Writings of a teachermom, choosing to stay home with her kids, while loathing all domestic responsibilities! In late Aug. 2008, I was diagnosed with Triple Negative breast cancer. After surgery, chemo and radiation, I was given theall clear. However, in the late summer of 2008, I was diagnosed with a brain tumor, which metasticized to other areas.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Say Cheese...please!

Last week I wrote about my kids’ portraits that I scheduled for this Tuesday. I know some of you were wondering how they went.

Well, let me start with Monday. I spent most of that day going from store to store, looking for the perfect clothes and accessories for the photos. The kids were going to wear 2 outfits, one would be for very formal photos, wearing the clothes I bought them for my mother-in-law’s wedding. The other photo would be casual Christmasy ones to send out with our cards. My shopping adventure was mainly for red turtlenecks and elf hats. Seems like simple items to obtain, right? Wrong. I went to Gymboree, two Party Americas, Walmart, JCPenny, Sam’s Club and Dollar Tree. I finally found the boys’ shirts that I needed at Kohls, and Elf hats at Party Card Outlet; plus I picked up some deer antlers and candy cane head bands as well…more to chose from. My last stop of the day was to be at the cleaners, to pick up the kids’ outfits from the wedding.

However, as I was shopping, my husband had called to see how I was feeling, because I physically had a bad morning the day before. I told him that I was fine, and I was about to pick up the dry cleaning. He then told me that I couldn’t do that because it was all still sitting in his car. He never brought it to the cleaners the prior week….he was busy. He claimed I never told him that I needed the stuff, however, he also has told me on numerous occasions that he only listens to about half of what I tell him. And believe me, I had been talking about these pictures and the clothes ever since I made the appointment.

Needless to say, I was not happy. Quite pissed actually, but at this point, there really was nothing I could do, and no reason to stay angry. I went to two local dry cleaners and the best they could do for me was have the clothes back the next day (Tuesday), sometime AFTER 5:00. The portraits were at 5:30, and with a half hour drive, there was no guarantee I’d have the clothes.

I had no choice but to call and reschedule…for Wednesday.

But the drama doesn’t end there.

The next evening (Tuesday) I went to the dry cleaners to pick up the kids’ clothes. They only had Ella’s dress. They wrote the wrong day for the boys’ suit jackets to be delivered. But they promised me they’d be there the next day before noon (and free of charge).

But the drama doesn’t end there.

The next day (the day of the portraits), just before picking up the boys’ suit jackets, I was getting Ella’s outfits together. I took the dress out of the dry cleaning bag only to discover “water” like stains on the front of the dress, and an orange tag explaining that all attempts at removing the stain had failed. Ugh! I only had an hour before I had to be at Cameron’s school to volunteer, and I had no energy to go from store to store looking for a blue dress! As much as I hated doing it, I went to Macy’s in search of the exact same dress, and thankfully they still had two left in her size.

Completely exhausted, I , along with Sara and my mom, dressed the kids in what Max called their “handsome clothes,” and we headed off for pictures.

I took a few photos myself right before we left, just in case the professional photo session was a total bust.

They obviously weren't cooperating for me, so I was a bit worried about what was to come.

Fortunately, with many punishment threats and bribes put in place, our session at Flash! Digital Portraits went fairly well. Cameron and Max were fabulous. As I figured, Ella was the challenge. Sara and the photographer would work at getting them set up, and my mom and I were in the back trying to get Ella to look at the camera and not down or at her brothers. She did fairly well with the formal photos.

But by the time they switched outfits, she was just done, and only interested in the mall’s merry-go-round that she could see through the studio’s window. We couldn't even coax her to stay in the store, let alone stand in the line of the camera.

But if you recall, my only request was to get one shot of all them looking at the camera, smiling. And I got more than one. So I’m happy. Tired. And glad it’s all done.

You can actually see the photos here.
Click “Go to my portraits”
Then type in my last name and the password “Cameron”

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Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Wrong choice

I’m quite crabby right now. Mainly because every time I talk, my tongue rubbing against my teeth and mouth is causing pain.

One of the side effects of the AC chemo is mouth sores. I haven’t really had them, but this round I do, and I blame myself.

