Tuesday, July 8, 2014

In the sermon Sunday night, the little preaching intern started out describing Type A and Type B personalities. The categorizing of people according to psychological behaviors labeled Type A and Type B, oddly, began as the project of two heart doctors in the 1950s. They were trying to determine personality risk factors for heart disease. Type A people being the sticklers for plans, routines and rules, and the Type B people being, basically, the opposite. The project lost credibility when it was discovered that tobacco companies had funded the work which would hopefully divert attention from their products as a risk factor for heart disease. So, the personality measurement took on new cultural interest, and is used in general as a way to lump groups of people according to behavior. And, there is some unofficial Type C and D, but originally, it was separating people into either Type A or B. I took a quiz years ago and I am Type AB - a combination. No wonder I am so stressed! My Type A side tries to keep my B side inline, and my B side bucks the system. Personality typing is mostly for fun now, and a majority of people would be a combination of the two, with a heavier lean toward one or the other. I do feel like a Type A person living a Type B life. Our family’s
most consistent characteristic is that things change. We are routinely chaotic, and our only plan is to be flexible.

This is a short slideshow of our trip.

We took a little trip to Chattanooga over the July Fourth holiday weekend. Vic has gotten as bad as the kids about wanting to go somewhere if we have a day with nothing on the calendar. But, all he has to do is be home when we need to leave, have fun when we are gone, and go back to work when we get home. When I see no dot on a day on our calendar (a dot indicates that an event has been scheduled), it means no overload for me on top of what we already do each day. No overload preparing to be out of town while dealing with every-day overload; no laundry overload before we leave so that we have clothes to pack; no overload of dealing with the kids away from home out of
 their regular routine and environment; no laundry overload when we get back; no after-vacation chore overload with every day chores; no kids’ fatigue-attitude overload when we get back. So, no dot to me, means normal stress levels are maintained.

So, Vic saw that there was no dot for the holiday weekend which was a three-day weekend without taking any vacation days. I purposefully had no dot there because we have been gone some already and the kids will be gone to camp next week, and I wanted to be home and go to the church fireworks picnic, just hang out and enjoy home. But Chattanooga has kind of been on Vic’s to-do list, got in his head that we must go there, and it’s on Caleb’s to-do list, too. Some of you might remember that when he was turning six in
Sharks are Eli's favorite.
April, we gave him the option of having a birthday party or going to Chattanooga - he is a train man. He very shrewdly asked if he didn’t go to Chattanooga for his birthday would we go anyway as a family sometime. He wasn’t going to waste a birthday on it, if we would do it anyway. He ain’t nobody’s dummy.

So, Chattanooga is an easy drive from where we live, and there are some neat things to do there covering a variety of interests. Eli, however, still did not feel great from being sick these last two weeks. And he, in general, is just non-participatory in anything that requires he be active or at least interested and present. His eating and drinking was the minimum for keeping him hydrated. He was been weak and nauseous to walk or sit-up, so we were lucky to have access to a wheelchair for the weekend from Hometown Health which our friend Caneta Hall, who is also our realtor and owner of Rehabitat, got for us. We would not have made it without it, or at least Eli and a parent would have stayed in the hotel room the entire trip. Eli cried a lot each day out of oversensitivity to irritants or just because we made him do something he didn’t want to do. He cried about being made to walk - which we made him do some so that he would get some exercise - or about getting his picture made, or about being asked to eat or drink, or about blowing his nose - he still has a lot of snot and congestion from being sick, and all the crying made it worse - or about one of his siblings making fun of him, or just anything they did in contrary to him set him off. He was extremely irritable all weekend. A lot of that was just him being uncooperative because he didn’t feel good from being sick and not eating, and being uncooperative and hypersensitive because that is just part of his personality now. When we got back to the room and he could lay on the bed with his daddy and watch Spongebob, suddenly he was in a good mood. So, my tolerance for his attitude was up and down.

