Friday, June 11, 2010

Something I Believe In

Hi All, (and by "all" I am probably only talking to myself and my step-mom and the occasional straggler who is routed to this blog in a misguided search for melanoma information . . .)

Today I have a new post. Actually, it comes from Aubrey. To the left is a speech that Aubrey wrote for school. (Click on the image to enlarge it). The assignment was to give a speech about something she believes in. So, this is what she said.

I thought it was definitely "blog-worthy." It's been nearly two years since Jeff died and there have been many blog-worthy events . . . I promise to do a Big Fat Update soon. Until then, take care and Believe in Sunscreen!!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

The End

Warning: This blog contains graphic descriptions of Jeff's death and his physical dying process. Proceed accordingly.

One year ago tonight, I told Jeff "Goodbye." I'll always remember. I don't know why I felt compelled to pour my heart out and sob at his bedside that night, but I did. Literature on the "stages of dying" littered the hospice where Jeff spent his last days. They gently suggested that the dying know when it's "time to go." Likewise, those close to the dying know when it's time to say "Goodbye" and, so saying "Goodbye" wasn't a conscious choice that I made, but something I did instinctively.

Jeff was lying in his hospice bed in a hospital gown--the head of the bed was slightly raised and he was propped-up on a pillow. He had been in this position most of the day to receive his final visitors and despite having been lucid and alert for the better part of the night before and early morning had slipped into a deep sleep for the rest of the day and evening which was just as well. Whenever he was awake he was in terrible pain from gout that was affecting his left ankle due to uric acid build up from his body systems shutting down. His hair had gotten longer than he usually would have let it grow because he had been in the hospice for a month. He needed a haircut and I wish I would have had someone cut his hair before he died so that he would have been buried with the short, handsome hair cut I remember him having. No one knows--not even Jeff--that when I shaved his head after he had brain surgery, I saved some of his hair. As a side note, I also saved his leg brace and whole brain radiation mask. He was indignant about it at the time and thought it was weird I wanted to save them, but the leg brace is a perfect mold of his left leg and the mask is a perfect mold of his face--I saved them for no other reason than to keep some minor semblance of him.

On that last night, I pulled a chair up to the side of Jeff's hospital bed. We had started our marriage side-by-side and now it would end side-by-side. I was wearing a pink velour sweat suit with a maroon pinstripe down the side of the pants and a maroon long-sleeved T-shirt to match. At one point, he faintly and briefly opened his eyes and I remember being somewhat disappointed in the fact that this was what he saw me wearing for the last time and that this might be the image he would have of me through all eternity. However, Jeff had 20/600 vision (yes, you read that correctly!), so I'm sure I was nothing but a pink blur to him if he could see anything at all.

I sat next to him and cried and talked for nearly an hour. He didn't move or so much as blink the entire time. I wondered if he had heard anything I said. But, as I was getting ready to leave, I stood up and leaned over him and said, "I'm going to kiss you now" and he puckered up his lips to meet mine. I was relieved to know that he had heard and understood me. And I recall in that moment that I kissed him, how the smell of medicine overwhelmed me. He smelled like poison (probably because he was filled with it between the cancer and all the drugs simultaneously competing to kill it and numb it). As I walked out the door, I looked back at him--just in case it was the last time I saw him. And it was.

The next morning, on September 25th the nanny had just arrived and we were in the middle of our usual morning chaos. The kids were just beginning to file into the mud room on their way out to the car to go to school when the house phone rang. I answered it and the voice on the other end said, "Mrs. Dodd?" I said, "yes?" and she said, "it appears he has passed." She didn't tell me who she was or where she was calling from or who "he" was. We both understood. I said, "thank you, we'll be right there." It was 7:45 a.m.

I turned to the kids who were milling in and out of the kitchen and said, "that was the nurse calling. Daddy died." I don't think anyone said anything--they all intuitively got in the minivan while the nanny scooped up baby-Finn. Aubrey, Regan, Jack and I went to the Hospice. As we approached the room, the door was mostly shut and an ornament of glass and a pressed/dried flower hung on the door (the Hospice's "notice" that the person in the room is dead). Jeff was lying flat in the bed. The Hospice staff had arranged a tray of cookies and drinks for us. He was still tethered to his catheter and pain pump.

