Thursday, September 30, 2010

Sydney's Spanish Inquisition

After my post on Tuesday you may be wondering if I ever made it off the couch.

No. I am still here.

Both Lynley and I are in severe old people pain and the only thing keeping us moving is the fact that we can laugh at our own decrepitness together. The good news is that I expect the soreness to start clearing today. Our bodies are adjusting and while we are still not hard bodies we are at least starting to feel like we have human bodies again.

As always, it has been a busy week. It is only Thursday and we have already had 4 Tae Kwon Do practices in an effort to prepare the kiddos for their belt test tonight. That means at least an hour of belt testing tonight followed by another hour and a half of practice. What do you think? Have we gotten the kids a little over committed in Tae Kwon Do?

It is alot but, for the time being, the kids seem to be enjoying it.

Today will be an interesting day at school. This morning we will be meeting with Sydney's Spanish teacher after a less than glowing progress report. Sydney is an interesting challenge when it comes to Spanish. Here we have a straight A student that regularly gets accolades for her hard work and behavior. Yet, for as long as she has taken Spanish, she has always had problems. She continues to make good grades but she has participation problems in Spanish and it seems that, no matter who the teacher is, there always seems to be an issue.

It amazes me that we receive such diametrically opposed reviews of her performance between Spanish and her other classes. It makes me wonder. What is the cause? Like I said, she has had multiple teachers so it is not likely a personnel issue. Is it Spanish? She say she finds the class uninteresting and boring but it certainly is not from her overwhelming abilities in Spanish. Given the fact that she pretty much refuses to participate, I am wondering if this may be a hearing issue or an embarrassment issue. I really don't know. I am in the dark here. I am hopeful that we may get some insight after meeting with her teacher this morning.

Our meeting with Sydney's Spanish teacher will be quickly followed by a field trip to the Dallas Aquarium with Ainsley. Last year Lynley went with Graham and this year I get to go with Ainsley. I am somewhat excited. Will I get to see Ainsley's alter ego? Will I get to see the blue sticker bandit in action? Will I even recognize her?

It ought to be very interesting. The field trip will take up the bulk of the day and I am guessing that my only time in the office will be the time spent before I started writing in my diary.

So, I must get going, the day is packed full of purpose.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Lynley and I are going insane

At 4:00 AM this morning it began.

You may remember that about 6 months ago I started Insanity, a workout program designed to get you in great shape over a period of 60 days. I completed the program and, lo and behold, lost 30 pounds in the process. It was quite a success. The only problem was that a week later I broke my big toe and was benched for several months until my foot was able to absorb the shock of working out again. I don't know whether it was the benching of myself or the fact that I crammed by gullet full of Mexican food and ice cream but, it was not long before I put 10 to 15 pounds back on. The good news, though, is that my toe has recovered and I am now able to work out and strive to return back to my musculous svelte self.

Lynley, too, has decided to join me in an effort to achieve her ultimate sexiness. (Although, how could anyone be any sexier really?) Regardless, this morning we began our quest. I must say that this time I started off much better. I was able to complete the warm up on my first day without pausing which for me is quite a feat. For anyone that has done Insanity, you know what I mean. For Lynley it was a bit more difficult. However, I must give her credit where credit is due. She was able to do much more than I had done the first time I had ever attempted Insanity. She didn't even pass out. You may laugh, but it happens.

The good news is that we both felt the great surge of adrenalin after completing our morning workout. Lynley went on to do some work and then mixed in some chores. She was smart she stayed on her feet.

I, on the other hand, grabbed my laptop and plopped down on the couch. Sounds relaxing, right? The problem is that after sitting here for a couple of hours, I can't get off the couch. It seems my legs and back no longer function. I am intensely stiff and every time I move I feel pure unadulterated pain.

Worse yet, as Lynley has walked by me this morning complaining about how sore she was, I just made fun of her. I told her to suck it up.

Now, I still have to make my way upstairs, clothe the kiddos, take a shower, and make breakfast and do it all without her recognizing that I am the supreme wuss of the Dungan workout regime.

I can't even get off the stupid couch.

