December 31, 2007

Happy Birthday Derek, Jack, A Contest!


My oldest is 11 years old today. Not officially until 10:46 tonight, he says. He is a tender hearted boy, that is kind and full of energy. He has a love for arm bands, wrist bands, bicep bands, head bands, arm bands on his legs, all things sports, Chicago Bears, exercising, and has a pre-teen appetite.
I love him.

-------------------

Jack is going back on daily doses of steroids today. He had that one morning of not being sick once I started him back on his Zantac daily, but since then he has been sick every day again. The dose is pretty low, so it isn't that big a deal, we were just all ready for him to be off. Patience.

-------------------

This week I will be picking out some of my favorite images from 2007. I will probably do a wedding related category and an everything else category. I will run 2 separate slideshows for each and you can view them and pick your favorites. For all who enter I will submit their names in a drawing for either a $20 Target Gift Card or a $20 Itunes Gift Card. I can't wait to revisit some special moments and share them with you. Look for the contest to start next week or earlier.

December 29, 2007

Parched

Saturday. Jack is feeling much better today. After talking with several docs yesterday (or actually their assistants) I put Jack on his stomach medicine with regular doses twice a day. When Jack just went to every other day with the steroids I also cut his stomach medicine because I thought that was what I was supposed to do. But apparently not, so he is back on that regularly and will stay on it for several weeks after the steroids are finished, which is Monday by the way:)))

So all is well here. We are having a family celebration of Derek's birthday tonight, I am preparing Frito Chilli Pie, one of Derek's favorites, and brownie sundae's with homemade hot fudge sauce for dessert. Derek is VERY excited.

I have found that when my kids are home it is harder for me to have my quiet time with the Lord. There is NO excuse, it is not like I can't just go to my bedroom, close the door, and open up my bible, but with different routines each day there has to be a commitment to put God first. This is my prayer today. Father God, draw me near to you, may I put nothing before You and my devotion to Your will for my life. Leave me with such unrest if I fail to fall to read Your Word every day, may it never fall on a hard heart, may I always be soft and humble for your direction.

The refreshment of God's word was so wonderful today. After not reading my bible for over a week I found today that it was hard to put down once I opened the burgundy leather cover. I am still thirsty for the Living Water that only Jesus can give.

Praise to Him in the Highest.

December 28, 2007

Jack's pretty blue eyes.

Friday morning. The end of a fun week. The days before Christmas are heated with anticipation, Christmas Day, exquisite, and then the days after peaceful and quiet. That has been our house, for the most part peaceful and quiet. Jack's eye's are doing much better, still red, but well on their way to recovery. He has woken up sick for 2 days now, once he is up for a while he is fine for the rest of the day. Not a good thing. I am waiting for his radiologists assistant to call me back about "the plan" as she called it. We could do an emergency MRI in Dallas, or we could just wait and see, who knows at this point. His appetite has dramatically decreased in the last 2 weeks. He might eat a partial meal and a small snack, like 2 slices of an apple each day and that is it. I assume that his body is reacting to the lack of steroid dosage and is starting to even itself out. Alot happening as far as changes this week with Jack. On the bright side he got a dashing new haircut yesterday. It was much needed! And he looks as cute as a button (don't tell him I said that).
Hendrick hospital has all their very cute Christmas decorations, plates, cookie jars....on sale for 75% off. FYI. Derek and I walked through there this morning and found some fun bargains. I assume it is in both of their gift shops but we went to the big one on the second floor.
I am grateful for all this year has brought us. I am blessed.

December 26, 2007

Jack on T.V.

Thursday Night, December 27 at 6pm on KTXS Jack and his teacher, Ms. Nickell, will be on the news. Jack nominated her for teacher tribute and she won!

Our Christmas Day Recap

December 26th and the presents have all been opened, some of the games have been played, and we are back at Hyperbaric Oxygen Treatments. We had a wonderful Christmas Day, it was a sweet day full of fun. The kids woke up just after 6am and dug right into their Christmas Stockings. I always wake up when I hear the kids and I love to just lay there and listen to their sweet voices while they are opening their stocking gifts. It is the most sweet way to start the day.
I didn't expect the kids to wake up so early so we had asked Tom and Elaine to come over at 8:30am, we always wait for them to open gifts. So we put in the movie Elf and watched it to pass the time until 8:30. As the credits were rolling at the end of the movie Tom and Elaine drove up. The fun began and presents started to be opened, one at a time.
Once the presents were open I started lunch preparations. I ordered a turkey from Joe Allen's and had bought some prepared side dishes. It was a very easy lunch, I pulled out the china and we had a lovely Turkey dinner.
After lunch Tom treated us all to a movie, we went and saw The Water Horse. We all enjoyed it, it was sadder than I expected, but it was funny too.
Then we played a new game the kids received for Christmas, Clue on DVD. It is similar to the old fashioned Clue that we all grew up on, but with some extra twists and turns. It is also more Politically Correct, as there is no murder, but a theft that you are trying to solve. 2 hours later the game finished, Jack dropped out and fell asleep on the couch, but the rest of us stuck it out and I was the winner! It was a fun game and now that we have played it once, it will be much easier and maybe even a bit quicker the next time we play.
We are so excited that Rob is off from work today also, so we will have another fun family day.
I hope that your Christmas was full of love and smiles.

December 24, 2007

Our Christmas Card and Letter


Merry Christmas. I am writing this letter early on a Monday morning with snow in our yard, and school starting two hours late due to ice on the roads. What a perfect day.

This year was filled with many extremes for our family. Thank the Lord that He is the God of it all and was faithfully walking us through our journey from the start. We started this year with Jack’s brain tumor growing back after a year of chemo. Then at the end of March he had Gamma Knife Radiation on the tumor. He came through the treatment very well, then after about 6 weeks half of his face became paralyzed and his right eye turned in. We were off to the hospital where he was put on mega doses of steroids to control the brain swelling that was happening as a result of the radiation.

Many MRI’s later after the Gamma Knife, his radiologist told us he could see no more tumor. We were stunned to say the least. The doctor’s had told us that the surgery would be measured a success if the tumor itself didn’t grow, it could shrink a little. But until we heard the doctor’s report we never dreamed it would be gone. God has shown himself mighty to our family. Through out this journey I was never sure what the Lord’s plans were, I knew what I prayed for, but my faith and trust had been grown by God enough to know that whatever His plan was would be the ultimate plan and His glory would be shown. I was able to rest in His sovereignty and He filled me with His peace.

Currently Jack is undergoing Hyperbaric Oxygen Treatments each day. This treatment is used to heal hard to heal wounds. In Jack’s case it is being used to heal the area’s of the brain that were affected by the radiation. The medical term is Radionecrosis. He has had about 8 weeks of M-F treatments and we have about 4 more weeks.

Cognitively Jack is doing great. He thrives in his school environment and not only has not fallen behind, he is excelling in many areas. We thank God for that too!
The steroids that he has been on since the end of May have substantially affected him physically. He has grown to almost twice his size and his personality has been very subdued. He is starting to taper off of his steroids at this time, Derek’s birthday, December 31 will be Jack’s last day for steroids. It will take about 3-4 months for them to be gone from his system. At that time we will figure out what Jack’s new normal will be, crazy and wild like before the steroids or a subdued personality like now, or maybe a mixture of both. Only time will tell. We are grateful for Jack and his continued bravery and strength through it all. He faces each challenge with out any regret or tears.

Derek is still a football fanatic. Our Illinois family will be glad to know he is a huge Bears fan now. He had been a Cowboys fan, much to his dad’s chagrin, but this year overnight he fell in love with the Bears. He chose not to play this year, which was a huge blessing as far as our daily life went. No practice and games to get him to! He will try out for the school team when he is old enough. He knows everything there is to know about all the teams, players and the game itself. I told him that he would make a great player, but eventually a great coach. He is currently in the 5th grade and is having a great school year.

Sophie is still loving crafting and creating. She has blossomed into a social butterfly. She is pure joy to us, talks from the moment she wakes to the moment she sleeps at night. She loves school and her friends. She is a wonderful artist and has the heart of an angel.

Rob still works at McKay’s Bakery, and serves at church in the area’s of Men’s Ministry and Drama. He is a great dad, encourages the children in all they do. He takes great care of his family and is a wonderful supporter and provider.

I am enjoying mothering as I always have. I love just being with my family. I continue with my photography business, the challenge this year has been to guard my family time, but still work my business effectively. I have done several destination weddings and have several more on the books for next year. God will continue to bless my business as long as I allow His priorities to be mine…God first, family second, and then my work.
You can find me on the web at www.marcelainphotography.com . Personally it has been a year where my faith has been stretched with Jack’s health and personality change. It is never easy to watch your child go through such trials. I took them much harder than he did. At times I thought that my faith may not reach as far as it needed to go, but I kept my eyes on Jesus and even though I didn’t understand why He would allow such things, I continued to seek Him. And He increased my faith, sometimes it seems just by centimeters at a time, but over several months the growth felt apparent, and I am so grateful.

