Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Summer Blowout

The girls and I attended an author's book signing today at Titcomb's Bookshop of one of my favorite authors, Claire Cook. Claire is the author of Must Love Dogs and Life's A Beach. She is promoting her new book Summer Blowout which is about a hair stylist - so what better way to promote the book than to offer free hairstyles at the book signing! Melanie and Kylie both got their hair styled in fancy french braids - totally unexpected and fun surprise for them!

Claire was wonderfully gracious, signing all three of her books for me and giving me some great writing advice. I have seen her speak at the Cape Cod Writers' Conference and was moved by her work ethic and engaging personality. Truly a nice person. Thanks Claire!

And hey, all my blog book club readers - buy her book! And if you haven't read Must Love Dogs or Life's A Beach, read those too! They are funny and entertaining! Great for the summer. Then after you've read Must Love Dogs, go rent the movie with John Cusack and Diane Lane. Then tell all your friends to read them too!

Oh, and check out Claire's blog and Titcomb's website. Maybe my girls will end up on both!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Onto Lighter Fare

Two other books I've read recently:

Practically Perfect by Katie Fforde: Very cute story, easy light read about a girl who lives in England and is redecorating an old cottage and adopts a greyhound at the same time. She meets the dog inspector who also happens to be the housing inspector and they don't exactly hit it off at first. One that was a little silly, but fun for a beach read or an escape.

Fearless Fourteen by Janet Evanovich : Yes I've read her 13 previous books and they all make me laugh. Stephanie Plum gets into trouble again and Ms. Evanovich somehow finds a way to make the story original and fun. This time Grandma Mazur gets wrapped up in a dungeon and dragons type computer game with some younger kids all while the whole burg is trying to find out if $9 million is hidden in Joe's basement and the kids try to keep the curious crowds away with potato guns. Funny stuff. Oh and Lula thinks she's marrying Tank. You can read this one without reading the other ones, but why? Start with number one and work your way up. It won't take you long once you get started.

That's it for now. I'll update more later!

The Last Lecture

I have been reading again! I LOVE books. I usually read in the evenings after the girls go to bed - especially since Tom is working late on the beach now and NOTHING is on TV.

I have to do a special entry about my latest book I just finished. The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch. If you haven't heard of him yet, you may have been living under a rock recently.

He's a 47 year old computer science professor from Carnegie Mellon who was given the grave diagnosis of pancreatic cancer with 3-6 months left of good health last September. He was asked to give one final lecture to his college students which became well publicized beforehand leading to an audience of 400. In the audience was a journalist who documented the lecture. It was then spread around the Internet and many people took notice including Oprah. Suddenly he became famous for his speech about realizing your childhood dreams.

But this was not a lecture about learning about dying then going out and living out all your dreams. This was a lecture about living your dreams every single day whether you are dying or not. One thing he said that struck me was that on your death bed you do not think about the things you did not do well, you think about all the things you wanted to do but never did. He talks about finding your passion and living it as he did. He accomplished almost all of his childhood dreams before he ever became sick and he spreads the word on how to do it.

Many of his quotes came from inspirational people in his life. Every time someone gave him advice about something throughout his life he listened and remembered it. Starting with his tough football coach in elementary school all the way through colleagues at the university, everyone he met helped shape who he became.

Some points from the book that stick with me more than others:

"Manage time like money" - I've always thought this was important. I learned this one from Tom. He is big on the time management/budget issue. What Randy says about it - don't waste your time on the insignificant stuff - it doesn't matter if you polish the underside of the banister (does that count for vacuuming under the furniture?? Cause if so, I'm all set.)

"You can always change your plan but only if you have one - Make To Do Lists" - Ok, I don't do this one. Tom does. Tom insists on lists. Lists for what to accomplish in a day, lists for what to accomplish this year, lists for what to buy. I don't take the time to make the lists (see above about time like money), but I do catalog the lists in my head. I know what I need to accomplish. I would probably do better at accomplishing the tasks if I did write them down. What Randy says about it - it's good to break tasks up one step at a time.

"Brick walls are there to show us how badly we want something" - My personal take - I know what I want badly and I know what the insurmountable odds are of achieving, it. Seems like a really TALL brick wall, but I will persevere!

"When you're screwing up and no one is telling you anymore, that means they have given up on you."

"Experience is what you get when you don't get what you wanted."- Wow. How true. I have a lot of experience!

"The best shortcut is the long way, which is basically two words: Work Hard"

"When we are connected to others we become better people."

"Don't try to compensate your lack of parenting with material things - they can actually do harm in instilling a child's values." (So I don't need to buy the Wii? Whew!)

Those are just a few of the values that struck me. There are many more in the book as well as many heartfelt moments and tears to be shed. He is leaving behind a wife and 3 young children. Everyone needs to either read his book or visit his website - watch the lecture. I promise you that you will get something out of it.

