Tuesday, November 20, 2007

November 20, 2007

Weight: 246 Lost? 12 Left to go? 88

I am utterly sucking socks with my own "new posting system". I'm about to rent a dad-blasted billboard announcing my complete failure at organization and time management. Then there's the Macy's balloon I may purchase space on... I'm figuring that Snoopy's butt is the only thing big enough to do my food fetish justice.

OK, so maybe its not exactly a "fetish" by conventional standards. (I don't know...chocolate makes a convincing argument toward fetish. May have to consider it...) Maybe more of an obsession? Overwhelming, mind-numbing, calls-to-me obsession? Good grief! I'm starting to think I'm either the most weak-minded blob on the planet, or I'm truly a gonzo garbonzo. I'm having the worst time humanly possible surrendering food.

Don't start with me. I know I dont' have to surrender all food. I know I just need to give up the food that my body doesn't like/get along with. Problem is, my stupid endocrine and immune systems that object to peanuts/sugar/starches/blah blah blah ~ haven't bothered to clue in the taste buds. Wouldn't that just make life easier? Have my pancreas ring up my tongue, "Hello. Is this Mr. Lick A. Lot? Oh good. Listen, this is Ms. Lotsa Ins Ulin. It would really take the stress out of my life, if you could develop a taste aversion to sugar. I mean, I just can't tell you how great that would be. You will? Oh thanks! What a team player!! I'll be sure to recommend you for employee of the month. Bye."

Can you even imagine?! How conveniant would that be? I really don't think its too much to ask. Seriously, I've never done anything to my tongue. It should love me! OK, so there have been a few hot coffee incidents. But, I've never pierced the thing. And, even as a child, I religiously avoided mid-winter flag poles. Generally speaking, I've lived a pretty tongue-friendly life. I feel its perfectly reasonable to request it work with my other parts.

Then again, it probably already does. Cripes, by the size of my two-ton-Tessie-tuckus, I'm quite sure there is a full armada of fat cells that worship my tongue. No doubt there are tongue and "cheek" (ha ha! I crack me up!) temples in my tuckus, fully devoted to the celebration of my rebel tastebuds and their constant supply of new fat-cell family members. Hey....maybe that explains that one odd-shaped roll I have...

Get real. That roll looks more Tootsie-ish than temple-ish. Pickle juice. I really am just a weak-minded monkey. Stupid self awareness...

Keep on, keepin' on! Thanks for hanging in with this crazy lady!!

Alicia Hall, losing weight, and my mind, to raise awareness of pediatric cancer

Saturday, November 17, 2007

November 17, 2007

** Don't forget to check out yesterday's blog for my evening's rantings. I was rather "stuck" on a certain theme....**

Weight: 246 Lost? 12 Left to go? 88

Breakfast: 6 zesty sausage links, 2 C of coffee w/ 2TBS creamer each

* Exercise will be partially dependant on the OSU Buckeyes today! We're heading off on a marathon shopping trip this morning - then home to watch the OSU-Michigan game. We're going to come up with some Buckeye exercises. Jumping jacks for first downs, a run around the house for a TD, sit ups for field goals. I'll keep you posted! ;-)

Exercise: The Buckeyes tried to kill me! I ran around the house for each touchdown. I planned on doing 10 jumping jacks for each first down. Planned being the operative word.

First, it dawned on me, I'm a rather zaftig woman. Doing jumping jacks in the family room wasn't the brightest of ideas. Instead, I opted for the basement with its non-shaking concrete floors. This then entailed running down the stairs to jump and jack for each first down. Now I love my Buckeyes...but criminy! They gained a lot of yards today!! Again I say, I'm a rather poofy, zaftig woman. Multiple trips up and down stairs are not exactly kind on my over-burdened knees. But those trips paled in comparison to the beatings they took as Jump met Jack. I can solidly attest that its a bad, BAAAAAD idea for a large woman to Jump, particularly when he's paired with Jack. In fact, I probably never really Jacked....I was too busy holding onto my boobs for dear life. These puppies aren't small! In fact, they're not puppies, they're more akin to Great Danes.

So let me see if I can properly describe this afternoon's events to you. Buckeyes make a first down. I thunk-bump, thunk-bump my way down rickety basement stairs. I twist, turn, and weave my way past mountains of "to-do" piles/bins/boxes to the best available open space. I then begin jumpin' and jackin' - only to nearly knock myself out cold with one of my own hooters. As I contemplate the black eye I've just sustained, I have to compare the pain of my beaten face to the tearing sensation I'm experiencing as my boobs attempt to launch themselves into another zip code. I decide that perhaps the typical jumping o' the jack is not necessarily in my mammarian best interest.

Instead, I bid Jack adieu - and only concentrate on the Jump portion of my commitment. I resume my methodic Jump-out/Jump-in debaucle, while attempting to secure my god-given missiles with the brute force of my clamped-down upper appendages. The entire exercise becomes an omage to Pilates as I further distress my pitifully under-developed arm muscles by asking to them to work against their own southern cousins - Miss Left and Miss Right. The poor arms were heavily outweighed. Think of a lego fort attempting to hold back the great Mississippi. They were simply outgunned.

As every part of my person began to complain, my mind lost track of whom it should listen it to. I was thrown into a sort of singular civil war. With whom should my allegiance lie? With the aching knees who carry me so faithfully up and down the stairs to my beloved computer to vent my abnormalities to cyber space? Or should I empathize with my personal dairy factories, as they've so valiantly fought against gravity for me all these years? (although they lost that particular battle decades ago...I just don't hold them accountable) Or, should I feel great sympathy for the flabby wing arms that were suddenly being called into service to control heaving mounds of flesh that would have made Atlas himself buckle at the knees? Oh the choices...it was mind-numbing. Then again...so was the pain.

In the end, I decided I owed loyalty to all my separate factions and parts. After three rounds of ill-fated Jum-Jks (I never really did complete ones - so I've changed the name to protect the innocent) I caved to my inferior exercise capabilities, and offered a substitution. I did toe touches instead. Lest you think I completely caved to my pudge, may I once again point out my rather sizeable chest accoutrements. Doing toe-touches requires smashing my pudgy middle while flinging my hooter allotment upside down and trying not to suffocate as they join forces with my triple chins to suffocate me with every toe tickle. There is a solid argument against "fluffy" women doing callestenics - our own boobs can kill us.

As it turns out, I, the official over-eating-Mistress-of-mayhem, may have metaphorically "bitten" off more than I could chew. I chomped my way to aching parts and poor food choices. Brilliant. I never knew there was a bazamba/diet connection. Now I do. Don't whack/beat/abuse your melons....they may pile up and suffocate you in your sleep. At the very least...they will lead you to your temporary dietary doom - by making you so depressed, you feel the need to self-medicate with chocolate. Stinkin' boobs, can't live with 'em, can't leave them on the nightstand.

Guess I "exercised" the wrong options today. Cat farts.

Hmmmm - it would appear my Exercise entry became my mental exercise for the day....oops.

Alicia Hall - the Crazy Cancer Mom - losing weight, and my mind, to raise awareness of pediatric cancer


Lunch: 16 cheese puffs, (2) 3" x 3" pieces of home-made pepperoni pizza, 4 Babe Ruth mini-candybars, 1 Diet Coke

Dinner: 1 3" x 3" piece homemade pepperoni pizza, 4 Reese's peanut butter pumpkin minis, 4 Pringle potato chips (2 cheese, 2 salt & vinegar), 1 Diet Coke

4 glasses of water

Friday, November 16, 2007

November 16, 2007

**Day 1 of the new type of blog. Look below to the entry titled "November 15" for a full explanation of why it looks like this.**

***Over the last few days I posted blog entries for Oct 31, Nov 1, Nov 2 if you wish to "backtrack" and catch up with me a bit.***

Week 1: (OK, so we all know this isn't actually week one. However, I'm going to "reset" the time calendar for practical reasons. I didn't do measurements way back when I started. This is the only way I can think of to organize measurements. I'll only post measurements on Fridays. Hopefully, that will let me see some improvement - somewhere.)
Bust: 51 in. Waist: 48 in. Hips: 53 in. Upper arm: 16 in. Thigh: 26.5 in.

Weight: 246 Lost? 12 Left to go? 88
(I'm sticking with my original start weight of 258. I'm afraid I'll be too disheartened if I start that over too. I honestly haven't touched a scale in over 2 weeks. I'm glad I haven't degenerated as much as I feared. Whew! Apparently the cards/hormones/stars decided to play nicer with me than I thought. I'll be posting weight every single day.)

After many mental Olympics, I decided that after the day is done and I sit here to assault you with my random thoughts...I should make the blog user friendly. So, I'll add what I eat as I eat it, then inject my ramblings between the stats and the facts-of-the-day. Face it, I'm a woman - its my genetic prerogative to change my mind. I embrace my x chromosomes with glee!

I am also learning to embrace myself with glee these days. (And no, I do not mean that with any sort of sordid undertones!) I'm learning to find the things that I enjoy and dive at them with gusto. I like writing. I like to find the ridiculous in life. I like to tell people my opinions. I like (for the most part) people. I'm having a whopping good time "meeting" new people, "chatting" with all of you, and musing about this insane journey we collectively call Life. Its all rather interesting.

I'm also learning to stick to my convictions, stick my neck out when I need to, stick up for groups that I feel kinship with, and on occasion...stick my tongue out at an offending driver who appears to be begging for comment. I'm finding that "sticking" is rather good for the soul. (Again, please refrain from swimming in the gutter!) Damn shame I can't figure out the secret recipe for "sticking" to a diet. That's one pot of glue that continually eludes my grasp.

