Reincarnated As A Mother

Monday, December 31, 2012

A Little Trickery

Byron took off snowmobiling for the day with a friend.
Which meant Kean spent much of the day pining away for Dad and his tractor rides.
 And even though Byron had to be plumb tired... guess who took Keanut for a ride
right after he got home!
Somehow, I doubt laps around the property are as thrilling as flying
through the mountains on a snow machine.
Byron earned gold stars in my book tonight.
 So yesterday, I waxed unpoetically about growing old.
Here's proof.  I am not waiting up until midnight to ring in the new year.
Instead, we celebrated at 10 p.m.  Precisely when the east coast hit 2013.
I used a little fruit pizza, sparkling cider and sparklers to get my way with the girls.

Happy 2013 my dear friends.
Let's hope this coming year is full of much less drama for all of us.
I'll toast to that.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Curse You Facebook!

So much for sneaking through this birthday with nobody noticing.
Actually, as depressing as it is to inch closer and closer to such an old age,
the gazillion messages all of you sent were wonderful.
And I feel much better about life.
We kept it pretty quiet... going over to my parents' house for our regular dinner.
I forgot my trusty camera... so all these photos are from my phone.
And please notice... this is of the kids before all of the sugar.
 My 15 year old niece, Katie surprised me with a pan full of butterfly cupcakes.
 She got this really cool book on cupcakes for Christmas and these were
her first attempt.  I told her, I'm hiring her to make cupcakes for
all my kids birthday parties.  She's quite the artist.
 Then my dear friend Pam, showed up with a German Chocolate Cheesecake
from the Cheesecake Factory.
Repeat after me... Heaven.
 As if our girls were not sugared up enough at this point, we ran them
over to Ron and Elly Moomey's house.
The Moomey's have their grandchildren in town visiting from the Bay area.
Tonight, also happened to be their grandson Jack's 7th birthday
and they had invited the girls over for... yep, more cake and ice cream.
Hopefully it will all wear off as they sleep and by morning
they will be back to their normal loud and hyper selves.
Again, thank you for making me feel so loved.
I guess birthdays aren't all that bad.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Peace and Too Much Quiet

I think Kean thought it was a little too quiet around here today.
Since we thought we were going to be in the hospital, Byron and a friend took
the girls (and one of Holland's friends) up snowmobiling for the day.
 They went about an hour and a half north of our house to Lake Cascade.
Byron figured the girls could run all over the frozen lake on the snowmobiles and
he wouldn't have to worry about them going off a cliff or hitting trees.
 Greer wanted me to make sure and point out that since this was her
camera she got for Christmas, that she gave me permission to post
these pictures on the blog. She's a kick, I tell ya.
 I was surprised Reese opted to go instead of staying home with us.
Let's just say she is not the heartiest of souls when it comes to cold weather.
Please take special note of her missing half an eyebrow.
Remember how she cut her head open?
We've had a terrible time getting the glue to dissolve or flake off... so
Byron took a trusty pair of scissors and...
Oh, geez, please let it grow back!
If not, she'll be dressing up as Groucho Marx for Halloween next year.
Mark my words.
 Poor Kean.
All he wanted to do all day was go for a tractor ride.
And he got stuck inside with me while I washed bedding
and pulled all the couches apart and washed the cushion covers.
His run of vomiting has left them quite spotted over the past few
months and with everyone gone... it seemed like a good time
to try and salvage them.
I did give in and take him for a long ride around the surrounding
neighborhoods to look at Christmas lights.
Not as good as a tractor ride
but it did get us out of the house.

Friday, December 28, 2012

So I Was Wrong...

