Sunday, September 28, 2008

Jimmy Is Four Months Old

Can you believe it? Our Jimmy is 4 months old today. He continues to be a delight. He has discovered his hands and now grabs everything. In the past few days he's started grabbing and hanging onto his feet. He is eating like a little barracuda and growing like a weed. His 4 month checkup is this coming Wednesday so he'll get his immunizations and we'll find out how much he weighs and how tall he is. I look back at pictures of him when he was a newborn and I can't believe how much he's changed.

It looks like his eyes are going to stay the same bright crystal blue...just like his daddy. In fact, he is a carbon copy of John. The only part of me I see in him is the nose and chin. He's even built like his father with broad shoulders, narrow hips, long legs, and big feet. He's in size 1 shoes already. His 0-3 month shirts fit just fine for now but he still has trouble keeping his britches up (thanks to the narrow hips). He does great in his overalls though and looks just adorable.He is "talking" to us more and more. He loves to smile and laugh. The only times he cries are when he's hungry, overtired (and doesn't want to go to sleep), or when his teething is bothering him. I think he's going to get his first tooth in back; at least that's where it feels like it's ready to come through the gum. I know it may still be another couple of months before his first tooth comes in but he is showing all the signs of teething: excessive drooling, chewing on his hands, his toys, his clothes, and me! He's doing very well sitting up with support. He's been able to roll over since he was 2 months old. He also likes to try to pull himself up when I have him in the tub. That's a bit scary with a slippery baby! He is strong and really starting to explore his world. He doesn't crawl yet but when he's on his tummy he will kick his legs and scoot himself forward. He likes to sit in his bouncer chair and play with the hanging toys. He also loves to be in one of his play gyms and he grabs and bats at the toys. I still think his favorite toy is Daddy. The dogs are just wonderful with him.

He is once again sleeping in his crib instead of the car seat. We are continuing to do the gentle neck stretches and massage with him every day to help the wry neck and he has shown some improvement. It will take time. I think sleeping in the car seat caused the problem and now that he's back in the crib that will help his progress.

Please keep all of us in your prayers as James Harper Meissner is baptized into the household of God on November 2nd. He will be baptized at the Cathedral Church of St. Paul in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin. We have been attending services there since we got here and we feel very comfortable and welcomed there. It's a small congregation and they are just crazy about Jimmy. He seems to love it there and spends most of the time looking around at everyone and everything. He likes the lights, the statues, the colors in the windows, and all the different sounds. His morning feeding tends to conincide with service times so he takes his bottle during the service. There is a wonderful rocking chair in the back of the nave and one of us will take him back there if he starts fussing. We've been asked/told not to take him out of church when he does start making noise, they love hearing him. I told them that was no problem, I didn't want to miss out on any of the service either. It's great to be in a place where we are all welcomed, wanted, and loved.

John has posted new pictures to Jimmy's photobucket account. Here's the link so you can see the latest photos and videos of the world's cutest baby: Of course we're not prejudiced or anything (much!).

It's getting late and that early morning feeding comes all too early. We'll keep you updated as to how things are going with Jimmy and with us. And we'd love to hear from you too! Stay tuned for the latest updates from the Meissner family!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Remembering 9/11

I was at work when the planes crashed into the World Trade Center. I heard about the first plane on the way to work and I remember saying to my mother that some idiot in a Cessna got lost. She was on her way to a doctor's appointment and was watching TV when the second plane hit. We had family in the New York area but fortunately none of them were involved. Not so for my friend and coworker Maureen. The son of one of her friends worked at Canter Fitzgerald; that company lost everyone in the towers.

Today we are watching the shows on The History Channel about that day. Even after 7 years in some ways it still seems surreal. I still feel a great sense of sadness and outrage. Our son will never have the opportunity to grow up in a world where terrorism didn't touch his country like all of us did. Remember when we were kids and we thought our country was invulnerable and terrorism was some vague thing that happened in other countries and the worse we heard about was a hijacked plane? Jimmy will never live with that blissful innocence and my heart aches for him. Anyone who says kids today have it easier are full of it. They may have more technology but that sense of innocence and faith in our country are gone. Kids are forced to grow up too fast by acts like the WTC attacks and our society in general.

