Saturday, August 29, 2015

Back to School

Whether I was ready or not (I never am), another school year has commenced. There's been a long lead-up to this year, because it is Aiden's first year. As with the girls, I homeschooled him for Kindergarten. He and I have had three years of just the two of us at home and its been so special. He's a fun buddy, an interesting person, an affectionate guy and we've both SO loved hanging out together, recognizing often what a treat it is.

Parenting is fun but its not easy. Often in our parenting strategy meetings (not as fancy as it sounds...they are just impromptu chats) we'll remind each other that "we are raising adults", not a little person who makes us feel good about ourselves or makes us feel fulfilled. Its actually not about us at all. It seems there is a daily letting go and allowing for more independence so they are ready to be sent into the world at the appropriate time. Its good, its right, but its hard.

The kids were so excited they could hardly sleep the night before. I prayed with all three individually before bed and got choked up when I was lying beside Aiden in bed. But the next morning I could only be happy for them and join in their excitement.

(I like getting a full body shot because those jumpers will be showing a lot more knee by the time June rolls around.)

After pictures we walked down to school and kicked off the year with a brief prayer service, including a couple songs and a word from the new principal. Then she introduced the teacher of each grade and read each student name individually as they formed a big circle. I did get choked up again as I saw the big eighth graders standing at the front, knowing that in an instant Avery will be there.

Aiden has a new-to-the-school teacher this year, Sister Joan Marie (sitting behind him). Aiden is one of nine students in the first grade, just three boys. Remarkably, one of the boys is the son of long-time family friends. His dad and I go way, way back and he's weaved in and out of our lives in various ways. He was even a groomsman in our wedding 21 years ago! We each swore off children and now these years later, our sons attend school together. :)

These are Avery and Amanda's teachers. Amanda has Avery's teacher from last year so we already know she's amazing.

We're so very thankful for this school that is less than two blocks from our house. Its a close-knit community with many wonderful families who are committed to giving their kids a quality education.

I love that you can walk into the classrooms and find an American flag, the Ten Commandments, the Fruits of the Spirit, etc.

Particularly in the past year my girls have really found a sanctuary there with a lot of loving, supportive adults. And they have the opportunity to pray for me, along with their classmates right there in their classroom.

When I picked them up, they were all glowing from their first day.

Aiden Wednesday (12:15 pickup): It was awesome, Mom. SO great!
Aiden Thursday (regular time 2:30): Mom, today was kind of a long day.
Aiden Friday (regular time): Today was REALLY hard. Really hard. We did SO much work!
Aiden Friday (8:30pm pickup from Awanas) Mom, I have to go to bed RIGHT NOW!

And today Avery is bummed because its Friday so she can't go tomorrow. I expect that to last approximately two weeks.

Here's to a fresh new school year...full of potential and with no mistakes in it yet. :)

Thursday, August 27, 2015

A Slippery Slope

Kids and water...there are very few scenarios where more joy can be experienced. If its done with cousins, icing on the cake! Pop has a super-sized slip-n-slide for super-sized fun!

I love this series, beginning with C4 "greasing" the track.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Doing Battle, Week 48

In my head, I'd been preparing an exit strategy to the weekly cancer posts. I figured it wasn't all that important or necessary to post to the very end of my healing from surgery so I was going to close out this series that you have so faithfully kept up with.

(The update for this week would be that I'm getting stronger and stronger. I'm walking a 3.5 mile route each day...sometimes the girls join me on their bikes, and most recently I'm pushing a five year-old in a stroller. I'm doing light weights for upper body and my appetite is back, though I'm still not very adventurous with eating. My pain is minimal...its been at least two weeks since I've taken anything, even Tylenol. The visiting nurse comes three times a week, so I'm being closely watched.)

However, we found out last week that we are not yet at the end of this chapter/road/journey/season.

I've deliberately held off on sharing the pathology findings from surgery because we didn't know what it meant as far as next step.

That changed this week when we met with the Sloan oncologist (who had already been in communication with my surgeon). We talked about the findings of the report , which showed the margins of healthy tissue around the tumor were great. The disappointing news is that a number of cancerous nodes were removed.

