Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Another Tale of Two Ainsley's

You will have to excuse my absence from the diary yesterday. You see, I was still reeling from the fact that Ainsley had received 3 blue stickers in a row from school. Not only that but I have also received word that she has been both especially kind and helpful, going out of her way to help others when she had completed her work.

Given this trend, Ainsley has not only outperformed Graham and Sydney, but decimated them. Based on this evidence she has trounced them to win the most conscientious, honest and sweet award. Only two weeks in and she has outperformed both her siblings, receiving more accolades than either achieved in an entire semester.

As a dedicated reader of my blog I know you are tired of reading these words. Perhaps you are even put off by my constant bewilderment concerning Ainsley's scholastic accolades. But, given your history of reading my dribble, you should also know that when I am unable to process my reality (be it childhood cancer or extreme shock from twerp excellence) I must write to deal with my horror and angst.

You know, I am half waiting for Ashton Kutcher to pop out with a camera to tell me I have been punked.

It is still far too much for me to process but I must say that I am extremely proud of her. It is one thing to set your behavioral expectations low and make normalcy the bar to achieve but it comes at a price when she so far exceeds your expectations that you feel guilty for underestimating her.

I somewhat feel that way.

And yet, I still spent my weekend finding empty candy wrappers that she had stuffed in the couch after being told she could not have candy. I found her twice (in one day) hiding in the corner of the laundry room chugging cans of Coca Cola - minutes after she had been told she could not have soda. DeeDee found her under the dining room table chowing down on all of the marshmallows from the brand new box of Lucky Charms after her mother had just told her no snacking before dinner.

She hit Graham no less that 10 times and bit Sydney 3 times (twice more than she received from the Guinea Pig)

On Sunday, I asked her to make her bed.

She told me "NO!" and slammed the door.

And those were just the most memorable of her weekend escapades.

What is the difference?

And, before you tell me it is discipline, it's not. She receives consistent punishment - just obviously not enough to prevent another incident.

It will take a great more purpose than I have to figure this one out. God love her.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Instilling Confidence The Hard Way

Very rarely do I come out with a post when I know so very little on the subject but, frankly, I am just too darn excited for Sydney. So, don't take this as the final word. Don't take this as law. Take with a grain of salt and for those of you facing this issue take it as a sign of hope.

So here goes.

I have never forgotten how lucky we are to have made it this far with Sydney's neuroblastoma diagnosis. I know how blessed we are. However, with that gift has also come some challenges. Her treatment success has come with some side effects and, although I would gladly accept them for the gift of life that we have been given, it pains me for her to face these challenges.

Like with treatment, this is a road that she has to travel. I can not do it for her. (Although, I sure wish I could.)

Sydney has faced two side effects which are fairly noticeable to others. They are physical signs of her struggles. The first is her hearing loss which thankfully, up to today, has not been too profound. While she should be wearing her hearing aids on a daily basis she routinely finds reasons to not wear them and thankfully she can make it through life pretty well without them. Hearing aids would be less noticeable if she had long hair to cover her ears and this leads into the second side effect which gives a growing beautiful little girl mountains of distress. Sydney has extremely fine and thin hair. However, it goes beyond just that. Her hair just never came back completely. Her scalp is visible through her strands of hair.

For a young girl this is a huge hurdle and one that effects her perception of herself. It effects her confidence and how she believes she is viewed by others. While we feel that we have done a tremendous job as parents in teaching her to recognize her self worth, we also realize that this is a big hurdle for her to climb. We understand that it is a big deal to her.

Over the years we have tried shampoos and medications but none was the magical elixir. While some of the best (and most expensive) treatments gave her more body they often had the effect of raising and separating the strands of hair, making the issue even more noticeable. Furthermore, there were only a handful of children that we knew that had this same issue and none were having more luck than our family.

Until 2 days ago...

While discussing some testing of Sydney's thyroid with Drs. Eames and Granger, they mentioned some success that another child with ALL was having. Apparently the little girl had very similar symptoms to Sydney but was experiencing success.

