Tuesday, January 30, 2007

happy birthday pooka

today my baby is 5. where has the time gone? we have been through more than a 5 year old should have to endure. she is such a warrior and an amazing person. i am very proud to be her mommy.

this morning at breakfast, we talked about that day 5 years ago. i mentioned that i hadn't been allowed to eat all day, and when the staff finally scavenged me some food at 11 pm, i overcame my reluctance and tried rice pudding. i told pooka that might be when i developed my liking for it. after eating what i could, i got a shower while the nurse bathed pooka. she piped in with, "maybe that's when i started liking baths so much." (i doubt it, since you screamed bloody murder as a 5 minute old baby, but ok.) then they put me in a recovery room around 1 where i could try to get some sleep. around 2, they brought pooka to me because she was hungry. i said that is probably why she still likes to eat in the middle of the night. she thought that was quite funny.

this evening, even though i wanted us to spend some very special time, i got a little frustrated and short tempered. i'm sorry, sweetie. i hope that you had a wonderful day anyway. i love you.

Monday, January 29, 2007

a sense of accomplishment

last night we had a nice family talk about the new baby. pooka had mentioned that she was scared and since we haven’t really talked about the upcoming changes, we decided to jump on this opportunity. true to form, she tried to change the subject several times, but these were her questions:
1. what if the new baby doesn’t like ‘stingray’ either? this is one of her stuffed animals that she doesn’t like. apparently way back when she got it, she took an immediate dislike to it, but we convinced her to hold onto it for her baby brother or sister (not knowing at that time how long it would take for this sibling to arrive). with her incredible memory, she is bringing this topic up again. we resolved that if the baby doesn’t like stingray, we will give it to the goodwill or some other charity.
2. what if the new baby likes emma more? a-ha! a real soul-baring question. we tried to explain that people love their pets differently than they love their human family members. there could be no real comparison between our love for a pet and our love for a child or sibling or parent. besides, we reasoned, for the first several months, the baby would be completely ignorant of the cat’s existence, but would see and interact with pooka daily. the baby is bound to care more for her sister than the cat. additionally, the cat will probably want nothing to do with the baby for the next 3 years, as that’s about how long it took for the cat to stop running away from pooka.
3. what if i don’t have enough kisses for the baby? another good one, and the one that actually prompted the conversation. we told her that having more people in the family increases love and kisses. more people equal more love. this was probably her asking if WE would have enough love and kisses for HER after the baby arrives. hopefully, we assured her that we would not stop loving her, but that the new sibling would actually bring all of us even more love than we already have for each other. *edited by daddy, who was the recipient of this question. apparently the quote is "what if my sources can't supply my vending machines with enough kisses to go around? they limit me to so many per order". this is a reference to the vending machines where she keeps her spare body parts to replace the ones she loses when 'sword' fighting with daddy.
we finished off this portion of the conversation by declaring that no matter what the new baby brought, we would deal with it as a family because we are a very strong family and as long as we love each other and talk to each other, we can handle anything.

