Saturday, September 18, 2010


I've moved all my stuff out and into my new home.  It's time to take one final look around and close the door on my old home.  I'm terribly excited about what can happen but it's a little bittersweet to be changing the name.  I wrote this on facebook this morning:

I really believe that this is going to help families who are going through what we have gone through. I truly believe, as it grows, it will be such a resource. The blog is the same so... whatever... but it's the other stuff. The resources... the soon to come FAQ, the stories of other kids that will be included... THAT is going to be the heart of this site for me and that stuff is what will be a source of great comfort and much needed CLARITY for so many families.

I am REALLY excited.
The blog hopefully is interesting enough to keep you coming back but I believe this new platform is going to make it easy for other families that have a child who is newly diagnosed with melanoma to find the site.  Ultimately, they are the ones for whom I built it.

Check out the menu at top to see what will be available on the site.  There are some areas still "under construction" because I am waiting for content from others but it will continue to grow and expand.  I'm hoping one day to even add a message board so people can come and get their questions answered quickly by folks who have been there, done that.  Dr. Hughes has agreed to be my "professional lurker" so that we can get accurate, timely information to people who need it.

Please visit and if you look on the right hand side, you will see a "Sign Me Up!" button.  All that does is send you an email when there is a new post.  Your email goes no where and I have neither the time, nor the inclination to do anything with it.  It just allows the posts to hit your inbox.

If you have added this site to your blogroll, THANK YOU!  I would ask that you take the time to change it to the new site.  I have lots of people who visit everyday who find me through your sites.

So without further ado, you are all invited to move in with me at: (Click on the picture below.)

Friday, September 17, 2010

How I Became A School Teacher and How They Ended Up Teaching Me.

I read a lot of blogs.  And if I have learned anything from reading these blogs is should have been to never, ever promise an update the following day.  Because then you are guaranteeing that you will not post the next day.

Or maybe I'm projecting again.  I hate when I do that.

Alright.  So I go to Marc's classroom all ready to be "Mrs. Adams".  Which I don't mind at all and (tangent warning) really wish was more the norm outside the classroom with young children.  I live in the South and unless you are a school teacher or wrinkled with age, people don't refer to others as "Mrs." all that often.  Little kids call people Miss First Name or Mr. First Name and though many will roll their eyes and call me old, I prefer the more formal Mrs. Last Name.

Once, when Marc was quite small, Tom built a low tree fort in our back yard that proved irresistible to the older neighborhood children.  So there I was with an 18-month old and six of his 9-year old closest friends when one of them blurts out, "Whas yer name?"

"Mrs. Adams."

*blink*  *blink*

"But whas yer first name?"


So I felt no pangs of vanishing youth when I walked into a roomful of children excited to call me by the same name to which my mother-in-law answers.

Mrs. Isaac had everything prepared for me beautifully and so we started our day with a spelling test and then pretty quickly it was time to take them to music.  40 minutes of Facebook time!  Whew!  Teaching is tough!  I go to collect them and they are ramped up.  Time for reading and art which actually translates in a 9-year old's brain to "time for visiting my neighbor and being loud".  At 10:30 we switch the T.V. on for a promised 30 minute video that lasted 4 minutes.  FOUR!  What was even the point?!  It was a Schoolhouse Rock song about the Constitution and now it's time for Mrs. Adams to do some actual teaching!

"It's the year 2010 and aliens have landed and taken over the United States of America!  They will allow us to choose four of our rights as American citizens but only four.  All the rest will be lost.  Which rights will you choose to keep?"

We spent about 15 minutes discussing each right and as we went down our list, the kids started getting agitated.  I heard, "This is hard!" and "I don't want to lose any of them!"  I was so happy to be stimulating them so much!  Maybe I should have been a homeschooler!  I'm great at this!  They are so engaged and interested!

Then we break into small groups to choose our four rights and one child comes up to me with tears in his eyes.  Real bona fide tears people!  And he swallows hard, and asks with a trembling voice, "Are aliens really coming to take over us?"

Apparently I actually missed my calling.  I'm not sure what scaring the daylights out of a kid with my realistic portrayal of life taken over by aliens would suit me for but surely parents would "peacefully assemble" to protest the psyche scarring that I would be bound to inflict.

So, with assurances that this was all PRETEND they engaged in very heated discussion over which rights to keep.

In the end, not one person voted to keep the press  (who reads newspapers anyway?), they didn't mind excessive bail and no one stood up for speedy trials. All the others got at least one vote.

