Lesterfamily.com

Finally settled in to Rumson NJ

Summer Start

The more things change, the more they stay the same. I’ve never meant to be so delinquent about this blog. I know a small handful of people really look forward to new postings, and it is one of the easier ways to keep everyone informed of the goings-on in the Lester household…but it takes time, and time is one thing I haven’t had a lot of lately.

The month of May was CRAZY. I made the mistake of telling my boss and other coworkers that I was a little light on work. They made me a pursuit manager for a project the firm is trying to win, and thus began 4 straight weeks of working 12 hour days and weekends to boot. To put it mildly, I was exhausted. And burnt out. I just didn’t have the energy to do anything else. I still don’t. I am in desperate need of a vacation, but that just isn’t in the cards.

Evan is doing great. He lucked out with the best baseball coaches/team ever. At the start of the season, he could barely throw the ball five feet or hit/catch. Because of the encouragement and patience of the coaches, Evan made great progress this year. He is especially proud of his very own trophy :)

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Evan also became the first member of our family to complete a triathlon today. He had to swim 75 yards, bike 2 miles and then run a half mile… a perfect little race for 6-8 year olds. I was nervous (especially with the swimming) but he did great! Next year, Erin wants to do it too. After a busy start to the morning, we were all very pleased to relax by the pool at the beach club.

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Erin is also doing great. She’s a little fish in the pool and had a blast doing soccer shots this year. She’s looking forward to graduating from preschool and has already started to make friends at Deane Porter, where she’ll be going to Kindergarten in the fall. Both of the kids are looking forward to summer camp at Seashore this year. It’s a new camp for us, but an old favorite in this area. It was a bit cold on their open-house day, but the kids still had fun riding in the paddle boats.
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JP has been consulting from home, and I’ve been doing the daily trek into the City. I have not been able to work on the final installment of the Stewards of Reed for several weeks now, but I’m hopeful that will change in the next week or two when I finally catch up on sleep and reboot my system.

Stay tuned…


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Time Marches On

Somehow, I lost two months of time. I can’t believe I haven’t updated this blog since February. They say time flies when you are having fun. This is true for children. When you are old — time just flies.

The snow and ice finally melted away in March, but the cold air lingered on for way too long, and much of April was spent still wearing our heavy winter coats. This week upcoming week might actually mark the true start to Spring. I think it’ll be the first week with the high temps predicted to be in the high 60s/low 70s nearly every day.

Enough about the weather. Everyone is doing all right. Evan marked a major milestone with the loss of his first tooth (as of this post, he’s actually lost two). He was very excited to put his tooth under his pillow and see what the tooth fairy brought him. Well, the tooth fairy couldn’t find his tooth (and I can attest that she tried very very hard to do so), so the next morning all Evan got was a note explaining that she couldn’t find it and would try again the next day. Turns out his tooth ended up quite a ways down towards the foot of the bed. So the next night, we left a note for the tooth fairy under his pillow and told her she could find Evan’s tooth in a cup on his nightstand. That worked out MUCH better.

We’ve heard that the going rate for teeth is $5 these days (we’ve come a long way since the days when I was young and all I got was a quarter). Our tooth fairy didn’t get that memo, however, and decided to bring special gold dollar coins. Evan received the George Washington coin for his first tooth, and the Abraham Lincoln coin for his second. He didn’t seem too pleased by this, however. We’ll see if that trend continues.
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Evan continues to make progress with his karate (he’s a junior brown belt now). He also started baseball this season. He’s by far the shortest and youngest and least coordinated on the team, but he has made great progress. I love how the coaches have been so patient with him and have taken time to show him the proper way to hit/throw. They are also very good about cheering him on whenever he does something good. Even the coaches from the other team have taken time out to practice with him. We’ll see if he wants to keep up with it next year.

Erin celebrated a milestone birthday on April 15. I still can’t believe she’s 5 already. I took a few days off the week prior to her birthday and we went to a place called “Sweet and Sassy” where she could get her hair and nails done. She was a bit shy (I think she would have liked it more if she had other friends with her) but she was definitely a fan and has asked me a few times now to take her back. She had a fairly low-key birthday. On her actual birthday, she just wanted McDonalds. Gotta love kids that are easy to please. That following weekend we invited the cousins over. A good time was had by all.

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Is Spring Here Yet?