Periodic Cicada Brood XIV - Our Science Report

Thanks to the sleepover at my friend Wendy's house where the cicadas are very plentiful right now, the girls have developed a strong interest in learning more about them. When we got home from Wendy's we took a walk with our butterfly nets and caught a few cicadas and brought them back to the house where they drew pictures of them and wrote information down about them. We looked up cicadas on a couple of web sites and learned the following useful things:

Our cicadas are 17 year cicadas. This particular species and brood (the group that emerged together) is only found in the northeast. They were underground developing and eating tree root sap for the last 17 years before digging holes 4 weeks ago (or so) and emerging. Soon after emerging, they shed their previous skin and left it behind and changed to a dark color. Now they fly around everywhere. The males make the sing-song sound with their wings to attract females. They eat twigs and bark. They will lay more eggs soon which after hatching, will go underground and emerge again in 17 years. The adults will die by the end of the summer. There can be as many as 1.5 million cicadas in 1 acre of land (I believe it at Wendy's house!) Here is the most useful website that talks about our particular brood around us right now:

Watch the video below to see one up close and hear it's song.

Melanie thinks they might be blind or nearly blind because they fly straight at us and whack themselves against things, then land on the ground on their backs and flail around. I can't find any info about their eyesight. So if anyone who is reading this knows the answer to this question, let me know.

Also, I have seen many cicada heads, disconnected from the body, that seem to be still alive. Melanie's friend, Sydney says that if you pull on a back leg the head falls off (as a defense mechanism). I think they would die at this point?? Anyway, another tidbit I can't find any information on.

Summer of Cicada

Yesterday's Doctor Visit

I had to travel up to Boston yesterday to visit with my new gastroenterologist for my swallowing issues. It was a long drive, a long wait in the waiting room and a long drive home just for him to listen to my 5 minute speel and recommend an endoscopy and dilation/biopsy of my esophagus. So that is scheduled for July 9 back in Boston at 7:15 in the morning. Tom will be taking me since sedation is involved. Now we just need someone to take the girls for us.

The doctor has a few theories about what is going on in my esophagus. One is my original diagnosis of a Schatzki's Ring (click on it if you want to know more). I didn't even know I had that as a diagnosis until I got my old records just last week from my previous GI doc (way to communicate!). Apparently that was the diagnosis they came up with in 2003 prior to my first dilation (I was told they really didn't find anything that would cause my problems). This doctor yesterday said that it is highly unusual for someone my age to have a Schatzki's Ring and that he would look for other possible causes when he does the endoscopy and biopsy. At the same time he will dilate which means I will have some pain for a couple of weeks after the procedure. He also said absolutely no applesauce or water when something gets stuck as I could obstruct my airway (that's happened actually). He would rather see me in the ER getting food pushed down than to choke to death (me too!)

My friend Wendy was nice enough to watch the girls yesterday and even kept them overnight (Thank you Wendy!). So when I got home from Boston, I met Tom out for a drink and then we went to a movie. There wasn't much playing, so we decided on The Love Guru with Mike Meyers. I have to admit it was pretty funny. Similar to Austin Powers, but not as over the top. If you want a good laugh, I would recommend it.

Monday, June 23, 2008

The Three Little Pigs

Melanie had her drama performance as the Big Bad Wolf yesterday at Arts Alive in Falmouth. They all did a great job! Her friend Lillyan is one of the pigs (the smart one who wants to build the brick house). This is a fun interpretation of the story. Unfortunately, my memory card only holds so much information so it stopped after the first house was knocked down. I can tell you the second house made of sticks was similar to the straw house. Then they made the brick house and the wolf could not blow it over so the pigs made fun of him and made him cry. He said "stupid allergies." So they gave him some of their mom's allergy medicine (Plop, plop, fizz, fizz, Oh What a Relief It IS!") Then the wolf announces from now on he's a vegetarian and are all happy and dance around the stage together.

The Three Little Pigs

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Diary of a Thumb Days 4 and 5

Kylie has backslid considerably. I think she has officially "given up." Everytime I remind her to take her thumb out of her mouth she says, "I don't want a Webkinz!" The blankie has been out of her bed numerous times as well.

The icky stuff definitely doesn't work for her. One night she sucked the other thumb, then in the morning scrubbed her left thumb with toothpaste again to get the taste off. She's too sneaky and strong willed for me to keep track of. My plan is to continue with the enforcement of keeping the blankie in her bed even during story and movie times. Then during the stories, I will continue to stop reading if she's sucking and try to keep her hands busy by holding the book or turning the pages. During movies it will be trickier, but I could turn the movie off until she takes her thumb out or have her color or draw while watching. (she doesn't multi-task well though). I can't stop her at nighttime, but I can try to show her that she doesn't need her thumb to relax. The rest of the day, she's pretty good as long as she's busy.

