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.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Guilty as charged.

Last weekend, one of my nieces from Detroit commented that we didn't even need police officers where I lived. When I asked her why not, she responded with, "Well, no one does anything wrong around here. Like, no one ever gets shot up and stuff."

Well, what Philicia doesn't know is that our town is filled with criminals. So much so that police officers must drive through the neighborhoods on gorgeous Sunday afternoons looking for dangerous lawbreakers.

Goodness, if we didn't have all our police officers, who would keep us safe from those culprits who water their lawns between the hours of 12 and 5? Somone has to issue these menaces to society tickets!

What a great use of our tax dollars.

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Friday, June 27, 2008

Running in circles

Cameron, Max and my four visiting nieces all competed in a track meet the other night.

Ajah running the 400 meters.
Elyce competing in the softball throw.
Cameron and Max showing off their blues.
Philicia sprinting in the long jump.
Philyce jogging the 400 meters.
They competed in all the races....but I'm pretty sure I did most of the running!

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Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Staring in her own film

Some people have a lot of nerve.

Some of the movie theaters around here offer free kids' movies once a week during the summer. Free! That means if you can get past the concession stand without opening your wallet, then you don't have to pay a dime to see the movie.

But really, just because it's free doesn't mean you should let your little toddler just wander around the theatre, climbing up all the stairs about a dozen times, running across the front, hanging upside down on the railings and sitting in the aisles.

Get control of your kid, will ya? So the rest of us can actually try to enjoy the film without all the distractions.

Oh wait a minute, that was MY kid causing such commotion.

Well, it's not like you paid for the damn movie...so deal with it!

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Monday, June 23, 2008

A battle wound

Pure exhaustion...that's what having 7 kids does to you. I can't imagine how my grandmother, who had 14 kids, did it. God bless her.

Tonight I was so tired (and this was after having a doubleshot latte to get through this afternoon), that I dozed off while watching a TV show. Not unsual. Except I had a wine glass (empty thank goodness), in my lap. Still in my slumber, I turned over to get comfortable...shattering the wine glass. Because the glass was sitting in my lap, well, the glass broke in a rather sensitive area.

Thank goodness my injury wasn't so bad that I needed stiches. Now that would have been an embarrassing ER visit!

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Sunday, June 22, 2008

The Obligatory Mall Trip

Because I can't seem to keep track of my camera these days, I don't have the pictures to prove it...but I did it....I single handedly took all 7 kids to the Mall of America.

I made it quite clear in the beginning that each kid would only be allowed on 3 rides, and any complaining, arguing, name-calling, bickering, etc. would result in one less amusement. All the kids stuck to the plan, and we didn't have any issues. The new Nickelodeon themed amusement park was a lot of fun, and some of the new scarier rides literally had some of the girls in tears! Everyone was patient and didn't get upset when they had to wait while someone chose a different ride. Best of all, no one whined, pouted, or threw a fit when it was time to go.

After the rides, we went to the Rainforest Cafe. The staff there did a double take when I told them we needed a table for 7 kids and one adult, with room for a high chair. Also, we had many stares from nearby diners. And it was certainly a gamble, expecting the kids to continue to be on their best behavior, especially since it was getting late and they were hungry, but I decided to push my luck.

And surprisingly, everything went very well. The kids stayed in their seats, they all ate their food, they didn't fight, they weren't too loud, and they even shared with each other. (Although you must exclude Ella from such stellar behavior because...well...she's two...no other explanation needed). Several staff members even commented about how well behaved they were.

So our evening out turned out wonderfully...but I can't say I'd like to do it again anytime soon.

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Saturday, June 21, 2008

Can I cry over spilt wine?

Doing things with 7 kids can be fun....or it can be a disaster. Often, because of all the bickering, arguing, insisting that someone is cheating or someone is calling someone names or someone looked at someone wrong, frustration rears its ugly head way too often...and we have to stop what we're doing.

So I should not have been surprised last night when our "simple game of Monopoly" started out quite fun, but then turned loud and obnoxious. It ended with my full glass of red wine being knocked down, splashing all over my favorite pair of white paints that I was wearing.

Rather quite symbollic of our attempts at amusement together.

I can't imagine how my trip to the Mall of America with all of them is going to turn out!