It was very fascinating to me the one right they were all absolutely sure needed to be kept.  Not everyone said freedom of speech.  Freedom of religion was important to some but not all.  Many wanted to retain the right to peacefully assemble.  But every one of those little 4th graders felt that there was one right that was so important that they all refused to give it up.

The right to bear arms.

This was so interesting to me because in the minds of these children, the right to own their own gun was so cut and dry, so black and white and they truly believed that if they simply held onto that one right, they could set the world straight again.  If those aliens started mistreating them (which they obviously already were, having taken so many of their rights away) then they could just shoot them dead and get all their rights back!  Some kids even made skits depicting how they would storm the gates of the enemy ship and win back their right to face their accuser in a fair trial or worship wherever or however they choose!

I have never given much thought to the right to bear arms other than knowing I did not want to get into the debate.  I understand the concept that "guns don't kill people, people kill people" but I also have considered it utterly ridiculous and immoral to sell guns that serve no purpose than to slay a human being.  I could see both sides of the issue and would not have considered taking sides.  It's amazing to me how a group of 9-year olds could help me see this issue in such stripped down, get right to the heart of the matter detail.

If aliens took over the United States, and we had our guns, we could keep our rights.  It's that simple.  Taking away guns from the citizens of a country leaves them vulnerable to lose everything.  Aliens are pretend, but bad guys who want to steal stuff are sadly, not.  Sometimes, they even end up in charge.

We don't own a gun and so there is not one in our house.  I had thought about getting one when my babies were little and my husband still traveled with the Army but now I never feel a need for one.  But one little 4th grade class has taught me how important it is for me to never, ever consider taking away your right to own a gun.

Which rights would YOU keep if you could only keep four?
First Amendment – Establishment Clause, Free Exercise Clause; freedom of speech, of the press, and of assembly; right to petition
  • Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Second Amendment – Militia (United States), Sovereign state, Right to keep and bear arms.
  • A well regulated Militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.

Third Amendment – Protection from quartering of troops.
  • No Soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the Owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.

Fourth Amendment – Protection from unreasonable search and seizure.
  • The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Fifth Amendment – due process, double jeopardy, self-incrimination, eminent domain.
  • No person shall be held to answer for any capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

Sixth Amendment – Trial by jury and rights of the accused; Confrontation Clause, speedy trial, public trial, right to counsel
  • In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district where in the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defense.

Seventh Amendment – Civil trial by jury.
  • In suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise re-examined in any court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.

Eighth Amendment – Prohibition of excessive bail and cruel and unusual punishment.
  • Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.

Ninth Amendment – Protection of rights not specifically enumerated in the Constitution.
  • The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

Tenth Amendment – Powers of States and people.
  • The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.
 That day in a classroom, I got taught again how to be so thankful to be a citizen of this great country.

Monday, September 13, 2010

How I Became A School Teacher: Part 1

I wanted to be a homeschooler.

I had an idea of what it entailed as I was homeschooled myself for 2 1/2 years.  My mom was certainly on the cutting edge of the movement and we only knew of one other family who was homeschooled at the time and they closed their shades and did not allow the children out of the house during school hours.  Not my mom though.  She could not stand the school system we were in and when she made up her mind to pull us out she did so with pride and we never hid.  She was strong and very brave.

Interesting memory to revisit now that I have the perspective of motherhood.

As I grew up and thought about having my own family I decided that I would be a homeschool parent.  And I decided this before I had children.  It was going to be wonderful.  I would bake bread and teach them math in the process.  They would be so grateful to have such an attentive mommy and daily I would get to see with my own two eyes how they are growing and learning because of the knowledge that I was imparting to them.

My children would rise up and call me blessed!

Then reality hit in the form of an 18-month old who would get infuriated at the mere thought that I might be trying to teach him something.  He didn't want to count cars.  He wanted to see how much damage they could do to the hearth if he flung them at the fireplace!  He didn't want to make art.  He wanted to eat paint.  He didn't want to just read the book.  He wanted to tear it up when he was done.  And most telling, anytime he struggled, I... his mother... his future teacher.... was the last person he wanted to help him.  Apparently I have the unique ability to frustrate the living snot out of my son.

Sending him off to let someone else teach him started to sound appealing.

As he got older I would laugh at myself.  "Haha!  I was going to homeschool!  That was a good one!"  Then oddly, it seems my circle of friends started including teachers.  Then as one friend would move out of my life and another would move in, more and more of my circle seemed to include teachers.  Now I feel like I can't get on the phone with a friend without calling either a public school, private school or homeschool teacher.

