Monday, May 31, 2010

Calm before the storm

There's not a cloud in the sky but the TV keeps beeping WARNING! WARNING!-Huge storm coming! The air is still, hot, and moist-very bad for running this morning. I was already tired from my double workout of the day before but I figured running along the river with Steve wouldn't be too hard. It wasn't for the first half hour but..

The other night I was watching a movie that had been filmed in the Detroit area-You Don't Know Jack, about Dr. Death (Jack Kervorkian). It was clear that no one from our area did the final editing as one of the suicide areas was referred to as Lake Oh-RYE-in instead of Lake ORE-ee-in as Orion is pronounced in these parts. It actually showed the seedy motel that I 'lost' my virginity at. Little did I know that it was the spot for one of the first assisted suicides. There is a commercial on cable TV stressing to go to their business because it is locally owned and operated. Yet they mispronounce the name of the business-Ypsilanti as Yipsi instead of Ipsi as it pronounced by the 'true' residents though some call the whole area Ypsitucky. One of the last big issues discussed back and forth in the Ann Arbor News before it folded was whether that was a pejorative or not.

Five weeks or so to go and then the real storm really hits.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Komen 3 Day Walk

This racing bib is from my friend Sara in Wales who regularly blogs. I'm learning all sorts of stuff from her. Anyway, on the bib, I am listed as Sue in Italia, my original blog name before it morphed into Cancerland

So this August, my name will be on my friend's back as she does the Susan Komen 3 day 60 mile walk. I decided to go on one of their shorter training walks today as I know some of the participants.There is a large group in Ann Arbor that trains regularly headed by my former neighbor whose girls are Josh and Shanna's ages. At one point, her younger daughter was Josh's girlfriend. Now she (the younger daughter) goes to school at the university right next to Shanna's apartment. The other is a professor at Mt. Holyoke, also in Massachusetts. Small world. I hadn't seen their mom since Josh graduated 10 years ago so it was fun catching up. Also usually training is a woman I met in the infusion room and later, she was scheduled on the same radiation machine as me so we'd catch up every day that I was in treatment. Neither of us had hair when I saw her last so it would be fun to see her again but she wasn't there.

Today we went 7.5 miles. Yesterday, they went for 12. As I run regularly, I figured walking has to be easier, just way more time consuming. They are very organized with mandatory water and stretching stops. Everyone has this cutsy cancer paraphernalia attached to them along with squeaky toys that sound like frogs. I looked quite bare with no water bottles, hat, toys, buttons, dangling chains, pink ribbons galore festooned to myself but I am used to exercising by myself out in the boonies. A few of them are cancer survivors: one woman I spoke to at length has stage 4 cancer in her brain, lungs and bone kept somewhat in check by Herceptin. But she will be walking the 60 miles! Another woman is an oncology nurse whose beloved cousin died in her early 30s of BC leaving behind 2 toddlers. I walked 3 of the miles with her and another 3.5 miles with my former neighbor. Her little girl stressed to me the difference between little girls and boys. She'd come over when she was 4 and I would set up art projects for her and Josh. She would carefully and expertly color between the lines and write her whole name, including a long last name. Josh would scribble a bit and signed his name with a backwards J. She was very articulate whereas I was sending my boy Josh to speech therapy. Finally Josh told her he wouldn't play with her anymore because she was 'bow-wing'. She'd beg him to reconsider but he was heartless. She'd stop over a few times after that to show me various missing teeth ( a common obsession of 6 year olds) but that was the end of their relationship until middle school.

Afterwards, some of us went out for iced coffee (it will be 90 today!).

I am down to one dog today. It was decided that Sunny would be happier at her own place so Naomi and Dontae are at the house with Dakota while Josh and Julia wine taste in Northern Michigan. I did have Dakota all yesterday. I will train her to have more manners: no more begging, no peeing in the house, etc. Julia already has made some headway with her. My friend and I took her on a long walk yesterday to tire her out (Naomi does not). She slept at my feet last night.

Should I lift weights today? Was walking enough?

Saturday, May 29, 2010


I got 2 big balls of mini petunias to brighten my patio
All over my yard, I have various types of columbines. These ones haven't reverted to wild types as some of mine have

My favorite clematis

A bluet. One of the original flowers the house had when we bought it 27 years ago

Still likes to walk around in that bikini
Summer came here all of a sudden after a long, cool spring. Still haven't planted all my flowers.
Our car was finally finished after 2 weeks. Naomi had a rental car. All seemed fine but we got a call a few hours later saying that there was a scratch on the bumper. Naomi says it was there before but no documentation either way. They have her credit card number but it belongs to an inactive account. Every day a new annoyance. Sigh.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Hummingbirds and dogs

Another beautiful hand-made card from Lesa of LittleLifePreservers
Scanning doesn't capture how intricate the cards are or the silver paper she printed the woman on

My hummingbird came back looking for the feeder that I had taken away to clean. Hopefully she will come back now that it is clean and full. Also back, the chimney swifts tweetering away but they don't seem to be going into my chimney.