In a nutshell, we are blessed. We are blessed because we have a Lord and Savior. We are blessed because we have each other. We are blessed because we know the purpose we were created. Our time on earth is short and each day is an opportunity to love and be loved, not a moment to be missed.

Many blessings to you and your families.

Love,
The Marcelain’s

Parable of the Birds

I recently heard this recited at a wedding. It touched my heart.


Once upon a time, there was a man who looked upon Christmas as a lot of humbug. He wasn't a Scrooge. He was a very kind and decent person, generous to his family, upright in all his dealings with other men. But he didn't believe all that stuff about an incarnation which churches proclaim at Christmas. And he was too honest to pretend that he did. "I am truly sorry to distress you," he told his wife, who was a faithful churchgoer, "but I simply cannot understand this claim that God became man. It doesn't make any sense to me."

On Christmas Eve, his wife and children went to church for the midnight service. He declined to accompany them. "I'd feel like a hypocrite," he explained. "I'd much rather stay at home. But I'll wait up for you."

Shortly after his family drove away in the car, snow began to fall. He went to his family room window and watched the flurries getting heavier and heavier.

"If we must have a Christmas," he reflected, "it's nice to have a white one."

He went back to his chair by the fireside and began to read his newspaper. A few minutes later, he was startled by a thudding sound. It was quickly followed by another, then another. He thought that someone must be throwing snow balls at his living room window.

When he went to the front door to investigate, he found a flock of birds huddled miserably in the snow. They had been caught in the storm, and in a desperate search for shelter had tried to fly through his window.

I can't let those poor creatures lie there and freeze, he thought. But how can I help them?

Then he remembered the barn where the children's pony was stabled. It would provide a warm shelter. He quickly put on his coat and galoshes and tramped through the deepening snow to the barn. He opened the doors wide and turned on the light. But the birds didn't come in.

Food will bring them in, he thought. So he hurried back to the house for bread crumbs, which he sprinkled on the snow to make a trail into the barn.

To his dismay, the birds ignored the bread crumbs and continued to flop around helplessly in the snow. He tried shooing them into the barn by walking around and waving his arms. They scattered in every direction - except into the warm, lighted barn.

"They think I'm a strange and terrifying creature," he said to himself, "and I can't seem to think of any way to let them know they can trust me. If only I could be a bird myself for a few minutes, perhaps I could lead them to safety. If I could just talk bird talk - speak bird language - they would listen to me, because they would understand me. Maybe if I put on my daughter's 'Big-Bird' costume, I would look like a bird and they would trust me because I would look like them."

"If I could just become a bird for a few minutes...
if I could just walk like a bird...
if I could just talk like a bird...
if I could just look like a bird...
they would trust me and I could save them...
they would trust me and I could save them...
they would trust me and I could save them..."

Just at that moment, the church bells began to ring. He stood silently for a while, listening to the bells pealing the glad tidings of Christmas. Then he sank to his knees in the snow.

"Now I understand," he whispered. "Now I know why you had to come to earth. Now I know why you became one of us. Thank you, Jesus, for coming to earth to save sinners like me."


"Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death - even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philip. 2:5-11)

December 22, 2007

Encore Post of Tammy's Guide to Turkey Preparation

Thanks to my sister Becky I was reminded of this post I wrote last year. This is how I prepare a turkey.

1. Buy the Turkey. Walk around the grocery store one week before Thanksgiving. Go to the dairy aisle to buy the only thing on your list, 1 gallon whole milk (yes we drink whole). See the turkey's piled up in the frozen food section. Calculate how many days until Thanksgiving (eek, only one week away). Pick out biggest turkey in pile, heave into basket. Read the sign, ".39 cents a pound with $10 purchase." Continue on to the dairy aisle to select milk. $3.29. Wander aimlessly around the store to decide what other items I can buy to get to $10. After walking through the snack aisle, quota is met. Buy groceries and go home.

2. Look at the turkey, count the days until Thanksgiving again, decide the turkey needs to go into the freezer.

3. 3 days before Thanksgiving, panic because the Turkey is still in the freezer.

4. Leave turkey in sink overnight (not recommending this to anyone else) to get that deep freeze frozen thawed a bit.

5. Put turkey in fridge to continue thawing for the next 2 days. Note: Still rock solid frozen.

6. Poke turkey with one finger twice a day to see if it has thawed. No luck.

7. Ah...glorious Thanksgiving morning. Wake up to the sound of my alarm clock at 5am to get the turkey in the oven.

8. Look in fridge, cry for my departed mother, I wish she was the one making the turkey, not me.

9. Take a deep breath, heave partially thawed turkey out of fridge and drop it in freshly scrubbed sink.

10. Cut open plastic to reveal a fleshy, white, 22 lb. turkey, partially frozen.

11. Cry again for my mom, why me? Why do I have to touch this huge hunk of raw bird? Think pretty thoughts. Go somewhere else, ahh, the beach,....

12. Turn water on to complete thawing process, grab knive to start prying turkey legs from the metal leg holder device.

13. Jab legs with knive, pry, grab turkey as it is doing a 360 degree turn, and hopping around in sink from me jabbing at it.

14. Get large ziploc bag, (bread bags work best), stick hand in ziploc bag and go to that pretty place in head again while I put my ziploc covered hand and forearm into turkey. YUCK. Dig around feeling for the neck. Pry the neck loose, pull it out. What ever you do, don't look at it. This alone could cause one to never eat turkey again.

15. Turn turkey around and feel around neck area, still with bag on hand. Turn on faucet, steaming hot to melt ice around turkey flap to open up other end and pull out a bag of something I will not even mention here. Again, do not look at it!

16. Finish rinsing turkey. Plop in big pan that hasn't been used since last November. That 10 minutes before had dust bunnies in it, until washed out.

17. Pour oil over turkey. Cover all turkey with oil, you can use 1 tablespoon and rub it around, or half a bottle and never have to touch anything, just drizzle till all covered.

18. Salt and cover with foil. Ahhh...raw dead bird out of sight.

19. Bake for 4 hours pull foil, smell delicious aroma, let turkey brown for another 45-1hr. make sure popper thing is popped, take out of oven. Let cool a bit so as not to burn fingers when hacking or carving as I like to call it.

20. I will spare you the details of carving a turkey, but just know I try only to touch what looks like belongs on your plate. Anything that looks a little iffy, I go to my happy place and just throw that part away.

21. Serve the turkey to loved ones, and give them big hugs because all the raw bird touching was worth it to see the smiles on their faces when they eat their Thanksgiving meal. Thank you God for my family.

22. I thank God for you too! Happy Thanksgiving Day.

p.s. my daugher who is now 7 years old has prepared our turkey for 3 years now. She double crossed me and spent the night with her grandma to hang out with her cousins who are in town for the holiday. She loves the turkey experience, but not enough to give up a night with cousins. Go figure.

December 21, 2007

Friday

We made it to the movies last night. Jack picked Alvin and the Chipmunks. It was really cute and fun. I wouldn't want to raise anyone's expectations, but the movie was fun for all. Jack is doing a bit better today. Today when we were at Hyperbaric I asked the woundcare doctor to take a look at his eyes to see if they were looking good, or if there was something else we needed to be doing. As bad as they look to me, he said that they looked good. I guess it is all relative. I exhaled a big exhale at that point. The fact that 3 hours after surgery we were on our way home and all the follow up care was left to yours truly is very HARD for me. Anyone that knows me knows that I have a very weak stomach. So I have been on the verge of nausea all week taking care of Jack's eyes. One of the nurses at the hospital said to me today that it seems to make it worse when it is your own child, and I disagreed and said that the only reason I can even get through it is because it is my child. Otherwise there is no way I could even stomach it at all.
Anyway to have someone who actually knows what they are looking at to give his eyes a once over was a blessing.
I think that Jack is a bit yucked out by it all because he has NO appetite at all. This morning I went by McDonalds and bought him a milkshake just so he would have something in his stomach. I don't think he has eaten a full meal combined all week. It could be that the steroid dosage is so low now that he is not driven to eat like before.

Because of the state of my stomach this week I can't even think about food and what to make for some gatherings coming up so I need you help.
I am trying to decide what to serve for Christmas lunch. We are having a traditional Polish meal on Christmas Eve, sometimes we will do mexican on Christmas day, or maybe a traditional turkey dinner. Tell me what you are serving so I can get some idea's. I also need some inspiration for some appetizer dishes, any help would be appreciated.
Enjoy your last shopping weekend before Christmas!

December 20, 2007

He see's the light.