Way wrong.
This morning, Kean and I schlepped all of our stuff down to the hospital for another "staycation",
only to turn around and schlep it all back.
His blood work showed his counts have actually gone down again-- to 330.
I couldn't have been more floored-- but Dr. Meeker came out and talked to us.  He said
I can't look at it as Kean hasn't had Chemo in three weeks and his counts should be up by now.
The protocol he is on calls for a two week break to try and recover.  So really, we are only a week
off schedule.  And Dr. Meeker said he has never, not once had a kid come in on schedule during this phase.
It just takes much longer for them to recover after being hit so hard.
And when I think about it, if the Chemo he last had was enough to make all of his hair fall out
in just two days, it makes sense it will take more time for his cells to rebuild.
We had a double date today for our trip to the Cancer center-- Paula Hoggan and her 16 year old son, Noah.
I was extremely impressed that Noah wanted to go with us-- I mean, how many 16 year olds do you know
of who would trade one of their vacation days to watch a little kiddo get checked out at the hospital?
Since they have to schedule a surgical procedure each time we "try" to make counts, they
couldn't fit Kean in until Monday, January 7th.
Which means we have another week at home to just be!
And one other positive from today, Kean did get a rather cool racing rubber duck
with red flames down the side for his collection.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Our Last Night of Normalcy

We head back to the ol' torture chamber tomorrow- el hospital.
And I think we are all in a good place and ready to start fighting again.
This break has been a blessing from heaven.  We've recharged our batteries
and dug up some more fight.
 Kean has been eating like a teenage boy and has had more energy than in months.
Maureen came today for therapy and it was almost like old times.
 Here he is doing his monkey impersonation.  Trust me, it was even better in person.
 He so loves Maureen, I think he'd give his last bit of energy for her.
 In fact, I think, other than his "Yoda" hair-do and his super skinny legs and ankles,
you'd never know he was sick.
He worked really hard today. 
 Reese, by the way, is feeling great.
As I write this, she is dancing her heart out to the Wii.
And she spent a chunk of the day putting every puzzle in the house together.
She called our family room "puzzle world".
Oh, and does the spoiling continue.
We received a box from our artist friend, B.A. Schmidt in Chicago today.
She sent the most beautiful necklaces-- a hummingbird for me...
 Black cats for the girls-- all handmade.  And the cutest yellow duck tile for Kean.
I'm sorry my photography skills are so poor.
 And then our bestest buddies, Chris and April sent each of the girls a
beautiful necklace with their birthstones for Christmas.
We figure we will have a lot of deprogramming to do on the spoiling front
by the time we get through this Cancer journey.
And I haven't even begun to mention all that has been done... thank you Cindy and Lin Sue for
the gift cards.  And for the anonymous elf who dropped off a card
at our home on Christmas Eve.
Here Reese thought it was going to be the worst Christmas ever
and yet we have never felt so loved.
Thank you for all the kindness out there.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

The Day After

Today was exactly as it should be.
Nothing too crazy.  No trips to the doc.  Just lots of eating too many sweets, watching too
many movies and lots of playing.
 Kean was quite enamored with the Wii Dance 4.
 Some of our favorite neighbors, the Kwid's dropped by to play Santa.
Gina Kwid was Holland and Greer's second grade teacher and
I've decided she is an expert in spoiling our children.
We love the Kwid's.
 Then tonight, Mark Moomey and Rachel Alderman (who are home from college)
came over to be smothered and jumped on non-stop by the girls.
It's the same story every time they visit.
I sometimes am amazed they come back for more abuse, oops, I mean love.
So far, everyone is healthy in our home.  Thank heavens for modern medicine.
Reese is running back at full speed.
Loving being home.
Hope everyone is having a great holiday season.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Christmas Eve and Christmas Day

I'm certain this will be a rather long post.  For that, I apologize.  I just
couldn't find the time  or energy to post last night-- too much going on.
So here's the highlight reel.
Kean was thrilled to be home and surrounded by family.
We had our traditional Christmas Eve family get together at our house.
This year, we had quite the little musical program.
Holland and her cousin, Morgan played us a few carols...
Greer did her part with her violin.
And my nieces and then my girls took turns singing for us.
That's Reese playing the part of Rudolph.
One of the best parts was watching Kean watch the girls.