Steve volunteered to let Dakota stay part time until Naomi gets new housing. There was a shooting there last night-not a good place. Julia will watch her for some of the time. Sunday and Monday, we will have all three dogs here. Dakota will have to learn not to touch Sunny's stuff. Sunny is a 80 lb German Shepherd that we watch sometimes. She leaves Spud alone and we feed her on a separate level so Spud (who can't climb stairs) won't sniff her food (he wouldn't eat it-he's very particular). Dakota can climb stairs and will eat anything, food or otherwise.

It was less humid this morning so running was not so much of an ordeal. Maybe I cn do more gardening without sweating so much.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Needed: New Home!

Chipughua: Needs new home!

Naomi was informed today that her apartment will evict them if that dog isn't gone. Of course, no one checked this out first before adopting the dog. She is crying. As a small dog, I'm sure it would be quickly adopted if we took it to the Humane Society but Naomi wants visiting rights. Her brother will take her temporarily as she looks for a home. Steve is put out enough that we have Spud so I won't ask him.

The situation makes me sad. Just another situation out of many in which the consequences of her actions are not considered. And I was already sad even before she put this on me.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

More shower pix

Checking out the 'poop'

The Shower ladies minus Deb the photographer

Naomi and Julia

Naomi at 33.5 weeks

Lots of food

So hot today. I went early to the Farmer's Market to buy plants..not early enough as there was no place to park though finally I scored a good spot.

I planted some of my purchases but it is too hot to do much. I will go to the gym and lift weights.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Every day is a vacation

Back when I was working, vacation days were few and I didn't ever want to waste one. Now that I am not 'working', I still feel I shouldn't waste any time but waste I do. I just got back from eating dinner with former colleagues which was pleasant eating along the sidewalk, drinking margaritas watching the world go by. Being somewhat younger than myself, they still need to work and were puzzled about what I could possibly be doing with all this spare time.

A good year of my time was spent fighting cancer. Aside from that, I have been constantly tutoring Naomi, help plan a wedding, settle two estates, etc. I do have a break right now before Maya is born. I am not bored yet.

Yesterday was so hot and humid, I was totally miserable running. I thought today would be worse but fortunately it wasn't otherwise my 30 mile weeks would have to come to a stop.

Naomi came over to work on her sun tan. We watched birthing shows.

One of my colleagues found a growth on his gum around the time we all were fired. Somehow the MRI was done on his chest instead and found lung cancer. He never smoked. The first question people ask him when they find out he has lung cancer is whether he smoked as if that matters. So if he says yes, do they say, Good, you deserved it. He had a lobe removed and chemo. The original growth on his gum was thought to be benign at that time but now they are saying that it is a bone met and needs to be removed. Major surgery. They will replace it with part of his leg. No eating for him for a long time.


Farmer's market day tomorrow. i will get that garden in.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Better be a girl...

The room was full of pink streamers and balloons
One of the cakes- I really don't like many sheet cakes. This is a mousse filled flourless torte with animal crackers on top

The Spread

A cheesecake
It was very toasty yesterday although I guess every day this week will be the same. I worked on my muscles at the gym. I now can reach almost as far with my right arm as my left so I think I am finished with my frozen shoulder. Also gone: the fear that the pain in my arm might be bone mets.
I then made a last ditch attempt to find decorating materials for my cakes. I couldn't find the candies I had in mind. The cheesecake covered in multicolored gumdrops would have been cute but I stuck with mini vanilla wafers and pink frosted animal crackers for the chocolate torte.
My friend had filled the living room with streamers and pink balloons for the shower. Naomi was impressed and felt special. I should have taken more pictures but another friend took numerous shots. We had plenty of tasty snacks and punch.
Lots of pretty, pink outfits. Maya now has plenty of clothes to last for the first year if not beyond. She had fun with the games:
Guess what poop this is? Diapers filled with various melted candy bars looking very real and disgusting. Diapers now have so much deodorizers in them, we couldn't identify them by smell although Naomi's super smelling powers enhanced by pregnancy helped her become the winner in this one.
Complete the nursery rhyme.
How big is Naomi anyway? Everyone was given a different color of ribbon and asked to cut off a piece estimating the circumference of Naomi's considerable belly. Two people came up with the same length of ribbon. The tie breaker: guess Naomi's weight which was not too surprisingly grossly underestimated. Naomi doesn't mind hopping on a scale in public though you couldn't pay me enough to go on myself. I especially would not have done it pregnant.
So it was nice and Naomi was thrilled with all the kindnesses. People each left with a geranium.
Some of us later sat outside with wine spritzers watching the antics of a robin family and a pileated woodpecker strutting his stuff.
Thank you all for a wonderful day.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

The shower

Diaper Cake....Final version. Let's hope I can transport it in one piece to the shower

I have some cakes to decorate.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Cute Babies Redux

It is so fun to pull Oliver's hair while we take a walk
Let's see what's in his ear

I am so big!!

