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Well, I made it to June. Not quite sure how, but I did.

Funny, when I wrote that May Madness post on April 30, I had no idea the degree of madness that would ensue. But, here we are, on a cold and rainy June 1. Aaaaaahhhhhhh.

The Young Authors Conference at Fairfax went very well. It was an extraordinary amount of work that required an army of volunteers, to whom I am eternally grateful. But we typed, printed and “published” more than 350 books, 285 of which were printed, tediously, double-sided, on my home computer. The kids produced stories that were funny, clever, creative, original, sometimes sad, a little bit crazy and, on occasion, deeply profound.  As one of my typing volunteers commented, “This makes me wish I knew these kids better. There is a lot going on in their minds!”  Indeed, there is.

Yesterday we had a culminating assembly with a local author, to which the students proudly brought their completed books.

A few brave kids got up to read excerpts including this familiar-looking guy, whose teacher challenged him to use non-human characters so his are mitts, bats and one very unhappy baseball:

This 4th grade girl wrote a beautifully moving, fictionalized tribute to her teacher who passed away very unexpectedly in the winter:

And this 1st grader’s pirate story had a battle “that lasted eight hours, which is a reasonable amount of time for a battle:”

I had the chance to get to know a lot of children, the youngest of whom began calling me “Young Author,” as in, “Look, there’s Young Author” on my daily trips through the building. And many of the kids were genuinely excited about the project and seemed eager to write more stories (although one of my favorite — and most honest — About the Author paragraphs said, “This is so-and-so’s first book and he doesn’t plan to write any more”!).

Ultimately I’m glad I did it and very very glad it’s over. There were several times, after late nights of typing up page after page of unpunctuated dialogue, when I said to Mark, “I don’t see how on earth I can possibly get this done. But I am going to get it done.”  And I did. With a ton of help, of course. Thank you to all, especially Amy and Cynthia of Lake Erie Ink, who partnered with me in this madness and surely, more than once, wondered what they’d gotten themselves into.

Now, I will host the Volunteer Appreciation Breakfast at school on Tuesday and help out with the 2nd grade picnic that afternoon and then, . . . then it’s summertime!

Here we go again. There’s something about having a procedure postponed that takes away a bit of the nervousness surrounding it and replaces it with a feeling of let’s do this already.  It happened to us back in September/October of 2007 when Austin went in for a major surgery to remove tumors off his left kidney and we were all so worried, but after they put him under and opened him up, they discovered an infection inside him and delayed the whole thing by a week.  By the time that long in-patient week had passed, we had forgotten much of what scared us about that risky surgery and just wanted to get it over and done with.

So, I think that’s how we feel about today’s MRI. Let’s do this. Give us some information already, point out the path ahead.

Just in case you felt stupid after reading last week’s post about anesthesia versus sedation, know that I had to google the official difference between the two.  I should know, because Austin’s done both many times over, but when I tried to explain it to anyone I realized I couldn’t do it accurately. All I could have told you for sure was that anesthesia takes place in Peed Surge (pediatric surgery) on the 2nd floor and sedation takes place on the 4th floor in the let’s-be-very-clear-here Sedation Unit. I do know that Austin has more trouble coming out of anesthesia than he does coming out of sedation.  After being sedated, he usually feels groggy and disoriented for about five minutes.  With anesthesia, that grogginess and the nausea that accompanies it, can last for an hour or more.

He will also have a breathing tube inserted as is common practice with anesthesia. This is the crux of why they’ve opted for this route over sedation.  With both, your airway can partially collapse, which caused the worry over Austin’s breathing last week. Being intubated will obviously take care of that worry (and give him a very sore throat afterwards).  So, needless to say, we’re in for a long day today.

But not quite as long as it was going to be.  He was originally scheduled to begin at 2:30, after going on his field trip, which his class happily changed to a popsicle-and-jello-only event.  But just yesterday, I got the call that we should now arrive at 10:30 (you should’ve seen my face as I was listening to my doctor’s message that started with the words, “Austin’s MRI has been rescheduled again…”). So I’ll shortly be waking the boys for an above-mentioned healthy breakfast (yes, they’ll both be eating popsicles and jello for breakfast) which must be safely consumed before 8am. Then Austin will head off to the playground for one hour, with no food or drink in sight, before Mark and I bring him down.

And then, well, then it will be a long day of waiting, I’m sure.  I’ll be bringing a laptop to type more stories from the Fairfax students, which is what I’ve been doing nonstop for the past few days. Sixteen volunteers came to the Typing Party on Monday night at Lake Erie Ink and we plowed through at least half in three hours.  But that leaves an enormous half stacked here on my couch, which I’ve been foisting on innocent bystanders who are too guilty to say no to me.

