Monthly Archives: November 2010

El Chiquito corrigió…

My kid is turning into a little Barbara. No, no, not Lemon (he already tries to be a little Barbara, but has not mastered following rules). Paco. Tonight at dinner, I said something in Spanish and Paco tried to correct how I said it. I said the letter V like an English V and he corrected me. It should be “B” he said. He reiterated that his teacher told them again today. Yes, yes, I understood, in Spain and Mexico, this is true. Then I went into my usual explanation about my fake Argentine accent and how Abuelita Hoodi does not say “baca”  but actually says “vaca” as in Vacaville. “But Señor said…” Paco returned.  “Paco, there are 21 different countries that speak Spanish; they are not all the same.” I tried to explain changes in English based on where we are. (The word for Zucchini in British English is courgette, from the French, not the Italian word we use.)

I had to explain, repeatedly. If it had not been so late in Michigan, I would have called Judy to have her speak so Paco could have it on authority.

So while I wanted to pull out all the dusty workbooks and CDs I picked up in Argentina (really, for this reason); I, instead, realized he was channeling the Canty-Wheeler gene. A little Barbara was there, talking at the table. She wants me to speak Mexican Spanish as well. Sigh, Paco looks for perfection.

It brings joy to me to fake the Argentine.  Zzzzzzhhhhh.. I wonder when we can go back.

The Power of…Coffee?


My mom’s wonderful bridge friend sent this to her (to send to me). I love coffee and now, perhaps I will see it as a necessary evil. I went through phases of not drinking it, pregnancy (or nursing). But right now, I just love it so. And even though  I don’t think it really helps my sleepiness, I love the new excuse to induldge in it. My system usually gets pushed in a bad direction by coffee. But for some reason the Starbucks Thanksgiving blend has not been bothering me. Ironically, it makes me even more thankful that I can drink coffee. 12 months ago, that was not possible.

Taking a 3-day Break

I was walking down the hall, complaining in my head about my tongue. It is still receding when in contact with fruit, nuts, bubbles or chocolate. So, I was complaining in my head, and then I thought to myself, you have two kids, you have the love of your life folding laundry and you have an awesome family. So shut up!

For a few days, instead of writing late at night I am going to focus on what I have, instead of what I cannot have (walnuts).

The Best Thanksgiving!

My sister offered to host in her new place. But the deal was, no sit down dinner. Instead the evening occurred as a lovely 4-hour cocktail party. Brandon and Lisa (and Beckett) popped by on the way home from dinner with Lisa’s family. We were missing a Wheeler (with his dad,) otherwise, it was just wonderful. Steve was driving home and said, “What a relaxing Thanksgiving.” Ahhhhh.

I think the highlight was watching Beckett (14 mos) and Lemon (20 mos) play together. They followed each other around, had an assembly line of pushing things through the mail opening in the door, handing things back and forth.

I wonder if Colleen has realized that she started a new tradition. Ah, next year she will when we show up again.

A Weird Time of Reflection

What a strange few days. Sunday, I was going to go to a get together in SF for those who are under 40 with cancer. Between the game in the rain Saturday, Steve’s back flaring up, and me just being exhausted, I backed out. I was lame to my friend Liz. She is younger and fits in the group I am sure. She is working and a newlywed. We love picking each other’s brains. That ability with people is priceless.


So, instead, that day, Paco and I watched The Muppet Movie. This is a film that came out when I was Paco’s age. 6 going on 7. I just remember loving the movie. I remember singing The Rainbow Connection and Moving Right Along all the time. Watching it again, 30 plus years later, I wonder how much movies like this helped me along. In the last 30 years, we no longer make friends in strange places, the level of trust has gone down when seeing someone in person.  We rely on electronic communication. I like this, I am on top of things faster. I ask questions faster. I use the resource.


