Tuesday, January 31, 2012

John/Paul is right: all you need is love

Jewel has started potty training. At two, she's half as old as 3B was when he began using the potty. She's also learning as she goes...so to speak...which means that she's having accidents along the way. Plenty of accidents. Because 3B made the switch so late, he never had an accident; one day he was wearing diapers and the next day he was using the potty.

OK, in between those days was a battle royale with Mama as she laid down the law: now is the time to use the potty.

Cajoling wasn't really working with him. No idea what got Jewel started on this, but wow...in a matter of months, we might be done with diapers? Really? Six years ago, I would have struggled to change one without covering everyone with poop, probably about as successful as if I'd tried to put gloves on an angry badger.

Now, however, to say that our household might not have diapers in it seems as strange as if you'd said we would no longer have books. Unlike losing our literacy, however, this is a change we're all cheering, quite literally.

Over the weekend, 3B was a good cheerleader for his sister when she was on the potty, clapping and congratulating her. And that probably meant more to her than a week of Mama and I doing the same, since her sun rises and sets on that boy's every move.

They certainly each have their own style, but it's nice to know that they also have each other, which is becoming more clear every day. Some days it seems like all they have is a running battle, but overall, they really do have a good relationship across the years that separate them.

And that makes me happier than I could have imagined possible six years ago.

Papa Bradstein will ride 200 miles across Massachusetts in two days to help fight cancer. Please support his ride.

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Friday, January 27, 2012

Our grocery store hates parents

Our local grocery store gives cookies and balloons to kids.


Because they hate parents.

There's really no other explanation.

For those who don't have kids, let me tell you that they have a built-in GPS that's better than your smartphone, they set off more local alerts than foursquare and they talk more than your Garmin on your dashboard. All of which means that whenever we're within 1/2 a mile of this store, the begging begins.

I have been coming home from a trip to the grocery store down the street--a trip that was moaned about and generally unpopular in the ages 5 and under demographic in our household--and been begged to go to this grocery store.

"But we just went to the grocery store. We got everything we needed."

"But I want a cookie," says 3B.

"And I want a balloon," adds Jewel.

And what do I have to compete with that...a bag of brown rice in the trunk? So the begging goes on...at least until we pass the library, when the object of their fickle attention changes.

But sometimes we do go to our local, smaller, closer and more expensive store, as Mama did yesterday with Jewel. Once when they went, Jewel got, of course, a balloon, but wouldn't let Mama tie it to anything. Mama cautioned Jewel that it could fly away, so she would have to hold on tight to it.

Of course, the balloon ended up in the rafters, and Jewel ended up in tears.

She talked about it for weeks afterward, which, for a two-year old, is like talking about it for months afterward. Even now, when she sees a balloon, it will trigger the memory, and she'll tell the sad story. "One time, when I had a pink balloon, it went up, up, up, into the ceiling."

So, of course, yesterday, Mama tied the balloon--blue this time--to Jewel's coat. What could possibly go wrong?

According to Mama, Jewel white-knuckled this balloon all through the store, determined not to let it get away. Jewel also believed that there was a picture of Toodee on it, and so talked to it the whole time. There was no such picture, but who cares, right?

They got through shopping, through checkout, to the car, get the groceries loaded into the car, Mama gets Jewel into her seat and is buckling her in when--blam!--the balloon explodes right in Jewel's face.

At this point, Jewel is late for her nap, Mama has a trunk full of food that's getting warm, and Mama has to get some work done for her new job. So, there's no way she's decamping from the car, walking back into the store, getting another balloon and possibly having it explode in the car as well.

So Jewel ends up sobbing and sad about it for the entire ride home. Thankfully that's only five minutes, but still, that store hates parents.

There's really no other explanation.

Papa Bradstein will ride 200 miles across Massachusetts in two days to help fight cancer. Please support his ride.

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Wednesday, January 25, 2012

What is the sound of one snake clapping?

The good news is that after I closed up the holes behind the dishwasher, we haven't seen the mouse again, despite being up far too late and far too early many days this week.

I know it's only Wednesday. Shut up.