I’ve read that if you eat ice while they administer the Adriamycin, then somehow that lessens the emergence of the mouth sores. Some nurses automatically hand me a cup of ice before they start to inject the red venom, but others say that there’s no proof that the ice really works.

So I guess I decided to do my own little experiment. Because during this visit, my husband dropped me off some coffee…okay, not just any coffee, but a Caribou Caramel Highrise.

Just thinking about eating the ice was making me nauseous...and I’m not a fan of cold coffee. So I did the opposite of the ice theory and sipped my very hot coffee drink, which tasted soooo good!

But now I’m paying for it.

My husband told me to put Ambesol on the sores…but that would mean on my whole tongue. Ever taste that stuff? And then to have my entire tongue numb? I think I’ll pass and just remain crabby.

So the results of my little unscientific experient: to all you AC chemo patients…eat the ice.

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Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Brain freeze?

Normally, when it’s nice and sunny, Cameron wants to stay inside and play video games or something else with his friends.

One day this summer, it was raining out, and he said how happy he was because he didn’t want us to tell him that it was nice weather and he should go outside and play.

Today it was in the single digits and windy.

Today Cameron wanted to go OUTSIDE to “play” (wrestle) with his friends.

After about 10 minutes, Sara looked out the window and saw that Cameron had taken off his winter jacket and was running around in his SHORT SLEEVE shirt! I quickly called him in and he told me he HAD to take off his coat because the zipper was broken (unzipping from the bottom), and it kept bothering his neck. Then he tried to run back out….dropping his coat on the floor, as if his explanation was logical enough and I’d actually let him back out like that.

Did I mention it was in the single digits today?

The outside playing didn’t last too long because after two boys left to go to Tae Kwon Doe, the “throwing each other on the ground” wrestling turned into “punching each other in the face" wrestlin,g and one boy went home crying while Cameron tried to explain to me that in adult wrestling that’s what you do, punch and kick. (How he knows this, I don't know, because he doesn't even watch wrestling...at least not at home).

Six year old boys...I REALLY don’t get them.

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Monday, November 26, 2007

Happy Birthday Mom!

Yesterday was my mom's birthday. We sent her away for a much-needed massage, and some much-needed time away from my crazy munchkins! She later took the two boys to the movies, and at night we went to the Holidazzle Parade. I can't say enough how much I appreciate all that my mom has sacrificed during these past few months. She'll be going back home to my dad in a couple weeks, but we sure will miss her.

Happy Birthday to the best mom ever!

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Sunday, November 25, 2007

3 year old conversations

Conversation with Max as he was purposefully ambling toward the street in downtown Minneapolis tonight.

"Max, do you want to get hit by a car?"

"Yes," he grinned.

"You know little kids have died because they got hit by a car," I said, hoping the shock factor would snap some sense into him.

"Then I'll be in heaven." he simply stated.

"Yes, but your mommy and daddy won't be in heaven with you."

"Well, God will be my daddy," he responded matter of factly.

"Um, yes, He will."

"And who will be my sister?"

"No one will be your sister. Because your sister and the rest of us will still be here on earth."

"Then my sister, and my brother, and my mommy and my daddy can get hit by cars, too."

Obviously that conversation didn't go as I had planned.


Saturday, November 24, 2007

Will try again

Despite a handful of failed attempts over these past couple years, I'm going to try it again. Tuesday evening is my appointment for my kids' portraits.

One...that's all I need. One photo with all three kids looking at the camera, smiling, showing their angelic spirit. One good one for the Christmas card.

I have zero expectations.

And just to complicate things a bit, if anyone knows where I can get elf hats, to purchase immediately (not online), to fit a 6 year old, a 3 year old and a 2 year old, please let me know ASAP. Thanks so much!

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Thursday, November 22, 2007

To Be Thankful

When your life is turned upside down, you can’t help but see and recognize all that you should be thankful for, and this year I have so much.

I’m thankful for my mom, who dropped everything to fly out here 1000 miles away, putting her life on hold for a few months to help me through the hardest parts of this cancer.

I thank my dad urging her to go.

