Monday, May 5, 2014

Waiting for labs at the clinic last Friday.
Samuel L. Clemens, aka Mark Twain, called Helen Keller the “Eighth Wonder of the World”. Which, in true Twainism, pegs her existence perfectly. From the few excerpts that I have read, he was truly awe-inspired by her, which is a criteria for being consider one of the natural Seven Wonders of the World. They met when she was 16 at a luncheon that was held in her honor when she visited New York city. Clemens was a guest of the host, one of his editors, and was immediately fascinated by her. He seemed to appreciate her much like an observer would a painting or a sculpture. Having read some of his work, she was already a fan of Mark Twain, and upon meeting in person was comfortable with the humorous and satirical celebrity. From that meeting, they were friends and supporters of each other until his death. He is a big reason she was able to continue her education. After meeting her, he was so deeply touched by her accomplishments that he made it a
Caleb's birthday party.
 personal mission to support her growth. Clemens was a disastrous investor - which he readily admitted - and had no money himself, so he used what he had to support Keller and that was his name. He successfully persuaded a rich buddy of his to pay for her continued education and he publicly pushed her literary works which generated money for her. He was almost equally admiring of Anne Sullivan Macy, Keller’s teacher and life-long companion. Again, I think, just as he had an appreciation for the piece of art, he - as a literary artist - appreciated the artist that created the wonder. He is responsible for calling Macy the “Miracle-Worker,” which is used as the title of the famous play and, later, movie about Macy and her work with Keller. He was intrigued by her “touch teaching” method and enjoyed the company of her and her husband along with Keller. He was in awe and recognized true wonder. And, if I had known there was a vote in 2007 for “New Wonders of the World”, I would have voted for her. The original “Seven Wonders” are now the “Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.” That list was comprised by a group of Greek poets as a kind of travel guide, but it only included structures of the Mediterranean area. Only the Great Pyramid from the list exists

 today. There were more lists along through the ages, and of the modern era, so there have been many “Seven Wonders of the World.” There is also a separate “Seven Natural Wonders of the World” to distinguish engineering feats of man from God’s handiwork. Marketing geniuses of our day came up with the idea to have a “New Seven Wonders of the World” vote. I guess ticket sales at the Great Wall were low. The vote was by internet and cell phone. If a Wonder made the cut it was by pure popularity, not by being Wonderful. So, not everybody agrees to acknowledge the list, especially, if your “Wonder” didn’t make the list. I would also vote for google as a “Seven Wonders of the World.” I am not a good book reader, but I love facts and information. I think I get bored reading about the one subject of a book because my brain is designed to juggle. I like to follow a lead.
Caleb jumping in to the ball pit.
Abbey space walking in Nashville.
Googling - with the knowledge of what websites are trustworthy - is perfect for me. What I read are usually articles, so they are short and concise. If I am curious about a single fact or a word or an idea in an article, I can immediately switch gears and follow that trail. Just like reading about Samuel Clemens, then to learn that he was friends with Helen Keller, which lead me to read about the multiple “Seven Wonders of the World.” And, all of those things may not be news to the readers here, but just as most of you like to get lost in a book, I love to get lost on google and see where it takes me. Unlike knowing what to expect out a book you choose, google is always a surprise.

We have had another fun weekend, all normal busy stuff. I went with Abbey on a field trip to Nashville at a science center, and we got to visit with Mom, which I have not done in a while. We celebrated Caleb’s sixth birthday on Friday with a traditional invite-your-class party. With four kids, I decided a long time ago (when there were three) that we would just have, what we call, “big birthdays” every four years so that we wouldn’t be birthday-ed to death every year. So, that would hit the big numbers of 4, 8, 12, 16. It was a great plan, so neat and even-numbered. For whatever reason - time, money, a one-year-old - I put Eli off until he was 5 for his first “big birthday,” and Caleb until he was six. But, I think that made him so genuinely
appreciative of it. I had him to say the blessing for the food at his party, and he stood in his chair, said his usual, then added happily, …and I can’t believe this is happening…in Jesus’ name, Amen.” He
Examining a sheep's heart.
 was so excited and grateful for it. I remember after Hannah Grace had her 8th birthday party, she said to me “This was the best day ever,” which was unusual for her to say anything positive, and still is. Oddly, when Eli had his party at 5, he said exactly the same thing, and Caleb said exactly the same thing. Abbey, I remember said thank you. So, I hope my kids will have some benefit for us having to tell them “no” for this or that, I pray they will have a greater appreciation for things, and not go the other extreme and be resentful. We say “no” a lot, and it’s not fun. “No” is a negative word and I am generally a positive person. But, we say “no” a lot because we have to stay on task or we would never eat regularly or go to bed regularly or ever get a bath regularly or do work or chores regularly. I shudder to think what our already chaotic family life would be like if we bent to whims more than we already have to. Only in extreme cases would we stay out late on a school night or Saturday night. That would disrupt the routine of homework, and preparation for the next day which is a must so that the next day hopefully run smoothly - which it likely wouldn’t. I just like to plan what can be planned because there are already so many things thrown at us that are not planned, or that take longer, or are harder to accomplish than expected. So, why add willingly to the unplans. That will happen any way.
He found a four-leaf clover.

We are settling in at the townhouse, and work is being done at our house. So, I hope to establish a routine and begin to clean out and organize mom’s stuff while I’m here - why not. There are only about three more weeks of school, so summer brings its own challenges and experiences. Eli is enjoying school, and I’m so thankful for the kids and people that surround him. This is chemo week, so we will be in clinic at Huntsville on Friday. I wanted to give a special shout-out to MaKenzey Cain, a fellow St. Jude patient and local gal who will finish her chemo in July. Her mother, Kelly, was responsible for getting us lined up for Disney so quickly, and helped with the car show. I did not know them before we met in a waiting room at St. Jude sometime around February of 2012 not long after Eli started his treatment and MaKenzey began hers. The teen aspect of childhood cancer is yet another layer of it all, and they are great examples of strength and courage, and always bring a positive vibe to an other wise dismal situation. I’m so proud of MaKenzey, Kelly and the rest of the family. We are raising money for St. Jude in honor of MaKenzey so that she can have a much-deserved plaque on the tribute wall at the Memphis St. Jude campus. One-hundred percent of your donation goes to St. Jude and will be attributed to the plaque, which will be from friends and family. Follow this link and thank you for supporting St. Jude and MaKenzey.

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