And hopefully, some answers. Please go back here to remember exactly what to wish for. Being in a state of limbo has been, as you might imagine, exhausting.  But I stand by the fact that if the news is bad, I’d rather it be delayed as long as possible.  I mean, think about what limbo actually means: you’re stuck between heaven and hell, not sure yet which one you’ll be condemned to for eternity.  I’ll take limbo over being condemned to hell, that’s for sure.

But if the news is good, bring it. I’m ready for that.

Whenever I’m out walking or biking with my kids and they start to dilly-dally — you know, stopping to fiddle with the bell on their bike when we have to be at school in five minutes or standing still to tell a story when they can just as easily tell the story while walking, I always tell them, “Forward motion, guys, forward motion.” Always moving, getting to some destination.

And so that is what we’re doing … still moving forward, in ways both meaningful and mundane.  Remember my May Madness post?  Well, none of those tasks on my to do list disappeared just because Austin might have cancer. Oh, actually, one of them disappeared: the Rainbow event on May 25 at which we were to be the honored family. There is simply nothing I can stand up and say to those people at this moment that wouldn’t be completely depressing. So, we’ve backed out of that one.

But everything else is still on. The Family Connections Carnival took place last Saturday and we reached our budgeted goal, even surpassed it by a small amount. Cullen Sweeney’s fundraiser is still taking place at our house this Sunday and you’re all still invited. And, of course, The Young Authors Conference at Fairfax is in full swing, although I have cut down a bit on my daily classroom appearances.  I’ve actually really enjoyed the time I’ve spent with the kids, they are so sweet and so eager that they sweep me up in their childlike creativity. Coordinating the volunteers with the constantly changing schedules of twenty-seven very busy teachers is rather more difficult, but it’s happening.  The students will finish their drafts by Monday and then starts the next big phase: typing.  I’ve managed to finish a few of the early ones here at home, but am worried when Braedan tells me that his story is 24 pages long! Uuuuummmm, what’s wrong with eight paragraphs?

Some people become paralyzed with fear or uncertainty in these situations, others spring into action. We’re springers. It’s just how we deal. Always moving forward.

Sometimes I think I can’t wait for the days when Mark and I just send the kids upstairs to put on their own pajamas and brush their own teeth and then we’ll show up ten minutes later for a quick kiss and tuck into bed (it does work like that, parents-of-twelve-year-olds, doesn’t it?). Instead we get a long, drawn-out routine with coaxing and stories and songs and snuggles and lingering moments in bed. And when I think of it like that, then I don’t want these days to end at all.

Bedtime can sometimes be the nicest part of the day (and no, I’m not just talking about the after part). Lying in bed with one child or other, based on our rotating mom-or-dad pattern, after the last book has been read and the light is turned off . . . these are our golden moments. Austin just gets silly, starts talking nonsense but in a fully passionate and engaged way, like last night when he peeked under the covers and exclaimed, “Nice feet, Mommy! Get them at Quality Market?” First of all, I don’t have nice feet — come one, those of you who know me well know you’re laughing right now — and Quality Market is our less-than-fabulous grocery store in Chautauqua, so the whole thing is just plain silly. But he was so darn cute about it. And he loves to ask about our day: “How Mommy day?” or “How Mommy bike ride?” or “How Mommy meeting?”

And Braedan, my endless talker, loves this last chance to recount every glorious detail of his day. He tells all his stories in the present tense so you can be part of the action (or so he can relive it): “So here I am, running down the driveway and then — bam! — Nolan appears on his bike and then . . . ” He also uses bedtime as his chance to talk about whatever he’s afraid of or nervous about. And this is a kid who’s eager to please and concerned about doing what’s right (classic first child), so the list of fears and worries can be long. This is our quiet time, no distractions, nothing more important to do than lay there dissecting what might happen if he gets something “wrong” at Safety Town.

I’ve always loved these last lingering moments with them, rocking a baby to sleep in my arms, whispering lullabyes in the ear of my toddler and now calming the growing fears of my growing boy. This is my last chance, before I head back down to finish all the tasks I never manage to finish during the day, my last chance to just be mom. 

I went searching for a picture of one or both boys sleeping and somehow came up with this one ... of Braedan when he was 3 weeks old!

I went searching for a picture of one or both boys sleeping and somehow came up with this one ... of Braedan when he was 3 weeks old!

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