Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Reminds me of home

Every once in a while we get a sunset here in Massachusetts that reminds me of my desert home.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Funniest thing I've seen in a long time...

This video on YouTube was sent to me from a friend today. Man, does it hit home!

Thursday, September 13, 2007

The Difference A Year Makes

One year ago today was my surgery. That was the beginning of a very long and difficult year. It's hard to believe how much my life has changed since then and how different I feel.

I think I'll be reflecting a lot today...

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Happy Dance!

It's gone, it's gone, it's gone!

A 1 year post-op MRI revealed absolutely no enhancing areas. That means there's nothing left. Nada.


My surgeons are gods in my book.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Let's Try Again

Last summer, I lamented getting my hair cut before my AN surgery. I was trying to grow it out for Locks of Love, as inspired by my sister. It's now time to try again.

I have a haircut appt on Tuesday next week. After that, my hair will be all even again from where it was shaved last September. And it will be time to reset the clock and grow out the locks again. I'm determined to do it this time!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

One for the Birds

My online AN cohort Bruce recently put up a webcam trained on a mama cardinal that set up a nest right outside her window. This morning, the eggs hatched! In about 10 days, the chicks should be able to leave the nest.

Take a look for yourself! Be patient - the link in popular enough that bandwidth is sometimes a problem. If you don't see it right away, try again in a few minutes.

See the mama!

Thanks, Bruce!

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Happy Father's Day!

I miss you, Daddy.

"We never know the love of our parents for us till we have become parents."

-- Henry Ward Beecher

"You know, fathers just have a way of putting everything together. "

-- Erika Cosby

"To her the name of father was another name for love. "

-- Fanny Fern

"My dear father; my dear friend; the best and wisest man I ever knew, who taught me many lessons and showed me many things as we went together along the country by-ways."

-- Sarah Orne Jewett

"Old as she was, she still missed her daddy sometimes."

-- Gloria Naylor

"The love of a father is one of nature's greatest masterpieces."

-- Unknown

“My father didn't tell me how to live; he lived, and let me watch him do it.”

-- Clarence B. Kelland

“My father used to play with my brother and me in the yard. Mother would come out and say, "You're tearing up the grass"; "We're not raising grass," Dad would reply. "We're raising boys";”

-- Harmon Killebrew

"My father was my teacher. But most importantly he was a great dad."

-- Beau Bridges

"Becoming a father isn't difficult, but it's very difficult to be a father."

-- Wilhelm Busch

"I love my father as the stars - he's a bright shining example and a happy twinkling in my heart."
-- Adabella Radici

"Dad, your guiding hand on my shoulder will remain with me forever."
-- Author Unknown

Friday, June 15, 2007

My Meme

My sister tagged me. Though I'm having a really hard time coming up with 8 factoids about me that you may not know, I will try. Here they are, in no particular order:

1) I have performed at Carnegie Hall.
2) I have a huge crush on Scott Bakula.
3) I have small shopping-addict problem when it comes to coats and bags.
4) At 11 years old, my 8-year-old cousin and I flew as unaccompanied minors from Los Angeles to Auckland, New Zealand.
5) I have two dream vacations: spending a month touring New Zealand now that I'm old enough to appreciate it; and spending a summer in a house rental on Kauai.
6) Every watch I have ever owned (both cheap and expensive) has come to an untimely demise due to an accidental mishap I caused. I don't buy or accept expensive watches anymore!
7) I met my now-husband when I was convinced to join the marching band in college, despite the fact that I didn't play a band instrument!
8) At 5 years old, I named our new standard poodle puppy Pom after one of the characters in my beloved Babar books.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

An Interesting Book

I just finished reading The Worst Hard Time by Timothy Egan. Fascinating book. It's nonfiction, which is not my usual reading material. But it's a very engaging, readable account of life on the Great Plains during the Depression and the dust storms that ravaged the area. It includes a description of what happened prior to the collapse of the area and how that helped create the problems to come, as well as how FDR worked to pull the farmers out of their desperation.