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Wednesday, June 18, 2008


Usually, no matter what I make for dinner...no matter how much thought, time, or effort I put into it, no one is satisfied. Max is usually the easiest to please, but lately he's been quite vocal in letting me know what he likes or doesn't like. Ella hasn't been too keen on much of anything at dinnertime lately. And Cameron, well, let's just say that I have to literally run much of his meat under water, in order to rinse off any spices that might give a smidgen of flavor to his food. It's frustrating. (And to all my family members, please spare me the lecture about my childhood pickiness, I know, I know. It's all payback).

But tonight it was wonderful. I made grilled BBQ salmon, with garlic butter brocolli and rice. My own kids had their usual reactions, but my nieces countered their indifference and rejection with nothing but praise. "Auntie Cari, this is some good rice...Auntie Cari, I really like this salmon. Can I have some more....Auntie Cari, I like how you made this brocolli." And they weren't just saying it to be polite, because they actually went back for seconds, and sometimes thirds!

These four can visit me anytime. My ego needs it!

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Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Can we get him back..please...pretty please!

There's a phrase around here in the state of 10,000 Lakes, "Minnesota Nice."

How nice are we?

We're so nice, that we decided to give our best basketball player, the heart of our team, the only player worth shedding a few bucks to watch....we decided to give him to the WORST team in the NBA....just to be nice apparently.

Because I can't imagine any other reason to give away Kevin Garnett in exchange for a few nobodies.

NBA National Championships are overrated...don't ya think?

Congrats Boston Celtics! Congrats Kevin Garnett (because I'm sure he's reading my blog!)Anything is possible!

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Monday, June 16, 2008

Ummm, just a few extras these days.

I told my husband today that with all our visitors, he'd have to change his name to Kevin...so that we could be Cari and Kevin, Plus Seven. (You have to have watched John and Kate Plus Eight to understand). He didn't think it was a good idea.

In addition to Cameron (age 7), Max (almost 4) and Ella (2 1/2 and such a terror these days), I have my four nieces who are visiting from Detroit for a couple weeks. They include:

A soon to be 7th grader...Elyce(who is incredibly helpful. She even cooked fried chicken today...without any help from me!).
A soon to be 3rd grader...Philyce (who is a very sweet girl who likes to read).
Her twin sister...Philicia (who is very helpful with Ella and likes to write).
A soon to be 2nd grader...Ajah (who loves to be hugged and can make up a great story if you let her sing it).

I quickly learned on the car ride here that the girls are very sweet and loving...to me...but not always to each other! But today was much better. Probably being cooped up in the car for 12 hours didn't help very much.

Sara took the girls clothes shopping today. They insisted that she go with them...I guess they think she's got more style...okay, she definitely has more style....even 6 months pregnant. Sara came home and said, "I'm only having one (kid)."

Things were much less chaotic today than I thought they were going to be, with so many kids in the house. It was actually kind of fun. I just figured that I'm going to have to stick to routines and develop rules that keep some sort of order.

The first rule I developed:
One cup, per child, per day. If you lose or trash your cup, you get nothing to drink!

Tomorrow I'm creating a new one. You'll eat breakfast when I serve it...not whenever you're hungry. Because I am not serving food in the morning from 5 AM (Ella) to 10 AM (Elyce) again.

Any other tips out there? Please feel free to post!

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Sunday, June 15, 2008

"-EST" Father's Day Tribute

A poem that Cameron wrote for his daddy (who insisted we were leaving at 5AM to return back to Minnesota...but is still sleeping at a quarter to seven).

Daddy is the best.
He is great on the test.
He thinks we are a pest.
He is the sleepiest.
He likes to be the beepiest. (refering to his oncall pager)
He likes to be the funniest.
He is always the workiest.
He is the errandest.
He is the musclest.
He is the basketest. (referring to watching basketball).
He is the wine you drinkiest.
Adn the best part....
He is the familyest.

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Friday, June 13, 2008

I had cancer...now hear me roar!

Since finishing all my cancer treatment, I feel that I've discovered some new sense of strength.

For example:

I just traveled over 12 hours with the 3 kiddos. Driving to Detroit, when we usually fly, was actually my suggestion. Surprisingly, it went quite well.

Then we will probably be returning with 4 extra kids...to stay with us for a couple weeks.

Extra strength?

or Extra nuts?

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Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Back in Time

Tonight I took Cameron and 2 friends to see Walking with the Dinosaurs: The Live Experience. If they come to your area, you MUST go. It was an amazing experience. The dinosaurs were so lifelike..it was quite scary at times. (I'm glad that Max decided he didn't want to go, because it would have been way too much for him, and I would have spent the show out in the lobby).

