Monday, November 30, 2009

Ups and Downs

Well I am starting to realize that things may be happening more quickly with Dad than I first thought. I hope we will be able to enjoy Christmas together.

I received a call from him around 10 til 1 saying he wasn't feeling well and asking if I would come over. I was planning on going over anyway and collected my things and the new 8x10 photo of Dad and Mum and went on my way. I am very thankful that I am only two minutes away from his home. Dad was confused and not feeling well when I arrived. I sat with him and tried to assess the situation. I called my brother to no avail. I was on my own. Dad seemed winded but not like he was when we called 911 a few weeks ago. I knew that the hospice nurse was due by 2pm. Dad took his breathing treatment...the first of the day I seemed he may have missed the first two but I am not completely sure. Anyway it quickly became clear that we were going to have to use some of the meds in the comfort box that has been in the fridge since we started this hospice journey. I was very nervous, afraid even to break out these meds. I tried my brother again and when I couldn't reach him I called hospice. After fifteen or so minutes I was able to speak with the nurse manager (?) and she talked me through the first dose of morphine. I was shaking and ended up spilling a little on my fingers. I guess in the back of my mind I was holding on to an irrational fear that if I gave him the morphine he would die. After giving him the meds he seemed a little bit better and I sat with him and once again read from the True Compass. Thank goodness for that book. It seems to have a calming, almost meditative effect on both Dad and me. At about 2pm D our nurse arrived. She asked some questions and praised me for knowing what to do. She watched as I administered the second 5mg of liquid morphine. She said I was perfect. By that time my brother and sil came upstairs to find out what was going on. We ended up giving dad some ativan on top of the morphine and by 2:45 he was much better. Oxygen was ordered and D assured us that she would have the nurse on call, L give us a ring tomorrow to see how Dad is doing. D said we should probably start thinking about a plan for when we need more coverage to keep Dad safe. So let the planning begin.

I ended up staying with Dad for quite a while. We read more of the Kennedy book and he seemed much better. The oxygen was delivered and we were instructed on how to operate the machine and keep everyone safe when the machine was operating. After that lesson my brother and sil left and I was about to go too when Dad made a comment about there being a mass exodus. So I sat for a bit longer. I asked him if he wanted me to read a little more of our book and he said "No, just sit there so I can look at you." And that is what I did.

Sunday, November 29, 2009


These words touched me 24 years ago when R gave them to me and they touch me now. I've been searching for them for the last few weeks as I have been contemplating the seasons of a persons life. Finally I found them written in an old poetry scrap book that I kept when I was 16. The entry is dated 11/16/85. Back then I didn't know that these were the lyrics to the Led Zeppelin love ballad The Rain Song. I listened to it for the first time tonight. It is a pretty song. Zeppelin fans tout it as one of the best Zeppelin songs. I prefer the words without the music. They speak to me.

The Rain Song

This is the springtime of my loving
The second season I am to know
you are the sunlight in my growing
So little warmth I felt before
It isn't hard to feel me glowing
I watched the fire that grew so low
It is the summer of my smiles
Flee from me the keepers of the gloom
Speak to me only with your eyes
It is to you I give this time
I isn't hard to recognize
These things are clear to all from time to time
I felt the coldness of my winter
I never thought it would ever go
I cursed the gloom that set upon us
But I know that I love you so
These are the seasons of emotion
And like the winds they rise and fall
This is the wonder of devotion
I see the torch we all must hold
This is the mystery of the quotient
Upon us all a little rain must fall

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Dad and Me

The Quiet

Sometimes the quiet is deafening. I feel as if I have to speak or move or clean or cajole to fill the space. This has been the visits of the last couple of days with Dad. He is always happy to see me and welcomes the visit. Yesterday he told me that he had been hoping I would stop over. He asked if I had mental telepathy. I smiled at his question. So we exchange the regular chit chat and then it gets quiet. He looks off into space and I find myself asking what he is thinking about. He always says nothing. I wonder what that nothing really could be. What is going on in his mind? I wonder if he is scared or relieved or even maybe excited at the thought that he will soon be reunited with all those who have gone before. Then I think that maybe I shouldn't ask what he is thinking about because it must be so intensely personal. Thoughts only meant for the one who is so deeply entranced by them at that moment. Millions of miles away from the little living room that overlooks the sea. Then the quiet is interrupted by a sudden attack of coughing to which I find myself asking in a worried tone 'Are you ok?'. He always says I'm ok. Then again it is quiet and that is when I break out True Compass by Edward Kennedy ready to read aloud for an hour at a time. Dad is always an eager listener. I hope it is because he wants to hear the story and not just disguise the silence that is waiting to deafen us once again. In any case I will continue to bring my book and face the quiet as I know he would if our situation was reversed.


