Friday, July 29, 2005


The events of the past week have convinced me that life is just one big rollercoaster. One minute finds you down at the bottom of the hill - like when you find out one of your close friends has cancer. In the next, you're back at the top of the hill whenever you find out it hasn't spread to his lungs meaning he has a fighting chance. Every day, every month, every year is just a fast ride from one peak to the next valley. It almost makes you think things would be much better if your life ride was more like the end of a big wooden rollercoaster - Baby Bear hills that give you just the right thrills. But at some point you realize that if you want to appreciate the sunshine, you have to endure a little rain. You learn to appreciate the highs, and fight through the lows. At some point if you happen to be fortunate, someone gets to share your coaster with you. Together you hold your collective breath as you top the next hill and then let out a scream as you crash through the next valley. And all too soon, you realize that no matter how many peaks and troughs come your way, this ride is moving so fast. So, you hold on tight to your traveling companion and give thanks for the chance to ride.

Never give up, P.

Monday, July 25, 2005

A kick in the gut

It's cliche that life isn't fair. Most days, that cliche applies to someone else. But one day, the law of averages will catch up with you and give you a good hard kick in the gut. Today was that day.

I got an email today from a former co-worker, colleague, and friend. He's been diagnosed with an advanced form of a rare cancer and it may have already spread. He said that the outlook wasn't great with only a 30% five-year survival rate. P. is just a bit younger than me. He just became a father for the first time this spring, a son. This is so fucking unfair. I so badly want to be angry, but I don't know at whom I should be pissed. Tonight, I'm just heartbroken.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

For my wife

Each day through my window I watch her as she passes by.
I say to myself, "You're such a lucky guy."
To have a girl like her
is truly a dream come true.
Out of all of the fellas in the world
she belongs to you...
- the Temptations

It's been utterly amazing watching you grow over the last 17 years. From teenager, to wife, to successful career woman, to mother. I have been truly blessed to be allowed to hold your hand along the way. And now, as you stand on the cusp of a long and successful writing career, I'm standing here holding your hand in eager anticipation of where this journey will take us still.

Thank you for allowing me to accompany you on the ride.

The Chronicles of Mr. Mom - Day 8

Today, mommy returns to the fold. The anticipation is bubbling through the house.
The happy beat of 1960s r&b is bouncing throughout the house - the Temptations, anyone? "I've got sunshine, on a cloudy day..."

After we get the house clean, we head out to the party store to pick up a few balloons to finish decorating the house. Yesterday, we made a big "welcome home, mommy!" poster to hang inside the door so she'll see it right as she comes in. Last night we made a trip to the bookstore to get Mommy a welcome home present - a lap desk and a book on writing. She's wanted a lap desk to work on for a while. We thought it was appropriate after returning from a writing conference.

Back from the party store. Wrap the presents, hang the banner, and decorate the house. Chill out the rest of the day watching the AA website to make sure they're going to get mommy back home in time.

Analysis of the week: All in all it was very good. Grandmommy and PaPa provided a welcome distraction and kept us busy. Thanks for coming! When they weren't here, we managed to keep ourselves busy and without too much acrimony. Having TG gone for 8 days also reinforced just how much we love her and need her. More importantly, it has given us motivation for making sure that she has a highly successful writing career. Her dream is our dream.

Most interesting development of the week: KJ has decided that he will now adress himself by name. "Daddy, KJ wants to go outside. KJ needs to go potty. KJ wants a peanut butter sandwich for lunch." Too funny.

number of "I want my mommy," or "when is mommy coming home" for the week: 44

Friday, July 22, 2005

The Chronicles of Mr. Mom - Day 7

Today's the last full day without mommy - hallelujah!!!

A pretty lite day. Went and got a haircut for myself and KJ. He wanted spikey hair, so we got it. He liked it, and then when we got home, he didn't want it anymore.
Mowed the lawn so I won't have to do it on the weekend. The kids played in the water sprinkler when I was done with the backyard. When I finished, I joined them in the sprinkler and the watergun fights.

After getting cleaned up from the water escapades, got a call from mommy. Unfortuantely, the webcam on site wasn't working, so we didn't get to see her. Headed off to Fritz's for an afternoon ice cream.

Back home to clean up and get ready for Mommy to return!!!