Recently, I've found myself in every situation I described above. I've stuck to my convictions about how people should treat each other, I've stuck my neck out by arguing with a brain surgeon who outranks me by at least 10 or 12 rungs on the evolutionary ladder, and I've shown my roundy, pink opinionater to several crass drivers. Today, I had the wonderful opportunity to stick up for a lovely local organization that our family has benefitted from. Today, I had a brief opportunity to stick a lovely thought in some strangers' heads....I can only hope it'll stay there.

Adventures for Wish Kids is a local charity that provides fun activities for families of children with life-threatening illnesses. They include all siblings, not just the ill child. Families are treated to outings at local gaming centers, to a local amusement park, to professional soccer games, a Christmas party, a Halloween party, sometimes shows, and basically, any opportunity the organization can dream up and make happen. Events are always free - and often closed to the public - providing these special kids with a sanctum of acceptance and freedom to just be...
Adventures gives our medical children the chance to be children, and our families the rare opportunity to forget the medical stuff that make us different - and allow us to only be parents having fun with the kids they love more than life.

Like I said, this afternoon, I got a chance to stick some nice thoughts out there. My kids and I were interviewed for a radiothon that will benefit Adventures for Wish Kids. Perhaps "interviewed" isn't quite the exact definition. A more accurate assesment would be that I invaded a local radio station with 4 children in tow. While the four year old medical child and her 6 yo sister attempted to answer some questions, my 13 yo daughter "baby wrangled" her 13 mo brother who was bent on the absolute destruction of the beautiful offices they'd so erroneously invited us into. That poor DJ, his heart is planted firmly in the correct place. His common sense, however,...may have unknowingly taken a bus to Bermuda.

I give Andrew (the beseiged DJ) grand amounts of credit. Not only did he calmly and patiently stand on his head to draw some form of useful information out of my daughter, he never batted an eye at her ramblings or her less-than-articulate descriptions. I love Avalon up to the moon (and back...as Big Brown Nutbrown hare says), but my dearest darling daughter can't speak worth a fig. She doesn't say any "S", "F", "Sh", or "Ch" sounds. We've discovered in speech therapy, she's quite capable of making those sounds....just not particularly interested. Considering we often have difficulty discerning her meaning - Andrew's efforts were nothing short of sainted. That dear, sweet man recorded more than 40 minutes of Avalon babble - to attempt to distill out a 30 second commercial. My heart and sympathies are with him. I hope he has access to some Margarita fixin's. Come to think of it, a bit of hooch might help clarify things!

As for myself? Oh, in my typical quiet and reserved manner (quit laughing...it could have been true!) - I also offered opinions of AFWK. Its not difficult. I LOVE THEM! Who wouldn't? I don't think I could line up enough chances to sing their praises. The Adventures staff works to give kids back a tiny piece of what illness has stolen from them. And I don't mean just the medical kids. All children in a medical family are affected. All of our kids have surrendered things both tangible and not. They have patiently and lovingly allowed their sister the freedom to dominate our attention at times, and I will never be able to repay their gentle souls for that. I'm grateful beyond words to any organization that lifts their burden...even if only for a few hours.

As we rolled our way home, over-stuffed with restaurant fare and giddy with our sugar highs, I had time to contemplate our brush with "stardom". I realized I was proud of more than how the girls handled the interviews. I was proud of their hearts.

I was humbled by my oldest daughter who effortlessly gave up her chance to be "on air", so she could safeguard her brother. A kind AFWK volunteer offered to hold the baby - not minding his squirming and squawking. But my sweet teen wouldn't let him out of her sight - she couldn't stand the thought of him being scared or sad. As she has so many times before, she surrendered her interests, for the greater good. She kept her baby brother happy, and she allowed us to speak in peace.

I was impressed by my 6 yo daughter who sat so patiently, waiting her turn to say a few sentences into the mike. She spoke clearly and carefully, trying to sound as "grown up" as she could muster. She never interrupted, she never argued, she even gently coached her little sissy, when sissy's memory failed her - as it often does. She continued the roll she was forced to take, but has accepted with a Grace far beyond her years. She acted as her sister's guardian, supporter, and greatest cheerleader - all while quietly waiting her own turn for attention. She was a sister of extraordinary character today.

I was amused by youngest daughter, my medical child. She was cautious and quiet at first. She faced the challenge of the interview in much the same way she's met her medical hurdles. She refused to let it conquer her. She began the interview answering each question with a small "Yet" (yes - in Avalon-speak), polite and obedient to what we had requested of her. She finished the dialogue with joy and finesse, making it fully her own. That's how she's often handled a medical situation. She'll agree to the procedure without complaint. Over time, she will develop her own view of the situation - and choose her own interpretation of events. She makes her life her own - and I'm consistently amused to find how wise she is. She was her typical self today - honest and pure.

I was a very proud mom today. It would seem that some of what I've said through the years may have "stuck" afterall. Better yet, it was overwhelming obvious that my kids stick together - with a bond that no force can hope to weaken. They fight, they argue, they swipe toys from one another and threaten any number of dubious consequences on each others' heads. But, when it counts, they stick together like peas in a pod.

I think its the best kind of sticking I'll ever do. Hope they have enough of that stuff for me to hang on too...

I hope you'll stick with me, as I try to fight may way through this battle of the bulge and Beast. I appreciate you!

Alicia Hall, losing weight, and my mind, to raise awareness of pediatric cancer and the children it changes.

www.crazycancermom.com You can always email me! alicia@crazycancermom.com

Breakfast: (new type of blogging - I'll be adding what I eat as the day goes along. Its my attempt to force myself into accountability.)
6 Bob Evans maple sausage links, 2 cups coffee w/ 2 TBS creamer each.

Lunch: Salad: Iceburg lettuce, 1/2 C shredded Cheddar cheese (200 cal), 1/4 C honey-turkey, 1 TBS thousand island dressing, 2 TBS croutons - 1 Diet Coke

Dinner: Well, I went a bit south this evening. We went to Max & Erma's - a local casual dining restaurant. We had a gift card, I was too pooped to cook, its a really bad combo. I had 1 breadstick, a Rueben sandwich, a small baked potato (I'm talking puny potato, smaller than the palm of my hand) and a small sundae for dessert. Water to drink

November 15, 2007

After weeks of dismal dieting dismantling...I'm climbing back on the wagon. I'm more than a bit terrified. I'm well aware that this effort will be Herculean compared to the original start. Back in September, I had the Childhood Cancer Awareness month going for me mentally. Now, I have just my over-sized rump and my love for these kids. Not that both aren't huge...but I'm honest enough to know I'm in for a doozy of a month.

Not to mention...how nutty is it to start dieting at the holidays?! Well, I've decided its time for no more excuses. My life has become one long road of excuses - and I'm a bit fed up with myself! No kidding I'm stressed. Aren't we all? No kidding that its way more fun to eat like an elephant with a sugar fetish - don't we all feel that way? Difference is, my buttocks exceed the size of most elephants, and its time I quit feeding the beasts. I've "excused" myself into size 22 britches...and that just plain ticks me off.

I've come to realize in the past few weeks, that my current method of blogging hasn't been suiting my needs. I let the blog get several weeks behind, because I was dodging having to be honest about my astronomic caloric intake. Oh...I told myself it was because I was tired...I was over-booked...I had too many things on my plate... Again, no kidding. So do the vast majority of Americans - we're a bit of a Type A country. Yes, all those things are still going to be true, but I have got to quit caving to using them as an excuse - or toss the towel in right now. To that end, I've had to seriously re-think how I'm going to approach this. I've decided that I'm a weak-minded mushroom who cannot be held responsible to be well, responsible. I can't just go about my day with no accountability - I'm a sneaker. So, I'm going to re-vamp how I rat myself out. Hope you all don't learn to hate me.

Here's how its going to work. I'm going to open the blog first thing in the morning. I'll start a "Blog" for that given day - and then add to it every time I eat. I'll tell you what I scarfed down, what I did for exercise, and various other diet-related garbage like that. It will all be under that day's date - followed by my normal rantings to the universe. If you could care less what I eat - just skip to the mind mash stuff. If you want to tell me I'm a porker - feel free. Maybe a bit of humiliation will act like a giant butt boot. Who knows? And last, I'm going to put the dreaded "numbers" at the top of the blogs. Oh yeah, that's right. I'm going to make myself stare at those stupid digits - all in a radical attempt to set myself straight.

You'll notice there is currently a gap in blog entries from November 2 - November 15. I'll be going back and filling those in over the next few days - I'll put a star and tell you which I did, if you wish to go "back" and fill in the cracks in logic. Eventually, my mind, my blathering, and my goals may all meet back up and move forward together. We'll see!

Thanks for hanging in there! At the least, maybe these past few weeks will fuel the oh-I-hope-she-fails faction. I've added drama! Let's see, in soap opera mode I would be glancing sideways with a pregnant pause - looking concerned. I'd have furrowed brows, perfect hair, and look contemplative - as if waiting with baited breath.

In reality? I'm pudgy, have sticky hair from a 13 mo old's spaghetti hands, and I'm embarrassed and ready to kick my own keester. Even I'm interested in how this is going to play out.

Wish me luck!