Friday, November 27, 2009


My hors d'oeuvres lady at work.

Hot artichoke dip before.

Nothing like a little horse play to build up an appetite.



Traditional olives and stuffed celery in Mum's beautiful serving dish.

Nanny's bread fresh from the oven.

My big plate of food. mmmmmm...

My little family.

Dad's little plate, still too much according to him!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

So this Thanksgiving I took the advise of a dear one, I stayed in the moment. I incorporated family traditions, I thought about past Thanksgiving but did my best not to let those memories cloud or sadden today. When feelings did come I sat with them for a bit before putting them away and returning to the moment. Today was a day about making new memories for my family, my children and myself while respecting the feelings and traditions of the past. It was a good day.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


Today was a good day. Both children went off to school. I worked on making homemade Irish bread. Once the bread was in the pot and on the rise I headed over to Dad's. I brought the Kennedy book we've been reading and my computer so I could show Dad some photos I'd been talking about. I made it over there about 10:30. He was lying on the couch but as soon as I came in he sat up ready to visit. He was bright eyed and seemed better than Monday. He enjoyed looking at the photos on my computer and even commented on the coolness of the computer. Then we read for quite some time. It was a great visit. I actually was so into reading to Dad that I lost track of time and had to run home to get N off the bus!

We also received a call from the health care aide. She'll start on Monday. After that we heard from my brother. The social worker had to reschedule. We'll see her on Monday too. The nurse came out yesterday and checked on Dad and I heard from Dr. O and both are in agreement that alcohol should not be reintroduced into Dad's life. I am relieved that my opinion and concerns are being validated and supported and that Dad will be safe.


Tuesday, November 24, 2009


So my one day workweek was exhausting! All the children were so excited today. You would think that we were getting ready for Christmas vacation not just a few days off for Thanksgiving. The children have been talking about Christmas trees since just after Halloween. Today children were singing holiday songs! The level of energy in our classroom was through the roof, especially with the 3/4 year olds in the afternoon. I think it will be a long few weeks between now and our holiday break.

Just a quick post today. The children are anticipating the holidays as I anticipate what the next weeks and months will bring for my family as we walk with Dad on his final journey. I suppose there is a level of emotional exhaustion that is playing a role in how I feel right now. I'm trying to remember to breathe and live. I'm also working on asking for help. Much has been offered and when the time is right I plan to reach out.


Monday, November 23, 2009

Still Reeling

Well as you can tell from the title of this post I am still reeling from the events of this past weekend over at Dad's.  I spoke with the social worker today to ask for her advise and just get  a neutral opinion.  She seemed to agree with me and I think was thankful to have the full picture.  I also asked her advise regarding informing my sisters from Dad's first marriage about the situation.  She is going to be visiting Dad on Wednesday so hopefully we can bring up the subject with the family and she can mediate the conversation.  

Anyway 'n' and I created a notebook for communication between hospice workers and family.  In time we'll track medication in this binder as well.  'n' made some lovely designs on the front cover as well as some of the pocket pages that I included in the binder.  We visited with Dad yesterday for a few hours.   It was a quiet visit.  He seems to be lost in thought much of the time and when I ask him what he is thinking about he says nothing.  I end up trying to share stories about my children and also memories of my childhood.  I read about 20 pages in the Kennedy book 'True Compass'.  He likes listening and only wants me to read it to him as I have offered to leave the book behind and he has said 'No I want you to read it'.  Sometimes it seems that I am just filling up the space with noise.  I'm not sure if I should just sit quietly and  be.... maybe that is the answer.  It is hard for me however to just be still.  Today's visit was quiet at first but after a while Dad sat up and chit chatted. We talked about how he and Mum met.  He's been thinking about this a lot.  He told me that they lived happily ever after.  He also told me that he was shy.  I just love him so much! He is such a kind soul.  He has had a difficult life.  He has not always made the best choices but then none of us do.  He has always been good to me and my children.  I will miss him so much when he is gone.  