I walked eagerly into the room while the kids entered with trepidation and gravitated toward a couch along the wall of the room. I approached him from the same side I sat at the night before and laid my top half over his top half and cried. His chest was still warm and it seemed unreal that it did not rise and fall as it did when he was breathing. His eyes were almost completely closed, yet very slightly open. His jaw was lax and his mouth was partially open. I intermittently hugged him and cried and laid over him and cried--simultaneously distraught and fascinated by how visibly death descends upon a body. I comforted the kids. They refused to touch him.

While we spent time with Jeff, the Hospice continued to make phone calls to notify family. I don't recall who I called personally and who the Hospice called, but at some point, our priest, Father Charlie arrived. After praying over the body, he generously took the kids back home while I stayed to pack Jeff's things and wait for the body to be removed.

Our dear friend, Tony, came to be with me at the Hospice. He had also sat with me in the waiting room 13 months earlier when Jeff had emergency brain surgery. This time, he brought me some plastic boxes for packing. I started in the bathroom. At first, I started packing toiletries like Jeff's deodorant and travel toothbrush before I realized these things would never be used again. Instead, I threw them away--thinking Jeff would be far more impressed with my efficiency than my sentimentality.

Meanwhile, nurses and doctors came and went. I asked how Jeff had changed positions--he had been sitting up the night before and was now lying flat. She explained that he died sitting up, but they have to immediately lie people flat or the rigor mortis will make it difficult to lie them flat later for their funerals, so the nurses had laid him flat as soon as he died. A doctor came in and took his pulse and pronounced him dead and completed some paperwork.

When the room was quiet and we were alone, I inspected his body. The backs of his ears and palms of his hands and back of his neck turned splotchy and purple (a condition I would later learn is called "lividity" due to the blood in the body settling and no longer circulating). His arms and hands were stiff. As I hugged him, his body felt unnatural and unresponsive.

It was a nice, sunny day.

It was approximately 10:30 a.m. when the funeral director arrived to remove the body. They arrived with a navy-blue bag unzipped and open on a gurney. They were dressed in suits and the two of them (one by his head and one by his feet) lifted him by lifting the corners of the bed sheet he was lying on. It surprised me that when they picked him up--sheet, pillow, catheter, everything--went into the bag. They started to zip up the bag and just as the zipper got to his chest, I stopped them and kissed him one last time on the forehead. They then zipped the bag over his head and placed a quilt over the bag. Then, they wheeled him out and that was the last time I ever laid eyes on him.

I finished packing his things and went straight home. The scene was remarkably normal and upbeat. Both of our nannies were now at the house and the kids were busy and playing, as usual. There were already flowers on the kitchen table from the Murphys next door. The next couple of hours were a blur, but at 1:00 p.m. or so, I went to the funeral home with my friend, Robin, to arrange the funeral. Later that day, I met again with Father Charlie to do the same thing. And by evening, family started to arrive from out of town.

And earlier that day, I posted Jeff's final blog. Self-aware and eloquent, it was probably the single most meaningful and important thing he ever wrote--except maybe for the private letters he wrote to me and the kids before he died. I have tried to continue the blog in an effort to chronicle our life after his death and as a means of lending hope and guidance to other young widows. I think it has served it's purpose.

As you are well-aware, I have been winding down the blog with fewer and more infrequent postings because I thought the one-year mark is a good stopping point. All the anniversaries and highlights and memorable occasions a year brings have been met face-to-face and I don't know what more to say about them in the second year or the third . . .

Also, I feel like it is time to close this chapter of our lives and move on. We are no longer mourning. Our lives will never be the same, but we have found ways to keep living and be happy. Jeff's death has given us so much--people have come into our lives we would have had no opportunity to know but for his death; my children have developed enviable resilience and independence. Of course, it's been a lot of hard work. It is sometimes paralyzing to raise four children alone and I am constantly aware of the sacrifices we all make in order to fill the hole Jeff left in our lives. I must work harder. The kids must do more to help me and each other. Yet--our "new" life is surprisingly happy and relaxed.

So, tomorrow begins a new year and we will embrace it not as a day to ruminate on the unfairness of life and all its misfortunes, but as a day to celebrate our successes and the progress we've made in the past year. Just as a baby learns to crawl and then walk--each milestone is celebrated as progress toward a better existence and not lamented as indicators of an infanthood left behind. We will mark the day respectfully--I'm sure we will visit the cemetery and share our memories of Jeff and we will all be a little sadder, but we'll be OK.