All went well throughout the evening, until the end. I had instructed the 3 boys as they went into the bathroom that they stay together (This worked well at intermission). They go in together, they go out together. I stood by the door and waited....and waited....and waited. (Cameron had already pooped today, so I know he wasn't causing the delay. I didn't have a bm report on the other boys' though).

I started to pace around, and looking beyond a protruding wall, I discovered that there was a 2nd door to the bathroom! Slight panic set in. Where were those boys?

After glancing through the crowd for a couple minutes, I finally saw the boys about 20 yards away, standing next to a police officer.

They did come out the 2nd door and couldn't find me. Apparently, Cameron started yelling for me, and an adult took them to a police officer. According to Cameron, he asked them a few questions, like what I looked like. Cameron told him, "My mom has had boy hair, like my friend Ben!" They told me they were there for a little more than 5 minutes.

I'm very proud of them for handling the situation so well. I'd take these 3 boys anywhere!

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Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Mastectomy Effects

I sometimes wonder how my kids will be affected in the long run by all this cancer stuff. Ella's so young, I doubt she'll remember anything. Max, oh, who knows..how much do you remember from when you were 3 years old? Now Cameron....now being 7...my encounter with breast cancer will certainly remain in his schema more than either of his siblings.
Yesterday, after getting a shower, he decided, for some insane reason, to put on my swimsuit (the one that contained my swim forms...better known as my fake swimming boobs).

"Look at me mom! I have big boobs!"

Oh my.

"Mom, why do girls have shirts with these puffy things in them?"

It was then that I realized that he thought that all girls' breasts were actually built into their clothes...not actually a part of their bodies.

Which led me to then think about his future.

He'll be making out with some girl and suddenly she'll hear him say, "Hey, how come your boobs don't come off?"

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Monday, June 09, 2008

School's out...now what?

Our first week of summer...meaning no school...has officially begun.

Max's last day of preschool was actually a couple weeks ago. We were a little concerned as the school year was ending because he kept saying that he had no friends at school and no one wanted to play with him. He never complained about school, and happily went twice a week, so I was a bit baffled by his claim of playing with nobody. I did meet with his teacher about this, and she assured me that he is very well liked, all the kids like to play with him...although he does prefer to play with the girls (which in no way surprised me). His perception is definitely not in sync with reality apparently. And when I went to his end of the year program, this was his contribution to the class's poster on each kid's favorite activity (which was done before I even meeting with his teacher):

Max with his very loving and creative teacher, Miss Peg.

Cameron's last day was Thursday. But Cameron NEEDS to be busy. If he's not, he tends to torture his little siblings, causing nothing but troube. However, I don't want to overschedule Cameron. Although he would probably love all the different camps and activities I could put him in, I don't want to spend all that money, or do all the driving around. Plus he has lots of friends in the neighborhood to hang out with (and they're free). And I think it's important for kids to figure out different things to do together, on their own, that does not involve playing video games.

Cam and his amazing first grade teacher. I do hope Max gets her someday.

In order to have a successful summer, I'm trying to getting into some routine with the kids. The usual breakfast, teeth brushed, beds made, clothes on routine still exists. But I don't want the TV to rule our mornings, as is often the case on the weekends. So in addition to a couple of chores a week, the kids also will have homework to do. Both Cameron and Max have a book they're working out of, and Ella, well, she has crayons and paper. Plus, Cameron will be doing some reading of novels and some journaling as well.

Today, except for Max's complaining that writing letters was boring and insisting that he write E's when he was supposed to be writing F's, all went well. Cameron completed his work in less than an hour, with no moaning and groaning on "this is not what summer is for" (as he had done when I told him about our routine for this time off school). Sara took the kids to Teddy Bear park while I ran and did some errands. When the kids got home, Cam played with some neighborhood friends, and Max hung out in and around the house.

All in all, a good first day. I hope we can keep it up.

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Sunday, June 08, 2008

Running with Mickey

Part of getting back to my regular life involves running....a marathon.

My friend Lanette got me interested in running long way back in 2000. That's when I completed my first marathon...The Suzuki Rock N Roll Marathon in San Diego.

Ever since that year, when I haven't been having babies, we've run a marathon together. In addition to the Rock N Roll Marathon, we've run Twin Cities, Chicago and the Nike Women's Marathon in San Fransisco (Lanette has run a couple more). Lanette, my sister Dana, and I were supposed to run the Marine Corps marathon last fall, but well, cancer sorta knocked that run off our racing circuit.