Saturday, November 21, 2009


So it has been a bit of a disappointing day today.

Plans had been made for a visit over at Dad's with some cousins. I got a call from my brother around noon time today saying that Dad wasn't up for visitors evidently he didn't have a very good night sleep last night. I have to say neither did I, but I guess that is beside the point. I think that Dad's unrest was due to some disturbing events that took place last night in Dad's living room between myself and my brother regarding Dad's well being. After receiving the call from B I headed over to Dad's to see how he was doing. As soon as I arrived B came up and offer to help bring in the groceries. (second or third time this has happened in the past 5 or so years!) I brought in the food and Dad was sitting up and looked OK. When I asked him how he felt he said OK. He didn't indicate that he was tired. Then B came in and when I asked Dad if he was up for a visit he said maybe not. I think that if I had a few minutes alone with Dad I could have changed his mind. But I thought considering things that were said to me and about me the previous night it was best that I didn't throw around my "control" so to speak. Anyway I ended up spending the day visiting with Dad. We chatted and shared stories. Later I read aloud from Ted Kennedy's True Compass. As is customary my nephew came up and sat with us for a good length of time. I'm not sure why he does this but he does. It's all very interesting. I am going to have to work on not letting the interpersonal things upset me and settle into my heart and mind. This is a very challenging road that I am walking.


Friday, November 20, 2009

Friday Fill Ins

1. We need to live fully.

2. My children came home and it made me smile.

3. If you want to live fully you must accept what cannot be changed.

4.Relieved because in my heart I know I'm right.

5. Massachusetts has a proposed 5% sales tax on elective cosmetic surgery; I think that there are way more important issues to be considered!

6. Family makes for a happy holiday.

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to relaxing and reflecting, tomorrow my plans include Thanksgiving Parade and Sunday, I want to rest!

Thursday, November 19, 2009


So I was watching Larry King Live last night to hear from Patrick Swayze's wife and brother. I couldn't believe the resemblance between Patrick and his brother. That is beside the point of this post. After the segment with the Swayze family a panel came on to talk about breast cancer screening. Evidently a task force of some sort was convened by the federal government to review the efficacy of the current views on mammography for women. I'll be honest I have not done my research on the reasons behind the task force or their results but from what was disclosed last night I am shocked, flabbergasted and gravely concerned. According to this task force women from the ages of 40 to 49 should not routinely get mammograms and I believe they also are suggesting that women in their 50's be screened every other year! Are you kidding me???? Cheryl Crowe and two doctors spoke against this finding, saying it confuses women and also gives the insurance companies a loop hole to refuse to pay for this essential and only screening tool for breast cancer in women. One fact that was shared in the conversation is that breast cancer tumors double in size every three months. If our country adopts these new standards that extra year in between mammograms could make the difference between a stage one and stage three tumor. I believe that part of the philosophy behind the task force suggestions comes from the imperfect nature of mammography in younger women due to the density of the younger breast tissue. I am astonished by this development, particularly when so many people are worried about the future of health care. Why are we giving the insurance companies more power with such dangerous recommendations. I am going to do some research on this tonight and I'll report back with links and hopefully some next steps to protect the availability of mammography for all women.


Here is an article with some details about the task force and it's report!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Unexpected Support

So yesterday I expected to talk to Dr. O at some point in the morning regarding Hospice for Dad. Well at quarter to 9 in the morning my cell phone rang and it was him calling from his rounds at the hospital. I was so surprised. He once again went over all the options. Once clarification was made in our conversation. Putting in a trache was not an option as it would irritate and cause swelling and simply be more difficult than helpful. I think that Dr. O felt some pressure from the ENT doc/surgeon. Dr. O pressed me a bit on our decision questioning if it was made out of fear. I assured him that we had thought carefully about the situation and all options. I reiterated that Dad has told us he does not want to end up in a nursing home and that I truly believe that he would end up in a nursing home if he went through with this surgery. I also reminded him of Dad's general health as well as the memory issues that we grapple with on a daily basis. In the end Dr. O came very close to saying he agreed with our decision. He did tell me again that either way would be a difficult road and that he respected the decision we had made for our father. He explained that he just wanted to press us a bit to make sure we understood the expected outcomes of each choice. He was compassionate. He ended by saying he didn't want to make us think about the decision any more and that we would just move forward with Hospice. I'll be calling hospice to set up a meeting on Friday.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