Don’t get me wrong, I like snow. But these freezing temperatures are a bit ridiculous. This was my commute into work the other day:

It got so bad the ferry company had to employ tug boats to help pull us through the ice. They also greatly reduced the number of boats going to and from NYC, and even stopped going to one of the NYC stops all together.

In the middle of all of this cold weather, the water heater I love to hate decided to stop working. Twice. Nothing like taking a cold sponge bath before racing off to catch the 6 AM boat so you can be at an important meeting with the client that morning… We tried all the fix-it-yourself remedies, but it turned out to be a part that went bad. Said part has since been fixed, and I’m hopeful the stupid gas water heater with an electric start will keep working for a few more years.

Because the joys of being a winter commuter don’t stop — I have learned what it is like to wake up extra early so you can shovel all the snow out of your driveway for an hour (and take a second shower) so that your car can then make it to the ferry that needs to be tugged through the ice to get to work. To be honest, it was actually sort of serene when I first started to shovel. Just me, the snow, and the sound of the shovel scrapping the gravel…but it quickly grew old.

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We had been planning for a while to take a long weekend in February (when the kids had a short break from school) to go up to the Poconos to a tiny little Ski Resort called Big Bear, and teach them how to ski. This particular resort was perfect for families with little ones learning to ski because the bunny hill had one of those “magic carpets” (moving conveyor belts) that brought you back up to the top of the mountain, thus avoiding the complicated chair lift. The timing of these things never works out and of course I was super busy at work, but I knew it was something the kids had been looking forward to and I couldn’t let them down. Evan was so excited that he actually woke up at 5 AM the Saturday morning we left.

I was really worried about Evan. He has the type of personality where he gets really frustrated if he can’t do something perfectly right away. We tried to tell him that skiing was hard work, that he was going to fall a lot, but that it was just like riding a bike, and he would get better if he just kept trying. He said he understood. He didn’t. He had a complete meltdown only 15 minutes into skiing (right after the photo below was taken). I was convinced the weekend was going to be a disaster. He eventually calmed down and agreed to let JP show him a few more things before his lesson with an official ski instructor started.

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I don’t ski, I only know how to snowboard (barely), so JP had the unenviable position of trying to teach two little ones how to ski for the first time, at the same time. I stood there, at the top of the bunny hill, for moral support as JP explained all the “pizza” and “hotdog” stuff. At one point, he went to help Erin with her skis. This is when Evan decided to practice his “hot dog”. He pointed his skis downhill, got into a crouched stance (not unlike the stance Olympic skiers take before they jump off a tall ramp), and headed straight down. I was screaming “PIZZA” at him the entire time, and JP (who hadn’t been on skis in over 20 years) tried his best to catch up with him. Evan ended up crashing at the bottom of the bunny hill near the place where the magic carpet started. Fortunately, he was ok and he was not deterred from having another go at trying to ski. In fact, he said it was FUN. I don’t think JP agreed…

Evan went off on his lesson a short while later. I was completely amazed at how quickly he took to skiing. The instructor actually came back and told us that “Evan is a natural athlete.” Um, WHAT??? I never in a million years would have expected those words to be said about Evan. Erin also went off for a lesson. She was a trooper, but she had a very hard time learning how to stop, so she did not progress as much. I think her favorite part of the day was the lollypop she got from her instructor at the end.

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I also had a ski lesson. I learned that I do not enjoy skiing. My cerebral palsy greatly affects my ability to put my right ankle/leg in the right position to negotiate turns, and I really struggled. My fear of going even the slightest bit fast didn’t help much. I’ll stick to snow shoeing, thank you very much.

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With the frigid temperatures and ice all over the ground, the kids have been spending a good bit of time in doors. Fortunately, JP has plenty of musical “toys” to keep them entertained while we all wait for spring:

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The only other thing that has happened so far this winter is that I finally broke down and got hearing aids. I have managed to muddle through life thus far coping with my hearing loss by reading lips and guessing. It works about 85% of the time. But when I went back to work, I found that I was really struggling to hear what people were saying. I’m not sure if my coworkers are all “soft-talkers” or if it has to do with the particular acoustics of the building, but I knew it was a problem. My type of conductive hearing loss is progressive. Each time my eustachian tubes fail to drain the fluid from my middle ear, the little hearing bones start to erode away. I have already lost one bone. The long term recourse for this is major reconstructive surgery of my middle ear. But for now, I can get by with hearing aids.

