Monday, November 30, 2009

How 'bout Jake Watching Gerbils?

Now gerbil videos can get boring (no, really?), but not if you play their video on a big screen while the dog watches! He's watching the video posted below, but he thinks they're going to jump out of the screen or something. He got fired UP! I showed it to him 3 times and he started barking really loud, so I had to close the video. Then he saw my screensaver, which is a picture of us in the backyard with him, and he started growling at himself!

None of that beats the time our Doberman attacked himself in my mom's full-length mirror, though. (We reassured him that he really didn't look THAT fat.)

Sunday, November 29, 2009

More Gerbil Action!

Oh, we're getting some personalities here and they're losing their creepiness. Though when I had them on Lucas's little table alone and they were running in all different directions and skidding up to the edges, I was afraid I might lose it. Rodents zipping around threatening to jump off the table and run through the house - aaaahhhh!

So who saw the movie Ben in 1976-ish? The one with the theme song sung by Michael Jackson with words like, "Ben, the 2 of us were meant to be together, but they don't understand how I can love a rat." Like that. The pivotal scene is where the kid has been forbidden to have Ben the rat by his parents, but his mom comes to kiss him goodnight and finds his bed covered in hundreds of Ben's friends - imagine the horror! She has a freak-out and starts tossing covers, and poor Ben gets maimed or something so the kid hates his parents and I was crying my eyes out with all the other girls watching it. Seems like it was at a sleepover at Mitzi's house or something.

I'll have to add Ben to my Blockbuster queue tonight!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Mad Cow and a Bag of Ice

Drew went on a campout Friday evening and was the Grubmaster, so he had a cooler full of food and I bought 2 bags of ice to put on it. Only 1 would fit, so I took the other bag to the meeting spot to see if anybody else needed it. Nobody else did, so I put it in the back of my SUV to take home and put in the freezer.

Sunday we have a very lazy day - I never left the house all weekend because the weather was yucky and I was enjoying my pajamas - but we decide to go to Target before we go pick Drew up. We get in my car and Dean exclaims, "Your car STINKS! What's in here?" Lucas echoes the sentiment. It's sort of a musty mildewy smell, and we get out to look in the back. Dean pulls out 2 empty plastic ice bags and looks perplexed. I slowly realize that I never took that 2nd bag out of my car, and it has now melted into the rear carpet. Sure enough, we pull out the piece of flooring that covers the spare tire, and it's dripping wet - soaked through. And it's been sitting in a nice warm garage all weekend, though luckily the highest temperature was in the 70's.

If you see me this week, you'll know why the kids and I are wearing coats with all the car windows down. And please forgive me if I smell like mildew.

I'm also reminded of Christmas Vacation where the gutter-ice breaks through the neighbors' window and destroys their room without a trace. And wasn't there an Edgar Allen Poe book with a similar plot?

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Gerbil in a Ball

It's getting a little better with the gerbils. We had some good interactions last night and today - they took treats from our hands without so much biting, and Furry even sat in Lucas's hand while he pet (petted?) him. Furry volunteered to explore the house a little bit, but if you could see this video full-screen, you'd notice a little poo escaping from the ball on its last run. I didn't notice it till I watched the video - better go clean that up. These things are nasty!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Meet the Gerbils

We are pleased to introduce Furry and Junior. Furry is the wild one in the wheel and Junior is the one who is contemplating biting my finger. Furry is curious and full of energy and has flipped himself upside down in the wheel because he can run so fast. When he saw Jake the dog (who hasn't even smelled 2 gerbils in the house yet - what's up with that?) he had a little panic attack and stomped his back feet just like they said in the book! It looked like a temper tantrum with him jumping up and down rapidly. It was also accompanied by pee and poop - just what you want in a wheel when you're running for your life. (I didn't really want to pet or hold him after that.)