While the book is worth reading on its own, what fascinated me are the parallels that you can draw between the times described and some of the world's current events. Like the long-standing American culture of arrogance and flippancy about running ramshod over nature. Like the very rapid damage society can do to the environment. (Sound familiar?)

We never were a society that could learn from our past mistakes...

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Yucky movie

Last Friday, I went to see Spiderman 3 while I was in AZ. My brother-in-law had managed to get 4 free tickets for opening night, so I went with my brother, my sister, and my brother-in-law. We lined up at 9pm for a 10:15pm show. The previews finally started at 10:30pm. The first part of the movie wasn't so bad, but then it went downhill fast. It would've been a better use of my time to stand in line for 90 mins, then turn around and go home. Wasn't worth the price of the free tickets.

Your 10-year-old son may beg to differ! ;-)

Happy Mother's Day!

Mother's work is priceless

BOSTON - It's become a Mother's Day tradition on a par with candy, flowers and guilt. While advertisers wax poetically about the priceless work of motherhood, economists tally up the paycheck for the services she performs.

This year, salary.com estimates the value of a full-time mom at $138,095, up 3 percent from last year. The monetary value of a second-shift mom is $85,939, on top of her day job.

But, alas, the check is not in the mail. Nor will mom find it next to the maple syrup on her bed tray. Motherhood is what the economists call a monopsony, a job for which there is only one employer. And it's a rare child who's saved up to fill mom's piggybank, let alone a 401(k).

The real story of the Mother's Day economy is less rosy. This is what to expect when you are expecting - expecting to be a mom and a paid worker at the same time. You can expect to be mommified.

Mothers are still treated as if they were a third gender in the workplace. Among people ages 27 to 33 who have never had children, women's earnings approach 98 percent of men's. Many women will hit the glass ceiling, but many more will crash into the maternal wall.

Here's a Mother's Day card from a study just published by Shelley Correll in the American Journal of Sociology. Correll performed an experiment to see if there was a motherhood penalty in the job market. She and her colleagues at Cornell University created an ideal job applicant with a successful track record, an uninterrupted work history, a boffo resume, the whole deal. Then they tucked a little telltale factoid into some of the resumes with a tip-off about mom-ness. It described her as an officer in a parent-teacher association. And - zap - she was mommified.

Moms were seen as less competent and committed. Moms were half as likely to be hired as childless women or men with or without kids. Moms were offered $11,000 less in starting pay than non-moms. And, just for good measure, they were also judged more harshly for tardiness.

"Just the mention of the PTA had that effect," says Correll. "Imagine the effect of a two-year absence from the work force or part-time work."

If this is true in the lab, it's true in real life. Joan C. Williams, who runs the Center for WorkLife Law at Hastings Law School, says discrimination against women may have gone underground but "the discrimination against mothers is breathtakingly open. Mothers are told, 'You belong at home with the kids, you're fired.' ''

In the stories from the center's hot line and in the growing case law they've accumulated on family responsibility discrimination, you hear about women overtly denied promotions for having a child, told to have an abortion to keep a job, or rejected for a new job because "it was incompatible with being a mother." Family emergencies are treated differently than other timeouts. And things are at least as bad for dads when they take on mommy's work of caregiving.

I'm not suggesting that mothers quit the PTA, hide the kids or even sue, although the 400 percent increase in FRD suits has, um, raised some corporate consciousness. But at the very least, we have to turn the story line around.

No, mothers are not actually a third gender. More than 80 percent of American women have children and 80 percent of those are employed by the time their kids are 12. The reality of the workplace affects us all.

The much-touted mommy wars are as useful in solving our problems as a circular firing squad. And tales of women "opting out" of professional careers squeeze out the tales of women being pushed out.

As for the idea that women's lives are an endless array of choices? Williams says ruefully, "An awful lot of what gets interpreted as a mother's choice to drop out is really a 'take this job and shove it' reaction by mothers who encounter discrimination."

