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No, not “Finally, I heard from some fabulous literary agent in New York and she said my work is fabulous and she really wants to read my full (and fabulous) manuscript.”

But yes, finally (finally!), we have sold our house on Edgehill. It is currently under contract, all papers having been officially signed today. (Donna, I wasn’t ignoring your question a week ago, but didn’t want to jinx myself.)

A huge relief, to say the least. The constant maintenance of two houses has been a bit much for us (I mean, for Mark). It’s been a long time coming, made especially obvious by last week’s one-year anniversary of our move to this house. We got a price that we’re happy with (although if you had named this particular price a year ago, we would have laughed in your faces, but, hey, it’s all relative).

So, now we just need to hold the official inspection and then move our remaining stuff (ie, junk) out of the garage and basement and hand over the keys.


… of sorts.  Tomorrow it will be one year since we moved into our new house. And while that makes me feel a bit guilty about the number of boxes still stacked in the guest room, I could not be more pleased at the drastic difference between our lives then and our lives now.

We were stuck in those awful months of never knowing where we would sleep each night. I remember the Friday before we moved, eating dinner with Mark’s parents who had come by to help us finish packing, when I went upstairs to wake Austin from an unusually late nap. And he was burning hot.

Oh, the dreaded fever. Anything but a fever right now! But a fever it was. So I called the oncology department and they told me what I already knew: pack a bag and get on down here.

We spent the next two nights in the hospital, while random friends came over to pack up our house. I had had grand plans of weeding out all the useless stuff instead of moving it along with us. But no, I opened boxes over the following weeks stuffed to the brim with everything from matchbox cars to pots and pans to shoes too small for either of my boys.

I had to beg and plead and cajole and threaten the doctors and nurses to speed everything up so we could spend our very last night together in the only home either of my children had ever known. We made it, Austin and I released on noon the day before the moving trucks arrived.

What a lot of drama for one family to endure, my god. But today, this is home. And we rest assured that we will get to sleep here each night.

Hi ho, it’s off to work we go.

Daddy wears a tie to work every day, so, naturally, yesterday the boys insisted on wearing their ties (left over from a wedding many years ago) too:

Once downtown, they quickly raided Mark’s candy jar before smiling for some photos:

Then today, we visited Braedan’s new classroom, although have yet to meet his teacher.  We did, however, encounter a few “big kids” on the playground who described her as both “great” and “awesome.” I almost paid them off in bubble gum to see how that lifted Braedan’s spirits.

And later, while doing our last minute school shopping, I suggested buying a new blue soap dispenser for our downstairs bathroom until Braedan, with an exasperated huff, said, “Mom, that’s glass! Don’t you think we’ve had enough trouble with glass lately?”

I guess it’s time for that child (or his mother?) to go back to school.

In other unrelated news, remember that old house on Edgehill?  Yup, still for sale.  We almost sold it in July but ultimately turned down what we thought was a terrible offer. We’re now selling it ourselves and it’s listed here on For Sale By Owner. Please, please, please, share that link with anyone you know you might be looking for a house in Cleveland Heights. We’re hosting an Open House this Sunday from 12 -2, so send any and all possible interested parties on over.

It truly is a wonderful house, but happens to sit in that in-between price range: nicer and more expensive than a typical first home but not so large or fancy that those untouched by the economic downturn would choose it. For most of our potential buyers, it would be a second house upgrade, which means they have a first house to sell, which means (of course) they’re deciding to wait it out.

But, you know, I look at this and know I can’t complain too much about anything:

We were released right on time yesterday, home by 1 pm, no crazy last minute procedures or tests or delays. About time we had an easy visit, huh?

And we got word on Friday that someone was preparing to make an offer on our house! We thought it might come in by the end of that day, and then were told we’d have it by the end of Saturday. Well, this morning our realtor told us that the couple, whose previous offer on another house had been rejected, decided at the last minute to offer more on that house as ours was their second choice. We were bummed all day, having felt so close to scratching that massive item off our massive to-do list. Then this evening our realtor called again to say their higher offer was also rejected and the agent was finalizing the paper work and we’d have an offer within the hour. Ah, phew, finally. An hour later the phone rings and my whole family, who was over for dinner, was clamoring about going,”It’s your realtor! This is the offer!  Hurry, hurry, grab the phone!”

Weeelll, because nothing is ever so simple, the other sellers apparently called the couple back just moments before and accepted their offer after all. And that was that; in an instant our buyers slipped away and were gone.

Ugh. But we have had a lot of activity.  Ten showings in the past three weeks, which is more than we had the entire five months it was on the market last year. So, it’ll happen, it’ll happen. One of these days, it will just happen.

But, aside from that major disappointment, all has been well here. Austin feels mostly fine; threw up this morning but then had a fairly normal day. He’ll get to go to school tomorrow before heading in for labs. We expect he’ll need blood again, which means another eight-hour Transfusion Tuesday watching springtime from the wrong side of a window.