I thank my husband for the love, knowledge and support he’s given me through this whole process, and for putting up with all the bad stuff that I throw at him.

I thank my kids for getting me out of bed every morning and keeping me laughing.

I thank my nanny Sara for just being so flexible, being around whenever I need her.

I thank my Mom’s Spiritual Spa group; individually and collectively you’ve been such an inspiration and support the 2 ½ years we’ve been together.

I thank my wonderful neighbors and friends who have supplied me with flowers, goodies and lots of meals.

I thank my family and friends for all of their much-needed prayers.

I thank my long-distance family and friends for all the little gift packages.

I thank all my blog readers for their thoughts, prayers, comments, and e-mails.

I thank my doctors, nurses, and modern medicine for helping me fight this cancer and keeping me healthy.

And most of all I thank my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ for the strength, peace, and enlightenment He has given me during my time of need.

“Don’t worry about anything, instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.” Phillippians 4:6.

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Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Hello...my name is trouble.

Ella has been quite naughty lately. If she sneaks away while I'm focusing on something else, she's into nothing but trouble.

Yesterday while she was supposed to be "napping," she discovered a 2 inch hole in one of her stuffed animals. She proceeded to take out the stuffing spreading it in her crib. But then she also decided to shove some up her nose. Sara found a huge piece that she crammed up there. I guess she was just trying to find a solution to her runny nose.

Last night, as I was watching Kid Nation with Cameron, she went into the kitchen, crawled up on the counter, and despite all the envelopes, catalogs, and papers lying on the counter, she decided to color all over her feet with a pen.

And then tonight, when I thought she was in the basement playing with Max, she was actually upstairs, feeding the fish.

The terrible twos, two weeks early.

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Monday, November 19, 2007

Mile 13.1

Today I started my last (yeah!) round of the aggressive chemo Adriamycin/Cytoxan (AC). This stuff is crap. It makes me nauseous, tired, and I get very achy. (Okay, it’s not crap since it kills the cancer, but you know what I mean.) But worst than all the physical side effects, it messes with me emotionally...and no one warned me about this. During this first week after chemo, I have this unexplained air of hopelessness. Even with all my help and everyone’s prayers, I feel like there is no way I can cope with all that I’m going to have to endure the next couple years. I look in the mirror and just see an alien…freak…mutant. I have this complete desire to just go to sleep, and wake up 2 years later when it’s all over.

When I write this now, before the poison starts attacking me, I think how ridiculous these emotions seem. I have so much to be thankful for, and I should be stronger. However, each time they’ve surfaced around Wednesday or Thursday, but by Sunday, they’re completely gone…poof! Like a mini 4 day depression. The second week I’m completely fine. I usually feel quite great actually. Last week I even ran twice! But this weekend I started to think about my chemo starting again, and just the thought of it opened the door for a little bit of dread to settle in.

But God has ways of putting things in perspective and humbling me. Today during chemo, where we’re all just a few feet from each other, I was across from a lady, probably in her late 40s/early 50s, who really had a fabulous wig and was very fashionable in jeans and hooker boots. Her daughter, who was probably in her early twenties, was hanging out with her, both on their laptops. I overheard her daughter tell the man next to her that her mother had breast cancer, and she was on her 19th treatment…out of 20!

The man she was speaking to then told her that he was going to have to have chemo for TWO years!

I was quickly put in my place, and reminded that the Lord only gives us what we can handle. And I can handle this last round of AC, and then 4 more rounds of Taxol. That’s NOTHING compared to what other people have to go through.

No hopeless feelings here this week….I hope....and pray...of course.


Sunday, November 18, 2007

Together again.

My parents have been married for almost 37 years....high school sweethearts.

Obviously my mom's presence here means that she's not at home with my dad. This is the longest they've ever been apart!

My dad came for an extended weekend of hanging out, relaxing and playing with the kids...which involved one very extended swing pushing episode with Max in the chilly air, and a marathon of kids' movies. At first Ella would not utter a sound when he was in the room. But she eventually warmed up to him and became quite the chatterbox again.

I'm so glad he came and hope that he can endure a few more weeks of an empty house and crappy dinners!

Thanks Dad!