Be happy like me

Oliver and the easter Egg Hunt

See how many teeth I have!

Check out my body!

If you don't watch me every single second, this is what happens

Yummy cookie


A princess for Halloween at age 6 with a neighbor girl who is now graduating
Just a year ago going to the prom
In Cancerland, there are many anniversaries: a year from being diagnosed, a year stopping treatment, etc. but there are other anniversaries not associated with the disease.
Just a year ago, Naomi was getting ready to go to the prom. Don'tae was not allowed to take her as he was too old. (Can't be over 21). Everything had to be perfect for Ms. Naomi. But I don't think she'll be fitting in this dress anytime soon. My house is full of such dresses including two wedding dresses, several prom dresses, maid-of-honor dresses, Shanna's entire size 2 collection.
My third child was to be born twenty years ago today. In my mind, I call him Baby Eli though, he was so ill formed, it was impossible to tell the sex. May 1990 was a very popular time for due dates. I knew at least 6 people due then. They all had their babies (although some of them came early) and I felt left behind as each of those babies appeared. At some point in the 12th week, I noticed just a single spot of blood. I was thinking how easy this pregnancy had been despite my age but when I saw the spot, I froze. I knew. I went to the medical library at work. Of the women who spot, half will miscarry. I went to the mid-wife and to her, I still appeared pregnant but she scheduled an ultrasound. I hadn't had one with the other babies. No beating heart. I asked if the baby was the right size and the radiologist who was called in disgustedly said, "of course not!" as if that that was the dumbest question in the world. Where do these people get their training? I was very quiet and didn't say another thing. Finally he said, 'you do know what is happening here, don't you?" as if I was stupid.
Yes, my baby is dead.

It took a week of contractions that would stop and start. I had a very busy schedule that wasn't going to stop just because I was having a miscarriage. Finally it fell out still in its amniotic sac, which was the size of a chicken egg. The baby itself was only an inch or so. It had stopped developing well before it came out. It appeared to be malformed. I don't know if I would have been less sad if it were perfectly formed. I put the baby sac in a jar of water and took it to the hospital. They needed to know if everything had come out or there would be more misery. In exchange for the embryo, I was given a book Empty Arms. Its first line:

It is so unfair.

Yes indeed. Months of sadness ensued. I slept in the lower level to read but often I would just cry. Steve was very supportive at first buying me little gifts but after a while, he thought if I just got pregnant again, maybe the sadness would go away. I didn't think I could go through another miscarriage. Someone told me that it was a good thing I lost the baby before I became attached (BTW, never say this) but of course, she didn't know. I went once to a Miscarriage and Newborn Loss support group and thought I lost at being "Queen for a Day" Heart-breaking tales of infertility just to have the baby strangle itself on a cord a week before its due, etc. Meanwhile I had 2 healthy, attractive, intelligent kids of both sexes, why do I need another kid? I felt like a Stage 1 cancer patient going to a support group full of Stage 4 patients. We are not exactly in the same place. I really couldn't explain the sadness; I realized it did seem to be greater than the cause.

I was very conflicted about becoming pregnant again and bailed out at the last minute. Too late. Naomi was meant to be. She was born 10 months after the due date of Baby Eli. The sadness gradually went away but in the first few months, I was always looking for that spot of blood.

She had left some personal papers here yesterday warning me not to look at them. Even though she was to be in Wayne (opposite direction) early this morning for her extensive Birthing Class with Don'tae, she came over to fetch them and drop off Dakota who promptly made 3 (Three!!!) messes as she must not have had time to walk her. Thanks.

Today a belated Mother's Day lunch from my son and another run in the rain.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Diaper cake

The project du jour: Not quite done but so far, Naomi is happy with it. I have a few 'sock roses' to add to it and figure out a way to keep the name letters from falling off.

A busy day today. I awoke bright and early to run in the drizzle before my Naomi duties. First stop: a series of appointments to get WIC, special supplements to pregnant women. She first had to prove herself eligible, then have a few medical tests (is healthy and non-anemic, have a talk with a nutritionist, then get a shopping list of approved foods. Next stop: the mid-wife. There are 10 in the practice but you can stick with one if you'd like. Naomi liked Heather, a young woman who I would guess is Shanna's age. Very earnest and professional. C-section rate: 10% vs 30% for the OB. She felt Naomi's baby: Head down!!! The head is not engaged yet but it is promising that that the baby is comfortable that way. All was fine. Naomi is a picture of health. Physiologically, she is at her prime; emotionally, financially, not so much.