The bad news is that now it smells like our dining room table is downwind of an abattoir. Which, perhaps it is, after a manner, though I don't plan to be eating mousemeat pie any time soon.

The further bad news is that our building management company doesn't quite seem to know what to do about it. Turn on your exhaust fans, they say.

You think?

We're doing that, plus leaving a door cracked to pull in some fresh air, plus we've got enough candles going that our dining room table looks like a cathedral altar on Easter. So now it smells like something died by being smothered in a ball of Yankee Candle wax.

All of which leads me to some questions for the mouse. OK, one question, really...
Did you not have more than five minutes of food stored up in your nest?
Otherwise, how did it die the day after I closed up its entrance into our humble abode? Is there not enough space in all the walls that surround our kitchen to establish a granary that could support you and your kin for, I don't know, 10 years? How much do you little buggers eat, anyway?

This, combined with the fact that we neither found food missing or chewed on nor mouse poop in any of our pantry cupboards, makes these vermin quite the mystery. Why were you in our house? Were you the ones recording all those episodes of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse on our DVR? Were you stealing our Chuck E. Cheese tokens? Or are you just well mannered mice who couldn't bear to poop in your own humble abode, and so had to bring that shit into our house?

Even if you don't answer those questions, I'll give you a passing grade if you just answer this one question:
When will the stinking end?
I realize that questions like these have perplexed people throughout time and it brings to mind something I learned while reading 3B books about ancient Egypt. Turns out Egyptians weren't fond of mice either, what with their food stealing, disease bearing and poop leaving habits. In fact, because Egyptians hadn't invented the mouse trap yet--somehow developing a written language, centralized government, and timeless architecture left them with no time for such trivialities--they would keep snakes in their houses to fend off the mice.

No, I don't know what all those sacred Egyptian cats were doing. Likely lounging around temples, napping and getting drunk on beer...pretty much like modern cats in McMansions.

But, the point is that Egyptians considered it preferable to live in a snakepit than in a mouse hole.

And now I understand the wisdom of their age.

Think my neighbors would mind if I stuffed a few snakes into our walls?

Or maybe I should just open a window.

Papa Bradstein will ride 200 miles across Massachusetts in two days to help fight cancer. Please support his ride.

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Monday, January 23, 2012

It's all worth it, no matter how much I may curse

Before we had kids, I used to think it was a major accomplishment to drink coffee, read the New York Times, take the dog out for a walk and do a few loads of laundry on a weekend day.

In one morning this weekend, I cleaned out all the toys under and behind the couch, sanitized the floor under the couch (due to mouse poop contamination), washed all the cushion covers and the couch cover, disconnected and removed the dishwasher, patched the holes in the wall behind it (with help from the kids), swept out and sanitized the dishwasher space, replaced and reconnected the dishwasher, washed all of 3B's bed linens, ran a couple loads of clothes through the wash, just for good measure, cooked breakfast and made coffee for Mama.

And that was just what happened before 11.

The good news is that there was no mouse sighting last night after all that patching and moving of traps to better locations. The bad news is that we're now trying to prove a negative, which is difficult at best. Ideally, it will prove itself over time. And, if it doesn't, the traps are still out.

Despite the 49ers loss, it was a good weekend. Mama has a new job, so she was working throughout, as best she could, and is still working tonight as I type this. Her hours tonight are in part because of her day.

Due to the 1/2 inch of ice that we were supposed to get, but never did, 3B's school opened two hours late, which borked Mama's schedule and mine. Once we were done juggling schedules though, which involved my starting my work week during the 49ers loss so I could get a full day's work done by the end of today, Mama seemed all clear.

Jewel would spend the day with her babysitter, who would also come and get 3B off of the bus, then take care of both kids here at our house until Mama's day was done. It would have worked too, if it weren't for our babysitter's malfunctioning car, which died unceremoniously midday. That meant that Mama needed to break off from work, give the babysitter, her son and Jewel a ride back to the babysitter's, then bring Jewel here, get 3B off the bus and abandon all hope of working this afternoon.

The best part was when 3B got off the bus, gave Mama a "what are you doing here?" look and asked, "But, where's the babysitter?"

