Monday, March 30, 2009

Oh, the stories Mother-in-laws could tell!


It struck me the other day when I found plastic tub of my wife's nightgown things under a pile of boxes in storage, that we've been living far too long in a temporarily suspended state of life. Yes, I know, there is more to life than nightgowney things, but still, at some point you've got to unpack and get busy living instead of waiting for something to happen.

We've been living in my in-laws basement (better than it sounds) for five months now. Don't get me wrong, they have been absolutely amazing. But when you get comfortable letting your body make noises in front of your mother-in-law, and when she can say she has seen you running for a towel after a shower (don't picture that, please), you know it's time to get your own place.

Finding a house sounds a lot easier than it has been for us. Because Von can't be around serious remodeling projects, buying a fixer-upper like we have in the past is not an option.

And because we've moved from a part of the country where real estate is valued at one third of the prices here, sticker shock has been more of an electrocution.

And even though Von has a three-year treatment program ahead and we know we are here for the duration, it's been hard to emotionally move past the 'just wait and see what is going to happen' mindset and realize we have to settle down into this new and strange tundra and buy a house.

So we made two offers on two houses this weekend. And we waited. And waited. And then went to a Timber Wolves game because we couldn't stand waiting. (Thanks Hope Kids for making that possible!)

We're praying. You can too if you want. If not, I may have to tell you a few more embarrassing things that my mother-in-law has seen that'll make you blush.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Dad's post-business-trip gift


When I was a wee little guy living with my parents in Guatemala, my dad went off on a business trip to do whatever it is that missionaries do when they go on business trips.

He was gone a week and when he came home, we asked him the usual question that showed concern and care for him and how his trip went.

"What did you bring me?", is the way I think we phrased it.

I remember this one time when my dad brought home a monkey. Yes, a monkey. Not a stuffed animal or some toy monkey, but a real live monkey. An eating, playing, tree-climbing, dog-food eating, chaos causing, and poop throwing monkey. Every little boy's dream!

I went on a business trip to Dallas last week and on my drive home, I got to thinking about this monkey. I thought about how we had to leave our family dog in Tulsa with my sister because of our temporary house situation in Minnesota. And while I was driving through Tulsa, I decided to do what my dad did and bring home a very impractical gift to the kids. With my wife's blessing, I picked up Moses and we shared each other's company for the remainder of the trip to Minnesota and arrived in very late.

Yesterday, our family took Moses for a walk. Von, who has been coached, prompted and even harassed to come up with a wish for the Make-a-Wish program was riding on my shoulders when he said something with profound enthusiasm.

"Dad, I wish-ded for Moses to come home and I got my wish!"

No, it's not a monkey, but it brought delight to my family, which I think is what it is all about. The best proof I have is a photo taken at 2:30 am when we woke the kids to see the 'monkey' bad brought home from his business trip.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

A Huge Sissy


Don't stereotype me...I cried again yesterday when my girls got three little care packages in the mail and a note from Mia Hamm...and I'm feeling like a big sissy for it.

Someone signed us up recently for ‘Super Sibs’ which focuses specifically on the brothers and sisters of those who have cancer. "Super Sibs" understand cancer kids are getting packages, cards, wishes, attention and a lot of fuss made over them. But they focus on the siblings because they know the brothers and sisters of the are part of the team and sacrifice of getting through cancer.

Things I didn't think about until my girls got an individually addressed care package with each of their names beautifully written on the front of it.

1) Sometimes, siblings have to go days before someone calls them by their own name (instead of "so and so' brother or sister").

2) Sometimes it feels like nobody ever asks them how THEY are doing.

3) Sometimes, the doctors and nurses forget that they are even in the room and that they have questions and concerns too.

4) Sometimes, they can't be with their parents as much as they would like or do the things they would like to do because everyone has to be at a doctor's visit or be cautious of germs.

5) Sometimes they feel jealous, confused or fearful that someone they love is sick and they get all the attention.

So I read through the letter sent to our girls from Mia Hamm, Olympic and World Cup Soccer Champion, and when I get to the part where her brother Garrett struggled for his life with a bone marrow disease in 1996, and she was part of it, I got all weepy. (You can Google Mia Hamm and see just how powerful that sibling relationship was.)

So while Von is the rock star of the day, and needs to be the center of our attention for this season, I'm going to remember that there are three other little Mia Hamm's in the making right before my very eyes.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Baby, it's cold outside!



A couple of inches of snow and 9 degrees wasn't enough to get in the way of a fun family outing to Papa's hot tub.

My friends in Ohio are seeing 69 degrees today. My friends in Mexico are enjoying 68. Nairobi is a chilly 61. My family in Oklahoma are enduring 40. My pal in Moscow is just above freezing at 33.

In Minnesota? It's 9 degrees and for the locals here it is just getting toasty enough to pull out the lawn chairs and fire up the BBQ grill.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Dumb Souvenirs


It's the giant toothpick purchased at the Texas travel stop or a snow globe with a Cactus from Arizona for some. For others it's something more practical like a shot glass with 'Six Flags' printed on the side, or a Florida shaped magnet that holds the shopping list to the fridge.

When I was a kid, it was the sight and smell of the wax lion molded in the machine before my very eyes at the zoo.

I argued with my mom once on why X-Ray glasses from the back of a comic book would make a good souvenir before going to summer camp. I never got to experience that souvenir, but I'm sure they really do work.

As an adult, my new favorite dumb souvenir is the timeless photo booth experience and photo.

Ellie (pictured in the center) scored 100% on her spelling test recently after much hard work and practice. No time to waste! We ran out for a banana split to celebrate...and for a chance to act a little goofy.

I promised Ellie that I'm not the only one who has a soft spot for dumb souvenirs. I told her my blog readers have them too.

Right?

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Ninja band-aids


After a rough few days of processing a new treatment stage for Von, celebrating his 4th birthday, and getting some challenging news about potential side effects of the next three years treatments, we're back on the sunny-side. Everyone is allowed to have a few days with a question mark on the horizon, right? (Thank you for thinking of us and praying for Von!)

At the hospital this week, I was amazed with how creative those doctors are. Not only do they hand out the coolest band-aids, but they come up with really clever names for things you don't want to talk about.

This week Von started a new treatment phase called 'delayed intensification.' (You're supposed to say it with the deep voice of the guy who does the voice for movie trailers.)

Doctors say this is the phase of treatment where they mix it up and throw a new set of drugs at the cancer and try to lull it out from hiding so they can zap it with something more powerful than what they have been doing.

Delayed intensification. What a mockingly convenient name! The Germans call it 'Protocol 2' which I like much better. 'Delayed intensification' is just insulting because it infers some sort of procrastination on the patient's part and now it's really going to hurt.

Protocol 2, said with a thick German accent, is what we are calling it around our house.

I got to be the one to hold Von down this week at the hospital while they injected one shot of chemo into each of his legs. (You would've been proud of me. I didn't cry this time!)

Here are two photos of the afterglow. One shows the look of feeling betrayed by dear ol' dad who used brute force to restrain him for the event.
The other shows his brave boy smile when I told him I was going to blog about him.

Actually? The smile's not too bad. I've faked worse.