Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Girl Time

With C and P both in school full time since September...this Fall has been (and I feel a little guilty saying this) refreshing with just us girls. K goes to school all day Tuesday and Thursday but we have Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings for playdates, zoo trips, picnics etc. Of course I have to try and do 700 loads of laundry and near constant cleaning to keep the house habitable and P has had at least one medical appt. in Manhattan a week...but truly I've spent more time with K and M than I did all summer when my attention was divided by four.

Of a mom of many...I feel embarrassed to admit that . I feel like people with fewer children might make the judgement that I can't possibly give all of them the attention they need. I do feel like they all deserve as much attention as C got as a baby when he was the one and only... but I'm happy that he has siblings and I love having four kids. My goal is to spend some meaningful time with each of them every day.

I digress...our schedule last year really didn't allow much time for K to have playdates. In the past couple of weeks we've met up with some of her new friends from school and had such a NICE time. It is heartening to see how much she has grown, the conversations she can have, the way she can share and play creatively. We've made multiple trips to the zoo and it never gets boring. K has developed a love of snakes and owls. She noted that the meerkats stand up "like we do" yesterday. K is developing into quite a fun little person and I like hanging out with her.

I can't say that M has a favorite animal yet but she is happy to come along for the ride wherever we go. She mostly loves it when I get down on the floor with her and watch whatever she does adoringly.

Sunday, October 26, 2008


We had a pumpkin carving party today. I don't have alot of confidence in my party-giving skills. I know that it always turns out fine and the kids always have an awesome time...but parties do not come easily to me. I worry about all sorts of silly details and stress about things that are out of my control. I decided to bite the bullet though and I'm SO glad that I did. The kids really wanted a Halloween party and this was like a pre-Halloween party. The weather was and sunny so we did the carving in the backyard. We invited neighbors and their children school freinds. Almost everyone we invited came and we had 18 kids (including our own) and a bunch of adults. Everyone brought their own pumpkins and most gave carving a try. We had tons of treats and cupcakes. We even roasted the pumpkin per the instructions that P had brought home from his botanical garden class. We made cinnamon pumpkin seeds and salted ones. I think the salted ones were the most popular. A fun time was had by all and it is nice to get to know our neighbors. The effort was well worth it. I know I'll be nervous again though...when it is time for another party.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Sisters, Botanical Garden and Mema!

I bought this outfit for M last year shortly after I found out that she would be a girl! I couldn't resist it even though I was months from meeting my new baby. It is somehow hard for me to believe that she is here and wearing it now.

K could not be more adorable with M. She talks to her, plays with her and asks to hold her all the time. She does try to boss her around once in awhile ...but she gives up when M just rolls over and smiles at her. I must admit that we were a bit fearful of what K's response would be to her new sister but the first year is going pretty smoothly. K is more independent, adaptable and easy-going than she was before M got here. I can't believe how articulate she is becoming although I can't think of a good example of it right now. She does seem to have a strange obsession with lip gloss and is now begging for something scary called the "spa factory" where you can make your own lip gloss. She's not even 4 yet! She leans in and whispers...."I really want the special oils...Mom." She also LOVES the zoo and Botanical Garden which is great because I love those places too.

Mema is visiting for the weekend and we celebrated her birthday (belated) with an apple crumble...that I made from apples from my parents' apple tree. The kids ALWAYS love a birthday party and Mema seemed to enjoy it too.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Fun-Loving Dad

Mark is an amazing husband and father. He is a true partner in caring for the kids...feeding, dressing, bathing, taking to school, homework, reading...picking up from late afternoon classes. He is having a great time as a first-time soccer coach this Fall and the pic was taken after the games on Saturday.

Tonight he came home and cooked quesadillas for dinner because I hadn't gotten to it yet. I was so tired from a full day of appointments, shopping, playing, picking up...lots of subway rides, nursing M, homework, tidying...etc. etc. etc. He does a better job at quesadillas than I do anyway.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Brave Girl!

I took the kids to get flu shots yesterday. We don't usually get flu shots but it is now being recommended for all children age 6 months to 18 years. I've heard some sad stories of children getting very, very sick with the common off we went after school. C, K and M were all on the schedule but P will get it next week at his oncologist office.

We walk in and all heads turn. This is a common occurrence. The kids run in and start playing with all the toys at once. The other kids (mostly toddlers) look stunned and possibly frightened at the circus that has just arrived.

Luckily...we did not have to wait long and are called to the very farthest back room. The nurse is also surprised to see our crowd but she takes it in stride and goes to get the syringes. P is the first to see them and pronounces that the needles "are pretty small". He's got lots of experience with needles. I've already told C that I want him to go first so his sisters can see that it isn't that bad. He's looking a bit nervous. All the sudden, he kindof dashes out of the way and says...I don't want to do it. There is a moment of silence and little sister K (age 3.75) says "I'll do it" and she puts her arm out. She gets the shot and says "Ow" and that is it. No crying. Charlie stepped right up after that and even M only whimpered for about 3 seconds. Not too bad at all! It was harder getting everyone to put their jackets back on, stop playing and fighting and leave the office in an orderly fashion.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

A great night for our family!