Junior is an evil little gerbil who is very antisocial and prefers to stay in his nest unless he sees a hand to bite. Now the bite is just tiny teeth against your skin - there's no puncture or blood (yet), but it causes Drew and me to yank our hands out rapidly, so Junior will one day find himself sailing across the room and slamming into a wall. Lucas, on the other hand, thinks it tickles and doesn't even twitch.

Now the boy at the pet store declared that gerbils are better than hamsters for little kids because they don't bite as much, they're less aggressive, and they sleep at night and play in the daytime. So far we've all been bitten at least once, and Lucas woke me up at 2 AM the first night because they were running on that damn wheel. So now they have an enforced bed time, because a giant rubber band is placed around the wheel to prevent it from turning (thank you, Dean!), thus allowing Lucas to sleep through the night.

Anyone with gerbil experience who can tell me if there ever comes a point where you can actually pick them up and play with them, feel free to offer advice. They're kind of getting creepier by the day!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Audiotape and 6th Grade Girls

I wish I had the audio to post - it's so much better than reading it. Janet and Amy and I had hours of fun one day with an old reel-to-reel tape recorder my dad had. You could record something then play it in reverse, speed it up to sound like a chipmunk, or slow it down. So much fun! The funny thing is that we chose to say stuff like "U-T-Rus" and "fallopian tube" then speed it up. After each word there were just gales of chipmunk laughter at how clever we were.

Then we wrote some jingles for common household products, which I would like to share with you now. This first one was originally a religious song about snow-white doves as far as I can remember, but we sang about Dove soap.

"On the wings of a snow white dove,
I was taken to my tub.
And there I found some Dove."

The chorus is "Dove...dove.....dovedovedovedove" and repeat.

The next was the real winner. I don't think Duffy Sausage was real - we always ate Jimmy Dean - but for some reason we sang about Duffy. Now one person is chanting "Duffy" in the background while the other sings, and the rhythm is sort of like a train on the tracks, if that makes any sense (I know it doesn't).

Duffy, duffy, duffy, duffy
Kill the pig, kill the pig, kill the pig, kill the pig.
Waaaah, waaaaah, waaaah, waaaaah
The pig's dead! The pig's dead!
Take-it-to-the-store, take-it-to-the-store (sung rapidly)
Eat the pig! Eat the pig!

All of that was in a minor chord till the last line when it changed to a major chord with beautiful harmony.

I think we wrote other jingles, but these were the only ones that came to mind at the time. And yeah, I get that it's really funny in my head, but loses a whole lot in print. Maybe one day I'll find that tape and play it for you. THEN you'll laugh!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Let's Wrap It Up

I'll get off that cancer kick - sorry 'bout that! Just to reassure everybody that it was a double-edged sword, it was the worst thing I've ever been through and I felt like my life ended (the first half of it anyway), but those times with my family were some of the best ones we ever had. We got together more than we would have and we didn't sweat any small stuff. We actually looked forward to tests and doctor visits because we knew it meant a get-together.

I just remembered a funny thing from the time the hospice chaplain came to meet us at my dad's house. She asked if we could all pray together, so we're all sitting in the den listening to her pray (more of a discussion with God, it was going on for quite a while), and Drew (4 at the time) says, "Excuse me." She says, "Yes, sweetheart, did you want to add something?" Drew says, "No ma'am, I pooted."

With stuff like that happening, how can you not laugh and enjoy the moment?

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Just Some Photos for the Cancer Saga

Playing with Drew in New Orleans. (Pappy, can I ride it now? Please???)

This one's really old, but such a great shot of Tracey supposedly cracking that hand. He was really good at getting the joke pictures.

Gettin' jiggy at Pawley's Island. This was some song and dance to put the boys down for a nap - probably gave 'em nightmares!

Very tired after an intense game of "There's a Bullet in My Foot."

The Cancer Saga Cont'd....

So I left out the part where we decided to take a trip to Pawley's Island for one last week together before my dad died. (That's kinda heavy, huh.) My mom was living in New Orleans with us as our nanny, so she, Drew (4 years old),and I drove over to Mobile to pick up my Dad. Then we got Mamaw (my mom's mom who'd had a heart attack a couple of years earlier) somehow - maybe we drove through Sylacauga to collect her and headed on up to Birmingham for my brother Scott.