These suckers are expensive. Why the insurance community at large does not view hearing loss as a medical condition is beyond me… Anyway, when I came home with a several thousand dollar quote for hearing aids, JP quickly discovered a lower cost option made possible via Costco. It still hurt, but not as much as it would have. And on the bright side, maybe I’ll actually hear everything you say to me the next time I see you :)


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Snowman, Surgery, and a Sister’s Support

We finally got a bit of snow this winter. It was the perfect kind for building a snowman, and we finally got to put the snowman kit Gee gave us years ago to use. Evan and Erin had a blast.
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The weatherman says a big storm is on its way — we might see over 12 inches of snow come Monday night. But this would not be the first time the weatherman has been wrong, so I suppose we’ll just have to see.

Erin decided she no longer wanted to do karate, and I’m not to force my 4-year-old to do things she doesn’t want to do, so it’s just Evan for the time being. Erin is still a big supporter though, and she made sure to bring her camera to Evan’s latest belt test (he’s now a JR Purple belt) so she could capture the moments.
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Unfortunately, Erin had to get a second set of tubes put in her ears this month. It seems she has inherited her mother’s poor inner ear anatomy, and is prone to thick sticky fluid getting trapped in her eustachian tubes, thereby diminishing her hearing. She was a trooper before the surgery, and very happy to have her kitty and fish to keep her company. The surgery itself was relatively minor, but it is always difficult to watch your little one battle the after-effects of anesthesia, and it broke my heart to hear her complain that her ears hurt afterwards. I remember that pain, and I feel guilty that my horrible genes are to blame for her suffering. It was rough, but she bounced back after a few hours. Hopefully the second time will be the charm…
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Work is going fine. Each day I’m able to write a little more of the third volume of my Stewards of Reed series, and I’m hopeful that I’ll be able to finish it some time this year. But I do miss these cute little faces when I’m away all day.
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Happy New Year to All and to All a Good Night

Work has been beyond busy as of late. I’ve had more than my fair share of early boat rides in and late boat rides home. This has left me fairly exhausted, and very cranky. Hence, my New Year’s resolution to be less crabby. So far I’m not off to the greatest of starts. The other morning, Evan followed me into the garage as I was trying to leave so he could have one last good-bye hug. Instead of thinking Oh, how sweet!, I could only think that I was already late for the boat, and that Evan had just dropped puzzle pieces all over the floor. I yelled at him. He quietly picked up the puzzle pieces and went back inside without saying another word. I felt AWFUL. Really, Rachael — you couldn’t give your son two seconds of his time for a hug? Fortunately for me, Evan had no idea what I was talking about when I apologized later, so I don’t think I did any permanent damage to his psyche … although I cannot say the same thing about mine.

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So it turned out that the family all got together on Christmas Eve after all. JP made a reservation for everybody at the local hibachi place and it was AWESOME. Not so much the food — that was just ok — but having everyone together, watching the kids eyes light up (literally and figuratively) as the chef did his cooking magic, and not having to host or cook or clean up was priceless. We may have started a new Christmas Eve tradition…

Christmas Eve proved to be a long night. I had been working long hours all week, and I hadn’t had a chance to wrap anything. After JP put the kids to bed, I got to work. I think it was shortly after midnight before I was all done. I cursed the irregularly-shaped boxes that manufacturers seemingly love to use for kids toys and shook my head in embarrassment at the sloppy wrapping job I did. At least my kids are too young to notice at this point. Next year, I’m taking a cue from Gee and going the gift bag route. Soooo much easier.

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We went to bed hoping beyond hope that the kids would sleep in. Turns out – they did! I don’t think they woke up until almost 8 AM! Unfortunately, Madison did not get the memo. At 4 in the morning, she woke up and puked all over our bed. When JP set her down on the floor so we could strip the bed and I could start laundry, she ran into the hallway and pooped. Great. I started the laundry, JP cleaned up the poop, and we put new sheets on the bed. Madison seemed ok, but I could still smell poop. I figured it was just gas. I was wrong. Apparently, Madison had pooped twice — one in a spot that JP cleaned up, and one in a spot just outside of the guest bathroom. Geeda had the unfortunate experience of stepping in it. And that is how our morning started. Merry Christmas!

