Hopefully everyone had a wonderful Memorial Day Weekend. We celebrated by marching in the Mount Olive Parade; Max & Bob marched with Cub Scout Pack 47 while Gwendolyn, Tracy and Olivia marched with Brownie Troop 1199. This year Max was well prepared for a long walk because last year Bob learned, after two parades, that Max had no problem chastising his Dad in front of the town in the middle of a parade. We had chatted many times the week before about how long the parade would be and how it might rain or be really hot but that we'd been walking a lot so this wouldn't be as painful as last year. I'm not sure but I'm pretty certain that all that talk was in vain and what really sealed the deal was my epiphany the night before when I told Max, "If you can get through the whole parade without complaining I promise there will be a great surprise at the end of the day. But remember no complaining and no asking about the prize." Max looked at me, thought about it for a moment and started to say something when I interrupted him and said, "Remember, no asking about the prize means not all … including right now … got it?" Max said, "Yes, I knew that but wasn't going to ask about the prize. What I wanted to know was if it is like when I open presents – is it that kind of surprise or is it more like a Happy Meal prize?" I explained to him how that was still asking and he said, "I'm sorry I didn't know … do I still get the prize?" We left it at "Yes" but agreed not to talk about it anymore (after all I needed time to figure out the prize).
Memorial Day morning started out a little drizzly and, in case you've forgotten or not heard, Max hates getting wet, especially when it is because of rain. We loaded up the car with kids, a stroller, water, and rain coats. Thankfully by the time we got to the marshalling area the storm had passed and it was pleasantly sunny. We had to stand around for about 30 minutes while everyone got situated. Max entertained himself by naming all of the instruments in the High School marching band (what is the horn that is bigger than a French horn but smaller than a tuba and is not a trombone? Oboe? We discussed that at length but no one in our group knew for certain).
As soon as the parade started I remembered that I had wanted to remember to bring small flags for the boys to hold and candy for them to toss to the crowd. Unfortunately this was the first time I had thought about it since the July 4th parade last year. I hold only a modicum of hope that I will remember for the July 4th parade this year. Anyway, as soon as we started walking the cub scout pack in front of us started throwing candy to the crowd of 4 or 5 people at the beginning of the parade and our boys immediately ran up and snatched it out of the road in a mad scramble. We tried to reign the boys in but it happened again just a few minutes later so we had to stop our pack, and all of the people behind us, for a minute while we told the boys in no uncertain terms that they were not to stop again or there would be trouble. With the next toss of the candy by the boys ahead of us I watched to see what would happen and was pleasantly surprised that while all the boys looked not one made a move to claim the candy. Then a few of our parents ran up to grab what appeared to be a new candy. !@#$%s Ugh.
We made it to the bottom of the beginning hill and started up the far side and I was realizing that Max hadn't really said anything but was simply holding my hand, keeping pace, and looking a little tired. We were next to Roy, another scout leader who had marched with us last year (and heard Max's rants), and he must have thought the same thing I was thinking but he put it to words by telling Max that he thought he was doing a great job. I wasn't sure what Max would say but hadn't wanted to say anything myself for fear of starting a rant but Max surprised me by telling Roy that he was a little tired because of the hill and had a small cramp but was otherwise doing okay. Once again I had my heart melted by my not so little boy. Thankfully the hill wasn't all that steep and Max made it to the top without incident. I got him to drink a little water when the parade stopped for traffic but otherwise he simply walked with everyone else up until the end. Near the end he said that he was too tired to wave and complained that my hand was sweaty. I told him that I was fine with him not holding my hand by he had to keep up the pace. He said, "No, I want to hold your hand but I also want you to know it is really sweaty." Not knowing what to say we marched until we saw TR and Kathy near the very end of the parade. That brightened Max's spirits enough to get us across the highway which was the 'finish line' of the parade. His prize ended up being that he was allowed to watch a movie, Over the Hedge, when we got home along with the promise of a McDonald's Happy meal after his hospital visit the next day.
For dinner yesterday Bob cooked hot dogs and hamburgers on the grill. When we asked Max which he wanted he said McDonalds. I felt bad that he had been so good all day, especially at the parade, but also knew that he was getting it the next night because I was running out for a softball game. I tried to talk to him about that and he said he understood and would settle for "Mommy Chickens, Mommy French Fries, and ketchup." I told him that the whole point of the grill was to make less work for Mommy when cooking dinner but he wasn't happy about that. Not sure why but I then told him that when he was little he used to love McDonalds' cheeseburgers and that he would eat them all the time and wouldn't touch the chicken nuggets. He couldn't tell if I way lying or not but he just kind of smiled at me like he thought I was so I said, "Really. You even stole Mommy's sometimes." That made him laugh and he decided he would have a McDonalds's cheeseburger for dinner. I don't remember now how I got out of that but in the end he ate a home cooked cheeseburger with ketchup on it. It is odd that such a thing is a milestone for a near 8 old year old but for Max it was quite an accomplishment. For Tracy and I it means that we can go to cookouts this summer without worrying about what to feed him. Unfortunately Olivia took 2 hours to eat just 3 bites of a hot dog but that is a story that is just too painful to recount right now … perhaps with time ;)
Today was the first time that Tracy was taking Max for shots. We use numbing cream on both 'cheeks' to make the shots less painful and Tracy had only done that once before and hadn't really understood where the shots went so this morning she asked me to mark his butt so she got it done correctly later in the day. Being the incredibly funny Dad that I am I used a fat permanent green marker to draw a dashed circle on his right cheek and then a nice smiley face on the left cheek. Not sure how that went over at the hospital (it didn't come up in conversation with Tracy yet) but it had Tracy laughing this morning but quickly led to reminders for Max from both Mom and Dad that no one at school should be shown Dad's handiwork (probably should've thought of that beforehand).
As yesterday was a holiday the hospital was a little busier than normal today but not too bad. The new nurse couldn't get Max's IV started on the first try so another nurse got him hooked up. I think that we're all hoping that his July scans go well so that he can get a port put in even tough it means another 9 months of chemo. The bad part of the day was that the lab work took a really long time to come back. Max started his day this morning at 4:18 am so by 4:00 pm, when labs still had not returned, he announced that he was " .. done with this ridiculous place and it was time to go home." It didn't work out that way for him but he did get a tour of the kitchen area where he was allowed to grab some cheerios and milk to hold him over until his labs came back. That seemed to work but they didn't get out of the hospital until 5:00 pm. On the bright side, while there was traffic on Route 22, which is the first route out of the hospital, the rest of the way home was smooth sailing.
Another good thing that happened today is that one of the women from church brought over dinner for us while Tracy's Mom was here with Olivia this afternoon. I had softball immediately after work so I had picked up McDonalds for the kids before running out. Tracy and I got to eat BBQ chicken breasts, corn bread, and chocolate chip cookies for dinner. The BBQ was fabulous and the chicken was amazingly tender and we are grateful for all the effort that went into the meal. The church offered to do this every Tuesday but we felt guilty about that so we agreed on once a month – the Tuesday's when Max gets his shots because on those nights the kids all get McDonalds as a special treat for Max doing so well with the shots.
Max did have some extra hormone lab work done today and we should know those results in about two weeks. I have started the scheduling process for his July follow up MRI and medical appointments but that will take some time to complete. Because he has the MRI and has to see 3 doctors we qualify for the Complex Scheduling service where they will try to coordinate seeing all the doctors the same day. Unfortunately the scheduling software that they use is being updated June 5th so they can't schedule the doctors until after that. I do have his MRI setup for 1 pm on July 9 so hopefully the doctors will all be that Thursday but time will tell.