Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Inside the Beltway

June 27, 2007

No one, and I mean NO ONE, likes to read vacation blogs, so I'm going to spare you all but the barest details of our DC trip. I can tell you that even the willful Willie missed us and is now lying obediently at my feet, patiently waiting for a gentle stroke or kind word which, he has discovered in our absence, is all he really needs to survive in this world (well, that and a little woodwork to nibble).

Here is a list of things we did:
  1. Marine Corp Evening Parade
  2. Museum of Natural History (two trips)
  3. The Smithsonian Castle
  4. Afternoon with the Edwards
  5. National Zoo
  6. International Spy Museum
  7. Eight Congressional Office Visits (2 Senators and 6 Representatives)
  8. Capital Tour--led by Congressman Chet Edwards (with hide-and-go-seek in Statuary Hall. . .Mr. Burke of North Dakota is "home base".)
  9. On the House floor with Chet during an actual vote! Wow! Democracy in Action!
  10. White House Tour (Erin refused to look at any photos showing the current administration.)
  11. Supreme Court (the building not the justices)
  12. Reach the Day Rally in Senate Park
  13. Photo Op with Senator John Cornyn on the Capital Steps to Celebrate the Newest Co-Sponsor of the Conquer Childhood Cancer Act of 2007
  14. And, so the list won't end on unlucky thirteen, we ate twelve meals, took six Metro subway rides and three Capital Hill subway rides, walked a marathon (estimate), and managed to sleep soundly every night.
Ian, Erin, Chet, Adam, and Nico on our actual office visit.

A rousing game of Hide-and-Go-Seek in Statuary Hall. Adam and Erin made it back to base. Nico is still hiding.

Okay, we also went to the World Children's Festival and added to the 60 by 40 foot mural of the United States made entirely out of Legos.

We didn't actually "Reach the Day," but we did add co-sponsors and raised the probability that the bill will actually get referred out of committee for a floor vote later this year. Like everything else with cancer Nothing is Certain, But We Always Have Hope.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Working for a Cure

We're laptopless in DC, but I found a computer that I could use for a minute to post this link to this morning's Eagle story about our lobbying efforts:

Dave McDermand is the newpaper's best photographer. He wanted to capture our "grim determination" with our mission, rather than our usually smiling faces. We look kind of odd, don't you think?

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Nelson Willie

June 21, 2007

Just a few days ago I was pondering Erin's approaching birthday and thinking how exciting it was that a neuroblastoma kid was still living with the disease almost five years after original diagnosis and more than two years after relapse. I had had my usual (annual) conversation with her about "what's something you will be able to do this year that you haven't or couldn't do when you were nine (or eight or seven)?" Her response: "Go to overnight camp. Remember, mom? You told me I could go to Mo Ranch next summer. . .and also next year I'll be old enough to spend the night in the Callaway House for A&M Soccer Camp."

Having your youngest put a decade in the can is one way to start feeling a little decrepit, but mainly I thought how old Erin was getting. How her interests will probably begin to change. How she is no longer a little girl, and soon she will leave girlhood behind for young womanhood. We walked along together, towards the horse barn for Erin's lesson, and I thought I saw a little touch of hips that hadn't been there the last time I looked and wondered how soon she would replace the smear of lip protectant sun block with lip gloss.

As we passed the GasTec propane gas tank farm, Erin pointed to the sign and asked: "Is that the stuff Nelson Willie was smoking that got him arrested?"

Mom (confused and wondering who Nelson Willie was): "I don't think anybody smokes propane."

Erin: "Yes they do."

Mom (thinking the youngest dog in the family had both a new nickname and a new way to get into trouble): "And who is Nelson Willie?"

Erin: "You know. He is the singer with braids that was on Monk one time."

Mom (clueing in): "Oh, yeah. I know who you're talking about. And you think he got arrested for smoking propane?"

Erin: "I don't know. That's why I was asking you."

Mom: "Well, I don't know whether you can get arrested for smoking propane, but I think if you smoked it, you would explode. I haven't heard of Nelson Willie having a nasty explosion, so I don't think that's what he was smoking."

Erin: "Okay."