The day got better. The kids made quick work of opening their presents and JP cooked up a nice breakfast. Kerry hosted Christmas dinner and the kids had a blast playing with their cousins. I bowed out early because I had to work the next day, and the extra long night’s sleep I got was the best Christmas present ever.

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I got a belated Christmas present of sorts when I found out that the proposal I was working on was given a 1-week extension in the due date. This meant that I no longer had to work on New Years Day, or through the weekend.

JP and I celebrated the end of 2014 at our local Italian restaurant (Undici). Truthfully, I was very much of a “good riddance” mindset. This has not been a good year, by any measure. But as I bemoaned 2014, I kept hearing my friend Roxanne’s voice in the back of my head. Roxanne had lost her mother to breast cancer a few years back, and had just recently lost her father. I kept remembering back to when Roxanne first told me that the initial round of chemotherapy a decade prior had weakened her mother’s heart significantly, and that she was not eligible for a transplant because doctors had recently discovered the cancer had spread. I was heartbroken for her and lamented the terrible luck, but Roxanne shook her head. “My mother always said that every day is a gift,” she replied.

In the spirit of trying to be less crabby, I will try to remember these words when I am tempted to complain about the commute, my long working hours, the messy house or anything else that is somewhat trivial by life and death standards.


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Bah Humbug

Where to begin…

I am slowly adjusting to the work/commute routine. Some days are harder than others. Like the day I missed Evan’s holiday concert.

The Friday before last was my company’s holiday party. It also happened to be my nephew’s birthday. JP took the kids to Henry’s party, I was the dutiful new employee trying to get to know my coworkers a little better. I missed the line for food. I missed the 7:45 boat home. I lost my voice trying to talk over the loud music.

When the alarm went off early the next morning for the family to go to see the Rockettes, I could not force myself to get up. JP and the kids went without me. I missed out on a family tradition, but I did get to sleep until 11 AM (something I have not done since I was in college).

This past week started off on a particularly low note with Evan coming down with the stomach flu. I heard him moaning in his sleep last Sunday night. The mom in me woke up and wandered into his room. I started caressing his back. He promptly woke up and vomited everywhere. He vomited on me. He continued to get sick throughout the night. I did 3 loads of laundry that night. Some I had to wash twice because they weren’t quite clean the first go around. Fun times.

The week got even better when my husband came down with the regular flu the next day. Having a sick household and having to catch the 6 AM boat into work and the late boat home is just awesome. I think I had a total of 6 hours of sleep the first two nights. A sleepy mommy means little sympathy for those who are feeling under the weather. Fortunately, Evan’s sickness passed and JP discovered the beauty of Nyquil, and things got better towards the end.

Except for when we found out that Erin will need a second set of tubes. The little girl who adores her daddy and wants nothing to do with mommy, has unfortunately inherited her mother’s defective Eustachian tubes. They do not drain fluid from the inner ears the way they should. She cannot hear. So in the new year, she will undergo a second surgery. This surgery will cause irreparable damage to her ear drums, but will hopefully allow her to hear again. Let’s just hope the second times the charm (it took four surgeries for me, and cost me 30%+ hearing loss to boot).

One of the main reasons we decided to move to New Jersey was to be closer to family. We gave up a lot for that — high-paying careers, valuable real estate, a close network of friends. Knowing what I know now, I doubt I would have made the same choice. For whatever reason, the family hasn’t been that interested in getting together this holiday season. Despite living in the same town, we will all be spending Christmas Eve on our own (and at one point there was even talk of doing Christmas on our own, too). JP is beyond bummed, and I have been made to feel guilty because I am part of the problem and not the solution. Weeks ago I said that I would be willing to host Christmas but not Christmas Eve because I had to work a full day that day. Apparently if we don’t host, then the entire family getting together on Christmas Eve is a no go. But I don’t want to work a full day, come home at 6:30 ish and then have to host 16+ people, clean up after them and then somehow find time to wrap presents. I guess that makes me selfish.

What can I say? Bah Humbug.


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Remembering to be Thankful, 2014

I will confess, 2014 has not been a good year. There were many occasions this year where I struggled to find a reason to be thankful. My grandfather died, my health took weird turns which the doctors (and countless tests) have yet to explain, my beloved dog Tucker died, my cousin’s brain tumor came back, and my routine was turned upside down with my return to full-time work, coupled with a crazy commute to/from NYC. I know firsthand that when you focus on all the bad things that happen — all the rouge waves that seem to hit you, no matter how careful you try to be — it becomes increasingly difficult to remember to be thankful.

