not so much.) This is not to say that I am so great, just familiar. And, she would be very into musicals, especially “Annie.”

When I was a kid I was obsessed with “Annie.” I would play the soundtracks to both the Broadway version and the 1982 movie version over and over again on my little portable record player, when I wasn’t mooning over Shaun Cassidy, that is. I knew all of the songs by heart, and due to a trip to see the traveling version as part of Barbara Marland’s birthday party, I felt pretty secure in much of the choreography as well.

Anyway, this obsession shaped a pretty big chunk of my childhood and spawned my later obsession with being adopted (which was a stroke of good luck when I found out at 10 that I was adopted in real life) and orphans (which was a little ironic when I became one for the second time at 17.)

I always imagined that I would have a little girl that would wear deep ridges into those same albums and Emily is as obsessed as I ever was, although videotapes have taken the place of the records. She has memorized both the 1982 version and a newer made-for-TV one by Disney. Here’s where the irony comes in again: when I say memorized, I mean that she has seen them each enough to “know” the songs, although her idea of “knowing” the songs and my idea of “knowing” the songs couldn’t be further apart.

When I tell you that I know the songs to this particular musical, I don’t mean that I know them in the way that people know every song on the radio. I don’t mean that I can sing the chorus really loudly and them hum and mumble though the rest of the song. I know these songs like they were written on my soul. I have listened to them hundreds, if not thousands, of times.

I have imagined what it would be like to be a depression-era orphan plucked from heartbreaking poverty into unimaginable riches. I have pinned my childhood dreams on playing Annie on Broadway only to wake up at eight years old and realize I am 5’10” and could never play a ten-year-old orphan. Never mind that I could hardly sing and couldn’t dance or act.

This is not the way that Emily knows these songs. Emily knows these songs at the top of her lungs, but just one line of any given song, and she does not actually KNOW even that lines worth of words.

For instance, there is a song called, “Easy Street.” It is the song sung by “the bad guys,” Ms. Hannigan, the mean orphanage manager, her good-for-nothing, criminal brother, Rooster, and Rooster’s dim-witted girlfriend, Lily. The song is about how they can’t catch the big break they imagine the wealthy have all gotten and it is during this song that they hatch their plan to swindle Daddy Warbucks out of $50,000.

In Emily’s version, it is “Heathen Street.” I must admit that I like the idea of a heathen street and I briefly had fun trying to rewrite the lyrics in my head to fit her title, but as funny as I found the idea initially, no song is cute after 1,000 times and with the lyrics butchered.

This has all left me searching deep within myself, wondering… worrying really, about what other things I may have imagined and wished for when I was pregnant with her. What other fantasies of mine have been twisted into her in order to drive me insane? The late seventies and early eighties were a pop culture torture goldmine.

Shaun Cassidy anyone?

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