Thursday, July 16, 2015

Bathroom remodel

Our main bathroom is currently ripped out down to the studs.  There is an electrician in there now wiring things. Our contractor is worried that the lighting we chose wont work well for me putting on my makeup.  He can clearly see that I do not actually wear makeup and I keep pointing this out, but he still seems concerned. Oh, and the sink that we chose and purchased and assembled with the cabinet is too big.

My husband is not answering his phone. He is in meetings or something. This bathroom remodel is his project, but I'm the one who has to make on the spot decisions. I dislike this intensely. I'm also the one who has had to keep the kids busy all week so that they do not impale themselves on power tools. I have no idea where one of our cats is.

Might I suggest not doing a major remodel at the same time as dealing with a close relative with a terminal illness? We're a little on edge.

And then I went upstairs and found that Vivian had gotten marker on the couch. With the markers that I repeatedly asked her to not take upstairs.  That resulted in her being disciplined (I threw the markers away) and then she threw a massive temper tantrum. I'm sure the electrician is very impressed by my parenting skills.

I can see why home improvement projects get expensive. Once you're into it, you'll do anything just to get it done and functional.  I do not even care at this point, and we're only on day 4.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Monday was a no good, very bad day.

We went up to Vancouver last Thursday night, right after Daniel got off of work. Even though the first part of the trip was just for hanging out and having fun, I was still so stressed that we had to pull over by the side of the road so that I could throw up. Stress manifests in stomach issues for me. It's lovely. We spent the next few days swimming and then staying at a rental property and doing local sightseeing in the 95 degree weather. I melted.

And then Monday we loaded up the car and headed back to Vancouver and dropped the kids off at my sister-in-law's sister's house (thank goodness for large Chinese families!). We'd been told that Daniel's dad (FIL) had an 11 am appointment, so we left early and all arrived at the cancer center by 10:40. Turns out the 11 am time was a check-in time for a 11:15 blood test. So after the blood test, we planted Daniel's parents in the cafeteria and walked over to the nearby mall for early lunch. We'd been told as well that the real appointment was at 12:15. Turns out the 12:15 time was to meet up with the interpreter to do paperwork. That we'd already finished with his dad. So then we went to a different waiting room and sat while the clock moved very, very slowly towards 1. Around 1:10, the 5 of us were finally issued into a small exam room.

The first doctor we saw was a resident and boy, does he need to work on his bedside manner. He spent quite a while asking Daniel's dad about his symptoms and how he was feeling. I understand it was necessary questioning, but the way he went about it was painful. He wrapped things up by asking FIL what FIL's understanding was about the cancer. FIL responded that he thought it was a small tumor and not widespread.

That's when Dr. Rude responded by saying "It's actually a very large tumor and it's spread to your bones." At which point no one in the room moved a muscle or so much as twitched, except me. I started to cry a little. I'm a really non-emotional person normally, but in this particular family I'm actually the wildly expressive one. I think they were all too much in shock to respond right away.

There's one possible treatment that will buy him a few more months, if his cancer shows the right genetic markers, but it's terminal cancer and no other treatment is being recommended.  We've spent the past few days emailing and calling back and forth with his parents and brother and uncles and cousins and making sure everyone understands what's going on. Really understands. Medical stuff is hard enough, even without the language barrier factored in.

Honestly, I've probably spoken just a few sentences directly to FIL in the entire decade that I've been a part of the family. He's a very quiet man and his English is poor. But he's a really good man and this is all really hard on Daniel. And I know it's going to devastate Ethan in particular. The kids love FIL so very much. They know he's sick, but they are kids and in their world, sick people get better. And they are old enough to understand when he does die and it's going to hurt them. I hate not being able to head off a painful situation for those I love. Cancer is the worst.

Monday, June 15, 2015

The second-to-last day of school.

Well, I've pretty much made it to the end at this point. Lunches are packed for tomorrow and I'm getting ready to make the kids' "last day of school" signs. Plans have been made for post-school ice cream celebrating. I just went by the school to watch Ethan eat his "summer birthday kid" popsicle. He was less than excited to see me. This is the same kid who sobbed for a good 20 minutes last night at the idea of growing up and having to move away from me. I really never know where I stand with those children.

I've been spending the last week and a bit frantically scheduling all the things that I can't do easily when the kids are at home. Dentist appointments and pedicures and hair cuts and such. Even though I knew the end of school was coming, the reality of them being home all day hadn't occurred to me until it was almost too late. I'm very quick these days.

No good news on the Daniel's dad front. He's been in the hospital since Wednesday, after a bad reaction to a medical test. Still waiting for test results. Every so often, Daniel and I just look at each other and say "THIS SUCKS." There is no other term for watching a parent go through something like this. We know that he will either get better or he will get to go be with Christ in heaven, and we will see him again someday. I'm just not ready for this. Prayers greatly appreciated.

Friday, June 5, 2015

The horrible week that was simultaneously also pretty good. This makes my head hurt.

It's 70 degrees and the sun is shining and a breeze is blowing. It's Friday morning at 11:30 and I've only been up for a little while because this morning was Dads and Donuts day in Vivian's class, so Daniel had to take the kids to school. Birds are literally singing in the trees right outside my dining room, where I am sitting and typing this. And the baby who lives next door is babbling and laughing with her grandmother. Right in front of me is a gorgeous flower arrangement that I got at the first day of the local farmer's market. We had dinner there last night, so I didn't have to cook.

