Sunday, December 30, 2007

Our Christmas Gift

Last year we were counting our blessings, because one month after being diagnosed with leukemia, Emma was doing far better than expected. On Christmas Day she was out of PICU and doing pretty well with the chemotherapy, although she still had lots of tubes and couldn't have many visitors.

This year Emma spent Christmas with her family, having a ball! She is in remission, is finished with chemotherapy, and is growing her hair back. She loves horses, shoes and Barney. And she's a complete and total ham!

With Great-great-grandma Nanny on Christmas morning:

Saturday, December 22, 2007

When is a laptop not a laptop anymore?

The internal fan in my laptop doesn't work anymore, and then it overheats and shuts down, so I set the laptop on a couple of strips of wood to give it space underneath and aimed a $5 fan I bought at Walmart at it. It works really well.

Then the light in the laptop screen went out, so I had to hook up our old spare monitor--it's not even a flat screen!

Since I used to type for a living, I had to have an ergonomic keyboard, and I never did like that touchpad deal, so I have a wireless mouse and keyboard hooked up to the laptop, too.

I don't have the printer and scanner hooked up right now, because there's no room on the desk.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Santa? Or is that Grandpa?...It's Mom!!!

Emma doesn't seem to sure about this whole Santa thing, even if that is Grandpa under the beard. Wait, it's not Grandpa, it's Mom!! That's just weird...although not so scary.

When it was Grandpa under there, she didn't like it one bit!

Monday, November 12, 2007

I'm not looking at you...

Rocky the Llama is very curious, but he is touchy about who's in charge. If you make eye contact, he sometimes takes offense at this challenge to his dominance and will spit at you. And trust me, his spit smells absolutely horrible! So Rocky kept following GeekBoy around, but pretending he wasn't all that interested in the visiting human. GeekBoy had no desire to smell like llama spit, so the two of them wandered all over the yard together, studiously pretending to ignore each other and never making eye contact. It was absolutely hilarious!

Friday, June 15, 2007

SuperAunt Chronicles: Not Quite As Super As I Used To Be

My throat hurts from screaming, I ache everywhere, and I have bruises all over. Yes, it was a fun day at World of Fun.

We estimate that we managed 15 roller coaster rides, 10 other assorted rides, and a minimum of three complete trips around the park in 4 hours. No wonder I hurt. It's a miracle I survived!

The Patriot - 6+ rides (60 mph inverted roller coaster)
The Mamba - 7+ rides (75 mph roller coaster)
Cyclone Sam's - 2 rides (I'd really like to know just how fast this thing spins, because I've got bruises on my ribs!)
The Boomerang - 2 rides (50 mph one way coaster, then reverses and goes backward over the tracks)
Twisting Dragons - 2 rides (spinning roller coaster)
Log Flume - 1 ride
The Monsoon - 1 ride
The Detonator - 2 rides
The Zulu - 1 ride

As we were dragging ourselves back to the parking lot, we realized neither of us could remember exactly where we parked, even though we had deliberately chosen a spot right under a light pole with a placard proclaiming C-something. It was the "something" we couldn't quite remember. After having hysterical giggles over that for a few minutes, we bravely trudged in the general direction of the car (we hoped), predicting they would find us hours later draped over some random white van, crying, unable to find our white van. In reality, once we got about halfway across the parking lot, we were able to figure out which pole was the right one and headed straight to the correct van.

I remember the days, not so long ago, when I could go all day at Worlds of Fun or the zoo or whatever with the niece and nephews and arrive home tired but intact, and even sane. Not anymore! I suspect the problem is less age and more overweight-and-out-of-shape, but the age isn't helping. I resolve to be in better shape before The Nephew descends next summer! I have to, because:

The only flaw in the day, from The Nephew's point of view, was that he couldn't talk me into doing The Ripcord with him. That's the ride where they truss you up, hook you to a cable, pull you 180 feet into the air, and then drop you into a 50-foot free fall, and then you swing at the end of the cord about 80 miles per hour. I have to admit I did it once, about five years ago, but it took me two years to work up the nerve, not two hours. Swinging 80 mph is awesome, but I hate falling. I'm not wild about dangling 180 feet up in the air with nothing to hold onto, either. I understood how badly he wanted to do it, and I felt for him, I really did, but…no. I just couldn't get up the courage. I did make a promise, though, because I'm a fool. I told him if he couldn't find someone else, like his cousin or his sister, to do it with him next summer, I would do it. Idiot, idiot, idiot…I have a year to either work up my courage or find a sub. I'd better start getting in better shape, because I need to be able to scream a lot more if I'm going to do The Ripcord.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

SuperAunt Chronicles: Arrival of The Nephew And His Maalox

I have to say two things right off the bat here: first, he hasn't said the word "bored" once since he arrived more than 24 hours ago; second, his parents both thanked me several times for going to get him. I have to give credit where credit is due.

The train trip to get him was pretty uneventful, if long--the train was 1-1/2 hours late arriving. Having made this trip a few times in the last several years, I was expecting that, so no problem. The Nephew called my cell phone twice in the first 10 minutes to see if I was on the train yet. Twice, because I was busy boarding and signing for my ticket and ignored the first call. I answered the second one and told him, yes, I was indeed on the train and on my way. He only called three more times during the 6 hour trip. He also sent me three text messages, most of them consisting questions like "Where are you now?" and "How about now?"

Once at my brother's house, we all had a nice evening chatting, while universally dreading our 4:30 a.m. wake-up time to get to the train station for the return trip. My sister-in-law busied herself making us fabulous hoagie sandwiches for our trip and packing a small cooler. Twice during the evening she reminded The Nephew that there was a bottle of Maalox for him in his shaving kit. True to his parentage, he likes spicy food but it doesn't like him, and she wanted to make sure he was prepared. That was perfectly reasonable. It got silly later.

The next morning I woke at 4 a.m. when The Nephew's alarm clock started going off upstairs in his room. He hit the snooze five times. I'm not exaggerating. Five. About 4:30 he finally got up, and he, his dad and I stumbled around getting showered, dressed and packed for our trip to the train station. About 20 minutes before we were due to leave, my sister-in-law got up to make sure T.N. had everything, and she told us each twice again that there was a bottle of Maalox in his shaving kit. Right, got it. Then she gave him strict instructions that he was never to be out of my sight, except when he had to go to the bathroom, and then he was only to use the restroom in the same train car we were sitting in. We are talking about a husky 15-year-old boy on a train crossing the farmland of central Missouri. He got a little testy during the second recitation of these instructions. Finally we were out the door, and my brother delivered us to the train station, where the train was already 10 minutes behind schedule. We settled back to eat the cupcakes in our lunch for breakfast and watch some episodes of "Stargate: Atlantis." Less than 30 minutes into our trip, T.N. got two text messages, both from his mother, reminding him that there was a bottle of know the rest. Shortly after that I got a text message. Guess what it said? Once we got to my house, Mr. SmartyPants called his mother to ask her where his bottle of Maalox was.

In other news, during our train trip I finally got the official call from the police department offering me the CSO position! We celebrated by going to the snack car and getting some root beer. While we were there, I sent text messages to our families letting them know I'd gotten the job. My sister-in-law and I had been talking the night before about how if I got this job, one of the department requirements was that I be sprayed with pepper spray, since I would carry the spray on duty. After I sent the message that I'd gotten the job, The Nephew got a text message from his mom that said, "If she gets sprayed while you're there, take pictures!" No, we have no grown-ups in my family!

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

SuperAunt Chronicles: The Nephew Is Coming

The Nephew, the one I called All Boy below, is coming to visit Tuesday. Back when he and his cousins were younger, we planned a special week each summer when the three cousins would come to stay with GeekBoy and me, and we would do all kinds of kid things: Worlds of Fun, the zoo, the children's museum, all-you-can-eat pizza buffet, etc. Now, about ten years later, the older three have more or less outgrown this (one is Emma's mom now), but The Nephew, the youngest at 15, still treasures his visits here. There are a few problems, though.

