Saturday, August 30, 2008


Well, if you're reading this blog now, you're officially invited!

After the D Magazine blog exploded for a few hours with criticism of Briefing, my intro column and more, I realized that it wouldn't take long for folks to find the checkonsteve blog. And from there it's pretty easy to get to this site.

That thought actually woke me up about 5 a.m. Friday. I have always internally debated having this site public. I took steps to make it invisible to search engines, but I kept it available. After the Briefing incident, though, I realized I didn't want to subject Cooper and Katie to random hatefulness. So, that's why this blog is now password protected.

I chose not to restrict access to Steve's site. I'm not going to let a handful of jerky jerks (the name I've chosen to call some of the D Mag blog commenters) dictate how we let people know all the great news about Steve's progress. Blogger limits permission to 100 readers. Some days the checkonsteve site gets more than 200 individual readers. There's just no way to whittle them down. And with every reader, there's another opportunity for additional prayers and good wishes. We need all of those we can get!

We've also heard from families who've found Steve's site who are fighting their own cancer battles. What a blessing to think we might be able to share information that could help or encourage another family.

Thanks for making the extra effort to get here!

Thursday, August 28, 2008


From FrontBurner, the D Magazine blog

First columns

Darla's column debuted in Briefing yesterday. A preview of the fun:

I'd like you to meet my family. Let's start with my 9-year-old son, Jake. Why? Because he's the one who'd want to meet you first. He's quite the talker. The budding politician. The kid with questionable conduct grades.

Her full column is here.

My column was introduced today. You can read it here.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

New title

I've had lots of job titles and descriptions, but I've never been a columnist -- until now! Click here to find me and Darla and Dear Abby and others. Briefing launches tomorrow, and my parenting/family column will run Thursdays and Saturdays.

Monday, August 25, 2008

First day of second grade

Cooper has been sleeping past 7 a.m. every day since he returned from Massachusetts and Maine last week. Not today. He cheerfully appeared in the kitchen around 6:45, ready for breakfast, the newspaper (for the comics) and getting ready for the first day of second grade.

As is our first day tradition, Steve walked with us to school. We are so thankful that he is feeling well and stable enough to walk the third of a mile there and another back.

Before we left, we stopped by the Dube house across the street. New big brother Drew has been waiting days to see his friends Cooper and Kyla (another sweet neighbor) off. We were also lucky enough to see five-day-old Ty and mom Meghan.

Cooper is happy to have three good buddies from last year (some even dating to 2005) in his new class. Mrs. S's class also includes some old friends we haven't seen in a while. We can't wait until this afternoon to hear details of the day from Cooper D!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Fun things Katie says

She calls glasses "gla-ga-sses."

She has nicknamed Margie (the dog) "Sweeters."

When she wants a hug, she asks for "huggers."

As a recently potty-trained girl, she has a heightened interest in public bathrooms. She's fascinated by the automatic toilets. Now when we're in a public bathroom, she asks, "Is this a dramatic potty?"

Monday, August 18, 2008

Tiny columnist?

The Dallas Morning News launches a new newspaper later this month. Briefing will be delivered free Wednesday through Saturday to non-daily subscribers in certain ZIP codes. The idea is to give folks a quick read of the news.

I have the great opportunity to write a column twice a week for Briefing. (A fellow freelancer, ex-DMNer and friend Darla will write the other two days. She is fun and funny and always makes me laugh.) This morning Katie and I downtown drove through the welcome August rain so I could have my photo taken for the column. When Darla and I were done, Katie asked (or politely demanded) to have her photo taken, too. Photographer John snapped a few before we left the studio. He did a good job catching her mischievous side.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

One more vacation

Cooper, Grandma and Papa left early yesterday morning for a vacation in Boston and Maine. Cooper has had a fabulous summer: Disneyland, trip by himself to Houston to see Uncle Jim, weekend trip to Bastrop and Austin, a night at Great Wolf Lodge, soccer camp, Cub Scout camp, tennis camp, chess camp, math games extravaganza camp, swim lessons, vacation Bible school, fine arts week. Plus birthday parties, Lego building, lots of reading, playing with friends, watching movies.

He seems to have caught Katie's cold and woke this morning with a 102-degree fever. That didn't stop him from wanting to head out for adventures. Tomorrow the trio will hit the road and drive north to Bar Harbor.