I know that when I move and crawl my way upstairs that there is no way that I will be able to do so without looking like a 100 year old (no offense meant to you agile 100 year olds). She is going to find out that I am actually sorer than her and I can guarantee that there will be no end to the abuse and the humiliation. There is no way that I can fake it - and that is if I can even make my way up the upstairs successfully.

Once again, my mouth has gotten me into more trouble.

I don't think there is enough purpose in the world to get me out of this one.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Back to reality

Good morning! It is good to be back home. It was a busy week both at home for the fam and away for myself. Late Friday evening I returned home from 3 days of reviewing in Washington D.C. As always it was truly a privelege to have the opportunity to review the neuroblastoma research proposals. It is one of the few places where patients (consumers as they are called at the AIBS) get an equal vote for funding. I am always amazed at how well we are treated and thankful for the opportunity to be heard. In this scenario our opinions are heard and truly impact the discussions. In the end, I feel confident that the process was not only informed by our children's experience with neuroblastoma but I think everyone (especially basic scientists) walk away with a new understanding of the impact of their work.

On the home front, Lynley had her hands full. With school on Wednesday and Thursday, 2 Tae Kwon Do practices, a day off of school on Friday, a birthday party and a doctor appointment for Sydney, they were all kept running. While I always feel drained after several 12 hour days of research proposal review, I know that Lynley had the tougher job. The good news was that they finally had the appointment to meet with the dermatologist to discuss Sydney's thin hair. Once again, I am hopeful that this may be a solution for her. Time will tell but he seems confident that Sydney's situation may be rectified. I am still learning about the process but you can bet I will share more once I can speak intelligently about it.

My first day home was filled with a Tae Kwon Do tournament in Arlington. As usual the kiddos did pretty well. Sydney brought home a 1st place trophy in sparring and Graham a second place trophy. Graham has close though. He barely lost the gold in a sudden death match with one of his team mates. We spent the bulk of the day there cheering on our team mates and even had an early dinner afterwards with the team at Pappasito's.

As usual, that was followed with Cinderella Sunday at the Dungan household. After several days of being out of town and then a full day of play at the tournament it was back to the salt mines. Grocery shopping, laundry, and cleaning - the stuff dreams are made of. Thankfully, Lynley let the crew off to watch the Cowboys at noon and, low and behold, we were even able to play monopoly for awhile after that. That was until Ainsley spilled her orange juice all over the board and the idea of playing with sticky orange juice soaked money left everyone wanting to play something else outside.

In the end, it is just good to be back and plugged into the chaos that is our lives.

It was a week full of purpose but I am glad to be back with my purpii.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Getting off the research bandwaggon

Tomorrow I leave for a trip to Washington D.C. to finally discuss much of this neuroblastoma research that I have been reviewing. You may remember about a month ago when I was complaining about the quality of this year's latest round of research. Yes, that was depressing. However, this latest round has been far better. In fact, I would even say that some of it bordered on exciting. I am seeing some neuroblastoma research finally moving forward that I have been waiting on for years. Frankly, I am ecstatic to see the proposals out there competing for dollars. Whether they will be funded, is difficult to tell, but I could not be happier to see the ideas out there in written form. While it is not a guarantee that the ideas will be carried forward, it certainly means that someone is feeling strongly about them. Overall, I would say that the research that has been brought forward this year is better than the last, although I can still see room for improvement.

In general, one of my greatest frustrations continues to be the focus on these druggable targets in which there is no drug. You see, one of the great things that researchers do is exploit weaknesses. In fact, they are pretty good at finding these weak links in neuroblastoma cells. I can't tell you how many proposals I read where another investigator has defined a new theoretical way to kill a neuroblastoma cell. With new technologies now available to identify these new targets it seems everyone is interested in exploiting a newly found method of killing a neuroblastoma cell. The problem however is that even though the researchers believe that they have identified a new way to kill a cell, none of them seem to have a drug available that can actually do the job. That means they have to create the drug and that, unfortunately, means at least a decades of work - a long time to see if the original hypothesis will hold true in kids. And, that is only possible IF they are able to create the drug and IF the drug can actually be tolerated by humans and IF they can actually find a company to make a drug for a little known cancer called neuroblastoma. With this methodology you have to hit a home run on your first swing. Anything less is wasted effort - years of wasted effort. The only way the idea will make it to reality is if it is the cure for neuroblastoma or if it has applicability in another cancer.

