December 31, 2005

100 deg. temp

Jack woke up with a 100 degree fever this morning and an ulcer on his tongue. His tongue is hurting and swollen, so he is having a hard time drinking. Nurse Sara called in something for that, and Dr. Garcia is talking to Cook's Children's about their recommendations for blood work and protocol. Looking to hear back from her this morning. We will at the least get blood drawn today, and possibly head to Cook's Children's for admission to get his counts back up. I will post again when I know anything else.

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9:30 am, talked with Dr. Bowman from Cook's and he said to try and keep Jack hydrated, if his temp doesn't
rise anymore then we just stay home. If it goes to 101 deg. then he will be admitted at Cook's. He is going to call at noon and check on Jack.

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2:25 pm Jack's fever is at 100.8 he is eating and drinking a bit so I am not too worried about dehydration.

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4:20 pm Jack's fever is at 102.4 Rob and I are headed to Cook's with him. They will admit him and draw blood, give him iv fluids and antibiotics, we could even be home tomorrow night!

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December 30, 2005

Double Prayers Today - Jack and Baby Ira

So far so good. We are hunkered down in the house and none are worse for the wear. Sarah brought over a tub full of goodies yesterday for the kids to play with, thanks to Riley and Ashley for sharing them with us. Karene brought a yummy meal, we had a fun day at home. Rob is going to take Derek out for a movie or something tonight to celebrate his birthday, tomorrow we will have his cake and balloons, with the 5 of us and hopefully Tom and Elaine (Rob's mom) if they are at the top of their game healthy. I am lucky to have such flexible kids.
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On the sidebar is Brooklyn and Beyond Blog please pray for the Hays family. Their baby Ira has severely compromised health and is in the hospital with RSV. One of his lungs collapsed last night. When you read people's blogs regularly you feel like you get to know them, even if you might never have met face to face. This is a family who is working on a church plant supported by the Manhattan C of C. Their baby Ira was born with alot of different complications and stayed in the PICU for 6 months after his birth, they got to come home about a month ago, and now Ira is sick and back in the hospital. They have a young daughter Sophia so for the most part the parents are trading off back and forth who is at the hospital and who is home. You can click on Brooklyn and Beyond and it will keep you posted on Ira's status.
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Amber Joy asked what does ANC mean I thought I would post it up front just incase anyone else was wondering:
ANC in medicine, absolute neutrophil count, a measure of the real or actual number of white blood cells a patient has to fight infection.
I don't know what is normal for someone who is not undergoing chemo, but for kids that are, you want that number to be over 1000. Between 500-1000 is a danger zone, but they can still get chemo. 500 and below is very dangerous, basically there is no immune system capabilities, a common cold could be life-threatening. If there are any symptoms of illness the child needs to be put in the hospital and on iv antibiotics. We would not be here if that happened. With Jack's current condition and the fact he is on chemo would make it necessary for him to be at Cook's Children's in Ft. Worth, or Dallas Children's. Because Jack's counts were 11 yesterday and we are not looking for that to happen, it makes it necessary for us to be home and keeping him away from any germs that could make him sick.
In the beginning of chemo I was scared to death to take him to Walmart or HEB or anywhere there were large crowds, we sanitized hands all the time, then as his counts for the most part stayed strong, I was able to let me guard down. Jack has been tolerating the chemo pretty well up to this point, I do feel lucky that this is really the first time his immune system has severely faultered from the chemo. When the Oncologist in Dallas spoke to us a while ago he said that there were regular ebbs and flows in the chemo and how your body tolerates it. There were typical weeks that were consistant with everyone that their numbers would fall. I am assuming that is what is happening now.
Please remember Jack and Baby Ira in your prayers today.
Gratefully, Tammy

December 29, 2005

EEEK!!!!! Jack's counts are 11.