And that was just what happened before noon.

But Jewel gave me kisses when I walked in the door, and I made 3B laugh uncontrollably as we did laundry and later as we read bedtime stories together, so it was all worth it.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Even little actions speak louder than words

Jewel ran from the back of the house to the door to wrap me up in a hug last night.

"Daddy, your coat is cold. The buttons on your coat are cold."

"What if I open it up and wrap you up in it. Is it warm?"

"Yes. It's warm."

She was laughing and bouncing up and down the whole time, which made me smile. Usually, when I tell her that I love her and ask if she loves me, I get the two-year-old answer: No. But, since she seemed so happy to see me, I thought I'd give it a shot.

"I love you, sweetie. Do you love me?"

"I love you too, Daddy."

We snuggled like that until she had to squirm away.

I started to hang up my scarf and coat, and put away my hat and gloves. I walked down the hall and kissed 3B and Mama hello as they sat making pictures on our bed. According to Jewel, that was enough dawdling.

"Daddy, get into your play clothes."

"OK, OK...I'm taking off my suit pants now."

"Fold them."

I folded them over a hanger and asked her if that was adequate. She nodded.

"Put your jeans on."

I did that and put away my security badge for work.

"Read me the dictionary. I'm going to pick a letter from the back cover."

Our bed is one of those Princess and the Pea contraptions, with a total height of eight feet or so. Mama and I actually pole vault into it every night, so I asked Jewel, "Climb in yourself, or do you want me to lift you up?"

Little Miss I'll-Do-It-Myself surprised me this time: "Lift me up."

So I did, and we lay down to read Richard Scarry's Storybook Dictionary. She picked a letter from the text on the back cover and we read all the entries for it.

Even if later, as I was kissing her in her crib, Jewel told me that she didn't love me, I didn't mind at all. I  could still feel the warmth of her embrace as I came through the door and it still made me smile.

"Good night, sweetie. I love you."

Papa Bradstein will ride 200 miles across Massachusetts in two days to help fight cancer. Please support his ride.

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Thursday, January 19, 2012

This is my story, and I'm sticking with it

4.15 a.m. is a fine time for

It is not, however, a good time for a two-year-old to wake up.

But try telling Jewel that. You'll get her favorite reponse: No! That might be followed with another of her favorites: Go away, Daddy! (You can replace "Daddy" with your name. Or, if she doesn't know your name, replace "Daddy" with "you" or "man" or "woman.")

Honestly, I wouldn't care so much if her crib weren't 18 inches from my side of the bed. Have I mentioned how we need to move out of our phone-booth-sized condo?

This morning, Mama and I were serenaded with Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star several times, thoughts on the state of pacifiers in the crib and the locations of all her friends in the crib, particularly Bug, which is her new favorite stuffed animal.

Last night, as she was (theoretically) going to sleep we were treated to several rounds of the Aleph Bet song. Don't tell me that kids don't learn through play: Jewel has learned the entire Hebrew alphabet...er...alephbet just by listening to 3B sing it.

But, back to my point...nighttime serenade: OK. Morning serenade: OK--after morning arrives.

For the record, I checked with Santa Claus and he says 4.15 doesn't count as morning. So, you can get up then if you want...if you don't want any gifts.

That's my story, and I'm sticking with it.

Papa Bradstein will ride 200 miles across Massachusetts in two days to help fight cancer. Please support his ride.

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Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Just another manic...er...Tuesday

Yesterday chewed me up and spit me out, then it washed me down the drain and turned on the disposal. But it served up a bonbon for dessert.

To recap, it...
  • was the first day back to school after a three-day weekend, which was rough for 3B.
  • started off with an icy rain.
  • looked like a wide open day on my calendar, but then a meeting ate the entire middle of my day.
  • ended with Mama having to pick up 3B at school because he wasn't on the bus list for his after-school activity.
  • ended again when they got home and Jewel pointed at her stomach and said, "My tummy hurts." And then she doubled over in pain and started crying.
  • ended again when Jewel threw up and immediately felt better, even if she was still feverish.
  • got better after that...
3B apparently handled the absurd bus situation well, walking into the office, telling them his situation and phone number and then "being an angel" while waiting for Mama to come get him. No idea how Mama figured out where he was, since her phone was in a bag of rice upstairs while she waited down in the lobby for him, but she's smart, that Mama. No idea how he wasn't on the bus list, since last week the principal drove him home when the bus didn't show up, which implies that he is on the f@&*ing bus list, you knobs...get it right!