Don't get me wrong. I know new discoveries are exciting. But our kids just don't have the time to wait. This type of research model just doesn't work for neuroblastoma and it never will. The only hope we have for any new drug development is that it works outside of neuroblastoma because unless it is the silver bullet (and it will probably still be a problem even if it were the case) it will never, ever make it to reality. Neuroblastoma is too small a market and we simply do not have the resources to create our own drug. Even if we do, it will not happen in any reasonable amount of time.

We have to be more creative. We have to either focus on targets that exist in a variety of different diseases or focus on druggable targets in neuroblastoma where there is actually a drug in existence. I wish it were different. It just isn't.

This is a case were pure purpose still isn't enough.

Monday, September 20, 2010

A football moment

Good morning! As everyone would expect it was another jam packed weekend for the Dungan's. While Friday was a calm and relaxing evening spent snacking on pizza and popcorn in our home theater (this is the fancy term we use to describe our living room when we close the shutters and watch a movie), it was the beginning of a rather busy weekend.

Life was especially hard for me. I had to get up at 6:00 AM (yes, I got to sleep in) to get ready to play in the Sonny Singh Open, a charity golf tournament to fund a scholarship at the Health Science Center. It is a tournament that I play in annually. Once again, I had to be on my best behavior as I was playing with the school's provost who also happens to oversee Lynley's department at the school. You may remember last year that I played with the Dr. Ransom, the president of the school, and was forced to play for her job after giving him a hard time. Of course, once he realized I was Lynley's husband, her jobs was never really in jeopardy. In his words, "Lynley was too valuable." However, also in his words, "her husband was not." Thankfully, I was able to keep my game together and we won the tournament. This year was a repeat performance. We won (and for a change, for the most part I kept my mouth shut.) We were able top take home the coveted green sock. You know, the Master's has the green jacket, well, the Sonny Singh Open has the green sock and we now have a pair.

After the tournament I caught back up with the family who had spent the morning at Tae Kwon Do and eating lunch with the team. The kiddos immediately gravitated towards my goodie bag and had carefully pieced it out amongst themselves before I had the opportunity to fully make it through the door. Later that evening the kiddos attended Ninja night GSX and Lynley and I had a big date on the town - that mean a few drinks, a sandwich, and some live music at the Love Shack.

Sunday was back to all business. I still had some neuroblastoma research proposals to review and we had a mountain of chores to muddle our way through. However, with all of that being said I did find time to watch the Cowboys game. It was a huge day for me. Although the Cowboys were relatively painful to watch my son took an interest in the game. This was a huge step for a dad. We even tossed the ball around during commercials. What started off as a nerf football toss across the living room (don't tell Lynley) graduated to some real genuine catch in the front yard with a pigskin. Not only was I tossing back and forth a real football with my son but he was actually catching it and throwing it with some skill.

This was a first. While it was not the first time he and I played catch it was the first time he seemed to truly enjoy it. It was a proud moment and one that I will cherish forever. It was worthy of a closet full of green socks.

Dad, boy, football. It does not get much better.

It refueled my purpose.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Pulling an Ainsley

Well, I finally got the official word from the doctor. It turns out that Grammie pulled an Ainsley - she cracked her head open. For better or worse, she is not quiet as hard headed as Little Miss A and actually broke her skull and ended up with an extended stay in the hospital. Apparently there is also some bruising on the brain. The good news is that repeat scans have shown that the bruising does not appear to be getting any worse. She is alert and awake and apparently on the mend. The doctors expect her to recover and she should be out of the hospital in 3 to 5 days assuming everything continues to go well. She is still experiencing some unsteadiness but she is working with physical therapists to deal with some of those issues. We should know more over the next few days as they watch her progress.

I will be back in touch with the doctor and social worker today to get an update. Lynley and I are discussing the possibility of heading up to Illinois to see if we can help her out a bit. We will see how things go.

On another note today is another busy neuroblastoma day. I am in the process of reviewing another 15 neuroblastoma research proposals which I anticipate will take me through the better part of another day and the weekend. At lunch I will be attending a Hematology-Oncology Grand Rounds at Cook's covering some interesting neuroblastoma research on lipoproteins. All in all it will make for a pretty enjoyable day. I hope I can say the same for Grammie.