Thursday morning. Jack just opened his eyes with a full dose of lamaze breathing and his whole body was shaking. I was getting worried that the antibiotic drops were not doing their job because they weren't going all the way in to the eye past the swelling. Jack was assuring me they were, but he was so freaked out by me touching the area of his eye to try and open it that I think he would have told me anything just to leave him alone.
I told him this morning that if he could get his eyes open today that we could go see a movie tonight. The reward. After some more cleaning of around the eyes, he mustered up all of his courage and strength and opened his eyes. The good news is, the drops were keeping them healthy, no infection that I could see. The tough news is that his right eye has a large blood blister over the whites and it is not pretty. The possibility of such is on the sheet the doctor gave us and it says that it will heal and go away.
Jack will raise his sunglasses and say, "How does it look now?", and I say "Oh, well it looks like it is healing well." and then he says, "I don't think I need to look at my eyes in the mirror," and I tell him that is probably smart, and to just keep his sunglasses on.
He started getting very anxious last night and became pretty nauseated. This morning I gave him a Zofran to help him feel better. After he opened his eyes, he called Snickers our dog, and just wanted to look at her. Then he said he was glad he could see his own way to the bathroom, and see his presents on Christmas morning. Bless his heart.
I told him that he was very brave and that I was proud of him, and he said that he has done this before so he knows what to do. Bless him again.
He has seen the light at the end of the tunnel!

December 19, 2007

Jack still not doing great.

Jack is still having a hard time. His eyes are severely swollen and other gross stuff is happening that I wont share with you, aren't I kind and considerate. Please keep up your prayers. The last time he had this surgery there was a marked improvement by now, which we haven't seen yet. I called his eye surgeon and told him what was going on, he didn't seem alarmed, he said to call again tomorrow if things don't look better.
Jack said today, "Mommy do you think I will be able to see again?" I told him yes, definately, but he can see no light at the end of the tunnel at this point.

I will update ya'll again Thursday.

Jack and J.K.

Wednesday morning. Jack is under a blanket laying on the couch. He has yet to open his eyes. But he is in no pain he said. He is moaning a bit hear and there, so I think his eyes feel more "weird" than in pain. I know that there was much more work to be done on his eyes for this surgery than the one he had 2 years ago, so the recovery will be longer.

On the Today Show they announced Time's Person of the Year. The Russian President. I wish it would have been J.K. Rowlings, but they didn't ask me. She was 2nd runner up and here are some exerts from her article with Time. The link to the web address is below the two quotes, but for some reason I can never link it properly. So you can go to www.time.com and search that way or cut and past the link to the article if you wish to read it in full.

The ending, naturally, was the most controversial part of the book. It would have been so much neater just to kill Harry. "I've known that all along," she says, but that was never her plan. To her, the most noble thing, the real bravery, is to rebuild after a trauma. Some fans were disappointed that after all his adventures, Harry's greatest concern in the end is whether his son will fit in at Hogwarts. "It's a bittersweet ending," she says. "But that's perfect, because that is what happens to our heroes. We're human. I kept arguing that 'love is the most important force, love is the most important force.' So I wanted to show him loving. Sometimes it's dramatic: it means you lay down your life. But sometimes it means making sure someone's trunk is packed and hoping they'll be O.K. at school."

"There have been times since finishing, weak moments," she says, "when I've said, 'Yeah, all right,' to the eighth novel." But she's convinced she's doing the right thing to take some time away, do something else. She's working on two projects now, an adult novel and a "political fairy tale." "If, and it's a big if, I ever write an eighth book about the [wizarding ] world, I doubt that Harry would be the central character," she says. "I feel like I've already told his story. But these are big ifs. Let's give it 10 years and see how we feel then."

http://www.time.com/time/specials/2007/personoftheyear/
article/1,28804,1690753_1695388_1695436,00.html

I loved that Harry's biggest concern was his son's happiness at school. C'est la vie, this is life, one moment you are saving the wizarding world from certain disaster, the next you are tending to laundry at home. For most this is how glory happens, Olympic Athletes, former Presidents, Television Personalities...I think people get messed up when they feel a sense of entitlement for the rest of their lives and I am glad that Harry became a normal man. Yes, I do know Harry is not real...

December 18, 2007

2 Surgeries Completed and Back Home

We are home from Dallas. Jack had his strabismus surgery and his mediport removed this morning. The procedures went very well and the doctors were all pleased. Jack is feeling mis-er-able to say the least. Isn't it a bit crazy that you can have 2 eyes surgically worked on and have an incision made to remove a port and the nurses say to give him tylenol if he needs it for pain? Jack is laying motionless on the couch, with sunglasses on, and we hung sheets over the window curtains to keep as much light out of the living room as possible. He looks and feels pretty pathetic, but I think by tomorrow night he should be doing much better.
He hasn't opened his eyes at all since the surgery today, so I have no idea how they look, but I assume the doctor got a good look during the surgery and he thought it went well.

Once again Children's Medical Center in Dallas exceeded our expectations. The care was beyond spectacular and Jack was treated so well today. He missed the entertainment that biked their way through the waiting room, a clown called "Slappy" and her sidekick "Music."

The Ronald McDonald House was beautifully decorated for Christmas as well was the hospital. Both places were a sight to behold. I wish I would have taken my camera. My favorite decoration at the RMH was a Christmas Village that was based on Ronald McDonald. So fun and cute.

Last night they played bingo at the RMH and Elaine was the first winner of the night. She let Jack pick out the prize so he picked out a Spiderman Journal and pencils...sweet.

Thank you so much for your prayers, please keep lifting Jack to the Lord. Jack will be home the rest of the week so his Christmas vacation will be several days longer than the other kids.

December 16, 2007

Last Christmas and This Christmas

I have written on the blog about how we do Christmas before. We go by the 3 present rule. Jesus was given three gifts, so we give our kids 3 gifts each. This guideline helps me stay focused on the main focus of Christmas. It is not buying a ton of gifts for my kids to open on Christmas morning then having most of those gifts collect dust until we give them away or sell them at a garage sale. It seems like the hype of Christmas, the beautifully decorated stores, the fun Christmas music makes me want to buy, buy, buy. And this rule I have keeps me from going overboard.

I thought about the blessings that God gives us all year long. And then I remembered how I felt last Christmas. I don't remember all the in's and out's of what broke and what needed fixing, but right before Christmas we had several extra expenditures that left us with nothing in our Christmas budget. I remember standing in my mother in law's kitchen and I just burst out into tears because I didn't know how we would buy presents for our kids.

The next week someone from out of state sent us a check to bless our family. They said they had intended to send us a gift when Jack became sick, but the busyness of life got in the way. They just wrote on their note, Merry Christmas - this is a gift from the Lord, all glory and praise to Him. Because of that check we had presents for our kids and Christmas dinner. I am grateful that I remembered that today, because this year we have presents under our tree that we bought, but there are families around us that don't.

When I was growing up our family never really had money to spare. One Christmas my mom told us that Santa wouldn't be able to come that year. I think that I was about 10 years old. I didn't understand why Santa wasn't coming, but I remember how sad my mom was. And I just remembered feeling so panicked about the whole situation. Christmas was very simple with our family of 5 kids, my mom did a lot of shopping at the dollar type stores - she normally had between 50-100 dollars to buy gifts for her 5 children. That Christmas morning we did have presents - someone left a stack of presents on our front porch for us. Looking back I am sure it was someone from our church. Last year I think that the same feeling I had as that little 10 year old who thought that Christmas morning would be without presents came to the surface.

Why bring this to light. I must never forget that my neighbor or someone I walk by at church might be dreading this holiday season because they just can't afford presents along with gas money, food, electricity and everything else that costs money day to day. What can I do? I will pray for God to tap me on the shoulder, whisper in my ear, convict my heart who it is He wants me to help this year. I must never forget that this season is about giving love face to face, and slipping money in a card and putting it in the mail and writing in a card...this is from the Lord, all glory and praise to Him.

December 11, 2007

A Week of Updates! And the meaning of Christmas, by Richard Beck and Linus

Good Tuesday night! It is late but I haven't written anything really in a week so I wanted to say hello. I was so happy to be Buddy the Elf, as I have watched Elf twice in the last month with my kids and that movie makes me smile. I try and not consume the sugar Buddy does, but then again I don't wear tights either.

Jack and Sophie have their theatre performance on Thursday afternoon. They take a class called Make A Play and are able to choose the characters they will be, then all the kids along with the class instructor "Make A Play," hence the name. They will be performing on the Amy Graves Stage at McMurry University this Thursday at 4:30pm.

