Sunday, November 22, 2009

I have a confession...

(I wrote this 5 years ago for my Aunt Onie)

I have a confession. I'm 35, 36, 37, 38, 39 years old, and I've never cooked a turkey. It looks like I'm not going to start this year either. I was never really the one to get up early on Thanksgiving morning and help my Mom with the bird - that was my sister, who now cooks a bird for her family. Then again, I sometimes feel like I'm missing out on something special.

The older I get, the more I feel I've become more like my favorite Aunt Onie. She is an amazing woman, but to my knowledge, has never cooked turkey on Thanksgiving. At least not for me. Aunt Onie and her family always came to our house for Thanksgiving and always made things fun. Her contribution was to buy the turkey (for my Mom to cook), bring the olives, a chocolate khaluah cake, and the Jack Daniels. Thanksgiving dinner was always early afternoon and always planned around football.

One Thanksgiving when I was about ten, my sister asked my Mom (in front of my Aunt) why we didn't go to my Aunt's house for Thanksgiving. I chimed in loudly and said, "Because everyone knows Aunt Onie can't cook!" Little did I know what a jab to her pride that was, being from the South and all! That year, we had Christmas dinner at Aunt Onie's house where she made an amazing roast and put out any ideas in my head that she couldn't cook. My sister and I decided it was easier to have everyone at our house (so we could play with our toys) and that was the last time we ever had a holiday at Aunt Onie's. Even now when my Aunt Onie sends me a card, she always writes beneath her signature, "and everyone knows I can't cook!"

So, while fearing that I've become a failure in life for never having the honor of cooking the bird, in my infinite wisdom I realized that I am now my Aunt Onie. I'm somewhat proud of this distinction because she is someone I admire so much. She taught me love, loyalty (she is to this day a die hard Rams fan, much like I love my Angels) and how to be a working woman in a man's world. I recently asked her if she was still a Rams fan, and she replied, "I'm still breathing aren't I?"

The most important lesson I think she may have inadvertently taught me is that it is not important to be the one to cook a turkey on Thanksgiving. We can add to the day with the dishes we bring, the spirits we share and the knowledge that we could make the damn meal if we really had to! And the ultimate secret that no one brags about is that when you aren't the cook, you can enjoy the day and still go home to a clean kitchen!

So, I am my Aunt Onie, and I can take pride in the fact that I have never cooked a turkey. Heaven help us all the day I do!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Anniversaries and Thanksgiving

Type the word "Anniversary" into the search engine for this blog and you will find many posts from the last 6 years about Jenelle. The first anniversary of the day we found out she was having seizures was the hardest, as was the second anniversary that followed. During that time we had no idea what was going to happen with our girl, and we were living moment to moment. Over time, the anniversaries have gotten easier. In fact, it wasn't until I started typing this that I realized we just passed 6 years for Jenelle's seizure diagnosis.

Next week, another first anniversary is coming. Next Wednesday will be one year from the day of my cancer diagnosis. Not only is it a specific date, it is the day before Thanksgiving, so it reminds us of a difficult time for the entire family. Last Thanksgiving, Brett and I did not attend.

People have been warning me that this anniversary was going to be tough, that everything may hit me all at once. But in all honesty, I think it's going to be OK, because it's a different kind of anniversary. Instead of a reminder of something horrible, it's a celebration because I am still here. And just when I start to think that this is all about how I'm going to handle it, I realize there are others to consider.

Recently, Jack has been having some difficulty sleeping at night. A few nights ago, I went in to his bedroom to talk to him it about it. I asked if something was bothering him and at first he hemmed and hawed and said "No, I'm just really nervous about something." After quizzing him about school, sports and other things being the cause of his nervousness, I finally said, "Jack, Thanksgiving is coming next week and we'll have some time off to be together without school and stuff. It will be fun, don't worry!" And Jack responded, "Well Mommy, that's what makes me nervous. Last year you weren't there for Thanksgiving. Are you sure you're going to be there this year?" "Absolutely" I promised.

I now realize, I'm not the only one going through this cancer thing. While I may always be positive and optimistic, not everyone else feels that way and it may be tougher for someone else. So as a celebration of my diagnosis anniversary, we're going to eat our "desserts first" the night before with special friends. Because life is too short to skip dessert because you stuffed yourself with turkey on Thanksgiving.

Happy Thanksgiving to you all. Thank you once again for your support and for the many prayers for the Curran family this past year. We couldn't have survived without you.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Photos to Share & Updates

Lots of you have been asking and wondering why I haven't updated recently. Well, life is getting busy for us in a good way. I have more energy each day, and the kids are as busy as a 7 and 8 year old can be. Things have been great. Busy, but great!

Jenelle is doing well since getting staples in her head for her birthday. We had them removed last Monday and had a delayed cry, but did well. The cut healed nicely and did not get infected. Jenelle continues to amaze us with eating and walking. It seems she gets stronger each day. Two weeks ago, Jenelle's teacher called me to inform me that Jenelle "purposefully" used her "Bathroom Switch". As you may recall, Jenelle's teacher has installed a switch button that when activated by touch says the word "bathroom." To help instill the potty training, Jenelle's teacher has Jenelle press the button each time they take her to the potty. A few weeks ago, Jenelle was sitting in circle time. She got up out of her chair, walked over to the button, pressed it, then went to her teacher and put her hand on her shoulder. The teacher then took Jenelle to the bathroom across the hall, where Jenelle went potty on the toilet! Exactly what we've been hoping she'd do! Now we need to get a potty button at home!