Her hair was growing back.

Apparently this little girl had found a physician in North Texas that was having success with Rogaine and cold therapy - lots of success. Within months there was a dramatic difference. We asked them if they could put us in contact. It turns out that the dermatologist is the partner of the physician that removed Lynley's skin cancer. It turns out he was right under our noses.

Now, I don't know the specifics. In fact, I don't even know that it is Rogaine and cold therapy that was the secret. What I have heard has been 3rd or 4th hand and while I do not doubt the success they have seen I certainly don't have enough confidence to tell anyone what the specific treatment plan is.

What I am excited about is the hope. This is one thing that I have always wanted for Sydney. While I would love her no matter ,I want her to be happy and confident and this could be a huge step for her. Over the coming weeks I will detail our plan and progress and, if it turns out to be as successful as it appears to be, you can bet that I will be sharing the details.

In the meantime, my purpose feels rejuvenated.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Buy a Hyundai!

It was a great day for metaiodobenzylguanidine!

Yesterday, Sydney had the privilege of being part of a check presentation for Hyundai's Hope On Wheels. It turns out that Hyundai presented a check for $40,000 to support the development of a new MIBG therapy center at Cook Children's. It was a great step in the right direction for an MIBG facility which is likely to cost well over $1 million. It is a huge step for Texas and the South. Right now, the nearest MIBG centers are in San Fransisco and Michigan. That means anyone needing MIBG therapy (the most effective treatment by response rate for relapse therapy) has to travel across the country right now and vie for one of the coveted spots. You see, these facilities only accommodate about 1 patient per month. The facility at Cooks will bring treatment much closer and provide more open spots for patients to receive an important potentially life-saving therapy. Here is a picture of Sydney adding her hand print to Hyundai's Hope on Wheels. The car will be featured in several ads about childhood cancer this fall.What a cute little girl! I think I might keep her.

However, that was not the only important news to come out of yesterday's little escapade. We also found out some incredibly important information that may go a tremendously long way in helping Sydney have a happy and more confident life.

This is big!

However, you will have to wait until tomorrow to hear the news.

I know, I am such a jerk! But, trust me, it is worth the wait.

It is purpose I never expected.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Neuroblastoma and Liver Lesions

Last weekend I had a phone call from a father of a child with neuroblastoma. His son is in remission and over a year out of therapy. Following a week of stressful quarterly scans they received the dreaded news that they had a spot on the liver in the CT scan. There are 2 lessons to be learned from this that I think are both worth discussing.

First, if you have a child with high risk neuroblastoma you WILL have scans like these. I know it won't be easy but you might as well expect it. The fact of the matter is that we look so hard for neuroblastoma that we are bound to find something. It is the way things are. Accept it. The good news is that many (if not all, for some) of the sporadic "cancer-like" findings on quarterly scans will turn out to be nothing. Take a deep breath and, trust me, I come from "first hand" experience.

So, there you go, that was lesson 1.

The second lesson has to do with liver lesions specifically. The liver has never been one of my strong suits so I spent quite a bit of time this weekend becoming familiar with the issue. While I have heard of several people finding liver lesions in followup scans I really did not have a good feeling for what it truly meant.

It turns out that are a ton of high risk kids that have had lever lesions show up on scans. The best news? Many of the findings of children in remission of high risk neuroblastoma turn out to be benign. This inspired me to write an article illustrating everything I learned. If you ever find yourself in this position there are some things you should know. I detailed them here:

There you go. More than you ever needed to know but something you will be glad you read if you ever run into this situation.

That is what purpose is all about.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Ainsley - the Enigma

Well, the world still seems to be spinning off on some altered dimension. Ainsley came home with another blue sticker on Friday. That is 2 blue stickers in a week in which she only had 3 days to earn stickers. I don't want to brag or anything but that is borderline exceptional and unmatched in her classroom.

Ironically, at home this weekend she smacked Graham no less than 5 times and did about the same to to Sydney. I caught her stealing change out of my desk twice and candy 3 times out of the kitchen cabinet. She screamed most of the way to Lowes and swore she hated me because I took away the iPhone, my iPhone, she was playing on to make a call.

