Friday, September 29, 2017

To somebody else...

I've been really deep into life problems lately.  I'm deep in the trenches of problems wondering if I will every see the top of the valley. Every time I get sucked into that valley of problems someone reminds me that people see me, watching what I do, how I respond and who I am. I mean something, much more than the sum of my problems to that person.

No one expects anyone to ever call them an inspiration, it actually takes you off guard especially when it's from someone you admire.  No one expects someone to tell them they're making a difference, and that you see me and you are inspired by me.  No one expects someone to casually say, I love your blog.  It's humbling, and it reminds me that someone is always watching, and you are not a walking portrayal of your problems. You're not. I don't even think I have experienced this before.  It still chokes me up to even write this post because we all mean so much to someone else.  It's nice to be reassured that you're loved and admired.  Everyone needs that and I just didn't know, I didn't know that I meant so much to people I admire, and people with their own struggles.  Let's talk specifics, in one week I: talked to a friend and mentor who is struggling with illness and that person told me I am an inspiration to him and others, received a card in the mail with words I read almost every week, and two people who just randomly told me they read this blog and they love it, and they said it with sincerity.

When I talk about giving up, I always think about how much one person can handle, and why things don't ever seem to go my way or why someone isn't looking out for me or why anyone would ever give me a hard time about anything given what I already have on my plate. This is my version of giving up, not caring about my blog, not updating you about my family, retreating back to a private life of well, privacy, left to struggle alone with life and my children's illness. Sometimes I am really defeated, and sometimes those problems are huge and sometimes those problems are tiny but I haven't given up. Sometimes it's hard to look for hope, sometimes it's hard to look for signs that things are heading your way and whether what you need will come fast enough or will the wait be agonizing or we'll be hanging on for dear life.

Thank you for making me mean something to you, and thank you for that weeklong lifetime boost I so badly needed.

Much love and admiration to you,


Monday, August 21, 2017

The Perfectionist & The Rare Disease

Roll back to December of 2016, it's the end of the year, well over 8 months ago, and I am still thinking about how crabby I was during our Pediatrician appointment.  Our experience with managing our children's rare disease is that the parent or primary caregiver commonly receives a list of recommended specialists; a cadence for testing and monitoring/follow-up appointments.  These lists are generally provided by Genetics but are also a source of information for your Pediatrician and other critical Specialists who are part of your team delivering care for your child.  It's overwhelming, and all you can do is your best with it.  I am obsessed with these checklists and doing "everything right" that during the appointment I became so extremely disappointed in myself for not getting "everything done"; some things were not even done in the right order. Some things seemed as if we took the wrong child and should focused on the other child instead, e.g. like allergist appointments, etc. I felt like the appointment was like an audit, and sometimes appointments can feel that way even if you're working to set the plan with your Geneticist for the next six months or year.  The plan is the gold; it's the plan.  You can't mess up the plan.  Oh but you can.

I can still "feel" sitting in that appointment, and running down the list of things we needed to accomplish...a list that would generally overwhelm anyone let alone the fact that we have two children with that list.  I was grumpy and annoyed that in my mind we were failing the audit, we sucked.  I even blurted out "why would we do that?".  I felt bad for anyone around me watching the intensity with which I was so disappointed in our management of the disease.  That my friends, is ridiculous. That is someone who is tired and needs a break.  That is a perfectionist.  There's a bright side to this in that I see a challenge and I want to tackle it head on. Knock down the disease, and take it out but while doing that I am taking my own self out with it! Perfectionists and rare diseases do not mix.  Flexibitionists (< I thought I made that word up) only apply, adaptability welcome but not perfectionism.  What do you win for perfectionism?  Does your child only then get to survive?