After going out to eat, Naomi was hell-bent on me finishing the cake. She is very proud of it but I am making a few additions to it to surprise her. I left her to go to Happy Hour with a friend. Two dollar drinks, woo-hoo!!! Sadly, no patio seating as it was pouring rain.

Thursday, May 20, 2010


Our newspaper has been replaced by a web-based news digest. It prints out a paper version two days a week. Yesterday they printed a story how my former employer is laying off even more employees (there aren't many left in Michigan). One could comment on any story. (You wouldn't believe the number of comments about the African-American-only club at one of the elementary schools) Anyrate several people felt compelled to write how they were glad that we were all fired. They were tired of hearing their 'friends' brag about their benefits which included: 4 day workweeks, free childcare, free gourmet meals, free drugs, 6 figure incomes, unlimited personal days, etc. Boy I wish I worked there too but most of those statements aren't true. They seem to be having a case of schadenfreude (my favorite German word: joy due to the misfortunes of others) but don't seem to realize that our whole community is suffering because of the exit too, just not us spoiled ex-employees. Of course they linked the high price of our drugs to our 'excessive' benefits.

I did my run early today to beat the heat. Tried to do some trimming but the nylon string snapped. Outside my house, it smells like lilacs and lily-of-the valleys. As a teenager, I used to buy "Muguet des Bois" (same thing in French). It smelled so good but only for a few minutes.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Back into the routine

Even though it was a beautiful day, I went to the gym to work my neglected muscles. I have almost no pain in my arm/shoulder now so that is good. Naomi came over complete in bikini to sun herself even though she is 1) a redhead 2) 7.5 months pregnant. Fortunately she has heat intolerance due to being pregnant so that limited the sunburning. She has been doing well in her third trimester so far. She complains about a sore back occasionally.
I've been slowly clearing my to do list although lots of gardening needs to be done. We have straightened out her insurance, she's seeing a midwife this Friday, and I got my own medications sorted out. This weekend, she and Don'tae are going to a 12 hour LaMaze class at the hospital that we thought she'd deliver at before we found out the rules. We got all her records to be transferred to UM. This weekend my friend is throwing her a shower after Naomi's class. I am going to make a diaper cake as that is what she wants.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

News alert: The world does not revolve around me!

More flowers bloomed while I was gone. Not sure of the name for this but I had stole one small cutting and now I have it all over my rock garden
The Scottish moss has these very tiny white flowers. Still have forget-me-nots despite me pulling them out as weeds

One of my new irises compliments of my neighbor who shared several varieties with me

The baby is definitely growing -33 weeks

Naomi showed up here bright and early for us to go to the midwives' intake interview yesterday just as I was preparing for my run. The radar showed a green mass inching up to our fair town and I had only a small window of dryness. She was indignant; the nerve of me thinking only about myself when she wanted to go somewhere that second and I could run later (in the rain).

The world doesn't revolve around you!!
Well it doesn't revolve around you either!!! she shot back.

Don't I know it but I went for my run any way with stiff legs from the ordeal the day before. I returned to find her and Steve working on a project for the betrothed.

She had to fill out a lengthly questionnaire similar to the one of her OB's (who she fired later that day; we both felt sad about that) but this one had many questions about depression and mood. She didn't understand many of the terms such as libido. They wanted to know about changes in it.
Why would they ask that? She wondered.

But she filled everything out as if she were the happiest pregnant person ever admitting only to panic attacks. As for possible genetic diseases, she wrote down the possibility of the sickle cell trait but later told me that she had questionned Dontae's mom about it. Turns out both she and Dontae were tested and were negative. As Dontae's sister and her little girl have the trait, I can assume Dontae's father is the carrier. Assuming the mom is right about Dontae not being a carrier, the sickle cell business now is a moot point.

I had read on the website that one of the midwives is an expert on adolescent issues and thought that would be a good one. The scheduler asked how old Naomi was and said that Naomi was too old to be considered an adolescent (although she suggested that Naomi give me permission to speak for her). They are still trying to get an appointment for Naomi this week but she has one next week for sure. She is now in the system. This office is right across from that of Naomi's pediatrician who she was seeing up to a year ago. This lady had asked Naomi gingerly about her possible sexual activity. Naomi replied she had no interest in sex. The pediatriacian: Good!!!

I suggested that since we were there, we'd pay this lady a visit for old times sake but Naomi passed.

There is no mistake to the casual observer that Naomi is pregnant. She does look like a thin person with a basketball stuffed under her shirt. As we were walking out, a woman wanted to ask a bunch of questions. Are you still in high school? Is it a girl? Do you want her to have your beautiful red hair?