That is why Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. It forces you to stop and remember all that you have, not all that you have lost. It is a holiday where you are not under any pressure to buy gifts, dress up, stay up late, or hunt for/hide treasures. The only expectation is that you spend some time with family and friends, and remember all that you have to be thankful for. For me, I revel in the chaos that comes with a house full of laughter as people enjoy the food and drink, and most importantly — each other.
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This year, we hosted Thanksgiving dinner for 18 people, including JP’s sisters and their extended families. I loved seeing our dining room put to use, the china and crystal out, with fancy napkins to boot. I loved watching the children play, laughing and running around, oblivious to everything but themselves and their little worlds. I loved the smell of good food, and the taste of good drink, and the comfort of knowing I was surrounded by people I cared about, and who cared about me. The only thing that would have made the evening better was if we all went around the table and said what we were thankful for. As we did not (JP was not feeling it), I will state those things here.

I am thankful for:

1. My family and friends.
2. The health of my beautiful children
3. The unwavering patience of my husband
4. The rare occasions when Madison snuggles in close
5. My beautiful house
6. Finding a good job so quickly
7. That my long commute offers me a chance to write
8. That 2015 will be here soon

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On Saturday, we went to Atlantic City to watch our friend, Christy Crowl, play in the Mannheim Steamroller! We got to go back stage and meet all of the other Steamrollers. The show started late (9 PM), so it was very late night for us. We didn’t get home until a little after 1 AM. Evan and Erin thoroughly enjoyed the show, and they were pretty good troopers until about 5 minutes before we got home. Then the crying started. Fortunately, they quieted down pretty quickly once they were tucked into bed. Unfortunately, they did not really sleep in (unless you consider 7:45 AM sleeping in). Needless to say, JP and I were quite tired on our final day of the 4-day weekend. The alarm clock tomorrow morning is going to be particularly rough. Sigh.
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Halloween 2014, etc

I must confess that there are times I regret our decision to leave San Francisco, at least when we did. We left at the bottom of the housing market, and although we still made a nice profit on our house, it is downright painful to see what that house is currently worth. It would have made for a nice little nest egg if we could have waited just two or three more years …

Now we’ll be making a nest egg the old-fashioned way. I return to full-time employment with an Environmental Engineering firm next Monday, complete with a l.5-hour commute in either direction. I’ll be taking a car to a boat to a subway, and will finish the trek with a short little walk to Midtown. At least most of the commute is on the ferry, so I’ll still have time to work on my writings-in-progress. But I am definitely not looking forward to the 4:45 AM wake-up time or all the missed events with the kiddos. Fortunately, JP is working at the home for now, so he’ll be taking over all of the “soccer mom” duties that I used to fulfill.

Despite my occasional regrets about leaving San Francisco, I really do like the town we live in. Rumson has a great school system, it is very family-friendly, and I get a kick out of how festive it is … although I could use a little less festivities when it comes to Halloween. I never really liked Halloween, not even as a kid. I don’t particularly care to get dressed up in costumes, I don’t like knocking on the doors of strangers, and I was never really motivated by candy. Now I live in a town where the Halloween festivities go on for several days:

  • In the week(s) leading up to Halloween, residents practice a custom called “ghosting.” This is where you sneak up to a victim’s door, ring the bell and run away, leaving a small bag of candy behind. The kids love it. They love “ghosting” their family and friends. They love catching the people who try to ghost them. I, for one, am looking forward to the day when this practice grows old.
  • The night before Halloween is known as “mischief night.” I had never heard of such a thing, but apparently it is big in the NY/NJ area. It is the night where people are up to no good, and do things like smash pumpkins, throw eggs, and tee-pee people’s trees. Fortunately, the mischief seems pretty tame in Rumson (just some wasted toilet paper), but it is annoying that we have to remember to bring in our pumpkins, etc just in case.
  • It is not enough to go trick-or-treating in this town, there must also be a parade. Make that parades, plural. The town puts on its own parade, and the kids also get dressed up in their costumes and have a parade at school too. This year, JP and I managed to make it to both parades.
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    Erin knew for months in advance that she wanted to be Tinkerbell for Halloween. But (as those of you who follow us on Facebook know), Evan had a really hard time figuring out what he wanted to be for Halloween. It changed every day, and at one point he was adamant that he wanted to be a piece of wood. Then one day, he brought home a library book about the Titanic. He became obsessed. He must have read countless books (and we’re talking 80-page long books!) and he watched several documentaries. JP and I suggested that perhaps he be the Titanic for Halloween. At first he was into it, but the more he thought about it, the more he didn’t like it. “I don’t want to be a boat that sunk,” he said. “I want to be the boat that rescued everyone from the Titanic. I want to be the Carpathia!” And so, with some cardboard, spray paint, staples and tape (and many hours of work by JP with a little help from Evan), a Carpathia costume was born. It just so happened that another boy in first grade came dressed as the Titanic. It was perfect.