Electronic communication gives the ability to leave a nice note without having to sit down and write, address and stamp. Time, paper, a pen and stamps. I hate to say it, but I am so much better at email (which I am still flakey about of late). For the last 15 months I have had a letter written to my mom’s second cousin Eily in Ireland. She is my Irish Aunt and my sister and I called her a (positive) force of nature. The letter is here, in the envelope, I never finished it. The irony is I know their address by heart (no postal codes in Ireland) and I could throw two stamps on it and it would be gone. But no, I have moved it, packed it, but never mailed it. Man, I am lazy.


Back to the Muppet Movie, I liked that there was a positive spin to every turn the plot took. The final scene, the stage was ruined and the sunbeam came in. Kermit sang, Life is like a movie, write your own ending.


I stare at Steve, Paco and Lemon, and I feel well written.


Monday, I met Shan and kids at Ikea. It is just a great way to kill time when it is to rain. They all seem to get along remarkably well. There is no hounding of each other, no crowding, no yelling. I was really proud of Paco in particular. At Ikea, he tried out the childcare for the first time. No one else wanted to go in and he still gave it a go. Independence is happening fast.


That evening, I headed to the gym to finally do my initial training session. The trainer, Patrick, was awesome. His son, who I think is now 9, has been in remission. At the age of two, he was diagnosed with Leukemia. It really reminded me of how much side effects bothered me, planning ahead is a heavy task to complete, but compared to what my mother, Steve, Paco, friends and family went through when they had to watch me last year, I cannot imagine. I cannot imagine what a parent (whom I know) is going through, watching her son (who needs back surgery) like a hawk. If I had to hold Paco’s hand while he got chemo; how would I keep it together? I know, watching my dad worsen…it destroyed my ambition. All I wanted to do was get away and I did. I am so grateful that those that I am close to do not push me away as I did my dad. Rather we have kept most friends, and most traditions. In fact, we are closer to most than we used to be. I miss my friends in San José, and Steve is ensuring we see them soon. I still have this man.


Tuesday had several great things happen. First, I received the following:


Dear Erin,
One of my colleagues just delivered the very nice package of gifts from you.  I enjoyed going to your website and checking out your blog.  It was a real surprise to hear from you and get such a thoughtful gift and note from you!   In the Emergency Department, we don’t often receive nice notes from patients (understandable, since we often have such a brief interaction with patients at a time of crisis), and it really made my day to hear from you.

I am very grateful to hear that you and your children are doing well.

Thank you for your thoughtfulness.  I will always remember your grace and courage in the face of a serious diagnosis.


I don’t remember the courage. I remember crying, I remember being in shock, I remember not being able to walk to the bathroom. I remember being grateful for the ER doctor’s warmth and calm. His note, just reminded me of how important it is to tell people thank you. It means something.


Secondly, I stopped by my sister’s new place, about 20 yards from my mother’s back door. Colleen, will indeed, have to put a sign on her door saying, “I am working, do not knock.” But we are all excited to have she and my mom so close. Colleen is always juggling work, travel and freelance work, plus being the awesome mom she is, so I am glad to be able to catch her more often. She handed Paco the stack of DVDs that Wheels had outgrown. The Lion King was one of them. I remember watching it with Wheels on the VCR. When Rafiki performs something like a baptism to Simba, and raises the cub to the community, I used to lift Wheels up and show him to an empty room. I did it to him until he was about 5. He is now 6 ft. tall. And I am sure I can lift him, but only about 4’, no longer can I lift him above my head.

From Colleen’s, I met my mother (coming from a bridge game) at the Salon in East Sac. I actually got my hair trimmed and cleaned up. It was long in the back and I was not looking for a mullet. Or as we say in our family, moo-lay (in French).  I had hair to trim. Not shave, trim.


On the way back to Davis, I caught this photo (while at a red light).

Sleeping to Susy Dorn's voice

To finish the day, after Paco finally went to sleep (after watching a bit of The Lion King), Steve and I were together and actually talked. No video games and I let the laundry and the chores go. I know I am a walking miracle, but sometimes it is hard to keep that vision; I think especially from Steve’s point of view. He saw it all. He has seen so much of me at my physical and mental low points. I said last night, “I am amazed that you never seemed to want to leave me.”  He put his arm around me and said, “I never will.” Thank goodness.