Another very exciting thing that I haven't blogged about is that Jack nominated his homeroom teacher, Ms. Nickell, for the Teacher Tribute sponsored by Arrow Ford. We found out last Monday that Jack's letter was selected and Ms. Nickell won. So on Friday the news, radio and newspaper came to Jack's school to award Ms. Nickell. It was a surprise to everyone except the principal, 2 secretaries and Jack, Rob and I. It was so much fun to be a fly on the wall and watch it all happen. Jack was also given some gift certificates to Blockbuster, Mr. Gatti's and Primetime, which none of us knew that he would receive, so we were all surprised.

As Rob and I were leaving Wylie Intermediate I told the secretaries that we were so lucky to be in our school system. My kids have just been so blessed.

We have some sweet friends, Dennis and Natasha, who are from Russia. They are living in on campus family housing, the have 2 young daughters, and Dennis is currently working on his schooling in Bible. He and Natasha have dreams to take the Word of Jesus back to Russia as missionaries. Please keep them and their support in your prayers. They are mighty in His name.

Tomorrow the high is back in the 30's...ahhhh. It's almost Christmas.

_______________________________________
Thanks to Richard Beck for his posts about Christmas.
Scroll down a couple of posts then you will see his Christmas posts.

Richard is a professor and psychologist, his posts are normally about 3 stratosphere's over my head, but he has a dedicated following of other very smart people. (Of which I am not one, if I just had the smartness of the tip of one of their toes I would probably be smarter than I am now) Each one of these points he writes on below have a post that talks about how he came to his final points. This is his final summation of his last weeks of writing.

From Richard's Blog:

So, to recap, these are all the lessons I learned about Christmas from watching TV:

I learned that Christmas was MORE and that it had something to do with finding community.
I learned that, because of Christmas, there were no more misfits, no more outsiders or marginalized ones.
I learned about empathy, compassion, and that Messiahs might be misfits.
I learned about how community can be the route for the redemption of evil.
And here with Charlie Brown, I learned that the humility of Christmas makes it oft overlooked and despised.

But to this point in all this TV viewing no one ever connected the dots among all these things. No one had spoken the word that explained just what all this stuff had to do with Christmas. So I perfectly understood why Charlie Brown screamed "Would someone please tell me the true meaning of Christmas!!!!!"

Well, Charile Brown and I finally got our answer. Linus steps forward and explains it all:


December 09, 2007

I am Buddy the Elf

Thanks to Sarah who was Rudolph I found this fun little quiz.  I love Buddy - how fun is this.



December 06, 2007

Blessed Redeemer Of My Soul

Thursday lunch time.  I just arrived home from the HBO then the grocery store and am currently looking at my surroundings which desperately need some TLC, so in an attempt to have 5 minutes of just hanging out I steeped myself a cup of loose leaf tea and thought I would say hello.


Jack is doing well with HBO, couple more weeks on this prescription of treatments. Don't know if they will add more or not.  His eye surgery and port removal were rescheduled for December 18th, so off to Dallas we go that week.  I am so happy that it worked out he will have the Christmas holiday's to recover fully before school starts back up in the New Year.  Hooray for that.

December is my most favorite month.  I love it.  I love the hustle and bustle, I love the Christmas decorations, I love the music and most of all I love that it is a month that points towards the birth of our Savior.  That makes me teary just writing it.  A day specifically set aside in the Christian faith to remember that there was once a time when the Lord chose His son to walk this earth to save us from ourselves, partake in our sufferings, and best of all to give us Hope that only comes from Jesus.  There was once a young mom named Mary who held a helpless babe in her arms, she kept Him warm, she nurtured Him, she loved Him, she was the mother of Jesus, so blessed.  Because of Jesus we are kept warm in heart, we are nurtured and we are loved.  Blessed Redemeer, not a day will go by in this month or any month that I am not humbled that for me you were born, for my benefit you walked the earth and faced love and hate, and for my sin's you allowed yourself to be crucified, so that on earth each day my heart can be transformed to look a bit more like yours, and that one day we may walk together in Heaven.  Jesus is the greatest Gift given to save the world.  You and me.


December 05, 2007

Soup-Tastic

Are you a soup fan? If so get ready to post your favorite recipe on your blog and link to BooMama on Friday to be a part of a huge extravaganza.
It's A Soup-Tacular!

December 03, 2007

Lauren and Locks of Love

I Received this email today:

Ever since Lauren has known of Jack’s brain tumor, she has wanted to donate her hair to Locks of Love in honor of Jack. It took a while to grow, but yesterday was cutting day. Here are the photos. Love, Robyn





I know that there is someone who will be very happy with a beautiful head of hair thanks to Lauren's dedication. Thanks Lauren for thinking about Jack during this time!

It is a Wonderful Life

If you need a smile on this cool Monday morning be sure and click over to Ira from the post below. Start your week of with a sweet blessing.
We are doing well, one of my friends said only 2 more Friday's in school before Christmas vacation. Christmas is coming up quick!
We had a great weekend, Saturday night we had Christmas movie night and I made some snacks (one of the recipe's is below) to go along with it. We watched Frosty and Rudolph, my kids are growing to the age where they think that Rudolph is a bit juvenile because it has the claymation, they would rather watch the 2nd Rudolph which is computer animation. I personally love the original Rudolph and find it a holiday must see atleast twice in December.
Now this week I will watch my most favorite movie for the Holiday's - It's a Wonderful Life and cry when Clarence get's his wings. I normally wrap gifts while I watch that for the second time, but the first it is just me, a hot beverage, my comfortable blanket throw and the movie. I don't however include my children in the watching of this movie because it is so not their speed, too slow and long for them. I however find it is most wonderful.
I hope that your week has some Christmas moments in it, for me my goal is to finish some work and get my Christmas cards in the mail. Wish me luck!

Easy Christmas Snack - White Chocolate Covered Popcorn

2 regular sized bags of Microwave Popcorn -

I have used all kinds, healthy, buttery, kettle I think my favorite is the Healthy Pop Kettle Corn - but any kind works great.


1 package of the White Chocolate Bark - comes in the ice cube shapes

Melt your chocolate - I melt it over the stove, but I am old fashioned that way.

Pop your popcorn and pour it into a very large bowl checking for unpopped kernals and throwing those away
(this is a very important step, but your unbroken teeth will thank you later)


Pour chocolate over popcorn and gently mix it around with a big spoon. For quick set up pour it out on a counter covered in wax paper, or if you have a bit more time it will set up in the bowl. Break apart the big chunks and it is ready to eat. Everyone loves this recipe and it is totally easy. One time I added m and m's in the mix, but it was too sweet for me, but I was thinking that peanuts might be a good addition. Enjoy.


No date on Jack's rescheduled surgery yet, and we are about to head up to HBO Therapy.

November 29, 2007

Ira

I clicked over to the link on the side for Brooklyn and Beyond. I don't know this family but their story is amazing and they have an amazing little boy named Ira. Ira has stolen hearts all over the world I am sure. I love to keep up with Ira, anyway I was so blessed tonight when I clicked over and saw that Ira Talks!. It made me a little teary, so very precious. It reminded me of when I posted "Jack Speaks" after he found his voice many weeks after his brain surgery back in 2005. The gift of voice is one that might be overlooked, we can just take it for granted, but thanks to the Ira's and Jack's of this world we are reminded just how special the spoken word really is. Thank you God for Ira and his sweet voice.

November 28, 2007

Back at HBO

2nd day back at Hyperbaric therapy for Jack. Last night was the Christmas Lights Parade in Downtown Abilene. It was so much fun. For the first time my kids were in the parade, they have had opportunities in the past but it never sounded appealing to them before. Last night they bundled up and were a part of the Abilene Performing Arts Company Float. Jack sat on the float, looking like he was having a tooth pulled the whole time, Sophie walked with the "walkers", and Derek and I walked along side with the other parents. It was so much fun. I was so excited to see all the people waving. I am a waver at parades. If someone is going to be on a float waving at me, I am going to wave back. And the children who were watching the parade were as cute as could be. It was a fun experience - I bought some hand and feet warmers from the hunting section at the store yesterday to keep us all warm. They worked wonderfully and we all stayed toasty.



Back to work for me it is...

November 25, 2007

Breakfast At McKay's

The day after Thanksgiving we met up with our huge family at McKay's. When my Arizona family comes to town, one of there must-go spots is McKay's. The backroom fit us perfectly, the kids had a little space to wander and we all got to visit and drink coffee, oh and eat alot of pastries. My personal favorite, one I don't generally get very much is the blueberry danish. Caution was sent to the wind this weekend everyone just enjoyed the treats.
The post below of my Arizona Family (there is alot more Arizona family than those who were able to come for Thanksgiving by the way.) with all their pictures at Everman Park at the end of Cypress St. were taken immediately following this bakery expedition. After Rob had cleaned up the backroom once all the days baking was done, one of my nieces asked if they could make a batch of cookies. Rob was so sweet and put aprons on all the kids and they whipped up a batch of sugar cookies. What a sweet husband I have. I know it was a big highlight of the day, something those sweet kiddo's and teenagers wont soon forget. The pictures from the bakery were taken by my sister in law, Cari. Thanks for letting me download your pics and display them here. There is one sweet picture of my brother Rob with our grandfather. We call him Gran. The rest of my cousins call him Bob. He is the most sweet man ever, his character is flawless and love for his family immeasurable. He doesn't really like his picture taken, so most of the time he looks away from the camera, lowers his head, puts his hand up....so this picture with him actually looking up was not easy to come by but we sure appreciate seeing his beautiful eyes.