During Eli’s first treatment, early on I wrote that I was conflicted about disciplining him for unacceptable behavior because he was enduring so much. Who wouldn’t be obstinate and hateful,
especially a 7-year-old. My kids are all the things kids are, but they know to expect consequences for behavior choices, whether it be good or bad. So, during the first treatment, I just learned to pick and choose my opportunities to grow a distaste in him for negative behavior. The only tool in the shed during treatment was to deny privileges, and thankfully with Eli it usually fit the job - usually. But, even with his prognosis now, I can’t let him think that because he faces extreme adversity he is
Our duck was named Daffy Duck.
exempt from expectations that govern this family unit. That would quickly grow a selfish attitude and eventually alienate him. That is not how we would want him to be remembered by his siblings or anyone. And, especially with his prognosis now, I can’t let him think that because he faces unusual and extreme adversity that he is exempt from striving to be Christ-like. This would let Darkness into his nature, and it would send the wrong message to the other kids that there are exemptions and exceptions for obeying God. Maybe it is Type A of me to expect the rules to be followed with no exceptions, no exemptions, but my motivation is extreme love for the kids and a respect for the difficulty of the race they all must endure no matter the number of years they have on earth.

But, remember my Type B side? I struggle with consistency (in anything and everything), and the negativity wears on my nature. So, it is hard for me to do what I’m suppose to do as a mother for him in his situation. It would be easy for me to find an excuse to avoid the immediate difficulty of discipline. But, when I peel away all the selfish
We saw the Aquarium from the river.
distraction, what I find at the center of what I want is for him to feel loved and go to heaven. His subconscious knows that I discipline him because I love him, and no matter if it is six months or 10 years, I’m doing all I can do to grow a soul seeking heaven. So, I do discipline him for his negative behavior even now, even when he doesn’t feel good. I don’t spank him any more because of his physical weakness and the low platelets - but he doesn’t know that I won’t because I did when he was little, so he remembers that. My brain also has to remember that his brain has been compromised with radiation, so take into consideration what he can handle emotionally and I do discipline him by giving him chores or denying him privileges for unacceptable behavior. He is still part of this family, and as part of this family, there are expectations and consequences - good and bad.

So, the trip was fun but rocky at times below Rock City, or that is how it was perceived by me, thankfully, the kids only remember the fun stuff… I think. We did not know this, but Chattanooga holds their fireworks show on the third, instead of the fourth. Hg suggested it is because General William Sherman marched through Chattanooga on July 4, which is why Atlanta hosts it on the third, but I can’t quickly find if any of that is true. But, what I do know is that what we saw as we rolled in to downtown just three minutes before it started is that Athens, Alabama, and Madison, Alabama, far out do the big, tourist town of Chattanooga. Wow, what we saw was nothing. It might have lasted 5 minutes. I think there was some music and entertainment somewhere leading up to it, and there were some quick fireworks coming from the baseball stadium, too, but I’m going to assume the celebratory peripherals were the main attraction, and not the fireworks.