How many mothers would choose to spend more time at home if the fear of re-entry weren't so daunting? How many would choose to stay in the work force except for one sick child, one snow day, one emergency room visit? And how many dads would choose to live up to their own family ideals?

On Mother's Day 2007 there is still a deep-seated bias that puts the image of a "good mother" at odds with that of an "ideal worker." Until we wrestle down the rules of the workplace, our annual homage to the family values keeper will be as sentimental as this year's $138,095 paycheck.

Ellen Goodman is a Boston-based syndicated columnist. Her e-mail address is ellengoodman@globe.com.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Vote For My Sister!

My sister Danielle is in an "American Idol" type contest to win a chance to host her own public radio show. I'm so proud of her and all she's doing, so please support her!

Vote for Dani!

Since When is Breastfeeding Indecent?

A Florida mom was recently kicked out of a restaurant for breastfeeding her 5-month-old - while completely covered by a blanket!

And, as this press report points out, Florida law even goes so far as to
specifically state that a mother may breastfeed "irrespective of whether the nipple of the mother's breast is uncovered during or incidental to the breastfeeding."

So it's okay for ads to feature models with breasts hanging out all over and for teenagers to wear pants that show off their barely-there thongs, but get rid of that woman nursing her baby!


Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Beauty in the Unexpected Places

The Washington Post recently sponsored an experiment with Joshua Bell, the most talented classical violinist in the world. When I was 14 or 15, I got to see Joshua Bell in concert back when he was still a teenager, too.

It's a though-provoking piece. How many of us, in our harried day-to-day lives, can really appreciate what's around us? How many of us take the time to look at the world? Pay attention to the other people around us?

I do agree that art, in all forms, is enhanced by its context - physical, historical, geographical, etc. But there are some fundamentals that stand out as beautiful outside of any context.

As a former violinist, I would hope I would have been one of the passers-by who recognized Bell's genius in the incongrous context. But even more, I would hope I'd recognize the genius simply by being human. He's so good that it's really hard to miss.

But in the context, would even I have missed it? It's disturbing that I can't say for certain.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

It's still overwhelming sometimes

Overall, I think I'm handling Dad's death reasonably well. I miss him terribly, but life has a way of moving forward even if you think it shouldn't - especially when you have small children to take care of. I no longer break down every time I walk past Dad's picture at the end of the hall. Now, I can smile fondly and remember how much he continues to positively influence me even in his absence.

But there are still tough days. Like yesterday. In going through a box of old receipts, I found a check my Dad wrote me in December that I thought I'd lost. He gave me a replacement, so I won't cash this one. I should, in fact, shred it. But I can't bring myself to do that - it's his handwriting, his signature. I'm not sure I saved anything else with his handwriting on it. Just like my mom can't bring herself to replace Dad's voice on their answering machine.

Then, last night, Mom's house (Mom and Dad's house, actually) officially went on the market. She sent me the web site where it's listed. I scrolled through all the pictures, to see the results of all the hard work she's put in over the last couple months to get it ready. And it looks nice. But seeing the house listed for sale threw me over the emotional edge again - I'm very happy Mom is moving up here to be near me and my family, but I hate that she's moving by herself. So it was a rough night - compounded by a lot of stress I'm putting on myself lately (how to fit in time to work, making decisions about my older son's school, hosting 3 birthday parties by Monday, insomnia...).

I'd say "Calgon, take me away!" except that I'd spend all the time in the bath worrying about everything else I *wasn't* doing.


A Mom I Can Relate To

We Protect Kids From Everything But Fear
With hand sanitizer and long-sleeved swimsuits, we're teaching our children a dangerous lesson.
By Paula Spencer

April 2, 2007 issue - Four 11- and 12-year-old girls stood in front of my open pantry, mouths gaping wide. "Look! Fruit Roll-Ups!" "Oh, my God! Chocolate-chip cookies!" "You have regular potato chips? We only get the soy kind!"

After 14 years and four kids, I thought I'd feel comfortable as a mother. Instead, I'm increasingly aware of a prickly new sensation: that I'm some kind of renegade. Who knew that buying potato chips would become a radical act? Or that letting my daughters walk home from school alone would require administration approval? How did I, a middle-of-the-road mom, become a social deviant?