First, he forgets that after about an hour here, he is bored. I'm going to keep track of how many times he says the words "I'm bored" while he's here. He is an outdoorsy kid, and GeekBoy, as the saying goes, "went outside once, but the graphics weren't that great." I no longer have a job that gives me the summer off, so we have to work around my work schedule, which is flexible, but not optional.

Second, he eats like a normal teenage boy. GeekBoy is not, and never has been, a normal teenage boy (I'll pay for that later, but he's knows it's true). I remember realizing during The Nephew's last visit that teenage boys apparently need feeding every two hours. Ye gods! Luckily his favorite breakfast food is cereal, any cereal, which will help a lot with the next problem (see below).

Third, he gets up early. 'Nuf said.

However, he's a fun kid, and I'm glad he likes to come and visit. Like any smart kid, he's discovered Stargate SG-1 and Stargate: Atlantis, so I have 4 seasons of DVDs to distract him with. He's called me twice a day for the last several days, evidence of his anticipation of the visit. I've agreed he can bring his guitar. I hope he actually knows how to play it.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Maybe I'm crazy....

I'm waiting around waiting while a detective does my background check. I've been a teacher, a waitress, a daycare provider, and a medical transcriptionist. Now here I am, hoping to become a Community Service Officer at the local police department. Am I crazy doing this at the age of 45? Is it a midlife crisis? I'm pretty sure it's not. I'm also pretty sure I'd be a really good CSO. All I can do now is wait...

Pro: Uniform makes getting dressed for work easy. More money than I make now, plus benefits. Supporting police officers. Challenging job. Reliable paychecks at reliable times. Simple income taxes (as opposed to being self-employed). My nephew thinks its really cool.

Con: Probably can't wear my cool earrings with the uniform. Ugly shoes. Pepper spray. Rotating shifts. Interview question "Are you offended by foul language?" Getting GeekBoy to and from school.

Pro wins by a mile. Hopefully no forgotten skeletons fall out of my closet.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007


I have two nephews and a son, and they are as different in personalities as they are in appearance. This picture is several years old, but you get the idea: a redhead, a blonde, and the dark-complected one.
The middle guy there is nephew #1, Mr. Teen. He loves loud, obnoxious music (to be honest I don't know what kind, but it just sounds like noise to me). He is into skateboarding. He spends all his indoor time on MySpace. And this week, he got his lip pierced. I am giving him lots of grief about the fact that he nearly passed out having it done, and he doesn't mind. He lets me make fun of him as long as I keep making him tie-dye T-shirts. He is excited about this coming summer because for the first time he has a car and a job, and he might actually get to do something!
The redhead is All Boy. He loves to play army, climb trees, build go-carts, and eat a lot. He actually gets up early in the morning before school so he can play outside for a while before he has to catch the bus. Last fall he broke his upper arm trying to make the football team. Two weeks ago he gashed his arm while trying to clean up broken glass (he kicked an aquarium). He sent me camera-phone pictures of his arm and the bloody towels. He's thoughtful that way. Yesterday he broke his forearm when he was out running and tripped over his dog. He wants to come and spend at week at my house, which he thinks will be loads of fun. He forgets that after about an hour here, he is bored. He likes to be outside, and my son, blonde GeekBoy, has a favorite saying: "I went outside once, but the graphics weren't all that great."
GeekBoy only goes outside when he is required to mow the lawn, or to get the mail when he thinks he might have a new game coming from Gamerang. He spends nearly every waking moment either playing video games, or playing online games. He does sometimes take time out to use some of the thousands of Legos in his room to build the creatures from his gaming, or to watch the Discovery Channel or the History Channel. He is the only one of the three boys who still wears glasses, because he shudders at the thought of touching his eyeball and couldn't care less about his appearance. He has become Mr. Safety, and has been known to stick his head out of the car window to yell at other kids who are skateboarding without helmets. He is horrified by the thought that he will be old enough to drive this fall and we might actually ask him to learn how.
So I will continue to harass Mr. Teen via MySpace, just to keep him humble, I'll take All Boy to the amusement park and let him ride all the rides until we're exhausted, and I'll start remodeling the basement so GeekBoy will have a place to live after college.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Need something to smile about?