November 24, 2007

My Arizona Family

We have had so much fun over the last several days. Loved the many inches of snow that God blessed us with on Thanksgiving, what a special treat that was. I took Christmas pictures of my family yesterday with some snow still on the ground. This is my brother, Rob and his wife Cari, and their 3 girls and 2 dogs. I love being with them so much, today we are making our last breakfast trip to McKay's Bakery then they are off to head back to Arizona. Enjoy these pictures of my brother and his family. I also brought my Nana's fur coat, it would be the girls great-grandmother, for them to wear for some of the pics.







November 19, 2007

Surgery Rescheduled

At 2pm I called Jack's pediatrician and she still hadn't heard from the radiologist, but she checked the computer and his notes said that Jack's x-ray hadn't changed. So I have just cancelled his surgery. Jack will be able to enjoy this week without all sorts of stingy drops in his eyes and with enough energy to shoot his cousins when we play laser tag.
Then I called the hyperbaric area to let them know that Jack could come in tomorrow because his surgery was cancelled. And they said that Jack shouldn't come in with pneumonia as it could make it worse. So we will have a week or two off of HBO treatments.
Thank you for your prayers and thank God for His provision.

Will We Go Today Or Not?

Jack is scheduled to have surgery tomorrow in Dallas. We just spent our morning hospital hopping. He had his HBO treatment at Hendrick, then we went straight to ARMC for a chest x-ray. If there is anything that shows up in his chest then we will reschedule his eye surgery tomorrow. I am just waiting to hear back from the doctor. Jack SO wants this surgery over and done with. He is excited that his eye will be fixed and to have his mediport removed. But he still has a cough, so we will see. I told him that if his surgery was cancelled for tomorrow the bright side is that he will be able to really enjoy all of our family who come in tomorrow night, he can feel good and keep up with everyone. I also told him that he could help me make some Christmas candy today if we stay put - he was all about that. Either way we will be happy, get it over with or postpone. The Lord knows what is best and He will work it out.
I will post when I hear from the doctor.

November 15, 2007

Jack's Results and Loose Leaf Tea

Thanks Jessica for asking about the results on Jack. Jack's pediatrician called today and said that it looks like Jack could have a bit of pneumonia. It is somewhat inconclusive because it could also be a cold that had settled in his chest. After talking with Jack's oncologist Jack is now on the medicine that his pediatrician prescribed yesterday, zithromax, and today they added hydracortizone (spelling?). When we spoke with Jack's oncologist a couple of weeks ago after Jack's MRI he said that Jack's immune system is not functioning due to the amount of steroids he takes every day, so the hydracortizone is taking the place of the natural hydracortizone that his body would make if he wasn't on steroids. And apparently hydrocortizone is what helps your body fight infections.
All this sounds like Jack is not doing well. But for the most part except for the cough he is feeling fine. The hardest thing that Jack is dealing with is sore muscles. Every Tuesday he goes to Rehab Therapy and he works out with his physical therapist. This week she increased the weight on his leg work out, they use the Total Gym System, and Jack is walking like his legs are full of jello. He told me today he barely made it up the little hill outside of school to walk to the car when I was picking him up. Bless his heart. He told me that his PT said if his legs hurt he could stop, but he said that he felt fine until he stopped the workout and then it was a different story.
Jack's surgery is still on for next week, if he doesn't improve or if he worsens then we will reschedule.
He is such a trooper.

The time change and early darkness makes me so sleepy at night. By 7:30 I am ready for my jammies and a cup of tea. One of my new favorite things is loose leaf tea. Several months ago Jack and I were wandering through Whole Foods to pick up our month supply of Z-Bars, a kids organic snack bar, and there was a nice woman handing out samples of loose leaf tea, you could pick hot or cold. I tasted the cold tea and thought it was extra yummy. I bought a can of loose leaf tea because the woman who owned the company was the one offering the samples and I just appreciated that she was working her business that she and another woman from Colorado had created. When I got home I regretted not buying the tea cup. I bought it this last time and another flavor of tea. I LOVE this tea, and I love the tea cup. It makes it super easy to make one cup of fresh steeped tea loose leaf tea. You can check out the website at www.the-teaspot.com. The prices are the same as in the store and there is free shipping if you purchase $30 or more I think. This is my favorite thing and am giving away several tea cups with a can of loose leaf tea for Christmas. First I bought the Red Rock's tea (herbal), then I just bought the Creme Caramel (black tea). The Creme Caramel is dee-lish. If you are looking for something different to give check out this site.

November 14, 2007

Preparations and Chest X-Rays

Wednesday night. Jack just headed to the shower after a long day. He had hyperbaric therapy this morning, then school, then I picked him up 20 minutes early to head to his pediatrician's office for a visit. He has had a bit of a cough for about 9 days now. No fever or other problems, just a congested cough. With his surgery next week and the holidays coming up I thought it best to go and get him looked at.
I love our pediatrician. She is kind and thoughtful and thorough. So in the thorough category she decided that Jack should have a chest x-ray to be safe as he will be put to sleep in just 6 days for his eye surgery and port removal. So we just got back home and it is 7pm. I just realized put to sleep could sound a bit like a dog's last day but as I am not talking about a dog, you would know that it is just a temporary sleep for surgery.
I am SO excited for next week. We have a ton of family coming to town and spending time together for Thanksgiving. I am preparing this week for next week as Jack's surgery will take up the first part of the week. I have shopped for all the food, bought Christmas gifts for those we celebrate Christmas with the day after Thanksgiving, I have cleaned one of my kids rooms from top to bottom, and hopefully will finish the other room tomorrow, and am feeling good about where I am for preparation. I know that the Lord has seen fit to give me gifts of service in several areas. One of those gifts is not hospitality, preparing large meals, hosting large groups - while I love to do it, does not come naturally to me like others I know. I have made a concerted effort to not freak out or get nervous, anxious or testy in my behavior. I am going to enjoy my sweet family and our extended family.
Thanksgiving here we come.

November 12, 2007

The Power of the Word

Monday morning. I have woken from a wonderful nights sleeep after spending the weekend with The Coffee Group in New Braunfels, TX at a ladies retreat for Westover Hills Church of Christ from Austin. The weekend was full of God's mercies and grace bestowed on all of His children who are searching to be one step closer to Him each day of our lives. To speak the Word of the Lord to anyone is such a gift in and of itself. But I have yet to ever speak without immense gratitude to Jesus for lifting my eyes from the mud and the myre of my past and to Him, I am grateful for Jesus. I am always grateful for the reminder from the Holy Spirit that it is only through our Lord Jesus Christ that my eyes have been open to my own sin and it is through His love that I keep desiring more and more of Jesus and less of me.
My favorite line from the Coal Miner's Daughter is after Loretta comes off the stage at the Grand Ole Opry and she says to Doo her husband, "Doo, I could die tomorrow cause I ain't never gonna be happier than I am right now."
That is how I feel every time I have told how God's grace lifted me and the power of Jesus healing in my life. There is nothing else on this earth that compares with tesifying to God's love and truth. Thank you Jesus.
Thank you friends and family who faithfully lifted this weekend in prayer, the Lord was Mighty this weekend.

November 09, 2007

The Brokenhearted

Good Friday morning. The weekend is almost upon us and I am amazingly blessed. I have a sweet family inside these walls, I have a sweet family that extends across Abilene to several states and then oversea's.
I had the opportunity to take some pictures last night as a gift to women and children who have had it rough. I have ALWAYS known it is better to give than receive, and I am always thrilled to be on the giving end. Within these family groups there was love. There were hearts that had been broken and lives that needed mending but in it all they were transitioning to a new normal.
I am afraid that many of us walk around not realizing just how blessed we are, myself included. Most of us that have a computer to read this on have clothes to spare, accessories for those clothes, clothes that fit our kids, and I would guess that most of us are safe in our homes. I am grateful to the Lord for allowing me a glimpse into lives that remind me of how much we need the Father's love and that the brokenhearted of this world are plenty and they are blessed by our simple kindness, because maybe kindness has not come plenty to them.
Father forgive me for overlooking the brokenhearted help me to seek them in Your name.