I just don't get it.

She also got mad at me at Walmart because I tried to stick her in a dog house that was up on the very top of the dog food isle. She threw a fit and demanded that I was abusing her. None the less, Graham happily let me lift him up into the dog house. He was perfect. He waited quietly. Later ,when his mother came by, he came pouncing to the entrance and began barking at her. It scared her to death, along with a few customers who could not stop laughing.

There is nothing like the surprise bark attack from the dog houses on the top shelf at Walmart.

Yes, this is probably the reason why Lynley swears she has 4 kids.

None the less, Ainsley spent the rest of the time pouting. She swore I did not love her because I would not put her in the dog house to scare Mommy.

You just can't win.

Regardless, other than a few guests in town, some trips to every pet store in North Texas (Sydney purchased a Guinea Pig and habitat with her own money), replacing the dishwasher, and hanging some new drapes in the living room and playroom. It was a pretty normal average weekend for the Dungans.

I certainly can't complain.

But now, it is back to more serious purpose.

Friday, August 20, 2010

The Problem with Neuroblastoma

One of my greatest frustrations about neuroblastoma is the lack of quality neuroblastoma information out on the Internet. For years I have shouted the mantra - educate yourself. None the less, I still see poor decisions being made - both by pediatric oncologists guiding the decisions of the children entrusted to their care and by the parents themselves. Often, ultimately these mistakes come at the cost of a child's life. In fact, I am sad to say that is the most frequent end result.

Now, I want to be very clear. That is not an opinion. That is fact. It is not something that I concocted in my brain because I believe that I have some secret insight into the disease. What I am talking about is parents and physicians not following what is expert opinion on the disease - not doing exactly what the neuroblastoma experts say is in the best interest of a child with neuroblastoma.

It happens everyday.

The scary part is that most physicians and parents don't know that they aren't doing what is in the best interest of a child. They think they are doing the right thing but in the end, quite often, it is only guaranteeing therapy failure.

So, why does this happen?

Everyone is always looking to put blame on someone. It must be some one's fault. In this case, I don't know that there really is an answer. It seems easy to blame the oncologists. After all, it is often their bad advice that contradicts what experts believe. But, when you look at their plates you can see why they don't have the time to comb through and interpret all of the expert opinion. Chances are they are in the midst of treating 50 to 100 or more other children whose cancer could be 1 of any 80 different types of pediatric cancer. Amidst this, research is changing the landscape of each one of these cancers every day. It is hard enough to be an expert on any one single type of cancer - much less mastering two. Combine this with all of the other pressures and paperwork and it quickly becomes obvious that it is almost impossible for someone that does not work with the disease everyday to stay on top of it. Do you know how complicated of a disease neuroblastoma is?

No, I find it difficult to blame the oncologists entirely.

It must be someone else. The parents? No, it isn't really their fault either. Most parents don't have medical degrees or the wherewithal to master the disease. Most parents I have met have difficulty with reading the research, much less interpreting it. It is one thing to understand the research but to be able to apply it is a much larger and more difficult task. Often, most (those with medical degrees included) quickly loose sight of the forest for all of the trees. No, parents have enough to worry about in caring for their sick child.

It isn't their fault either.

So, whose fault is it. Perhaps, it is mine. Although I advocate for more education, I write as much as time will allow and I talk to as many people as I can; it seems like I always end up finding families after the medical mistakes have been made. Sometimes I even see this with families whom I met early on in their diagnosis but who don't reconnect until after something has gone wrong. How do we catch them before? How do we get the information out there?

At this point, I think the burden still rests on the parents to protect their children. You must ask questions. You must do your homework. Be involved. Talk to other parents. At this point, you are the only one that can do it. I don't tell you this to scare you. I tell you this to help save your child's life. I can't guarantee that you will win the battle if you do everything correctly but I can tell you that you will significantly increase your odds.