What have I learned?  Negotiation skills, advocacy skills, and prioritization.  I now do not just accept the list, I ask questions. I press for importance. I press for opinions, consultation and prioritization. I also realized I am not just managing the monitoring piece but ensuring there is balance in my children's lives. Someone has to ensure the financial aspect of it is covered: what's the co-pay or co-insurance, etc.  This is my job. I know that one is always going to be out of whack.  We might get the sleep study scheduled, but there may be no sleep and it may not be covered.  We might also win some, and we do.

Don't do this to yourself.  You're not perfect.  I am not perfect. You don't work for anyone but you and your family. In this case the physician sensed my stress and was willing to help but had to witness some pretty severe, unfair treatment of myself. No more perfectionism, the end.


Monday, August 7, 2017

Gone Fishing - A Love Note about Summer

The Summer "Bucket" List as written by our children includes a "Fishing Charter". This was our mission to fulfill this summer. Just a pole, some bait, a boat, boat captain, a Dad, and Lake Erie...and a whole bunch of walleye. Gone fishing, check. Walleye, check.

There's a beautiful vacation spot called Marblehead right on the shores of Lake Erie. Two little boys were bored, tired of their devices and tired of hitting each other just for a moment. A pole and some bait so simple, just wait, and wait. It was what they wished for; their dream to fish and fish sometimes at the side of a stream. This is the poetry of summer. This is childhood.

It might be the best lesson of summer. How to catch? What lure to use? How to cast and add some drag? How much does it weigh and how long is it?  A strategy lesson with math to boot. These are the life lessons that are the most fun to watch. Catch and cook. What does it taste like? Catch and release. Why do fish swallow hooks? Gaining independence, doing everything yourself. Ah, childhood.

Carpe Diem
Patience.  Learning to wait, recheck your bait, think of your strategy or whether you abate. Anywhere there's water, you're happy to wait and wait. But the charter, nobody could have worked harder. Hooking 10 then 20 then 30 then 40. Stoking the love, and the fire within, fishing and fishing with a grin.

Friendships made at the end of that pole both with the young and the "old". Trading secrets of spots, and the lure that works. A bond that will last forever.

Gone fishing. In the lake, no worries about a boat or the wake. Just boys with a pole, and some bait.


Tuesday, July 11, 2017

The Opioid Epidemic

I was sitting in a community meeting when the speaker asked the audience, "Does anyone know anyone who is addicted to opioids?" I thought "no". "Does anyone know anyone who has had an overdose?" I thought, "no" again. I listened intently as experts and community leaders talked about this remarkable epidemic affecting our community.  It was an incredible discussion and not in a good way. It was troubling indeed.

I couldn't believe this was happening. I sat speechless, moved and awe struck by the conversation, the facts, and data.   I've seen the news with the striking photos of slumped over, grey looking individuals in the middle of an overdose.  Some parents driving babies and toddlers in minivans overdosing in parking lots of strip malls. It's a horrifying visual with so many children in the middle of the epidemic, affects to be felt for the rest of their childhood.

I couldn't sleep after that meeting.  I thought of all the ideas that needed rapid deployment. You can't wait in this type of crisis.  Things are needed now, small or large, but not slow.

Then I remembered.  Then I remembered how I knew what an overdose looked like. I walked in to the neurology floor to visit my two year old son.  I had just had his brother only a few months before Alex was to have surgery.  I walked in to his room where my husband was sitting.  Setting the baby carrier on the floor, I walked over to his bed. He was a pale white, almost a greyish color.  Alex's lips were starting to show a pale blue color and then they were turning a deeper blue. Alex occasionally jerked like he was catching himself from a fall you imagine in your sleep.  I pressed the call button.  "Please come in here and take a look at Alex.  It looks like his lips are turning blue."  A nurse came rushing in, quickly observed what was happening. The nurse advised, "I know what is happening". Within minutes or seconds, I'm not sure but it felt like seconds, she returned with Naloxone in an IV bag. She explained that sometimes patients have reactions to narcotics.  Alex returned to himself, and opened his eyes and looked at us. I had shoved that memory to the back to my mind but it came back.  It came back when I realized that I did see an overdose or a reaction.  I did see the powerful effects of such a powerful drug, and one that reverses those effects if given quickly enough. It left an impression, and was scary to watch.  I couldn't imagine this scenario in a parking lot, or a car, or someone's house. My poor son but he was okay, and so we moved on. The memory came back for a few days as I remembered it all again.  I had a few days where I had trouble sleeping as I thought about that day, and thought about the experiences our communities and citizens, and first responders must be having today and tomorrow and the day after.