My mom always tells the true Christmas story of Christ's birth while the kids act it out.
This year, Reese got to be Mary and Greer was Joseph.
For once, Byron backed out as the donkey and let Mark Moomey take the part.
Let's just say, it is never very spiritual but we love it nonetheless.
That is, everyone except for Kean.  He wanted no part of playing Jesus
or wearing the swaddling clothes.
The evening always ends with the kids opening up their gifts from their cousins and
pajamas from Grammy.
This year, my mom brought pajama bottoms for all the grand kids back from her trip to Turkey.
Pretty stylish.
We finally got the girls (and Kean) in bed...just in time.
Guess who Byron caught a picture of sneaking in through our back door.
 It was hilarious.
Holland couldn't get Greer and Reese to wake up to spy on the man in red.
Finally, she enlisted Byron to help.  And Byron literally picked
Reese up, and even though her eyes were open-- she was so out of it,
she said she couldn't even see Santa across the room.
After a while, she did wake up enough to take note of the large, older
gentleman jingling bells in our living room.
It was seriously, pure comedy.  Greer couldn't get over how white
Santa's beard was.  She thought it would be gritty and grey after flying through
the sky and sliding down all those chimneys.
The only down side about having Santa show up at your house is the kids
were all so hyper, it took them a while to get back to sleep.
But eventually they did
and eventually morning came with the mayhem that comes with
the opening of all the presents.
 As for Kean, he was too distracted by a little motorcycle he got from his cousins
to care about hardly anything else.
 He did get into helping his dad put the electric scooters together for Reese and Greer.
Check out the concentration on his face.
 And he totally was obsessed with the bicycle Byron and the girls bought me.
Mr. B. put the little seat on the back and took him for a spin
down the hall (since it was cold and windy outside).
 My favorite picture of the day-- is Mister "I love the wind in my face since I have no hair".
I can't wait for nice weather to take the boy
for long rides through the neighborhood.
I think it will do us both some good.
 And seriously folks, I don't think we can make it through a week, let alone
Christmas day without any drama.
I ended up spending the afternoon in the Urgent Care.
Remember how out of it Reese was when Santa came?
Guess we should've suspected something was up.
She woke up and I think used every ounce of energy to unwrap her presents.
A short time later, she started throwing up and didn't stop.
She even threw up twice in the Urgent Care, poor little thing.
If it wasn't for Kean and his low counts, I wouldn't have taken her in until tomorrow.
But thank goodness I did.
She tested positive for what we suspected:  Strep.
Some nausea medicine and a shot of Penicillin in the leg later,
we were back home with a girl that started feeling better fast.
Thank heaven.
I think we've done a decent job of keeping her away from Kean.
He is fine so far.
But I do have to share with you what Reese told me.
She said this "is going to be the worst Christmas ever".
When I asked her why, she said "because I'm sick and Kean has Cancer".
Poor thing sounded so pitiful that it was all I could do not to laugh.
I swear, around here, you either have to laugh or cry.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas...

The countdown is on and we are still here.
Still at home.
And for once there has been no drama.
Well, very little anyway.
Reese woke up with a sore throat and a slight fever.
But so far, so good. Kean seems happy and healthy.
We went over to my parents house for our regular Sunday night get-together.
While there, we were all serenaded with a couple of families out Christmas caroling...
including, my dear friend, Angie Stephensen and her family.
Angie, has been one of my rocks through all this-- even taking a few night
shifts at the hospital.  She has a son, Luke, who has Down syndrome.
It was fun to watch Luke and Kean together tonight.

I can't remember what day it was when we were in the hospital over the past two weeks, but
one night, a new family came into the Pediatric Oncology Unit.  That is always
a heart breaker-- I feel so sorry for them because I now know exactly what they
are going through and I can think of few things that would be worse in this life.
This family, in particular, hit home.  Their child is a little girl with Down syndrome.
Just like Kean, she was diagnosed with A.L.L. a month before her 3rd birthday.
She's not sleeping, not eating, and in obvious pain.
Her parents looked so shell shocked.  I'm certain, Byron and I, looked just as bad in those early weeks.
To make things even more difficult for them, their home is at least two hours away.
I find it hard enough to drive the 35 minutes each week for Chemo.  I can't imagine
stretching that to two hours with a grouchy, often fasting, sick child.
I talked to the family yesterday and today.  The docs have let them leave the hospital
but they can't leave town-- so are staying in the Ronald McDonald house across from St. Luke's.
They have five girls (ages 2 to 14) and the sisters will be arriving tomorrow for Christmas to spend the next few days
together in their room at the Ronald McDonald house.
My friend, Pam and I are orchestrating a visit from the older gentleman from the North
 to deliver their gifts to their little room on Christmas Eve.
I am so excited for them.  And what a healing experience it is to put the focus on someone other than us.
We have it so good.
I was already so very thankful to be home as a family but this just reminds me how blessed we are.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Wish Granted

Christmas came early for Kean.
As you know his fondest desire (all day, every day) is to go riding--
whether it be on a motorcycle or on a tractor... he just wants to ride.