at this point, i tried to delve further into her psyche by asking if she had any other feeling or questions about the baby. was she excited, nervous, happy about anything in particular? i told her that she shouldn’t ask what color the baby’s hair would be because i didn’t know. that made her laugh and we lightened up a bit. she then asked about the baby’s eye color—an easy question, since we all know almost all white babies are born with blue eyes. from there, we took another serious turn as she asked about the baby’s skin color. tricky ground. i told her that because everyone in mommy’s family and everyone in daddy’s family have/had this pink-ish color, that the baby would, too. she asked, “what if it’s black or brown like my friend sean?” oooh, more tricky material, since sean was adopted by white people; a double whammy. (daddy mentioned that if the baby did have a different skin color, mommy would have some serious explaining to do.) i really didn’t end up talking much about the skin color issue. it is not important to pooka why or how people have different skin color, which is good. it is scary to think that we as parents have the power to influence forever how she views people of different color from ourselves with a simple conversation. but thinking about it now, i believe it would be a more difficult conversation to convince her that someone is less of a person or less worth loving simply because of the color of his or her skin. there is so much variation in the appearances of people she has already met, that it’s very acceptable to her to think that a different skin color is of no more import than a different hair or eye color. that is just how God makes us. fortunately, that is a concept that we introduced to her early on.
i did attempt a brief overview of adoption: how sometimes people who made a baby couldn’t take care of it for some reason and found other people who would take the baby in and love them and make them part of their family. sometimes the adopting parents, because of having been sick or because that’s just how God made them, aren’t able to make babies of their own, but through adoption still get to have a loving family and children to raise. she was really intrigued by the adoption idea, and even asked if we knew the name of the lady who carried sean. i thought that was a slightly strange question to ask. i said that i didn’t know, but that sean’s parents probably did. i mentioned that often the ladies who carry the babies want to meet the people who are going to adopt the babies, to make sure that they are good people and will do a good job of raising the babies. i tried to avoid for now the other aspects of adoption that can be a bit scarier, like orphanages or traumatized under-age mothers. pooka wanted me to ask sean’s mommy about the lady’s name, which brought us to another important topic: how some things are just none of our business.

of course through this whole discussion, my eyes were leaking like the titanic because i am a huge sap when it comes to emotional topics. i don’t know if we answered all her questions and concerns about the impending arrival of the stranger. i don’t know that she fully understands her own feelings about it. but i know that with her intelligence, and our fairly high level of communication, and our devotion to our family, we will all get through this transition successfully. this was definitely one of those nights where you get a supremely satisfying feeling that you have fulfilled your parenting duties to the best of your ability and have actually enriched your child by teaching them some of the really important things in life. to my immediate recollection, i have had 3 of those nights in the past 6 months. i think that’s pretty good.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

princess party

the party was a raving success. pooka and all her friends had a blast. at the last minute, pooka wanted to add pinwheels to the menu and they were surprisingly a huge hit with the 5 year old set. the fairy wands, not so much. and actually, the cupcakes and fruit snacks were only so-so, as well. kids are funny that way. pin-the-kiss-on-the-frog and d*sney bingo were great hits, as were the dragon eggs. hannah in particular really got into the confetti. my schedule only lasted about half way through the allotted time, for the rest, they just played with the toys that pooka received as presents. a rollicking good time. pooka asked me today if i enjoyed hosting her birthday party. as if i'm being auditioned to host another one someday.... fun as it was, it was a lot of work, and a lot of prep ahead of time. mommy, daddy, granny, poppa, and gamma all helped set up, and we were all pooped afterwards. the other gparents came over later for pizza and MORE birthday cake. ugh, we are caked out. but i am very satisfied with how things went.

i am a little disappointed that pooka seems to be disillusioned at the tender age of 5. when she disdained the influence of santa claus at Christmas, i thought, "good for her, that's one less disappointment she'll have to face in a few years." but i scheduled an 'enchanted call' from ariel, pooka's current favorite princess, for saturday morning and when the call ended, pooka suspected that granny was actually on the other end of the line pranking her. she wanted to know why ariel would call her and how could she call on a real phone when she (ariel) isn't real? i've always tried to be truthful with her and i never wanted to fill her head completely with imaginary things, but i am still a little bummed, if only for her sake. has everything she's gone through, coupled with the influence of my own adult disillusionment, spoiled the wonder of childhood for her?

Friday, January 26, 2007


what happened yesterday? nothing. anything for the party that can be done ahead of time is done. pooka was at poppa's and kisu was at class. mishu got home and went to bed at 830. didn't get up until the alarm went off this morning. ahhhhhh.....