Alicia Hall - losing weight, and my mind, to raise awareness for pediatric cancer

I love email! alicia@crazycancermom.com

Thursday, November 15, 2007

November 2, 2007

First of all, I have no earthly idea what the heck was up with the post for November 1st. Stupid thing. I wrote it like a civilized human - complete with paragraph structure, and spaces between paragraphs. It posted like it was written by a left-handed chimpanzee. No spaces, no paragraphs...stinking difficult to read. After 2 days, and a dozen attempts to edit it, I rewrote the entire post - only to have it happen again. The only way I could make it remotely pallatable, was to put in those giant spaces. I fear I will have to do that again today - so please bear with me, and with blogspots apparant bug-a-gogo. Ack.

My real reason for writing today? I'm old. I'm ancient. I've crossed into a new, and admittedly terrifying, phase of my existence. I am now the mother of a teenager. May God and the universe have mercy on my pitiful soul....

My oldest daughter crossed the threshold to teen wonderland today. I believe I could actually hear the gray hairs springing forth with a new-found gusto. I can guarantee you, I could hear the increased whoosh-whoosh of my heart beat, as my blood pressure climbed to never-before-seen dizzying heights. I now own a teen...I have found fear.

As my daughter assured us this morning, she can most definitely feel the difference in her life. She can tell the world is different now. I mean, like duh..., she's a teen now, that makes everything different. Now she's just so mature she should be able to stay up later, make all her own decisions, talk on the phone for more hours than there actually are in a day, and be allowed to do/buy/get anything and everything she wants. Uh huh. Oh, my dear child is in for "such" a rude awakening. I may be old...but last time I checked, I wasn't entirely dead yet.

So here was my day, partially massaging the Macy's-balloon-sized over-inflated ego of my new "teen", while simultaneously patching up the bruised self-esteem of an aging diva who is having trouble reconciling her perceptions with her actual life. Oh yeah, its been a contradictory kind of day. "Mom, I think I should be able to stay up an hour later, pick all my own clothes, and be allowed to go the mall alone with a friend." "Daughter, you're still a little kid, your taste borders on vampire sleaze, and those boobs paired with your lack of common sense will guarantee I won't let you out of my sight for years." You may deduce how well the day went for me.

And what was my dieting self doing while attempting to adjust to this new chapter in our Family History? Eating. Eating a lot. Eating sugar. A lot of it. Eating Halloween candy, and pretty much anything else that wasn't nailed down. I'm afraid my spiral into self-destruction is picking up speed. I have an overwhelming feeling this downward (or by the scale, upward) trend is not finished yet. Crap on it all...I'm frustrated! I can't figure out how to staple my lips shut. Worse, I can't figure out why I can't figure it out.

Ack. Are all parents of teens/toddlers/cancerkids/and first graders this nuts?! I've gone so far overboard, I'm considering changing my name to Brazil. I'm quite the hard nut to crack.

Fudge farts...I can hear the Snickers calling.

Alicia, the Crazy Cancer Mom, losing weight (well, entertaining the idea) and my mind, to raise awareness of pediatric cancer.


November 1, 2007

After admitting to my Halloween obsessions and shortcomings in the last post, I thought I'd share a few more Halloween thoughts. First, I figured you might want to gander at my gaggle of kids. Well, even if you could care less, I suppose I'm forcing you to gander. I'm proud, they're cute -its my site! Also, here is my Halloween superhouse the night of Trick or Treat. The Jack-o-Lanterns don't show up terribly well, but there were 5 of them.

In addition to my discovery of my total lack of self control, Beggar's Night was also frought with epiphanies. While the occasional epiphany about your own shortcomings can be productive in a self-help sort of fashion...not all intellectual realizations are that life-affirming. As for the slew of them I discovered on Trick or Treat....well, I wish I had more in the positive column.

First, money does not equate to class. In fact, I'm beginning to suspect that certain levels of income actually foster higher incidences of "classless" behavior. We live in a higher middle class neighborhood. We are not one of these people, we are merely renters with the best landlords on the planet. We are, in effect, "fakers" here. The interesting thing, is that I perceive the vast majority of the homes around me to be filled by fakers - but they're fabricating a different facade. Maybe they can truly afford that house, but they then insist on acting as if they have much more money than they do. They live in house AA, while pretending to have the funds and prestige of the multi-million dollar houses AAAA that my hubby works on. In other words, to convince the world that they have more than they do...its all about looks. How the yard looks, how the house looks, how the car looks. There is very little substance here - its just about appearance.

How does lack of substance equate to lack of class? Easy, when you're so busy about how you look, you have exactly no time to consider the fact that there are other people in the world. When you only see your own face in the mirror, not the face of a member of the human race...you forget that you are actually part of something bigger than yourself. You go through life with blinders on to anything but your own agenda, as if the world existed to service you. And that, is how we get to classless.

Examples? You want examples? Are you doubting my integrity? Or, are you painfully curious as to what my neighbors did to garner my distaste? Well, let's see, just where should I begin? How about with the people who cannot be bothered to participate in Beggar's Night? C'mon folks, you don't have to go hog-wild looney like me and buy full-size candy bars. Sweettarts are cheap and the kids still love them. But here, only 1 in 4 houses even participated. And decorations? What?! In my sister's neighborhood, the people buy those fabulous blow-up things, hang lights like Christmas, play music and have firepits going to warm the kiddos. Here? One in ten houses might have a Jack-O-Lantern. Woo hoo. Our house stood out like a glowing shrine to Halloween, and we thought it was pathetically under-decorated. No graveyard, no smoke machine, only 5 pumpkins. What were we thinking? I'm sure most people consider us the tacky trailer neighbors. Hah!

Then there was the wheelchair. Avalon, of course, had to beg in her chariot. For the first few houses, she insisted on getting out and walking from the driveway to the door, but that didn't last long. She tires so easily, that even with the chariot - she would have happily quit after about 30 minutes. (mind you, she stuck it out for the next hour - so sissy didn't get more candy than she did!) So here we are, "rolling" our way through the neighborhood. No biggie in my mind.

Except, people were HEARTLESS. We were forced from the sidewalk more than once - by parents pulling kids in those big plastic wagons. I would say, "Excuse me please.", and they'd look at me, turn their shoulder/back toward me and just stand there. The only way around was to offroad through the grass with the wheelchair. People would let their kids crowd up behind us on someone's walkway to their house, trapping us as the monsters shoved past us (twice) and elbowed us or pushed one of us into the flowerbed. And my personal favorite? People giving candy that were annoyed Avalon couldn't come up onto their porch. The poor thing was made to feel more like a disregarded dog than a child whose legs don't work so well. It was all rather appalling.

But then, there were the Moochers. I have to say, the Moochers honked me off the most. The Moochers did more than ignore a little kid, or not pay attention to how rude their children were behaving. The Moochers actively flaunted their lack of class. They own the top of my Crap List. The Moochers are the people who have kids, (sometimes several) who take the kids around the neighborhood with BOTH parents following - thereby leaving no one at their own house to give out candy. Of course, not everyone with both parents is guilty. There were houses where older siblings (my house) or grandparents gave to beggars. But on our culdesac alone, I can tell you of 7 families that only took - they never gave a thing. Can you believe that?!!!

Like I said in the previous post, we spent years having to "borrow" a neighborhood to Trick or Treat in. I want it to be known, I never did that without "giving" as well. We always took ridiculous amounts of candy to be given out from the house we were originating from. I couldn't have imagined just showing up to take without equally giving. That wasn't even an option. Then here I was, smack in the middle of golfcourse Hades, with people who can easily afford a few bags of candy - and not only did most people not bother, but plenty of them were too busy taking from others to consider giving back anything. In a word...puke.

Thankfully though, not all of the evening's epiphanies were bad. In fact, one of them was quite enlightening. As I trudged house to house, dismayed at the lack of effort or decorations, I began to notice something. Every time a front door would open, the house behind it was immaculate. And I do mean, every time. The floors, tables, family rooms opening before me would be spotless, organized - like something out of a magazine. The first few times, I thought, "Wow! What a great housekeeper. I wish I could be like that." Then, over time, it got a bit depressing. Our own house looked like a tornado passed through minutes before we left. There were toys strewn everywhere, the typical load of laundry (or 4) sitting in the kitchen - waiting its turn, dishes and pans from the entire day, and a sewing machine, fabric, and craft stuff cluttering the dining room. Simply put, our house was in its normal disaster state. I began to find myself "peeking" into the houses, hoping desperately to find someone as messy as me.

What I found was nothing but perfection. Perfect yards, perfect hair, perfect houses. I was "perfectly" disturbed, until I had my best epiphany of the night. Perfection is boring! I don't have time for it! As the girls and I made our way home from the final treck into candydom, we rounded the corner and our house grinned at us, in all of its Halloween glory. That's when it dawned on me. Of course I don't have time to clean - I'm too busy doing ridiculous stuff like this. Who has time to stay perpetually caught up on dishes? Not me. Not when there are 18 totes of Halloween decorations that must be carried up from the basement and lovingly put up. Who has time to keep the dining room picture perfect? Not me. Not when there are costumes to be sewn, and Fall clothes to be altered. Who has time to keep caught up with laundry? Not me. Not when there are Doodlebops to be danced with, Goosebumps marathons to cuddle on the couch and be scared about, and Halloweentown movies to watch over and over. Who has time to be perfect? NOT ME!