This blog has been one of Jeff's enduring gifts to me. He started when he first learned his cancer had returned and I continued it after his death. It has served as my unique brand of personal therapy, but has also provided glimmers of affection and understanding through all the thoughtful comments you have left. My relationships with many of you have become more meaningful because of our communications through the blog, and without a doubt, I will miss your Comments the most. Nonetheless, I have to see if I can get along without it and I hereby declare a "normal" friendship with all of you--which will necessarily require nurturing through traditional means such as e-mails, phone calls, and direct contact.

However, I reserve the right to resurrect the blog at any time and without notice. In fact, it is likely I will still post here from time to time just because it is such a convenient forum for far away family and friends. But, if so, I may elect to rename the blog and revise the format so that it no longer focuses on our tragedy, but instead emphasizes the comfortable and beautiful normalcy into which we have settled.

So, thank you for walking this path with us and for all of your contributions along the way. As I type this, it is now 11:59 p.m. on September 24th. Ooops--now it's midnight and officially September 25th. So, I'm going to stop typing and keep living and loving and smiling . . . .

The End.


Sunday, August 2, 2009

We're Baaack!

Yes . . . I'm still here. Sorry. There's been an unprecedented lag-time between posts and I really have no good excuse (as usual) except for vacation and the general demands of life.

First, the kids and I (and our nanny, Lauren) went on vacation last week. We had a great time, and I was especially grateful that Lauren was along. Without her, I would have been tethered to Finn with no opportunity to really do anything with the big kids. Having Lauren with us made all the difference in the world and allowed me to actually enjoy our vacation.

The kids will be taking another vacation in a couple of weeks: Aubrey is going "Up North" with her friend and her friend's family on their annual trip to Northern Wisconsin. Meanwhile, Regan, Jack, and Finn will be going to Jeff's first cousin's wedding in Minnesota with Jeff's parents. They will get to see their grandparents and aunts and uncles and cousins and will have a blast, I'm sure. I'll be home alone working and performing with the band.

Meanwhile, I've been busy unpacking and doing laundry and catching up on messages and bills, etc. "Little Daddy" survived our absence. However, we are now babysitting a friend's crayfish for the next 10 days while they are on vacation.

There have been lots of changes for me at home and at work over the past couple of weeks. One notable example is Aubrey's hair. Aubrey used to have medium-brown hair--very wavy and pretty. She usually straightens it. She recently got it cut above her shoulders and layered. But, then she dyed it dark brown and got platinum blonde highlights. It is super cool and I'm only slightly jealous.

Oh--I almost forgot: Jack's baseball team WON the Championship! It was very exciting. I didn't realize I had left everybody hanging on that point until my friend, Scott, called this week and mentioned that I never said on the blog whether Jack won or not. So . . . yes, he won and he got two more trophies. He's accumulating quite a collection to go with his coveted Pinewood Derby trophy. And as an aside to Scott--I trust you made it safely to Egypt and are already exploring your new home!

In other news, I recently learned that some of Jeff's high school classmates have organized a memorial Fun Run as a way to raise money for the endowed scholarship in Jeff's name at Lincoln Pius X high school. When I have more details I will post a flyer on the blog, but it sounds like it is shaping up to be quite an event.

Finally, tonight, Finn heard a song by Coldplay and insisted that he saw Daddy in the CD player and although he kept saying "Daddy scary" and kept pointing to the CD player and wanting up and completely clinging to me and burying his little face, he also wanted to listen to that Coldplay song over and over again, each time saying "Daddy, Daddy . . ." Weird.

Earlier today, Regan said, "I wonder if Finn remembers Dad." At that moment, Finn was looking at our wedding album and pointed to Jeff in a picture on the front and said, "Daddy." So, I am confident he can at least still identify him and knows who he is. If you ask Finn, "do you miss Daddy?" he'll get a sweet sad look and nod his head "yes." I don't know if he really knows what he is saying or what we are asking, but I like to think he does . . .

Well, I'm sorry this is short and unfulfilling, but I'm totally exhausted and start a new week at work tomorrow and still have lots to do tonight. I'll try to get back into a more consistent pattern of updating. Until next time . . . thanks for reading. Please stay in touch!

Kelly et al.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Bunch of Nothing

Sheesh! I can't believe it's been so long since my last post. I don't even know where the time has gone--mostly work and band and baseball, I guess.

