January has turned to February, and the Brazos Valley is actually having winter this year. Bob French, the local weather guru, says that we've only had five days this year with below freezing temperatures, but there have been many more that have hovered right above freezing. In general, this January has felt more like winter in Nashville--plenty of bone-chilling, dampish days in the thirties and low forties. I know, anybody from Buffalo or St. Paul reading this is chuckling about how wimpy we south central Texans are. My main concern doesn't center on my personal body temperature. I have enough extra layers of body fluff to keep pretty toasty. I'm just ready for it to warm up so that the children will all run outside and spread out, instead of hunching together around electronic devises swapping germs.
We have (have I said this before?) finally gotten a handle on Erin's childhood illnesses. The hyperactive bowels are merely active now. She has started to edge back up on weight (having lost seven pounds to illness in December and January) thanks in part to evening milk shakes and possibly that her mother now spreads peanut butter on every piece of toast and each cracker that passes her way. We also took on another round of antibiotics for the stubborn cough that refuses to retire. With just three days left of the Cefzil, Erin sounds and feels better than she has since Thanksgiving. We have clinic in Houston on Monday for a general check up and okay for the next round of chemo. I think the Dr. Russell and Shari Feinberg, NP will be exceedingly pleased with Erin's come back.
The last week has brought few surprises. Erin is testing the waters of competitive soccer. Her team is playing in the Aggieland Classic today and tomorrow, and for Walter and I the whole experience has induced flashbacks to Davis's early days with Magic soccer. As much fun as he had and as big a part of his life that soccer became, the prospects of starting over again with Erin gives me pause. I guess that happens with second children. You go into everything with much wider eyes. Of course, the second time around there is a lot less angst. I didn't stop for a moment when the coaches called a last minute practice that conflicted with Erin's already scheduled handbell and choir rehearsal. I just said sorry, we have another commitment. I knew that missing one hastily schedule practice would not hurt her soccer career in the least. For the rest of the parents who want to make sure their child has every opportunity to play, the choice seemed tougher. Maybe that wasn't the second time soccer parent perspective. Maybe that was the parent of a cancer child perspective. It becomes much harder to obsess about A team/B team, playing times, and position selection, when you're just glad your child is in the game.
Erin also got back to horse back riding this week. I understand Napoleon was quite a pill this week, which all comes when horses don't get ridden regularly. She can hardly wait to give the new horse, Jericho, a try. He is a rescued race horse (thoroughbred) and is coming along nicely.
Lest you think it's all work and no play at our house, let me report that Erin played at the park after school one day with her chums, went to Jackson's house one day and got plenty muddy, and had Noah, Aaron, and Heather over last night. I'm not sure what Erin and her friends play, but they sure do have a rip roaring time. For instance, last night when Erin and her buds came to the table for supper, each one had a small, black label (the kind that you stamp out on a sticky, plastic strip from a label gun) with random letters, stuck to a different part of their face. Erin's was on the tip of her nose. Heather had a chin sticker. Noah's was smack in the middle on his forehead, and Aaron had two, one on each cheek right under the eyes. From a distance it looked like the smudges that ball players make to block the glare. I thought about ignoring the signs, but could tell from the expectant look on everybody's faces that they were bursting to explain.
So here's what I gleaned from their explanation: They are spies. The labels are code for their jobs and special skills. Noah provides the brain power (hence he wears his on his forehead). Erin sniffs out clues. Heather is on the move (her chin moves up and down) and is a fast talker, and Aaron sees where no one else can. Hearing this, I started rapidly reviewing what the adults had been talking about before we called them for dinner (it was Friday evening cocktail hour, for heaven's sake). Had we been talking about "adult" things, secret things, things better off not shared with children. Like good spies they refused to divulge any information they picked up by spying.
Erin and her friends have also had a thorny problem to deal with. You have read in these updates that they have a club, called the PPR Club, whose primarily mission is to allow the members of the club to tromp around in the woods--making discoveries, building forts, and having various special PPR kinds of activities. The club has a hierarchy with job specialization, policies, and rules. One important rule is that club members have to celebrate PPR Day on the 19th of every month.
When Davis came home for Thanksgiving, he designed a PPR shirt for Erin (which he later silk screened for the whole club). Because the design of the shirt was so cool, his friend Matt, who was visiting for the holiday, wanted one and wanted to become an affiliated member. The interest in joining the PPR club spread when Davis and Matt went back to Rice, and some other folks from Will Rice College also became affiliated members and got t-shirts. A problem arose because last month, Brian and Matt, came to celebrate PPR Day, without their t-shirts. Quelle horreur! What should the punishment be? It was the second rules violation for Brian and the first for Matt.
To deal with this and any subsequent problems with affiliated members, they have created a list of punishments (shown below). For the first punishment, the violator can choose and perform one item from the list. The second time they must complete two items. The third time they must do three. Etc. Each time different items must be chosen. No repeats. She had originally thought that violators would need to do 19 of the 30 activities for each violation, but we talked her into softening her position.
- 19 sit ups
- 19 push ups (no girl push ups)
- 19 cart wheels
- 19 somersaults
- 19 backwards somersaults
- 19 toe touches
- 19 crunches
- 19 laps around Rice University (this is for affiliated members only)
- 19 jumping jacks
- 19 scissor steps
- 19 hand stands
- 19 donkey kicks
- 19 piggy back rides
- 19 skips
- 19 broad jumps
- 19 duck walks
- pig stools for 19 seconds
- 19 bunny hops
- 19 runs up and down the stairs
- walk 19 steps with a book on your head
- 19 calculus problems (this option is for Matt only)
- blow up 19 balloons
- 19 cherry pickers
- 19 free throws in a row (if you miss you start over)
- do 19 favors for people
- 19 runner's stretches
- make 19 different funny faces
- 19 sword fights in a row
- make 19 different funny noises