I don't have time for perfection. I'm having way too much fun Living. This is an epiphany I can work with. I'm not as sloppy, behind, or pathetic as I thought. I'm simply too hands on. If I would have bought the kids' costumes, not decorated, and never watched a scary movie with a 4 yo cuddled next to me...my house could have been spotless. But I did, I will again, and I'm downright fine with that. Hah! Hey, it only took me until 40 to figure out I'm human, and I can't actually do it all. Who knew?

As for the diet...well, the epiphanies of yesterday, of imminent failure - weren't that far off. I wholeheartedly admit to eating completely out of control. I don't want to think about the thousands of sugar calories I've had. I know I'm in raging diet meltdown at the moment. The problem is, I'm having trouble identifying the deeper reason - and even more trouble figuring out how to stop. Hang in there with me. All is not lost. I am not giving up, I'm just riding a large, painful wave at the moment. As with all hurricanes, this will eventually pass.

Thanks for hanging in with me!

Alicia Hall, the Crazy Cancer Mom, losing weight (I'll get back to it - I promise!) and my mind, to raise awareness of pediatric cancer http://www.crazycancermom.com/


Wednesday, November 14, 2007

October 31, 2007

Halloween. I think Halloween should be the National Holiday for Cancer Kids. Think about it.

You get to put on masks, wigs, makeup, and costumes. You can "pretend" to look like the walking dead and no one will suspect the circles under your eyes are really your own. You can cover the bald head that brings stares, and no one running past you on the sidewalk knows the truth under the hat. You can wear your germ-warfare mask, pair it with a surgeon's outfit - and people will think you're clever. Best of all, you can rake in a mountain of candy, and thanks to steroids...your parents will gladly let you eat yourself into sugar comas for as many consecutive days as the candy supply will fuel.

Halloween...its a whole new world for a Cancer Kid.

For the rest of us, there is Trick Or Treat. Beggars' Night is a wet dream to a chocoholic...and a Stephen-King-meets-Jason movie to a dieter. Yep, I whole-heartedly embraced the big O of the chocolate...and promptly had my head chopped off by Mr. Hockey Mask. In all, it wasn't the best of days for my ba donka butt.

The major problem is, I love Halloween nearly as much as I love chocolate! I loved Halloween before becoming CrazyCancerMom, but now I embrace it with my whole person. (see opening paragraph) The further problem, I want to be the Halloween superwoman. For years upon years, we lived in a neighborhood that was unsafe to Trick or Treat in. My oldest daughter never begged close to our house. We would "borrow" neighborhoods - begging in friends' subdivisions, or eventually near my sister's house. To be able to welcome little beggars to our own door, to walk our own streets...it just so exciting! I want to be the Halloween superhouse - the best decorated, the best candy...ever.

While my dedication to decor doesn't affect my derriere, my devotion to decadence surely will. You see, I refuse to be the sweettart person. I want to be the full-sized candy mecca. I want to be the house the kids race to first next year. Translation? I bought a case of full-size M&Ms, playdough for the little kids, 7 bags of various chocolate confections (the snack size - not the tiny bite size!), and 250 gummy things of various gross shapes. I had enough candy to jack up hundreds of kids...and it was glorious............

I actually made it a point of pride with myself, that I never touched the M&Ms. Hubby and daughter's 2 and 3 partook of a few bags one night, but I muscled through and never ate one. That, however, cannot be said of my 7 bags of wonderment, particularly since - 7 started as 8. If confession is good for the soul, I will now be racking up karmic bonus points by the gazillion. In the two days before Trick or Treat, I managed to single-handedly eat an entire bag of PayDay snack-size candybars. All by myself, alone, family never even knew they were here. Ack.

You've heard, "Give him an inch, and he'll take a mile." Well, in my case, "Give her a bite-size, and she'll eat a truckload." I fear the road to ruin has just been paved...I haven't quit sneaking, snacking, nibbling on the candy we passed out, or the candy the kids brought home. I'm utterly hopeless at the moment. This is going to be one vicious battle.

I'm so frustrated with myself! I can't, honestly, figure out how people don't eat the bad stuff. How can some people keep full candy jars? If its here, it haunts me. If I can see it, I "hear" it. I truly represent the worst of what parents don't want their kids to be. I'm nearly as obsessed as the girls right now. Except, they want suckers and gummies. They root past the Snickers, Butterfingers, Babe Ruths, and Reese Cups that call my name 24/7. How do you do that?!! If there is some magic potion that will relieve me of sensitivity to the siren song of a Snickers - please feel free to email me. I'd sell my left boob to shut up the shrieking chocolate.

I'm rather afraid that if I don't learn to turn a deaf ear quickly...I will have another blubber roll the size of my left boob to contend with.

Ahhh Halloween, my love and my torment. How can such a perfect day divorce me from all common sense and control? Am I really such a weak-minded twit as to be entirely bereft of self-control?

Um, Yes.

Alicia, the Crazy Cancer Mom, losing weight (at least in theory), and my mind, to raise awareness of pediatric cancer and its victims www.crazycancermom.com

You can always email me at alicia@crazycancermom.com or simply comment here.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

October 28, 2007

Today, Avalon, my cancer child, had the honor and privilage of being invited to be a part of a fashion show to raise money for pediatric cancer. The show was the Black Tie Blue Jacket Fashion Show at Saks Fifth Avenue, here in Columbus. The event raised money for the Columbus Blue Jackets Foundation and their work with Hats for Heroes. We've known about the fashion show for months, the tickets to last night's game for only a few weeks. So while it was fun, we really didn't plan this weekend's Blue Jacket-a-palooza ahead of time.

Tonight's fashion show featured Blue Jacket players, their wives/girlfriends, and local "heroes" - children affected by cancer. Some of the children were on active treatment, some were off-treatment like Avalon, and one was the sister of a small boy who lost his battle. The children were matched with a player/girl combo. Each child walked down the runway twice, with two different player/girl teams. The players and their wives/girlfriends changed outfits before the second "walk", but the children remained in the same outfit.

The entire event tried to make the kids feel as special as possible. The children were allowed to pick their fantasy outfits the week before the event. I don't know how that translated for the boys, but I'm here to report that my little princess thoroughly enjoyed her fashionista session. She tried on several I-couldn't-afford-them-in-a-million-years dresses, and checked their "twirl" factor to the delight of the Saks' staff. In the end, she settled on a delightful ivory dress with a lace bodice, poofy tulle skirt, and full length black velvet jacket that was trimmed with lace and pearls. Honestly, it was exquisite. I'm sure it will look lovely on a little girl somewhere in Columbus.... Since I would have had to sign the check for it, it had no hope of meeting the lesser dresses that currently reside in her closet.

The day of the show, the children reported to the store a few hours before the show, for their hair appointments, make-up sessions, and professional photos. By the time we got there with Avalon, the organizational elements had fallen apart a bit, and much to my dismay, she never got to pose for a professional portrait with "her man". However, the photographer soothed my wounded heart better than I could have hoped - with the spectacular photo I shared above. No picture ever said it better...one big hockey player - holding the hand and heart of one little girl.... I love it.

Avalon did get to pose for some special pics with a different heartthrob, a charming young man, Joe. Although Joe is 20, he recently finished treatment at Children's. Joe's bone cancer is a pediatric cancer, so people diagnosed with it, are preferentially treated at Children's. Given that Joe had just graduated from high school when he was diagnosed - it really was the best place for him. While I loathe the beast that brought us together, he and his warm family are examples of the reasons I tell people I'm not all sorry for this new life. Joe is the epitome of what we want our sons to grow to be. He's gentle, caring, thoughtful and funny. He refused to let the beast beat him down, even as it robbed him of a leg. After all, in Joe's own words..."Its only a leg." How many "adults" would be mature enough to look at it from that perspective? Joe is one in a million.

Prior to the pictures, our fashion model had her session with the stylists. While the hairdressers were kind, they weren't terribly prepared for the special needs of a child whose hair is thin, and radically different lengths. Prior to her brain surgery, Avalon had 10 quarter-sized sections of hair shaved out. When you add all that was shaved for the shunt incisions, she lost probably a third of the hair she'd worked so hard to grow back (post chemo). This was more traumatic for her than we had anticipated - so we've spent the past 10 months working diligently to "cover" her "shortcomings". Now that her auto-immune issues are causing her hair to fall out, she's even more sensitive about how it looks. Unfortunately, high-end hairdressers, in adult salons, aren't necessarily used to dealing with her unique issues.

When all was said and done, Avalon's hair was partially curled, held up by two bobby pins, decorated with a pearl bow that I'd brought from home, and sprayed stiff as concrete. Ten minutes and 10 photographs with Joe later, it completely fell apart. Thank goodness, she's not my first girl, and I've been playing hide-the-holes for nearly a year. I managed to fake it all back together pretty well. Oh the joys of public events with special kids!

After pictures, we only had to wait a few minutes before we lined up for the show. Avalon's first hockey player was her beloved Dan, and his girlfriend, Kim. Poor Kim, she came into this event as the"other woman". When we broached the subject of Avalon walking with Dan and his girlfriend...Avalon was horrified! "What do you mean?! I'm Danny's girlfriend!!" It took some quick talking to convince her that Kim was the "big girl" girlfriend, and Avalon was his special "little-girl" friend. She wasn't happy - but she gave up griping. I was more than a bit worried about what my opinionated little stalker might come out with...but she surprised me.