Jack's team is still in the little league tournament. If they win their next game, they will play for the Championship. The Murphy boys were admiring Jack's team tonight as "the best team in the league" which is particularly flattering because the Murphy boys know baseball. I mean . . . they REALLY know baseball, so I'm glad that Jack has had the chance to play on such a great team and have the whole experience. He's not a bad little hitter, either.

Since July 2nd, I've had 5 band shows and one band practice. Whew! The weekends have been totally packed, but the shows have been fun and well-attended. The rest of my time has been consumed by work which is, thankfully, busy.

I don't have anymore band shows until August, so I'm glad things will slow down considerably for the next couple of weeks. I'm soooo tired.

One highlight of the past week was that Jeff's sister, Mary Margaret, came to visit along with Jeff's first cousin, Katrina. We ordered in and had a fun dinner at home with the kids. Mary Margaret made Pina Coladas!

Otherwise, there are really no recent highlights to report. Finn still has his mohawk. "Little Daddy" is still alive. And the kids have all been busy with sleepovers and play dates and birthday parties and bike rides. Summer will be over so soon.

I am still weeks behind on e-mails and bills and appointments and phone calls and laundry. Ugh!

But, I'm sure next time Pina Coladas will not be the highlight of my blog entry. I feel some good stuff coming on . . .

Until then, take care and thanks as always for continuing to care!

Kelly et al.

(P.S. The nanny brought the kids to see one of my outdoor shows. Finn wanted his Mommy so I held him while I sang a song. A funnier picture would have been of his expression as the nanny took him back from me so I could finish the show . . . "Moooommmmmyyyyy!!!!!").

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Excuses Excuses . . .(Updated)

I must begin with an apology. I have been busy beyond all belief and there are more than a few of you out there who are waiting for me to return your calls, respond to your e-mails, and RSVP to baby showers and weddings that have already come and gone (Sorry!). If it makes you feel any better, please know that I also just opened mail this week postmarked June 16th (I haven't even made it to the July mail yet) and that I have not yet gone through the kids' end-of-the-year folders full of everything they brought home on the last day of school. So, I'm running about 3-4 weeks behind to say the least. It seems so basic to open a bill or reply to an e-mail, but, for some reason, the smallest of tasks seem to be the most insurmountable right now. Don't even ask about my laundry. To make a long story short-I bought a half-dozen new bath towels today.

The good news is that most of what is keeping me busy is fun. Since my last post, some of the highlights include:

1. Jack's baseball games. His team is 9 and 1 and is considered one of the best teams in the entire league. His tournament starts this Thursday and I wouldn't be surprised if his team wins the whole thing!

2. The twins' 2nd birthday party. Jeff and I are the proud Godparents of twin girls who are six weeks younger than Finn. We attended their birthday party and enjoyed watching the little ones have all kinds of fun.

3. Lolo's 21st birthday party. One of our Super-Nannies turned 21 this past week. She invited me to her birthday party which consisted of tailgating and a Brewers' game. Out of the 30-or-so people in attendance, I was one of only 3 who was over the age of 30. I note that Lauren has a conspicuous dearth of middle-aged, single, male friends. I should have known that a 21 year-old's birthday party would not yield good results. Note to self: start hanging around the supper club and drinking more Sloe Gin. Oh well. The party was still fun.

4. Summerfest! America's largest outdoor music festival takes place in Milwaukee every summer and the Rabid Aardvarks were, again, invited to play on the Miller Stage on July 2nd. My law firm made the occasion an official "firm outing" so I was excited to perform for my coworkers and, of course, all my other friends who came (especially Mike & Regan, and Jeff!). Based upon how everything else is going, the rest of you should be getting your notice of the appearance and invitation to attend in approximately 3-4 weeks. (Ugh!)

5. Fireworks! My law firm is located in downtown Milwaukee just a couple of blocks from the shore of Lake Michigan. Every year, they open the top floor of the building so that employees and their families can have a front-row view of the city's main fireworks display. (They launch the fireworks off a barge in the harbor). I took Regan and Jack to the fireworks show. Because the building is so tall, the fireworks explode at eye-level only a couple of blocks away, so the show is really spectacular. The kids loved it. (Aubrey stayed home to watch Finn who cannot be trusted for obvious reasons on the top of a building).

