Saturday, January 14, 2012

My Friend Mark

You've probably read his comments on my blog.  He always signs off as Your Friend, Mark.  Actually, I'm not sure if he uses the comma.  I thought I was super special-like but then I found out  he signs comments on Other People's Blogs as Your Friend, Mark.  But on mine sometimes he just says, "m" and so that means I'm special, right? Does he do that on your blog or is it just mine?

No matter. Mark is funny. That's what you all love about him.  He's also a good husband and an exceptional father and a fine photographer. 

His family is facing an unbelievable struggle right now. A ridiculous, inhuman, nightmarish struggle.  You can learn more about his family's situation from this CNN feature.  YES THEY WERE ON CNN! It would be all fun and exciting if only it were about something how their dog saved the neighbors from a burning building or how they found buried treasure in their backyard. But it isn't.  It is about their desperation to keep their family together.

Please watch. And you can drop Mark a note to wish him good luck and tell him how handsome he looked on his blog.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

2011 - It's a Wrap

2011 - Be Gone With Ye!  What am I saying? It wasn't that bad.  It wasn't bad at all.  It had some rough patches but every year does.

Let's wrap it up, shall we? 

2011 was the year Jeff and I celebrated our 25th Wedding Anniversary. Remember that?  We snuck off for a weekend and Ellie wrecked my sister's car and then hours later Joel broke Jules' hand during a Matrix Re-enactment.  So we hit the year running with a jolt of adrenaline and we just skidded into 2012 last night with nary a catastrophe.  On Wednesday we'll celebrate 26 years of marriage - but we're not sneaking off until sometime in February.  We have to align the planets first and make a few other arrangements - like alert the orthopedic surgeon we keep on retainer. 

In 2011 Jules turned 13 and Camille turned 9 the very next day due to poor planning on our parts.  It seemed all momentous at the time, but now, here they are turning 14 and 10 this coming weekend.  Whoosh! Times goes by so quickly.  Jules looks like a totally different kid.  BIG TIME CHANGES.  For one thing, he's almost as tall as his brother now.  This picture was taken in August, and now, just a few months later, Jules is only about an inch shorter than Joel.

And quite a bit taller than me!
For Jules 2011 is also going to be embedded in our memories as the year his brain tumor finally woke up.  After six years of monitoring, we'd begun to let ourselves hope that maybe it was just going to stay asleep - like - FOREVER.  But it didn't. Puberty startled it awake.  The last trip to the House Clinic  and St. Vincent's Hospital in Los Angeles was a traumatic one. 

Below is a pic I snapped of Jules heading down the hospital hallway with Jeff.  I remember being struck by the image of the two of them together; by how tall Jules was compared to the early days of the tumor, when he was but Jasper's age and oh-so-tiny.  But somehow, as I watched them walk away from me all I could see was how small and fragile he still seemed.  And really, how small and fragile his daddy looked, too.  Because that's how we feel as parents when faced with something like this: small and fragile and vulnerable and helpless - no matter how big and strong we appear on the outside. 
So 2012 will be the year we finally rid ourselves of the brain tumor.  It's a relief - but also a bit overwhelming, as you can probably imagine.  We head back to Los Angeles in April, and then surgery will probably happen in May.  It'll just be the three of us making the trip - being away from the other kids for something so intense will be difficult, but we're confident this is the group of doctors we want operating on our son.  

2011 was also the Year of My Abandonment....Ellie left for college - a long, drawn-out process of grief that you people suffered through the entire year.  After all the work of auditioning and interviewing and meeting and greeting - not to mention all of the hoops we jumped through as homeschoolers - she decided on a music school (the full scholarship plus money for summer European music festivals heavily influenced the decision).  So off she went and guess what?  I lived. And she's doing GREAT, of course.

                                                    2011 saw Joel go from THIS:


He did it in stages, it didn't all get sheared off in one sitting - that would have been too much for him.  But he likes it short now. He also got his first summer job (lifeguarding at the city pool), bought his first car (Ellie's old pimp car), and EARNED HIS FREAKING BLACK BELT!!
He's still making movies with GimliSnort - is saving for a better camera and can't wait to start playing with some new editing software.  He likes to do animation, but at a recent homeschool co-op meeting, he and his GimliSnort cohorts produced this little dandy in just a few minutes during lunch break.  So now they're hoping to branch out into Live Action (!!) films.  I love that you can hear our turkeys throughout the entire thing, inappropriately entitled, Chicken Kicken.

