Sunday, June 28, 2009

give me strength

Yesterday, Jim had an appointment with his oncologist, and apparently, there is a 50% chance that the tumor on his pancreas is benign. And ... because he is not exhibiting any of the symptoms associated with pancreatic cancer, and he is in his mid-80's, the doctors have suggested that rather than subject him to invasive surgery or treatment, we should take a wait and see approach.

All of this sounded like great news to us. So we immediately began planning for the whole lot of us ... Mom and Jim and me and Charlie and all the kids ... to take a seven-day cruise for the triplet's fifth birthday in October.

Today, my mom called to tell us that Jim suffered a massive stroke in the shower this morning. He was rushed to the hospital by ambulance and was exhibiting signs of paralysis on his left side. Although Mom is optimistic that Jim will pull through this ... and an e-mail that she sent out tonight suggests that he might be regaining some of the feeling on his left side ... we're sad to think that someone we care for so much is having such significant health struggles.

But we're also extremely thankful for the good health that we have and are fully aware that life can change in a moment.

This afternoon, we went to the expo for the triathlon Charlie, and 15 of my co-workers, will be competing in, tomorrow morning. My husband took our two girls to go pick up his race packet, and I took the boys on a last-minute shopping trip to pick up a few items that my husband will need in the morning.

While I was darting my attention between William and the various triathlon shorts, my four-year-old son, who I had told explicitly to hold the handle of the stroller, had tiptoed away and was trying to play hide-n-go seek in the middle of 20 high-end race bikes that were precariously perched in racks. High-end bicycles that had price tags of $8,999.00 and up and which the owner of the store observed would make a mighty nice present for Daddy, if William toppled them all.

I met up with Charlie who had taken the girls to the expo and he told me that it was like the Bataan Death March trying to get the girls from one tent to the next. They were laying down to look at bugs. Staring at the clouds. Hungry for something to eat. Thirsty for something to drink. Unhappy with their shoes that they wanted to take off and put back on again. And whining - all the while - "I can't waaaaalk! Carrrrry Meeeee!"

We get the race packets and go out to dinner with half of the folks that will be racing, tomorrow. The restaurant I selected is classic Italian with eccentric art all over the walls and various sculptures placed throughout the establishment.

The food is great, but the atmosphere is even better.

In attendance at dinner is a friend of a friend, who has a son that just recently turned six-years-old. While at dinner, I determined that the only thing more crazy than four-year-old triplets and an almost two-year-old toddler who believes he is invincible, is that same combination WITH a newly turned six-year-old boy.

Because after tonight, I can honestly say that in my entire life - I have never seen so much crazy energy.

The bouncing.

The jumping.

The jousting.

The jabbing.

It wasn't even possible to pull the kids aside and talk any amount of reason to them. It was like the six-year-old had gotten them in to some kind of kid-freak-frenzy and the only thing that would successfully shake them out of it, would be submersion in to a pool of ice water.

Now, under normal circumstances, I would have just left. But tonight we couldn't just leave. We had ordered dinner and everyone needed to eat. We had to discuss logistics for tomorrow. The racers had to "carbo" load. So to try and calm the kids down, a few adults took the rambunctious kids for a walk around the restaurant to look at the art work. Henry was dodging servers carrying trays of food. I was trying to dodge after him all the while herding kids from one picture to the next.

"Look!" I'd tell the kids. "There's a picture of a baby with a bowl of spaghetti on it's head. That poor baby. Isn't it funny?!"
While I was pondering if the baby, or photographer, put all that spaghetti atop the little head, the six-year-old had spotted something that he thought was hilarious.



This fountain?

Our kids have never been exposed to "this" kind of humor before. But tonight, they were laughing so hard, I was afraid they were going to turn blue and stop breathing. I actually think one of them wet their pants.

So, this is the influence of older kids? Great. Now I have to figure out how to isolate them from society until they join the monastery.