Purpose moves on.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Another day of Dungans

Thank you for all of the kind thoughts and emails concerning Grammie. Information continues to be sparse and mixed. Unfortunately, I am getting the information 3rd and 4th hand and the bits and pieces I receive do not make much sense. I am hoping that today I will be able to talk to to the physician and get a better picture of what is going on with her. For the time being, I know that she has a bunch of stitches in the back of her head and they still have some concerns regarding her back. Nothing more has been mentioned to me regarding internal bleeding or a blood clot. However, I still have little clue of what is going on. At this point, I have heard the gamut.

On the home front things are pretty good. The kiddos are all busy with school and tae kwon do. You may notice that I say all the kids. With the demise of GSX's tumbling program, Ainsley began tae kwon do this week. I really do not know how wise of a decision that is. I don't know that it is appropriate to make her any more dangerous. She is dangerous enough.

Of course, I say that as she continues to receive multiple blue stickers every week. In fact, last week she received a blue sticker on everyday but one. It still shocks me. So much so, I met with the teacher to find out what the problem was. It turns out that the minute she breaks the kindergarten threshold she apparently transforms from a Graham beating, Sydney slapping, smart mouthy little twerp into a perfect student bent on helping others and doing her best to ensure class harmony.

It is not an ill conceived joke on her parents. Ainsley is an absolute angel in class - a true delight.

She is, apparently, truly deserving of her excellent marks in behavior.

She has now so completely surpassed what her brother and sister achieved in the way of behavior that I feel guilty making any comparisons. Suffice it to say, as of this date she has already achieved more blue stickers than her brother or sister did in an entire year - combined.

There, enough said.

Well, I had best be off. Purpose is stirring again.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Prayers for Grammie

Good morning. I am happy to report that the Dungan kidlets are doing well. Unfortunately, Grammie, the kiddos great grandmother, took a fall last night and has ended up in the trauma center with what looks like a concussion, broken bones, and some external and possibly internal bleeding. Details are sketchy as of this moment but I do know that we would all love some prayers flowing in her direction.

As to everything else... Well, I don't much feel like talking about it right now. I am off to find out more about Grammie.

I have got more purpose than I know what to do with this morning.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Neuroblastoma - a fishy fix

As I mentioned late last week, this year has brought with it some interesting research regarding fish oil, most specifically DHA, and the treatment of neuroblastoma. I have been following the research of this group since 2006 and I think it was time to provide an update. (Please note that James Street wrote an excellently easy to follow summary of the following study which I have pasted parts of below)

Scientists from the Karolinska Institute in Sweden recently published an important paper on the positive impact of omega-3 fatty acids (which are found mainly in fish oil) on neuroblastoma (Gleissman 2010). These scientists had previously shown that DHA (the most unsaturated form of fatty acid in fish oil) could cause apoptosis (i.e., programmed cell death) in cancer cells. They have now extended their work to experimental animals, showing that fish oil supplementation caused either stabilization or actual regression of tumors in these animals. As they state, DHA “is a promising new agent for cancer treatment and prevention of minimal residual disease” (ibid).

The paper encompasses two parts, one on treatment, the other on prevention. In the prevention half, they gave DHA as a food supplement to rats before the animals were implanted with human neuroblastoma cells. (Because they lack a thymus, the rats in question are unable to reject tissue from a foreign species.) In the treatment half of the study, athymic rats that already had established neuroblastomas were force fed DHA daily and their tumor growth and DHA levels were then monitored. The authors concluded that “untreated control animals developed progressive disease, whereas treatment with DHA resulted in stable disease or partial response.” The response depending on the dose of DHA.

There appears to be a very special relationship between DHA and nerve tissue. For instance, a deficiency of DHA will lead to delayed neural development. Compared to normal nerve tissue, neuroblastoma is “profoundly deficient in DHA,” whereas the level of the competing omega-6 fatty acid arachidonic acid (AA) is increased. This suggested to the authors that “an imbalance between omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids may serve as an adaptation mechanism in nervous system tumors.” Logically, then, one might expect the addition of DHA to slow or even stop the growth of neuroblastoma.