McK got her mouth washed out with soap for trying to get her little brother to say, "ass." I bet she learned that from Avril Lavigne.

two memorable quotes from today:

KJ: Did Santa Claus land on the roof and take Mommy to the airport? Well, did the airplane land on our house and pick her up?

and this exchange:

Dad: I can't wait for Mommy to come home tomorrow.
McK: Why?
Dad: I'm going to hug her and kiss her and hug her some more.
McK: She's going to be tired, Daddy.

number of "I want my Mommy" today: 4

Thursday, July 21, 2005

The Chronicles of Mr. Mom - Day 6

We're on the homestretch now, baby. Day after tomorrow and Mommy will be back home!!!

Grandmommy and PaPa left very early this a.m. Of course, I woke up to let them out around 5:15, but then couldn't go back to sleep. The other two in the house really have gotten the hang of sleeping well past 7 a.m. Mommy should be quite appreciative of this little development :o)

Had lunch at East Coast Pizza since they've been dying to eat there all week and the grownups kept poo-pooing that idea. After lunch, it was off to see Charlie and the Chocolate Factory on the megascreen theater. It was a hit. We played a few games of skeeball after the movie and won just enough tickets to get 2 cheap trinket toys each for the ride home.

Got home and Mommy had some free time so she called - yea!!! Had a nice chat with her. She's very tired, but has had a great time. We know she's on the way to being very big. We'll say we knew her when...

Tonight should be uneventful. We'll watch Big Brother and tape it for Mommy and then off to bed. Tomorrow is the last full day for Mommy to be gone!!!

Number of "I miss Mommy" today: 5

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

The Chronicles of Mr. Mom - Day 5

I think everyone has settled in to sleeping past 7 finally. I was the first one awake today at my usual time of 6:15 - uuuugggh. Today we had a heck of a time deciding on the "fun thing" we were going to do today. Took the recycles to the recycling center - went by myself - yea!!! Had to run some errands to get some stuff from the hardware store.

Had lunch at home and then headed downtown to show Grandmommy and PaPa the new Cardinals' stadium being built and then off to the Science Center to see the new Science of the Circus exhibit. I pretty much looked like a fool trying to do the contortionist routine of cramming my fat butt into a 2 cubic foot box. Oh, my aching back... The kids had fun in the circus costume dress up area. Darn it, I left the camera at home. *extreme angry face* Apparently, none of us are good at identifying the circus animal by the poop they make - well, everyone gets the elephant!

We're cooking out tonight and then having an impromptu birthday part for KJ & McK.

Grandmommy and PaPa go home in the morning and then it'll just be the 3 of us.

"Daddy, what 'fun thing' are we going to do today?"
I think we'll just sit around and cry for mommy for the next 3 days...

number of "when is mommy coming home?" today: 7 - and they were all MINE!!!!

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

The Chronicles of Mr. Mom - Day 4

Halfway to getting mommy back home - double yipee!!!
Now, please, don't get us wrong. We're glad mommy is off learning how to be an even better writer. We're just not a whole family when she's not around and that kinda stinks.

Everyone slept late this a.m. - well except me. KJ was in until 7:30 and McK until 8:00. Must have worn them out in the heat yesterday.

"Grandmommy, we can go to Six Flags today" :o)
"Well, then Grandmommy, Grant's Farm is open and we can go there."

PaPa cooked breakfast today - donuts from the grocery store. They were a big hit.

Went to Grant's Farm. Saw the Clydesdales. Dad cooked lunch - at the Bread Company :o)
Came home and took a nap - very good.

Dad and Grandmommy cooked dinner. Little boy tried cucumbers for the first time - and liked them - yeah, KJ!!! Off to Fritz's for ice cream.

Mommy tried to call, but the cell reception there sucks. Dying all day to hear how her day went.

number of "I want mommy" today: 7

Monday, July 18, 2005

The Chronicles of Mr. Mom - Day 3

"Hey, sissy, go wake up Grandmommy and PaPa."
"Daddy, KJ's trying to get me to wake them up."

Got up, lounged around, had breakfast.
Took Grandmommy and PaPa to the zoo. "It's too hot."
"You said you were going to take us out for lunch."

Got another email from mommy. She's having fun without us. We're not sure how to feel about that. We've decided it's good, but only for a week. :o)

The live ladybug larvae arrived today. We got to put them in their little "Ladybug Garden." We'll get to watch them turn into ladybird beetles over the next couple of weeks and then release them into the flower garden. Yipee!!!