I had forgotten to allow for the "wow" factor. As with her much-swooned-over clinic-love, Ryan, Avalon often loses her voice around Dan - at least for a while. During her quiet worship time, Kim marched right in, and stole her own piece of Avalon's heart. Honestly, Avalon had no choice, Kim was every bit as kind and charming as Dan. Avalon liked her enough to share - we were good to go. I'm such a mush, I was weepy. Its a rare blessing to have a stranger shower your child with such kindness. To have it times two...ack, I was a puddle.

The first walk went well. When I left Avalon back stage, she was happily holding Dan and Kim's hands - and chatting their ears off. When she hit the stage, she grinned, waved, and posed at the end of the runway just as in practice. Dan helped her take her fancy overcoat off, and then she twirled like a pro - complete with hands on hips at the end. She and her sissies had been watching America's Next Top Model for weeks and practicing their techniques. She would have made Tyra quite proud.

Backstage again, Avalon had to say goodbye to Dan and Kim as they ran to change into their second outfits. We spent our down time chatting with Joe and marveling at his "bionic" leg that so fascinates one of the other young heroes. You have to love cancer kids - nothing freaks them out. They look at Avalon's "chariot" and don't even see it. They know that Joe normally uses crutches, so they can't wait to check out his new leg. They've all been bald, so the baldies among them don't raise a single eyebrow with the kids that have grown them back. Its an odd fraternity, but, in a strange way, quite a life-affirming one.

Soon enough, the players and girls came wandering back. That's where the fun really started. I have to say, I really still know squat about hockey. I know the 4 or 5 players we've met several times, but I don't know the new guys, their specialties, their bios. Its nearly impossible to make me "starstruck" about anyone on the planet - so these dear hockey players have no chance at making me impressed enough to behave. They pretty much get me as myself. This, sometimes, can make me slightly irreverant, at best.

It happened that Joe, the ultimate hockey fan, was behind Avalon in the line-up. He proceeded to "enlighten" me as to who was who in the expensive duds in front of us. I heard about "draft pick", "really fast on the ice", "great catch", blah blah blah. Now I love Joe, but he could have been speaking Greek or Finnish for all I understood. I will say I was honest, I admitted to my failure-to-understand and bigger failure-to-be-impressed. About that time, one of the players set off the store alarms again. The runway and stage were set up exterior to one of the mall-side entrances of the store. The models actually "left" the store to enter the stage. Not a problem, except the clerks forgot to remove some of the security devices from the expensive items. I think 4 or 5 alarms were set off before the first walk. I'm sure the dressers tried their best, but again - a player was setting off the alarm. Mind you - it wasn't easy to figure out who. As the players milled around, the stupid alarm would go off and on - leaving everybody searching themselves. When nobody could find it, we all gave up.

About that time, I finally caught sight of the young man in front of us. Mainly, because Joe was impressed he was there...and because he was grousing about his "ensemble". It happened this young man was handsome, had a hip haircut, and winning smile. To be sure, some Saks dresser saw a perfect "Man"A-Quinn. In reality, he was horrified. They'd given him...a manpurse. Now any old manpurse is bad enough. But A) putting a man-purse on a hockey player is damn funny. And B) having it be a man-purse that is white, with black piping and a black strap (not distressed brown leather - something remotely manly...), is so funny it hurts. This is where my I-don't-get-impressed-by-anyone thing kind of came to haunt me. I couldn't resist...I had to tease. To keep quiet...well, it would have been criminal.

The conversation went something like, "You know, you really could work that purse. I mean, c'mon...sell it, honey. Oh you can do it..." (you can guess my inflections) Answ: "I know. I should. (big grin) Nah, I don't think I can do it." Me; "Oh puh-leeese? Seriously, we'll pay you to go strut that thang. C'mon, I bet we can get these guys to ante-up!" It went back and forth like that for a couple of minutes, when I realized I'd never even been introduced to this guy! I finally said, "I'm so sorry, I've never even met you and I'm being ornery." His answer was a grin, and "No, don't worry - I have a purse, I deserve it."

About that time, the alarm went off again. As he was begging the universe for it to be his "purse", a clerk came to check the bag. Sure enough, Victory! The purse was the offending object. As the clerk took it away to remove the security tag, the player was hoping she'd "lose" it. I did try to redeem my earlier finkiness - and offered him my ample rear-end to hide behind if the lady brought the purse back. He declined the offer, but managed another grin as the much-aligned bag was returned to him. Poor fellow...I at least wished for photographic failure to happen as he pranced his purse down the runway. Only time will tell if the universe decided to smile on him...

As for Avalon, she was a bit put-out having to watch Dan and Kim chat with another hero. That is, until she met her new "team", Ole-Kristian and his lovely partner Guro. We couldn't have asked for kinder, gentler people. Avalon, the great man-hater, instantly warmed up to Ole. And again, I was shocked to meet a hockey player with a heart of gold. These guys seriously are mis-represented! Guro was not only model-beautiful, she was as sincere and lovely as Kim had been. I can't tell you how wonderful it was to be so surprised. At our first game, I had been impressed that the players were nice enough to "fake" sincerity around our kids. I'm so ashamed, and yet proud to report how wrong I was. These men, and the women they love, are truly committed to our children. They are warm, caring, thoughtful people that I'm proud to say I've met. I could care less about their profession, its their hearts I'm in awe of.

After the second walk, Ole and Guro surprised me by asking more questions about Avalon's diagnosis and prognosis. Ole had even recognized a publicity photo of Avalon. The photo was when she was barely two, and bald from chemo. She looks quite different, so it was impressive that he searched her out - and took the time to ask. Apparantly, I wasn't the only one they touched...Avalon has added the two of them to her "who loves me" list. She's insisted she get to make pictures for Ole now too. That's pretty high praise - we have to "convince" her to make pictures for Jody - she tells us "He's a nice guy, but I really love Danny." To ask to be allowed to make pictures for Ole...well, he must have seriously impressed her. Poor man, I'm not sure he's ready for a pint-sized stalker...

The last funny of the night, has to return our focus to our family hero, Dan. As I chatted with people backstage, I thought my hubby and daughter #1 had retrieved Avalon. Next thing I know, here comes hubby, sans children. When I ask, "Where are the girls?" The answer? "I don't know, I thought you had them." Hmmmm, that's interesting. It didn't take long, or many inquiries, to find out that a certain hockey player had been spotted trotting off with them. (their relationship is legendary - everyone watches them because they think Avalon's hero-worship is cute) No problem, we'd pretty much deduced the obvious on our own. We spent the remainder of the evening kid-free, as the world's best baby-sitter entertained our wee-one. I mean think about it, who better to protect your kids than hockey players?! Heaven help the mortal who dares to anger him. Personally, I'm crossing my eyeballs, fingers, and toe hairs hoping Dan sticks around through the dating years...he could save me many sleepless nights! I can't possibly think of a better threat to some wayward teen...

The evening ended with many hugs and thank you's to Guro, Kim, Mandy Shelly, and various Foundation staff and supporters. Its hard to feel like you ever get to thank them enough. The players, their wives and girlfriends, and generous benefactors donate countless hours to help raise funds for not only our local Children's Hospital, but also for national pediatric cancer research organizations. Most of them don't have children, and none of them have been touched by pediatric cancer. They choose to selflessly love and work for our children. How can you ever say "Thank You" enough for that?!

For my part, I will spend this weekend writing thank yous and mailing little girl drawings. For Avalon? My guess is, she'll keep on stalking. Except now, she's added a new hockey victim to her roster, and two wonderful women to the list. While they will undoubtedly be hugged, talked about, followed, and buried with pictures of snakes and hearts...the three "newbies" will have to understand. They cannot hope to reach Danny status. He owns such a huge hunk of her heart...I fear I'm a distant second most days....

That's OK, I understand. I'd stalk him if I was 20 years younger.

As for the dieting diva? Well, to be perfectly honest, her starvation routine is in need of a total overhaul. I've taken the stress of this past month, and used as a collasally good excuse to return to bad behaviors and pathetic ways. I'm irritated with myself, and honked off at my ba donk a donk butt. (thank you, Jessica!) Am I giving up, surrendering, or quitting? NOPE. I'm just realizing, I have some mental sludge to flush out before I dive back in.

Its a journey... its a journey.... its a journey......

Let me live in my delusions for a few more days. Its nice here.

Alicia Hall, losing weight, and my mind, to raise awareness of pediatric cancer and the lives it touches
A) Go Blue Jackets!
B) Please feel free to email me at alicia@crazycancermom.com
C) I love your comments! Or - you can shut me up by passing on the blog....

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

October 27, 2007

WARNING: Due to necessary background info - this post is long. Get over it, or move on now. If you choose option B - may the fleas of several camel herds invade your skivvies...


My four year old daughter is a stalker. She's a loving, caring, protective stalker...but truly - I think she could be categorized as a bit "obsessed".

It all started in Feb of 2007. We were invited by our local hockey team, The Columbus Blue Jackets, to their "Gold Ribbon Game". The Blue Jackets Foundation raises an incredible amount of money for pediatric cancer research and various ped onc charities. The Gold Ribbon Game is part of their efforts to raise awareness. They invite local cancer children to attend the game, participate in aspects of the game (riding the zamboni, throwing out a puck, being interviewed on the Jumbotron), and to come to a "meet and greet" with players after the game. Prior to this event, I knew absolutely zero about hockey. Post event, I knew little more about the game - but I knew I LOVED the Blue Jackets.