Fear is the new fuel of the American mom. If it's not fear of her child becoming obese, it's the fear of falling behind, missing out on a sports scholarship or winding up with a thin college-rejection envelope.

Apparently I'm not nervous enough. Last summer while I was loafing in front of the TV with my kids, the most benign things morphed into menaces. For example, the sun: long-sleeved, UV-protective swimsuits were all the rage at my neighborhood pool, while I could barely remember to bring the year-old sunscreen. The water wasn't safe either: at the beach I saw tots dressed in flotation belts and water wings—for shelling along the shore. And goodbye, cotton candy and hot dogs! At a major-league game I saw moms and dads nix the stuff as if they'd never eaten the occasional ballpark treat. As if their children would balloon into juvenile-diabetes statistics if a single swig of sugary soda passed their lips.

Half my kids' friends—who already make A's and B's—had summer tutors in order to "keep it fresh." I thought vacation was for relaxing and recharging. What would our pioneer foremoms think? (You want something to worry about, let me show you frostbite, typhoid and bears!) Heck, what must our own mothers think? (Snap out of it! Go worry about something truly scary, like how you're going to pay for retirement!)

I thought that once the kids were back in school, things would calm down. Instead, a fresh seasonal crop of anxiety sprouted, this time over corruptive candy fund-raisers and insufficient use of hand sanitizer. I know one mom who wants to change her son's schedule because he doesn't know anyone in his classes; she's worried he'll be "socially traumatized" all year. Another is afraid of a learning disability she just read about, though her child seems bright and charming to me.

And then there's playground panic. I had to laugh when an Australian study recently found that playground injuries continue to rise despite safety improvements. One of the suspected reasons: the safe new play structures are so boring that kids are taking more risks in order to have fun.

The fears are as irrational as they are rampant. Recently my children's elementary school failed to meet adequate yearly progress goals for a particular minority's reading progress under the No Child Left Behind Act and was placed on a warning list. This meant parents might gain the right to transfer their children to another school in the district. Never mind that this very same school sent more kids to the district's gifted program than any other, or that this entire district has the highest SAT scores in the state. The day the news broke, six different moms (none in the affected minority) asked me if I was planning to transfer my kids. From neighborhood pride and joy to threat to child's future overnight.

It's not that I think parents shouldn't worry about anything. I'm personally petrified of SUV drivers on cell phones. I fret as much as the next mom about how to pay for college. I pray my kids won't wander onto MySpace and post something dumb.

But you can't go around afraid of everything. It's too exhausting! No matter how careful you are, bad stuff happens (diaper rash, stitches, all your friends assigned to another class). And it's seldom the end of the world.

Watching my daughter's friends ogle my pantry, I realized there's one big, legitimate fear that I haven't heard anybody mention: what's the effect of our collective paranoia on the kids? Yes, these very kids we want to be so self-sufficient, responsible, confident, happy and creative (not to mention not food-obsessed). They're growing up thinking these weirdly weenie views are healthy and normal.

Walking out my front door that day, each girl happily clutched a plastic baggie stuffed with the exotic kid snacks that my daughter had doled out in pity. I may be a rebel mom, but at least I'm not afraid of a chocolate-chip cookie.

Spencer lives in Chapel Hill, N. C.

URL: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/17770831/site/newsweek/

© 2007 MSNBC.com

Monday, February 26, 2007

My Baby Turned 2

Happy Birthday to you!
Happy Birthday to you!
Happy Birthday, dear Jonah!
Happy Birthday to you!

Wednesday, January 31, 2007


At 9:42pm on Wednesday January 24th, my father John Radin passed away, just three weeks after deciding to stop the chemotherapy treatments. It was peaceful, and he was at home with his wife and three children, just as he wanted. My sister lovingly describes the last few days in a way I just can't yet.

Thank you all for the unwavering support over the last few, difficult months. I'm sure I will continue to rely on that support in the future.

