Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Blog Catch-up

I haven't been blogging much lately, here's what's new with us: 

- I have bangs. Not severe straight across the forehead type bangs but side sweepy type bangs. I'm still getting used to them but I'm quite pleased. I drove all the way to to Mesa to get my hair done by my sister-in-law Callie because she does such an awesome job and she gives us an amazing discount. Thank you, Callie. 
- I fell in love with Pandora all over again. 

- I'm gearing to drive up to Utah in a few weeks to take care of my mom. I've been trolling Pandora to find new music for the trip. Any suggestions? It looks like my brother Chris is going to fly from Cairo to Tucson/Phoenix to help me with the drive. I haven't seen him in a year and I can't wait to have him trapped in a car for 12 hours with me and my children. I'm not being sarcastic. I really can't wait. He's a cool kid. 

- I have awesome friends and family who have kindly offered to babysit my kids while I'm in Utah. Thank you thank you thank you. 

- Before I go to Utah, I'm going to GIRLS CAMP! Five days of no cell phone, no laptop, no diet coke and no boys!?!?! (Whoa, look at all those exclamation marks. I'm going to fit right in at Girl's Camp). Am I nuts? The answer is probably yes but I'm still really excited. Camp Zion is located on Mount Lemmon where apparently it gets really cold. Mount Lemmon even has a little ski lift that operates in the winter. I welcome the cold with open arms. Also, there are bears on Mt. Lemmon. I welcome the bears with open arms- Timothy Treadwell style. Seriously, a bear sighting would be amazing. Unfortunately, there have been several skunk sightings in years past and not a lot of bear sightings. I'm sure I'll have a full (and TOTALLY AWESOME!!!) report of Girl's Camp when I get back.

- Have I mentioned that it's really hot? It is. I bought a slip and slide this morning and set it up during Booker's nap. When he woke up, I showed him some YouTube clips to give him an idea of how to slide on his belly. Parent fail, right? Right. It didn't work and I ended up having to suck it up and show him myself how to run and slide. I'm so grateful that only my two boys were witness to my pathetic attempt to slide.

 His swimsuit was too big and eventually slip'n'slided off. 

- You can't quite tell here, but our small patch of grass is hardly big enough to accommodate the slip and slide. I'm ready for a bigger yard and a new house. We've settled on a great family friendly neighborhood just north of Tucson proper and we're getting ready to put an offer in on a house. Crazy. How did I go from paying $235 a month to share a crappy apartment south of campus with 5 other girls to buying an actual house? Growing up is a strange thing. 

- Eight weeks ago I made the switch from Weight Watchers Online to actual Weight Watchers Meetings. Since then, I've lost a measly 10 pounds. I say measly because this morning Clark informs that that he, too, has lost 10 pounds. What the?! I didn't even know he was TRYING to lose weight. I'm at the gym EVERY morning and I stick to a pretty strict diet and I'm lucky if I shave a pound off each week. Clark, on the other hand, switches from eating out 5 times a week with his co-workers to only eating out 3 times a week and automatically drops a million pant sizes. Ugh. 

- Clark has lost 10 pounds and I'm genuinely happy for him! I'm trying not to be jealous of his weight loss success. Some people are just good at losing weight and don't mind working hard to do so- can I pay those people to lose weight for me? It's much more diffcult for Clark to lose weight because the last thing he wants to do after a 10 hour work day is go to the gym. He's pretty faithful about walking every night with the boys and I'm pretty faithful about sitting in front of the TV and enjoying a house to myself while they walk. 

- Ike endured seven days of exploding diarrhea/vomiting and didn't end up in the E.R. Hooray! We're so glad to have him back. He's recently learned how to pull himself up onto things and is loving the new view this offers him. 

- Booker is transitioning from the terrible twos to the even terribler threes.  Last night, I put him on time-out in the bathroom because he was hitting his bedroom door with a baseball bat. He made himself comfortable, lay down on the ground and curled up with a towel as a blanket. He was as happy as a clam in there for a good 20 minutes until he thought he saw a bug. He freaked out and begged to come off time-out. Sigh. When will I have my sweet, attitude-free little boy back?

- Besides my kids, I've been keeping busy with lots of interesting and varied projects- from the usual patent drawings to grad announcements to flyers for a mixed martial arts gym. This week, I'm working on a logo for a Sloppy Joe stand that will provide employment for the saints in Indonesia. How cool is that? 

Anyways, I'll sign off now because the time has come for me to think skinny thoughts, find my most light-weight clothes and attend my weekly WW meeting. 

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Worlds Collide (a guest post)

Margaret has been bugging me to blog more often (or at all) and with all the good tv shows done for the summer, I figured I might as well. Plus, Margaret finally took an interest in what I do for a living. Here's how it happened.

DeNeece got the results of her genetic testing and discovered that she has a mutation in the BRCA 2 gene that makes it more likely for her to get breast cancer. BRCA 2 is one of two genes (creatively named BRCA (as in breast cancer) 1 and BRCA 2) that are associated with breast cancer. If you have either of these genes, your odds of breast and ovarian cancer go way up.