At first, I thought I was crazy taking 3 girls to a hockey game. All I'd ever heard was that hockey was violent and the fans liked it that way. What in the Sam-hill was I going to do with 3 of the girliest girls there ever were at a hockey game? I'm thrilled to report, I was utterly, completely mis-informed. The game was exciting, fan-friendly, and an absolute blast! We cheered, we clapped, they danced. In all, we enjoyed every moment of it!

After the game, we attended the player meet-and-greet. And there, my friends, a lovely young man named Dan Fritsche, became a victim.

Just as the meet and greet started, the team reps requested a group photo of the players, heroes (the program is called Hats for Heroes), and the police officers in attendance (the local FOP helps with HFH). An important note here - Avalon is man-shy. At Disney, she wouldn't even pose with Peter Pan, for Pete's sake. Here, they wanted her to smile with huge, scary hockey goons and guys in full-out police uniforms. All I could think was...Right, that's gonna happen...

Being that she was also the tiniest one there, I figured there wasn't a chance she'd show up in the pics. Just then, one of the players leaned down, and asked if she would let him hold her for the picture. She rather leaned back, looked him up and down (seriously, she sized him up!), and did the unthinkable...she agreed! You could have knocked me down with a feather. I thought, I'd better take a pic of this...no one we know will ever believe it.

After the pictures, the kids and their siblings were invited to take individual pictures with the guys and to have the players sign their shirts and hats. Dan was the first player we asked for a picture - so I could thank him profusely for being so gentle with her. After making the rounds of the room, she went back to him and asked for another autograph. She had completely lost track of who was who, and was just doing what everyone else was. Not only was Dan not irritated or annoyed with her...he was very amused and very kind. He told her he'd already signed her hat. At that, she cocked her head, thought about things - and promptly stuck her belly out as far as she could with, "Well OK then - you'll have to sign this!" He laughed and signed on. Poor man, he didn't know what he was in for.

A few weeks later, we were invited to our local Children's Hospital for the opening of the Columbus Blue Jackets Family Resource Center. Its a place for parents of in-house patients to go and get on the internet, do laundry, take a shower, eat. Day parents can go there to use the lockers, breastfeeding rooms, wait between appointments, etc. Its a very big deal. Avalon and a few other Heroes were there for photo ops with some players. Unfortunately, most of the players were ones she'd never seen before. Rats...we were back to Ms. Man-Shy. I took Dan aside and told him I thought she'd agree to anything, if he asked her. I explained how bashful she is, and that she really seemed to like him. He smiled, said "No Problem" and took care of her like she was his own. Avalon was never away from his side. She sat on his lap, held his hand, and did everything asked...right next to her big hero. Oh yeah...the seeds of love were planted.

Moving forward several more weeks, we were invited to be a part of a fundraiser for the CBJ Foundation and the Hats for Heroes project. A few Hero families were invited to attend BD Mongolian restaurants with Blue Jackets players - to thank people for coming and supporting the Foundation. As with the hospital, we're always willing to go to fundraising events, because no one in our family is shy about thanking people. I will hug/thank/chat with anyone gladly. I'm so grateful to have my daughter, I will never be able to thank the universe, or generous people enough. So...I went to ambassador my way around the room, and Avalon went to see...Danny.

As soon as Dan got to the restaurant, Avalon was waiting for him. At events, the players show up in street clothes, and then don the fancy jerseys that the PR team have waiting for them. Its kind of like a performer putting on a costume. Normally, they're not considered "on" until they're dressed and led into the room they're "working". Avalon could give a hoot less about the outfit. She stuck herself to Dan like a fly to a horse's heinie - the second he walked in the door. No amount of pleading on my part worked - she was stuck fast. Dan couldn't have been kinder about it. He held her hand, hugged her, and proceeded to spend the next few hours signing autographs with her on his lap. When a fan would want a picture (without Avalon!) he would gently set her down, then promptly pick her right back up. I was chatting with one of the PR team about feeling guilty she was bugging Dan. His answer? "I'm Dan's age. I would give anything to have her follow me! Don't worry, he's not bothered. He's enjoying her hugging her as much, if not more, than she's enjoying following him. Stop worrying, she's just fine."

During the course of the evening, I realized - he was right. Dan never looked cross or irritated. He looked at Avalon with genuine kindness. And not the manufactured, for-the-camera brand of kindness. No - he treated her like an uncle. When the crowds were gone and he was back to being Danny, instead of "Dan Fritsche, Columbus Blue Jacket player" (said with loud announcer voice...), he continued to "hang out" with Avalon. She "helped" him get his dinner, and fully stalked him while he ate. She worshipped him, and that was quite alright with him. Oh yeah, I fell head over heels in love too. You can't treat my daughter that well - and not expect me to love you!

Several weeks later, we did another PR event with Dan. Same as before, he annoyed fans by signing autographs with his little buddy firmly planted on his lap. He would set her down for photos - but promptly pick her back up. When too many people wanted pics, he moved a chair right next to him, so she could sit there and not have to get up and down. In all, he again, made it obvious that he really cared, not just a for-show tolerance. In all, he was a gentleman, and a wonderful friend.

Over the summer, we lost track. Avalon never stopped talking about him - but we didn't manage to keep her healthy enough to be able to meet up with Dan and his girlfriend like we had planned. He was still a huge part of our family, as Avalon included him in her "who loves me" list - but we didn't actually see him.

And now, we are finally at - today. I told you this would be long! But, if you didn't know the other stuff - you can't appreciate how funny tonight was. Tonight, we were able to attend a CBJ home game, courtesy of tickets donated to a pediatric cancer charity we are involved with. Thanks to a cancer/brain damage kid who doesn't move quickly, a baby who doesn't believe in time schedules, and a mom who needs 8 more arms, we got to the game at the end of the first period. As we were riding up to our seats in the elevator, Dan scored!!!! This was HUGE!!!

The announcer was yelling, the place was crazy - and Avalon was shrieking about "Her Danny!". You would have thought her own brother scored. The entire elevator trip (God's slowest elevator...) she talked/squealed/babbled about how "proud" she was, how happy Dan would be. She kept saying, "That's my Danny!!" The elevator operator and our fellow travelors looked at her like she was nuts. Too funny.

Once we got to our section, the ushers were kind enough to switch our seats to the wheelchair section. We merely asked where to leave her chariot - they made room for us to stay down in the open section - so she could stay in her chair. It was a very kind act, and actually worked quite well for her. Well, the next two periods were an exercise in "Dan-watching". We had to constantly update her as to his location, his actions. She got pretty good at following him herself, after a while. The funny part was her defense of him. He'd get shoved into the glass walls and she'd shriek in defense. "That's my Danny!! You be nice!" Mind you, if he got a good shot in, she'd cheer for him to smash the other guy. What a hoot!

So here I sat, middle-aged mom with a 4 yo in a wheelchair, and her 6 yo sister. (Dad, big sis, and baby brother were several seats down) Sisters 2 & 3 were both wearing purple velvet princess dresses with gold holographic sequins that sparkled like sunshine in the sodium lights of the stadium. In all, we couldn't have looked less like hockey fans. Yet, my girls were screaming like fools for their men. Its important to note, the two little ones yell for different players. Daughter #2 couldn't possibly share a crush with Daughter #3. Daughter #2 stalks her own favorite player, Jody Shelly. While she hasn't had quite as many occasions to interact with Jody, his wife understands her crush and completely endorses it by reminding her hubby to be extra kind to my 6 yo. You seriously have to love these people!

Anyway, overweight, middle-aged supermom and her two screaming princesses were quite the comical lot. The ushers around us weren't helpful - they kept egging the girls on. The band o' men in front of us - weren't helpful either, they found the girls riotously funny. So, I gave in to pressure - helped the two stalkers follow their "prey" and sat back and thoroughly enjoyed myself. And then...dum dum dum dum....it happened. (that was my pathetic attempt at forboding music) Dan was involved in an "altercation" - right below us. Mind you, we were pretty much in nosebleed section - but the view was amazing. So, yes, the "event" was far below us, but it was literally - right in "front" of us - we could see faces/expressions clearly. It started as a typical hockey scuffle - with our wonder boy getting in his fair share of beat-down. During this, Avalon was cheering him on, and yelling at the other players - all pretty normal. Then, it happened.

As the refs held Dan away from the other player, the Shark bad guy reached around the ref - and sucker-punched Dan in the face. I thought I was going to have to sit on Avalon! She started shrieking, "That's not nice!! Hey! You can't hit my Danny! I don't like that! That was MEAN!" I'm telling you - she was the picture of righteous indignation. Kids don't get any angrier than she was. The be-all, end-all was her yelling that she was going to go down there and beat that guy up. She wasn't going to let him hurt her Danny. I think the guys in front of us nearly hurt something laughing. The ushers told her she should. Oh yeah, they were helpful.

As the cameras followed Dan clear off the ice, Avalon was watching the jumbotron, "talking" to him. You would have thought he could hear every word. She carried on a full conversation with him, via his image on the jumbotron. In her mind, he even answered. That's when I really "got it". She actually thinks the entire Blue Jacket hockey enterprise exists for her! I don't think she understands that these are professional athletes. She doesn't get that thousands of people watch these players, or want to get autographs. She has no clue that millions of people watch hockey on TV or know Dan's name. All she knows is her "boyfriend" Danny wears a big red white and blue shirt, and skates around - sometimes getting into fights with nasty guys. She has no concept of his celebrity, his job, his life. To her, he's a nice guy who loves her - and sometimes other people want to say hi to him. She doesn't know why - because he's "her" friend. What a gift, to love someone so much - you're completely blind to what they really are.