This is indeed what happened when they gave DHA supplements. The authors reported: “In the DHA-supplemented group the mean time to tumor take was significantly delayed compared to the control group” (ibid.). One rat receiving the DHA-enriched diet did not develop tumors at all. In the treatment part of the study, the median tumor volume index at the end of the experiment (day 12) was 3.72 for animals receiving one gram of DHA per kilogram of body weight, 5.47 for animals receiving half a gram per kilogram of DHA, and 9.48 in the control animals. The results were statistically significant. Put another way, a high dose of DHA decreased normal tumor growth by about two-thirds. As was predicted in the authors’ ‘omega-3 deficiency’ theory, the level of DHA in the tumor tissue tripled in the higher-dose treatment group vs. the controls

The finding that DHA supplements cut the amount of tumor formation by two-thirds in experimental rats was astonishing, but not exactly new. It was in line with previous findings that a fish oil-enriched diet could inhibit the formation of various other kinds of tumors, including papillomas (Akihisa 2004), breast cancer (Manna 2008, Yuri 2003, Noguchi 1997), cancers of the large and small intestines (Toriyama-Baba 2001) lungs (Toriyama-Baba 2001), colon cancer (Takahashi 1993, Iigo 1997), sarcoma (Ramos 2004), and prostate cancer (Kelavkar 2006). Other studies have shown that omega-3 is strongly associated with a decreased risk of aggressiveness in prostate (Fradet 2006), kidney (Wolk 2006) and breast cancer (Kim 2009).
But DHA supplementation worked better at preventing the occurrence or recurrence of tumors than at treating established tumors. “Our study shows that DHA given as a daily oral supplement displays a moderate capacity to reduce neuroblastoma growth in the majority of treated animals,” Judith Gleissman and her Karolinska coworkers wrote, “but not in all.” Some animals simply did not incorporate DHA into their tumor tissue, and it was precisely those animals that did not respond to the treatment.

Do these recent Swedish findings have relevance to cancers in humans, including, but not limited to, children with neuroblastoma? I believe they do. The authors point to a study in an Inuit population of Alaska, which has a DHA intake several-fold higher than typical Caucasians. In one study, this group’s neuroblastoma rate was one-tenth that of a comparable lower-48 American population (Dewailly 2001). Alarmingly, in most of America, the ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids has “dropped precipitously” over the past few decades. This bodes ill for American children and their parents and loved ones. Although, I must wonder, have we seen an associated increase in neurobalstoma?

Regardless, eating more fatty fish seems, even more than ever, a prudent thing to do. Children, too, should be encouraged to increase their DHA intake through fatty fish consumption. Given that fatty fish is usually not high on the menu for children, high quality supplements of DHA and EPA may therefore be the best solution for many. For vegetarians, getting sufficient amounts of DHA and EPA can be a challenge. The best sources are walnuts, flaxseeds and flaxseed oil, olive oil, canola (rapeseed) oil, and avocado. DHA supplements derived from microalgae, not fish, are also readily available. There are also three or four clinical trials underway to test the effect of DHA and other omega-3 fatty acids in various kinds of cancer, such as lung, breast and lymphoma. Readers can find out about these by entering the terms “DHA,” “EPA” and cancer into the database.

Now the important question to answer for most of you is: Should I be giving my child with neuroblastoma high doses of fish oil? First off, you should never give any type of high dose supplement to your child while they are undergoing therapy. Period. Supplements can impact the effectiveness of chemotherapy and other treatments. Supplementation could very easily make treatments that are proven to be effective absolutely worthless. So, don't do it. Secondly, you should always discuss any type of supplementation with your oncologist. While there is some pretty hopeful preclinical research regarding DHA and neuroblastoma this still has not been proven in human beings. However, with that being said, that does not mean that you should not be working towards trying to establish a healthy omega-3 /omega-6 balance in your child. I would work (and have worked) to try to establish the healthiest anti-neuroblastoma diet possible.