Jack's ANC counts are 11. Not 1100 or 110, but 11. We went on our merry way (actually not so merry, we all woke up late) to chemo this morning, Jack got his poke in his port, Nurse Sara drew up his blood, waited for the counts to come back, low and behold, literally, they were 11. She said pack up your stuff and get home quick. So that is what we did. We are on house arrest (or that is what it feels like) until next week. Sara will meet us on Monday at the clinic to draw blood again and see if Jack can go back to school on Tuesday.
Pray that Jack can stay healthy. We are in the clear as long as he looks o.k. and has no fever, any change with either of those will most likely put him in the hospital. He has a bit of a runny nose I think from allergies, that is what I am hoping anyway.
We have a stack of rented movies and a new board game, along with some fuzzy color posters so that should keep them happy for today anyway! eek, again.
The hardest decision about today will be that I should probably keep Derek and Sophie away from friends along with Jack, they might bring home some new germs from someone else, and that is not an easy thing for Derek these days. Atleast we can play in our backyard.
The last but not least sorry story today is that we had a party scheduled for Derek's 9th birthday for Friday night. His birthday is Saturday. That has had to be cancelled too! We will reschedule, and I hope that Rob and Derek can go and do something fun just the two of them on his birthday. Big bummer for Derek. If he would have pitched a fit, cried, screamed, I might have felt a little better, but when I told him he just softly said, O.K., and put his chin to his chest, that makes me want to cry.
I am going to kick into high gear and make sure there is fun stuff to do, bake, color, make, paint, play with over the next 4 days, ....remember that post yesterday where I was touting the joys of having my kids home, well one of my friends emailed me that I must be from another planet, her kids were fighting, then another email from another friend arrived, her kids were fighting over the middle cushion on the couch, well that could be us times 10 by Monday. Keep us in your prayers.

December 28, 2005

Drive-In

Rob and I took the kids to the Drive In movie theatre on Monday night. We went and saw Cheaper by the Dozen 2. My kids laughed from start to finish in the first one, and they really wanted to see #2. For whatever reason, only the drive in was showing it, so that was where we went. We loaded up the car with lawn chairs, a radio so we didn't have to run our car radio the whole time, blankets....and we were off.
We had a blast. The kids loved it. A couple of lessons were learned that we would change the next time we go, bring our own food, don't try and eat your dinner in the dark, just bring snacks, watch out for the chair that falls over when you lean sideways (poor Jack), but all in all it was totally fun.
The movie itself I would say was just o.k., not as funny as the first, but the kids still enjoyed it. The best line came at the end of the movie after one of the dozen gives birth to her first child and names it after her dad because he has shown.....

"There is no way to be a perfect parent, but a million ways to be a really good one."

Today we don't have too much scheduled, tomorrow Jack has chemo. The kids have just less than a week left before school starts back up it has gone so fast, how many days left till summer vacation? The older my kids get the more fun we all have together, years past I have counted the days to when school starts, but not this year.
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One of the towns outside of Abilene, Cross Plains, suffered from a terrible fire yesterday the high winds along with the lack of rain lately made it easy for a grass fire to spread into the town, houses and businesses, many were burned to the ground. The news said last night that they had a preliminary count of 20 houses burned to the ground but when they drove around they counted atleast 60, the fires had been burning for 10 hours and were still going, when all is said and done they will make a final count and I am sure it will be a devestating number to this little town of a population of 1078. One of the little girls that we see at chemo who has Leukemia lives in Cross Plains, I will be anxious to find out about their home. I will let you know when I find out.

www.reporter-news.com/abil/nw_local/article/0,1874,ABIL_7959_4346219,00.html
I don't know how to link that address, but if you want to read more that is the address to the newspaper article on the fire.

Love, Tammy

December 26, 2005

Christmas Morning




A couple of pictures from Christmas morning. Jack was anxiously awaiting present and stocking opening. He was the first of the kids to awake. Then Derek and sleepyhead Sophie was the last. It just about killed Jack to wait for his sister to wake up. I heard him tell Derek when he was going to try and wake her up, "Shake her real hard." I didn't let them shake her real hard, by the way. Rob got her awake, and the race was on. I woke up at 5am to get ready for church before the kids woke up, we opened presents from about 6-6:45 am. Rob likes to open one at a time, so we can all see what each other's gifts are. I am a little more prone to just a free for all fest, but I know that it is nice to spread out the present time, because it does go so fast. Rob is much more level headed than I am when it comes to opening presents. By 7:10 Jack was dressed and ready to go to church, the other kids were still in their pajama's. He likes to be prompt, hates to be late. So all morning he kept on checking if it was time to leave for church yet?
It was a sweet morning, first opening gifts, then church to celebrate Jesus with the rest of our family, some related by blood, some by marriage, the rest by Jesus. I thoroughly enjoyed Christmas at church. I remember when I was in high school one of my good friends who was Catholic always went to Christmas Eve service, and I think they went to church on Christmas day also. It seems like a great way to remember what the spirit of Christmas is all about.
I watched the Christmas Eve service on television late Saturday night, and I think when the kids are older we might make that a tradition. But it is a little hard on those 8:00pm bedtimes when the Christmas Eve services start 2-3 hours after the kids are normally asleep.
It was a blessed day.
Here we are on December 26, Rob has taken the kids to the movies and then we are headed to celebrate my cousin's daughters birthday out at the lake. I am looking forward to the new year and all it has to bring.
Love, Tammy

December 24, 2005

Christmas Eve Gift!