Rocky at Rock City.
We had a nice, easy, but long day at the aquarium on the fourth. The crowd was fine, it was busy, but not bad for a holiday. The wheelchair really helped us all enjoy it because Eli was not so fussy for the most part, except when we asked him to take a drink or a bite. We had reservations for the Chattanooga Ducks on Saturday morning and the weather was perfect for a boat ride. These are multi-passenger amphibious vehicles, similar to a bus, that drive from downtown to the river, then straight into the river. They were used in World War II and have found new life in the tourist industry. The tour itself is about an hour and some change, which is pretty much the limit of interest for the kids. Then the day was open, so we decided to do the touristy trio of Rock City, Ruby Falls, and Incline Railway on Lookout Mountain… so did everybody else. Going up the
mountain, we were waved to go on past Ruby Falls by the attendant, so we couldn’t even try to park and be curious. Then, the Railway had a two-hour wait to go down, then a three-hour wait to come back up (where we would be parked). Eli was particularly fussy on Saturday, so we just observed Chattanooga off the observation deck. We moved on to Rock City, and found a great parking place despite the overflowing crowd. But, when we went to buy tickets, we were told that the trails were not wheelchair accessible. There was no way Eli was going to walk any distance at all, so I took he kids picture with Rocky the Garden Gnome (which they hated, but that made it kind of fun, espcially when they are wearing their matching Incredibles shirts that they hate. It felt very National Lampoon’s Vacation-ish), and then we went to Point Park, a military park. The
At Point Park.
historical park must catch the tourist runoff from the mountain when the other billboard attractions are overflowing. It was obviously busier than normal, but, it was very nice, a surprise. We caught a great talk by the ranger about the civil war and the role of Lookout Mountain. He was interesting, passionate about the story, and was obviously a preacher because of the way he knew how to pause for affect. The kids didn’t care, but it was a great narrative, and it made our trip relevant to the holiday. We had even better views of the city, and could see back toward home as well, which Caleb asked about. And, I got two homeschool reading books for Hg and Eli about the civil war - score! And, tonight, I just found out that I can count it all as school days… double score! After supper, the kids went to the indoor pool, as they had done the night before, except Eli who does not like to get wet usually. Sunday before coming home
 we were able to make good on Caleb’s hope and go to the Chattanooga Choo Choo. We love to view the model train, and see the courtyard, but that’s all we did there and he seemed satisfied. We had one more to-do on the list, so we came back to the aquarium for the kids to play in the water accents decorating the complex. Eli and Vic went back into the museum since we now have family passes. It was scorching hot on Sunday and if he wasn’t going to get in the water, it was just too hot to handle in a rough mood.

Eli is better today, but still complains of his ears hurting and has a horrible cough. His eating and drinking will make the minimum if I remind him to do it over and over. I’m sure his ANC is low having to fight this for so long. He has his mid-cycle
Abbey was the only taker for the 100-year-old carousel.
chemo on Friday and is suppose to go to Bible camp for the weekend with Caleb and Vic. But, I have my doubts that he will make it. Even if he was well, the night of chemo he struggles a bit, so I would hate for him to get sick during the night at the cabin with all the other boys there. It might scare them, and Vic would have to deal with that and Caleb being there, too. So, he will stay home Friday night for sure, and then if he is over whatever this is that he is still fighting I will take him on Saturday to participate. But, if he isn’t, he will just have to miss because we need him well, and getting to do fun stuff that could slow progress comes second. I will just have to be the bad guy… again.

Thanks to all of you that participated in sending letters or cards to patients at St. Jude during June. I have no way of knowing, but I’m sure it was a great success based on your willingness to participate
The Choo Choo
The model railroad at the Choo Choo. It is huge and interactive.
 in other things that we do. Eli’s next scan will be at the end of August, and I have an idea of what we might do for our “Take Back when I Go Back,” but I want to think about it some more. So, nothing yet for August, but what you can keep in mind is that when we go in October (assuming the August scan is good) is that we will take like-new halloween costumes to Target House. We did this before, and it was very popular. So, if you start cleaning out and getting ready for fall, hang on to your gently-used costumes, with all the pieces, or if you are out shopping and see last year’s costumes hit the clearance racks for super cheap and want to help out, we will take them in October. So, just keep it in mind, but I am NOT collecting that yet. I don’t have room to hang on to things that long, just know that we will do that in the future.

If you regularly donate to St. Jude, please consider doing it in honor of McKenzey Cain who finished two years of treatment. We are helping raise money for her name to be placed on the tribute wall at St. Jude in celebration of her hard work. Her scans were not quite as clear as they and hoped, but she will be on maintenance chemo for several weeks, so they are hoping that it will knock it out or that the spots were an anomaly. She will be scanned in four months again. Please, pray for her complete healing. You may donate in her honor directly to St. Jude via this link.

Please, remember Molly and Kapri as they are enduring treatment, and for Brayden as he continues to fight valiantly.

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