6. Fourth of July! We celebrated the 4th of July, first, by going to my friend Mike's birthday party. He lives on a lake just west of Milwaukee, so the kids wore their swimming suits and Jack took his fishing pole and (I discovered later) a livewell full of leaches he planned to use as bait. (He's hard core). The kids ate and played and went on boat-rides around the lake. Aubrey even found a group of teenagers to attach herself to and my other friends who were in attendance were very generous in helping me with Finn so I could variously eat and keep an eye on everyone else. Finn was particularly impressed with the family's dog who he was very interested in so long as the dog remained more than 10 feet away. As soon as the dog showed the slightest sign of reciprocity or hinted at coming nearer, Finn would try to climb my leg like a lumberjack climbing a tree.

7. We were also excited to have family in town for the 4th of July. Jeff's first cousins and a friend came to Milwaukee for a mini-vacation to go to Summerfest and on the Booze Cruise ( a boat-tour of Milwaukee's breweries--isn't this a great city?). So, Aubrey and her cousin, Andrea, went to the Wauwatosa fireworks display while her cousin, John, and his friend came to my Rabid Aardvarks show in downtown Milwaukee. It was quite an event--I don't think we've ever had people crowd the stage like they did last night. And we did THREE encores. At the end of the night a drunk 25 year-old asked me to marry him. When I told him he was too young for me, he asked my age. I told him I was pushing 37. He sobered up almost immediately. When he admitted he was 25, I suggested that instead of marrying him, why don't I just babysit him and then have coffee with his mother?

8. Which brings us to today--We went to mass with the cousins and then to the cemetery to visit Jeff's grave. Then, Aubrey and her cousin, Andrea, went on a walk and got ice cream while Regan and Jack went on a fun bike ride with my friend Kevin. Meanwhile, Finn and I cleaned the kitchen and played outside.

And, of course, mixed in with all the above is the usual going to work, playing with friends, baseball camp, baseball games, band practice, etc. etc. and my minor attempts to keep the house stocked with food and diapers and in just enough order/cleanliness that we don't inadvertently incubate an army of wolf spiders.

So, that's the quick and dirty on this week. I'm sure I've forgotten something and I will try harder to motivate myself to connect with those of you who have reached out to us in both small ways (e-mails) and large ways (major life-event invitations). Until then, don't hesitate to check-in and thanks, as always, for reading. It makes all the difference in the world.


UPDATE: I forgot to mention that July 2nd marked the 16th anniversary of the day Jeff asked me to marry him. July 2nd also happens to be Jeff's grandpa's birthday (Happy Birthday, Grandpa Pat) and his uncle's anniversary in the priesthood (Happy Anniversary, Bishop Tom!). Jeff bought an elaborate picnic basket with "real" plates, glasses, and silverware and fancy linens. He also arranged an assortment of sausages and cheese, fruit and wine and took me on a picnic at Holmes Lake in Lincoln Nebraska. After we ate, he read to me from a book of love poems (it wasn't as corny as it sounds . . .) and at the end of Shakespeare's 18th Sonnet, he pulled out a ring box and asked me to marry him. I accepted--we celebrated and then went home to his parents' house to announce the Big News. We were married the following May. It's strange to think that now I am the only person in the world who can tell that story and who remembers any details of it first-hand. And it's sad that I no longer recall what we talked about or any other surrounding details. Accordingly, I thought I should make an attempt to preserve what little I DO recall about the occasion for our kids' sake and before my budding senility deprives me any further!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

I'm done taking Finn to restaurants.

Well, I'm pleased to announce that our new un-pet (as my Mom informs me) has survived long enough to merit a name. He/she (it's hard to tell . . .) shall henceforth be known as "Little Daddy." I don't know the etymology of the name--just that Regan picked it and confidently informed me of it when I asked if she had named the crayfish yet. So, "Little Daddy" it is.

In other news, I am closing the joint major credit cards Jeff and I shared in favor of one singular credit card in my name. I haven't applied for a credit card on my own since 1992. It is surprisingly difficult to transfer a joint card to a surviving spouse--it actually has to go through an "Estate Department" and all kinds of ridiculous bureaucracy. It's a lot easier to just close the account and open a new one. I don't know why it didn't occur to me before now to take care of this. I've already transferred all of our other financial accounts into my name. Oh well. I'm sure I'll discover more unfinished business, but in the meantime, our joint credit cards will be the next memento of Jeff to disappear forever.