Friday, November 16, 2007

Such a smart one

Max was in the bathroom this morning, pooping.

Suddenly I hear him scream out, "Hey Mommy! I have a hole in my butt!"

Music to my ears at 7 AM.


Thursday, November 15, 2007

Obviously the buying season.

Today we reached an all time high:

Oriental Trading
Pottery Barn Baby
Magic Cabin
Mrs. Fields
Terry's Village
Hanna Andersson
Wine Country Gift Baskets
Lillian Vernon
The Company Store
What on Earth
Plow and Hearth
World Vision

FOURTEEN catalogs were in my mailbox today. 14.
I will probably order from only the one that I actually requested..the non-profit one (World Vision).

What a waste.

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Wednesday, November 14, 2007

The daily grind...I mean the daily gratitude

My Mom’s Spiritual Spa group is reading Katie Brazelton’s Pathway to Purpose for Women: connecting your to-do list, your passions, and God’s purpose for your life. Chapter 3: "Do What Matters Today" really hit home for me. I put my very fulfilling career as a middle school Language Arts teacher on hold, not because I didn’t like it, not because I had this deep desire to be at home to raise my kids. In all honesty, when I taught, I’d be there over an hour before school started, and often wouldn’t come home until after 5, and then when home I’d do more school work, and plenty more on the weekend. Doing so made me a good teacher. And since my husband worked all the time, it kept me busy and preoccupied. When I decided to have kids, I knew I couldn’t do it all. Okay, I could do it all, but I couldn’t do it all well. And that to me is what’s important. So I stopped teaching.

So to continue with my complete honesty, I really have felt that in these six and a half years as a mother (minus the two when I worked part time), I was being made to sacrifice my career for my kids. Instead of enjoying what I had in front of me, I was looking to what I was missing out on as a teacher, and longing for the day when I could somehow return to the classroom. I was only concerned about my teaching gifts that God gave me, and not my mothering gifts.

But Chapter 3 helped me to view my situation differently. The first page stated, “Some women stumble because they try to hop over this stepping-stone in their rush to pursue a more magnificent, profound purpose…Their daily roles are such an arduous, unapplauded battle that they just want to shake their first and shout to the heavens: “Enough! I want to do the fun, rewarding stuff—now!” They may be too worn out to see that today’s pressing roles are already brimming with a purpose that brings glory to their Creator. They don’t realize that their day-in, day-out efforts are extremely precious to the heart of God” (p. 45).

And that is exactly what I was thinking every day I dragged myself out of bed to get my kids breakfast, to wipe the table for the 4th time that day, to pick up their toys, yet again. These boring tasks just consumed me (and this is WITH having a nanny and a cleaning service, so I am quite aware of how easy I really do have it compared to others). And I could think nothing but what I could be doing instead in the classroom!

The chapter goes on to say. “It is not God’s plan for you to spend today chasing after your future one thing when your many things are right in front of you. You were born to make a Christlike difference in hundreds of ordinary ways, not to ignore or avoid the present opportunities while looking for a bigger, more noticeable project” (p. 47).

This was so important for me to read and understand. I often think of my friends who “do it all”…awesome career, keeping the house, raising kids ,etc. and wonder why I can’t be more like that. I would be angry with myself, angry with my circumstance, and well, just plain angry about everything…despite the beautiful opportunities to mother my children sitting right in front of me.

Now this is not to say that I’m just giving up on returning to the classroom. Oh no! I know that God gave me that talent and purpose to touch the lives of those crazy teenagers in our world today (and the book is not about telling women they should stay at home….the author herself worked all through her life, even with young children…I’m just applying the words to my circumstance). And when all this cancer stuff is done, I will pursue my teaching career. But I don’t have to be bitter about my choice to stay at home. It is my choice…and one that I am embracing and learning to enjoy.

The author continues: “Once we begin to appreciate the treasure of today’s roles, we begin to experience the stress-reducing benefits of peace and rest. Once we believe that God values our today, we can stop looking for the greener pastures of more grandiose or broad-reach assignments. We can let go of all the things people say we should be doing. We can rest in the knowledge that every day (yes, every task) is locked safely in God’s heart. We can hold on to the dreams God has given us about the future without the pressure of having to make them happen right this second!” (p. 48-49).