For Camille 2011 meant More Dancing.  She started the year with a promotion in ballet.  She now dances six hours/week at the studio and that is sure to increase with the next promotion.  But I'm hoping that won't happen during 2012 - at least not before we can sell The Bus and buy a smaller, more efficient car.  2011 was also the Year of the Cast for Camille.  We saw the same orthopedist we saw with Jules.  There are still two of our kids the man hasn't met.  Hopefully he won't meet them in 2012 or EVER.

Poor baby had to audition for The Nutcracker while wearing that cast! And swim, too, of course. Casts have come a long way since I was a kid!

For Jasper, 2011 was just one more year of Being In Charge of the World.  The little guy has it made.  He does what he wants, when he wants, and how he wants.  There can't be anything better than being seven years old in a non-authoritarian unschooling household.  His days are endless hours of playing and fun all strung together.  He has two older brothers who don't mind him following them around and acres and acres of land to explore. 

Jasper's never been a "joiner" - eschewing any and all attempts at encouraging him to participate in anything with set rules or expectations, but 2011 saw him taking on his first "Organized Activity" as he calls it.  He asked to try Tae Kwon Do - a request I readily heeded.  He's doing very well and has already earned his gold belt.

He also began some spotty participation in Homeschool Co-op in 2011....tackling Spanish, Sewing, Science, and Ancient History. Here he is in his first attempt at mummifying a chicken. 

2011 also saw the some of my Faves getting All Kinds of Active.  The Red Hot Chili Peppers released a new album, I'm With You.

AND for 2012 we already have tickets for two of the shows on the tour.  For the San Antonio concert??? We have FLOOR SEATS.  Just sayin'.  Also?  I received 3...count ' Red Hot Chili Peppers t-shirts for Christmas. Although I am thrilled to death with the new album and the upcoming shows and my new t-shirts....2011 was NOT the year I got over this:

Sorry - but they were better with Frusciante.  Plain and Simple. 

Other Faves?  My favorite author I love to love wrote a new novel!

Haruki Murakami's 1Q84 was actually published in 2010 in Japan as a trilogy, but it was published in the US as a single volume in 2011.  I'd pre-ordered it and BOOM! in my Kindle the moment it was released.  It looks like it's IQ - as in "eye" Q - but it isn't.  It has connections to Orwell's 1984.  In Japanese, the letter Q and the number 9 are homophones....and so what is a witty play on words in Japan is merely hard to say in America.  I mean, the title is awkward.  I say it as One Q Eighty-four.  But I can't say it and look at it at the same time or I say Eye-Q Eighty-Four.  Sometimes I say 1984.  Anyway - I LOVE 1Q84 - no matter how you say it.  I understand it was nominated for the Bad Sex Award, but it only makes me love Murakami even more.

Speaking of Bad Sex and Authors and 2011 - The Author I'm Embarrassed to Love to Hate (and read) also had a new novel.  That's right, Laurel K Hamilton (I know - I'm pounding on my chest right now) released Hit List, the ninety-billionth book in the Anita Blake Vampire Hunter series.  I read every page in one sitting. 

And speaking of vampires (how DID we end up speaking of vampires?), 2011 was also the year Jeff and I became COMPLETELY ADDICTED TO "V".  That's right mah friends, we are hooked on True Blood.  I know! We just keep getting classier and classier over here! But how can you not love it?  It's like those guys on the History Channel who wrassle gators only they HAVE FANGS.

Other than that, we haven't expanded our horizons too much.  We pretty much ended the year the same way we started it, which of course, is always the anti-climactic catch to New Year's. 

Nonetheless - the New Year brings a new calendar (albeit with many of the exact same commitments and appointments that dotted 2011's calendar).  It's sure to be challenging - the year I'm not challenged with something or by someone is the year I'm dead - and it's going to be a bit frightening at times - but there are going to be plenty of sweet parts in between.  At least, that's the way it's worked EVERY SINGLE PREVIOUS YEAR.  Call me crazy, but that's what I'm 'specting for 2012. And I'm wishing the same for you!