Tonight was the Leukemia and Lyphoma Society's "Light the Night" walk in Manhattan. Our team raised $1,800 for the cause, got to wear special t-shirts and decorate a banner. P actually wanted to call us the "Leukemia Chargers" but we stuck with the same name as last year. It was a beautiful night...the rain didn't happen and it was windy and cool. The kids loved walking on the Brooklyn Bridge. We all got balloons with lights on the for supporters and P got a white one for being a survivor. People that were walking in memory of someone who died from blood cancer got gold balloons. It is always hard to see all the gold balloons. It was a good night for our family. I'm too tired to write more.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Yom Kippur and Retail Therapy

Today was Yom Kippur and the children had the day off from school. It has been a LONG WEEK. P being sick has meant that we have been either in the house or at medical offices since last Saturday. P is finally better and the day was beautiful. Unfortunately, I woke up with the cold/virus that Patrick had been fighting all week. being sick doesn't make much difference to the kids. They all wanted to do something different. P wanted to go to the playground. K wanted to go to the Aquarium but would agree to a Zoo trip. C REALLY WANTED to make Halloween cookies. We told him that we had been in all week and really wanted to go out. C responded that he'd been OUT all week and really wanted to stay home.

We collectively decided to make the cookies, go to the zoo, have a picnic and then come back and frost the cookies. Yay! A consensus.

They had a great time rolling out the cookies and cutting them into ghosts, witches, pumpkins and cats. I made a quick half picnic and we agreed to buy some bagels on the way. We stopped off at the Lefferts Historic House and M rolled around on the carpet there (see photo). C, P and K all had a great time too. The weather was beautiful but being kinda sick definitely added to the usual difficulty of herding the crew around.

We were all exhausted when we got home. We did homework, took naps, cleaned up, frosted cookies, cleaned up some more and Mark came home early.

I was excited to go to Manhattan to "check-in" early for the "Light the Night" walk for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Well..I wasn't really excited for the "check-in" but for the chance to escape and be ALONE. Riding the subway ALONE, walking down the street ALONE, shopping at Target (on the way home) ALONE.

Target was shockingly crowded! I have never seen it like that but I was assured by the other customers that it was normal for a weekday evening. I got some baby food, socks, wipes and candy corn and returned home tired, still sick but more relaxed.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Medical Monday.

The good news...P had his final IV chemotherapy today. 3 years, countless blood counts, examinations, weigh-ins, up and downs, spinal taps and prayers. We are getting close to the end of treatment. November 3rd is the final day of oral chemotherapy. A final bone marrow aspiration and then removal of his mediport and he will be DONE ...except for check ups.

The bad news...he is sick and his ANC (immunity count) is dropping. He got more IV antibiotics today and will need more tomorrow if his fever isn't gone. He just has a regular kid illness but his immuno-suppressed body can't handle it the way other kids can. He is staying home tomorrow and has requested a Star Wars movie marathon.

M was an angel at the Hassenfeld Center and charmed everyone she met. K was very happy to see us when we picked her up from school. I was very glad that she was able to go to school instead of coming to Manhattan with us.

I know it is cheesy but I can't help but dress my kids in matching least for now...while they are too young to mind. P seemed perkier at bedtime but his fever was still 101.5. I'm thinking cool thoughts.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

I made pot roast.

I think that I am a good cook. I usually have success in whatever I try to cook. I don't really LIKE to cook though so I usually stick to the same things. The last time I made something new...the kids all cried at the sight of it. It was my mother-in-law's Beef Stroganoff and Mark and I thought it was quite tasty. Anyway...slaving away in the kitchen and then having your children cry at the sight of your creation is not encouraging.

Mark had been requesting pot roast for awhile...and today I finally made us one. It wasn't hard at all and it was delicious. K initially cried at the sight of it and said "I don't want any of that black thing" but we coaxed her into trying a bite and she said "yum, yum, I like it!". The boys loved it too. Yay...something new that we all like. The children agreed that we should have pot roast more often.

Thanks to my friend Christy for suggesting the recipe and to Meghan and Shannon for confirming that it was a great recipe.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

A Beautiful Fall Day

We had lots of fun plans for games, picnic, our neighborhood ArtMart (an art fair) and nursery school tag sale.

P woke up with a fever and his oncology team advised us to take him to the ER. P and I took the subway to lower Manhattan and then, because of train repairs, a cab to NYU Medical Center. We went to the pediatric floor first to get his mediport accessed and blood drawn. That part went fine. They gave us the blood vials and said to bring it down to the ER where we would register, send in the blood and he'd either get some IV antibiotics and be sent home or be admitted depending on his blood count results. Our nurse was, at first, unwilling to accept the blood that had been drawn in pediatrics. I told her that our oncologist had advised us to do it this way because the ER staff usually don't want to access mediports. The blood came back fine. Yay! Our nurse didn't want to administer the antibiotics through P's accessed mediport. We consulted with the Dr. who advised the nurse to do as I had said. Next the nurse didn't want to de-access the mediport and I advised her that she or someone else would need to do it before we could go home. Again...Dr. asked me how much heparin she should use to flush it. Yikes!

P was very tired and not feeling great but he was entertained by the Iphone and looking at a toy catalog that I brought along. Seriously...he is the best patient ever.

After 4 hours in the hospital...we were released and went to have a snack while waiting for Mark and the girls to pick us up. Big brother C stayed in Brooklyn to finish his soccer game and go home with friends.

I had never left M for so long during the day and my "milkmakers" were definitely missing her.

We finished the beautiful Fall day by picking up some Chinese food for dinner on the way home.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Taking the bunch to Manhattan.

It was SO nice having Mark to help me carry "Big Pink" (my stroller) down the subway stairs. We made the trip to have our photo taken by a fabulous volunteer photographer at P's oncologist's office. An organization called "Flashes of Hope" arranges the photo shoot and provides hair and makeup volunteers to help the participants look their best. All the kids felt special and P felt like a STAR. The photos will commemorate the end of our leukemia journey as a family. It has been over 3 years...P has gone from being a toddler to a kindergartner...and he has no idea how different his life has been from most childrens'.

All chemotherapy will end in approximately one month. He is a bit nervous about having his mediport removed and wants to keep it forever.