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

notes from the day

this morning at breakfast pooka burped. she said excuse me, but then said, " that wasn't a burp, that was toad speak." later when she farted, i asked her if that was toad speak, too. she said, "no, that was pooka fart."

clinic visit: her counts are still low. low enough to halt all meds for a week, but not to cancel her party. thank God. that would break her heart. she entertained the clinic staff heartily by exclaiming, "poppa, you're aggravating me!" they were wondering where a 5 year old picks up such a word. anyone who knows me shouldn't be at all surprised by my daughter's broad vocabulary.

my doctor visit: dr. d confirmed dr. v's assessment: i am a boring patient. "the baby is happy as a clam" and i am measuring right on schedule. good.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

my compliments to the chef

tonight pooka and i had breakfast for dinner, since kisu is at school. pooka cracked, mixed, and seasoned the eggs. i cooked the pancakes and eggs. meanwhile, pooka toasted the bread and cut up all the fruit for the fruit salad. she was quite amazing. using a steak knife, she combined apple (i peeled it first), banana, kiwi (peeled), grapes, a couple frozen raspberries, and mandarin orange segments. lots of knife work and NO boo boos. she was so proud of herself, and i was too.

after dinner we did a reading lesson. pooka earned a sticker for the lesson, then earned a bonus star for spontaneously reading the actual title of the lesson book! she then wrote an entire line's worth of capital N's with no mistake, earning a record third star in one evening. she was ecstatic. finally, we embarked on reading the first two chapters of "Alice in Wonderland" for bedtime. a very satisfying night. sweet dreams, pooks.

Sunday, January 21, 2007


as of this writing, pooka only has one more dose for this course of steroids. thank heaven! she doesn't sleep well, but is always tired. she eats every 2 hours. fortunately, this time around, her moodiness is not as pronounced, nor does she bloat on these 5 day courses. so that's good. these short runs are exponentially better than the 3 or 4 week courses that she had to take earlier in the treatment, but they're still no fun. we thank God repeatedly for the ease with which she takes pills and for her progress in general.

she asked me today if i knew i "raised a goofy kid." yeah, i knew that. not much i can do about it now, guess i'll have to live with it.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

stage fright

talk about being shy. pooka was doing her portion of the bedtime reading last night and doing pretty well--until i mentioned that the baby was bopping around because he/she liked listening to big sister read. suddenly, pooka was too flustered to continue reading. she said she was embarrassed because her sister was "watching her." i tried to show her my belly moving, but she covered her eyes. apparently, it creeps her out. she will hug and kiss and talk to my belly, but refuses to look or feel for movement.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

clinic visit

pooka went to clinic yesterday for the first time in a month. (YAY!) everything went well, but they do want her back next wed. for count checks- the wbc are a little low. at first, they told kisu to suspend all meds but the steroids, because the others can cause further drops in count. later dr mike called and said to go ahead and proceed with our normal routine.
pooka was very good at clinic. the only incident involved other unattended children in the waiting room raiding her backpack. i realize that everyone there is stressed to some degree and maybe even strung out with sleep deprivation, but you still need to make sure your kid isn't mauling another kid or stealing their portable dvd player right out of a backpack! pooka was furious. fortunately, kisu recovered the dvd player, but pooka was practically inconsolable over the fact that the tip of her pink crayon was broken.

pooka's song

pooka had a song created especially for her by Brian at Songs of Love. he did a wonderful job including all her favorite people and hobbies and writing it in a style very similar to 'if i had a million $$" by b*ren*kedl*dies (one of pooka's favorite bands). the night we received it in the mail, we listened to it about 5 times in a row before dinner. i cried through the first 3, and pooka seemed a bit embarrassed to have a song all about her. kisu was watching her to see her reaction and she kept yelling at him to stop staring at her. apparently, we aren't allowed to look at our own daughter for more than 3 seconds at a time. that night, she wanted it for bedtime music and insisted that it repeat. 1 song, 3 minutes (give or take), 5 hours. sheesh. by the time we went to bed, kisu was ready to throw the cd out. i don't think she's listened to it since...although she did take it to granny and poppa's to show them.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

five'll get you three

normally, pooka is a very generous kid. she has a piggy bank full of change, when she doesn't insist on carrying it all in her various purses. when we go to the store she begs and pleads to be able to help pay for things. obviously, she doesn't yet have a grasp on the relative value of coins versus bills, nor just how many coins it would take to satisfy the grocery bill. but she is willing to give and it makes me proud to know that she is so generous. i did let her pay for mommy and daddy's christmas presents with her own money, though. she picked out 2 candy bars (with a little help) and using the self-check paid for them herself. boy, she thought she was getting a deal when she put in one 5$ bill and got back three 1$ bills in return.