Oh, and please remember to sign up for the CureSearch Walk as part of Team Austin by clicking here. If you’re registering your entire family, choose the option that says “Register multiple walkers at once” which will save you from having to enter your contact information over and over again for each of your kids or family members.  Thanks to those of you who’ve already registered or donated or who’ve found the walks in your own cities. I really hope we can have a strong presence in honor of our little guy. And it’d be nice to see all of you in person for once!

We are ever-so-slowly making our way through the boxes and putting together one room at a time (or in my case, putting together a tiny corner of one room and then one tiny corner of another, as every time I wander away looking for a screwdriver or curtain rod, I end up getting sucked into something else somewhere else — and usually forgetting said screwdriver or said curtain rod). Anyway, I have pictures of the boys’ rooms to share, the colors and themes of which were chosen by each boy himself.

Here is Braedan’s blue outer-space bedroom:

Learning from the master

The highlight of the house: a connecting door to Austin’s room

And here is Austin’s red transportation-themed room:

That magical door again

As always, just a blur of motion

Their coordinating red and blue rooms remind me of one of my very favorite children’s books, I Love You The Purplest. The story answers that question that all parents of all time have heard from their children, “Which of us is your favorite? Who do you love the best?”

In this tale, a mother and her two sons head out in the evening sun to go fishing on a pond near their cabin. The one son is cautious and kind, slow and hard-working. The other is quick and lively, running and jumping about. They seek their mother’s approval on each page: Who dug up the best worms? Who’s the best fisherman? And her answers appease them both: “Why, you have the most worms and you have the liveliest worms.” Or, “You caught the most fish, but you were patient and caught the biggest fish.”

In the final pages as she tucks them into bed, each whispers in her ear, “Mama, who do you love the best?” And she answers one, “I love you the bluest.” Blue like the calm summer sky, blue like the ripples gleaming on the lake. The other she loves the reddest. Red like the flames of the fire, red like the hot desert flower.

So, tonight I will tuck my sensitive, gentle Braedan into bed in his blue room and my passionate, fiery Austin into bed in his red room. I love them the purplest.

I lost my voice. Both literally and figuratively. We’ve had no phone or Internet access until today, six days into living here. And blogging from my cell phone is a drag (too much SHOUTING). So, my “voice” has been temporarily silenced.

Plus then, I lost my voice, due probably to sheer exhaustion. Woke up Thursday morning unable to talk, my already raspy voice about ten notches down on the raspy scale.

But, here I am, blogging from my new home office, with so much to say.

The house, first of all, is fabulous. We are absolutely loving it. Of course, we’re still maneuvering around boxes and still opening three drawers before we find the one with spoons in it, but each day, we’re feeling more and more settled and are all very happy here.  Mark and I have been thoroughly impressed with how well the boys handled this transition, how independently they’re playing in their new playroom, how they’re sleeping in their own rooms (well, Braedan is, and Austin at least starts in his room, but a rousing game of “musical beds” is nothing new in our family).

We love how we’ve decided to configure our space and it all feels surprisingly cozy, despite the larger size. I do promise pictures in the next week or so, but right now there’s still too much clutter for you to be able to appreciate anything anyway.

And Austin is doing great. He recovered quickly from his feverish stay in the hospital and has been racing around like his regular old self. His platelets are low (a common side effect of chemo), so we had three clinic visits for labs last week, but aside from a directive against “rough play” (yeah, right), all has been normal, including the rest of his blood counts.  So normal, in fact, that he went to school last Wednesday and had not just “a day” but a spectacular day, according to his teachers.

Because his platelet count is low, he’s not supposed to take his blood thinner and because his other counts are normal, he hasn’t needed his Neupogen, so he’s had no shots at all for the past several days. This coupled with the fact that he’s allowed to be around other kids has made it feel like an enormous break from cancer. Like he’s a totally fine kid with no hair who has to take a few extra oral meds each day. It’s really quite lovely. Oh, but he does have an ear infection! He had a truly rough night on Thursday with much complaining and crying and ear tugging, and sure enough, at clinic on Friday, he was diagnosed with a double ear infection. But as any mom who’s witnessed the amazing efficacy of Amoxicillan knows, this is an easy one.

We were scheduled to go back in the hospital this coming Monday for five days of chemo, which is being postponed due to his platelet count. We have labs again Monday morning and if his counts have risen, we might reschedule for Thursday. Or it could be delayed until the following Monday. Not knowing is hard in the practical sense, as I have friends trying to coordinate our meals and playdates, but I’m also willing to take each extra night here (somehow I thought I’d be much farther along in my unpacking by now. . . ?). Plus I’d love to send Austin back to school Tuesday and Wednesday next week. I will certainly keep you all posted.

For now, you can rest easy knowing that all is well in the Gallagher household.

And now, after many months of patient waiting, I present to you . . . my mudroom:

Like I said, the name “mudroom” just doesn’t do this place justice.

Control room, maybe? Situation room?  Super room? Mud mansion??

The view to the back yard

I guess they like it.

I know you’d all be jealous of me, except for that pesky little issue of having a child with a sneaky cancer for the second time. At least, I’ll be organized . . . .