We don't run fast. We even walk when we need to. We're not out to break any records...or to qualify for Boston. But we're fine with that. We spend our race talking, telling stories, and catching up...especially since we now live 1000 miles away. We have fun.

So once I got this breathing issue under control and figured out when I'd be having my reconstructive surgery(probably mid/end of January), I just had to find the soonest marathon I could be prepared to run. Just so that I could feel like I'm back to normal (although I know many people who wouldn't consider running a marathon normal).

On January 11th, I'll be running the Disney Marathon. Lanette and Dana will be joining me. The course works its way through all the big parks, and we even get to run through the big Magic Kingdom castle. My mom and husband will be running the 5K, and we're going to register Cameron for the mile run.

It should be a lot of fun. Anyone want to join us?

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Thursday, June 05, 2008

My little author

Cameron came home with a portfolio of work today. It was fun reading through his stories. Here is one from the middle of the year. I typed his actual spelling because I find it to be entertaining but put the correct word in parentheses, in case you're not used to reading phonetic spelling.

When my little Bother (brother) named Max said lets fight to me I said bring it on little man. So I bumed (bumped) him by a accidend (accident). My Brother said oow. I said you’re weeck (weak). Then I knocked his body into a wall he fell down. It looked like he fianted (fainted).

I was cracking up. I really don’t meen (mean) like a crack on the sidewalk. I ment (meant) like somebody laughed so hard he coodn’t (couldn’t) stop. That’s what I akchley (actually) ment (meant). And fainted meens (means) he falls down and lands in a waered (weird) pudishin (position). If you look on the pitcher (picture) you’ll know what it looks like. The first picture is colled (called) crash faint. The second picture is colled (called) hot faint. And those were the to (two) fainting pitchers (pictures). Then I ran exstreemly (extremely) fast. But my Brother dojed (dodged) my attack. And he ran exstreemly (extremely) hiper (hyper) fast in a circle. That’s how he stopped my attack from working. I tried to stop his attack. This is what I did. I tried to run a lot exsreemly (extremely) hiper (hyper) speed then (than) my Brother. But he did it faster than me. Then he throo (threw) a hamer (hammer) at me. It hit me on my fourhead (forehead). It hurt very bad. I fell on the ground. When my Brother throo (threw) the hamer (hammer) at me it made me have a bad headack (headache).

So I beat him up really good. I used my hand to punch him under the chin. Max tried to dodge it but he coldent (couldn’t) do it. The dodge he was trieing (trying) to do is called tornato (tornado) get away. I thought (thought) it was funny because he did tornato (tornado) get away and all because of that! He was spining (spinning) everywere (everywhere) in a circle. When he was flying he was sceeming (screeming). Then we got super powers. I got tornato (tornado) power. Max got spydder (spider) robot power. Then Max shot spiy (spy) robots at me. One made my fat foot explode. So I shot a tornato (tornado) at him. His robots got sucked in. And they exploited (exploded). There was one more left. It was the Dad. The dad was so mad because I defeted (defeated) his family. So he tried to use his heet (heat) vision on me. But I used a tornato (tornado) to stop it. It made the tornato be hot lava tornato. Then I had hot lava tornatos. So I shot one at the Daddy. Then he got on fire and xploded (exploded). Then I read with my mom. The end.

At first I thought the story was hilarious, then got a little concerned wondering when all this fighting was actually happening. When I read the part about Max hitting Cameron in the head with a hammer, I was relieved because I realized it was actually a fictional tale. It's quite obvious in the rest of the story. Maybe I should be concerned with all the violence...but I'm not.

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Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Go Ella Go!

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Run Forest Run...I mean Cameron, Max & Ella.

The kids are running track this year. This is Cameron's third year, Max's first year, and Ella participates (sorta) in the Stillwater All-comer meet, where they don't care how old you are.

They had their second meet tonight.

Cameron ran his best mile yet, a 7:48. (I'm not even sure I could run a mile that fast right now!)And this was after already running a 55m, 400m and 100m. His response after the race: "Mommy, my armpits are wet! And they smell."

Max was doing his hot & cold attitude routine that he does way too often. He lined up for the 55m, but then decided to barely run it, and walk, until I grabbed his hand and finished with him. After threatening him with no ice cream, he ran the next two races, 100m & 200m, with no trouble. Later in the meet, he said, "Mom, do you want to know why I walked in that first race....It was because it was boring." Oh sure, that makes sense.