KJ slammed his big toe on the door while wearing his new flip-flops. Massive blood squirting. Major crying, several "I want my mommys." Two Shrek bandaids and lots of reassurance and all is well. Well, except for not being mommy...

Off to the bookstore. I think birthday presents are in the cards. Since we had a late lunch, we had a late dinner at the weekly favorite, Red Robin.

Off to bed - thus ends day 3.

number of "I want my mommys" today: 8 (not counting the 10+ during the "toe episode")

Sunday, July 17, 2005

The Chronicles of Mr. Mom - Day 2

Slept late today - well, if 7:30 is ever considered late.
I had to mow the yard this a.m. so the kids got to play outside. I didn't even finish before they were ready to go inside - "it's too hot!" I can't believe it. When I was a kid, I went outside right after breakfast and didn't come in until dinner time. What a bunch of wimps.

"Dad, you promised to take us to MacDonald's last night, but we didn't go. Take us there for lunch."

Cleaning, fighting, more cleaning, "Sissy said I never get to play with her again." Cry, cry, cry. "She's not lying, she just said it..." Grandmommy and PaPa will be here soon. You'll forget all about it.

Mommy called - hooray!!! Finally got her luggage. Now, she won't stink. Called mommy back to get recipe help.

Grandmommy and PaPa arrived.

Cooked dinner, burned melted feta on bottom of skillet. Mommy never does that. Tasted OK, not as good as mommy's.

Had to call mommy back to make sure she took KJ's rollercoaster book. Major crying fit.

off to bed.

number of "I want mommy to come home" today: 3

Saturday, July 16, 2005

The Chronicles of Mr. Mom - Day 1

My babies' mother left today for a week long writer's conference. Here are the daily musings of daddy spending 24/7 with the kids while mommy is away.

4:30 a.m. is early, but then the flight leaves early. I can't go back to sleep while T. gets ready to leave. Her traveling companion arrives a bit early, and after hugs, kisses, and goodbye, they're off. I'm not sure I ever got back to sleep before I heard little boy's door open at 6:15 and his sister arise shortly after. Such is the life...

First crying for mommy by KJ, 7:44 a.m. about the time her flight is scheduled to leave.

"Oh, daddy's exercising. That's just what Mommy does while you're at work."

Off to the friends' birthday party. "hey, A, my mommy's on a trip." Waterballoon fights, cake, ice cream and then back home to play. Called mommy's cell phone and left her a message.

Back to that same friend's house for a cookout and Monsters, Inc. The wives decided that all the husbands should have the kids and they could go out. Like we care. When we're done there, it's back home and to bed. The end of Day 1. Grandmommy and PaPa arrive tomorrow...

number of "when is mommy coming home?" today: 0

Monday, July 11, 2005

The million dollar experiment

I want to start the next Genentech. I have the idea that will revolutionize the way proteins are used as therapeutics. I can create proteins that have never before existed. Unfortunately, none of that will get you the money necessary to start a biotech company. In this day and age, you have to have a drug candidate in-hand before anyone will give you the money. With that, I've been told I can immediately get one million dollars and be off and running.

So, it all boils down to this: I have to do "the million dollar experiment..."

Friday, July 08, 2005

childhood friends

The recent trip home gave me pause to think about my best friend from childhood. I guess it started as we approached Shamrock, TX - that's where he was born. As we drove through Amarillo, I tried to remember how to get to his house. When we got out past the city, I saw a cemetery and wondered if that's where he was buried.

The last I saw of him was a picture in a newspaper clipping. The small photo showed an angry young man. He had robbed a series of banks and when he was finally caught, he shot himself and died. In the newspaper, he looked like a monster. However, I know better. He wasn't a monster, he was my best friend.

We met at the same church back when we were little kids. He and I were the same age and I suppose we met in a Sunday School class. At church, we were inseparable. We played on the same basketball team, we ran track together, and we always sat together during the service. I can still remember the times that we would have a sleepover. I'm pretty sure we asked every Sunday night after church during the summers. We would always spend part of our days dumpster digging - walking down the alleys looking in the dumpsters for good crap someone else decided to throw away. The stuff we dragged back to the house was enough to drive our mothers crazy. Another thing that we did was build a volcano garden in his backyard. We would get vitamin bottles and put them on the ground and then pile the dirt around them like mountains. We'd then put baking soda in them. Once we had them all set, we'd pour a little vinegar in the bottle and watch the volcano "explode." The solution that ran over would make little pock marks in the dirt making it look like volcanic rock. He and I were fans of the Dallas Cowboys - who wasn't in the 70s? We would take our quarters and run down to the corner 7-11 and buy a package of football cards each. After that, it was comparison of the collections and trading. "I'll give you my extra Roger Staubach for your extra Bob Griese." I used to carry a small scar on the inside of my left forearm where on one of our sleepovers, we decided to become blood brothers. We both made a tiny cut on our arms and then held them together for a minute or two to allow our blood to mix.