OK, that's out of my system now...but seriously, I'm underwhelmed at how after-school programs are run, since they've twice abandoned my kindergartner. He's five, people. Get it together.

Also, I'm impressed that the school has an anti-bullying pledge and that it's helping 3B learn his phone number and address, but sending home those worksheets plus his homework, plus his reading...let's all take a step back and remember that he's five, shouldn't be doing any homework, and that 45 minutes of homework is absurd.

And then, poor little Jewel. OK, let's be honest: poor big Jewel. She'd hate for me to call her a little girl. As she will tell anybody who asks, or who doesn't ask, she's a big girl. She'll also tell you that before going out in the rain, "I need my boots and I need my umbrella and I need my raincoat." And if you're driving, she'll narrate the trip, just in case you didn't know that you were going down a big hill, or where the sun is, or what's out her window. Around home, she'll love to tell you if anyone is doing the same thing she is, because then she can use her word of the week: also. "3B is watching Yo Gabba Gabba also."

"Mommy is eating dinner also."

Fortunately, however, she was solo on her stomach bug yesterday. Not that I wanted her to hork, but I'm glad it was just her and it didn't spread. Yet.

But once Mama and I had everyone in bed, we got to revel in her good news: she got a job yesterday. Yes, Mama is that person who gets called, goes in for an interview, and walks out with a job. The reality is that the call itself was truly the job offer, they were just discussing details yesterday. Seriously?

Well, yes. She is brilliant, after all.

While she's not enthused about all the mechanics--less time with the kids, back to the daycare routine, etc.--we are both breathing a sigh of relief because this means that we should be able to buy our new house before we sell our current place. That's preferable to having to show our current place while we're living here for a variety of reasons.

So, after all the bus blundering and child chundering, we spent a romantic evening together sipping wine. And folding laundry.

Papa Bradstein will ride 200 miles across Massachusetts in two days to help fight cancer. Please support his ride.

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Tuesday, January 17, 2012

More cancer fighting for less money, MLK lessons, catching dreams and giants

Five at five means 50 percent off for you

With only five days left, five of you have taken me up on my offer to honor a cancer patient, remember a lost loved one, and support leading edge cancer research--all for 50% less.

But they won't get the deal unless you help them: donate today.

Last year, a $100 donation was required to put a picture on my jersey to honor and remember those who have fought cancer, but until January 21, it's only $50. But only if I get 10 donations of $50 by then, so those five need your help to get their deal.

The photo-quality pictures on this jersey, professionally designed by my brilliant cousin, will be seen by thousands of riders and supporters as I ride the 200-mile route of the Pan-Mass Challenge in two days this August. Those who ride with me and line the route include cancer survivors, researchers, family and friends of those lost to cancer, the President of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, both Massachusetts senators (John Kerry and Scott Brown), and last year we were joined by Lance Armstrong.

This is your chance to
  • honor a loved one
  • save the life of someone currently fighting cancer at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
  • discover a new treatment for cancer through DFCI's leading edge research
Please, donate today.


What's up with getting up?
Yesterday, 3B got up and came into our bed at 2.27 a.m.

But who's counting? Me, actually, since he got in on my side and ended up pushing me all the way over to Mama's side while taking all the blankets. I'll never say that he never learned anything from Barky.

This morning, both kids decided it was a good idea to wake up at 6.00. It's all I can do not to scream at them, "Sleep now, for the love of all that's holy! You have no idea! Later in life, you will have children who will never let you sleep! You will become zombies, living in a half waking, half sleeping limbo! Save yourselves!"

And my kids would pat me on the head and say, "Nice man. Can you turn on the TV for us? Thanks."