If that photo doesn't make you smile, then maybe this will: That photo is of Emma, my great-niece. She is now 14 months old and has spent most of the last 5 months of her life in the hospital after being diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). She started responding to the treatments immediately and is now doing beautifully. She still gets chemo once a week, but she is officially in remission. She is crawling everywhere and loves to explore. She'll be walking before long. She can say three words so far: "Hi," "Daddy," and a word we don't recognize but clearly means "Mine!"

While that's smile material right there, there's more. Whenever you wonder what's gotten into people these days, think of these people:

A lady I know only through an internet forum read about Emma in my postings and sent me gifts for her, including a stuffed puppy and bunny that Emma loves!

Back in December some people in Emma's hometown of Festus, Missouri (population 9,000) wanted to help out. First there was a raffle and a giant stocking that people could put little gifts in for her. This caught the attention of the local paper, who did an article about her. A little boy who read the article confessed to his mother that he'd already peeked at his Christmas presents, and since he was really too old for that Tickle Me Elmo, he wanted to give it to Emma. They did.

Then the people who organized the raffle decided to go all out, and they organized a huge benefit for Emma in March. There was a full day of events, starting with a motorcycle poker run and culminating in an evening of music, food and an auction. It was a huge undertaking! They raised enough money for her parents to buy a nearly-new car for the drives to the hospital 50 miles away. They were putting more than 500 miles a week on their old car, which was literally held together with duct tape in places.

6-year-old Dilan heard about Emma. He had been collecting tab-tops from soda cans to recycle and save money to buy an XBox. He decided to give them to Emma instead. He and his parents brought them to the benefit and presented them to her mom, Anna.

120 bikers participated in the poker run and then came to the benefit for the chicken & dumplings dinner, beer and music. They were all wearing pink buttons with Emma's photo that said "Riding For Emma."

Emma actually got to make a cameo appearance that evening. She waved to everyone and then ignored them to focus on the microphone Grandpa Tim was using, which she seemed to think was pretty fascinating.

When the local paper ran an article about the benefit, a woman who read the article called the family and offered to rent a house to Emma's parents at a very reduced rate so they could have their own place instead of having to live with family. Not only do they now have a place to call their own, but it's actually closer to the hospital, which is great.

This photo is of Emma a couple of days after her first birthday, and believe it or not, it was taken in her hospital room.

If you just can't stand to watch the news for one more second, check out Emma's website for more photos. We set up the site so family and friends could see the latest photos and get the latest news, but it'll make anybody smile, I guarantee it!

Sunday, April 01, 2007

The internet has a lot to answer for

I wrote this a while back but never posted it anywhere, because it's kind of personal, and I felt a little self-conscious. But it seems like someone besides me should read it, so I'm putting it here, where I'll probably still be the only person to read it, but you never know. Names have been changed, blah, blah, blah....

I couldn't sleep last night and just got to thinking...the internet has a lot to answer for. If it wasn't for the 'net, I wouldn't have gotten reacquainted with a group of high school friends a few years ago (18 years after graduation). As a result, I wouldn't have spent 9/11 glued to the TV knowing that Kevin was in the Pentagon that day, or the next day crying with relief because he'd emailed me to say he was okay. I wouldn't have known Paul was working in Seattle during that earthquake. I wouldn't be worrying about Hank right now in Baghdad. And when Charlie was killed last summer, it would have been sad, but I wouldn't have cried for three months.

Of course, I also wouldn't have been able to laugh about the exploits of Paul's teenage daughter. I wouldn't have known what an amazing person Charlie had become and spent time laughing with him before it was too late. I wouldn't have been able to read Kevin's short, terse, but touching messages to Hank as we try to get him through a nightmare. I wouldn't have gotten to make 12 soldiers on guard duty happy with a box of stale cookies. Their email in response wouldn't have made me cry. I wouldn't have been able to tell Susan that I'd gladly come and help her kick the snot out of the school board if they don't get on the ball and help her handicapped daughter. Yes, if it weren't for the internet, I would have a lot less to worry about. Thank heaven for the internet!

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Some people look forward to weekends

The names have been changed to protect the guilty.