Finally, there is more good news here. While the rats utilized in the study above were given 1g/kg of DHA, you may be thinking that would require a ton of fish oil to reach the equivalent amount in children. Not as much as you might think, the good news is that it is not a linear relationship. Dose translation into humans using a commonly accepted BSA (body surface area) calculation means that a 25kg child would only need about 6g to achieve an equivalent dose. Bottom line, that is achievable. Now, I still would not run out to the store and stuff my child full of 6 grams of fish oil per day. But, it is seeming possible that this is achievable in humans which makes me feel even stronger that this should be one of those items that is carried forward.

I would like to see this in trial.

So, what do you think, how fishy is this purpose?

Monday, September 13, 2010

I have got to stop demonstrating my usefulness

Good morning! It seems we have survived yet another weekend. On my behalf, I am ecstatic to tell you that I have completed the transformation of the foyer and upstairs landing. The walls are now a beautiful shade of tannish-green. I am sure there is a sophisticated and flowery official name for the color but, I can assure you, in "man" lingo it is simply "tannish-green." It feels great to finish a project, especially one that included the building of scaffolding, but I know I should have just drawn the project out. By showing a willingness to work and an effectiveness of getting the job done, I have only demonstrated my usefulness to the female of the species. I can already see the wheels turning.

Lynley is plotting.

In my noble effort to improve the quality of my family's shelter, I have only screwed myself.

Not to worry though, although the demise of my unencumbered free time is on the horizon, the kiddos seem to be doing just fine. Saturday was busy for the twerps. Busy in twerplet terms is a bit different that busy in man terms. While I was busy building and grunting they were busy with Tae Kwon Do and playing over at a friend's house. After practice and lunch at the Love Shack the kidlets were invited over to Rachel and Ryan's (two of the newest members on team) where they spent the afternoon in a kiddo backyard mecca - plush with a tree house which included a secret bush entrance, a bow and arrow target range, climbing wall, and just about anything else a childhood brain could dream up for a kid cool backyard.

This, by the way, had the unfortunate effect of sparking my kiddos interest who also noticed my manly effectiveness and began preparing a list of "Dad-do-its" to renovate their backyard amusement park. For some reason the 2 story playhouse (with rock climbing entrance, swings, and slide) that they play on about 5 times per year was no longer sufficient. Apparently they now need me to construct a tree house to be sufficiently happy. They also neglected to remember that they have both a trampoline and pool which is apparently no longer that big of a deal when you want a tree house and you know your Dad can build it.

In all actuality though. this may not be that bad. If I can get the wife-folk and the kid-folk fighting over my time, maybe it will buy me a few hours to watch some football. It is possible. I sure hope the Cowboys start playing better (which may be less possible) or I might not need the diversion.

On another note, Sydney had a huge headache yesterday afternoon. It was so bad she eventually vomited. The good news is that, after spewing, she felt much better. I had really hoped we would be out of the headaches by now. From a neuroblastoma perspective they still scare me. I was hoping that we had dealt with them by over drugging her sinuses over the last month. While they have truly been fewer and farther between, I would feel much better if they were simply gone for good.

Well enough about my paranoia. Le's just hope her headaches stay away for awhile.

That is one piece of purpose I would prefer to not have on my plate.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Something FIshy with Neuroblastoma

If you go back in my diary over the years you will find one recurring theme, my fascination with fish oil. In fact, at times, I have to admit it had even turned into an obsession. It all started back in 2006 with a study from the Karolinska Institute which showed that docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), an omega-3 fatty acid found in abundance in fish oil, killed neuroblastoma cells. This obsession eventually led to two major frustrations with DHA.

First, the dosages which showed activity in animal models would be excessive in humans. While I don't know whether there is a linear dosing relationship between mice and humans, the most effective dose for mice was around 1 gram per kilogram. If you compare that to the dosing of DHA found in health food stores you would be looking at swallowing a plate full of pills. In Sydney's case, she would need to swallow about 50 fish oil pills a day.

Second, I also had frustration that no one was moving the science forward quickly enough. I spent several years writing and prodding researchers to move the research forward with little luck. Even at high doses I new DHA could be delivered safely. While I truly believed in the idea behind DHA there just wasn't enough evidence (even in my mind) that DHA should be put into kids without additional compelling evidence.