 One of Byron's good friends bought a brand spanking new tractor
with a heated cab, stereo-- the works.
He's parking it in our barn and has offered to let Kean take it for a spin
and another spin and another spin.
Can we say Boy H.E.A.V.E.N.?
 Holland has been running with the school's track team and
today participated in her first official run-- the YMCA's annual
Christmas Fun Run.
She loved it and even though I couldn't go watch her
take part, I love the fact Kean and I are home--
to welcome her home!
So far, so good.

Friday, December 21, 2012

A Mixed Blessing

So here I spent last night and much of the morning praying that Kean's counts would be up
so we could move forward with the Chemo and surgical procedure today.
And I have to admit, when his counts came back at 610 (need to be 750), I was
sorely disappointed.  Until the thought occurred to me, that I should be thanking
the Lord for not answering my prayers.
Kean is happy, and although tired, he seems like he feels pretty good.
If he had gotten Chemo today, he'd likely be quite miserable by Christmas day.
And get this, by the time they went to reschedule him for next week, (with doctors off and no one working
on Christmas day) there were no slots available for him until FRIDAY!!!
Woot hoot.  That means we have almost the entire week of Christmas to ourselves.
So yes, my prayers have been answered.  The forecast seems to be calling for
our family to be home for Christmas.  Who would have ever thought!!!
My dear friend, Deb Winward was our date to the hospital today.
Let me tell you what a sweetheart Deb is-- her only two grand babies arrived
last night and yet she was willing to spend the day with Keanut.
Another blessing of having Kean's counts not met-- we all got to go home early.

 Since we never made it over to surgery, I missed seeing one of our favorite nurses
get a huge award.
Remember Joe Ronquillo?
Our local NBC affiliate did a lovely story on Joe and Kean a few months back.
Well today, Joe was recognized as one of St. Luke's top nurses.
His family was there to see the big surprise.
Joe won the Daisy award-- quite a big deal.  I guess 500 hospitals
around the country participate in this program.
Joe told me this afternoon, he thought he was going to get fired
when he saw everyone, including his family there.
Seriously, he deserves this.  You should see how great
Joe (and all the other nurses in the Pediatric Oncology Unit)
are with Kean and the other children.  To see what they see, deal with what
they deal with and go through losing so many patients... they all
deserve to be nationally recognized in my book.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Not Christmas Eve But Chemo Eve

I've been trying not to think about tomorrow too much.
I know it's a gamble but if his counts aren't high enough, I'm sure to be extremely disappointed.
The nurse on the phone today (who called to remind me with medicine and fasting instructions) said
if tomorrow is a no go-- we'll likely try for Monday and Tuesday --
which puts us in for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
So if you pray for anything tonight and tomorrow morning, pray for Kean's body to kick it in the
pants and get those counts up above 750.
Our crazy friends, the Borup's came by tonight with treats and a gingerbread boy with "very
little hair" for Kean.  They teach his age group in church and I'm sad he's missing
out each week on their love.
Thank heavens they make house calls.
 Another dear friend, Kim Leach and her family sent a package over today
with the most beautiful book-- Christmas Oranges, you guessed it, a bag
of oranges, a yummy chocolate orange and some other homemade out of
this world goodies.
 Did you notice the 'get well card' for Kean in the above pic.
All of their kids signed it, including their boy who is Reese's age.
My favorite part of the gift package was part of the note from
Kim in which she told me her little boy wanted to write (but didn't) in Kean's card
that "I love your sister, Reese"!
Kim wrote that he (not named to protect his reputation) is a little sweet on her.
Don't you just love that?
We loved this beautiful book that makes you thankful
for your life and circumstances-- and reminds each of us
of the power of love and kindness.
We plan on making the reading of this book a Christmas tradition
in our home.
I will let you all know how tomorrow goes.
Thank you in advance for the prayers on our behalf.
And a special thanks to my mom and Pam Brown who came over today
and helped me get everything wrapped and ready for Christmas!!!
I'm done.  As done as I can be anyway. 
We're ready to get this show on the road.