My memory of that day has gone to the back of my mind again but what a powerful lesson. As parents or a family member, you're always the primary caregiver in the room with your child or loved one.  Sure the machines would have notified the professionals of the emerging issue but not as fast as an observant parent or caregiver.  It's also a lesson about medicine and its power.  It's our duty to ensure we understand what's happening, what the effects are and what it looks like when something goes wrong.  Every medicine is a powerful decision, and with that power needs to come with observance and careful monitoring and care and concern no matter what is being consumed. We are all caretakers of each other. The lesson will stay forever even after the memory fades.

That surgery is still the hardest surgery I have ever had done to another human being. It was a hard time. It's a memory and a lesson that I hope not to revisit ever again.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

It Takes Two

It takes two to see Hunter Syndrome in a whole new light.

I wrote this blog because I googled the following: " how common is it for two people in a family to have cancer at the same time".  I didn't like the choices that came back because they were about heredity and genetics but I really want to know if there is data for our situation - "how many people live with more than one person having cancer at the same time in their family?".  To me this is what it feels like to have two children with a rare disease at the same time, in the same family.

It takes two to see Hunter Syndrome in a whole new light.  On MPS Awareness Day, I realized how unique our family situation is with regard to Hunter Syndrome.  We're not the only family who has multiple children with Hunter Syndrome, but there are many, many families who have just one child with Hunter Syndrome.  We also have one child in a clinical trial and one not in the trial.  That narrows down the population of families who have this scenario to a much, much smaller percentage, perhaps even single digits or less.

Having two individuals with Hunter Syndrome has really given us a perspective of the variability of the disease, even in families with the same phenotype, and the individuality of the disease.  In short, we have one heartbreaking perspective and one hopeful perspective, one that requires us to work hard, hope harder, and love harder, and another that eases our concerns, comforts us, scares us that we might lose something so good.  These disparities tug and pull at us but cause us to scream for joy, and at the same time be terrified.  I am not even sure this is something that even the Hunter Syndrome community of parents and effected children and adults can even understand.

I often see others obsess and worry over their child and compare and contrast progress of one child against the population as a whole or those who we know have Hunter Syndrome.  We have this comparison to make in our own family.  We have two.  When you find yourself struggling with one, ask yourself what it would be like to have two or more children with a life limiting disease.

Take the worry, appointments, therapies, education requirements, hope for treatments that save, fundraising, providing for your family and other things the average rare disease parents worry about and multiply that by two.  I don't even think this is a topic that Google handles well or even has enough documented stats.  I recently asked Google how common it is to have two family members battling cancer at the same time with no really good answer except inheritance and the hereditary nature of some diseases. It's logical to have multiple children in families effected by a disease when it's inherited but have you lived it? Living it, and reading it are two very different things.

How is it even possible that we're still standing as parents?  We are still standing because we have two - literally the cause of our strife is literally holding us up, keeping us standing.  We are still standing because of the differences.  We have living proof of possibility, and proof that you can affect everything in small, stabilizing and even disruptive ways.  You can even affect something you don't think you can.  We are having a profound affect on both of our sons' lives. We are still standing because we draw from everything, we learn from other diseases, we know that pulling from the experiences of others helps pull us up or pull us in the right direction.


Friday, April 21, 2017


Yesterday was one of those meaningful life experiences that I hope I never forget. Yesterday was beauty. Yesterday was humanity.  Yesterday was a day never to forget even though it has passed.