They get home just a few days before Cooper starts second grade.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Annual reports

A benefit of having children with almost the same due date (Cooper, June 25; Katie, June 24) is that their birthdays are close (Cooper, July 3; Katie, June 20) and therefore their annual pediatric check-ups can be accomplished in one visit.

Today was an especially good check-up day, as neither needed any vaccines. Cooper asked every employee he could find if he would be getting a shot today and was so relieved to hear the final verdict. He actually is eligible for the chicken pox booster, but we're going to wait. We don't want to introduce a live virus in a household with an immuno-compromised daddy. If there is a chicken pox outbreak at school this year, we will reconsider. Otherwise, we'll wait until next summer.

We learned today that Cooper grew 3.5 inches in the past year -- not a huge surprise if you've seen him lately or see the tall pile of long pants we will be passing down to friends. Our 7-year-old boy is now wearing size 10 slim pants and cinching them as much as those handy hidden elastic waists will allow. He's above the charts for height and at 75 percent for weight.

Katie grew 2 inches in the past year and is at 75 percent for height and weight. Dr. N gives grades for health and development. (Julie and I always wonder if he ever gives out grades below an A. We've yet to hear of one. I suspect it's his office's way of giving a vote of confidence to anxious parents.) Katie received an A+ today, with a special note for her "excellent speech." He told us that he likes to listen to her talk because she, at age 3, sounds like a 10-year-old.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Lack of planning

So, you know that I love to plan vacations. I love planning as much as going. As soon as a trip is over, I need another to look forward to. A friend's trip will do if we don't have anything on the calendar -- I can help brainstorm sites, restaurants, activities, clothes needed, etc.

We are on a quick getaway this weekend at the Lost Pines Hyatt near Bastrop. (I was supposed to go on a girls' weekend last fall, but we had to cancel last minute, too late to get the deposit back. So we postponed until January. I couldn't go anywhere in January. So I moved the date a couple more times until this weekend worked -- but this time for Steve, the kids and I.)

Anyway, I wanted to be more spontaneous and not plan so much, just to see how that worked. Most everything we need is at the hotel -- swimming, dining, s'mores around a campfire, Olympics on the TV in our room.

Before we checked in, we decided to have lunch in Bastrop. I didn't have a restaurant selected in advance. We just headed for the historical district, looking for someplace local. We found a cute little house with a charming hand-painted sign and decided to take a table.

There were many clues that we should have left -- most significantly the tables that hadn't been cleared held plates with huge portions remaining. But it was hot, after 1 p.m. and Katie was fussy (she has a cold and had just been roused from a nap).

It was awful! The chicken-fried steak, marked as a specialty of the house, was tangy. The mashed potatoes were overly garlicky, and not in a good way -- I think they used garlic salt or powder instead of fresh, and they used way too much.

In such a situation, I would just push my plate aside and share with Steve. But he'd ordered the same! So we just laughed our way through lunch, making faces and pushing the food around our plate.

All was not lost. Cooper devoured his plate of chicken, vegetables and fries and then ate much of our meal. He declared it "the best meal ever!"

What I'm taking from the experience:
1. Cooper has questionable taste in chicken-fried steak, a problem that needs to be remedied.
2. Steve and I should not order the exact same food.
3. I need embrace, not shun, my love of planning.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Big day at Barnes & Noble

Among my freelance projects last year were three books: I proofed some chapters of Bill Peel's book What God Does When Men Lead; I helped edit, research and write parts of Kathy's Peel's The Busy Mom's Guide to a Happy, Organized Home; and I wrote the Dallas-Fort Worth chapter of Fodor's Texas. (I was about 95 percent done with the travel guide chapter on the day of Steve's first MRI, which revealed a mass in his brain stem. In the weeks leading up to Dec. 11, 2007, I was getting about four or five hours of sleep each night. After Dec. 11, sleep was hard to come by for different reasons.)

Bill's book has been out a few months, and I have a copy. Kathy's was released in early July. The Fodor's book was released Tuesday. I hadn't yet seen the July books -- until today! (My own copies are on the way.)

I was running errands on my own today and stopped at Barnes & Noble. I was so excited to find my work there on the shelves! I've had countless bylines in newspapers and magazines, but there's something distinct and special about being printed in a bound book.

To the right of the Busy Mom's Guide is Desperate Households, the first Kathy Peel book I helped with.

My bio in the back of the Fodor's book