His dad was transferred whenever he was 10 and they moved to Amarillo. He came back to visit once or twice after that, and I think we made one or two trips to see them. I also remember writing a few times, although with boys, that is usually a shaky proposition. We pretty much lost touch after elementary school although I did think of him often. I guess I'll always think of him whenever I make that long drive back home through Shamrock and Amarillo. I'll probably wonder if things might have turned out differently if we had managed to keep in touch.

He was a good kid. He was my best friend. You never again have friends like the ones you have whenever you're 10...

We played king of the mountain out on the end
The world come chargin' up the hill, and we were women and men
Now there's so much that time, time and memory fade away
We got our own roads to ride and chances we gotta take
We stood side by side each one fightin' for the other
We said until we died we'd always be blood brothers

Now the hardness of this world slowly grinds your dreams away
Makin' a fool's joke out of the promises we make
And what once seemed black and white turns to so many shades of gray
We lose ourselves in work to do and bills to pay
And it's a ride, ride, ride, and there ain't much cover
With no one runnin' by your side my blood brother

On through the houses of the dead past those fallen in their tracks
Always movin' ahead and never lookin' back
Now I don't know how I feel, I don't know how I feel tonight
If I've fallen 'neath the wheel, if I've lost or I've gained sight
I don't even know why, I don't why I made this call
Or if any of this matters anymore after all

But the stars are burnin' bright like some mystery uncovered
I'll keep movin' through the dark with you in my heart
My blood brother
-Springsteen "Blood Brothers"

Tuesday, July 05, 2005


I've been pretty lucky during my young career when it comes to mentors. Most of the time I've thought I knew what I needed to know and many times it didn't fit with what they were telling me. As time has passed, I've come to realize that most of the time they were right and I was wrong.

Today, I got the sad news that one of my mentors had passed away. He was my second postdoctoral advisor. I wasn't really warm to the idea of going to work in his lab, but at the time, my first postdoctoral advisor was convinced it was the place I needed to be. When I went on the interview, Paul sat me down with my CV and told me we needed to write the job ad for the position I wanted whenever I left his lab. We wrote one out. Then he looked at my CV and asked, "what do we need to do to this (CV) so you can get that (job)?" Together, we figured it out and he decided I could do that in his lab. So, I went. I must admit that my time in the lab wasn't the most memorable. However, we managed to coexist and find a happy medium where I could do things interesting and he went along because in the end, it resulted in publications, which are the things that keep grants funded. I managed to publish 8 papers from that time and it did indeed lead to the job that we wrote up on my interview. I suppose that would be considered a success on its own. However, I learned something much more valuable from Paul H. Over the 2+ years I spent in his lab, I watched him interact with the grad students and postdocs on a daily basis - the frequency which caused much consternation amongst the group. I saw how he constantly used the situations that came up in the lab every day as a tool for teaching some deeper principle. It was as if he always saw a situation as an opportunity to teach. He taught me that no matter what we're doing, we're always on the job of teacher.

Six years ago, Paul was diagnosed with multiple myeloma. He was a private person, and I don't think that many people outside his circle actually knew of this. I think he was only given a couple of years to live at the time. He endured a couple of transplants and fought hard. He even managed to make it back into the lab and keep it running. Last week, his fight ended and now he's at rest.

The Mourner's Kaddish, in memory of Paul H.

Glorified and sanctified be God's great name throughout the world which He has created according to His will. May He establish His kingdom in your lifetime and during your days, and within the life of the entire House of Israel, speedily and soon; and say, Amen.

May His great name be blessed forever and to all eternity.

Blessed and praised, glorified and exalted, extolled and honored, adored and lauded be the name of the Holy One, blessed be He, beyond all the blessings and hymns, praises and consolations that are ever spoken in the world; and say, Amen.

May there be abundant peace from heaven, and life, for us
and for all Israel; and say, Amen.

He who creates peace in His celestial heights, may He create peace for us and for all Israel; and say, Amen.