I'm not one of those mothers who has her camera out every second trying to photograph every moment.  Not that that is bad, I capture a lot but yesterday I didn't capture much but in my mind I did. I want to tell you about yesterday and the beauty I experienced.  I am going to try to tell you this in a way that you too feel what I felt but I am not sure you ever really will.  Yesterday I saw the magic, and the beauty of human interaction.

Nick and I waited in the procedure room on the Hematology/Oncology Floor.  Nick had talked about his Doctor the day before and had pulled out all of his best Pokemon toys to show his doctor. His doctor came to the door.  The door and room has lots of windows so Nick saw him coming. As the doctor opened the door, Nicholas ran to him and jumped in his arms yelling Dr. Hanna, Dr. Hanna, Dr. Hanna. Nick literally jumped into his arms, hugging him. It was the sweetest experience I have seen in a long time.  Dr Hanna came in and told Nick that "he had made his day". Nick proceed to unpack his backpack showing Dr Hanna all of his Pokemon possessions. Dr Hanna sat and read a few pages to Nick from his "Pokemon Manual". He explained to Nick how there are some good Pokemon who warn you when something bad is going to happen, so they're really good guys. It was adorable, and it took everything in my power to just watch and not grab my phone to capture this moment.

Dr Hanna began to set up for the procedure, and Nick was a little nervous. The procedure began and Nick was asking a lot of questions as to what was happening to him.  He closed his eyes, and clenched them shut as hard as he could and ground his teeth together to get through the part where the needle sticks him. My job is to distract him talking about Pokemon, golf, etc.  He was peaceful though, very peaceful as he knew his friend was in charge of the needle that was entering his port that feeds medicine into his spine.  If it was possible to achieve peace in that moment, this was peace.  Dr Hanna finished the procedure, told Nick he made his day, and was off to his next patient after receiving a sincere hug from his favorite fan.

After that Music Therapy came in, lead by Arissa, to sing, dance, and laugh.  Nick made up many songs, and really rocked the Pokemon anthem. It was pure joy, and for a moment we didn't think about where we were.  We learned about instruments, and Nick remembered things Arissa had brought last time and made his requests again.  At times, he wouldn't comply with the song something he likely also inherited from his Mom.

Nick is a boy with so much love. He loves his family, his doctors, his nurses, Pokemon, and life.  This is who is being saved, this is who is being given a chance to fight for his life.  He is fighting, along with us, along with those who love him.  He is amazing, and I am thankful to be his Mom for he gives me beauty in the most difficult of moments.  Nick never forgets he is a kid, and neither should we.

Love Forever,

Nick's Mom

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Don't Be Us

Some words of advice, "don't be us".

The right move as early as possible was to see a Developmental Psychologist through an Autism Clinic to assess the state of Alex's mind; how he learns, what skills he possesses, what deficits he has, and how he compares to peers his age.  This was the right move, and boy do you get a massive amount of data. It's amazing.

I remember the discussion with the team of doctors reviewing the mountain of data and the mountain of resources. Having a mountain of resources isn't generally a problem we're used to facing. The problem was we just weren't ready to climb that mountain.  We were staring at the mountain in disbelief.  Really?  Another challenge thrown our way, wasn't Hunter Syndrome enough.  It wasn't another mountain though, but we didn't realize it at the time. It was just what the disease (Hunter Syndrome) was causing. We just didn't know what to do with it because it seemed like an extra thing. It was just another slope on the same mountain. That big pile of data said that Alex had Autism. Okay. Now what?