My postings will surely be sporadic this week and next as we are in the throes of packing up our house and I can barely make my way through the maze of boxes to reach the computer. We’ve only been here for eight years but, oh my god, do we have a lot of stuff!  I don’t know how on earth people manage to move out of houses they’ve lived in for twenty, thirty, forty years. I am a pack rat, for sure. The amount of already-used wrapping paper I have stored on my third floor is embarrassing.  Some of it is so crumpled that I’d never even wrap a present in it.  Time for the recycling bins . . .

The new house should be finished tomorrow and then a cleaning crew will come through on Thursday.  I’d actually considered taking you all up on your many offers of help with that until my mom convinced me that no one really wanted to spend their precious free time cleaning my dusty house and instead offered to pay for a service.  So thank my mom and dad when you see them next!

We’ll make some trips over the weekend with carloads full of gear and then the moving truck comes on Monday. So, in a mere six days, we will be sleeping under our new roof.

Austin’s doing fine. We hit a “sore spot” with one of his shots over the weekend and now he’s been fighting them, which is really a bummer because we’re still in three-a-day right now. But Braedan, my child who screamed bloody murder when he got his second H1N1 shot two weeks ago, has been begging for injections. We gave him one — just an empty syringe poked into his leg — last week upon his request, and now he keeps asking for more!  Oh boy.

Austin’s blood counts are down but I’m hoping they’ll have risen by the time we go for labs on Thursday so I can send him to school next week. Not only would this make the move easier, but when Mark got home yesterday and asked Austin about his day (our dinnertime ritual, often dominated by Braedan, the big talker), Austin said, “I didn’t have a day.”

“Of course you had a day,” Mark replied.

“But no,” said the little one, “I didn’t go to school.”

Oh sweet boy.  Time to get him back in there so he can “have a day.”

Back to the hospital today, for the next round of chemo. My little guy was zipping about the halls on his tricycle all afternoon, a sight completely incongruous with his balding head and IV line.  But typical Austin, nonetheless.

This week includes the third of his three new drugs, one we’ve never had before that’s supposed to be the worst of the bunch. So far, he’s fine but we’ve barely begun so we’ll see. He only gets that one twice, today and tomorrow, and the other one he’ll get through Wednesday and then we’re home again.

Speaking of home . . . listen to this one: You know how we thought we’d stay in this house until the end of treatment and then make our big move into our big house? Well, have you ever heard me say that things do not always go according to plan? Our furnace, the one here in our current house, is on its last legs, a little fact we discovered on Friday. And it definitely needs to be replaced (I do have a recurrent fantasy that involves some random new homeowners complaining to their friends, “Can you believe it? We just bought this house and the furnace needs to be replaced already?!”). But no, this is our responsibility and it needs to happen sooner rather than later. The big problem is the amount of dust and asbestos (yes, asbestos) and unsafe air it’s going to kick up into Austin’s breathing space. It is possible to do it in a more contained way but considerably more difficult and, duh, expensive.

So we looked carefully at our situation and realized it was just plain silly to stay here: our house is ready (or will be in two weeks’ time), it’s clean and safe (or will be in two weeks’ time) and it’s where we want to be. So, it’s where we’ll be . . . in about two weeks’ time.

They do say the three most stressful events in life are 1) serious illness/death (which — hello! — should really be two separate things), 2) divorce and 3) moving. Good thing Mark and I are doing fine!

But, really, we’re excited for this. I’d been wanting to move anyway, not fully sold on our decision to wait. It’ll be a crazy few weeks, there’s no doubt, but then we’ll be there in our new space, the home we’ve created, and we’ll be happy.  Those fears Mark and I had about whether Austin would always associate the new house with feeling lousy seem unfounded — he likes the hospital after all. What more proof do I need that he can be happy anywhere?

For some unknown reason, I was unable to get holiday cards out in the mail this year, so here it is, our virtual greeting to all of you.

2009: what a year. It started with the Dietrich family vacation to Jamaica, where the boys enjoyed swimming in the ocean, swimming in the pool, and naked soccer playing. They did not, however, enjoy riding the ponies.

A few weeks later, Mark and I had the distinct honor of traveling to Washington D.C. to witness the inauguration of Barack Obama as our 44th president.

March and April stunned us with what we thought was a recurrence of Austin’s cancer. This earth-shaking event proved to be relatively easy and quick (relatively being the operative word there) and suddenly we were right back where we’d started.

As spring arrived, we began an unexpected house search, came very close to buying one that wasn’t right for us and then finally found The One.

Summer flew by with a quick trip to Cape Cod, a few weeks in Chautauqua and much work preparing our current house for its market debut.

Fall was filled with significant milestones as Braedan eagerly started kindergarten and Austin reluctantly started preschool. We finally took possession of the new house and began what continues to be an on-going renovation project. Austin’s health was questionable, uncertain, indeterminate . . . and carefully watched.

And, well, you know where that led us.

All in all, it was a year of drastic ups and downs: good health, bad health and in-between health; old houses, new houses and almost houses; lives beginning, most notably that of our niece Amira, lives ending and lives being lived to the fullest.

As it began, 2009 was marked, more than anything else, by an enormous sense of HOPE. 2010 will begin the same way.

Happiest of new years to us all,

Krissy & Mark, Braedan & Austin

April 2020


April 2020