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Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Another Lost Friend

Today we said our final goodbye to Annette. The demon cancer has taken another one of us. Not without a fight though. I don't think Annette knew the battle her body was capable of fighting. I don't think any of us did.

Today was her funeral, and as I sat in the packed little church, watching the grief spill from one family member's face to the next, I had a hard time coming to the reality of it all. The reality is that Annette is no longer in pain. No more stomach cramps, vomiting, huge amounts of pain medicine, weakness, fears, and watching her family watch her suffer. And while it is so hard to accept that her earthly life is over, I know she is finally happy, free of pain, and patiently waiting for the time that her family meets her on the other side. She will be wearing orange and her great big smile, and the first thing she will say is, "How are you doing?" That was Annette. She cared for others, asking how they are, no matter how she was herself. The look of concern in her eyes was deep, and will be again, the next time we meet.

The funeral was that like no other I have been. From the readings to the music, it was all Annette. So, with that in mind, I am including a poem from the program that says everything.



God saw you getting tired,
And a cure was not to be.
So He put His arms around you
And whispered, "Come with Me."

With tearful eyes we watched you suffer
And saw you fade away.
Although we loved you dearly,
We could not make you stay.

A golden heart stopped beating,
You're now at peaceful rest,
God broke our hearts to prove to us,
He only takes the best.

So Annette, please watch over all of those you love, and know that your image will be seen every day through nature, music, laughter, tears, and memories.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

A New Flaska Adventure

Well, it's Tuesday night, the girls are asleep and Dion is in Texas and I am lost as to what I should be doing. Wait, I take that back. I know I should be cleaning and doing laundry, but I'm not. And it feels good. I am so far surviving another stretch of being a single parent. This is the fifth month in a row that Dion has had to go out of town for work, and not just for a day or two. These are almost week long trips. He comes back on Thursday night at about 10 PM. Each month I say the same thing, "I give single parents so much credit". And I do. It is hard work with a significant other. It is purely exhausting alone.

So I know you are anxious to hear about the new Flaska adventure, and I am just as anxious to tell the story, so here it goes.....

This past weekend we decided to pack up the kids and tool out to the Mall of America to what was formally known as Camp Snoopy, but is now known as The Park at the Mall (until a new sponsor steps up. Rumor has it Sesame Street will be it....I dread 100 foot Elmos all over the place giggling like fools). We buy our tickets to get on the ride and find out that as parents (chaperones, as they call it) we get to ride for free. Score. We head over to the merry-go-round, since Claire liked it so much last year, thinking the same thing would happen this year. And it did. We waited in line, trying to keep Claire from plowing over other children and make it to the front. Claire picks a nice horse to ride on, and Nadia gets the ostrich next to Claire's horse. To be honest, they are kind of freaky looking, and really don't belong around kids. But that's another story.

The teenager makes the announcement that we are about to start and we are giddy with anticipation. And it starts. We go around about 2 times, enjoying the scarey music and waving at strangers when Nadia decides that the ride sucks. She wants off in a big way. She's reaching for Dion and crying, so he pulls her off the horror movie ostrich and holds her. Soon there after the ride slows down. I was thinking what a rip off. We only went around about three times. The teenager announces that the ride isn't over, so everyone should stand still. It seemed over to me, but what did I know? Then it happened. Dum dum dummmmmmm....teenager came over to us. To us? What was going on? Well, it seems that chaperones are not allowed to hold their children and Dion would have to find a bench/cart seat to sit on with Nadia. Oops. I kind of laughed since Dion was the one who got in trouble and made the rest of the horse riding kids wait. I didn't laugh for too long. Everyone (and by everyone, I mean Dion and Nadia) got situated and the ride began....again. Claire was still excited and told me to get up on the ostrich that Nadia was riding. Sure. Why not? I climbed aboard and proclaimed "Weeeeee!" until I heard teenager make an announcement over the PA. Again. "If you are a chaperone, you must stand by your child." Oops. I was pretty sure she was referring to me. Now, I didn't cause the ride to stop again, but being shame-shamed by the teenager was enough. Crap. We got off of the merry-go-round, and honest to goodness, we never went back. In fact, we didn't even walk BY the merry-go-round. Teenager probably would have made another announcement about the side of the walkway we were pushing the stroller on.

There you have it....our adventure. We can now say that we caused the merry-go-round at the Park in the Mall to stop it's operation, AND were chastised by a teenage girl earning her $6.15 an hour. Ok, I don't know if that's what they make, but she probably thinks she needs a raise after dealing with the Flaska's.

Friday, January 20, 2006


Doesn't she look happy?

My little eskimo

The Good Fight

I have talked before about my co-worker's daughter fighting pancreatic cancer. She is now looking down on us, free of pain, free of sorrow, free of her demon. Annette passed away last night at 11:00PM with her kids, boyfriend, and mom by her side. I have never known anyone as strong as Annette, never known anyone to fight as long and hard. I feel honored just to have known her. There was never a time that she didn't ask how I was doing, in the midst of all of her suffering, her pain, she asked. Always.

Here's to Annette's memory, her family, her life. May she rest in peace, looking down on us, watching us, guiding us. She'll be deeply missed.

Just One Little Break...Please

If you can hardly even believe it, I had the flu AGAIN last Sunday and Monday. And by again, I mean it's the third time since the beginning of December. Thank God the rest of the family didn't get it again too. Flu shot? I will never never ever ever never ever get one again. Ever.