A Kind of Relief

Well yesterdays appointments went as well as could be expected. The hospice nurse D and the social worker J were lovely. They explained the process. I learned that hospice doesn't just come in at the bitter end of a person's life; they come into a family's life when the ill person has decided to seek no further treatment for whatever terminal illness the are facing. The shared that some patients have been with hospice for over a year. I was surprised, and relieved by this information. They have quite a team. Nurses, social workers, chaplains, nursing assistants, and volunteers. They will acquire whatever Dad needs. They will take some of the burden off of us. They will help with meals, showers and meds. They will talk to us and Dad. They are like a beacon of hope in the very dark sea that we have been sailing.

We also met with Dr. O yesterday. He was uncharacteristically kind and compassionate. He was clear and concise in his explanation to Dad of the choices available. He could choose the surgery or choose to do nothing. He explained that by choosing the surgery it would mean a hospital stay, a rehab recovery and a change in quality of life. He then went on to explain that choosing to do nothing would mean that hospice could come in and give us support keep Dad comfortable and keep Dad at home. It would mean that he would die in 6 months maybe later maybe sooner. He explained that by sitting at home and not making a choice he really is making a choice. The choice to do nothing. I told Dad that it was OK if he wanted to choose to do nothing. It was OK. At that point Dad said that he really didn't want to do anything. Dr. O simply said OK and proceeded to call the Hospice team to discuss some particulars. There was not judgement. It was good.

So now there is a kind of relief. Dad has a better appetite. We'll be getting a wheel chair. We are planning to go out and do fun things; Cupcake Charlies, Daniel Webster Pub, Christmas lights, visits with relatives. He doesn't have to worry about a hospital stay or doctors appointments. We can just be.

just be

Monday, November 16, 2009


Just met with Hospice representatives. They were very kind. Will be going to perhaps the last doctors appointment at 4pm. I'm not sure how much dad understands. I can't bring myself to openly answer the question "Now, What does Hospice do?" I can't utter the words.... "They help you die." Just typing the words brings me to the brink of crying. This is so hard.

Something I have been thinking about, a lot, lately.


Sunday, November 15, 2009


In Transitions Julia Cameron writes: "As seasons shift, I see the purpose and beauty of life's cyclicality. I see the promise of spring, the ripening of summer, the bounty of harvest and the mysterious containment of winter...... There is no season in my life that is without worth. There is no season in my life that does not unfold my highest good."

Lately I have been thinking about seasons. The seasons of a person's lifetime. For everything there is a season. These reflections brought me back to a song that 'R' introduced me to over 20 years ago.


Saturday, November 14, 2009

Reflecting on Transitions

"The primary and most beautiful of Nature's qualities is motion."
Marquis de Sade

The above quote is what I read on the page that I turned to when I opened Transitions by Julia Cameron. I was looking for inspiration for my writing tonight.

Motion, movement, mobility, hover, shift, drift, sweep along, flow, run, tread, glide, slide, roll, stream, wander, deviate, keep going, keep moving, put in motion, set in motion, go.....

We are all in motion.

I am in motion.

Fingers typing, foot tapping, hands dusting, body organizing, mind racing. Motion external as well as internal. Always moving, shifting, drifting and going.

Dad is in motion too.

Shuffling, sliding, stepping, walking, creeping, treading, drifting, sweeping along, going..... slowly, deliberately, carefully, cautiously, gingerly, precisely, anxiously, fully, thoughtfully

Beauty in motion.

Friday, November 13, 2009


I had some reassuring conversations today with my cousins today via phone and facebook. I feel like we are on the right path with Dad. We will be meeting with a nurse and social worker from Hospice on Monday. They will tell us what they can do for Dad. They will ask him what his goals are and let us know if they can help us reach those goals. I think we should wait until we hear from them before we make decisions regarding the tracheotomy. I will post an update after our meeting.


Friday Fill Ins

1. The last band I saw live was R's band Three and Out.

2. What I look forward to most on Thanksgiving is getting up early making stuffing(nibbling some as I go) and watching the Macy's day parade with my kids. That's just for starters. Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. It is all about food. No stress around gifts and such. I can't wait for Thanksgiving.