For we adults, that altered view of reality can lead to poor choices, bad situations. For my tiny person, her "love is blind" approach serves her well. She sees Dan for what he really is, a kind, gentle young man with a heart of gold. She sees past what society looks at - to the real human underneath the uniform. While I do pity my dear hockey friend for being the object of her stalking, I celebrate him greatly for encouraging her delusions. He embraces her affection - and returns it. Every time he takes time to chat with her, walk with her, treat her like a princess - he gives her back a piece of her childhood that cancer stole. Cancer robbed her of innocence, freedom, and often of joy. She's suffered years of chemical torment, and faces a lifetime of pain. She has endured more medical treatments in her 4 years, than most of us in a lifetime. And yet, she is here, she is happy, she loves life, and she can still pitch a fit and threaten life and limb to "protect her man". I can't ask for more than that.

Avalon has won the heart of a stranger, and he has helped fill a part of her heart that was taken by a terrible beast. Its much easier to stand up to a mean hockey player hurting your friend, than it is to yell at your brain for not working right. Its easier to find strength holding onto a friend's hand, than it is to fight your own weak legs. Its easy to get lost in the love of a friend - because they give you support even when they don't know it. They give you hope - and something to look forward to. And sometimes, hope and love are all that get you through the day.

Yes, my daughter is a stalker. But thankfully, she found someone to stalk, that will walk slow enough she can catch up to him. She's a blessed stalker, indeed.
To "our Danny", I send a heartfelt "Thank You". You'll never know what you've given a certain little girl. ;-)

Alicia Hall - losing weight, and my mind, to raise awareness of pediatric cancer issues and torments

Sunday, October 28, 2007

October 26, 2007

Crazy day here - not exactly perfect for the dieting diva, but full of life for the crazy cancer mom...

Tonight was a Halloween Party with a local "relief" group for children with life threatening illnesses. First of all, let me enlighten you. It takes an enormous leap of faith to have to admit that you have a child with a life-threatening-illness. Maybe some parents make that transition more smoothly than I did. All I know, is that every time I read that qualifier on the group's website, it still makes my heart sink to my knees...

This particular group serves children of all diagnoses. The unifying element is that any of us could lose our children. Its a sobering reality at times. We also belong to a different local group that only serves pediatric cancer families. These two wonderful organizations have been our sole source of family entertainment for the past few years. I am grateful beyond words to them.

Its a fascinating thing to attend an event like tonight. On one hand, I find it extremely life-affirming and positive. Everywhere you look, there are families just like yours. No one bats an eye at a wheelchair, mask, or bald head. We're all in the same boat - just using slightly different oars or life jackets. We're all facing down the same demon - death. But mostly, we're all enjoying the same thing - every minute we get to spend with our kids.

Having a medically fragile child is like getting a daily message from the universe. Every time I see her tire before she should, pause a second going up the stairs, pick up the latest hunk of hair to come out...I hear the whisper in my ear, "Appreciate her. Hug her. You never know." Of course, no child comes with a guarantee (or instructions!). But a medical child reminds you of that constantly. Its something I've come to be grateful for.

The Halloween party was not without its stress, or effects on my diet. I did manage to start the day off well, eating my regular eggs with cheese and onions. (I'm telling you - my breath is just permanently awful...) But, as I spent the day in crazed overdrive, trying to finish sewing two princess fairy costumes, my eating habits degenerated a bit. I didn't dive headfirst into the box of trick or treat M& M's that live in my garage....but I did surrender to peanut butter on some savory saltines. While the protein of the peanut butter would fit the bill for most carb-conscious people, I will politely remind you that peanuts and I do not get along well. Peanuts leave me red-faced, swollen, and generally speaking - less than healthy. Ah....the joys of limited funds, food choices, and time to care about what I ate.

I managed to finish most of the princess fairy costumes. Actually, for the party, they had to become merely princess costumes - the wings were sacrificed to time constraints. They are sparkly and fancy and looked great even w/o wings, so the little ones forgave me. Frankly, we haven't quite figured out how to work the wings with a wheelchair yet, anyway. This bought me some more time to think.

Daughter #1 was also very forgiving about the fact that I haven't even taken her fabric out of the bag yet. She borrowed a skirt from me, and a much-coveted gypsy coin-scarf - so she was able to fancy it up and make her dad nuts from the ringing. The pester factor totally over-rode the feeling-neglected-by-my-sewing-machine issue. Glad to be able to work the system...

Once at the party, I was, again, thrown into my alternate universe of the med-mom. A huge part of me wanted to scream for joy because we don't have to mask Avalon anymore. Problem is, we really should - she's probably as immuno-compromised as before. I think we're going to have to revisit that when we finally narrow down what auto-immune issue she has. For now, we rather blindly chose to be carefree - so my heart walked this odd line between elation and panic.

Then there was the issue of her "chariot". This was the first event she's officially "wheeled" to. She's always been in a stroller, but the chariot was a new twist. On one hand, its fantastic to get to take her without tears. She grinned and enjoyed her way through the entire night. She was able to get out of the chair and twirl and bounce and explore in a few rooms. The chair gives her the freedom to spend her energy where she wants, instead of losing it all just getting there.

On the other hand, this was yet another reminder of how much life she is continuing to lose. Even riding in the chariot, she was exhausted in a few hours - and begging to go home. How devastatingly tired do you have to be to want to go home after riding everywhere? I think she's in far more trouble than what she lets on. That's the hidden beast that plays havoc with my diet resolve.

As for the actual diet, the party didn't help much with that, either. They provided dinner for the families, and it was delicious!! What it was not...was geared to my anti-carb plan. We had our choice of rotini or bow tie pasta, our choice of alfredo or marinara sauce, then our choice of chicken or sausage bits to go on it. I chose bowtie, alfredo, and chicken - and topped it with freshly grated Parmesan. It was literally heaven on a plate! God bless the people who picked the menu - it felt like eating out at an expensive restaurant...for free. Wahoo!

Of course, I could have merely partaken of the pasta and been happy with my rotund self. Oh no, mon ami, I had to go all hog-wild. In addition to the pasta delight, I did, indeed, eat a piece of garlic bread. And if that wasn't insult enough...I also ate the dirt cake complete with gummy worms! Ha!

As my sister, and several of you, keep reminding me - this journey is a lifestyle change. As much as I would love to "take the hill" in a day - the fact is, I'm in for the long haul. Going to events with the entire family, is a rare blessing. Our world isn't what it used to be, and will never, again, be what we had originally dreamed. That's OK. I've decided, its also OK that I choose to live and enjoy the special moments when they come along. Getting to laugh with my kids and experience a place and things we can't normally afford - is a beautiful gift. Watching my girls pick out a new dress-up outfit that was donated by some kind soul, was delightful. Listening to all of the kids laugh, like they have no cares in the world...was PRICELESS. Who am I to pollute these memories with my personal stuff? I didn't, I won't, and I don't regret it.

So like I said, it was a crazy day here. I sewed like a madwoman for hours. I got in and out of the shower in record time. I dressed like a ragtag, colorblind witch because a) it made me laugh, and b) (most importantly) in allowed me to wear a witch's hat with purple hair that camouflaged the fact I didn't have enough time to detangle/brush my own hair! I ate things I shouldn't, and enjoyed every bite. And lastly...I thoroughly enjoyed the glee with which my children embraced their evening.

Thin may be in, but a child's smile wins by a mile.......

Alicia Hall
Losing weight, and my mind, to raise awareness for pediatric cancer

Please pass on this blog and the website! The more people who visit here - the more kids we can save.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

October 25, 2007

I hate my body. No no, not in the normal my-boobs-hang-to-my-bellybutton, my-rear-end-needs-warning-beepers kind of way. I'm beginning to hate it in new, heretofore un-thought-of ways.

First, I should probably provide you with a smidge of pertinent background info. I'm hypoglycemic. In fact, I'm a stupid over-achiever in the area of insulin-production. I'm so hypo-glycemic that during insulin tolerance tests, I black out from low blood sugar - in record time. Drink the nasty goo - out cold in 20 minutes. By medical standards, I'm rather fascinating. By life standards...this much insulin - stinks.

Insulin helps store fat. Let's see, I produce whoppin' boatloads more insulin than I need. Want to guess about how easy it is for me to store poundage? Oh yeah, like taking candy from a baby...and gluing it to my sitting-down-side. I gain weight so easily, I swear I can smell a sugar cookie candle and gain 1/2 a pound!

Not to mention, that low blood sugar is a self-fulfilling prophecy. It works overtime to keep itself in business. It happens something like this... Put any form of carbohydrate into my body, and it will temporarily raise my blood sugar. In response, my pancreas kicks into high warp gear and produces enough insulin for a third world country. When the insulin is dumped into the system, it eats the sugar from the food, and because I have so much of it - most any free sugar in the system. I immediately (and quickly) lose nearly all blood sugar - making me hungry, tired, shaky, irritable...and in search of more carbohydrates...whereupon the entire cycle will start over again. See the issue?

So, while it has become a bit cliche in the past few years, for me, its true. Carbs beget carbs. The more I eat - the more every cell in my person screams out for them! Its a vicious, mind-altering circle. It sounds so simple. Avoid high carb, high glycemic index foods - and curb the appetite of the beast. Oh yeah, and Rome was a 24 hour project.