Ella was being her typical two year old tyrant. She basically wandered all over the middle of the football field (thank goodness the track is enclosed by a fence). When it came time to running the races that she willingly did last week, she just screamed NO! and continued playing in the dirt or pulling up grass. However, once she saw the first race start, (which would be HER race), then she'd run to the beginning to line up for a race...which meant she would end up running with the boys, or some older kids. In this particular meet, every kid gets a ribbon. When Ella finished, she came to me with her ribbon and said, "Look what I found!"

Seeing the kids run is a lot of fun. Trying to keep track of all three kids, and their ribbons, and their drinks, and take one to the potty while another is running and still another refuses to get off her butt and go anywhere with me, makes for quite the exhausting experience.

I'm going to see if I can post a video in another post.

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Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Mirror, Mirror on the wall.

When I told the kids that I didn't have any cancer in my body anymore, their responses were varied, and typical, for each of them

Ella of course has no clue what I'm talking about.

Max just said, "Oh," and then proceeded with, "Can I color?" Occasionally though, he will bring it up, completely out of the blue, that I don't have to go to the doctor's because the cancer is all gone. I think he got pretty tired of me leaving the house all the time for all my appointments, especially my daily radiation treatment.

Cameron on the other hand, had a lot to say. "Really? It's all gone? YEAH! Good job mom. But when are you going to get your girl hair back?" I asked him how long my hair had to be for him to consider it girl hair? "Oh, just about this long (as he motioned to about chin length). You know, when it hangs down and isn't stuck to your head anymore like boy hair."

How long will that be? A REALLY LONG TIME...was my response.

Actually, every Sunday I obsess about my hair length...in church. During the morning service my kids are in childcare and not distracting me. I sit toward the back and have a clear view of many different hair lengths. Even though we have an incredible pastor with very interesting and amazing sermons (I encourage you to listen to them for free here), I sometimes find myself looking at someone's hair, then calculating how long it will take for my hair to grow to that length, if the often-said formula of 1/2 inch per month were actually true. To get my hair back to my pre-chemo days, we're actually talking like TWO YEARS!

Last weekend, still at church, I was walking down the halls of the kids' area when one of my good friend's husband (who I see almost every weekend) walked right past me. "Oh, I didn't recognize you," he said kindly. And I thought to myself, yeah, I so get that. Honestly, (except when I'm in church), I don't really think too much about my hair anymore....until I walk by a mirror, or see a photo of me. I then get that strange feeling of not recognizing myself!

I'm actually not complaining. Losing my hair is a small price to pay for my life. Now when people comment on my hair, I just say, "Yeah, it'll do for now. At least it's better than being bald" because I certainly was NOT one of those cute little bald women you often see in cancer materials.

So it will be a while before this boyhair grows into girlhair. Until then, I'm just going to enjoy the low-maintenance of it all. And maybe add a few hair extensions.

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Monday, June 02, 2008

A bump

Ella got hurt a little this weekend. This photo doesn't really do her injury justice because it doesn't actually show the mini golfball sized bump protruding from her forehead.
She was on a friend's swing that was hanging from a tree. Cameron pulled her back and pushed her a little too hard forward. Instead of gliding back and forth through the hair and squealing with delight, her head slammed into the tree, and screams quickly followed.

But unlike my other two kids, who can't seem to brush off any minor scrape with some sense of normality, Ella only cried for a little bit, and was back to running around in no time.

It wasn't until later that I actually even noticed the bump. When she woke up from her nap, Melvin noticed the cut and bump, and immediately applied some ointment to prevent any kind of infection...what a doctor he is!

Except now because of his actions, we might have social services knocking on our door sometime soon. Because when asked about the "owwie" on her head, Ella doesn't remember that it was Cameron that caused it, but rather she only recalls that Melvin put some ointment on it....and her response to any inquiry about her injury is:

"Daddy did it!"

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Sunday, June 01, 2008

30 minute conversation = double the clean-up time

I should have known that sitting on our screened-in porch, watching a torrential downpour while sipping some wine and having a nice conversation with my husband, uninterrupted, while the kids played in the basement, would not occur without a price.

In case you can't tell, in addition to everything else being toppled over, Ella dumped out 4 containers of foam stickers...totalling a couple THOUSAND tiny pieces of foam scattered all over the floor.

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