Friday, March 9, 2012

A Worthwile Reemergence

So, it has indeed been a long while. My lack of writing should not be any indication of a lack of activity. And, it hasn't meant any less excitedness surround the kidlets either. Quite the contrary actually. No, if anything, life has simply outpaced my ability to sit down and write every day.

I do miss it though. And, if you know me, I certainly have plenty to say.

Irregardless of my lackadaisical attitude about writing there are times when thing must be said. There are times when things are far too important to go without saying.

This is one of those times.

This year Sydney and her story have been selected to be highlighted for this year's neuroblastoma walk. Sounds like a good thing, right? Well here's the problem, they have a goal of $150,000 this year. If Sydney and I don't perform they won't have us back and, worse yet, some incredibly important research wont be funded.

So, I am asking for your help. If you can come out and participate in the walk, please join Sydney's team here. She loves to see new 1K walkers and 5k runners on her team. If you can't participate but can still donates $5, $20, or $100 to her team we will gladly walk in your honor.

You can read Sydney's story on page two below:


Once again, I have purpose!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Taekwondo tournaments are better than water parks

We spent the last weekend at the Gaylord Texan in Grapevine Texas at the Dallas International Taekwondo Hanmadang. The what you say? Yep, a hanmadang, which we learned means "big field", usually associated with festivals, family, and community. It was that, and it was more.

It was Ainsley's debut in a taekwondo tournament. We aren't sure really how Master Adrian talked her into it, but Ainsley agreed to jump in and join her brother and sister in a real tournament. Now, she's watched many (if not a hundred) of her sibling's tournaments, but never has participated. This time, with really nary a nervous twitch, Ainsley stepped onto the mat and did both forms and sparring.

The conversation leading up to the tournament went like this. Ainsley "I'm pretty sure I don't want to do this". Mom and Dad, "you don't have to, but you promised Master Adrian". Ainsley "Okay". Then the day of the tournament in a very adult manner, Ainsley says "I don't want to go out there". Mom and Dad, "it's a good chance to practice being like a cheerleader, they have to stand out in front of lots of crowds and perform". Ainsley, "oh, okay".

Forms went okay, she forgot a lot of it, but bravely carried on. Then we got to the sparring part. She stepped out there full of confidence. Within about 10 seconds, that disappeared. The little girl she was up against had obviously done this many times before. Ainsley quickly turned into the proverbial punching bag. She kept going. The other girl scored 5 points, 10 points, 15 points, and then the ultimate most horrible thing happened (in Ainsley's eyes), the girl accidentally kicked her in the head. Finally, our Ainsley showed up. She cried, then promptly turned to the ref and yelled, "she's not supposed to kick me in the head". Unfortunately, the tears had started, and they didn't stop. Master Adrian gracefully conceded the match almost a full round early.

I don't know about Mark, but many emotions flitted through my brain. OMG, we are horrible parents, how could we do this to her? Wow, what a great punching bag she is! Ainsley is so brave to keep going. This will be the end of her very short TKD career. Oh my goodness, that family from TKD that came to watch how tournaments work will never, ever, sign up their kids after this. That's my baby, ohhh, that had to hurt. A million thoughts in less than a minute. It was harrowing. It was miserable. It was good.

Good? Yes, because it was a "great learning experience". I know, the ultimate cliche. And, because Ainsley and the other girl were the only ones in the division, Ainsley ended up in 2nd place, and she got a trophy. Her first. A trophy that she is SO excited about (see Flickr pics). And, it was good based on the kids reviews. Master Adrian asked the kids on Monday, "hey kids, was that water park (at the Gaylord) fun or what"? The answer? "No not really, we had more fun at the tournament". Enough said.

The weekend was a success. It turns out that it wasn't because we spent Sunday at the new Gaylord Texan water park, swimming, hula hooping, getting fake tattoos, and winning dance contests (yep, Graham won). The weekend was a success because each kid tried their best, and in doing so, felt like they were on top of the world. You can't beat that.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

In the hallways

The cancer path has influenced our lives in so many ways, and though we aren't currently in the midst of day to day battle, it still has such a huge impact in so many aspects of our daily lives. Some days, we are lucky to forget the battle at large, but really, at least for me, it crops up in little ways at least a few times a day.