3. My Christmas/holiday shopping is just begun. R is planning on going out on Black Friday. I'll make the lists and he'll buy the gifts. :)

4. Thoughts of unplanned transitions fill my head.

5. I wish I could wear skinny jeans and leggings.

6. Bagpipes remind me of Ireland and funerals.

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to resting, tomorrow my plans include Cupcake Charlies with n and Sunday, I want to watch football with the family and I'll be visiting Papa on Sat and Sun!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Brief Update

So I spoke with the case worker for Dad's primary care physician's office today. She will be starting the referral process for hospice. I feel sick to my stomach about this entire thing and hope that we are making the decisions that are right for Dad and our family. I think that I haven't fully grasped the situation myself and that soon I am due for a very long cry. Once I start I hope I will be able to stop.

Yesterday I found a book at Borders. It was almost like the book found me actually. I was browsing the self help section and I noticed the navy blue binding with a lovely asian style floral painting. The title of this book is Transitions by Julia Cameron. I read the book flap and then read the introduction. The third paragraph of the introduction spoke to me.

"This book concerns change: the difficulty of change, the possibility of change. It also, at ground level, concerns the acceptance of change. So often we try to live through our changes without experiencing them. When life is difficult, we tune out, focused on the future. 'I will be happy,' we say 'when this happens' r 'when that happens.' Or , 'When that begins.' Focused on life as we yearn for it, we neglect to live the life that we have. 'This shouldn't be happening,' we tell ourselves in difficult seasons. Meaning, 'Once this is over, I'll get on with my life.'.....It is usually the emotional burden of a difficult circumstance that causes us to move through it numbly, cut off from our spiritual resources. A sudden illness, the death of a spouse, the unexpected loss of a treasured job, a cherished friend's moving away-any of these may be sufficient to disconnect us from our ongoing sense of the fruitfulness and purpose of life." ..... "This book is intended as a conscious companion for difficult times. It is also planned as a model for you to work from. The writing of positive, affirmative prayers is a deeply healing spiritual antidote to the pain of anguished moments.

Yesterday I thought I would branch off from my regular writing to chronicle my experiences and share news about Dad. Now I think that it would be important to try and keep all pieces of my life integrated. Even as I know that there will be times when I must focus my attentions to tasks at hand this thing, this process of Dad dying is going to be with me, just below the surface at all times. As difficult and painful as it will be I have to live through this experience.

So I think this book will be helpful. And the journey continues.



I was briefly watching something tonight, before the TV was high jacked by N. I saw a promo for an upcoming Oprah show. Evidently Oprah is having Sarah Palin on her show. To say that I am surprised is an understatement. I guess Palin is news of some sort but I am surprised at Oprah. I dare say disappointed. All that being said I feel like I should watch the interview. It reminds me of when people drive by an accident and are compelled to slow down and watch. For me Palin is an accident waiting to happen.


Wednesday, November 11, 2009


So I've been compartmentalizing to get through each day. Trying to focus on the moment at hand or the task at hand. I've been placing Dad's situation into a box in my mind so that I can function and do what has to be done each day. I'm thinking I should do that with my blog too. I don't want Surfside Serenity to become just about Dad and his dying. What are your thoughts? If I branch off I'll create a link on the sidebar so that anyone interested in hearing updates can easily find them. Hmmmm...

I guess I'll sit on this for a while. Any thoughts or suggestions are welcome. A note to my lovely cousins who are checking in please feel free to comment or send me an email with your thoughts.



I'm learning more and more about compassion, expectations and understanding as we go through this process with Dad.