You know, a year and a half ago we found out that antibody (given as it was in ANBL0032) increased survival by 20%. That was a huge margin.

I would bet money that avoiding these treatment mistakes would increase survival by even more.

And that, you can control. It is in your hands.

Ask questions. Talk to knowledgeable families. Talk to the experts. Don't simply accept something as fact unless you have heard it from an expert.

It is your purpose.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Altered Reality

Yesterday was the first full day of school. Yes, I said full day of school. Working from my home office, it was a stark contrast from what I was used to. I must admit, although I love the fact that I can work from home and have the kids close by all summer, my stress level was greatly reduced. No longer did I constantly mute my phone to try to hide the sound of shrieking rugrats in the background during conference calls and research meetings. No longer did I have to stop what I was working on to find out what weapon the twerplets were using to terrorize the nanny. On particularly intense days, no longer did I have to close my door (and lock it occasionally) to keep the constant barrage of questions and tattle-tailing from disturbing my concentration.

Yep, yesterday was a totally boring day of work.

You might think that I was incredibly productive yesterday. You would be wrong. Somehow, my intense focus has been altered. Now I can only focus when there is screaming, yelling, and interruption. Without them, my mind seems to exist in a fog. I can't concentrate with all of this quietness. I spent the entire day working at half speed and my brain felt like mush. Without being able to focus on concentrating with all of the noise, my mind just wandered off.


The good news is that the kids did not seem to be negatively affected by our separation. I can not figure out how it occurred but, somehow, Ainsley came home with the holy grail of excellent behavior, the coveted blue sticker. This was only the first full day of school.

How did that happen?

Clearly, the kids returning to school has caused some kind of massive paradigm shift in the universe. All of a sudden everyone is traveling on some kind of altered reality and it was all caused by my kids going back to school. We have entered opposite world.

I hope this doesn't affect my purpose.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Pictures! Really...

The kiddos survived the first day of school. In fact, I think it went very well. Graham and Sydney slipped right back into routine. Ainsley, however, was visibly nervous about the new school year and her new surroundings. Frankly, that is probably best for her. Keeping her off kilter is the only way I have found to stay a step ahead of her. Perhaps that will buy Mrs. Lewis a week or so to establish herself as class chieftain before Ainsley gets her class legs.

What would be a first day of school without some pictures. Haven't seen the kids lately? Here they are in their first day of school best.

The only other dramatics for the day surrounded around a trip to see Dr. Debbie. Sydney has been complaining of some pain behind her ear and we felt it was time to get it sorted out. Furthermore, we are about the only people in the world with the luxury (and toxicity) of following her sinuses with a CT scan. Every six months we get a great view of her jam packed sinuses. Once again, we will be putting up a united front to try and get ahead of the snot. We will start off with some antibiotics to get on top of the infection and then follow that with a 3 drug combination to try and defeat the boogers, once and for all.

Well I had best be off. As you can tell from my rant yesterday this is another half day for the kiddos (and me) , so I had best be focusing on my purpii.

Monday, August 16, 2010

First day of school, orange people, and female domination

Good morning! Summer is over and the first day of school has arrived. The kids could not be more excited and all are ready to get back to school to see their friends. School begins today at 8:30 sharp. However, in an effort to protect our children's gentle psyches and to disrupt any hope of parents getting any work done at the office, they have limited the school day to a half day. Yep, they will be getting out at 11:15 AM. So, for those of you doing the higher math, we will be driving them to school to drop them off at 8:30. Of course, their will be pictures and hugs and all of that good kind of stuff. None the less at 8:30 we will be ushered out. We will then make our 30 minute drive to the office. (9:00 AM) We will work exactly 1 hour and 45 minutes before we have to drive 30 minutes back to school to pick up our hooligans. At which point, we will need to begin watching them for the remainder of the day. Half days drive me insane!

I know, I know, come on Mark. You crotchety old work-a-holic. It is the first day of school.