Today, Wednesday, I finally dragged the kids to the daycare at the gym. Paco was really supportive and Tommy cried less than before. We hit Comcast then Kaiser to pick up my prescription. I made the boys receive their flu shots. They were able to book a quick check on Lemon for the afternoon. He has had bumps all over his body for a while. Paco insisted we swing by the lab to make sure my pals were not there. Lemon took a nap at home and we headed back to Kaiser for his appointment. It was, in fact, genetic eczema.  It is not that serious, but he will likely have it forever. Steve thought he had it as a child and my family has an asthma gene, so it is not too surprising. It does not seem to bother him, we were just getting a bit concerned. At the end of the appointment, Paco reminded me I had to go over to the adult section and get my flu shot. The pediatrician said she could do it right then. She was back in a minute with the vaccine. I told her then, this is what I love about Kaiser. And I told her my story. She is missing Thanksgiving to cover new babies up in Roseville. She said to me three times, “thanks for telling me what great care you have.” And I looked at the boys and said, “don’t forget what a part of that care you are.” I used to be intimidated by M.D.s; now, I understand what relaying a good experience can do.


Paco made sure I went by the lab to see my friends. I think he is in a phase of worry. No doubt inspired by the death of the lion Mufasa. He asked if one of us died, would the other one get married. I said, “what do you think?” He said, “I think you [both] should.” Wisdom. It is a bit sad that a 6-year old has thought of this. But then, it shows his maturity as well. I think Friday we have to watch the The Lion King in its entirety. So we can see…the positive side.


We hit Trader Joe’s on the way home. As Paco said, “that was surprisingly fun.” Things we learned: the boys like pumpkin pie. Alvaro, a staff member, is from Ecuador and was encouraging us to practice our Spanish. His wife had studied in Ecuador, then Buenos Aires, then back Ecuador. He said to me, “you sound like an Argentine.” He made me feel proud of myself. Paco spoke so well the guy was confused about where in the Spanish world Paco had been. It turns out his son is in Kinder at Cesar Chavez.


The last five days seem to be full of new experience. Part of me misses travel greatly. It has been 2.5 years since I have left the country. I have been on one plane ride in the last two years; and that was over a year ago. Paco’s first year, he had been on 14 flights. The irony is, I am not really suffering from wanderlust. I am turning into a homebody. At first this was because I did not feel like leaving the house. But now, because it seems I want to nest. I want to learn to play the piano, I want to exercise, I want to enjoy the boys. I want to enjoy watching my mom following Lemon around and refusing to punish him. I want what I have.


I have cognitive thought. I can drive. I have hair. I can swim. I have these boys. Sigh.



The Inference of Judgment



It is amusing to me what people infer. A good friend heard me say, “she is way too into cancer” about another glioma buddy. And what I thought I said was “she is way into cancer research.” One word left out, one left in and the meaning changes.


Another old acquaintance thought inferred that I said, “I don’t like…” and named kids from elementary school. What I had said was, “I never really got along with…” One comment is judgmental, one is just saying I never clicked with the kids (to be honest, me and Gretchen S had a gripping arms, nails imbedding, stare down in 5th grade, or maybe 4th, I don’t remember not liking her, I know I played at her house. We just did too many angry faceoffs.)


You hear want you want to hear. Me, I try to rule out the judgment part. Don’t get me wrong, there are 2 or 3 girls I can vent too, but they are close friends and our conversations are quiet and confidential. I am a big believer in holding back in saying negative things. The words are powerful. Paco and I discuss that a lot. On bad days, I apologize when I say, “ugh this sucks.” To me, unless it is life or death related, (ok, or maybe a poop blowout) I need to constantly remind myself hold back grumpy talk and do not hold back anything positive. Alas, I am turning into a Pollyanna. Call it the effect of surviving.

Today Was a Day to Mark

I had to buy a blow dryer. I cannot find our old one, or I may have given it away. But my hair is long enough to make me chilled when it is wet and the air is cold.