On the rare occasion that I've managed to break the choke-hold of the beast, I do feel about 1001 times better. The overwhelming issue is attempting to battle my way free from the half-Nelson hold of carbohydrates. All it takes is one slip-up, one day of stress, one moment of weakness...and my body starts this death spiral straight toward the runway. I'm here to report, I've crashed an entire squadron since I started this Fat-A-Thon.

Today wasn't quite an all-out tailspin day, but I wouldn't have won any airshow awards for free-flight either. I started out like a rookie at Indy, full pedal to the metal, and ready to win. I had two eggs with cheese for breakfast, and coffee with sugar-free creamer (bleck). I felt like a million bucks! Protein tames the hunger beast, the carb-craving Cyborg, and the energy vampires - all in a neat little package. Then...dum dum dum dum.... it was lunch time. And there, the story shifts from triumphant tale, to tragic saga.

The tragedy of lunch speaks to those limitations of life-in-the-real-world that we discussed previously. In the perfect diet-vaccuum of RealityTV or Hollywood Hottie, I would have a house full of healthy, vegetable/protein food choices. In the time and finacial limitations of my world, I found myself staring blankly at carbo-land. Sure, sure, I had planned on having broccoli for lunch. Then I actually saw and smelled the broccoli - and decided that botulism didn't sound too appealing. This left me hungry and desperate, very bad bedfellows for a dieting diva.

Long story long, I caved. I jumped off the deep end of the carb train - right into a vat of tater tots. They were there. They were easy. They were sooooooo goooood.......... Rat tails and bat farts, I doomed myself. I ate the wonder taters, I got sleepy. Damn blood sugar.

Having red-baroned my own bi-plane for the day, I decided to half-way salvage dinner. I did embrace the can o' tuna dinner entree, but I did so with the help of more than a few savory saltines. So yes, the omega-happy, protein-rich tuna was way high on my "Yes!" list, but the vehicles that delivered it to my hanger...were less than ideal. Better some good than none...at least that's what I thought.

Then tonight, it hit. For the second time this week, I wanted to yack my cosmic "cookies" to the moon. As I sat there, contemplating worshiping at the great white porceline alter, I had myself a mighty epiphany. I felt like this two days ago, a few hours after I had an oh-so-healthy lunch of tuna salad. No woogies in between, no other signs of malaise. Just waiting-to-wretch a few sordid hours post-tuna. Fabulous. Now my stupid body has gone and decided to hate something that's actually good for me.

Told you. I'm beginning to hold some contempt for my personal vessel. I'm beginning to hate my body for reasons entirely unrelated to the amount of pudge I own. I think I may have a problem here with person-to-pudge-PR. I need to do a better job at selling myself to me or there could be a full-scale revolt. That might be difficult to mediate...

I suppose I could eat a case or two of Hershey bars, and hope that by the time I come out of the sugar coma, the warring factions will have reached a peace treaty.

Nah, my luck they'd wait for me to arrive, and promptly order lunch.

- Alicia Hall - losing weight, and my mind, to raise awareness of pediatric cancer


Please feel free to email me at alicia@crazycancermom.com or comment here - all are welcome!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

October 23, 2007

Rat crap and bat farts. The date just jumped up and bit my not-shrunken-enough-for-my-liking bummage. I expected to be approaching feminine and sultry by now - not holding at fat and sassy. Crap on stress and comfort foods!

Well, c'mon. I suppose its not entirely fair to blame my bulge on the stress. After all, the stress didn't bend my elbow, or use the jaws of life to pry my pathetically skinny lips open. (oh yeah, I do have one ridiculously skinny thing - my upper lip. For real, if I dare to smile, the darn thing utterly disappears! Cryin' shame my rear end doesn't disappear if I shake it...) No, no...I have to lay claim to my lack of forward progress.

Basically, its a darn sight easier to be pudgy! This thin-quest is time-consuming. I now understand how those crazy people can lose so much weight on "Biggest Loser" - they're removed from normal life. No kids to interrupt the exercise regimen, no laundry to do, homework to check, meetings to attend, diapers to be changed, floors/toilets/dishes to be washed. They don't have to shop for/pay for/prepare the healthy food. They don't have to cook/dole out/clean up the not-s0-perfect-diet-food that the rest of the family eats. In essence, those brave souls leave the real world, and suffer (oh so publicly) for a brief period of time in a complete diet vaccuum. That is starting to sound rather Eden-esque to me.

The problem with that show is that real people/real lives don't work like that. Same with the celebrity diet stories. Actress Penelope Fluff-N-Stuff looks amazing in her Designer Dudley Do-Right Dress. After gaining 50 pounds during her pregnancy, she's looking fabulous only 7 weeks after the birth. How does she do it? Well, I'll tell you how. She's got money, nothing but time to exercise, money, a personal trainer to keep her on task, money, a cook to shop for and make perfect meals, money, a nanny to allow her time to work out, money, and no real committments. Ask me how many of those categories I can qualify in? I'll give you a pickle if you can figure it out.

Pickles R Us! You guessed it! Zippo, bupkus, nada, zero de hero. I'm fighting the fat while feeding 4 kids & a he-never-gains-weight-hubby, attending hospital meetings and charity events, chasing a diapered hurricane, fighting medical mayhem with a pre-schooler, and helping two kids go to school online. My kingdom for a diet vaccuum! OK, if I had a kingdom, I might have some of the afore-mentioned money. So...how about, "My right boob for a bit of dieting peace and quiet!" (Hey, boobs are the one thing I have an overwhelming abundance of. I may as well get some use out of them.)

Point is, that show is really beginning to burn my over-sized britches. If they really want to impress me, do a reality show in a real situation. Follow real people, taking care of their families, going to work - and see if you can squeeze healthy living into their worlds, without sacrificing too much of the lives they live. I'm here to report, its not nearly as easy as it sounds. Its not as easy as I'd like/wish/hope for.

Of course, nothing worth having ever is.

Bat farts, this whole self-awareness thing really does bite.

Alicia Hall - losing weight, and my mind, raising awareness of pediatric cancer warriors and their issues - www.crazycancermom.com

I'd love to hear from you! Feel free to comment here, or email me at alicia@crazycancermom.com

Monday, October 22, 2007

October 22, 2007

I'm going to "plagiarize" myself tonight. I belong to an on-line support group for children with A.L.L. (Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia). Earlier this week, a mom posted about her recent bouts of forgetfulness. Below was my answer to her. Bear with me...


I think forgetting things is totally normal! I have a theory. I developed it during Avalon's heaviest tx, when I realized I was forgetting stupid things on a daily basis. Of course, there's no science to my theory...but I love the "picture" it gives me.

Here's what I postulate:

There is only so much room in our brains. Sometimes, the brain has to decide to "dump" info - in order to make room for the non-negotiable stuff. Our baby's first smile, our wedding day, the last time we hugged a friend...those are non-negotiables. They have permanent real estate in our minds.

"Negotiables" are things like grocery lists, to-do lists, chores, meetings. Normally, we can juggle the negotiables pretty well. We have a large allotment of space and energy for them.

When cancer "came home", there was a fundamental shift in the percentage of my brain that was given to the two categories . Suddenly, things I may not have paid much attention to before, like how my child's hair smells, how sunlight makes her dance...became non-negotiable. I began to hang on to details of my children like I never had before. Then, I created an entirely new category..."super-stuck"...the things that I needed to cling to, to keep my child with me. "Super stuck" holds the medical info that is vital to her survival: medicine info, side effects, warning signs...anything medical that absolutely, cannot be forgotten.

The inherent problem is simple. When I expanded "Non-negotiables" and then added "Super-stuck" - it reduced the amount of room/energy available for "Negotiables". Sometimes, things just fall right out my ears. There's no real estate left.

I suppose, at some point, "Negotiables" will reclaim some territory. Once you're OT, you don't have to remember med schedules anymore. Far enough OT, and you reduce the doctor's appts you have to remember. Eventually,"Negotiables" will be able to have some more of my time and energy. For now, I don't miss them.

The good news is, my ability to care about "losing" "Negotiables" - also fell out of my ears. I simply don't have the mental space to give a fig when I forget something. I suppose there is an inherent beauty to this plan.

I have a fair reason to "steal" from myself this evening. First, I'm stinkin' sleepy - and probably not terribly witty or entertaining at the moment. Second - this theory is infinitely applicable in my life right now. As Avalon's medical needs have once again stepped forward, they've run squarely into her "social calendar", my other daughters' school schedules, and my own ridiculous list of committments.

Over the last few weeks, I've forgotten more than I've remembered! I can and have remembered every intimate detail of Avalon's medical issues. I've remembered every symptom, vital reading, doctor's statement. I have, however, forgotten nearly everything else. I've forgotten meetings, school assignments, birthday plans, this whole blog. How nutty is that?

Have I forgotten the diet? Hmmm, yes and no. I remember I'm supposed to be dieting - but can't manage to remember to get to the store to get the healthy stuff I need. Basically, I think that in light of the recent stress...my brain has opted to take a mini vacation. My non-essential thoughts didn't fall out of my head...they opted for a bus to Vancouver instead.

Time to re-group, re-focus, and re-energize. This is a whole new week. I've cancelled a few non-essential commitments, and am attempting to re-direct my meandering mind. Tomorrow, I start anew. No more cheating in the name of stress, no more caving to the easy food rather than the more difficult healthy choice.

Ahhh...self awareness. Sometimes, it just sucks.

The "Come-Back" kid, Alicia Hall - losing weight, and my mind, raising awareness for cancer kids www.crazycancermom.com