    I published a new book this weekend. After writing the Dungeons of Cetahl, I needed a break from the Stewards of Reed. So I delved into a little side project of short stories and poems, several of which were written years ago and had been collecting dust (so to speak) on my computer ever since. It is called Confessions of a False Stoic, and you can find it on Amazon if you are so inclined.

    The only other thing worth noting is that, unfortunately, all my blood results came back normal. The doctors don’t know why I am not myself, why I have a laundry list of symptoms that have just started within the past year. Maybe I AM just getting old. Sigh. Well, I can’t leave this blog post on such a downer, so I will leave it instead with a cute picture of Evan and Madison … everyone needs a little spot in the sun sometimes :)

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    Sober October

    Much has transpired in the few weeks since I last posted to the blog, not all of it good.

    A little over a week ago, an MRI revealed that my cousin Dori’s brain tumor was starting to grow again. Dori had been having more frequent seizures (3 in 10 days), so the diagnosis wasn’t entirely unexpected, but it was still devastating. Her last surgery/radiation/chemo treatment proved quite effective and she went more than 2 years without any evidence of tumor growth. This time around, surgery is not an option. It is possible that radiation won’t be an option either (they’ll find out next Thursday) — so for now we’ll have to see how well she responds to chemo alone.

    The timing of the MRI just so happened to coincide with a previously scheduled trip to Rhode Island. Erin and I had been invited to join Dori in watching a production of Cinderella at the PPAC theater in Providence. After confirming it was still ok to come, we made the 5-hour drive to Dori’s house. Erin is a pretty good passenger as far as little kids go. We didn’t have to stop for any potty breaks (the quick stop for lunch was sufficient), and she only started to complain that she was “getting bored of this car” towards the very end. Parents are fortunate in this day and age to be able to pop in multiple videos (in this case Frozen, Rapunzel, and Backyardigans) to help keep kids entertained during long car trips.

    Erin and I were absolutely spoiled during our stay in Rhode Island. Lots of great food, lots of little goodies, lots of tickles (between Erin and my Uncle Tommy). It never ceases to amaze me how my Aunt Peggy and Uncle Tommy can be such excellent hosts with everything else they have going on. My grandmother was there, too. She had flown up a few weeks prior to help out with Dori. It was good to see everyone, and it was very hard to leave. Erin had been somewhat timid around Dori at first (she takes a while to warm up to people), but as we were saying our goodbyes she gave Dori the biggest hug. It was so sweet.

    On our way back to NJ, we stopped and had a quick visit with my Uncle Billy, Aunt Linda, Cousin William and his two beautiful little girls. Alexis and Emma are only a little older than Erin, and they have a basement stocked with toys…so Erin had a blast. If only I had remembered to take pictures. Sigh :(

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    Being a parent is hard. Much harder than I had ever imagined. There are so many things that are completely out of your control. Like brain tumors. I have, thus far, been fortunate enough to avoid any major health issues with my kids. But there are still little issues that manage to break my heart. Like how many of the kids who Evan knows, kids he considers to be his friends, don’t want him on their team. He doesn’t quite understand why, but I know it’s because he’s not very athletic. My kid is the kid that gets picked last. The thing is, he seems to really like sports. He talks about soccer all the time…he’s just not very good at it. To make matters worse, Evan doesn’t understand that he’s not very good. His perception of his own abilities far exceeds his actual talent. It’s quite a conundrum. I’m sure with more one-on-one practice he’d get better…but he doesn’t really like being coached by his parents, and it ends up being a very frustrating thing for everyone. On the bright side, Evan’s team won their last soccer game today and Evan recently became a junior green belt in karate.