Mom (thinking to herself): "Ten is not so old after all. She thinks Willie Nelson is a guest star on a detective show, and she doesn't really know what stuff, when smoked, can get you into trouble."

We walk along together, and when I reach out to take Erin's hand, she squeezes back instead of brushing me away. I walk on, with a little lift in my step at the realization that my baby's not almost out the door (yet).

Yesterday, Erin officially hit the mark. We celebrated at home, just family. By some
strange coincident, my mother gave her the same thing she gave me on my 10th birthday: a Hot Wheels track. That would be funny if she had done it on purpose, but I think it is even funnier that she didn't. Walter and I bought Erin a bicycle because her knees were hitting the handle bars of Davis's hand-me-down that she had been riding. I was glad we did after recently reading about "No Child Left Inside," an idea taking hold across the country to pull kids away from tv/computers/video stations, etc. and get them playing outdoors more. According to the article, American children spend 6.5 hours A DAY in electronic-mediated activities. We even shot some video showing Erin, Davis, and Willie approaching the sound barrier, or at least 17.5 miles per hour:

So, yesterday was Erin's birthday. Today is the first day of summer (a laughable concept if you live in Bryan, Texas where the thermostat started showing 90+ readings over six weeks ago). Tomorrow, Walter, Erin, and I will jet off to Washington D.C. for another round of lobbying, hoping to Reach the Day. We will visit on Capital Hill in support of the Conquer Childhood Cancer Act of 2007. If you can't join us in DC or drive to one of the many state capitals where joint "Reach the Day" childhood cancer awareness events are planned, at least be there with us in spirit, helping us choose the right words and appeal to those who hold the power to authorize $150 million towards pediatric cancer research over the next five years. It wouldn't hurt if you could also help us ward off those nasty airplane germs that made Erin so sick last time she flew.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Splashin' Good Time

June 17, 2007

I should have taken a picture of everyone gathered around at Erin's birthday party on Friday. Instead, I got this lovely picture of the cake with several feet and a load of shots of Erin taken individually with each of her guests. (Erin's friends decorated door hangers with photos of themselves and Erin as party favors.) This is the shot of Ayesha used for hers:

We managed to get in a splashin' good time between thunderstorms. I would write more now, but we are all getting ready to watch the Rice Owls in the College World Series. Drop by later this week for a more complete report.

Friday, June 15, 2007


June 15, 2007

Wickedness must run in the family. The culmination of music camp today was a production of Elijah!, and your favorite little Buenger trod the boards as Queen Jezebel. While the script stopped short of
defenestration, it definitely called for Erin to act haughty, arrogant, and rude. Here is a two minute, poor quality video of one of her numbers. You can get the gist of it by skipping the first half minute and then watching about 15 or 20 seconds. Notice that Nico is serving as her Guard, even though it meant that he had to be a follower of BAAL.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007


June 12, 2007

From what I can tell, September must be the month for Lovers. How do I know? Erin has fielded birthday invitations left and right since school let out, and we've had several e-mail messages from fellow Geminis as well. Do the math. To have a June birthday, something must be going on in September. Instead of summer romances petering out in the dog days of August, couples appear to get it together by the time the weather starts to cool (I'm talking hypothetical cooling here in Texas, not actual cooler temperatures).

This picture is fellow Gemini Noah DeAtley (in the middle, doing his best impression of a very cool and handsome pre-teen). Joining Noah and Erin is Aaron "A," so named to differentiate him from Erin "E" when they have the same teacher in school.

Here is Aaron looking less like a bug and more like the handsome young man he is:

I have casually checked our family's horoscopes a couple of times a week for years (maybe even decades). I started looking over them when the local paper added them to the comics page. I read both for laughs. The problem is that for Erin's whole life, I have checked her horoscope as Cancer, not Gemini. I'm not sure how I got it wrong, but today when I received an email from cancer mom, fellow-Gemini Margot Hutchinson (see her lovely son, Sam's, website here), I figured out Erin's Not Cancer. She's Gemini. Doesn't Gemini sound so much better than Cancer? So much better, in fact, that I will assume it's a sign to be taken literally as well as astrologically.

So, what's your sign? Erin's is Not Cancer. I hope all the children with cancer learn that they are really Geminis today.