My paternal family has a tradition that has lasted many generations. "Christmas Eve Gift" Many years ago the winner of this game would win an actual gift. This game has tweaked over the years and there is no present given anymore. On this day before Christmas persons in my family will try and be the first person to utter these three words, Christmas Eve Gift. These words are not just said, but screamed, blurted, screeched, whatever it takes to have them said before the other is finished. It is always a race to the word gift. We don't lose easily in this game, if someone starts before you, you just try and say it faster than they to finish first.
There are a couple of strategies that help to win, the first is to answer your telephone with these words instead of hello. Caller ID has helped unsuspecting callers who do not participate in this game of champions from being scared silly when they are simply calling to say hello, and we answer with a blurted and very loud CHRISTMAS EVE GIFT! The next strategy which is by far the hardest, is for when there is a room full of family, and you are on the phone to them. When the conversation is done and the phone is passed to the next person, you don't know when they will pick up the phone, and put phone to ear, so you must, must, must, just start repeating those three words over and over as soon as the first person has quit talking. Sometimes you might say the three words 20 times before the person gets to the phone, (or in fact they could have been there all along, just listening to you making a might bit of a fool of yourself), but nonetheless you are almost guaranteed a victory, unless they catch you when you are taking a breath. My brother Will always catches me when I am taking a breath. He is definately the champ when it comes to my siblings.
This game gives gifts that might not be seen, but they are gifts. The gift of giggling when you are saying the three words is inevitable, you just have to smile. The satisfaction of winning is ofcourse a huge rush, you get to hear the other not so fortunate opponent say, "Oh, that was so close," or "I almost had it," or just a general groan. As the loser in the game you get to expend extra holiday energy into a really good groan, and make everybody laugh again. This game brings my family far and wide together and united even if it is on the phone, to keep this tradition alive. We might play on the phone state to state, in the past country to country, or just down the street. When you walk into a room full of family you hear it coming at you from many directions, you are pelted with Christmas Eve Gift, I have been known to enter a room saying it, pelting it right back.
This gift brings the gift of togetherness. It truly is a Christmas tradition.
Did I mention that we play this game tomorrow only it is called "Christmas Gift," same game just no "eve". So for the next 48 hours in the midst of my fun and crazy family we will be screaming, blurting, and screaching, moaning and groaning words of togetherness. Ah! such fun, the thrill of victory and agony of defeat.
Wish me luck it is early in the day!

December 21, 2005

Hello

Chemo is done for the week. We went early today so that Nurse Sara could get on the road for her holiday trip. There were kids everywhere in the chemo office today. It was alot of fun. A lady who had just been released from the hospital herself for cancer was dressed up as an elf, rosy cheeks and all, and delivered candy to all the kids. All 3 of my kids went today as school is out for Christmas break. Derek and Sophie did great hanging out for 5 hours, we watched movies, played Sorry!, and ate snacks. Wasn't really sure how that was going to go over with brother and sister there, thought boredom might get the better of them but they did great.
Jack's counts were good but not great. Just over a thousand ANC. He has a bit of a stuffy nose, no fever or any other symptoms, but the fleeting thought of spending Christmas in a hospital in the metroplex briefly crossed my mind. A stuffy nose is not a big deal, just hoping and praying for no fever with it.
The kids are having a fun Christmas break so far, we are staying busy and the kids are being very sweet to each other, most of the time.
We are off to the High School football field so the kids can run around the track and I can walk. Have a great last couple of days before Christmas.
Love, Tammy

December 16, 2005

Alone in the Theater

Have you or the group you are with ever been alone in a movie theater? Today was the kids last day of school for Christmas break and to celebrate we went straight to the movie theater and saw Yours, Mine, and Ours. We were the only people in the theater so that meant:
1. I did not have to turn off my cell phone.
2. I didn't have to whisper when I asked Derek to pass the popcorn.
3. I didn't have to keep my purse wrapped around my ankle or in my lap to prevent it being stolen.
4. I was able to get up in the middle of the movie to use the restroom and didn't have to worry about my kids who I left in the theater.
5th and best...... my kids and I could dance around the movie theater to the closing music and nobody cared!

A great day.