The flowers. 

It's been a good week. The kids are done with homework and we've more or less commenced our summer slothfulness, despite still having a week and a half of school to go. Early slothfulness is okay though, because my kids teachers are also pretty much counting the minutes. Vivian's teacher tore her rotator cuff this past weekend and is in pain and Ethan's teacher is in the first trimester of pregnancy and feels awful. So it's a mutual limp across the finish line.

But in the middle of this pretty good week, we got a phone call that felt like a slap across the face. Daniel's dad has been having an assortment of health issues for a while now and finally got in for tests (they live in Canada. Enough said). And in the middle of Daniel's phone conversation in Chinese with his mom, he suddenly spoke English to me and said "Dad has lung cancer". And then went back to talking to his mom about the details. 

Daniel's parents speak English, but definitely have issues with understanding in some situations. Even with people who know their comprehension level. So here's how the information has been traveling around the family. Daniel's parents are given information by their doctors (whose names are Indian and so they may or may not have accents, I do not know). Daniel's mom tells Daniel what's going on, in Chinese. He tells me in English. No one really understands the medical terms or tests, so translating it back and forth is particularly complicated. 

Yesterday, Daniel's sister-in-law went and got the report from the doctors to scan to send to Daniel's brother who, of course, happens to be in Asia right now on business. They also sent the report to me and I translated it into basic-er terms, because I am a scientist by training and have worked on a lot of cancer issues and everyone else in the family is an accountant or computer programmer or something related. And the news right now is that there are still a lot of questions about what stage and what to do for treatment. His next test to find out more is another week from now, so we wont know much more for a while. 

We've watched a lot of people around us go through this battle of parental illness. It's not something we've personally dealt with. As it happens, neither have our parents.  All of our grandparents either died young, had abandoned the family years before (yes, this happened with multiple of our grandparents) or died suddenly in their sleep. My mom's mom is still going strong. We've been really fortunate in that way. 

Prayers appreciated as we go down this unexpected path. 

Monday, June 1, 2015


Okay, so a couple of things are baffling me. One- it's June? June already? And why are we still not done with school... we still have more than two weeks to go....

And secondly- how is my tiny baby a 6-year-old now? I just don't know how to deal with this. Six. I have two big kids, not little kids. MY BABY IS SIX!!!

We spent the weekend in Portland and had an absolute blast. It was a perfect birthday weekend with lots of fun activities, dinner with friends, lunch with the kids' great grandmother, shopping at IKEA (actually, that turned out more stressful for mom and dad than fun, but whatever. Bathroom remodel. Stay tuned). We had perfect weather and good food and just an all around good time together. 

So, Vivian on her 6th birthday. She's a darling little girl with a steel core hidden beneath the fluff. She still cannot be bribed, pushed, or negotiated with if she doesn't want to do something. But when she does, she inevitably will do it easily and well. She loves to cross monkey bars, hula hoop and jump rope. Biking she is relatively apathetic about. Same with school things except recess. She has a good group of little friends at school and loves her kindergarten teacher.  She loves presents and pandas and panda presents. 

She still prefers sleeping with Mommy to sleeping in her own bed, although progress is being made. I know that one day that snuggly little girl wont sleep next to  me anymore, so I don't worry too much about it. She loves playing with her brother and taking care of him and talking about their mutual imaginary friends. 

Most of all, Vivian is a princess. She still loves wearing dresses every day and prefers to have on a crown as often as possible.  She's definitely my daughter :)

Vivian challenges me and makes me laugh and makes me smile and makes me crazy and I wouldn't have it any other way. Daniel and I are so blessed to have her in our lives. 

Monday, May 4, 2015

I went to Jamaica and all my husband got was a lousy jar of Jamaican Jerk seasoning

My husband? THE BEST.

So, a month or so ago, my editor sent out an email to ask if anyone wanted to cover a press trip to Jamaica and I immediately threw myself at Daniel's feet (so to speak, since it was over Skype) and begged him to let me go.  I've been doing a bunch of extra work for my company and part of it has included setting up lots of fabulous trips for other people and I was feeling itchy to pack my own bags. Without hesitation, he said yes. I then repeated the begging process to my boss and a week later had a plane ticket to Jamaica in hand.

I've traveled a good bit to tropical destinations at this point. (I know, I have the best job ever). But Jamaica was unlike any I've visited before. It reminded me a bit of Hawaii, with it's beautiful mix of mountains and blue seas and beaches.  It was warm, but there were generally enough breezes to keep me from completely melting.

I can't share all the details of the trip here because I have an actual blog post due for the site I write for, so you'll have to go look for that in a few weeks. But it was lovely and if you have the chance to go to Jamaica, you should. So, so beautiful and fun.

And then I came home and snuggled with this baby and all was well with the world. 

While I was in Jamaica, Daniel kept working his usual hours, more or less. And, of course, Ethan had an allergic reaction of some sort on the second day I was gone, necessitating a doctor's visit and staying home from school (he's fine now). And I came home last night after 5 days gone to a clean house and happy kids and even part of the laundry done.  I am keeping my husband.  He is the best!