Yes, I know and I would not be nearly as disturbed if this was not going to be the exact same thing that is supposed to happen tomorrow morning. Yep, you've got it. Two days in a row of half days. It drives me nuts and, once again, I want to take a stand. Either have the kids in school or out of school, but this half day thing is ridiculous.

Stop it!!

Okay, now back to happy days and cuddly bear feelings. Today is the first day of school and the kids can't wait. Can you believe it? Sydney is in 3rd grade, Graham in 1st, and Ainsley is in kindergarten. Time sure flies. My kids are growing up. I want to enjoy every minute before these incredible years disappear.

On another note, Graham and Sydney both competed at the Texas Throwdown at Dallas Convention Center on Saturday. The tournament was thrown in conjunction with several other events including body building, basketball, a car show and something called grapplequest which Lynley described as "wizard" wrestling. The event was huge and I could dedicate an entire entry to all that we saw. My children where shocked by the muscle bound orange men and women that were walking around the event. There is no doubt that this was the spray on tan mecca of the universe. There was enough spray on tan at this one event to supply the coloring for every basketball made for 50 years. It was amazing... and orange. I just don't get it.

None the less, the kiddos fought better that I have ever seen them in competition. Both dominated their matches. Graham won his match 18 to 3 and Sydney's went about the same. In all due honesty, I missed Sydney's final match as she was brought back from the medal stand for a rematch after we had left to work the scoring computer at one of the other rings. Apparently, they put her up against one of the other girls from our team for the gold medal. She lost a close match to Rachel, one of the girls that she spars with on a regular basis. Rachel is a great little sparrer. She is a challenge for Sydney because she is taller and has much longer legs. That is a significant advantage in Tae Kwon Do and Sydney just hasn't figured out how to get around that. None the less, although she was sad about getting the silver medal we were very proud with what we saw. Graham took home the gold medal easily. I probably should not tell you that he fought a girl for his gold medal match. That may make it seem that it was somewhat less deserved. However, you should also know that she was about twice his size, both in height and girth and she was 4 belts higher that he. Most importantly, his technique was right on. I think the mental side of the game might finally be leaking into his brain. He did a stellar job of managing his opponent. I hope he enjoyed it. It will probably be the first and last time he will master the female brain. After all, that is an achievement his father has never accomplished.

Well, I had best be off.

The first day of school awaits. Let the purpose unfold.

Friday, August 13, 2010

The meeting of twerp trainers

Good morning! Well, last night was parent orientation and our first stab at meeting the teachers. Lynley and I received the grand tour of each of the kiddos classrooms and a pretty good idea of what would be expected of them each over the coming year.

Our first stop was with Mrs. Hart, Sydney's third grade teacher. I was immediately taken back as I began to realize that my baby girl was growing up. Gone are the creative play zones and toys. They have been replaced by shelves of books and supplies. The walls which I have been so used to seeing with cartoons representing the alphabet and days of the week have been replaced by pictures of the presidents. It was a stark contrast.

She is growing up. This was a real classroom.

As with every year, her homework and class room responsibilities are growing. She is fully in charge of ensuring that her work is being completed and turned in on time. From now on it will come at a higher price and impact her grades more significantly than ever.

Our next step was with Mrs. Wilson. She was a last minute replacement for Sydney's old first grade teacher who left late in the summer. This, of course, came as a bit of a shock to us as we had been anticipating Mrs. Rogers all summer. With all of that being said, Lynley and I absolutely love Mrs. Wilson and think it will be a very good match for Graham. Up until this point, Mrs. Wilson had been a sub at the school. Subbing for Sydney and Ainsley's classrooms on several occasions. (She has been a sub while her little ones were still at home.) Before that she spent about 10 years as a first and second grade teacher. In short, she is expertly qualified. Better yet, for Graham, she has 3 children and her middle son is just like Graham. It is a perfect fit.

Ainsley, sweet and mischievous Ainsley... As I mentioned last week, she will be the third of the Dunganlets kindergartened by Mrs. Lewis. There is no doubt that Mrs. Lewis can handle her but, once again, I find myself wondering what this year will hold. Will Ainsley continue being the perfect pillar of excellence at school? Will she ever come out of her shell? Only time will tell. I am just hopeful that if she does come out we are able to find some way to control her because we are clearly still struggling at home. Regardless, I am extremely excited for her this year. I can't wait to see who she will be.