Really, I'm so lucky and blessed. Still to this day, I pass people in the hallway at work that stop and bravely ask, "how is your daughter", or, "what's the latest with Sydney"? I call them brave, because truly, they are. Do you take that risk? The risk of the answer being "not so great", or, "we received some bad news". I am so thankful for these people, and their caring commitment to just being such fearless brave human beings.

I always strive to be that brave. It's hard though. But, trying to reach that goal, I've made it a purpose, especially at work, to bring together cancer "peeps". It may be them, their children, their spouses, or other loved ones that are fighting the good fight, but regardless, they deserve some support. I try (try being the operative word), to not shy away from the real stuff, to ask the questions I'd want to be asked, and to really listen to the answers.

It seems to go through phases, and unfortunately, recently has been one of the not so great phases. At work one co-worker has been recently diagnosed, one's husband was moved to hospice today, and one (one of my very best buds) has been told that he has another tumor after Cyber Knife radiation to a tumor found in the brain following the spread of colon cancer. I sit there, and trying as bravely as I can, ask, what's the next step, what's the next treatment, how can I help? So very little, really. But what I try to never forget is that it can always be worse, that the right attitude makes all the difference, and a good listening ear is priceless.

Everyday you're bombarded I'm sure, just as we are, with groups asking for help, for giving. This is good, and necessary. Heck, even we've asked for the same. But, I have a different question - what do you do in the hallways?

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Cleaning up the dishes

Last night was a great night. We did homework, we swam, we had dinner. For those of you that may not know, we have a dinner ritual (which luckily, we get to follow most nights). We sit, we eat, we talk about our day. No TV or electronics allowed. We typically ask the children 2 to 3 questions. The standard 2 are "What was the best part of your day", and, "What was the worst part of your day". Lately, for comic relief, we have thrown in "What was the funniest part of your day". Believe it or not, we actually get a better picture of our kids lives with these simple questions than we do with any others we throw at them at any other time during the day.

Tonight, we were regaled with tales of "100 lashes with a wet noodle" (Ainsley's teacher's hopefully comic response to non performance in the classroom), and with "I hate Spanish" from Sydney. Of course, the families response to that was to start talking in any other language except English. Mark, well, he does Spanish (or Mexican to those in Texas). Graham is quite adept at Chinese. Ainsley, well, she does a chinish - a nice mix of Spanish and Chinese, both of which she's had since pre-k. Me, well, I can do any language in a wonderful Southern accent. I really don't get it - English and I, we do quite well, not but a small hair of southern influence, regardless of growing up in Alabama. But listen to me "try" to speak another language, and you would swear I grew up in backwater Alabama with a banjo on my knee.

So, dinner wraps up with us all speaking in horrible tongues, and moves to the clean up phase. Mark and I have made the determination over the last month or so that there is no reason for adults in our family to clean up dinner. After all, this is why we had children (I did warn you that Mark is PC, and I'm not, right?). So, amidst kicking, screaming, and plate slinging, dinner clean up commences. I must comment, because last night was a rare event. The children cleaned up with only 1 fight amongst them, we had one cleaning the table, and 2 putting the dishes in the dishwasher. Life is good. One day they may graduate to bus boys and girls, and the bonus is of course that they will be bilingual while doing it.

Here's to the future!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

A Different View

So, many have expressed concern over the limited amount of posts from Mark over the summer. I (Lynley) thought I'd pinch hit and try to fill in some of the blanks. But first, we need to set the record straight - I am not Mark, I am unfortunately not witty, and certainly by no means am I a neuroblastoma aficionado. But, I can sometimes string a few words together, and hopefully, I can at least catch you up on our lives.

In case you didn't know, Mark was snatched up by an out-of-the-blue recruiter last December, with visions of steady money and a job just down the road. He couldn't say no (and shouldn't have), so Mark packed up his bags (laptop) and headed a mile and a half down the road to a job at Parker Hannifin, doing what he's always done best, and loved, which is programming. Thus begins the slippage of postings. Out of the house at 7:15 am and back home at TaeKwondo time at a steady Monday through Friday clip.