Melanie hasn't bit her nails once since I put on the stuff. Way to go Mel!

I gave up coffee the same day the girls gave up their bad habits. I switched to an herbal green tea and have felt great since. I haven't been tired at all (except 10:00 at night) and I've been sleeping better and later everyday. I also haven't had my typical morning nausea that comes and goes.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Diary of a thumb Day 3

So far so good for day 3! Kylie made it all the way in the car to and from Boston with no sucking and only one episode of whining "I wanna suck my thumb." Even when she got upset when we got home from Boston - she trying to carry 3 armloads full of stuff out of the car, dropped it everywhere and fell down, started crying so hard she started coughing, threw up all over herself after coughing, then ran to her room - this is when she will typically grab her blankie stick her thumb in her mouth and veg out until she calms down. But, I followed her upstairs and instead of the typical comfort fest, she was changing her own clothes from throwing up on them and was no longer upset.

BUT, then she did end up with her blankie when the TV came on and I found her thumb in her mouth, but she didn't cry or complain when I told her she had to leave it in her bed. We'll see how bedtime goes tonight. Stay posted!

Kansas Boys Do Good!

Scot Pollard and Paul Pierce in their Jayhawk days

Since we were in Boston today for Melanie's appointment and the appointment got out right at 11:00 just as the Celtics Championship parade was starting AND there just happened to be an empty cab in front of Children's Hospital, we decided to hop in and head over to Copley Plaza to see if we could catch sight of a couple of the ole' hometown boys.

There was a ton of people! Ton of excited and crazy people. But the girls have experience NYC at Christmas time and Disney along with a million other people, the Celtics parade wouldn't be much different. We bought them shirts right away, took some pictures and they found a spot to watch. I was more interested in possibly catching sight of one of my best friends from college, but unfortunately, if she was there I didn't see her.

I went to KU alongside Scot Pollard who plays for the Celtics. He was apparently injured during most of the playoffs, but I did see his name on the roster AND I saw him on the duck boats (briefly). Scot married a very good friend of mine (at one time) Mindy. She and I were close our freshman and part of our sophomore years, but saw much less of each other once she started dating Scot and eventually lost touch. She is still in touch with my old roommate and pal, Kristi, so I hear about how she is doing now and again. They have three kids - Lolli, Tallulah and Ozzie, so I was thinking maybe they'd be there too since some of the players had their kids with them.

Mindy and me dressed to go out in 1992. . .I think those are her clothes.

I barely got to see Paul Pierce, but I did see the MVP trophy. Paul is also a KU alum, although he was there after I graduated from 1996-1998, just after I moved away from Kansas, so I never got to see him play.

The Lephrechaun

The Trophy

Scot's back (sitting down)

After the parade we followed the mob of people out of Copley and began the long walk back to the car (no cabs to be found this time!). Along the way we stopped for lunch to refuel. The girls were great - barely any complaining and I didn't have to carry Kylie once. It was a beautiful day too - perfect temperatures! Great first day of summer vacation!

Maybe some answers? Finally?

Melanie had her follow up appointment at the neurologist today to go over all the consultations and test results we have had since the last time we've seen her. I haven't blogged much about it all because it is all so complicated and "grey" that it's hard to explain what is really going on, but I think today we finally may have gotten answers that make sense and can be simplified to explain.

Melanie's spinal cord is "tight." There isn't a lot of room for her cord to move around and it might have some connections to the vertebrae, but it is too difficult to be certain based on the MRI. However, even if it is attached, she is not really a surgical candidate at this time. Her bowel and bladder symptoms are still an issue and we have an appointment with a gastroenterologist in August to hopefully get some relief in that area. The neurologist would like to have her receive a follow up MRI in a year from the last one (so in about 9 more months) to see if it still looks like it is in the same position.

Also she reviewed her symptomotolgy for the static congenital encephalopathy diagnosis (mild CP) and feels even though her ankle cords are tight with limited dorsiflexion, she seems to not be as symptomatic as she used to be and may be growing out of the original issues she was having. She does feel she has mild incoordination along with the ankle limitations and mild balance issues. Add to that her fear/confidence levels surrounding certain movement activities such as riding a bike and walking down hills and it results in heightened anxiety. I had the doctor explain to Melanie that there are no significant physical reasons why she cannot ride a bike or why she would be more susceptible to falling so that she would maybe start to believe she can do those things without getting hurt. If she starts to believe in herself, she should be able to accomplish those tasks (with extra work of course - she has always had to work harder on all physical activities).

So there you have it. I think we are satisfied with the answers and ready to move on. We'll check back in 9 months!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Last day of 2nd grade

Today was a bit bittersweet for me. As much as I'm looking forward to summer vacation, it's sad to think that Melanie's second grade year is over already. I loved second grade. I think it was my favorite year in school. . .and it just seemed to fly by for Melanie.