Future's so bright...
Over the weekend, at 3B's behest, we had a playdate with a friend from preschool. He's been hounding us for weeks, but there were few obstacles, like Hanukkah, Christmas, New Year's, a trip to Vermont, Grammy breaking her ankle, and the fact that he and his friend are both in kindergarten, which kind of takes up their whole day.

However, Mama did find time this weekend, and we got together at a local store that offers free kids crafts every Saturday. Much more comfortable than scootering around outside for an hour which is what we did before that. After 3B got over his initial five minutes of shyness, he and his friend were stuck like glue, just like old times. It's fun to see him having such a good time with friends.

Also at his behest, we went to the Lincoln Memorial to see where MLK, Jr. delivered his I Have a Dream speech. It was moving to have 3B explain to me that MLK's dream was that everyone would be equal and then to watch the speech with him and explain as 3B asked what MLK was talking about.

And while a trip to the Lincoln Memorial and the engraving on the steps where MLK stood that commemorates his speech is always inspirational, Martin's birthday is in the winter. And an open-front marble building isn't a cozy spot on a windy day. So, by the time we got there, the kids were frozen, hungry and thirsty.

However, we did walk around the outside of the memorial to the south side, the leeward side of the building where the sun warmed us. Until, that is, the kids both jumped on my belly as I was lying down and bounced on me like I was Secretariat coming through the final turn. That's 80 pounds of bouncing children on my abs for those of you keeping score at home.

That was all forgotten as soon as 3B backed up and rabbit punched me three times in the cojangles.

Hey, if you don't want another sibling, just tell me.

Apparently MLK's message on nonviolence didn't quite saturate 3B's being. Maybe next year. Then again, my response--yelling and a time-out--weren't probably my proudest moment ever, so perhaps we both have something to learn.

Apparently Jewel also has more to learn about racial tolerance. When I asked her later if she liked the Lincoln Memorial, she said, "No. I didn't like the statue."

"Why didn't you like the statue?"

"It was too white."

To her credit, I think she means that on the south side, with the sun shining on the white marble, it was too bright. To our credit, we brought her sunglasses and offered them to her about 37 times, but she's two and can't give "yes" for an answer.


Catching dreams and giants
The next day, we had a wonderful time at the National Children's Museum Launch Zone in National Harbor. We made dreamcatchers in honor of MLK's speech and created valentines that will be sent to veterans as our service project to honor MLK's work. We met our friends there as planned and were happily surprised to find a friend of 3B's from kindergarten there.

The kids loved the yarn, the beads, the flowers, the coloring, the gluing and, when that was all done, the wall-sized chalkboard, the beehives (demonstration only, no actual bees) and beekeepers outfit and, of course, the grilled cheese and french fries next door.

But the big hit of the day was the statue that was moved from Haynes Point to National Harbor. The kids had a blast pretending to be eaten, pulling out the giant's teeth, and just running in the sand and scrambling on rocks along the shore.

Papa Bradstein will ride 200 miles across Massachusetts in two days to help fight cancer. Please support his ride.

...Or get new posts via email.

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Thursday, January 12, 2012

We've got both kinds of breaks...

As you know, our Christmakwanzukkah break ended with a bad break. That's had us in a tailspin for the last week or so, with Mama and Jewel staying with Grammy on the farm and 3B staying down here in Dixie with me so he could get to school.

Today, Mama, Jewel, Grammy and Aunt D caravanned up to the doctor who will operate on Grammy's ankle to repair it and allow her recuperation to begin in earnest. Jewel has been a trooper throughout the napless days, sleepless nights and countless miles of driving she's been along for. Of course, she's with her favorite women in all the world, so she's bound to be happy.

Driving up over the Green Mountains today, however, Jewel turned white as a sheet and reported that her stomach hurt so Mama screeched to a halt and let Jewel out to get some fresh air. After that, she was fine for the rest of the trip and tomorrow she and Mama will fly home, getting back here just in time to meet 3B as he gets off the school bus.

We hope.

If we miss him, perhaps the principal could drive him home as he did yesterday. It wasn't a bad thing, it was just the first day in the new term that 3B's school had after school activities, and the bus never showed up to take kids home from. Most of the kids in his school can walk home, but 3B's a kindergartner, and we live across a street that's considered too busy for elementary school kids, much less a kindergartner, to cross alone.