November 08, 2007

The Sound of Silence and the Flu Shot

Yesterday was Jack's first day of the second six weeks of Hyperbaric treatments. My car is definately in auto drive to the Hospital each morning Monday thru Friday.

I took a much needed 2 day vacation from my job on Tuesday and Wednesday for some intense study time for a retreat that The Coffee Group is speaking at this weekend. It is back to work today.

Yesterday was also flu shot day. Jack is an old pro at shots and sticks, Derek does very well, Sophie is normally the child you can hear 3 blocks down with a shrieking scream like someone has come at her with a pitchfork size needle. My little dainty, tiny, princess turns into a screaming, squirming, thrashing tiny person with superhuman strength when she gets a shot. The line up was set, Jack called first in line, then Sophie, Derek, then Rob. (I got my flu shot at Dallas Children's last week because it was free, and no waiting). So Jack goes, he has already prepared me that he is going to leave the room immediately after his shot, said he needed to use the restroom (this is code for I can't bear to hear my twin sister cry). As soon as Jack is done, Sophie says to Derek, "you go next." Derek hops up on the table gets his shot, then Sophie has Rob go, Rob get's his shot, and no one is left but the screamer. Her eyes are already teary, her face is red, she bravely gets up on the table and is crying silently to herself and before she knows it the shot is over and done with and the bandaid on. AHHH, the sound of silence, it is a first with Sophie getting a shot. Jack walks back into the room and says, what happened? is it over? Yes Jack it is over and your sister was very brave, big smile on Jack's face. Then he says, "I really did have to go to the bathroom." (code for I didn't run away not to hear my sister scream.)
One of the perks of a brother who get's stuck alot with needles is that there is a stash of emla cream that get's used on everyone's arm before they get their flu shots. So the process is quite pain free, except in Derek's case where the shot was given outside the emla creamed area, but he still didn't flinch. Rob and I don't use it because we are too brave or too embarassed to put it on our own arms. Really I should speak for myself, because Rob is brave and tough, I however on the other hand am a larger version of my daughter who has chosen dignity rather than screaming and flailing, but I secretly want to slather emla all over my arm when I get a shot, because all that screaming and flailing is going on in my head.
I do have to say that this years flu shot was the least painful flu shot, don't know why, but I barely felt the injection.

November 06, 2007

In God's Timing

Dreams. Do you remember your dreams? In the bible many times God communicated with His people through dreams and visions. I have been blessed to have one major vision through a dream from the Lord. Of all things it had to do with my business, but since I put that dream into action God has blessed my faithfulness and willingness to hear His voice and follow His will, even though it wasn't what I had planned for myself. I had the sweetest dream the morning we were to receive the news about Jack's MRI. It was right before it was time to wake up because I went straight from the dream to looking at Jack in the bed across the room all in one breath. In my dream Jack and I were at the park. He was running around and laughing, and I couldn't keep up with him. I was trying to catch him and called out to him, when he heard his name he turned around at me with a big smile and there wasn't any facial paralysis, everything was healed. He kept on running by the way and I can just remember laughing and being overjoyed because he was running and laughing and feeling well and then my eyes opened and I looked across the room at my sleeping boy. It was at that moment I knew that the Lord would heal Jack completely, in His timing.

November 05, 2007

The Quiet Stillness of "thanks" giving

So...I continue to be amazed at the, "Mrs. Marcelain there is NO more brain tumor," conversation I had just 3 short days ago with Jack's radiologist. What can I say about this? Did I ever think this day would come and I would hear those words? What does the future hold with no brain tumor's involved? I would like to think that my hope has not changed for God had given me His hope,...in joy...God has blessed me with His joy to be delighted at the smallest of delights when the road was rocky. On days that my faith and belief had waivered and there after had been restored after I sought, asked, knocked and devoured His Word and God gave me faith I never even knew possible and I am so grateful and humbled by His love walking by me each step of the way to spur me on to keep searching and He will keep answering.
I have been confronted lately with my comfort in the way I disregard what I don't understand in scripture. And I have enjoyed using the on line bible tools you can find at heartlight.org to break down terms from the original Hebrew and Greek bible. God has brought one person especially into my life who has prayed with us and spent time with us and given us many words from God, led us to scripture God was calling us to read and read and re-read. Most of which have to do with faith and belief. And her very being has opened my eyes to where I have sold the bible short and not really understood the power of Christ that His believers have access to. In the words of Beth Moore - this has been my prayer many times each day, "Today Lord, let just one more scale fall from my eyes, that I might know You and Your Word better." Those scriptures that I have disregarded have become fresh and new and the Holy Spirit indwelled is opening my eyes a little bit more every day to the Amazing and Mighty God we serve and the power of the blood of Jesus Christ.
Yesterday in church our minister had all the lights turned off as we had a prayer of praise and thanksgiving for Jack and asking for His hand to be with other's who are suffering with illnesses. It was a most special moment, one that I will never forget. To be in darkness, standing amongst over a thousand people with my hands lifted to the Almighty was a quiet and humbling moment that I will rest in for all the days I walk on this earth. I thank God for the journey and I thank God for Jack.

November 01, 2007

The Full Report

So here is the long version of what we were told today. Posting on my phone is so nice, but it makes me want to keep it short and sweet.
First doctor we saw was Jack's original neurosurgeon, the one who had her fingers in Jack's brain and removing the bulk of the tumor almost 3 years ago. We went to what was called clinic today, the dr.'s rotate who attends to clinic, so it is not necessarily your doctor you see. So Dr. Price saw us today and it was so nice to see her again. She has such a calming affect on me, she is like a fresh breeze off an ocean coastline, so needless to say, I love talking with her. She said the news looked good. The scan looked great and she saw no new growth. She would talk to Dr. Weprin and Dr. Timmerman about Jack's current steroid dosage and tapering it, and also on how long they want the hyperbaric treatments to continue.
Then Dr. Bower's came in and did an exam on Jack, he reiterated that the scan looked good and he thought Jack looked great. So then we got back home to Abilene with a phone call on the answering machine from Dr. Timmerman, Jack's radiologist, the dr. who performed the Gamma Knife Radiation treatment. He said we were going to SLOWLY decrease Jack's steroid dosage, so we are now giving him meds 3 times a day rather than 4. I am supposed to call Dr. T back in 2 weeks with a progress report on Jack, then he might lower it a bit more. I talked with him for a few more minutes about Jack's side effects from the radiation and then I asked him, how large the tumor looked currently. And he said..."I don't see any tumor anymore, all I see is radio-necrosis." I shook my head, and said, "What did you just say?" He repeated it again, I don't see any tumor, just necrosis. Which he said can be larger than the irradiated tumor. I said, "Really?" So then he said that we need to wait for Jack's brain to heal from the radiation and that it could take years, so there is still healing that needs to take place, but if he is right then the tumor is gone. He said the Hyperbaric Oxygen is obviously helping Jack and he wants to continue for another 30 treatments. Then he said that Jack's brain was in very bad shape just 6 weeks ago and has made significant improvements. Probably good that I didn't know the "bad shape" Jack's brain was in - or atleast not to the extent of it anyway.
But that is neither here nor there except to be thankful and grateful for the good shape he is in now.
So the good news was abundant today. In all things praise God, good or bad, praise God. I have praised Him many times today and I will continue to praise Him.
Jack is due to have his eye surgery on November 20th - please continue to lift Jack up to the Father, and praise Him along with us.

Great report!
no growth the docs were happy and so are we. Thanks to you for your prayers. Thanks to God for His strength.
We are heading home.
overjoyed and grateful

October 29, 2007

Early Trick Or Treat

Monday morning. Sitting at the hospital working like crazy on my computer. I feel like I haven't done a good job with posting lately. Some weeks it is hard to slow down enough to smell the roses and contemplate all the goodness that surrounds me to write about.
Tonight Rob is taking Jack and a couple of friends of his trick or treating then over to one of our friends house to eat pizza. My friend, Nora, is a big halloween fan. I was trying to describe her house this past week and the best I could come up with was it is like Dillard's at Christmas time, only it is Nora's home and it is halloween. Every room is decked out and it doesn't look creepy, it looks fun and intruiging. So the kids will eat pizza at Nora's look around a bit then call it a night.
Tomorrow afternoon Jack and I are heading out for Dallas. He is looking forward to his little trip. Just this weekend he said, "Well, I think I am ready for Dallas, and I love my MRI"s" So he will have his MRI at 8:45 Wednesday morning then we will do something fun in the afternoon, then a follow up appt. Thursday morning and home in time for APAC Thursday afternoon. There is nothing more fun for Jack than his Make A Play class at APAC. He and Sophie love it. Ms. Ann their teacher is wonderful.
For those of you that haven't looked at your calendar lately, Thanksgiving is officially right around the corner. I have officially closed my work calendar for the year, so I can have some quality time with the fam. I have weddings and sittings still on the books but all the rest of the days are booked for fun!
Rob and I went and saw Dan In Real Life on Friday night. It was truly delightful. The music was great - I just loved this movie.
Did you know that Universal Studios is creating a new theme park, within it's theme park. The world of Harry Potter. Opens in 2 years. It will have Hogwarts, Diagon Alley, Hogsmeade, and I think even Privot Drive.
Well that is a bunch of totally off the wall thoughts in one post, but I just wanted to check in, say all is well and I hope your week is blessed.