Naomi just smiled prettily and said she was a college student.
She didn't say much about the red hair issue but knows it isn't likely. Dontae's sister has volunteered in advance to be Maya's 'hair' aunt in case she inherits Dontae's hair. In Boston, we watched Chris Rock's documentary on African American hair care. Very time consuming and expensive.

Steve spent some time dealing with the aftermath of the accident: $3000 of damage.

I rescued a friend with a spare key I keep for such occasions (once bit; twice shy) but was too tired to tackle much more of my to do list.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Boston babies

Happy Daniel
My Mother's Day flowers from Shanna and family

The firetruck below the apartment bringing much joy to Oliver

Part of the running path on Castle Island. There is about a mile long causeway over the water to get there. Way in the distance (looking south) is the JFK Library-my approximate starting point.

Daniel's eyes look blue here but in person, they look like they have changed to brown

Oliver after his haircut. He builds up quite a static charge as he goes down these slides. Thus his hair is sticking up

Detail on a building in the South End. Lots of cool brownstones

Oliver on a wooden horse at the zoo before he had his haircut

Daniel looking worried

How big is your plate?

Often people say that they have alot on their plate so they can't take on any more responsibilities but the size of these 'plates' seem to range from child's tea party size to a huge platter. In my case, the plate seems to shrink or grow with time. Right now it seems to be a fairly small plate with a huge helping of Naomi dripping down the sides. And this is the calm before the storm. In my absence, Naomi and her father have been getting along better and even went out to eat steak together. She will come over today so we can fill out a questionnaire for her new health providers, the mid-wives. If her doctor had privileges at a Washtenaw hospital, this wouldn't be necessary but rules are rules. I am not sure what will happen if she were to go into labor at 36.5 weeks in New York. I am hoping she has my uterus (holds babies forever)versus Shanna's (early upside down babies). I am also hoping that since the baby's age is based on size as Naomi never paid attention to her cycles at all (despite being warned), she isn't as pregnant as they say she is. (They have knocked another day off the due date making it 7-5-10: I am thinking maybe more like mid-July). She and Dontae are large people; both were big babies.

I am home now after making the trip in record time-12 hours even. I was helped by the good weather, lack of traffic, fairly reasonable custom agents, lack of cops, the construction zones being closed down on Sunday etc but it was still a chore that I wasn't very enthusiastic about performing especially as it meant that I was leaving the babies and returning to all sorts of messes. I will be seeing them at the wedding next month, barring Naomi complications, and Shanna promised to have an extended visit this summer with the boys.

Immediately I made a wrong turn getting on to the Mass Pike-not a good start. I was headed toward the airport versus the westbound. Fortunately I was able to get off in South Boston but signage in general is very poor in Boston so it took a while to find the unmarked passage to the turnpike. Another complaint is how they number their exits. On I-93 (their basic north-south x-pressway), Exit 26 and exit 29 are only a half mile apart; there are no exits 27 and 28. I know their exits were changed due to Miss Dig but they should get with Michigan's system. I live near exit 41 which means I am 41 miles from the Ohio border. If someone tells me they live near Exit 17, I know I have 24 miles to go. Also they are are too pedestrian friendly. Saturday it looked like I had plenty of time to get across Beacon driving but ahead, cars had to stop because pedestrians chose that time to cross. I ended up blocking Beacon when the light changed. There was a whole string of cars behind me too, also blocking (gridlock). There was a cop standing on the corner who motioned those cars to pull over to ticket them for gridlock. I was spared but it looked like a no-win situation. The cop's presence reeked of entrapment.

But I really don't mind the drive;I had my radio to entertain me. No Dvorak though (listen to and see if you can still be depressed). I was tired of the comics. Too many of them think it is hilarious that women would think they have any worth beyond their sexual parts. Misogyny humor is not my favorite. I found other things to listen to twirling the knob wildly and often with no one to object. I had my Trader Joe treats to nibble on stopping only once for coffee and a sandwich. Outside Buffalo there was an electronic sign with crossing times at the 3 major crossings. The Lewiston (most convenient) was 60 minutes. Damn. This meant navigating through Niagara Falls NY without a map or TomTom and we've gotten lost with the TomTom. I have never seen a sign for the Rainbow Bridge (note to Niagara Falls Tourist board: if you happen to have your bots scanning cyberspace for complaints, this is one). I kept close to the water looking for the bridge and found myself next to the exit ramp for it. A U-turn in the middle of the road put me on the entrance. I don't know about the legality of U-turns in NY, It would have been illegal in Michigan. No line there and only a few cars ahead of me in Detroit but the customs woman chose to take 2 cars apart in front of me. I always pick the wrong line. She spent the least amount of time with me. She had a print out of my comings and goings and wondered how come I keep going back and forth and why do I keep changing where I enter.

