Sunday, October 17, 2010

Day 49

Tuesday October 5, 2010

Today I went to LA to meet with the Marbans. Todd took Nina to treatment, with Eileen there to help. My nature is to take care of everyone, to be the "fixer", to plan and organize. Normally, this is how I always operate and most people in my life are happy to have me take the lead (although I do get my fair share of "bossy" comments....Todd and his brother love to call me the "Ph.D. of the World".....I remind them that sometimes we laugh not because things are funny but because they are true!)

Early on I recognized that it was going to be very important for Todd to also participate in the treatment process. We could have easily just had me take a lead on the treatment while he continued to work. However, Todd has always been a hands on daddy and more than ever Nina needs her father's strength, humor, love, and support. Furthermore, it is essential for both of us to go through every aspect of this journey, not just for our ability to process the current information but for future healing. As such, we have strategically been responsible for certain treatments independently, as well as collaboratively.

Unfortunately, Nina was a bit rough this morning. Todd texted me saying that she had tantrummed violently when it had been time to leave for Cindy's. She'd hit him and screamed bloody murder when he tried to put her in the car. Poor girl! It was not personal...she was just done with the exhaustion of treatment. I could tell Todd was pretty stressed and my heart broke for him! Each time she cried, I could see it tear away a part of him. Nothing about this is easy. Even when she is happy, it really isn't easy....that dark cloud is still looming.

It was so good to see the Marbans again and to brainstorm the next steps to take with Nina. I am continuously in awe of how present God is in each in every aspect of our lives. God knew before I was even born that I would need the Marbans in my life. Their love and guidance has become life-sustaining for me and I thank God for them ceaselessly!

After meeting with the Marbans, I picked up Mario, a co-worker of mine, from UCLA. Mario has been working with me through the Koegel program for a couple of years now and is a rare talent. His parents immigrated to the U.S. as young adults from Mexico and Mario grew up in Bakersfield, which is not the easiest place to succeed. He is 23 years old and the majority of his "friends" back home are either in jail or have babies. Currently, Mario is applying to graduate programs. Clearly, he is a success story!

Years ago when I was young, I had a number of key adults in my life that saw something special in me and went out of their way to encourage me to strive for more and work tirelessly to make a difference in the world. I have never forgotten how my elementary school principal Mrs. Kyte, my high school English teacher Mrs. Prusack, my high school French teacher Madame Verhauselt, my high school History teacher Mr. Hinds, and my undergraduate advisers and mentors Jane Howard, Colleen Sparkman, and Gary Novak inspired me to believe that I could do something great when the thought had never crossed my mind. As a kid and young student I often felt confused by their encouragement...wondered what they saw...but their encouragement worked and it fueled a desire in me to make an impact. Now as an adult I value their generosity and guidance to a whole other level. I understand how important it is to help shape the younger generation. More importantly, I understand the significance of finding a diamond in the rough and helping it learn to is an honor and a privilege. As such, whenever I have an opportunity to help an up and coming star...I try to seize it. It is a way to pay it forward, to honor my mentors, and hopefully inspire the next generation to do the same. If we all did this, I bet more and more kids would graduate from school and bless their communities with their talents.

Luckily Mario and I didn't hit an ounce of traffic leaving Beverly Hills and the 405. Before long we arrived at Las Fuentes to pick up some arroz con pollo for Queen Nina. Although I was tired and eager to get home, I would not dare be in LA and not pick up my sweetheart's favorite food. So...we went to Las Fuentes and stocked up on arroz con pollo. Over dinner, Mario proclaimed that he could make a mean Mexican rice himself. I smiled and said that I could too and that Nina loved my rice. Apparently, Mario took this simple comment as an invitation to challenge my cooking, which I take GREAT pride in. He proceeded to proclaim that his arroz would beat mine any day of the week. Ohh the follies of youth!!! What I should have done at this point was just smile and I should have finished my enchilada but ...I didn't. One of my weaknesses is that I am ferociously competitive and....I took Mario's bait! Consequently, we agreed to have Nina do a taste test (blind of course...couldn't have him crying that she chose my arroz because she knew it was mama's...although my daughter would never do fact she might just willfully proclaim him the winner just to spite me and make us all laugh :-)) The thing is....I know for a fact that Mario is extremely nervous that the Portuguese immigrant is going to beat the Mexican star in the "Ultimate Arroz Battle"! I can't blame him for being nervous!!! I would be too if I were in his shoes! I will have to video the results and share my victory with the world :)

Once I got home, I found Todd and the kids watching a video in the living room. Nina immediately informed me that Eileen had crashed early (jet lag) and that it was now two times that Eileen had fallen asleep before she did. Nina was very proud of this :) I kissed her, inhaling the sweet smell of clean hair. Then I crawled across the couch and scooped up Teddy who was in the "TV-zone glaze". He had just come out of the shower and his hair was still moist. There is nothing like clean little boys!!! Within a second of me placing him in my lap, he had his skinny little legs wrapped around me. I kissed his neck and he reached over and gently ran his right hand through my hair. Todd and I love our boy so much!!! We love both of our children equally. They are both Heavenly treasures! But our love for Teddy is changing because of Nina's illness. We will be better parents because of Nina, irrespective of the outcome! That in itself is a small that most parents don't ever experience. I hugged my Teddy bear tightly. When the cartoon was over he asked me to carry him upstairs. I laughed and obeyed with my heart singing a happy song!

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