She, along with the Tumor Board (the Tumor Board!!) believe it is prudent to do another round of chemo to deal with any other possible cancer cells before they have a chance to multiple and spread. Its possible there is currently no cancer in my body and this ends up being precautionary...there's just no way to know. Since I am young (at least relative to the cancer world) and in otherwise good health, they are being aggressive.

The oncologist (who is young and personable and highly regarded in her field) strongly believes in the FOLFOX regiment. Its the one I started with but then had a strong, adverse reaction to after the second round so I was switched to FOLFIRI (in case you speak chemo :). Dr. C., the Sloan oncologist respectfully disagrees with some of the decisions made by our local oncologist surrounding that episode. She has had experience with patients having a reaction and wants to use a different tactic in administering the drugs.

What that looks like for us is some very long chemo days in NYC. Its funny how our perspectives have changed. Back in October we thought it would be burdensome to drive to NYC once every two weeks...eight times! We were so thankful to be able to get the treatments locally at a hospital only 30 minutes away. Now, all these months later, we're thinking, what a piece of cake! We only have to drive to NYC once every two weeks...and we can come back the same day! perspective!

So, September 2nd we'll start chemo treatment 1 of 6 / 9 of 14....six additional rounds of chemo added to the eight I've already had. The news was surprisingly undisturbing to me. Maybe its because I'm still busy recovering from surgery. Maybe its because I feel like I can do anything as long as they don't ask me to do radiation or surgery again! Those things certainly contribute, but what I know is really holding me together is God's grace.

I've gotten really good at just doing today and living in the grace He provides for the day, the moment. God's grace sustains me and carries me.

He is aware of the pathology report and my family and the difficult situation you are facing, too...He sees and He knows. It is his good pleasure to provide just what we need. He is good, all the time and his grace is enough for you and its enough for me.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Project 365, Week 34

We squeezed out lots of summer fun in this last full week before school starts. We are still glowing that I am home and we are together and can't seem to get enough of just being.

Life is good.

August 16
Biggest slip n slide in the county is at Pop's house. Hours of fun for these cousins!

August 17
Sienna offered to take the kids to the park with her crew. It worked out well, since I had a fun-filled lineup of social workers and nurses.

August 18
Lots and lots of bike riding and it makes me so thankful for our "new" place. Aiden's even working on The Wheel-y.

Per usual, Shaun has about a dozen really pressing projects and work "things"going, made all the more urgent by the summer/year we've had. This week he crossed off a few items on this building that had been on the list for a long time....that should make the town inspector happy!

I'm so grateful for a wise and hard-working man who does everything with his family's best interest in mind. He carries so much on his shoulders but he knows Who his strength comes from.

Later that evening, Shaun's mom took the kids overnight, so I got to hang out and talk with Shaun while he worked, just like the old days.

August 19
When its a NYC day, we leave at 4 AM to beat rush hour, or at least most of it. What's nice about that is well, the time together of course, but also we get to watch the sun come up and see the day unfold.

More about our trip tomorrow.

August 20
It worked out that the boys were both gone, so Shaun took his girls out. We finished getting the last few school supplies and then went out to dinner.

August 21
Pop and Kiki took Aiden to visit the school where Nathan Hale taught and he came away with stories and a treasured souvenir. Real life super heros!

A week ago we agreed to come off our one-year sabbatical from respite care to take a five year-old for a couple weeks. We talked about it as a family, knowing that I would need lots of help and it was the last little bit of summer, and still everyone was very enthusiastic to take him.

The crazy that comes with an extra "new" body in the house is our normal and its a good bonding and growing experience for our family to have a joint "project". Normal feels good!

This cute little guy arrived at 10 AM with a full supply of energy!

The kids set up an impromptu slip n slide in the rain.

August 22
Hoops, hoops and more hoops!

Aiden-guy is starting school this week so I've spent much of the summer trying to wean him off of  his two hour naps. Clearly, we've had mixed results.