Well, this year my fire has been reignited and I find myself somewhat justified that I have continued to supplement Sydney with DHA over the years. (Yes, I did that.) I want to be clear, though. I have not been giving her monstrous doses. I did it under doctor supervision. I have also been dosing her in a safe and healthy manner in an effort to balance her omega 3s and omega 6s which I will show to be very important in a disease like neuroblastoma. Regardless, more has been published about DHA use in neuroblastoma in 2010 and I thought it was worth revisiting. Over the next week, I plan to write a series of articles on this subject and make a strong argument for pushing the science forward more quickly.

Fish oil is not snake oil and I plan to use my purpose to show it.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Duck and Cover

Big excitement around the Dungan household yesterday, Hermine came ashore along the gulf and decided to make its way up I-35 and straight into Fort Worth. Although we are well off the coast, Hermine has dumped a little over five inches of rain at our house. That is a lot, especially considering the fact that we have another day to go. It even gave the kiddos a scare as a tornado warning was issued at the school. All of the kiddos were placed into safe areas within the school and given the command to "duck and cover." This was the reason:

The tornado appeared not to far from the kiddos over Benbrook lake. The poor kids stayed in the duck and cover position for about 20 minutes. It made for some great stories.

Unfortunately that quickly turned into debate. On the way home the kiddos got into an argument as to who had the best duck and cover technique. Ainsley absolutely demanded that she was the best "duck and coverer" and decided to give everyone a tutorial - whether they needed one or not. That just fueled the storm. In the end, the only way to solve the bickering was to finish it off with the quiet game. Thankfully, that brought peace for about 2 minutes until Sydney coughed and they got into an argument as to who was the expert on the rules of the quiet game and whether or not a cough counted.

Yep, the hurricane brought some turbulence yesterday afternoon - both inside and outside the car. I, however, followed proper procedure.

I decided to duck and cover.

I have come to find that the kiddos are kind of like the weather. For the most part they are sunny and pleasant. On occasion they can be gloomy. Yesterday afternoon, they were tornadic.

Here is to hoping for a milder day. I am looking for some better weather - both inside and outside.

I am looking for a sunny day of purpose.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

A busy holiday

Our 3 day weekend has come to a close. To be honest, it went by so quickly I nearly missed it. Saturday morning was filled with Tae Kwon Do practice which was followed by a few hours of fall cleaning, repairing, painting and remodeling of the Dojang. It was actually quite a bit of fun as all of the team members were given a job to do. Ainsley and Sydney were charged with cleaning out and dusting all of the cubbies. Graham was charged with cleaning the mirrors. Lynley was put in charge of the floors. Knowing I have a healthy fear of heights, they had me do the tasks which required scaling to the top of a twenty foot ladder. All in all, it was fun and it kept us busy until afternoon. There is nothing like the thrill ride of facing your fears.

Graham was then whisked off to a birthday party and we were left with our usual weekend chores at home. Sunday was pretty lazy but, the afternoon would bring Bryce over to spend the night with Graham. Bryce is the ultra cool kiddo that Graham has had over in the past. The only problem with the him is the fact that Graham turns into a jealous ninny whenever the girls are around. I know that sounds harsh but it is true. We are still having difficulty helping Graham to overcome this issue. Regardless, as soon as the girls appear, Graham changes from Dudely, the cool dude, to Wimpy, the whiny little cry baby. Again, I know that sounds harsh but it is the absolute reality. Clearly my job is to steer him away from this tendency and to keep him from doubting himself. He clearly lacks confidence in these situations and tries to make up for it by making himself the center of attention. The only problem is that he is attracting negative attention. We need to teach him the skills of regaining the attention the right way.

Saturday evening was pretty fun. After a trip to Mama's pizza, we played "kick the can" out in the front yard. You may notice, I said "we." Yes, Lynley and I even threw ourselves in to the game. The next thing you know we had 4 kiddos and two (or too may be more appropriate) old adults running around the neighborhood. In actuality, we all had a blast. Unfortunately, we had to call it an early end as Graham began claiming injury with nearly every step in an effort to get attention. Of course, the tears flowed and then it just became difficult to watch him. We changed activities in an effort to let him regain his composure.