I will post pictures later today. I will try to get a run in before it rains.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

All Quiet on the Eastern Front

Shanna and Ramy are out on their first night together since Daniel was born. Oliver actually asked to go to sleep. Daniel was a tougher customer. He had fallen asleep as I fed him (he started formula for the first time this week in anticipation of tonight) and I snuck him oh so carefully into his crib. Five minutes later, he woke up furious and it took an hour of rocking to calm him down and sneak him back into the crib. I ran south for a change on new asphalt easier on my legs but I eventually had to face the strong winds. Lots of running for the past week.

Shanna and I went to Brookline without a map or TomTom (as it died one hour into my drive here). I thought I knew where everything was but made a wrong turn. It doesn't help that in Boston, Beacon is clearly north of Commonwealth but in Brookline, their positions mysteriously switch. But we eventually found the French crepe place, which was good. Lots of traffic though. Boston is actually quite small but with the traffic, it takes a while to get from one place to another.

Tomorrow, back to Michigan. The crepe place owner asked about my 'accent'. I told him it was midwest standard-what broadcasters are to speak in. A large swatch of the country speaks as I do but only a small part speak Bostonese.

I didn't bring my card reader so no pictures until I get home. Keep posted.

Friday, May 14, 2010

The Accident

Yesterday I received so many negative phone calls, I cringed every time I heard my phone ring. As I was bringing in groceries last night, the phone rang again. Ah Josh! Maybe some niceness for a change. But no..he called to inform me about Naomi's accident. The good news is that she and the baby were not injured but our car certainly is. She was at an intersection when 2 cars ahead of her suddenly stopped. She allegedly stopped in time but the car behind her plowed hard into her causing her to go into the car in front of her which hit the car in front of it. The car that hit her sped off. She exchanged insurance info with the other cars and then took off. We made her go back to the police. Although this isn't her fault, we are out a bunch of money. And today, she learned that since she didn't keep a certain amount of money in this bank account she started to be independent, they have deducted so much she had a negative balance. Of course she never looks at her statements. Again a bailout. And here I listen to what a bad mom I am for not kicking Naomi to the curb..I should make her suffer..I shouldn't do this or do that. I don't know why she is the way that she is. It's very easy to point fingers at me. A less than ideal child? Must be the mom's fault.
Were my parents better parents because somehow I ended up being able to support myself in a relatively high income job? Although my parents meant well or least my mom did, they were really awful parents by any other measure beside than the fact I am still breathing. I had to raise myself. I looked forward to the day I could leave the house. They were immature and had various mental diseases.

I tried hard to do better with my kids.
Naomi is not a bad kid but she has so much growing up to do. She is very ill-equipped to raise a child. She is very enthusiastic about her little girl but we will soon see if that is enough.

On the positive side, Steve went back with her to social services to get clarity on several issues and at least things are moving in the right direction. I will have my hands full when I return.

We went to Oliver's music class. All the kids there have some learning issues. All are boys except a little girl who was due around Daniel's birthday but came at 26 weeks. Very small but she doesn't seem to have any severe issues unlike the miracle baby that lives across the street from me born at the same gestational age. I guess there has been alot of advances in the last 12 years. There was a two year old there with beautiful long blonde curls named Akiva that I assumed was a beautiful little girl. I was puzzled about her muteness, rarer with girls. But it turns out that she is a he. The mom just won't part with the beautiful hair. Oliver's hair on the other hand was shaved as short as Daniel's a few nights ago. No confusing him for a girl but he looks even younger than he is. He was crabby throughout the class and refused to participate but Daniel happily took his place. He has no stranger anxiety and was amused with the antics of the mostly 2 year olds. He definitely was better behaved.

I got a lobster roll for lunch-another taste of Boson. And sfogliatelle has different filling than a 'lobster tail' . Go for the lobster tail if given a choice plus it's easier to say.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

The taste of Boston

Another difference between Massachusetts and Michigan is the availability of alcohol in Michigan. You can buy it anywhere but in MA, only at special stores. I couldn't find where to find wine in Shanna's old city, not even at the Trader Joe's. Going through the aisles the other day, I found Absolut Boston. What does Boston taste like? Presumably black tea and elderflower. Now I understand the tea part but why elderflower? What would Detroit taste like? Rust? Cherries? Michigan is the top pie cherry producer in the country.

We went to the North End today for more tastes of Boston. The Italian bakery has both lobster tails and sfogliatelle. I thought the former was a large version of the latter but Shanna insists they have different fillings. Got a baba au rhum too along with the rainbow cookies, which are full of almond paste, my favorite ingredient.
So sunny, dry and cool this morning so I ran completely around Castle Island-9.5 miles total.More than I have run for some time. According to most experts, this burnt slightly more than a half of a stick of butter. I stopped and watched the large freighters en route to Boston Harbor. Very pretty running along the shimmery water. I just wish there was less cement which is hard on my legs. We took the kids later to this island for their nice playground to siphon some off some of Oliver's considerable energy.