I spent hours today on a ladder painting the edges of the ceiling that I didn't get to last weekend. Whoever designed "popcorn" ceiling texture should be shot. Several times. After I finally finished painting, I crawled along the hallway scrubbing up the dried texture bits that I had dislodged with my paintbrush. Well, I didn't actually crawl, I scooted. I was going to crawl, but then I remembered that I have a bone spur under my right kneecap. It never bothers me unless I kneel on it, so of course I "remembered" by kneeling on it...and then hitting my head on the wall when I lurched sideways trying to get OFF my knee as fast as possible.

I'm pretty sure it's a bone spur, because it feels just like you'd think a spur under your kneecap would feel. To give my athletic-trainer-husband some credit, when I asked him about it, he just agreed that I was probably right, instead of asking me to let him look at my knee, which generally is followed by the words "Does it hurt when I do this?" I've seen him try that trick on the 18-year-olds in the training room. Poor naive things. I don't fall for that line anymore. Last week I had a headache and he offered to massage my head for me. I said no thank you, and he smiled and asked if I really didn't want a massage, or if I was just chicken. He knows I know.

Once I finished mopping the hallway with a washcloth to get all the paint spots up, I decided to take a shower. That turned out to be complicated, because we've been trying to figure out the origin of the huge water spots on the garage ceiling (right under the toilet...hmmm). Mr. Efficient found a small leak from the water supply valve, so he had tightened up all the things that could be tightened and then laid paper towels all around the toilet to see if there were any leaks and if so, where they were coming from. Now I wanted to take a shower, but the bathroom was still covered in paper towels.

I had to dislodge The King of Home Repair from his recliner (watching "Pirate Tech") and have him do his final toilet check. No leaks! Apparently our garage ceiling decor is the result of GeekBoy trying to un-stop the toilet on his own a few days ago (1/4" of water on the floor as a result). I'm pretty sure Mr. In-My-Day will stop telling GeekBoy that he's old enough to use a plunger by himself now. He cleaned up his leak detection devices and went back to his pirates so I could take a shower. About 15 seconds after I got under the water, the automatic timer on the light switch went off. I spent a little time thinking mean things about husbands who are obsessed with wasting electricity.

Someday I'm going to electrocute myself getting out of the shower to turn the lights back on. Yes, I'm sure I could manage to shower in the dark, but I'm also QUITE sure that I'd hit my head or fall over something when I was trying to get OUT of the shower. Sometimes Tuftie likes to come in very quietly and lie on the rug while I'm in the shower. That's a Chevy Chase movie in the making there.

The ceiling looks really good. The hallway looks very nice, and now that I put the rugs back down on the nice clean floor, the dogs won't skid into the walls when they get excited. My knee feels fine now, but my elbow hurts. Tomorrow I have to clean up the guest room, because my sister's coming soon. Not clean, as in dust and vacuum. I mean clean up, as in, find the bed. Although...if I give her enough margaritas, she'll probably just sleep on the couch downstairs anyway...

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Why on earth do I have a blog??

I just wanted to post a comment on David Hewlett's blog, but you had to be registered to do that. So I registered and started a blog. For about three weeks. Then not only did I realize I really don't have time for a blog, considering I have a husband, a son, a job, a website ( where I already write things (, volunteer work, and too many hobbies to name, but then David Hewlett moved (! Can you believe it?? I've forgiven him, though, because it's just too much fun hanging out in the forums with the other squirrels and waiting to see what tidbit the Squirrel Emperor will throw to us next.

I decided to toss my neglected blog and write this non-blog for the time being.

So for now, in my spare time (right!) I am writing an essay about my mother-in-law, another one about the time I spent 5 days living with my 88-year-old grandmother, and I am busily posting photos of my adorable great-niece Emma, who is marching (okay, crawling) her way through chemotherapy for acute lymphoblastic leukemia like the trooper she is. She is amazing everyone and will soon celebrate her first birthday! You can see the photos at and watch for fundraiser information if you are so inclined. Emma's dad lost his job two weeks after she was hospitalized and they no longer have health insurance.

And if you actually read this, would you tell me? Because I'm pretty sure no one but my sister and I do.