December 15, 2005

Science Kit

Jack had chemo and an oncologist visit today. We met with Dr. Bowman this morning right after Jack's class Christmas Party was over.

Jack had a fun time at his Christmas Party. He ate plenty of snacks and made an ornament, then a puzzle exchange. I was glad that he was able to attend, I was able to be there and enjoy it with him. One of Jack's friends in his class had told his mom that he wanted a science kit for Christmas. A couple of days later he explained the reason he wanted the kit was so he could make a medicine that would heal Jack. His friend told me that today at the party and I was choking back the tears. The sweetness of children is overwhelming. It seems like the kids that know Jack, love Jack. They are so encouraging and they really look out for him. The kids that don't know him, that just see him walking by aren't always so sweet. Jack has had a couple of incidents in the last week where kids his age have made fun of his bald head. He wants to grow his hair back out again, and I think it might be thick enough to try. We have always let Jack decide about his hair. If I was in Jack's position I would probably be in tears over the teasing. Jack seems to just internalize it and maybe days later he might say something to me about it. Those are the times I want to just keep him home and protect him from the hurts, but he definately wouldn't go for that. I try the best I can to help him work through all that muck and mire.

The other two kids had their Christmas Parties today also. Elaine (Rob's mom) went to Sophie's, and Elaine's husband Tom went to Derek's. I am glad each of them had a family member. Rob is inundated at work right now so he just worked, worked, and worked today. That is what happens at a bakery during the holidays.

When we met with Dr. Bowman I told him that Jack's balance has been way off lately. It seems like he falls atleast 5 or 6 times a day now. Dr. Bowman checked his eyes real good and they didn't show any difference in the tumor growth so that was good to hear. When you look into the back of the eye with one of those little light instruments if the optic nerve bows out it shows pressure in the brain, that is how Dr. Bowman can check on brain pressure. He assumes it is the chemo drugs. Overall though he thought Jack's hand-eye coordination was good and the rest of the tests didn't show anything overall that was disconcerting to him. One of the tests Jack has to do is walk toe to toe, with his arms out. He pretty much can't do that one at all, but that is definately a side effect of the chemo. I am thankful that Dr. Bowman thought Jack was doing well. Somedays more than others I am sad to see the effects of the tumor/chemo and today was one of those days.

Chemo went well. It was great to see Derek, Jack's chemo friend back from his 3 week stay at Cook's. He has a one week break at home then back to Cook's for more tough procedures. Jack's counts were 2300, so they are staying strong.

Tomorrow is the last day of school for the kids, then Christmas break. Woo-hoo. Next week we have Chemo on Wednesday so Nurse Sara can get a head start on her Christmas holiday. We have Jack's next MRI on January 8th in Dallas. Thank you for your continued support and prayers.
Love, Tammy

December 13, 2005

Narnia

Rob and I took the kids to the movies on Saturday night. We went to see the Lion, Witch, and the Wardrobe, Chronicles of Narnia. To say we liked it would be an understatement. All 5 of us were ready to sit down and watch it again. Jack has it planned that we go see it again next Monday their first weekday of Christmas holidays.

Rob has been reading the series to the kids at night for about the last 6 months. They are on the 3rd book. I read the Lion, Witch and Wardrobe about a month ago, I love to read the book before seeing the movie. The book was good, and I enjoyed the symbolism. To see Aslan on the big screen giving up his own life for Edmond who had betrayed good for evil was amazing. My heart was overwhelmed. My favorite part was at the end when Peter, Susan, Lucy and Edmond received crowns and were made royalty in the big castle. All this was possible because Aslan's death made it possible, when I watched Edmond receive his crown, I started crying. I was trying to cry silently, because Jack hates it when I cry, and I don't really like for people no matter who they are to see me cry, it is such a vulnerable time, but I couldn't help it. I was quiet for the rest of the night and couldn't get my thoughts to much else. I was so humbled, once again, by Jesus' sacrifice.

We ran by Family Christian Bookstore on the way home and we were looking at the Chronicles stuff. Books, action figures, music, calendars, then I saw a keychain which had a purple crown on it and said "future queen", it started the tears all over again. Sometimes for the Peter's, Lucy's, and Susan's who have not betrayed so blatantly like us Edmond's that crown doesn't seem so shocking to receive. To see it portrayed so beautifully on the screen it was easy for me to close my eyes and say that will be me. Thank you Jesus for your birth, walk on earth, the blood you shed on the cross, for all of the Peter's, Lucy's, Susan's and Edmond's because we live in victory because of it.