Monday, January 15, 2007

rodents and water

on the way home from the store today, pooka commented that she saw a squirrel. they are pretty commonplace and i was surprised she even bothered to mention it. i replied, "yes, we have a lot of squirrels in our neighborhood." she said, " yeah, we don't get a lot of beavers, though." um, no, not really.

yesterday at church, we had a reaffirmation of baptism. it was pretty cool: they had a water sculpture on the altar and everyone filed up to cross themselves, or whatever. i, of course, was trying futilely not to cry. i'm such a sap for spiritual symbolism. anyway, i crossed not only my own forehead and heart, but my belly, as well. goofy is a pretty special kid to be baptised before he/she 's even born.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

dragon's nest

today we filled and capped off the dragon's eggs for pooka's birthday party. she was delirious with joy. she wanted to help so badly, but then wandered off once kisu sat down to show her how to do it. she is adamant that no adults be allowed at the party, not even to help organize and clean. she wants to do everything: decorate, set the table, serve the food, clean up. we keep telling her that it will be more fun for her to play with her friends, but she seems skeptical. i told her that after her friend party is over, the adults will all arrive to celebrate some more, but she doesn't seem too keen on that. i guess i'll have to accept her presents.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

the potty princess

one night in december, pooka was doing her usual pre-bedtime delaying ritual of going potty for 20 minutes. kisu and i flopped on the big bed to wait. finally she came zipping in and then out of the bedroom, wearing only her underwear. i looked at kisu and asked, "what was on her head?" he replied, "i have no idea." a moment later, pooka came dancing in, toothbrush in mouth, to wiggle in the doorway. she had unrolled an empty tube of toilet paper and planted the thing on her head like a tiara. what a goofball!

the potty princess
queen of the commode
baroness of the bathroom

is the honeymoon over?

yesterday pooka turned down watching r*ch*el r*y's talk show in favor of watching t*p ch*f. i hope this doesn't mean she won't want to cook with her if M ake a w ish comes through.

today she made her own pizza. daddy was otherwise occupied and she didn't want to wait, so she climbed into the pantry for the sauce packets, the freezer for the pre-made crust, and the fridge for the cheese. she did not get the oven turned on before kisu showed up, but i wonder if she had already put the pizza in the cold oven? what spirit, what independence. how come she still asks us to wipe her dupah?

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

may day

kisu introduced the idea of kung fu to pooka yesterday, with a bad accent, "your kung-fu no good, my wushu very strong." she didn't agree and proceeded to try and kick him in the head. when he grabbed her foot and threw her off-balance, she lamented, "going down," as she hit the mattress.

Monday, January 1, 2007

pooka's story

Pooka was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoctyic Leukemia (ALL-Pre B) on October 18, 2005.

She is in the very best hands at Children's Hospital of Detroit, a national top 5 facililty for Pediatrics. Her prognosis is very good, but it is going to be a very long 2.5 years of treatment. All prayers are welcome. She is halfway through the first phase of chemo, which is 35 days long. So far she is doing very well and is suffering very few side effects, thank God. Kisu and I remain very positive and upbeat and so is she. It's hard for a 3 year old who feels fine to accept that she has to take so much medicine and can't go grocery shopping or play with her friends. We have done our best to explain the situation to her; as bright as she is, she understands pretty well. Fortunately, my father and stepmother moved up here while Pooka was still in the hospital, so we have lots of support from them and also Kisu's father and stepmother. With help from God and all our family and friends, we will get through this somehow.