Personally, I also think that anyone writing a blog for as many years as he has has to feel the challenge of keeping up. He started before "blogging" was "blogging". He started before (for those in the cancer world) Care Pages existed. Yes, in the eyes of technology, Mark is ancient. Again, and this is me talking (writing), but what began as a brain catharsis, somewhere in the 8 years since begun, could maybe sometimes turn into something that seems like a job. I don't know, luckily, no one has ever depended on me writing a daily blurb (good choice), but that pressure if no longer for a personal release could to be a heavy one.

Okay, so enough about blogging. Here's the low down on the summer. The first part of the summer was taekwondo. We breathed it, we slept it, we sweated it, we worked it. Then came the "Great Trip to California" for the taekwondo Junior Olympics/Nationals. Both Graham and Sydney did great, and Sydney came home with a bronze. Not bad for a cancer kid, huh? Ainsley tagged along as always and had a great time. Check out our Flickr page for pics.

We returned happy, elated, and totally burned out on TKD of course. So began a month sabbatical. I'd like to say that exciting things happened during this time, but really, no one wanted excitement. We wanted home and family.

So, we had home, family, and a roast. Roast you say? Yes, that is what we've done this summer. I think we are now in the 3rd hottest summer rankings of all Texas time. Why do we live in this h-e-double hockey sticks place? Honestly, our brains were fried at at least 30 days of 100 temps ago, and I couldn't say.

I have to give an example of the heat (actually, I could give you a hundred, but I don't want to bore you even more). This one stood out. Sydney has to put in ear plugs to swim to fight off swimmers ear. They are made of some orange substance. Yesterday she couldn't find any of her "ears". We all searched. And searched. They have to be where you left them on the porch I said, at least a million times. Found them finally! They had been left on the, shaded mind you, back porch. We found some nice gelatinous goo on the wood planks of the back porch, oddly colored orange, with bits of dog hair sticking out. The dogs ate them you say? Oh noooo, what had been solid now was liquid, a nice melted pile of ear wax, dripping its way through the table. "It's so hot" sayings just begin to roll of the tongue, don't they?

Fast forward to August, when fast again becomes the name of the game. All the chaos of returning to school began to happen, and then before we knew it, school started. Sydney started 4th, Graham 2nd, and Ainsley 1st. We are a week and a few days into it, and so far no one has hated their teacher, and no blood has been shed. Keep your fingers crossed.

Now, I don't have a quaint purpose line to finish with, but I do need to run off, Ainsley and I are making cookies, and she's told me after reading the recipe that we need some "slick" butter. I'm wondering if that's something Central Market will carry...

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Alternate Universe

No, Lynley, just because I decided to do two loads of laundry this morning does not mean you woke up in some alternate universe.

Jeez, it is hard for a guy to have a little purpose around here.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011


Well, well it has been a long time. I guess it says something that I just have not had much to say. The good news is that all seems to be going well. All in all, it has been an excellent summer. For a change, I have more time to spend with the family. Call it selfishness. Call it laziness. But, for once in the last 10 years, I have gone from an average of 80 hour weeks to about 45 hour weeks. It has been a nice hiatus.

Stress is down. Family is up. Life is good.

It isn't that I don't miss being smack dab in the front lines but, it is nice to just BE for a change.

Anonymousness feels nice.

The kiddos, well they are awesome. Perfect, no? We are still battling infighting. Sydney is still exhibiting strange "illnesses" quite regularly. Graham is an overly emotional germaphobe (his words, not mine) , and Ainsley is still stealing candy and hiding it under the couch. No, our lives are still far from perfect. In that sense, there remains a lot to write about. None the less, it is who we are and I would trade it for nothing.

Oh, and I can't forget Lynley. Little has changed with her either. She remains smokin' hot and, thankfully, brainwashed regarding me.

Yep, it is good to be me.

It was nice writing again. I have missed it. Perhaps there will be more in the future.

Although my writing has diminished - my purpose has not.