Richard Bach: "That which the caterpillar calls the end of life, the master calls a butterfly."

Walter Lippman: "The final test of a leader is that he leaves behind him in other men the conviction and the will to carry on."

Robert Benchley: "Death ends a life, not a relationship."

"Love is stronger than death even though it can't stop death from happening, but no matter how hard death tries it can't separate people from love. It can't take away our memories either. In the end, life is stronger than death.”

Saturday, January 13, 2007

A bad day

It all started when we all overslept Thursday morning. Brett and I didn't wake up until 7:45am, despite his alarm going off at 6:30. Jonah was screaming because he had a mild fever (which started late the day before) and was uncomfortable, and Elliot and his bed were soaking wet because his pull-up leaked. We had to be out of the house by 8:45 to make it to gymnastics. And, since we were going straight from gymnastics to Mom and Dad's apartment, I needed to make sure I had everything for the kids for the rest of the day, including drinks and lunch. Without forgetting anything I was supposed to be brining back to Mom and Dad, since they were driving home to MD the next day. (Of course, I hadn't bothered doing any of that the night before!)

We did manage to get the kids dressed, medicated (Jonah), fed, and out the door for gymnastics. Jonah was feeling much better by then, thanks to the Tylenol. I didn't have time to shower, however, which always makes me cranky. So we get to gymnastics, and Elliot goes off with the instructor. I then spend 15 mins before Jonah starts class negotiating with the gym manager about class times for next session (that's already paid for), since they're canceling Elliot's current class and there's no other time when there's two age-appropriate classes running at the same time. We finally settle on something that mostly works, but Elliot's in a class with younger kids and Jonah's in one with only older kids. Sigh. Whatever.

After gymnastics, we get in the car and drive an hour to Mom and Dad's. Which is very sad, since they're leaving and I don't know how many more times I'll get to see Dad. When we get there, Mom's feeling very overwhelmed about packing everything up, and already has 14 paper grocery bags full of stuff for me to take. So I help her sort through a bunch of other stuff while the boys run around crazy. And Dad can't really be around since Jonah's sick (though the fever's gone with the medicine and he's feeling fine). Mom keeps finding more and more stuff to pile into my car. It's kinda ridiculous the amount of stuff she's bought for this temporary apartment, that she's now wanting to get rid of (food, cleaning supplies, organizational stuff, decor, etc.). So I'm annoyed at being the one stuck going through everything; then I'm feeling guilty at feeling annoyed.

We finally get home at 3pm. The boys play for a bit while I unload the car. In unloading, I discover that Mom's put a bottle of bleach in a plastic grocery bag in the the back of the car, along with some other cleaning supplies. Apparently, though, the cap on the bleach container wasn't quite sealed and has been leaking. I didn't discover this until I heft the bag out of the car, and it starts dripping because the grocery bag also has a hole. So I've now got a small puddle of bleach in the back of the van, plus it's dripping onto the garage floor and splashing up onto my pants. I cleaned up everything as best I could, but there's now a spot in the back of the van, my new blue pants are covered with white spots, and the car smells like bleach. I was so aggravated! And now the kitchen is filled with bags and bags of leftover stuff Mom spent so much money on, and now doesn't want.

When I finally get everything unloaded, I got the chance to call my neurosurgeon's office to see if they have the results of the nerve testing on my hand. But, of course, they've left for the day. And the surgeon in only in his office on Thursdays. So now I have to wait another week.

Then, I pack the boys up in the car again at 4:30 to pick up a urine collection kit at the vet and head to the grocery store, which I hate doing at that time of day. But we're out of milk and some other things, and I won't have a chance to go the next day. When we're leaving the grocery store, Elliot wanted to climb in the back of the van to get to his carseat, which he often does. But this time, when he does it, he manages to find a spot of bleach I missed, so his navy pants now have a pink spot on one knee. It's all I can do to not scream!

All I want to do is crawl into bed, pull up the covers, and tune out everything but my iPod. And I still hadn't showered.