Of course, the school tried calling to explain. Of course, they called my home phone. Of course, I was in the lobby waiting for 3B with my cell phone.

And, of course, this was the first day that we had ever put 3B in an after school activity--p.e., for what it's worth. They played freeze tag and tagged each other with pool noodles. Can I be five again?

So, I didn't know how late was late in this new schedule and by the time I called, I was told that 3B was in the principal's car, headed my way. For a boy who loves his routines when it comes to transitions, he was a champ, laughing and marveling about it. It helped that the neighbors made a big deal about it in the lobby and elevator as we went back home. He's also a boy who loves an audience.

Speaking of audiences and school, I get to be in the audience tomorrow when 3B receives his third award. At the first award ceremony, he got two awards: one for greatest improvement, for his handling the transition to school better, and the second for good citizenship, which is awarded to kids who do enough good things throughout the term to earn points for the award. He can only get the improvement award once in a year, so getting the one award at this ceremony is the most he can do.

Also...awards programs for kindergartners?

But no, I'm not going to miss it either, especially since Mama and Jewel will still be up north. We are so proud of 3B for growing through the tears and breakdowns and fights over taking lovie to school during the first two weeks, and also for being a good citizen. I'm often not sure, based on his accounts of his school day, just how good he was, but he seems to earn the points somehow. Who knows? Perhaps he washes his teacher's car on his lunch hour.

Whatever it is, I'll have to learn from him, since I talked my boss into letting me telework this week so that I could be get 3B onto and off of the school bus. And we'll have to deploy 3B's tactic together when Mama comes home and finds that we never really put away any of the new toys from Christmas.

Not that she'll really care--she'll be glad just to be home. And we'll be glad to have her back and to know that Grammy's in good hands. It would be better if we could be with Grammy, but Mama's brother will take over now that Mama's back here, so it's all still in the family.

Which is a good break.

Papa Bradstein will ride 200 miles across Massachusetts in two days to help fight cancer. Please support his ride.

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Saturday, January 07, 2012

Breaking bad, Grammy edition

I don't normally get into other people's business, but this crosses the line into our business a bit.

Also, you all know and love Grammy and so will be concerned--and relieved--to hear what's going on.

To bring you up to speed:

  • We went to the farm in VT for Christmakwanzukkah.
  • We had a great time.
  • There was snow.
  • There was rain.
  • There were gifts.
  • There was even a hot New Year's Eve date, courtesy of Grammy and aunt D.

But then I had to come home to return to work. Since 3B's school doesn't start until Monday, Mama stayed on the farm with him and Jewel for another week, to return today.

But the best laid plans of mice--like the ones infesting our house--and women and all that...yesterday, Mama, 3B, Jewel and Grammy went down to New York to visit college friends of Mama's and their kids. All was well until they got out of the car and Grammy, carrying Jewel, fell.

Protecting Jewel as she fell, Grammy twisted and broke her ankle. In three places.

So, she went to the hospital. Mama and the kids spent the night at their friends' house without, you know, pajamas, changes of clothes, contact lens fluid, toothbrushes or anything else of consequence. Of course, Mama's friends filled in all the gaps and then some, entertaining the kids while Mama did what she had to. By the end of the weekend, 3B was their daughter's new boyfriend.

Of course he was. I swear that those two kids are peas from the same pod. They regularly go a year without seeing each other and then pick up their conversation where they left off. So 3B was happy to stay there an extra day--especially when he got to wear his new girlfriend's pink kitty cat pajamas for the night. If he didn't love her before, that surely would have cemented the deal.

Meanwhile Mama was doing all she could to get Grammy the care she needed. The immediate care was good, but following that, the hospital she was at left something to be desired and refused to allow Grammy to transfer. Nobody puts Mama--or Grammy--in a corner, however, so they got that worked out (read: told the hospital to put it in a pipe and smoke it) and Grammy's in better hands now.

She'll need surgery, but they'll wait a few weeks for the swelling to go down before they do anything to avoid complications.