Today is all about the kids meeting their teachers. We will spend the better part of the afternoon over at the school walking them through the motions. It ought to be fun to watch them overcome their nerves.

As always, the remainder of the weekend is packed.

I had better get going. I am plush with purpose today.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

End of Summer - in a flash

And so begins the final countdown...

Friday marks the last official weekday of summer for the kiddos. Other than the fact that we visited the school yesterday to see who was going to be in their classes, I don't think it has really sunk in that the end of summer has arrived. That is probably a good thing as it will be over even before they know it. In fact, with everything that is planned over the next few days, I am guessing that it will just be a blur.

Tonight we have Parent Orientation. This is the fun little beginning of the year meeting in which we get buried with everything you need to know about our children going to SCS. This is also a pretty good wallet emptying experience as we also get to sign up for (and pay for) all of the little extras. You know - after care, spirit shirts, meal cards, PTO, Booster Club, etc... (Of course, I would not neglect to mention that there are still a few advertising spaces left on the kid's backpacks;)

Tomorrow is all about the kids. It is their opportunity to meet the teacher and get an idea of what their classrooms will look like. Ainsley already has a pretty good idea as she has been placed in Mrs. Lewis' class which has a rich history of Dungan Twerpdom. (Poor Mrs. Lewis) But, the other two will likely be a little nervous as it will be the first meeting with their teachers. For them, it is a significant unknown. Strict or lenient, sweet or harsh, cuddly or cold, easy or hard - the questions are already running through their heads.

Almost as soon as they get a mental picture of life at school for the next year, they will be mentally preparing for a Tae Kwon Do tournament early Saturday morning at the Dallas Convention Center. Yep, it's the Texas Throwdown. It will be a full day as both Lynley and I have also volunteered at the tournament.

Quickly, Sunday will arrive. Normally this day would be relegated to chores but I am thinking we may put a little of that off to truly enjoy our last day of summer in the pool with the kiddos.

You see. I told you it was jam packed.

Well, speaking of which, I have a meeting planned first thing this morning and have to get ready. The kiddos are already rustling. In fact, the Grahamster was already wrestled control of the remote and is watching the Disney Channel beside me on the couch.

Let the purpose begin.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The state of research

So, what is going on in the neuroblastoma research world. I have not talked about it much as of late - mostly due to the sheer fact that I have been buried. However, I have secretly (or not so secretly for some) been reviewing a slew of research proposals. Over the last month I have been through about 30 neuroblastoma specific proposals. These are all research proposals for individuals attempting to receive funding. I absolutely love the privilege of reviewing scientific proposals and, to this day, there is nothing that gives me more nerdly joy than combing through neuroblastoma research.

I prefer combing through research proposals the most. From the perspective of understanding the science of neuroblastoma, these are the most fun because you are often exposed to unpublished research along with a wealth of published data that often serves as the basis for the proposals. The bottom line is that I get to see perspectives that are often not available through other means. I get to read research support and knowledge that is available no where else. I also get the answer to the question of "Why?" which is not always clear from published material. Additionally, given these opportunities, I get excellent insight into the way research is moving. I get to see the new ideas. I get to answer the question: What is on the horizon?

Now, with all of that being said, I must also say that I have never been more depressed by a set of scientific proposals that I have been as of late. This last group has been pathetic. It is not that the research has necessarily been bad. Some of it has been very good from a scientific perspective. Unfortunately, where it all seems to fail is in the "matter" category. I have never seen a group of proposals that mattered less to patients with neuroblastoma and I find that terribly distressing. Out of all of those proposals, I read one that I felt had the potential to eventually make a difference in the lives of children with neuroblastoma.