I believe in getting second opinions especially when the diagnosis or surgery is transformational, life changing. Confirm it, then embrace it. Don't be us, embrace the Autism diagnosis. Why?  There is so much science behind an Autism diagnosis and treatment, and the science available is very effective. At the time though we didn't know it, it just seemed like a huge list of things to do and places to go and people to see.  We thought,"well, we know why he has mild Autism, it's because of Hunter Syndrome so if we focus on Hunter Syndrome we won't have to worry about Autism." Wrong, wrong, wrong.  One causes the other.  I (Amy) didn't really, truly know that until 2016 when I was reading through my son's student handbook for his school for Autism and realized all of the other diseases that also can be associated with Autism. For example,
Tuberous Sclerosis, ADHD, Down Syndrome, Seizure Disorders, etc.  As a parent, I wasn't aware that diseases can cause an individual to be diagnosed as Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). I always viewed ASD as a standalone disorder. This was clearly a mistake.

[ See this resource for more explanation of the connection between some genetic diseases and ASD:]

The other thing the team said when they gave us the mountain of data was Alex is so lucky to have you as parents, so lucky. Really?  So nice but why?  I don't feel like he was lucky that day. My brain was overloaded, all circuits were busy. I really felt like saying that mountain of data is nice but he has Hunter Syndrome first. Think about how ridiculous that thought process is - who cares what came first?  What gets priority?  Instead of approaching this the right way, I felt like Autism was something that was going to compete with the resources to support Hunter Syndrome. This was a survival response and it wasn't right.

Slowly with help, we started to realize what we needed to do.  Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is brilliant.  The negatives we were told about ABA are that it is a big commitment, it's expensive, difficult to find ABA professionals, and insurance doesn't usually cover ABA.  So that was a bit of a turn off but you should not be deterred. We were at first but you shouldn't.  In my humble attempt to explain ABA it's behavior analysis, looking for triggers and how to work with your child to address those triggers.  In a child with Hunter Syndrome, ABA is transformational. I feel so lucky to live in Cleveland, Ohio where some of the most renown resources are for ASD and ABA. ABA has definitely made a difference when it comes to Alex's progress.  Coupled with speech therapy, hearing aides and other therapies, Alex is now making great progress and optimizing his quality of life.

Don't be us.  Get the diagnosis. Confirm it.  Engage resources as early and immediately as possible and provide your child with the quality of life every child deserves.

Monday, March 27, 2017

The Oncology Floor

What is it like to receive treatment on the Oncology Floor?

Our eyes are naive, we take in a scene we've been a silent observer of for years.  The children who battle cancer, who battle blood disorders, those who just well, battle.   We're naive.  Our eyes are new to your floor where you battle. It's our first time.  Prior to receiving treatment on the Oncology Floor we had received treatment in a "Day Hospital" setting or a Clinical Research Unit floor where every child has something different including cancers, rare cancers, brain cancers and the like.  We've never been to the Oncology Floor for treatment though.

On the Oncology Floor there's a certain feeling, a specific, prevalent feeling of optimism.  You can feel it in the air when you're there.  It surrounds you whether you know it or not, whether you understand what is really there or not.  It's optimism.

We actually feel honored to be a part of the Oncology Family.  The staff.  The staff is aware.  You can see the experience in their eyes, you can feel the special love that only Oncology knows for their patients and families.  They're not just treating the patient.  They are treating a family, the whole family.  There's a feeling of mutual respect, a feeling of mutual admiration.  We've been around the block a lot with medicine and therapies and when you get this feeling, it is special.

Not only is it in the air of the Oncology Floor, you can see it in action. Just meeting the nurses once, and they tell you they admire you.  They tell you they think you're amazing, that you embody optimism. They tell you they're in awe of you.  Why?  They say they can't believe we work, have two children with a rare, devastating illness and we have a son who doesn't have this illness...and that we're so optimistic. We administer treatments at home and they are in awe.   We are their primary caregivers, not a physician, not a nurse, not a therapist; we are. They see how positive and calm we are, they do and they recognize it.  We need them.  They are us.  They are on our team.  Together, we mutually admire one another. We do.