So today we will remember everyone who was there, both the survivors and the victims. We will be thankful for the heroes who put their lives in danger to try to rescue others. And we will be thankful that our country still stands and pray that in this election year where we are hearing all the negative political ads that we as a people and nation will somehow find a way to push past all the divisivness and once again find the unity we knew immediately following the attacks. God bless America and God bless us!

Friday, September 5, 2008

Stand Up To Cancer

I just watched a show that made my previous post seem inconsequential: Stand Up To Cancer.

There is not a person in this country who has not been affected by cancer in one way or another. By the Grace of God I have not had this awful disease myself but the two most important people in my life have. One is no longer with me and one is.

My mother, Mary Barrows, was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1989. I was in the Navy at the time and she went through chemotherapy alone. She wound up in the hospital with blood clots that could have killed her as a result of the oral medication she was on so her oncologist took her off of it. She was clean for the next four years. On her exam at the five-year mark, the point when she would be considered cured, a bone scan showed spinal metastases. For the next eight years she endured numerous rounds of chemotherapy and radiation. Her disease was in and out of remission several times. In May of 2002, after surgery for a perforated diverticula in her colon, we found that her cancer had spread to her internal organs. She went to be with Jesus on August 2, 2002. She was only in Hospice care for 6 days. I still miss her terribly. The most important lesson she taught me was the importance of having a positive attitude even when life sucks. She never gave up hope and she used every opportunity to inspire others. She gave anyone who wanted it straight talk about what they could expect in their fight with cancer, she gave those of us who love cancer patients advice on how to deal with it and what to say. She never sugar-coated anything but she also NEVER GAVE UP! She said that whether she outlived her cancer or not she was still a winner because if she lived it would mean she had beaten it and if she died she got to go be with Jesus, so either way she won.

My beloved husband John was diagnosed with Stage I colon cancer in June of 2006. We had been married for less than a year. John had been feeling rotten for about 6 months and had been in and out of the hospital for testing. He had a heart catheterization, upper GI exam, everything but a colonoscopy. The feeling rotten would get a little better for a while but it always came back. Finally his primary care doctor noted that since he was 51 he should have a colonoscopy. By this time he had been through so much I was actually opposed to putting him through more. The prep for the exam was awful and I think the poor man threw up in every room of our apartment that night. He had the colonoscopy and an upper GI endoscopy. They found a single large polyp in his sigmoid colon. I didn't think it was serious since lots of people have polyps removed. As I was laying in a hospital bed recovering from surgery John called me from work. His doctor had gotten the test results and called him. Cancer. The disease was so close the edges of the polyp that surgery was recommended. On August 21, 2006 John had his sigmoid colon removed. We held our breath through all the followup exams but he remained clean. His last colonoscopy showed nothing! He is considered cured and won't need another colonoscopy for 2 years unless his symptoms return.

So what is it like living with cancer? What is it like living with a survivor? The old metaphor about the 800 pound gorilla is close. Even though we don't dwell on it there is still the niggling little fear in the backs of our minds that John's cancer will return. Every time he starts having some kind of bowel trouble our minds go right to the thought that ohmigoditsback! We don't dwell on it but we live with it. We do what we can to keep both of us healthy and we support efforts being made in cancer research. John belongs to an online colorectal cancer support group and he is vocal in his efforts to spread awareness. For the past two years we have been part of the American Cancer Society's Relay For Life; I was a team captain in our former parish church and John was the emcee for our local event. This year at Relay I couldn't be a team captain or on a team because I had just had Jimmy. But at the age of 10 days Jimmy helped fulfill a dream his Daddy and I had; he walked the Survivors' Lap with Daddy. That day would have also been my mother's 85th birthday. Needless to say I bawled like a baby and proudly took my place once again at my husband's side to walk the Caregivers' Lap. There is a picture of Jimmy in his Snugli with his Daddy at the bottom of this page.

Every person in this country is affected by cancer in one way or another. If you don't have it then you know someone who does. It could be your parent, your spouse, your sibling, your child, your best friend, your neighbor, or your coworker. Tonight's show cited the sobering statistic that every 60 seconds one person dies of cancer. As a woman there is a 1 in 8 chance that I will develop breast cancer, probably higher than that since my mother had the disease. There is a 1 in 3 chance that I will develop cancer of some kind. There is a 50% chance that at some time in his life my son will develop cancer of some kind. One in three women and one in two men. That's too much!