Scott wasn't home yet from work even though it was after dinner, and when he came in the door I was the only one sitting in the den. He told me, "It's time for a come-to-Jesus meeting," and he had an MRI in his hand. It is here I should mention that Scott told me about some blind spots in his peripheral vision a few weeks earlier, to which I flippantly replied, "Well that's a brain tumor." (You learn such useful things in medical school!) Well, turns out it WAS a brain tumor, and he'd just gotten his preliminary MRI results. So we set about Fedexing the MRI to my husband Dean in New Orleans (he's a radiologist - you couldn't be married to anyone better when your family's got a cancer epidemic!). But we had to continue on the road to South Carolina to pick up my sister Tracey and 3-yr-old Parker. I said, "Hey! Maybe when we get to Tracey's house she'll tell us she has ovarian cancer!"

Anyway, that vacation week was something else with my Dad not feeling well from his radiation and Scott constantly on the phone trying to find out what the tumor was and what they were going to do about it. Scott and I really wanted to sign the guest book with, "Between the 5 adults we have lung cancer, a kidney tumor [my dad, incidentally], a brain tumor, and severe heart disease. The group sessions have been very inspiring." My mom wouldn't let us write that; she wrote something generic like "You have a nice house."

Long story short, we come back home and my dad is promptly hospitalized with metastases to his adrenal gland, and Scott is admitted a couple of days later in Birmingham for his first brain surgery. My dad's employer at the time was an old Sylacauga friend who amazingly offered to fly my dad and me up to B'ham on his private plane so we could get there in time for Scott's surgery. So Daddy got discharged from one hospital and we flew straight to another hospital for Scott. Have I mentioned that Scott and Elizabeth were expecting a baby girl?

Well, Scott is recuperating well after a couple of days, so Daddy and I are heading back to Mobile and go to the hospital to tell him goodbye. Before we leave, Scott says, "Daddy, we've decided on the name for our baby." Daddy says, "What is it?" Scott says, "We're going to name her Kaye." (My dad's name is Kay.) I'll never forget the sound my father made. He almost sobbed, but he nipped it after a second, though the tears were rolling down his face. He said, "Noooo, Scott, you don't want to do that!" Scott said they most certainly were naming her that, and then we had to leave because my dad was breaking down.

As we were driving to the airport, he said, "They don't really want to name her that! She'll hate that name! What kind of a name is that for a girl?" (I hated to point out the obvious - that my dad is probably the only MAN named Kay.) I reassured him that Scott and Elizabeth really wanted to do it, but when you're arguing with someone on a morphine patch, it's really a moot point.

So it's kind of cool that there's still a Kaye Arnold running around this joint, and my youngest son's middle name is Henry, after the man. Bits and pieces...we do what we can to keep him close.

Monday, November 9, 2009

This One Warranted Some Kleenex

Oh, I was reading a friend's blog about health issues and it reminded me of my favorite movie line of all time: Jack Nicholson in The Bucket List, dying of cancer, looking in the mirror saying, "Somewhere some lucky bastard just dropped dead of a heart attack." I laughed till I cried (but I was really crying, one of those confusing times when it started out funny but it really wasn't). I've always thought I was going to die before I hit 30 - I mean this is when I was 9 or 10 I didn't think I'd see 30. I used to lie there at night and think I'd die of some disease in my teens or 20's, and all my classmates would file by and THEN they'd miss me!

But I'm in my 40's now. My last lipid profile actually showed a really low total cholesterol - everything was perfect! I declared that I had a cholesterol deficiency and needed to take up smoking and drinking (well, heavy drinking). I know it's going to be cancer that gets me - got both grandmothers, one grandfather, and my dad. I knew my dad was going to die of cancer because he smoked so much, I just wondered why his doctor didn't order more frequent chest x-rays. When I was in medical school I used to go home and do physicals on him to see if it had happened yet.