After the jaunt to the hospital on Monday I had to bring Dad into the ENT office to be looked at and I also had to cancel a nuclear stress test that had been scheduled for today at his primary care physicians office. I was able to make the appointment easily. I had anticipated having to put on my 'witchy' hat to get the appointment but happily I did not have to don that hat. I was also worried about canceling the testing. I had been told that 24 hours would be required to cancel otherwise we would get hit with a $200.00 fee. Everything worked out fine and the woman who schedules those appointments, 'E' was very sweet offering her help if I were to need anything. She also gave Dad's primary care doc the message that we cancelled the appointment and are opting not to do the surgery. As I reflect on the day I am struck by 'E's understanding. So the day moved on and we went to the ENT. Running late as usual I was in pretty much a full panic as we walked in the door. At this point I have to drive to the door, bring Dad in and then get the car parked collect myself and my stuff and get into the office. Just writing this takes my breath away a bit. So I apologize to the receptionist, expecting that I'll be chastised for being late, and she was so understanding! ' Don't worry' she said. Sigh! So what happened next was what shook me a bit. I wonder what you might think. We were expecting to see the ENT physician. We were ushered into his exam room. Dad was prepared to be scoped and then shortly thereafter a physicians assistant came into the room. She said she wanted to make sure that the sprays had been administered and I went on to tell her about our decision not to do the surgery. She then asked permission if she could look in the scope when the doctor came in so that they didn't have to scope him twice. I thought this odd. I'm guessing that she is learning on the job or maybe Dad's situation is unusual. I don't know but as nice as she was I was not that comfortable. So on with the story. The Doctor came in and was shocked by our decision. I tried to briefly explain to him why we had come to this decision and he asked Dad why he didn't want to have the surgery. Dad couldn't answer. I reminded the doctor that Dad doesn't remember he has the cancer never mind the surgery. He talked about how the surgery would 'cure' Dad. I felt so frustrated by the fact that he didn't listen to what I was saying. Perhaps it's his clinical/medical mindset that prevented him from hearing our dilemma. I don't know. He went on to suggest that at the very least we put in an airway (tracheotomy) so that Dad won't suffocate. The entire appointment was disturbing. We have to figure out if we go forward with the tracheotomy by the end of the week. I asked Dad what he thought on the way home and he wouldn't even talk to me.....I think it must just be too much for him. It's too much for me too.

Later in the day I did talk to the primary care doc. He got it! He wasn't judgemental, he listened and he offered help. I could cry from relief just thinking about it.... He is contacting a social worker with hospice so we can meet with them and see what that process will entail. He said that if the conversation with hospice changes Dad's mind we can still go forward with the surgery if that is what he wants. He did say that either choice will be very difficult.


Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Food for thought.

"What we are is God's gift to us. What we become is our gift to God. "

Eleanor Powell

Monday, November 9, 2009


Today was trying.

While working on conferences over the phone with my teaching partner S, my phone beeped several times. My caller ID screen was not working so I didn't answer the beep. Well I switched phones and sure enough I had another beep. It was Dad. I clicked over and he asked if I was still planning on coming over today. We had spoken around 10am and I had told him that I would be over around lunch time. We would have lunch together and he'd have his shower and prepare for the tests he has to endure on Wednesday (nuclear stress test) . When I spoke with him at 10 he sounded fine. At 12:30 when he called me he sounded different. He said he was having a hard time catching his breath. I told him I'd be over but first I was going to have T go up and check on him. I called her asked her to head upstairs and that I'd be over in 10 minutes. She called me right away and said he looked bad and thought we should get him to the ER. 911 was called and we spend the rest of the day in the ER. His 02 sats were down at home but recovered nicely once he was on oxygen at the hospital. I think he must have been scared but he didn't really remember how or why he was at the hospital. They ran tests and everything came out ok. No blood clots, nothing on the chest xray, heart test came back good and the final determination was that he had mucous blocking his airway for a time that caused his oxygen to fall. Now he is home with new meds for his COPD that has gone untreated until now. I hope this treatment will help him be more comfortable. We'll be going to the local ENT tomorrow to be checked out and have made the decision not to go forward with the surgery. Seeing Dad in the hospital today solidified that decision for me. We'll talk to Dad's primary care physician to see what our next steps will entail. Please pray for us as this will be a difficult road.

Thoughts on Education

"What we emphasize in education is generally what we get. When we emphasize achievement above all else, then we are likely to produce achievement above all else. High achievement is desirable. But at what cost? When education becomes focused on production — namely, evidence of demonstrable achievement — then we have lost what it mean s to be educated. Teaching and learning are not just about achievement or quality-assured products. They are about care, compassion, love, hope, joy, passion, grace, relationship, and more. They are about people and how we nurture and are nurtured on our ­learning journeys." observed Colin Gibbs at a recent educators forum.

While I understand that students, parents and teachers must be accountable for children's learning I worry about what education looks like today. There is much discussion about increasing the rigor of academics in our local schools. So much is expected of children and families. Young children are being held to standards that are rigorous and in many cases developmentally inappropriate. What is going to happen to these children if by the 5th grade they are unhappy in their education and not feeling competent in their abilities or confident in their teachers. I wonder if the pendulum will swing back in the other direction perhaps alleviating some of this pressure.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Friday Fill Ins on Sunday?