Both genes are patented, oddly enough by a company called Myriad in Salt Lake City. The ACLU and others have recently sued to try to invalidate the patents, on the grounds that genes are products of nature and some free speech argument that is too idiotic to get into. You can see the Huff Po piece with some interesting video links on the issues in the lawsuit here.

As professor Crouch said, the gene patenting debate has been interesting - emphasis here on has been. The genome has been mapped and sequences published. Very few new patents claiming isolated human genes are being filed. The ones already patented will expire within the next decade -- most of them will expire before being put to any practical use.

The argument that those genes exist in nature and shouldn't be patentable doesn't do much for me. Most drugs exist in nature. You can patent them if you find them and isolate them. There are very good reasons for that, and I don't see why genes are different.

The ACLU's issue is that one company controls the diagnostic for the BRCA genes and that this prevents research on the genes and makes tests for the gene expensive, which precludes some women without the right insurance from getting the test.

The ACLU complaint seems to fundamentally misunderstand the point of the patent regime. The beef about cost is legitimate, but that's sort of the point of patent protection. It allows people to charge more than they would otherwise, or to exclude others from competing with them in the market. This makes potential life saving diagnostics and therapies more expensive. It also makes potential life saving diagnostics and therapies possible. Check out the video:

At around the 45 second mark, before the diatribe about how evil the patent is, the narrator says this: "After Mary Claire King's initial discovery, labs across the country, including hers, entered into a race to find the exact location of the BRCA 1 gene." There is a reason that labs across the country got into that race, and it wasn't for the love of science. It was because there was a pot of gold at the end of that rainbow. The patent protection makes that pot of gold possible, and the pot of gold makes companies develop therapies that save lives. So yes, people have to pay more for 20 years for those inventions. But I'm grateful that Margaret has the chance to get that test, even at that price, to figure out if she has an elevated chance of getting cancer. And in 2015, when the genes start coming off patent, all those issues magically go away and everyone is happy.

It's interesting for us that this case just hit and is in the news precisely when DeNeece is seeking treatment at the University of Utah, one of the defendants in the case, and the best place to get this kind of diagnostics done. My guess is that the legal case will go away relatively soon on summary judgment. Hopefully so will DeNeece's cancer.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

El Milagro de San Xavier

It seems like a lot of my blog entries lately are about sick kids and broken A.C.'s and blah blah blah. Well, I'll try to keep the griping to a minimum but boy, do I need to whine a little bit about the terrible weekend we've had. I'll just say that even though it meant I was covered in vomit, it was immensely satisfying to have Ike puke ALL over the doctor's office yesterday. It went something like this...

Physician's Assistant: Well, you're a happy little guy. Can't be too dehydrated with a smile like...
Clargaret: Told you he was sick.

To top it all off, our A.C. went out again. Do you know what a 90 degree house full of diarrhea and vomit smells like? It's not pleasant. I was really looking forward to going to church today just so we could have 3 hours of air conditioned bliss. I was looking forward to it, until around midnight last night when Booker woke up covered in vomit. You can take one sick kid to church, but two pukey kids is just asking for it. 

So what do you do when your kids are too sick to go to church and your house is too hot to endure? You take them to someone else's church, naturally. Basically we just needed any excuse to take a long drive in our nice, cold car and the San Xavier del Bac Mission was the perfect distance (plus it was free). And I didn't feel bad skipping out on my own church services because there was something spiritually fulfilling about this place. I think it had something to do with the tattooed guys in wife beaters getting down on their knees to pray and offer up milagros

And speaking of milagros, I stood in line to touch St. Francis myself so he could offer up intercessionary prayer on my behalf. As I stood there, I noticed people lifting up his head several times in a row. Later I learned that only those with a pure heart are able to lift his head. I didn't presume to lift his head, but I did touch his forehead with a prayer in my heart for our A.C.

And wouldn't you know, not five minutes later I got a call from the A.C. guy telling me that he was on his way to our house to fix the A.C.- on a Sunday, no less. Un milagro inesperado! We decided to celebrate by getting some Indian frybread from the locals who had camped out in the parking lot to sell things (the Mission sits on a Tohono O'odham Indian Reservation). And I didn't feel bad about breaking the Sabbath to purchase some frybread because frankly, I had no choice. You simply can not refuse delicious Indian frybread made by actual Indians right in front of your eyes. I only wish we had enough change in our pockets to add some honey or powdered sugar. But the plain old frybread was still divine. 

All in all, a fun and unexpected trip. And the best part, our A.C. is working again! More photos of beautiful San Xavier here

Friday, May 15, 2009


I've spent the day trying to dodge projectile vomit and exploding diarrhea. I smell like old formula and partially digested raisins. It's disgusting. So because Ike is in my bad book today, I going to share some cute Booker moments. Hopefully it will remind me of why I signed up for this whole mothering thing to begin with. 

- Lately he's been insisting on getting himself dressed. Sometimes he gets it right. Most times he doesn't...