And they all sound like nightmare jobs to me.

I work in insurance.  And I like it.  I know you think that above sentence about bad dreams was hyperbole but no!  You don't understand.  I have had nightmares about being left in charge of small children with the goal of educating them.  Sometimes I'm even in my pajamas in this dream further illustrating how how vulnerable and exposed the thought of being a teacher makes me feel.

So it was no small shock but rather a great cause for laughter when Marc's 4th grade teacher called to ask a little favor.  "They have scheduled a surprise in-service for the teachers and I wondered if you could come sub from EIGHT O'CLOCK IN THE EARLY MORNING ALL THE WAY UNTIL TWELVE O'CLOCK IN THE AFTERNOON?"  Okay.  So she didn't shout that last part or make it sound so ominous.  That was all in my head.  Haha.  So after I stopped laughing and picked myself off the floor and realized it was not April 1st I said, "Sure!  No problem!  I'd love to!"

No I didn't.

I did agree to do it but not without a bit of nervous laughter and assurances that I could fake it just fine.

I'll tell you how it went tomorrow!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Rachael and her peeps.

Dr. Hughes loves his new hat.

He was really tired and I will be surprised if he remembers we were there.  It was a good visit and I honestly wish we lived closer because I would enjoy having him and his family over for dinner sometime.  He's a good guy and pretty much as goofy as this picture suggests.  Fah-reaking brilliant but goofy.  I like that in a kid's cancer doc.

We got to meet Grace and her family and as soon as the grown-ups got out of the way the girls hit it off wonderfully.

I think Rachael really liked being the older, more experienced girl for the first time but mostly I think she just liked Grace.  Two normal, happy little girls.  With matching scars.

Please keep little Grace in your prayers as her family prepares to start high-dose interferon.  She had her lymph node dissection and they all came back clear.  She had a little sentinel lymph node that worked very hard for her body and her parents get to breathe a little easier now that she is officially No Evidence of Disease!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Hump Day

I'm going to Houston this afternoon to party all night with Jeanne & Co. visit Dr. Hughes for Rachael's monthly check-up.  Should be very routine and hopefully we'll get to meet another family who will be starting interferon soon.

In the meantime, I'll leave you with a baby picture of my sweet warrior.

Okay, okay... I'll leave you with two

I need to stop!  I have to go to work!

Have a great Wednesday!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Scattered Reflections

I've been going back and reading all my old posts and it is very strange.  I'm feeling a lot of emotions that I would not allow myself to feel then.

That's not quite right.

It's not that I wouldn't allow myself to feel... it's that I could not feel them.  My brain literally did not allow me to feel weight of what was happening those first couple months but now when I read back on it my heart hurts.

We're coming up on one year No Evidence of Disease.  A wonderful milestone that I plan to celebrate.  About 11 months ago I wrote:
It’s hard to put it into words but to oversimplify my thoughts… our life has changed.
 A year into this, how has life changed for us?

1.  I think about the sun every single day.  I don't want to say I'm paranoid but my former self would have said I'm paranoid.

2.  I no longer think "15 minutes without sunscreen is okay."  As a matter of fact, with the sun being so hot this month I get nervous about the sun she gets standing in the shade and I would not let Rachael go 5 minutes full sun without it.

3.  Rachael wears a hat every day.  She wears it in the pool.  She wears it to the beach.  She wears it in the shade.

4.  When she says, "I'm itchy," I assume she has a rash.

5.  When she says, "I have a tummy ache," I don't question her, I just give her Tums.

6.  When she says, "I have a headache," I give her Motrin because I know it works better for her than Tylenol.

7. At least one of the three previous events happens at least every other day.

8.  I don't care about "Perfect Attendance" anymore.

10.  I know how to stick a needle in my daughter and manage to do it every week without passing out.

10.  I ache for other families that are experiencing pain.  I might not know exactly what they are going through but I know enough now.

11.  I have physically felt prayers being said on my daughter's behalf.

12.  I listen to music differently.  It's more powerful now.

13.  I have met some of the strongest, most amazing and resilient people imaginable.

On that note, please pray for my friend Jeanne.  My heart is so heavy for her today that deep breaths only bring tears.  She has already been given a supernatural strength but still... still... she needs more.  She tells me often that there is strength in numbers and she needs numbers.  Number and numbers of people praying for her.  Would you flood the gates of heaven with prayer for Jeanne today?