It is disappointing because I usually see much more. I usually see creative ideas that have a clear path into the clinic and a meaningful impact. This time though, for the most part, that was missing. In the cases where I did see some potential impact for children with relapsed disease, the science was so bad or the structure of the trial was so poor that I could not in good consciousness recommend it to anyone. In these cases, these were clearly drugs pushed forward in a desperate act to provide children with relapsed and refractory disease more options. Unfortunately, the science and rationale behind the proposals were incredibly weak. Hey, don't get me wrong, I want more options for kids with relapsed disease. I just want the options to be good ones - and not the ones I have seen recently. It is almost like people have gone from using strong scientific rationale which supports moving a drug into the clinic in favor of picking something at random because they want to believe really hard that something will work.

I have never seen a more disappointing crop.

Now, before anyone makes any assumptions, these musings have nothing to do with my position in the NANT, their trials, or for that matter, anything I have seen come out of COG. As long as I am mentioning major neuroblastoma groups it is also worth noting that this has nothing to with what I am seeing come out of Sloan. In my opinion, those groups, for the most part, are on track. In fact, for two of those groups in particular have some incredible hope brewing in their cauldrons.

No, what I am disappointed in is the research that eventually flows into the clinic (potentially into those groups) and sadly it was not up to par. I don't know what is happening in the research world but the last month has not brought me the joy that it usually does.

It seems to me there is a large group looking for funding that, instead, need a good dose of purpose.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Back to normal - well our normal,,,

It has been another busy couple of days since the Keister Calamity of 2010. However, I am happy to report that Lynley's hiney appears to have returned to it's former glory. Her winces from my love pats are no longer a direct result of pain and are, once again, from annoyance. In an effort to salvage my marriage and the happiness that once existed before I started on the tushy topic there will be no further discussion. She will no longer be the butt of my jokes.

On to life...

Last weekend was a fairly normal one, although Lynley kept a steady stream of chores flowing for the grown ups. This, of course, left me playing with the kiddos. ;) I wish! Unfortunately, there was furniture refinishing, kitchen recaulking, and the usual slew of cleaning and laundary.

The rugratigans spent the majority of the weekend in the pool and enjoying water sports. This was a nice departure from their usual couch sitting and wii playing existence. Strangely enough Ainsley spent the majority of the weekend as the odd man out. It seems that Graham and Sydney have ostracized Ainsley for as long as she continues to be abusive. It seems as though they have had enough of the punches, kicks, and slaps. I don't blame them really and perhaps this might help solidify the family's stance on non violence. Maybe, just maybe, this might be what turns the tide. Ainsley does not like the fact that she is not the center of Sydney's attention. This could definitely be the motivating factor behind a kinder, gentler version of Ainsley.

Somehow, I doubt it though...

Regardless, today marks the beginning of their last week of summer. Next week will bring another new year of school so we will see how much new fun we can reign in over the next few days.

This week is about end of summer purpose.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

A Keister Catastrophe

Yes, I heard. Apparently, I did not write in my diary yesterday. I apologize, but, you must understand. Yesterday was cram packed with sending all of my good energy towards healing Lynley's bottom.

You see, it is broken.

It all started on Tuesday night. Both Graham and Sydney had back to school parties at Roller Land. As soon as we had finished lacing up the kiddos skates we sensed it. The smell of thousands of discarded shoes and dirty carpet. The sound of 80s music reverberating through the rink. A deep voice booming over the loudspeaker was announcing the beginning of an hour of "all skate." Clearly it was beckoning us. Nostalgia from our lost youth was calling our names. The next thing we knew Lynley and I were both lacing up skates.

If it wasn't bad enough that we were becoming "those" parents (you know, the ones that break out the 50s dancing at prom or, in this case, the parents trying to relive their past by rollerskating at the kids back to school party) we really had no idea if we could still skate. I mean, it had probably been roughly 25 years. Could we still pull it off? Could we do it without bringing disgrace to our progeny?

Honestly, we could have cared less. It took only seconds to regain our skate legs (apparently, it is just like riding a bike) and we were off. We had a blast. Skating circles around the kids and doing our best to avoid other fallen skaters (there were many).