Music Therapy comes by and Nick proceeds to stump the therapist with his song requests.  We laugh together, and recognize how unbelievably hard it is to sing in front of people you just met.  Child Life makes sure Nick knows what is going to happen, and gets to his level.  The head of the department, so humble, and kind, a calm, steady leader.  We meet the Pharmacist who mixes the medicines to save lives, he too is interested, and kind and humble.  It's a team feeling with an underlying theme of experience, gratitude, and heart wrenching perseverance.

Respectful of other patients, we don't look.  We don't inquire.  We just know.  Their battles are unbelievable, the biggest of challenges. Their faces are adorable, and sweet still with some form of innocence.  It's still there.  Utter sweetness.  Their siblings bring the latest thing they're selling at school.  The nurses welcome them and peruse when they have time or they make time to pay attention to that child.  It is a calm, steady, loving pace. The rush comes in the afternoon as school lets out.  Live then battle, live then battle then battle to live.  Could you imagine after a full day of school?

We are at home. We are grateful, and we are humbly optimistic.

The Cherrstrom Family

Monday, February 13, 2017

Oh hey, we're 43

43 years ago a group of parents gathered at John Hopkins University to support each other and talk about the MPS/ML diseases.* That same month of the same year a baby was born in Cleveland, Ohio carrying a gene mutation that causes Hunter Syndrome (MPS II) when passed to boys. That baby was me. If that's not a coincidence, I don't know what is. Eventually those parents would form what is known today as the National MPS Society known for a legacy of supporting families facing this incredibly difficult diagnosis.

My Parents
When I was a baby, my great grandmother, a nurse and an orphan, held me and said, "this baby has something to tell the world". Boy was that an understatement! I think about my parents often and I wonder how they would have responded to a child with Hunter Syndrome.  At that time,in 1974, there wasn't a treatment for Hunter Syndrome and very little was known when compared to what we know about the disease today. It was luck that I was born as a girl for many reasons but the biggest one being that the mutation didn't effect me because my other x chromosome was fine. This allows me to produce the enzyme my body needs to act as the garbage truck that purges cellular waste from my body.  If you don't have a functioning garbage truck, the waste builds up in your body damaging many of your body's systems.  I carry this disease though, and had no idea because it spontaneously started when I was born (de novo) .  This is why there isn't a legacy of Hunter Syndrome in my family, it began and could have ended with me. The very harsh reality is that it is very, very probable that I would not have lived very long (if I had been born as a boy). I would have potentially faced death around 10 years of age possibly later if lucky.  My parents would have been coping with the loss of a child in their 30s. Not to mention my Dad had a decade of health struggles himself that were incredibly difficult for our family.

Having a child at my parents age and time was hard enough, I couldn't imagine how having a child with a disease with a stark life expectancy and an expensive but shortened lifetime of medical costs would have changed everything. It could have changed the trajectory of their family, and their whole lives, but it didn't. Really they got lucky too, they dodged the genetic roulette. It lied in wait for me.  Not only did it lie in wait, it waited to show up until I had my second son giving me a false sense of confidence that I could have healthy children.

I am incredibly grateful for the National MPS Society who has been doing this much longer than me, much longer.  They were supporting families while I was a toddler.  They were fundraising and pushing for treatments longer than me. They were there when the first treatment for Hunter Syndrome became available to patients! They've experienced much more loss than I have in my lifetime. They've inspired parents and caregivers to make their voices heard, to push when no one else will for their child.

So when you wish me "Happy Birthday", I am torn because due to my birthday this disease exists in my family. I am grateful for my life.  I am grateful for my family and friends. I am grateful for my husband and my sons.  I see life through a different lens than I used to; a more hopeful, humble, grateful perspective.  Without living, there would be one less sister in the world, one less girl who almost always has a smile on her face, one less college graduate, one less hard worker, one less mother and wife, one less person who desires only to make a difference in the world, to "tell the world something".  Perhaps if I wasn't here, Dan would have married an Australian Olympic volleyball player who actually comes close to matching his height that could have happened but instead he's happy to get things down for me I can't reach.  I am torn because I feel that it's very unfortunate that I have passed this mutation along, and as a result it's made my children's lives harder.  Don't leave this devastated or sad because I am not. I was also born to persevere and overcome.  The best thing you can do is keep reading, keep talking about what we're doing, keep supporting us in so many ways! Why stop now, when we've made it through so much and we have so much more to do!  I believe we can see a cure for this disease in my lifetime, after all I think I owe that in the very least to my children.  I am saving my biggest smile for that day!