As for me, I was at UCLA last week for another follow up. After decreasing one of my chemo meds, my blood work numbers have been great and my immune system is stronger. I started my round of ATRA (vitamin A) and will be taking a 15 day course. This is the one I have to take every three months. The doctor still wants to keep me on a part time work schedule. She is more concerned with the flu that is going around, and feels I will be part time until at least the end of December. As for work, I am really enjoying it and getting back into a routine. Slowly I've been able to work longer days and really feel I'm not pushing myself. I think my doctor's estimate is right, and I should be back to full time at the end of the year. Oh yes, and I'm still cancer free! ;)

Now for the photos... As I told you, we've been busy! Enjoy!

Here is our new 7 year old with a small cake on her actual birthday (a Thursday this year.) As we sang to her, she smiled!

Here is Jenelle at the small party we had with family. Grandma was holding her hands so she wouldn't grab the candles.

Jenelle enjoying some special time with Poppa George as we passed around the cake. Poppa George and Nana drove down from Visalia for her party.

On October 23, Jack and I waited in line for 3 hours at Barnes and Noble in Santa Ana to meet Jeff Kinney, author of the "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" books. Jack was so excited, and really loves the books. We are excited and thankful that these books have sparked a love of reading for him.

Jenelle was Tinkerbell for Halloween this year. As Jack ran door to door with friends, Grandma and I took Jenelle trick or treating. Our next door neighbor didn't recognize with with my new hair. Jenelle walked well and did half the street without her wheelchair. The neighbors were excited to see her.

Here is our Tink cuddling with Aunt Nicki.

And this is the only photo I got of Jack on Halloween. He was a man eating shark. Because he used his sister's shoes as a prop, he told his classmates the shark was eating his sister!

Football season has come to an end and the football banquet was last Thursday. Jack and his team had an awesome year and he really improved.

Last Saturday, Jenelle and her Challenger Baseball Friends from Tustin Eastern Little League got to participate in the 4th Annual Challenger Classic at Angels Stadium Grandma came along to help me. Here we are on the field with Jenelle!

Here I am enjoying the Visitor's dug out with friends Barbara Kibby and her son David Kibby. Barbara is a die hard Yankees fan (from New York) so she was basking in the "Yankees" dug out as she liked to call it.

Here is our team posing for our team photo. We had some pretty special celebrities join us including Fox Sports Broadcaster and former Angels player Rex Hudler (bottom left) and former Angels player Bobby Gritch (last row on the far right.)

And finally... a special photo for me. All season, Brett and I contemplated trying to take my photo next to this MLB "Stand Up To Cancer" sign (which is right next to the left field foul pole), but we never got around to remembering to do it when we went to a game. Finally, I got the photo - thanks Steve Polley!
So, as you can see... we've been busy! ;)
Thanks for the continued thoughts and prayers. We'll keep you posted.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Talk About It! NEAM 2009

November is National Epilepsy Awareness Month!
Purple is the color for Epilepsy.

According to most recent estimates, seizures and epilepsy will develop in 200,000 otherwise healthy Americans of all ages this year.

In 1995, the last year for which complete data are available, 2.3 million Americans had been diagnosed with epilepsy, had been taking anticonvulsant medication for at least five years, or had experienced an unprovoked seizure (a seizure not associated with an acute nervous system insult such as high fever, infection or head trauma).

Of these 2.3 million, 1.4 million were adults aged 15 to 64 years and 550,000 were citizens aged 65 and over.

Most poignant, 300,000 were children aged 14 years and younger-children in the prime of life and at a crucial stage in their educational and social development.

Almost 3 million Americans now have epilepsy.


Not a day goes by that I don't think about seizures. Is today the day Jenelle has a big seizure? Is today another day where she won't have a seizure? Will today be the day Jenelle's seizures change? Epilepsy is like the 5th member of our family. We live with it daily, but it doesn't control our lives or what we do with Jenelle.

Jenelle is who she is because of her seizures. Her seizures have left her mentally retarded and developmentally delayed. She has lost her chance at a normal life because of her seizures. To help Jenelle have a better life, we talk about her Epilepsy as much as we can, so people can understand why she is the way she is. We try to help parents going through the same thing. We advocate for a better life for Jenelle.

Talk About It! is a new organization spearheaded by Actor Greg Grunberg who is the parent of a child with Epilepsy. Greg has organized all of his Hollywood friends to help spread the word about Epilepsy. I couldn't say it better than the website, so please visit Talk About It.Org for more information about Epilepsy.

Wear purple, donate to your local Epilepsy group and most important... TALK ABOUT IT!

Every moment lost to seizures is a moment lost in brain development. Help us fight this monster from stealing precious moments in development from our little girl.