October 26, 2007

Waiting

Friday morning. I am hanging out in waiting room, Jack should be done in a couple of minutes. As of this week I have started bringing my laptop with me because I was just not able to get all my work done after I get back home from dropping Jack off at school. So I just curl up in my little corner and work while I am here. Here comes Jack....

October 24, 2007

What is cuter than baby toes?

I added a new line of photography to my business. Newborn hospital photography, called My First Day. There is NOTHING more tender and precious than a newborn baby and their toes, what is cuter than baby toes? I had been considering, praying, considering and praying, then the Lord brought me this sweet family a couple of days before Terah was to be induced and I realized the time was right. Thank you God for this sweet family. Enjoy baby Jolea and her My First Day slideshow.
here.

October 21, 2007

Such Hope

Hi-ya!
Sunday night. We had a great weekend. Rob and I took the kids to see ACU's production of AIDA on Friday night. It was amazing! When we bought the tickets for an 8pm Friday show I thought that there would be a good chance we would have to leave before it was over. But the kids stayed awake and loved every minute of it. The acting, singing and dancing was flawless, what a show! Props to ACU for putting on a broadway production that was purely magnificent.
Then the kids spent the night last night at Mommer and Tom's so Rob and I went to the movies...big surprise huh? We went and saw Across the Universe. The reviews have been great. One of the reviews said that they couldn't quit thinking about the movie and they were totally right. I have been humming along to I Am The Walrus, All We Need Is Love and Helter Skelter all day. I hate to say it was a great movie, because it is a movie you will love or so not love and I don't want to build it up and then disappoint someone. It was a musical with all the music of the Beatles, set in the time of the Vietnam War. Psychadelic and Intruiging, and a good storyline. I really liked it. Rob really liked it.
Jack is counting down his last 10 treatments in Hyperbaric starting tomorrow. He told me Friday he was SO ready to get his schedule back. He really hasn't missed too much at school, but he does miss library time, his Language Arts class, music and p.e. He wasn't even in p.e. so that was not a big deal, and music is his least favorite class, but he loves library and language arts class.
I am so looking forward to his MRI and Neuro-Oncology visit on the 31st and 1st! I feel sure at that point they will taper down his steroid dosage and he can get back to feeling more like himself again. Then on the 20th of November he will have his eye surgery and if we are really lucky his mediport will come out.
It is the time of year for family portraits, Christmas cards and weddings galore so I will be busy and I hope time will fly by.
I am grateful to the Lord for blessing me with such hope.

October 18, 2007

MRI Date

I talked with Jack's neurosurgeon today and his next MRI is scheduled for October 31 and then follow up visit on November 1st. Can't say that Jack is too thrilled about the timing, but I will take him to the movies and the mall in Dallas while we are there to make up for the lack of Halloween fanfare. We weren't going to trick or treat anyway this year due to Halloween being on a church night, but we were going to participate in the trunk or treat that our church puts on in the parking lot on the 30th. People dress up and bring their vehicles and park them in a row. The kids from the church and community go from car to car rather than from house to house looking for a candy deposit in their bags. It is so much fun and the kids love being the ones to hand out the candy.

I might be calling on friends and family to trick or treat early with the kids before we go to Dallas so Jack gets a bit of candy to take with him. We'll see.

I was in Hebrews this morning and found this verse. Paul wrote these inspired words.

"So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. For in just a very little while, "He who is coming will come and will not delay. But my righteous one will live by faith. And if he shrinks back, I will not be pleased with him."
But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who believe and are saved.

Thanks to the Lord for this wonderful reminder to hold on to our confidence and to keep on keepin' on.

October 16, 2007

Green Chile Chicken Stoup

Today started out being a perfect fall day. Cool and cloudy. The perfect day for soup or stew. This is what I made for dinner. First of all I must confess my love for green chille's. Ever since I married into a family that lived in Albuquerque, NM area green chille's have been a staple around our house. Every time we visit NM or Rob's sister visits us we stock up on our favorite green chille by El Pinto.

My sister in law Tamara and her family live close to the real El Pinto. Every time we visit that is on our top 2 list of where to eat, the other being a small Indian restaurant. A couple of years ago we discovered that El Pinto was bottling their salsa and green chille and the New Mexico stores started carrying it on their shelves. About a year ago our stores started carrying the El Pinto brand. Currently United supermarkets (in Abilene) have it on sale 3 jars for $5.

So today I decided that we would have green chille stew. I got on the El Pinto website to see if they had a recipe for it. That was what I made for dinner with a couple of changes to the original recipe which I will note.

Green Chille Stew (more of a stoup the way I made it)
1 lb. chicken, cut up in chunks
1 can corn
1 can black beans
3 cups red potatoes, washed and cubed.
1 jar El Pinto green chille sauce
1 quart chicken broth (I use the healthy choice 99% fat free)
Powdered Garlic
Fresh Garlic
2 Tsp. Olive Oil

Boil red potatoes for 10 minutes. Drain and set aside. In a large hot saucepan ( I used the same one I cooked the potatoes in) I dump in the chicken along with the olive oil. The pan is very hot when I put the meat in so it browns quickly. Cook all the way through, add a couple of shakes of the garlic powder during the cooking. Once cooked completely add the 2 quarts chicken broth, allow to come to boil. Add minced garlic, Green Chille sauce, corn and beans (both drained and rinsed), and the boiled potatoes. Simmer 5 minutes add salt and pepper to taste. I didn't add any salt, seemed salty enough maybe from the salt I added to the potatoes while boiling. Simmer 5 minutes.

I served it with warmed tortilla's as that is Rob's favorite.

To make this recipe a bit healthier I had substituted 2 tsp. of Olive Oil for the 1 Tablespoon of vegetable oil, and I added the black beans. The original recipe also called for 1/4 cup of flour to coat the cooked chicken before you add the broth. I decided not to add that and see how it worked out.

It was super easy and quick to make and tasted wonderful. If you haven't bought El Pinto green chille's go and buy them. They come in mild, medium and hot, and there is a notable difference of heat in between each heat level.

I add the El Pinto to scrambled eggs to make yummy scrambled eggs or egg burrito's, I use it as a dip - just warm the jar up in the microwave, and you can even add velveeta to a jar of it and make a twist to the rotel dip that we normally have around here. While I was looking on the website today I saw many more recipes that I plan to try. elpinto.com

One of my favorite things.

Cool crisp air and warm coffee.

Tuesday lunchtime. I just returned home from dropping Jack off at school and will enjoy a nice cozy day in my house. I have work to do so I am going to fire up my main work computer brew some coffee and put on some slippers. It is a cool, cloudy day.
I love cool days, warm coffee and a warm house. What blessings abound me - thank you Jesus.
Jack is on the down hill slide of HBO therapy, we have 13 more sessions to go, 17 down. All is well in the Marcelain house.

October 12, 2007

What Color Orange Are You?

You Are Pumpkin

Realistic and practical, you see the world for how it is.
You know what it takes to succeed in life...
And you're happy to help others reach their goals.


Thanks to Amy over at Soul and Culture for this quiz.

October 10, 2007

Catchin' Up

Wednesday night. Home from church and the kids are in bed. Tomorrow is Thursday and it seems like another week has flown by. Saturday we are driving to Dallas to see the Lion King on stage. We are all excited about it, I am slightly dreading the traffic. The location of the play is in the vicinity of the State Fair which is currently underway, so traffic might be a bit of an issue. But we will leave plenty early and I am sure it will work out.

I saw the most beautiful sunrise this morning. We are at the time of year when the sun rises during the time I am in the car taking Jack to his HBO therapy. What is it about sunrises that can take your breath away? But by the next day I have forgotten what it looked like, and the new sunrise is so beautiful that it takes your breath away again. I thought about how gracious God is to all His children on earth by lavishing such beautiful gifts on us. No matter where you are if you just stop and look up at the sky, doesn't really matter what time of day or what weather is happening the sky is always dynamic. A beautiful sunset, sunrise, thunder clouds, blue sky with some clouds, or a clear blue sky - they are all beautiful. If our earth is but a shadow of Heaven I can only imagine the beauty in the sky. For those of us that get caught up in the tornado of life if we will only stop and look at the sky it helps put that moment of time in perspective. Our bodies are just here for a flicker of time. The struggles we face each day seem overwhelming but if we will just look up, cast our burdens on Him then we are set free, free indeed. And while we are looking up we will see a beautiful sky created to show God's glory and just revel in His Majesty. Glory to God in the Highest.