Besides waking up with a more positive attitude, wiping that table with pride, heating up that oatmeal with a smile, making that lunch without groaning, I’m also trying to seize opportunities to do more with my kids. Okay, I’ve always done things with my kids…but really try to ENJOY doing things with them.

So the other day, when I saw some marshmallows in the aisle of the grocery store, I thought that it would be fun to make some Rice Krispie treats with the kids. Before, I would “dread” making anything with the kids. They’d argue and fight over who would get to add the ingredients, who would get to work the mixer, who would get to taste it. Seriously, it would drive me CRAZY, and I just wanted them out of my way so that I could finish what I was doing in peace. But my newfound attitude led me to embrace this “cooking opportunity” with my kids. Now it is no secret that I am no Julia Child, or Emeril Lagassi, or Rachel Ray…or whoever the latest and greatest chef-of-the-day is. But Rice Krispie treats….how simple can that be!?! We were going to make them as a family…and it was going to be fun!

And it turned out to be fun. I gave each of the kids a tablespoon of butter for them to unwrap and add to the bowl, handed them each a measuring cup for them to add marshmallows and the cereal to the bowl, and “cooking” we did. Fun we all had…and I didn’t even have to yell or get mad!

Except, despite the microwave directions that I followed directly from the Kellogg’s website, this very simple treat, turned out disastrous. Somehow the marshmallow/butter mixture got too hard…there was too much cereal to mix in, and nothing mixed together right. I couldn’t even really press it into the pan as described in the recipe. What cereal did manage to adhere to the marshmallow mixture turned out hard as a rock.

I ended up making the stovetop version by myself while Cameron played Lego StarWars with his dad, as Max and Ella watched a movie on TV. Just to be sure, I added extra marshmallows and butter, and this version turned out much better!

But the point was, the kids and I had fun.

My next idea in embracing God’s plan for the moment….Christmas baking.

Should be interesting!

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Tuesday, November 13, 2007


Today my friend Kimberly arranged a time at the Juut Spa for the two of us. They have a wonderful program for cancer patients, called Sanctuary for Cancer Survivors, offering a complimentary service. I chose a facial.

I had never had a facial before. It was so nice and relaxing. While lying there I was thinking that maybe I could do this more often. You know, like every couple weeks or something.

When signing out I asked for the actual price of the service so that I could tip properly. For a 30 minute facial, the price was over $100!

All thoughts of a routine facial suddenly disappeared.

But it was nice while it lasted!

Thank you Kimberly and to Juut!

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Monday, November 12, 2007

So this weekend I finally wore one of my wigs. Couldn’t really show up at my Mother-in-law’s wedding with a scarf on my head. So I donned the fake do.

I hated it.


The entire time I was so self-conscious, and was in tears before I even left the hotel room. I think partly it was anxiety because I was going to see a lot of people from my husband’s family whom I hadn’t seen since all this started and I knew everyone was going to be asking how I was feeling. Also because the wig just looked horrible. I felt so uncomfortable in my own skin I just wanted to crawl under one of the tables and hang out there until the affair was over.

As the night went on, and I found myself distracted with my kids and other relatives, I felt better. Even though it still felt to me like I had to some Halloween costume on, I was able to at least smile a little bit. Even when people took pictures.

(Here I am with Cameron, Max and one of my nieces, Ajah)

So I wrote the above blog this morning, and then later on I went to the grocery store. While there, an older lady working one of the “sample stations”, who was obviously wearing a wig, saw me in my scarf-head and stopped me to tell me that she had cancer and to give me some words of encouragement. I thought maybe she was going through chemo now, but she told me she had it awhile ago, when the drugs were different. And that poor lady never got her hair back. But she said she was just thankful to God that she’s even alive.

What a beautiful attitude she had. One I should try to adopt.

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Saturday, November 10, 2007

Up up and away

We're in Detroit this weekend for my mother-in-law's wedding. It should be a festive occasion.