Oliver had speech therapy today. It was interesting watching how to coax him into saying more than the first few letters of a word.

All today I fielded at least 10 calls for Naomi. She is trying to get insurance for Maya and was frustrated. When she is frustrated, she screams and swears at me. I refuse to speak to her until she can ask a civil question so that took quite a few phone calls before she had the proper tone of voice for me to speak to her. The problem is that she can't get insurance for Maya as she is delivering in a different county (the only hospital our insurance would cover) She has to get off our insurance and deliver in our county. Things aren't sorted out completely yet. Her doctor doesn't have privileges in the local hospital. We might have to switch. Too bad. Both Naomi and I liked her.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Little Viet Nam

Close-up of Maya's face

Shanna lives in Dorchester, a section of Boston home to many immigrants, the largest group being the Vietnamese. I always go down Dorchester Avenue at least once to pick up some tasty treats. Many signs are in Vietnamese.
One difference between Boston and Michigan is pedestrian rights. If one steps into a crosswalk, the car needs to stop here. In Michigan, they get run over. Sadly many out-of-state UM students don't realize our carcentric laws and step right in front of cars to no good end. Another difference is the amount of police. Boston must have the most per capita in the country. But what do they do? Guard road construction projects. During my run in South Boston yesterday, I found one trooper guarding a patch of wet cement!
And they love their rotaries called round abouts in our parts. Ann Arbor is now putting even more roundabouts in though people in Michigan are still confused by them.

I've decided to do long runs every other day so to spend more time with the babies. I took Oliver for a long (for him) walk. On the pier, there is a tourist boat that docks at the JFK library. He loved running up and down the aluminum gangplank. Lots of noise, which he loves to make. He also loved to pick the dandelions that have gone to seed blowing the seeds into the wind. He didn't care much for the JFK library but it was fun to climb the many steps up to it. He asked several times to be carried but you know mean grandma. We watched a construction zone for some time. He loves those earth movers. He took a 3 hour nap when we finally returned so Shanna was able to get some sleep.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Castle Island and the zoo

One of the gorillas from the zoo. He charged the glass and pounded it as hard as he could scaring the kids.
The fort on Castle Island

Carson's Beach that I run by on my way to Castle Island. No one was in the water today
It was calm, dry and sunny this morning so off I went on my long run to the island, a mile of which is on this narrow causeway surrounded on all sides by water. Although not many were out so early, 3 different people told me 'what a good job I was doing'. Occasionally people in Ann Arbor comment on my running, rarely favorably. East coast people are much less reserved apparently. Their accents still crack me up. If they live here into Oliver's school years, he will be calling himself Oliv-vah.
Both babies were up much of the night. Shanna gets by on so little sleep.
Oliver felt much better in the morning so we took them to the local zoo nearby. They do have an
impressive gorilla display but the zoo is much smaller than Detroit's. Every animal has a name: we could hear Christopher the lion's roars throughout the park. Oliver prefers the gorillas and the goats.

Monday, May 10, 2010

The stats on Maya Rose

So in medicalese, the hamburger sign was present versus the turtle meaning most likely Baby Tae-Nae aka Maya is female. At 16 weeks, I saw this elusive hamburger for a second as did the sonographer but it was not photographed-only a suspicious swelling suggesting maybe we were going to be having another boy. At 26 weeks, no swelling at all with a full crotch shot but no hamburger sign either. But the hamburger reappeared today and another day knocked off her sentence so she has the same due date as I had for Shanna. She is now 4.25 pounds, well on her way to becoming the 9 pound girl in 8 weeks I predict. All this happened 750 miles from me.

I didn't run today. I am tired but tomorrow, with less wind, I plan a 8 mile plus run to Castle Island.
We had a fire alarm this morning which was thrilling for Oliver. He immediately wanted to wait on the balcony for the fire trucks. He loves those trucks! Then we were locked out of the apartment. Rather than pay the $50 lockout fee, Ramy came home to let us in-one hour trip for him. We then went to Chuckie Cheese to amuse Oliver.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Happy Mother's Day!!!!