There is a lot of research being done on finding causes and cures. Researchers are so close to a cure but many programs are woefully underfunded. The private sector and private citizens can only do so much. If the money that is wasted on all the pet projects slipped into Congressional bills was given to research we could probably find a CURE in a few years. I don't want cancer. I don't want my husband's cancer to recur or for him to get another type of cancer. I sure as hell don't want my son getting cancer. Every week the United States loses 10,000 people to cancer. That's too much!

I am standing up to cancer. My husband is standing up to cancer! We are doing whatever we can to spread the word and promote awareness. We won't rest easy until we know that our families and friends, and most especially our son, will not have to live in fear of cancer. Stand up to cancer! Stand up and fight! Stand up and write to your Representatives and Senators urging them to make this their first priority in funding. If we don't stand up to cancer and fight it, if people keep dying at the rate of 10,000 people a week, we may not have a country to save.

The Dice Are Cast

The political conventions are over and the people who are shooting craps with our lives have been picked. Yee Haw. I'm just soooo excited. I'm really looking forward to non-stop negative ads for the next two months.

The question I would like to ask the candidates is this: What are you going to do for ME?

Several years ago one of the presidential candidates--I don't remember who--asked the question of whether or not we were better off than we were four years ago. My answer to that question is yes and no.

No. I am not better off finanacially than I was four years ago or even eight years ago. I'm paying more for food, more for gas, more for living expenses, more in taxes, and I'm getting sick of it. I also don't think that either one of the candidates is really going to do anything about it that will have any overwhelming impact on me and my family. We had a balanced budget and even a surplus under Bill Clinton and now we don't; but I don't think Barak Obama will be able to balance the budget. Bill Clinton's morals were reprehensible; I don't think John McCain or Obama will be having sex with interns. George Bush helped hold this country together after 9/11; I don't think McCain can bring that cohesion back despite all of his talk about reforming Washington and crossing the aisle.

Yes. I am better off with my family life than I was four years ago. I met and married a wonderful man who is the love of my life. We have a precious three-month-old baby boy. No politician or political party did that for me, even though I've been screwed by Washington on more than one occasion and didn't get kissed.

Both candidates are talking about how the other is out of touch with the middle class. What do these guys really know about the middle class? Both of them are millionaires whose most recent jobs are in the rarified air of the Senate, making a lot more in that job than most of us do down here in the trenches doing the real work that make our country go. If you listened to the acceptance speeches of both candidates you're probably wondering, like me, when they're going to start walking on water. Get real! These guys know nothing about what it's like to worry about how they're going to pay the rent and the electric bill. They don't have to wonder about whether or not their insurance is going to cover that scan you need to find that cancer. They don't have to buy store brands in an effort to make their food budget go farther. They don't have to make the choice of either buying gas for their cars or drugs to manage their chronic conditions. They know nothing about what it's like to live the way the rest of us do.

McCain is portraying himself as a maverick who will stir the pot and change things. How long has he been in the Senate and it's still business as usual? His heart may be in the right place but it's like an ant trying to fight a freight train; the ant's gonna lose. Obama is playing the race card. Why? He's half WHITE for crying out loud! To be perfectly mean, he's an Oreo; black on the outside, white on the inside. I really doubt that he's had to overcome a lot of the social and financial obstacles a lot of African-Americans have had to overcome.

So far the only one I like is Sarah Palin. She said the only difference between a hockey mom and a pit bull is lipstick. I like that but one-liners don't outline platforms. I think she's probably the most real and genuine person campaigning but still she's a politician so I automatically distrust her. In my opinion Obama shot himself in the foot by taking Joe Biden as a running mate.

It's going to be interesting. I will probably watch the debates but I doubt I'll see or hear anything new. All of them will manage to tap dance around the questions and answer them without really answering them. All of them will promise real change but none of them will manage to effect it. And I will still be down here in the muck and mire of reality, trying like hell just to make it from one day to another. Let the games begin.