So I am going to get back to following Friday Fill Ins. As I missed this past Friday I thought I would use it to close out my weekend.

1. Plans and schedules keep life moving smoothly from September to June but are things I happily abandon once vacation comes around.

2. I'm happy when things are copacetic if you know what I mean ;).

3. The last thing I drank was an ice cold water bottle.

4. One of the most valuable things in my life is the time I spend with my family just 'being' together.

5. I like pepperoni on my pizza.

6. Dear November, please give us the time we need to ease Dad into the holiday season gently and to prepare us all for what will come over the next several months. Let all the hurts of the past be healed and the promise of everlasting life fill our hearts.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

New Traditions

Today was spent relaxing.  I woke early due to a neighborhood dog who was barking loudly throughout the early morning hours.  Poor dog must have really wanted to be inside.  Anyway,  two leisurely cups of coffee some HGTV and emails took up most of the morning.  'n' and I went out and took care of some errands.  She had to pick up a gift for a friends' birthday party next week.  Then for the second Saturday in a row we went to a local cupcake shop called Cupcake Charlies.  This little shop is wonderful. Lovely teenage girls man the store on the weekends.  They have dozens of cupcakes on display in their case and are always working on mixing up more frosting and batches as customers come into the shop.  Today 'n' and I tried three flavors; funfetti, lemon, and raspberry chocolate.  We also picked up hostess with the mostess, and vanilla with chocolate for R and N.   It was agreed that at future outings to CC's we will only choose two flavors to try.  That last cupcake put us both over the edge.  Too much of a good thing.  After enjoying our decadent treat we walked the waterfront.  It was good to get some exercise and it is always fun to people watch as the tourists continue to discover the joys of our waterfront.  We thought that we might walk our beach later in the day but instead curled up together on the couch and took and hour and a half nap.  Fresh air and cupcakes will do that to you.  We ended the day with a two hour American Idol Wii competition.  It was a good day.


Friday, November 6, 2009


Over the last weeks I have been grappling with Dad's declining health, cancer diagnosis, treatment options and how and when to share this information with extended family. I took the plunge last night by sending out a prayer request to family. I must say I am overwhelmed with the responses I have received. Just when I felt like I must face things alone with only the support of my immediate family I have realized again that none of us are truly alone. All you have to do is reach out to those who love you. I am learning to do this and to ask for help. Responses started with a call from my BIL, T late last night and moved on to heartfelt emails and facebook messages from my 'big' cousins today. I also heard from my dear friend M. The thoughts and prayers of these dear people mean the world to me, more than they know.

Well today was our second consultation with Dr. Wein at Tufts Medical Center in Boston. Dad didn't remember that we were going into Boston. Thankfully my brother was able to drive us into the city. When I spoke with Dad this morning before our trip he was uncertain about the surgery. I tried to explain to him the implications of surgery verses the alternative-doing nothing. I told him we would support him no matter what his choice. He then said he thought he might not want to do the surgery. I told him how I reached out to family to let them know what was going on and that everyone is sending him prayers and love. He was speechless for several minutes; overcome by emotions I believe. It wasn't until I said "Getting old really sucks sometimes" and it snapped him back into the conversation. He asked "What did you say?" I repeated "Getting old really stinks sometimes" and our conversation continued. I think my bad language surprised him. :) So I went over to his house at about 10:30 to get ready for the trip. He spiffied himself up....with my help; beard trim, hair cut, sponge bath, clean clothes the whole nine yards. We were off and on the road by 11:00. He actually seemed a bit better and brighter than the last time we went out together on Monday. We were in Boston in no time, an hour early for our appointment so B took us for a ride around Southie and over by the waterfront and showed us all the buildings he had worked on when he was working with the Carpenter's Union. It was a good way to pass the time.

Even after sightseeing we were half an hour early to our appointment. We were called in right away. Dr. Wein came in and shared a lot of the same information as he had shared before. The tumor is a T4a. It can be treated for a cure with surgery. Unfortunately due to lymph node involvement(just 1) his 5yr survivability rate is at about 30%. The other do nothing is will result in death probably in 6 months. After listening to the doctor again Dad changed his mind and thought he should have the surgery. So for now we are going to go forward with the cardiac testing planned for next Wednesday and will use those results to inform our decision. Personally I just want to make a decision and move forward, but it isn't about just me so I will be respectful of the process and support Dad as he goes through the testing. It is so difficult because he forgets what the doctors say after he leaves the office to the point of forgetting he even has cancer. I feel like this is going to be a decision made by the family more than by him.


