Thursday, December 31, 2009

December Dozen

1. Best present came on the first day of the month . . . clean scans for Jake! That makes one year off treatment and we're now moving from scans every 3 months to every 4 months. I plan to enjoy those extra four weeks in between each set :) You can read more about the day for Jake and I HERE.

2. I am happy to report that I am definitely finished having children. This may (but most likely will not) come as a shock to you, since my current baby is 8 and I've never been shy about stating my enjoyment at having all my children in school. It was, however, apparently a shock to said 8-year-old, who asked me earlier this month, "When am I going to not be the youngest anymore?" After some back and forth, beginning to be suspicious, I said, "Have you been waiting around all this time for mom to have another baby?" With an expression of the deepest disdain, as though he couldn't believe I had to ask, he said, "Yeah!"

Sorry, babe, not going to happen.

3. On the bright side, I think he's coming around to the pleasures of being the youngest. We're halfway through a week-long stay by my 3-three-year old niece and Spencer is beginning to notice that attention that was once rightfully his is now being shared. He can do the math. I think when she goes home we won't hear anymore about having a younger child.

4. My oldest son took both the SAT and ACT tests in December. Call us suckers for punishment. Our reasoning (and he was right there with us) was just to give us a benchmark and give him the choice of which test to focus on. After due consideration (which lasted all of thirty seconds) he announced that he'll take the ACT again. The good news for him is that with the scores he got on these no-prep, taken cold, stayed out sort of late the night before tests, he scored well enough to be well within the mid-range of current freshmen at each of the schools he's considering. Now we'll do the prep, warm-up, no-staying-out late version to see if he can bump up the ACT a couple points and give him a good shot at a scholarship. Because otherwise I might have to sell a kidney.

5. Or a book. Which would be more fun for me.

6. Speaking of which, my revisions are done and in New York. I doubt the agent has seen them yet, because I didn't send them until the Friday before Christmas. But I have medium hopes for the outcome. At the least, I know I've written a stronger book because of her comments and this chance has given me renewed energy and motivation to stick with the long and mostly painful business of querying.

7. Christmas was lovely at our house--four kids old enough to be reasoned with (we weren't disturbed until 8:00 a.m., per mom and dad's orders), lots of laughter and shrieks of joy (and not just from the 11-year-old girl), good food (thanks, Aunt Annette!) and a Christmas Eve phone call to my parents who are living in Japan for eighteen months. I love Christmas.

8. Of course, we told our children that they have one more good Christmas next year (when the oldest is a senior in high school) and after that it's "Merry Christmas! You're brother gets to go college."

9. One family tradition is to spend the night in Salt Lake seeing the Christmas lights, taking a carriage ride, having a good dinner, and spending the night in a hotel where we can make all the mess we want and don't have to clean up in the morning. This year we nearly lost a few toes and ear tips to frostbite, and jean bottoms and some Vans shoes were soaked from the snow, but we did have a fabulous dinner with a waiter who told me, "You have very polite children. It's rare to see that these days." I, being a clever woman, smiled and said thank you and was secretly glad that they were hungry and worn out from the cold and not displaying their all-too-typical at-home behavior.

10. And tonight is New Year's Eve. We have friends coming over, as we usually do, with food and games and lots of kids mostly old enough to not need more than token supervision and teenagers dropping by from the neighborhood to graze on whatever they can find. I love my neighborhood. I love my friends. Oh, dear, I'm getting awfully maudlin. I'd better think of something sarcastic to say . . .

11. But I can't, because New Year's Eve and New Year's Day are always and forever going to be linked with my son's cancer. As we played Uno all together on New Year's Eve 2007, I could see the worry in my friend's eyes as she looked at Jake's swollen cheek and eye. And I knew, that night I knew for sure, that something was wrong. It took me until the sun set on New Year's Day before my fear was strong enough to force me to the emergency room. It seemed silly at the time--he had an appointment with the dentist who had pulled his teeth the next day, I could easily have called his pediatrician first thing on January 2nd and had him seen . . . but as my husband pointed out these options on New Year's Day, he said, "What do you think?" My answer was, "I don't know any more than you do." And bless him for his wisdom in saying precisely what I needed (and was secretly praying) to hear: "Yes, you do. You're his mother." So I took him to the ER. And nothing was ever the same.

Except this: Tonight he'll be here with us. Like he's been at every New Year's for 13 years.

If I'd waited, if I'd dithered, if I'd given the extremely aggressive and fast-growing rhabdo even a week or two longer while waiting for doctors and schedules, the tumor, which was just beginning to encroach on lymph nodes and heading down a sinus cavity to his brain on January 1st, would have been classified stage IV and the odds would have been dismal.

So no sarcasm from me tonight. Get back to me next week.

12. Which is when I'll be ordering the new cabinets and countertops for my kitchen. Besides being wise, my husband is also generous. The kitchen budget I was supposed to use two years ago, just before Jake got sick, has been restored to me and this morning I got to look at new drawer fronts and stain options and granite . . . Sigh. Of pure pleasure.

Now if I could just sell that book, maybe I could afford new appliances as well. Before I have to unload my refrigerator one more time because it's stopped cooling. After eleven years, it's complaining and may need to be put out of its misery.

Coming up in January: a review of last year's book club, my favorite books of 2009, and the ones I'm most looking forward to in 2010.

Happy New Year!

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