Work has been kicking me into the ground. I have been doing 12 hour days trying to train in new people, covering shifts, doing my own job, and playing catch up. I take that back. Yesterday was 12 and a half hours, but who's counting? I have been at the Sunnyside Elementary location and haven't seen the Burnside Elementary kids since last week. I opened and closed the program last night and got to catch up on how the kids are doing, which was nice. We played soccer in the gym and had a blast. I was called a chicken by one the boys, which I readily admitted to being. The last thing I wanted was a soccer ball in the face. I did score one time. I know, I know. I guess I really shouldn't brag about scoring against the 10 year olds. But in my defense, I scored on an adult.

My mom had her second hernia surgery this past Tuesday. I wish I could have been there for her, but I had to be at work at 6 AM, then had to haul butt to Rochester for treatment, then back to close the program. All in all the surgery went well, and she is banking on this being her last time being up close and personal with her doctor. I think we are all hoping the same for each of us.

So here I sit today at home. I haven't had my Fridays off since Oct 4th. I almost don't know what to do. I think I will put my dehydrater to work, and maybe the slow cooker too. The girls are doing well. I felt sad this week. They spent 43 1/2 hours in daycare Monday through Thursday. It was a long week for everyone. Dion leaves Monday for work until Thursday. Sigh. Someday I will be refreshed. Someday I will get some time for just myself. Someday.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

And the Puke Goes On

I spoke too soon. Claire woke up this morning at 4AM throwing up in her bed. I am at home now (I was supposed to work 6-6 today) taking care of 3 sick people. Dion started out being the caretaker, since I was supposed to open and close the program today. I had no one else, I had to go in. Then I get a call and by 10:30AM I am out the door trying to figure out what I was going to do for the afternoon part of the program.

Long story short (one does not have much time when vomit is involved), a sub was finally found, thank God, and here I sit in the land of ice cream pails, blankets covering the floor and couch, and not a whole lot of food. Damn, life is good......

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Happy Pukey New Year!

Now at first glance, it may seem that I am being negative about this new year that has graced our presence, but really I am not. It really has been a pukey year thus far. In fact, the barf-o-rama started of course on New Year's Eve. I have gone on record that I will never take another mixed drink made by our neighbor. Beer? Anyday. White Russian? Never again. Of course, he seems to think that I am lying and will fall in to his temptation of fine liquor. So here's how the past week has gone.....

New Year's Eve.....Dion, Claire, Nadia, & I are invited next door for a little get together with other young parents and their kids. Shortly after arriving, Claire is complaining of a tummy ache, and her eyes are looking kind of funny. Long story short, Dion takes her home, I stay with Nadia. At this point there are about 10-12 kids at the party all under 7. Fertile Myrtles in this town. So Nadia and I hang out for a while, I call next door to see how Claire is doing...yadda yadda yadda, it's time for Nadia to go to bed. I walk her next door, put her in bed, and get the "all clear" to go back next door from Dion. Blah blah blah....White Russian, White Russian, beer, beer, go home (there could have been one or two more beers in there, I'm not sure). Claire wakes up, so I go up to her room and snuggle with her for a bit. Then it hits. Gurgle gurgle gurgle. The White Russians and the Beers are in combat with each other, having no sympathy for the innocent bystander (me), and the ending result is that no one is the winner. So I swish some water in my mouth and brush my teeth and go back to Claire who at this point wants to go into our bed. Okey-dokey. Dion is asleep on the couch, so it's off to our room Claire and I go. Zzzzz.....zzzzz.....zzzzz...."MOMMY!" YAK! Hmmm. And in our bed. I clean her up roll up all the sheets, and we head back downstairs to the couch. Dion heads upstairs to the spare room and we all sleep the rest of the night away.

New Year's Day.....Claire and I are out of commission, Claire with a fever, I with a hangover. We spend the day on the couch....literally....and eventually all is well. Claire is feeling better, I am feeling not too shabby, just in time for a post-Christmas get together with my parents, sister, and uncle the next day.

2nd Day of the New Year.....Talk talk talk....eat eat eat....open gifts open open....ahhhh....relax after a nice meal cooked by my better half. Fast forward a few hours when my tummy starts feeling not so good. Hmm. A familiar feeling. I tell Dion of my woes, and at 8:00 PM he goes out for Pepto for me. He was about 5 minutes too late. I don't think I have ever been that violently ill. And that whole meal Dion cooked, made a second appearance. Ugh. I go to bed.

3rd Day of the New Year.....more puke, screaming cha cha's, puke, cha cha, etc etc etc. I called Mayo to cancel my treatment for the day, and the lady of the phone said "Should we re-schedule for tomorrow?" And I am thinking, ok, an hour drive each way....do I bring a bag to barf in or a portable toilet to cha cha in, or both? I opted to call the next day if I felt better. My mom came over like she does every Tuesday, but instead of me leaving, I kept the bed from levitating all day long. Again, I mean literally. I got up to hit the bathroom a few times and to get some water, but that was it. What would I do without that mother of mine?

4th Day of the New Year....I go back to work and snack on crackers all day as my tummy is not 100% quite yet. And might I add here, that when we discussed the last surgery I had, we didn't talk about the difficulty in puking when you are missing those stomach muscles. I am convinced that is the reason of the violent-ness of the flu. I had to work harder to get everything out. Anyway, I went to Mayo in the afternoon, and proclaimed that I was NEVER going to get a flu shot ever again (this was my first year getting it...I have had the flu twice in the past month). And stop thinking to yourself, "Well the flu shot really is for blah blah blah......" I've heard it. It doesn't change the fact that I haven't had the flu like this in a long time, and my mind is made up.

So there you have it. Our New Year of Puke. Hopefully we are done with it, I don't think I could handle much more of the vomiting scene. And now I have to go to bed since I have to get up at 4:30 AM to go to work.