Oh--I almost forgot: Finn got a rockin' mohawk today. Jack has traditionally had a mohawk in the summer, but opted out this year. Although, when I saw it (our nanny, Jenny, did the styling) I was surprised by how much Finn looks like Jeff did when he was going through whole brain radiation and he lost all of his hair except for a strip along the top that looked like a subtle mohawk. It was uncanny and I was a little taken aback. And it's hard to tell in pictures, but Terri--in person Finn looks A LOT like Jake (his first-cousin).

Right now Finn is in bed and shaking the crib rail so hard that it has fallen down and I've had to rig it so it will stay up despite his unbridled aggression. He has been completely bi-polar tonight--alternately sweet and naughty. Tonight was a rarity because I didn't have band practice, all the kids were home, and none of them had any games or play dates, so we decided to go out to dinner. Aubrey chose the Chancery in the village of Wauwatosa as our destination du jour. Once there, we were seated only one table over from the table where almost three years earlier we had sat with the kids during a special dinner to announce that I was pregnant with Finn. The kids' memories were sharp as they all recalled where each of them sat and who said what to whom. Jeff had said to the kids, "Mom and I have an announcement to make. What is the best thing that could ever happen to our family?" Regan said, "we get more popcorn?!" (the restaurant provides complementary popcorn). Jeff said, "No." And one of the kids said, "We're moving to a mansion?" at which point, Jeff decided to fill them in and said "No--we're going to have a baby!" They all squealed with excitement and Regan recalled that she tried to talk about the news in a loud but nonchalant way so that the waitress and other people around us would overhear her and think "Wow, they are going to get a new baby!"

I then noted that we never would have guessed at that time that Dad had almost exactly two years to live. (Way to ruin the mood, Mom!) So, it was a poignant dinner and the kids were very well-behaved with the exception of Finn. He started out so well. Normally, he resists sitting in a high chair in favor of wandering around the tables and crawling on and off my lap. But, tonight, he sat right down in his highchair and started coloring on the Kids' Menu. I should note, as an aside, that I was almost embarrassed to be seen in public with him. He had been swimming in the baby pool all day, so he smelled like a swamp. His new mohawk was askew from being crumpled under his sun hat all day. His clothes didn't match (red shirt, bright blue pants, green socks) and he insisted on wearing a pair of oversized women's sunglasses (ala Jackie O') throughout the meal. He looked absolutely ridiculous. As the hostess showed us to our table, we were seated near a table of eight older women who were clearly having some kind of meeting or regularly scheduled gathering. I thought they would call social services for sure, but they laughed at Finn and said how cute he was.

He sat like an angel until the food arrived. Then, on cue, he climbed out of the high chair and started assaulting me--climbing on and off me; laying in my lap; giving me kisses; slapping my face; kicking Aubrey. He was completely obnoxious to the point that I couldn't even eat (it took both hands and what little strength I had to keep him within a 3 square-feet radius of me). There were several times I felt like crying I was so exhausted and hungry and frustrated. Finally, Aubrey finished her food and took him out to the car to wait for the rest of us. Meanwhile, Regan and Jack entertained themselves by taking indulgent trips to the bathroom and I ate alone in the wake of the disaster the kids left (Aubrey accidentally spilled an entire glass of water--it went partially into my food and partially everywhere else) and we ate with the aftermath strewn across the table.

So, next time I see a single mother at a restaurant with her kids--I will not shoot her an evil stare. I will not avoid her gaze for fear I'll be swallowed by the plea for help and understanding in her eyes. I will just anonymously and without fanfare call the waitress over and discreetly offer to pay her bill. Because I know firsthand that she probably doesn't want to be there in the first place (it is much easier and cheaper to say home), but she thought it would be something nice and out of the ordinary to do with her kids. Besides, it's the closest thing she'll ever have to a "date" and she got home too late from work to entertain any reasonable likelihood of feeding her kids before 7:30 p.m., so she convinced herself (despite past experiences full of contraindications) that it won't be that bad and the kids will be good this time. She also thought it would be a good way to have a captive audience and a meaningful opportunity to talk to her kids about all the things she misses out on everyday like baseball camp and swimming in the baby pool and sleep-overs and the new Transformers movie. But, instead she didn't get to talk about any of those things because her baby freaked out and big kids lost interest. And then the baby dropped part of her food on the floor and her two middle kids begged for various bites and portions of her food (because it looked way more exotic and expensive than their grilled cheese sandwiches), and before she realized the bargain she had made (under duress of the baby acting like a complete nut and the uncomfortable pangs of hunger and lightheadedness) she had allowed her children to sample most of her food, so she simply packed up the rest and brought it home and someone (not her) will get to eat it tomorrow. And it only adds insult to injury that she then has to pay $40.00 (plus a $10 tip as a tacit apology to the waitress, because she was once a waitress too and knows just how much they hate waiting on families with a bunch of kids, and especially ones with babies that drop a bunch of food on the floor and kids that spill drinks . . .)--and, anyway, she shouldn't have to then pay $50.00 for the whole experience. Oh, and before I pay her bill for her, I will send her a Pina Colada.