Thursday, November 5, 2009

Back to Boston

Heading up to Boston again tomorrow. Hopefully we'll have some more specific information from the surgeons on Dad's surgery and all the implications to follow. I'm guessing I'm on my own, but this will have to be the last trip alone. Dad is visibly getting weaker and weaker and I don't think I can safely do this by myself for much longer. Please send positive energy, prayers and love our way. I think that tomorrow will be a pivotal day for us in the decision making process.


Wednesday, November 4, 2009


I wonder what it feels like to be living in the sunset of your life.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

A Poignant Moment

So as you all know I've been spending a good deal of my free time lately taking Dad to various doctors appointments. Virtually every Monday and Friday has been consumed with appointments. I have become quite adept at people watching. It passes the time as we wait for our turn and there is always a wait. Well yesterday we were at Dad's primary care office. We sat down across from an elderly woman and a younger woman presumably her daughter. The office is relatively small and Dad is not much of a conversationalist so as we sat waiting I couldn't help but overhear the conversation taking place across from me. The younger woman was joking that they would have to wait until 'Joe' came back. The mom seemed confused by this and the younger woman went on to say "Remember you are going home today" and Joe is going to take you home. To this the elderly woman said "Thank God I'm going home" Then she turned to her daughter and looked deep into her eyes and said "Oh Judy you have been so good to me" I had to turn away because it was such a tender moment I had tears in my eyes... as I do now. There is something so sweet, perhaps bittersweet about the relationship between an adult child and their aging parent. It is a very difficult road to travel.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Fun, Fun, Fun

Happy Halloween!

Bounty Hunter for hire!

Twenties era flapper.

Could she be any happier? We had so much fun doing her makeup! I don't want to grow up too fast but I can't wait to buy her some Bare Essentials beauty products.

Check out the scar on this bounty hunters face. He's been around!

Looks like my flapper will be safe with her bounty hunter brother. What do you think?

So once the fam was off to trick or treat, leaving me to distribute candy to the neighborhood ghouls, I decided to set up the table. Nothing like waiting til the last minute to decorate, but there has been a lot going on so better late than never :)


Sunday, November 1, 2009

November-Writing Month!

Well November is here again! I'm happy to say goodbye to the craziness of Halloween and hello to the joys of Thanksgiving! November is write every day month for me. I'm going to do my best to renew my energies and enthusiasm here at Surfside Serenity. I do have a lot on my plate with my Dad's health situation, but I have to continue on with my I don't go crazy.

That being said I'll give a very brief update on Dad's situation. This past week we went to our local oncologist in the hopes that there might be some medical option that would save Dad's voice. We found out the the cancer is a T3 or T4. It is a slow growing cancer and has probably been growing for at least a year and a half. The doctor was so kind. I had a long list of typed questions that he answered. He told us that the medical option would not work for Dad. The coarse of chemo and radiation would be so strong that the treatment would likely kill Dad. So our options are clear. Go for the surgery and save his life or do nothing and the cancer will continue to grow and eventually cause him to aspirate get pneumonia and die. The doctor bluntly said it is not a nice way to meat your maker. He also said that if it were his father he would have him go to Boston for the surgery. So I guess our decision is made. I must say that I am terrified that he will go into surgery and either not come through the surgery or that he will end up in a nursing home; something he is adamantly against. Tomorrow he will see his primary care physician and we'll talk to him about if Dad is strong enough to endure a 6 hour surgery. Sigh...... Next Friday it is back into Boston. We'll see how quickly we can get the ball rolling.

On another note the NAEYC re accreditation process is moving forward for my school. The validator came last year and was very pleasant and respectful of staff and children. She looked at my class and portfolio, two other preschool classes and the kindergarten. Off the record she said we had a beautiful school and that we were doing a fabulous job. We'll be celebrating on Tuesday with a special luncheon. Yay!

Well off to figure out diner. I'll post some Halloween pictures tomorrow. The kids looked great and I decorated the table for the evening.

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