She had a few party invitations and we ended up first at her friend and neighbor, Lillyan's house. They had pizza and snacks (as you can see below, Kylie surrounded herself with chips) before swimming in the pool, then games in the front yard. Everyone had a blast. . .I think Lillyan's parents had just as much fun running and tackling as the rest of the kids.

We left there and headed to Melanie's friend, Sydney's house. Sydney lives on a pond and the kids all had fun jumping off the dock and swimming off the little beach. Then they spent about an hour just playing on the hammock and then it was time for the hot tub! I didn't think I was going to get them out. They looked WAY too comfortable.

Home for a quick bite to eat, change clothes and then a trip to the library to sign up for the summer reading program. They both made pledges to read 30 minutes a day 5 days a week for 8 weeks! That's a big commitment! I should have had Kylie sign a summer no thumb sucking pledge!
Melanie has a great teacher assignment for the 3rd grade, but she found out that NONE of her close friends have the same teacher. She has a few casual friends in the class, so it will give her a chance to get to know those girls better. She's bummed though! She was hoping for at least one of her best friends to be with her!

Diary of a thumb - Day 2

Melanie is doing well with the no biting of her nails. She said this morning, "My nails look longer, mommy!" I don't know about that, but I do know that she is really trying not to bite

Then there is Kylie. . .a little more resistant. The taste of the stuff isn't bothering her anymore and she was happily sucking her thumb in front of the TV this morning while I was in the shower. On a good note, her blankie was tucked securely in her bed. I reapplied the nail polish after my shower and she said, "If I can't suck my thumb, I can't live!"

We had a busy day, so the thumb issue wasn't revisited until we were on the way home from the library around 7:00. She had been a chatterbox all day and was suddenly quiet in the backseat. I adjusted my rearview mirror at a stoplight and sure enough - the plug was in the mouth. I said "Kylie. . ." and she said, "I HAVE to!"

While we were reading stories later, she would plop her thumb in her mouth and then tug on my sleeve, smiling. I would stop reading until she took her thumb out and then I would continue. From about 7:30 until 8:30 I think I heard the phrase, "I want to suck my thumb." about 150 times. I put some more stuff on her thumb at bedtime and she said, "I don't care, I like the taste."

Melanie on the other had is doing great. . .no biting all day.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008


Melanie says to me this morning, "Mommy, I want to stop biting my nails."
That was music to my ears!

So Kylie and I headed to CVS and while there she decided she too would try to give up sucking her thumb at the same time Melanie is trying to give up biting her nails. All for the sake of a Webkinz as a prize if they are successful. I bought the nasty tasting "Bite It" which smells like regular ole fingernail polish but must taste much worse.

So how did day one go? Well, Kylie cried about 10 times and scrubbed her thumb with toothpaste to get the taste off - which I think worked because after that the grimace went away when the thumb went in the mouth. She also put her blankie away with Melanie's old blankie, kissed it goodbye, but after her biggest meltdown regarding the thumb, the blankie had mysteriously resurfaced. It will be a long road. But one positive note, after dinner I caught her trying to put her thumb in her mouth and she giggled and ran to me and said, "everytime I want to suck my thumb, I'll hug you instead." It was a great hug.

Melanie tends to bite her nails when I'm not around or I don't notice, but I sure noticed everytime today. Major theatrics and drama occured with spitting and screaming. At first I couldn't figure out what was the matter, then I realized she had tasted the stuff. Having sensitive taste buds may serve her well in this case.

I'll keep you posted how the week goes. Hopefully the nasty tasting stuff will serve as a reminder and they will both slowly stop sticking their fingers in their mouths out of habit.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Say Goodbye to Preschool

I can't believe today was Kylie's last day of preschool. Now she moves onto kindergarten in the fall. Tears were shed as she sang her songs and received her preschool diploma. She's getting so big!! Here are some photos from the day:

Kylie with her friend, Cora

Miss Madeline, the Speech Pathologist who has been working with Kylie for 2 1/2 years!

Kylie receives her diploma:

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Beach Grammy and Grampy

Today marks the end of the annual four week visit of Tom's mother, Janet and step-father, Dean. (AKA Beach Grammy and Grampy). They come from Cocoa Beach, Florida this time every year and stay at Scusset Beach in their RV. Unfortunately, this is a crazy busy time of year for us, so their visit is more work than pleasure. Dean helps us around the house with mowing, mulching, repairs and maintenance and Janet cleans, sews and takes care of the girls for us.

The girls have a blast and the four weeks flies by every year. Here are some photos Janet took of their trip:


Who's Afraid of the BIG bad wolf?

Check out those personalized shirts!

Tom's Party

Part Time Pop Stars!

Visiting with Aunt Millicent and cousin Maureen