So, how was your day?

Love, Kelly

Thursday, June 18, 2009

My life this week: Colognes and Crayfish

So, what's new with the Dodd Squad? Nothing. But I can probably make it sound like "something." So, here it goes . . .

Jack's baseball season is in full swing. He's missed at least two games due to the flu and was inclined to miss another game this morning due to an unrelenting leg cramp, but I made him fight it/walk it off and he played a big game at Helfaer (pronounced "hell-fire"--cool, huh?) Field this morning. Helfaer Field is a little league "stadium" in the parking lot of Miller Park (where the Brewers play). It's pretty cool. Jack was especially impressed by the announcers who called the game and introduced the players as they were up to bat. He also got a RBI, so he was excited. Afterwards, they had a big cook out with burgers and brats (Jack's favorite). The nannies took lots of pictures, so I'll try to post some after they send them to me. Unfortunately, the game was at 9:00 a.m., so I was at work and had to miss it.

The other big news at our house is . . . We got a pet! But don't get too excited (Gretchen). It's only a crayfish. Regan's class raised a handful of crayfish and her teacher held a minor lottery to determine which five lucky students would get to bring one home at the end of the school year. Regan was one of the winners! She was soooo excited. The crayfish looks like a mini-lobster and even shows some personality. Good thing I don't like seafood because there is something about it that makes it look kind of yummy. I almost don't trust myself around it knowing that it is edible.

Finn is absolutely fascinated by it and loves to rest his little chin on the counter and watch it hide in its castle. It has quite a little pad--water, fluorescent rocks, and a groovy tie-dyed castle to match, all housed in a converted fish tank (RIP "Twinkle Toes"). I don't think the crayfish has a name. I'm sure it will acquire one eventually--a condition-precedent being sustained survival. In other words--we'll give it a name if it lives longer than a week.

[Twice since I've been typing this, I've heard noises out by my garage that sound like someone dragging something along my driveway. Both times, I've gotten up to investigate and can see nothing suspicious. I figure it is either the neighborhood raccoon scuttling around my downspout, or it is a drug-crazed murderer breaking into my house. So, now I'm trying to decide if I should (a) ignore it and keep typing, (b) go stare at my garage/driveway until I hear it again, or (c) put on my ninja suit and kick some A-double-dollar-signs. OK, I've made my decision: I'm going to keep typing. The edible unnamed crayfish will protect me. After all, it has a very menacing stare and its likely tastiness could be an underestimated distraction.]

You'll be pleased to know my love life is improving: Lately, People magazine has had more cologne ads than usual. I also just received their annual "Hottest Summer Bachelors" issue. However, these bachelors are no fun to look at--most of them are under 30 which is way too young for me. They just make me want to listen to Fall Out Boy and drop them off at the mall.

[I just discovered where that sound is coming from: it's thunder! Now, it's getting really loud and scary. I love it. I absolutely LOVE raging thunderstorms. Yes! Yes! Yes! I am so excited. Don't laugh--please afford me whatever small pleasures I can find].

Well, I'm afraid I have very little to complain about this week, so I'll keep it short. But before I go--a few announcements:

Congratulations on your wedding this weekend, Martha! We wish we could be there!

And Happy Father's Day to all the Dads out there and especially to my Dad, Rick, and also to Gary, Jim, John, Grandpa Johnnie, Grandpa Pat, Tony, "Step-Dad, Mark," and Uncle Mike (who will really be taking one for the team on Sunday!).

Finally, on Father's Day, especially, please remember my Jeff and Jackie's husband, Bill, who died of Melanoma this week leaving her widowed with a three-year old son. Jackie, on Father's Day I will raise my Alien head in a toast to you (and to Jenni and to Irene and to all the other Moms who now have to also be Dads . . . sigh).

Much Love,