December 08, 2005

Great Counts Today


Jack had a blood draw today, no chemo. His blood counts are great, 3060 ANC. Love that! Chemo next Thursday.

Jack and Sophie are laying in the leaves at their grandma's house. They call her Mommer. I love this picture. If you don't live in Abilene you might not know that we had 10 degree weather this morning. Don't think it has gone above freezing today. Cold Cold Cold.....The kids have 1 more week before Christmas break. We are all excited to have the Christmas break off.

This evening when Jack was getting ready for Thai Kwon Do, he said he was ready for Judgement Day. He makes me laugh. I am not laughing at Judgement Day, just that my 6 year old son is ready for it. I asked him why is he ready for it? He is ready to go cloud hopping. If you know Jack you know that a statement like that doesn't come with out multiple facial expressions and sound effects. At one point in extra slow motion he had stretched his face out, making car screeching sounds, moving his legs like he is on a skateboard. Did I mention he was naked? The joys of motherhood!

December 03, 2005

Gingerbread Houses



Derek, Jack and Sophie made gingerbread houses tonight. They had a great time. I think they ate almost as much candy while decorating as what ended up on their houses. The top picture is of Jack pretending to gobble up his house.

December 01, 2005

Jack Has Issues

Jack had chemo today. His ANC counts were great, 2500. He had last week off from chemo so that gave his body some time to build its immunities back up. Thanks to all the goodies and food around last week, he had gained about 2 lbs over the last 2 weeks. I am always glad to see when the scale moves up for Jack. He has been eating well, and it might help that I have fed the kids bacon every morning this week as part of their breakfast.
We have a week off from chemo now, Jack will have a blood draw next week. Then back to chemo the week after. We go to Dallas on January 9th for Jack's next MRI. Please keep him in your prayers.
Jack is already counting down the days until Christmas break. The kids are out of school on December 16 and go back January 3rd.
The kids are very excited about Christmas. This is the first year that I have wrapped the gifts and put them under the tree before Christmas eve. Santa's gifts will ofcourse arrive Christmas eve, but mom and dad's will be there the whole month as they are bought and wrapped. I love not having to remember where I have hidden the gifts in order to wrap them on Christmas eve. At first the kids said they didn't like that idea, Derek said it would be torture looking at all the presents all month and not being able to open them. It seems like they have barely even given them a second thought once they shook them all the first day. I love this season, and all the excitement that leads up to it. I was just thinking today about Jesus being born and what an amazing gift that was given to mankind. We do the 3 present rule at Christmas, Jesus got 3 gifts, so we give 3 gifts to the kids each. It helps me keep my spending under control and the kids seem to really appreciate the gifts they receive. One of my good friends Sarah does the same thing with her kids. I copied her blog (Cleft of the Rock, which is on the side bar) called Making a List and have posted it below. It made me laugh. Her son Riley verbally gifted, he is 8 yrs. old.
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Making a list. . .
Tomorrow is December first, Thanksgiving is over, so of course the kids have started on their Christmas lists. (I have told them in the past that any changes and/or additions to the list after December 1 are not guaranteed to make it to Santa's mailbox! Santa REALLY hates last-minute shopping!) A few nights ago the kids were working on their lists.

They have decided to go with Sears' holiday slogan: "Dream Big". They made 2 lists: a "wish list" (which they are well aware probably won't happen) and what Dr. Phil would call a "get-real" list.

Ashley's wish list:
computer
swimming pool (I'll back her up on asking for this!)
baby brother

Riley's wish list:
TV for my room (they are aware that I believe that brain cells can be sucked out by watching TV in the living room just as well as in their own bedroom)
peace in all the world
more pumpkin pie (how sad is that! :-)

When I noticed that their "get-real" list was going on and on and on, I reminded them, "You're only going to get 3 gifts, you know."

Ashley was apalled and outraged, "WHAT?!?! Only _3_ gifts, that's not fair!!"

"Jesus only got 3 for Christmas -- do you think you deserve any better than Jesus?"

Hating my logic, she continued, "No, but that's not fair! Just 3?"

"Are you telling me you're any better than Jesus?"

Riley hasn't looked up from his list and continues to scribble away while he joins the conversation: "I'll take the gold, Mom."
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Riley has a truck load of one liners that have made me laugh, and he comes up with them on the spot.
Jack picked out a new t-shirt over the weekend, it says "I Have Issues", he loves it, and it makes me laugh to see him wear it. We love Jack and all his issues. Keep on prayin' for those issues.
Tammy