Tomorrow, we need to be up and out of the house - with all four children - by 5:30 AM. We will rejoin the families that we had dinner with tonight, including the six-year-old boy whose father will be competing with Charlie. While my husband
swims 1 kilometer, bicycles 30 kilometers and runs 10 kilometers, I will shuttle children and gear from one place to the next and try my darnedest not to lose my mind.

Please, say a prayer for me.

For us.

For Jim.


  1. Of course!

    GO Charlie GO (and the rest of the team) can do this too, Jen. Have fun!

  2. Six year old boys are energetic and a restaurant is not an easy place for them to be, particularly when they have had a long day. They get a peculiar type of wild energy that whips up all those around them, especially younger children.

    When I take my kids out I try to take them somewhere we can take them for a run in between courses, even if it is just up and down the pavement outside for five minutes.

    When I was pregnant with my first child a friend who was the proud mother of 4 boys warned me that boys are like puppies and need to be exercised twice a day!

    I hope Jim has a speedy recovery.

  3. Portable DVD player - the only way to survive long dinners out at restaurants...


  4. You have the patience of a saint. You've gotta love the chaos of having kids. Think of how boring life would be without it.

  5. I hope Jim continues to improve...will say a prayer for him.

    As far as the 6 year old, I have twin boys who will be 7 in Sept. and I can honestly say it's a VERY easy age. Maybe that 6 year old is just particularly hyper??? I have LOVED the age of 6 and am hoping 7 is as easy. It's my 24 month old daughter who thinks she is an almost 7 year old boy who drives me absolutely bonkers!!!


  6. Please don't cancel your plans for the cruise. I don't know if they gave him the clot-busting shot, but the chances for a good recovery are excellent.

    My husband's 3rd stroke in 9/01 hit smack on speech; he does not speak at all nor does he understand. Even so in May 2005 we flew to New Orleans for a wedding. Everything was handicap accessible; there were even modified PT Cruiser taxi cabs that we could wheel his chair into. My friend goes on 2-3 cruises per year and she said that all of the big ships are accessible.

  7. Jim will definitely be in my thoughts. I hope he makes a strong recovery.

    Sounds like a very tiring dinner! Poor mom. You'll definitely need a glass of wine after the race today....unless you drink DURING the race while shepharding the kids and the gear. Good luck. Will be anxiously awaiting a post from you tomorrow!

    --Laura in IN

  8. I will be praying for you and even more for Jim.

  9. Jim and your mum will be in our prayers tonight.

    Good luck Charlie.

  10. buca's is the best, but the decor is a little ecclectic for 4-year-olds. :-)

    prayers for jim...

  11. Oh! The things they learn from other kids!! (What a cute restaurant!)

    I'm sorry to hear about Jim. Perhaps he will recoop wonderfully. Why don't you go ahead and plan your trip on faith that he will be able to travel by the time you go?

    Speaking of cruising--I do hope it is a Disney Cruise that you are planning!? I've been on many cruises, but the Disney Cruise is absolutely the most kid friendly one there is! Its been four years since we did that one and the kids all talk about it still.

    Also wanted to comment on your in-laws' traditions. Its heartwarming to read of these as they become so much a part of our lives and memories.

    When I was a girl, from five o'clock on, all of the ladies in our neighborhood had changed clothes and would be dressed beautifully, waiting hubby's return from his work day...and then families sat down together to eat dinner in the many homes around us. (I have to add that on summer evenings, around 7 pm the kids and the dads gathered at the one vacant lot in our neighborhood and played softball until dark)

  12. Oh My Gosh! Was that "Buca di Beppo?" (Our all time Favorite restuarant??) How fun! Wishing we were there...... ;-)

  13. PS I'm sure you know but Jim's doing better. He's still in our prayers along with your Mom.

  14. Prayers for Jim and a special hug for your Mom.
    As for the kids - be prepared these are the kinds of things they will learn in kindergarten as someone always has an older brother to teach them all of the "fun" stuff.

    (Carolyn's Boards)

  15. OH prayers and good thoughts for Jim.

    and GO, CHARLIE, GO