But when he called me after Thanksgiving in 1999 and told me he had something on his shoulder that my sister-in-law thought was a lymph node, I just got pissed and went straight into denial. A lymph node on the top of his shoulder near his neck would mean cancer, so that wasn't right. Then it was hurting him and they finally did a chest x-ray. He called me in New Orleans on New Year's Day and said they saw a mass, so did I think he had tuberculosis? I just sat there and said, "Daddy, you know what it is."

Then there followed the most intense 6 1/2 months of my life, cramming in every possible family gathering while trying to finish fellowship. We all tried to go to every doctor's appointment with him and be there for every test, and we did a good job because the doctor would joke about it at visits. We fit in a week at Pawley's Island, South Carolina (or North?) before things went really downhill, and then we handled that, too. I think my family does cancer well - we got the most out of what we had left with no regrets. We could be consultants now - the top 10 things to do when you find out your loved one has cancer. (It would include going to a hockey game then coming home and re-enacting it in the kitchen with the kids, eating all the oysters you want at a nice restaurant and who gives a shit how much it costs, listening to all the stories you can about their childhood - and here's an idea - videotape it!)

And when Dean and I bought our vacation spot, that was the first thing that popped in my head and I said to the realtor (who probably thought I was really odd) - "this is where I'm going to be with my cancer - sitting right here on this porch." Of course, if I'm sitting alone on that porch for awhile, that's okay too.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Battleship Campout

Ooooh, the eagerly anticipated Battleship campout with the cub scouts! Poor Lucas didn't get to go last year because his mommy has Mad Cow and didn't realize that daddy had a meeting and she was on call that weekend after promising to take him. True heartbreak....he actually cried when he got home from school the next day because his friends told him how cool it was. That's one of the few times I've felt that I'm truly ruining my kids by being a doctor instead of a stay-at-home mom. So this year the campout fell on another weekend that we were both on call, but SuperMommy to the rescue - I traded weekends with my partner.

Now Dean did this with Drew when he was a Tiger Cub, so he warned me ahead of time, but poor Lucas couldn't be cheated out of his turn, so I plowed ahead. We loaded up the car Friday afternoon and headed to the Battleship. Oh, look at the sparse Pots-o-Gold (portalets) which are lined up within inches of the road. Somebody steps out of there without looking both ways and they're road kill - wonder who thought up that setup. We drove around the parking lot looking into the big field of tents for anybody we knew and came up empty, so we headed back to Pot-o-Gold country and looked for a suitable campsite. That ended up being at the Vietnam Memorial, which felt sort of sacriligious (did I spell that right?), especially watching all the unsupervised heathens running around jumping and playing on the sculptures.

Well, it got down into the 40's pretty quickly after dinner, so it was a unanimous decision to get into Lucas's tent and hang out till the campfire at 8 PM. There's not much to do in a tent unless you have cards or a board game, but luckily we all brought a book. That's what we did for an hour and a half - what a lot of fun!

After the campfire we hit the Pot-o-Gold, where I held a flashlight up to the vent so the boys could see where they were aiming when it was their turn. Apparently Lucas could just barely see to aim, because the next morning was a complete revelation to him at the john (hey look, I referenced 2 books of the Bible in 1 sentence!). He went in but came out lickety-split, declaring that he was going to throw up. He said he couldn't pee while looking "at other people's leavings." He opted to hold it until we toured the Battleship, which ended up being an hour and a half later! That kid held it while we stood in line 15 minutes for hot chocolate and a danish, then broke down tents and packed my car. Thank goodness the Battleship ticket office had a nice gift shop and bathroom, and what a little trooper!

I can't tell you all the discussion and jokes about the Pots-o-Gold that followed later that day, but you can bet we exhausted that subject. Now we've got to figure out how Lucas will make it through Jazzfest or any other event where he might need a portalet....