Hand in hand, around the rink

We had a blast. Even our kiddos were surprised by our grace (well, semi-grace). None the less, Lynley and I spent the remainder of the evening skating around like teenagers (just old ones).

It was during the last song that it happened. There we were, hand in hand and coming up quickly on a slow moving gaggle of newly born skaters. One fell and then it was like dominoes. The next thing we knew our paths forward were blocked. I made a lateral move into the center of the rink which spared my demise but Lynley was less lucky. Her choice was to topple a bunch of first graders or to perform an emergency sit down maneuver.

She chose the latter. Unfortunately her sitter-downer was battered in the debacle. And so it was written, Lynley's glorious tushy was broken.

It has been a tough couple of days for Lynley and her distressed derriere. It is clear from her pained movements that her toucus is still in great distress. While we have held constant vigil to her fantastical fanny it seems that healing is slow in coming. Yes, her gluteous greatous maximus continues to bring her discomfort.

Not to worry though, we are steadfast by her side, dedicated to bringing relief to her righteous rump.

See honey, I told you this wasn't the biggest pain in the ass you ever had.

That spot is reserved for me.

With love and much purpose, I have your backside.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Fight the power

I just don't think that it is right that I should get in trouble for what I write in my diary. Never-the-less, I am in the dog house. Apparently, some of my diary snoopers thought it would be a great idea to suggest to Lynley that the addition of another little boy Dunganlet would solve all of our issues with Graham. Supposedly this would balance the testosterone levels within our household and re right the power.

Well , what many of you failed to consider in your effort to help our family was that Lynley is apposed to more children - violently.

In fact, in her words, "she is soooooooo done."

I then received a half hour lecture on the fact that I am not supposed to write things in my diary which will get her accosted in the halls and via email to produce more offspring.

You see now why Graham has no chance.

And neither do I.

This is why us boys need so much dang purpose.

Monday, August 2, 2010

A tale of 2 Grahams

This weekend I was introduced to a new little boy. His name was Graham Dungan and he was likely the coolest little boy I have ever met. You see, on Friday night Graham had his best friend Bryce spend the night. That worked well for us as Bryce is pretty low maintenance. In fact, he is a downright blast to have around - not only for Graham but for us as well. This weekend was well deserved for Graham and it had been a long time in coming. To enhance the boyness of this overnight event DeeDee even offered to keep the girls overnight. This great sacrifice laid the ground work for the greatest boy night ever.

It wasn't as though they did anything special. There was swimming, flips off of the diving board, super sonic jumps on the trampoline, cap gun wars, pizza for dinner, and even a little Percy Jackson: the Lightening Thief playing on the big screen. But, in the grand scheme of ultra super cool boy nights, there really wasn't anything magical outside of what we saw from the Grahamster.

It was night and day. Graham transformed from the Graham we knew to this confident little boy that was an absolute blast to be around. There was no whining, no tattling, and no complaining. He was a completely different kid and frankly the one we have always known he was. It was incredible to see him unencumbered, free and, well, alive. He is such an awesome kiddo.

Interestingly, this new Graham stayed with us well through the next morning. In fact it was not until about 10 minutes after the girls returned home that his voice began to change. It went from exuding confidence and fun to this whiny, little cry-y voice that just completed his transforming look. His shoulders began to slump, his head began to hang, and the tears began to flow. Apparently, with the arrival of the girls, everything went from perfect balance to completely unfair.

It was quite possibly the most dramatic transition that I have ever seen in a person. You might assume that it was because he was tired after a long night of boydom but I don't really believe that was the case. You see, it wasn't that he got worse. He simply turned back into the Graham that he was whenever the girls were around. It that world, he is discriminated against and holds the lowest rung on the ladder - at least that is how he perceives it.

The question for me is: How do we bring out the other Graham? He is so much happier and balanced. How do we help him with his sisters?

I don't know that I have any answers but this little exercise certainly illustrated the issue. To say the difference was dramatic would be a gross understatement.

It is yet another purpii quandary.