Monday, May 28, 2007

Uncle John

We knew this was coming, although I’m not really sure we thought it would be THIS soon. But I couldn’t really get a grasp on what to say. But the one thing that kept coming back in my mind was Astroworld.

When I was little I used to wish I was just a little bit older, it seemed to me that Uncle John was always taking the older kids to Astroworld and I SO wanted to be included. But I was too young or too short, so I wasn’t allowed to go. And by the time I was big enough the older kids were no longer interested and he wasn’t taking them anymore, and his youngest was too small when they moved to Dallas. But I remember him taking his kids and my sisters. And I remember seeing him as the cool uncle who takes you to cool places and I vowed to be that cool aunt for my nieces and nephews. Kathy claims she only got to go once, but it was the very best time she ever had at Astroworld. Astroworld was leveled at the end of 2005, and though I did eventually get to go to Astroworld through the church or clogging or with school, I still always associated Astroworld with my Uncle John.

We’re also one of those “house divided” families between A&M and UT. Uncle John’s side rooting for UT, and Mom’s side rooting for A&M. It’s an all in good fun rivalry, everyone makes sure to bring their college paraphernalia and wear their respective shirts for the big day. Now that we do Thanksgiving on Saturday, the winning team is absolutely sure to wear theirs, and the losing team is not so interested in discussing the game with anyone, but they wear their hats and still boast proud. The truth is that we all know they’re both good schools, and you have to pick a school based on your major, so whatever you choose is really fine.

Uncle John lost his battle with leukemia a couple weekends ago. When this started we all thought that they’d caught it early and that we’d all be “happily ever aftering” by now. It’s been quite the roller coaster, in the beginning he responded well to treatment and the prognosis was good. He was in remission for a short period of time, and then they found more. They tried everything they could. He fought long and hard, and in the end it just didn’t lie down and submit like it was supposed to. I hate cancer.

For the past few years our extended family has gathered (and hopefully will continue to gather) at my parents’ lake house for Thanksgiving. Uncle John and Aunt Mindy always come. Kerri and Adam and their 2 sons always come. Sometimes Johnny (although he wants to be called John now that he’s an adult) makes it, sometimes Andrea makes it. And we have a fun weekend. A couple Thanksgivings ago, the family gathered as usual and amid the chatter I heard a little person’s voice say something to “Uncle John.” And I thought, “Uncle John’s outside.” It was one of Kerri’s sons – so my Uncle John is actually Grandpa to him. He wasn’t talking to my Uncle John he was talking to his uncle John, my Uncle John’s son. May he see his Uncle John the way I saw mine.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Small Change Challenge #3 & #4

Well, crap. Last month’s challenge was to clean out your closets and donate stuff to charity. And I had every intention of doing that, but last month seriously went by in a flash and I have no idea where it went (well, I kind of do, wedding, PE exam, sewing). So, I promised to do it this month. And we did.

5 full garbage bags, plus one box. 4garbage bags and the box care of Clinton, one from me (actually one bag has both of our stuff in it.)

What? Clint has WAY more clothes than I do. And he continuously buys clothes and refuses to throw any away. We had a deal by which for each new clothing item he got, he owed me one – one for charity – one for the trash, whatever, I’m not picky. He’s been sneaking new shirts by me a lot lately, he thinks I don’t know, but I do. He tries to make sure he’s the one who does the laundry when he has a new shirt to hide, but then forgets that I will eventually do the laundry and once he wears a new shirt I will totally see it. So he’s been busted.

Anyway the bags are headed for the local Woman’s Shelter Shop, where they are sold and profits are used to help battered women.

This month’s challenge is to donate blood or join the bone marrow donor registry.

Giving blood is easy – I did it 2 or 3 times in high school, before they started rejecting me for having had a piercing within the past year. I haven’t done it since; it’s always been one thing or another, whether it was a piercing, or pregnancy. The local donation center is not open at the best times for me, but if they bring a donation van to work for a blood drive, as they occasionally do, I’ll make an appointment to donate. With AB+ blood, I have the worst blood type as far as donations are concerned. However, I’m the best victim since I can receive anyone’s blood. To give my blood away they have to find someone who is also AB+, and to add insult to injury, AB+ is a relatively rare blood type, so my blood donation is about as useful as a pair of weak glasses to a nearly blind man.

Moving on, when my uncle was diagnosed with leukemia, my mother went down to get tested to see if she was the right type for him. They said the best match is usually a sibling, but they also said the best match is usually a pre-pubescent sibling. Unfortunately, my mother was not a match. This means that the bone marrow transplants he’s had, have been from the registry. Someone he doesn’t know took the time to go down to the bone marrow transplant place, in some cases paid $52 or more (pays for testing and typing which is not always covered depending on where you go) to join a registry on the off chance they might be able to save some stranger’s life, and then when they were called – they didn’t make an excuse, they came in and underwent a painful procedure to donate, for a stranger.

Right now, you can join the registry for free without leaving the comfort of your cozy little nest on the couch. (Actually I suppose, you have to check the mail.) I just did it, it took less than 5 minutes to fill out the questionnaire, and they are sending me a kit to do cheek swabs. The drive is being sponsored, so that aforementioned $52 is being paid by someone else.

I’d like to encourage you to do it, but it’s not that easy a decision to make. I’m not going to encourage you to do it if you don’t see yourself being able to actually donate when and if the time comes. The registry is no good if the people on it won’t do it when called upon. When and if the time comes it is not easy or painless, but I don’t think leukemia is easy either. People have been interviewed post donation and they said “Yes, it hurt, but I would do it again, to help save someone’s life.” There are certain health issues, and age restrictions on donating, but the questionnaire will weed you out if you’re…uh… weedy. Here’s the link.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Just push him down and say "NO" firmly

This was the advice of the guy at the sandwich shop we ate at on Saturday, in regards to this and what comes next:

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Monthly Newsletter #7

Dear Landon,

I swear last time I wrote one of these you were on the verge of crawling. You still are. You scooch along pretty well, you’ve discovered the secret to going forward, and now if you could just lift your big ole milk belly off the floor, I’d be chasing you around the house.

This month marks your first foray into solid food. You liked the cereal, you LOVED the sweet potatoes, you tolerated the squash. We’ve still got green beans and carrots to go, and then we move on to fruit. There are still other vegetables to be tried, but we’ll work those in later. Much to your father’s amusement, I try everything I put in your mouth. If I won’t put it in my mouth, I don’t know how I can expect you to put it in yours. Somehow the baby food manufacturers have managed to create a product that smells exactly like the thing on the label, but tastes like a watered down version of it.

Your father and I finally got around to putting your car together. Your grandmother had requested it for your overnight, and the only reason we hadn’t put it together yet is that you were just barely big enough for it at that point.

We also finally took the cart thingy out of the box that your Aunt Kelly gave you for Christmas. (Actually we did that to keep you occupied while we put the car together, and also because of your attraction to plastic bags you needed a diversion – like a new toy and its box)

You stayed over at your grandparents house for a couple nights this month and although you seemed to have a fine time, when we went to pick you up, you were not about to let me out of your sight.

You have successfully transitioned to the crib, for the most part, although still not sleeping through the night. And your father and I both appreciate the morning you let us sleep in until 9:45, at which point we found you playing quietly with the toys in your crib. Let's try for some more of those kinds of mornings!



Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Small Change Deferred

This month went by entirely too fast and I did not go through our closets. I will be going through them this weekend though and will post about that then.

This month's challenge is to either donate blood or sign up for the National Marrow Donor Program Registry. Last time I gave blood was in high school. I'm not sure they'll let me do it now because of having ababy within the past year, but I'll find out.