I am typing this from Boston with a keyboard missing a few keys compliments of Sir Oliver. In just 2 months the boys have changed so much. Daniel has grown thick eyebrows and has just started creeping. He is quite a charming little boy. Oliver is putting 3 words together, still thrilled by cars and trucks.
Driving here was mind numbing on just 2 hours sleep. There were very strong wind gusts that would suddenly push my little econobox sideways, especially scary on those big bridges around the Niagara region. My TomTom died, not really much of a problem as the basic way to get here is to drive 500 miles on Rte 90 until you hit the ocean and then turn south 2 miles but there is a maze of bypasses around Buffalo that I hadn't committed to memory plus I didn't get the pleasure of seeing if I could beat the ETA listed and see how many miles I actually have left. I missed several storms-I could see black clouds all around especially during sunrise. It was a nice getting 40 mpg for a change and zipping through tollbooths with my new E-Z pass instead of fumbling for change and trying to cross over with my right arm when my left arm was injured. If I drove today instead, I would have gone through an ice storm in Syracuse. I listen to opera, oratorios, alternative music, comedy skits-anything to keep me awake. Favorite music listened to: last movement of Eroica and Dvorak's Slavonic dance No. 1: the latter is especially uplifting. Funny stories listened to: a man with a German shepherd lived next door to a little old lady who kept her beloved rabbit in a cage in her backyard. He looked out in horror one day to find Fluffy dirty and inert in his dog's jaws but was too chicken to tell the old lady what had happened. He washed the dead rabbit up, blew dry its hair and snuck it back into the cage and hoped the lady would think Fluffy died in its sleep of lapine cardiac infarction. He saw the old lady a few days later looking sad and asked innocently what was wrong. Oh there was a death in the family. He asked who and of course, Fluffy had passed away. But then she added. You know I buried him in the backyard but a day later, I found his body all cleaned up in his cage. So Strange.

And there was a bit about a 'nice' case of Tourette's where the affected shout compliments and nice things instead of swearing and insults...

These things kept me up.

Breakfast with flowers and the grandboys. I ran some in gale force winds kicking up clouds of sand along the beach. Fine when the wind was on my back but tough in my face. Shanna and I went out for Mother's Day by ourselves to the South End (not to be confused with South Boston where I run) looking at all the cool architecture and trendy shops and restaurants. We ate at a nice Thai place and then went to the alleged best bakery in Boston called "Flour' where I had a dacquoise torte. It will be hard for me to duplicate that one. Josh dutifully called but no call from Ms. Naomi. Sigh. Someday she'll know.

Happy Mother's Day to all my mom friends. You know who you are!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Safe and tired in Boston

I went to bed at a reasonable time but awoke shortly after midnight. I could not sleep no matter how I tried. Finally I got up at 3:30 am, made a jug of coffee and drove the 755 miles here kept awake by satellite radio. Too tired to write....

Friday, May 7, 2010

The Betrothed

Yesterday we received our long awaited wedding invitation..not so much for the invitation itself but for the wedding that we had hoped that would have taken place long ago. But next month we will go to New York and finally see Steve's brother marry the woman he loves and who has stood by him as he has battled so many medical challenges.

Everyone wants to go. It will be a challenge bringing Naomi as she will be in her 37th week but she loves her uncle. Dontae has never seen NYC or a Jewish ceremony so he's in too.

Tomorrow I am off to Boston to see the precious ones. Oliver was evaluated by the State yesterday and scored the highest possible in every category except spoken speech. I will bring the 'blue car' which he associates with Grandpa. He wanted Grandpa to take him to our garage repeatedly and show him the 'blue car'. It has satellite radio to keep me entertained and I will be zipping through toll booths now with the transponder compliments of the Ohio Turnpike System.
No snowbanks to become mired in such as in my last trip. I anticipate less gas station stops now that I don't have a gas guzzling wagon, handy for carrying cribs, with me. We briefly considered having Steve come with me with Naomi holding down the fort watching the dog(s) but we feel she can't be trusted for more than a day or so.

I had a wonderful massage yesterday centering on my defective shoulder. Although it was slowly getting better with my stretching, this seemed to make it feel even better.

Ann Arbor is now the center of a national reverse racism brouhaha shutting down our newspaper replacement website with people across the country weighing in. A local elementary school principal in an attempt to close the 'achievement gap' scheduled a field trip to visit a African American scientist. Why he couldn't bring the scientist to the school was unclear. The vehicle was only so big so black boys got the first priority and the space was filled with only some of the black girls (the gap is much bigger between boys than in girls). When the kids returned to the classroom, they were booed by those left behind. The principal angrily spoke to the booers trying to justify the situation. The booers main argument "it's not fair!" Parents of those left behind also were furious as they thought a scientist could inspire their kids too. Of course choosing a group based solely on skin color and sex is illegal especially in a public school.

As a scientist that was brought in to 'inspire' kids, I had to laugh that the kids left behind missed anything. I was as entertaining as possible. I had all sorts of demonstrations showing the 'magic' of chemistry and the kids found me fun according to the letters I've received. But I am not sure how inspired they were.

It is raining now just when I have scheduled a long run. Hopefully it will pass soon.


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