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    Not much to report with Erin. She’s had a big growth spurt lately and now wears the SAME SIZE as Evan. That’s not to say that Erin is in any way tall for her age…Evan is just really small. He’s way overdue for a growth spurt of his own.

    JP is still working on his new project and I’ve been busy interviewing for a job. I’ll have more to report on that front in the next blog post. In the meantime, I have been trying to enjoy the last few weeks (days) remaining before I have to re-enter the full-time working world and brave the painful commute. I’ve also been trying to get to the bottom of my health issues. I haven’t been myself for quite some time, and I refuse to accept my doctor’s assertion that it is just a consequence of getting older. I am only 38. That’s not old.

    So I had my first mammogram last week. Unfortunately for me, I have really dense breasts. I know that many women complain about losing their boobies after having children, but mine got bigger and stayed big (much to my annoyance). What has been a minor annoyance became downright painful when the first screening mammogram revealed the need for additional images. I swear it was like my breasts were being squeezed into a vice grip, three times on each side. After all that, I had to do an ultrasound anyway. Everything is “probably benign”, but I have some calcifications and cyst clusters that the doctor wants to keep an eye on, so I have to repeat this painful process in 6 months. Lucky me.

    I see an endocrinologist on Tuesday. I am fairly certain that the vast majority of my issues are hormone-related, and I’m hoping this doctor can get to the bottom of it. Fingers crossed.


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    Fall is in the Air

    I’ve been thinking of this blog, really I have, but I haven’t just been motivated enough to update. Tucker’s passing hit me pretty hard. He was my #1 fan, he was always there to wag his tail when he saw me, he was always there to snuggle. And now he’s gone.

    Madison seems to have adjusted well. She’s liking all the extra attention (and the extra treats) that JP is showering on her. She used to just inhale whatever bone we brought her, but now that she doesn’t have to worry about Tucker stealing said bone, she’s doing things we’ve never seen her do before. Now she actually tries to hide them. She’s tried burying them in the couch, she’s tried hiding them in random boxes and bags. Once she tried to hide it in the bathroom garbage can (needless to say that was a bone she did not recover). She makes a point to sit near me now. If I’m on the computer, she’ll come lay (lie?) on the carpet next to me, as she is now. But she doesn’t snuggle. She doesn’t wag her tail. She’s not Tucker.
    photo 4(14)photo 4(15)

    Evan and Erin are slowly adjusting to the back-to-school routine. Erin was clingy for the first week or so, but she’s better now. Now that she’s in Pre-K, Erin gets homework. Believe it or not, she’s actually EXCITED about that. She loves doing everything Evan does. Like karate. She’s passed her first test and she’s now a junior yellow belt :)
    photo 2(19)photo 3(15)

    Erin’s finally making some progress pronouncing her “l’s”, so my fingers are crossed that maybe we’ll be able to avoid speech therapy after all. She doesn’t seem to be as far along academically as Evan was at her age (she can’t count to 20 without skipping 13, and she has absolutely NO interest in reading), but she is definitely more coordinated/athletic. It’s fascinating to see the differences between the two.

    Evan seems to like 1st grade, but he doesn’t talk about it much. He’s in a “testing his boundaries” phase, and we’ve seen more than our fair share of Cranky-Pants Evan. He gets very upset if he can’t do something perfectly the first time — as in stomp on the floor, throw things, and rant upset. It’s a very annoying phase, and I’m hoping it is short-lived. We enrolled him in soccer this year, and he seems to enjoy the sport, but it isn’t one of his strengths. Ordinarily, when he isn’t good at something, Evan is inclined to quit. But so far he’s stuck with it, and for that I am very proud.
    photo 1(16)photo 2(17)
    photo 3(14)photo 1(18)

    JP’s been busy with a new business venture idea, and I’ve been busy trying to find full-time employment. I haven’t had to interview for a job since 1999, so this is somewhat unfamiliar territory for me. But I’ve been on the other side of the table quite a bit, and I know what sorts of things I looked for in a candidate, so I’m hoping that will help with my nerves. I have a few interviews lined up for next week, we’ll see if anything comes of it.

    I recently finished with my writing side project — a collection of short stories and poems. It was essentially an exercise in procrastination, as I have been reluctant to start on the third book of my fantasy series. The collection is in the hands of an editor now (although she can’t work on it for another month). I’m hoping I’ll be able to publish it before Thanksgiving.

    That’s about all that’s happening in the Lester world. Hope all is well in your worlds.


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