Thank you for the birthday wishes, and thank you for another year of really living.   Happy Valentine's Day Eve for my name means "beloved by all".



*More can be found here about the history of the National MPS Society:

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Mayor of Mantown

I am your #manbassador of the Town of Men. Maven of Mantopolis. I am the self appointed #MayorofMantown. #MomofManville #RancherofMantana

You see I live with all males, and I have for some time in the walls of my home and in the decades of my life. This story is about them, and a thank you for all of their kindness and support while we battle my children's rare disease and while I try to raise my children to be really great men.

You need to know that if you surround yourself with strong, self confident men gender doesn't matter. Run from the men who feel they must crush other people to make themselves feel better, and brandish their own insecurities, just run.  Strong men will support you and help you achieve your dreams because they're busy doing just as well, and don't feel threatened.  This is my skill...the ability to pick the good ones as friends. I am one of those girls who has lots of girlfriends but lots of male friends too.  Some of these men are my closest friends and they are awesome. I have no idea why I have male friends. They often tell me that they don't view me as a girl but just as a cool friend (which could be offensive, LOL as I try to look nice). Many of us have the same sense of humor and appreciate a good laugh even at each other's expense, actually most often at each other's expense. I have always been an athlete, so I think that might be the connection too.

Athletics made me really close with my grandfather who had this amazing sense of humor and a way of bringing people together to feel like a community. He gave me the strength to feel like I could do anything, and often supported me in a way that caused me to achieve more than I knew I was even capable of; he was my greatest fan.  All of these life experiences with the great men in my life prepared me to become a mother of men.

Living in a House of Men

A couple of weeks ago I couldn't figure out why my face was breaking out, I was doing everything "right" as far as taking care of my skin. I held the towel I was using to dry my face up to the light and realized it was a car wash towel. Yes, with tire gloss, and all the great chemicals one uses to clean their car.  This is what it is like living in a house of men.  Nothing is ever quite right, and really many of them don't care. I wouldn't change it for the world.

I'm the Finder in Chief of things that are almost always right in front of them or just barely hidden by a piece of paper, a strewn garment on the floor or lying right on top of something else. I am the more proficient cleaner in the group, and making new apprentices every day as to how the washing machine works. After losing a whole suit, I am not certain my apprenticeship program should take any new applicants. I am their teacher, their nurse, and most importantly their Mom and their wife.

To My Man-Friends

Your friendship has been really special - I love you man. I have spent over 472 lunches with you, shared 932,000 beers and glasses of wine with you.  Your words to me are, "I can't imagine how hard this is, and you are so strong." (and that's just when I managed to accidentally dump the whole table of beers all over myself while rooting for Ohio State) When I saw you years later, you always remind me that I am made for this, for raising the best men and for facing this challenge head on. You always remind me that if anyone can do it I can. You've defended me on the El (elevated train), filed cab driver claims when the driver wouldn't let you sit up front while we drove to lunch while I was pregnant and took up 2.5 seats.  You've gone to battle for me verbally whenever anyone was mean to me, and believe me I took notice. Some of you are married to my friends and I couldn't imagine them with anyone else.

To wrap it up (I am certain you've stopped reading at least a paragraph ago), as the Mayor of Mantown, I declare this day a celebration of the great men out there and the great friendships that men and women can have over a lifetime.  Thank you for your support. My term has no limit.

A Throw Back to Fun