- As we drove home from California the other night, Booker was observing the moon when he announced, "Look, mom- the moon is like a T.V. show."

- After several bad cases of brain freeze, he now eats his popsicles "verwy swoly" and likes to get high fives when he doesn't get "bwain fweeze."

- As he was carrying out a pillow to lay on in the front room, he stopped mid-sentence to say "PILLOW FIGHT" and then whacked his brother with the pillow. He resumed his sentence like nothing happened. 

- Whenever I'm gone without him, he tells his dad that I'm at a "weight watchers meeting."

- About 4 weeks ago he got an airbrush tattoo of a guitar on his arm. He kept asking who gave him the tattoo. I kept ignoring the question. When he asked for the umpteenth time who gave him the tattoo, I told him that "Steve" had given him the tattoo. Just this morning, he was telling me about "Steve" and his cool "rock-tar" tattoo. How does he remember that?!

- Despite having several cute pairs of shoes, he insists on only wearing his Thomas the Tank Engine Crocs that are 3 sizes too big for him. He trips a lot. 

- When I pick him up from daycare at the gym, he always asks me if I "got big muscles that day."

Man, that kid cracks me up. He's my own personal comedian, which is great on days like today when vomit and poop don't seem very funny.

On a more serious note, at what point do you start to worry when your baby won't keep any fluids/foods down (or up)? He's vomiting up everything he eats and won't drink any Pedialyte. 

Sunday, May 10, 2009

More photos from Oceanside

I'm doing another photo dump. My camera gets so full, so fast here at the beach. I guess I should also explain what the heck I'm doing in Oceanside, CA in the middle of May. My sister-in-law rents a beach house every year and generously offers it out to family. I drove down with the boys on Tuesday night and Clark joined me on Thursday. It's been a little cloudy the last few days but even when the sun isn't shining, there are plenty of fun things to do. I especially love watching Booker play with all his cousins. He's having trouble keeping up with his older cousin, Dax who runs faster, eats faster and needs less sleep, but man, is it fun watching him try. 

I've loved every second that I've been here (not including the seconds spent mopping up Booker's accidents because he's too busy having fun with his cousins to stop for potty breaks), but really, it's been a blast. I'll take wet underwear any day if it means I can play for hours in the sun and then fall asleep to the sound of waves crashing outside my window. I have a pit in my stomach thinking about going back to Tucson tomorrow night. But at least I feel refreshed and revitalized, ready to face a summer that involves shuttling my family to and from Utah to help my sick mother, going to Girl's Camp sometime in between trips and finding creative ways to keep two kids occupied in scorching hot temperatures.  

When things get hot and miserable in Arizona, at least I'll have photos to remind me of cooler, less stressful times. 

Is there anything cuter than toddlers holding hands?!? Maybe, but not when you personally know the two toddlers. This was totally Addie's idea, but Booker secretly loved the attention. All the little boys on the beach were J-E-A-L-O-U-S.  More hand-holding here


Friday, May 8, 2009

Oceanside, CA

Mornings at the beach...

Evenings at the beach...

And everything in between...







Saturday, May 2, 2009

De to the Neece


Ever since I've known her, my mom has had the same exact hair style: short, thick and poofy. Except for the occasional dye job, she hasn't changed her hair one bit in over 25 years. Crazy, right? 

Well, she's finally getting a new hair style courtesy of chemotherapy. Actually, I don't know if that's true. Not everyone loses their hair during chemotherapy. But if she does, she can look on the bright side and start afresh with a brand new DeNeece from head (hair) to toe. I'm pretty sure you're crying at this point, Mom. Please forgive me

Yesterday my mom had surgery at the Huntsman Institute in Salt Lake to remove a lump in her breast that she found 3 weeks ago (I like this quick turn-around). I've been told that the good folks over at the Huntsman really HATE cancer (which I like to hear) and the doctors working with my mom especially hate BREAST cancer (grrrrr, that cancer). During that surgery, they discovered that the cancer has spread to her lymph nodes which means that chemotherapy, which was previously an option, is now a necessity. 

Let's take a moment to remember the "Do"... 
The "Do" in Jerusalem. Is Marie taking this picture? I'm impressed. 

The "Do" next to a SWEET mustache.  Dad, I'll never forget the day you shaved half of it and walked around like nothing was wrong. We thought it was HILARIOUS.  

"Do," you will be sorely missed. But not really. 

Alright, I'm done being horribly insensitive, at least for this blog post. I can't make any guarantees for the next one. Anyways, it seems like everyone I talk to has a mother, daughter, aunt, grandma or cousin who has a breast cancer story. For the most part, these stories seem to have a happy ending. My only experiences with cancer involve two good friends. One with lymphoma which ended well and one with rhabdomyosarcoma which did not end well. Oh, and my grandmother, Ralphena, who battled breast cancer for 10 years and eventually died from it. But that was many years and many advancements ago so it doesn't seem fair to compare her experience with my own mother's.

So please share your breast cancer/chemo/radiation stories. Good, bad or otherwise. I'm eager to learn more.