Of course, while all that was playing out, Mama had to get 3B back here so he could return to school on Monday. She did that, then turned around and got on the next flight to NY while Aunt D and Jewel got Grammy transferred to the larger hospital with better doctors.

Are you keeping up?

3B and I drove home, stopping along the way for dinner at Panera. Tomorrow, we'll do a little bachelor training, which will continue through Thursday. That's when Mama's brother arrives in NY so Mama and Jewel can return.

Which means that while Grammy is in pain, she's got Jewel with her which, in the words of Mama, makes Grammy look as if she's won the lottery, not broken her ankle. And 3B's only got me, so you might want to include him in your prayers, right after Grammy.

Or maybe just before her.

Papa Bradstein will ride 200 miles across Massachusetts in two days to help fight cancer. Please support his ride.

...Or get new posts via email.

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Thursday, January 05, 2012

Help me raise hope for a friend

Update, January 10: Thanks to everyone who has donated so far, I'm the top fund raiser on my team, Phat Tuesday, but I need the help of the rest of you to stay there--that means you. Donate today.

Half-off reminder: If you're one of the first 10 to donate, you get a bonus: for every $50 you donate, you can place a picture* on my jersey, half the cost of last year.

However, there's a catch: if I don't get 10 $50 donations by January 21, the deal is off...so tell your friends--remind them that 100 percent of their donation goes directly to the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute--and donate today.

Cancer: My name is Papa Bradstein. You killed my father. Prepare to die.

So long as cancer keeps trying to kill my friends, I'm going to keep returning the favor--especially when it goes after friends who saved my life. But I need your help.

In the last few months, cancer has already taken a friend's mother and is now after my friend. This friend and I go way back...back before cancer had killed Dad. Back then I fortunately wasn't as experienced at coping with death as I am now, and so I tried to ignore the cancer, ignore Dad's diminishing abilities, ignore what became the inevitable.

I didn't tell any of my friends until Mom finally said that I really should. The next week, Dad died after fighting cancer for over a year.

During those silent days, even if I wasn't talking about Dad, my friends knew something was up. They knew that I was constantly at a breaking point. And they knew well enough to save me whenever I needed it.

Sometimes they were big saves, like reassembling me into a human being after we ran out of wine at a party, so I switched to vodka spritzers. Did you know that vodka is slightly more potent than wine? I do...well, someone told me I learned that lesson, anyway. Most of them, however, were day-to-day saves, like tolerating my so-called poetry, taking midnight walks through the cemetery with me and talking about losing Dad.

Most of all, they gave me hope. They did that by getting on with life, showing me that the way back from the underworld was simply to rise up every morning and live. They gave me hope that life could once again be somewhat normal. They gave me hope enough to have faith in the future--the faith that I relied on to get married and have children.

And so, even now I benefit from the hope they gave me then.

Now it's my turn to return the many favors they bestowed upon me, specifically to my friend who just lost her mother...and I'd like your help. I'd like your help giving my friend hope--hope that her cancer will be cured. Hope that if it ever returns, it will be cured again. Hope that future generations of her family won't have to fear this cancer ever again. Hope that soon she can soon simply rise up in the morning and live. And from that hope, faith in all those around her--those she knows and those she doesn't--to do whatever it takes whenever she needs it.

I promise to do the hardest work, if you can do one simple thing. I'll ride my bike thousands of miles in rain, cold, wind and, yes, snow, sleet and hail as I train to ride 200 miles in two days, if you will simply support my ride.

If you're one of the first 10 to donate, you get a bonus: for every $50 you donate, you can place a picture* on my jersey, half the cost of last year. However, there's a catch: if I don't get 10 $50 donations by January 21, the deal is off...so tell your friends--remind them that 100 percent of their donation goes directly to the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute--and donate today.

2011 jersey (click to see full size image)

* Pictures can be of anyone affected by cancer: a survivor, someone lost to cancer, their family and friends. And yes, pictures of pets are welcome.

Papa Bradstein will ride 200 miles across Massachusetts in two days to help fight cancer. Please support his ride.

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