I am finishing up a book, Unveiling Mary Magdalene, by Liz Curtis Higgs. I have really enjoyed it. She wrote the Bad Girls of the Bible Series. And now has the Not So Bad Girls of the Bible out, it might have been out for a while but I just saw it, so that is next on my list to read. I love the devotion of Mary Magdalene to Jesus. He set her free from the 7 demons that possessed her and she devoted the rest of her life to Him out of gratitude, love and the desire to learn from the Master. She calls Him Rabonni when He speaks to her in the garden after he has risen from the dead. He was her teacher. She was the first person He showed Himself to after he rose from the dead. I believe that Mary was one of His most devoted followers, she stood by Him during His crucifixion, before the sun rose after the Sabbath Mary was heading for the tomb to see her Lord.

My friend Jana B. gave me a picture depicting Mary Magdelene on the ground with Jesus's hand reaching down to help her up. I love that picture. I see it every day it is a daily reminder that I need Jesus, and He is always there to help me up.

Several months ago I was asked to do a bit of a testimonial thing for a website called Hope For Life. I just looked at the website yesterday and it looks great. If you are from here you might recognize several of the faces and testimonials, if you are not I think you will enjoy them, I did. Hope For Life is a ministry of Herald of Truth. The testimonials are pretty short and definately left me wanting to know the rest of each persons story. You can click on Hope For Life above, or click on over to hopeforlife.org

We will talk again soon.

October 06, 2007

Friends and Proverbs 31

Saturday night. It has been a great day. Lots of fun stuff to do! I took some pics of my friend Denise and her family tonight. You can see the slideshow here if you would like. Denise is one of my soul sisters at church. We hang out together as often as we can and she is also part of the Coffee Group. She has a sweet family and I am so blessed with her friendship.

When I came home from the shoot I drove up to this


Sophie was practicing her bike riding skills. (sounds like that came from Napolean Dynomite) Up until Jack and Sophie went to Safety City a couple of weeks ago we haven't done any bike riding since Jack's first chemo treatment in August of 2005.

So Sophie mastered the art of bike riding without training wheels today. Very exciting.

Then I saw this in the window looking out at his sister.


They both are precious. It looks like Jack was sad, but you can see a bit of a grin on the side of his face that works, so I think he was enjoying the show. Jack will be a biking crazy man again I just know it. By the way my windows aren't really that dirty, but the screens are pretty old so that is what gave it the grainy look. Housekeeping skills...somedays are better than others.

I have been studying like crazy lately in Proverbs. The Coffee Group has a speaking engagement in Austin and we are speaking on the modern day Proverbs 31 woman. I would just like to say that the Proverbs 31 woman had servants and I bet they did all the scrubbing. But it has been an inspirational study and I am enjoying my research. I am speaking to verse 25. She clothes herself in strength and dignity, she laugh's at tomorrow. I am grateful to God for the strength and dignity clothes, without them I would be weak and humiliated. Glory to God! Have a most wonderful experiential day.

October 04, 2007

Angels among us.

Today I met a woman in the waiting room of the hospital. She had walked her daughter into the MRI area which has the same waiting room as the Hypobaric treatments. Once her daughter's MRI was underway I struck up a conversation and asked her if this was her daughter's first MRI. She had told me some of her daughter's medical background and then shared with me that she wasn't actually her biological daughter. She was actually her aunt and that she and her husband gained custody after the courts assumed custody of the little girl. She had multiple skull fractures, was bald on several area's of her head, showed positive for c*caine and had multiple abrasians, and both of her retina's were detached. She wasn't even one year old at the time. Apparently the girls mom was on c*caine as was her boyfriend and the story was never really for sure what happened. This aunt and uncle whose children were already raised welcomed this little girl into their home. As this mom sat in the waiting room today I thought about how lucky that little girl is to be alive, 5 years after she was taken away by CPS, she was in a home cherished and loved by a mom and dad who happily adjusted what their lives would look like after their other children had left home. I was so grateful to be able to meet this mom today.

Jack is doing great with HBO. Almost 2 weeks down, 4 weeks to go!

October 01, 2007

Balloon Fest and Celebration Sunday

We had a super fun weekend. Saturday we went to the Balloon Fest. Sophie and I volunteered taking tickets during a 2 hour shift, then we went home ate dinner grabbed the rest of the group and headed back for the Amy Stroup concert Saturday night. Here are some photo's of Sophie from the balloon fest. She had the best time. She is such a sweetheart.






Then Sunday morning we went to church, and as it was Celebration Sunday, Amy Stroup performed in lieu of Bible Class. Celebration Sunday is an invite your friends Sunday. We have a big cookout of burgers and dogs and all sorts of kid oriented rides and events. We normally have hundreds of visitors, it is a great time to meet new friends. Here are a couple of pics of Amy and the awesome musicians she had performing with her. They are all based out of Nashville. When I took these images they were performing a blue grass rendition of I'll Fly Away. It was awesome. I did tell Amy I thought that I might be her biggest fan, I felt like and idiot, but I just had to say it.



Rob was asked to be in the Dunk Tank. My kids were so excited to dunk their dad. People were giving them dollar bills to help them with their cause. When Rob got into the tank the kids lined up, all my kids friends thought it was so cool to dunk their friend's dad. It was hilarious. Rob got dunked many times during his 20 minute shift. Here are a couple of pics dunking dad. (All three kids dunked dad atleast once)


Below is Derek with a huge grin, trying to knock his dad in the water.



On Sophie's first throw she hit the target and down Rob went.


Jack's turn!





Here is our preacher, Phil. This was what he was planning to wear in the dunking booth, notice the sandals with the suit! Rob said that when it came time for Phil's shift the crowd had already cleared out and no one was left to dunk him. He lucked out!

September 27, 2007

Always Grateful to Hold Jack's Hand

Whew! We made it, our Thursday is almost over. Thursday's are our busiest day during the week and they always take extreme planning to get everyone picked up, driven here and there, then fed on top of all that. We had to forgoe Thai Kwon Do, because I couldn't get everyone home and dressed in time to be there and I didn't have an extra second to spare to gather their uniforms today.
We will spend our usual Thai Kwon Do time catching up on Bible Bowl tonight. I have such fond memories of Bible Bowl from when I was a kid. It is a nationwide program, a specific book from the Bible is the subject matter and kids starting in the 3rd grade can participate. My kids have enjoyed it this year, and my favorite part is sitting at the kitchen table with my three munchkins going over the scriptures verse by verse and them filling in the answer blanks on their study sheets. There is alot to be said for devotionals and kids, but there is nothing like being in the Word itself, not something written about the Word.
HBO therapy is going well for Jack. Just about 1 week down, 5 to go. Thanks to my friends this week who have sat with me in the waiting room to keep me company. Today, thanks to Judy, I found my way to the coffee kiosk. Judy is the queen of coffee and she can smell it miles away.
After Jack's HBO therapy today we went straight to the cancer center to have his medi-port accessed and flushed. A mediport is like a little quarter size disc, about 1/4 inches thick that was surgically placed under his skin before chemo started, the chemo is given through the port which has a plastic vein attached from the port then surgically attached to one of Jack's veins. It cuts down on the wear and tear or your own veins so they don't weaken through chemo or heavy access. We don't use it currently but it must be accessed and flushed out to keep it available and clean for future use. At some point it will be removed, it wont be soon enough according to Jack. Due to all the weight gain there is alot of water weight and flesh weight that surrounds that port now and the nurses stuck Jack several times but couldn't access it. Bummer. I emailed Jack's oncologist at Jack's request to see if we could just have it removed during his eye surgery in November. No go. He wants to get firm information on how the tumor is doing, not just the speculation from the radiologist that the tumor is not growing and that the change was Necrosis.
I am not sure what we will need to do, I am waiting to hear back on the maximum amount of time a port can still be viable not having been accessed. We might need to make a Dallas trip to Children's Medical Center and have them try. Nurse Sara works with kids ALL the time like Jack who have gained alot of weight on steroids, so she is fully qualified to access it if it is at all possible. She even used a longer needle and it didn't work. We will see, over all this is not a big deal, just one of life's little inconveniences. Jack was exceedingly brave today, he was emla'd up, but we really didn't let the cream sit long enough to numb his skin, only to take the edge off so he could get back to school more quickly. He was very brave being poked with a very thick needle over and over, he never even flinched or shed a tear.
I continue to be thankful for my family. I am always grateful that I get to hold Jack's hand through this journey.