Not the best travel timing, as we had all three kids, switching planes, during meal and bed times, and with me still dealing with chemo fatigue. But my husband was so patient with the kids, such a saint.

And we get to do it all again tomorrow!


Friday, November 09, 2007

Medical Words

To quote my oncologist:

"Chemo just sucks."


Tuesday, November 06, 2007


Yesterday, in order to calm both Cameron and Max down after dinner, I made Cameron read his required school book Harold and the Purple Crayon to Max.

As he read to him, on each page, he asked him a question. “Max what do you think Harold is drawing? No, not a moon. Should I give you a hint? It starts with a SSSS sound; it’s something you walk on….”

This continued throughout the entire book. I’d occasionally overhear from the other room. “No Max, are you even listening? You have to listen to know the answers.” Or a “Right! Good job Max.”

Afterwards, Cameron came into the kitchen to tell me about the questioning strategy he was doing with Max. “And do you know why I was asking him all those questions?”

“Why?” I responded.

“So that he could understand the story better. When you ask questions, it helps you understand the story.”

What a little teacher.


On another book note. Today I bought Ella a Backyardigans book from the bookstore. The title is something like The Backyardigans and the Polka Party. As soon as she saw the cover of the book, she said, “Polka!”

Wish I could say my little darling could read…but really…she just watches too much Nickelodeon.
(Ella picture taken by Sara)

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Monday, November 05, 2007

The numbers

Round Three of Chemo over.

Five more to go.


The end of this week's Desparate Housewives showed Lynette, who was just told that she was cancer-free, and the voice over saying "What doesn't kill us, makes us stronger."

That was my friend Lanette and I's mantra when training for our first marathon.

She's counting my chemo down by marathon miles. She's the math professor. So I'll let her do the exact calculations. But I think I'm somewhere between mile 9 and 10.

Wish I was burning those calories as well!


Sunday, November 04, 2007

A 6 year old's request

The other day Cameron came up to me and so nonchalantly asked, "Mom, can you get something for me?"

I figured it was going to be something like oatmeal, snack cakes, or some other food item that we had run out of.

"Well, what is it?" I asked, ready to add to my evergrowing mental grocery list.

"A Wii," he responded, as if he had merely asked me for a juicebox, not some few hundred dollar video game system. (This is the one where you physically "play" some of the games).

"No!" I retorted, laughing in disbelief.

He persisted with complete calmness. "But mom, we can play games as a family. Like we can play tennis together, or golf, or boxing....as a family"

Oh sure, boxing...this child obviously needs a little sense knocked into him.


Friday, November 02, 2007

Cold, dark evenings....ugh.

It's November here in Minnesota, and the temperatures are starting to drop. There might even be a little bit of the S-word next week...just flurries...but still the S-word.

That means less outdoor time with the kiddos, because, well, I don't do cold very well. And with my immune system down, the freezing air just exacerbates my cough and faucet of a nose.

But I found a bit of a solution to help take up those 2 to 3 hours between dinner and bedtime. On Comcast On Demand, if you go to the Kids section, there's a Kid's Fitness button. Tonight we did a little Kid's Tae Bo...which isn't easy! Try it out.

It takes up some time, the kids get some of their energy out, and you'll get a TON of laughs watching them....as long as they keep the kicks and punches to the air, and not on each other!

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Thursday, November 01, 2007

Patience...here is the halloween picture.

Here we are in our Halloween habits.

I bet many of you have no idea who my kids are.
Honestly, I don't know anything about who Cameron is. I think it's someone from Star Wars. The character name is Bubba Fett. I spent way too much money for this costume...that went on sale 2 days later...went on a "clearance sale"...which means I couldn't get a price adjustment. And Cameron was REALLY mad at me because I made him put on a jacket, which meant "no one will see how cool my costume is!"
Max and Ella are characters from The Backyardigans. This is a show on Nickelodeon, with these little animal friends who hang out in their backyard, making up adventures, singing almost every word, and doing lots of little dances. Ella and Max (Ella especially) love this show. She is Uniqua, who I think might be a salamander, and Max is Pablo, a penguin.
I, of course, am a witch. I figure my kids think I'm that most days anyhow, so it wasn't much of a stretch.