Monday morning was celebrated by a traditional Whataburger taquito breakfast picnic at the Botanical Gardens. As always we had a blast. Unfortunately, our trip was somewhat short-lived as the two boys became victim of one of the streams. You see, on the first go round, I helped them navigate the rocks to cross the stream. However, being young boys they had to cross the stream on their own. They ran across the bridge and then tried navigating the slippery rocks on their own.

They failed.

We cut our adventure short and ended up bringing 2 muddy and wet kids back to the house for a swim in the pool.

They played.

Lynley told me to go ahead and start painting the upstairs. She would watch them until lunch and then come help me after Bryce's mother had picked him up.

Bryce left.

I painted.

Lynley napped on the couch.

I painted.

Then she decided to nap upstairs.

I painted.

She woke up and read her book for awhile.

Thankfully, I ran out of paint.

I was proud of Lynley for actually taking advantage of Labor Day. To be honest, it is about the first time I have ever seen her take a rest.

It was nice.

Well, the vacation is over. It is time to get back to reality.

There is plenty of purpose ahead.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Mouths of Babes

As it turns out, yesterday I was not the one to meet with Ainsley's class. That job ended up falling on Lynley's shoulders. The only slight problem with that little change in plans was that Lynley had no idea what the topic of discussion was. So, from the start, she was already a step behind. All she had to do was boil down the fact that she was the Executive Director of Information Technology Services for a medical school.

No problem, right?

Later that afternoon when I picked up Ainsley I asked how everything went. Ainsley said, "great!" I then asked what Mommy said. Ainsley stated that Mommy said she went to work on a laptop and was a doctor.

Hmmm. It seems as though the wires got crossed a bit.

Later on that evening I asked Lynley about her experience. Her story lived up to every expectation of what a conversation with a group of 5 year olds could be. Mrs. Lewis introduced Lynley and explained that she was Ainsley's mother. As a conversation starter, she explained that we Dungans had many animals.

This was a relief to Lynley. That was a safe topic. It was a great ice breaker. She felt she could handle this.

Or, could she?

Almost as soon as Lynley stated that we had 3 dogs, 4 cats, a guinea pig and several fish, the kids started chiming in, each one trying to out do the next.

"Well, Mrs. Dungan, I have a dog."

"I have 2 cats"

"I have 2 cats, too."

"I have a new puppy."

"I have a dog and he eats his poop."

"I have a cat. He is old and he is going to die soon."

Almost immediately the kids began to out do each others dead animals. It had not taken long for Ainsley's classmates to completely derail Lynley's presentation. In fact, it took less than a minute.

Sensing Lynley's shock at the direction of the conversation, Mrs. Lewis, quickly steered the conversation back to Lynley's work. Finally, she could talk about something other than death and poop.

Or, could she?

She would only tell me that she felt far more confident standing in front of a mob of angry college students mad that they received Dell instead of HP laptops than she did in front of 13 five year old children (and this is the highly qualified and experienced mother of the twerplets.)

Her story reminded me of just about ever time I have met with a group of 4 or 5 year olds. It amazes me what comes out of the mouths of babes. If you are ever looking for a warm chuckle, it is well worth your time to visit a kindergarten.

You will be amazed at their ability to derail purpose.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Happy Birthday Grammie!

Today is my Grammie's (the twerplets Great Grandmother) birthday. While I am still unclear on whether you are ever able to say a woman's age in today's day and age, I think I will stay clear of getting myself in trouble. Let's just say that today's birthday is a pretty neat milestone. Grammie has been in town for the better part of a week and we have had a great time seeing as much of her as we can. With trips to pick them up from school, a trip for an ice cream cone after-wards and an hour two of fun with her over at DeeDee's house, it is about as much as I am guessing anyone can stand.

Today will be busy. I hope to have breakfast with Grammie but I also have a date to talk to Ainsley's class. If my schedule works out just right, I should be able to fit it all in. This evening will be the official birthday party and the kiddos could not be more excited. To this day, it is something I sure miss - birthday excitement. To Sydney, Ainsley, and Graham it is about as big of an occasion as one could imagine, rivaling Christmas and Easter. I wish we adults still felt that way. It is true. We all need a day to celebrate who we are.

I know, I know, probably never going to happen.

In the meantime, I will continue to enjoy birthdays through their eyes.

Well I had best be off. There is a lot of purpose in store for me today.