Thursday, May 31, 2012


Today I was super busy running our yard sale.  Whew-I had forgotten how much work a yard sale was, but it was such fun to visit with all of our neighbors and I am so excited that our kids' clothes went home to such wonderful new homes!! While working the yard sale today I received a phone call that made me cry happy tears.

Our friends, Lynn and DeeDee had the brillant idea to contact Mr. Harmon at our local Park Place Drive-In about his new inflatables.  Tomorrow (Friday) is the opening day for the new inflatables at the Drive-In.  Not only can you catch a real drive-in movie, eat ice cream, and play putt-putt but now you can jump away on these amazing inflatables. These ladies had the idea and pitched it to Mr. Harmon the owner, about our family being allowed to come one night early and preview the inflatables!! 

We were able to get a tour of the new inflatables and our three kids got to enjoy an hour of play without crowds or germs!!!  Because of germs and his port, David would have never been able to enjoy these inflatables, but because of their thoughtfulness and Mr. Harmon's generosity we had an awesome opportunity to try them out!!!  What an amazing blessing!
They have a birthday party shelter where you can have a private party! Check out this cute special inflatable chair for the birthday boy/girl!!!
This grin says it all!!  David said "this place is awesome!"

Hope and David really loved the farm-themed inflatable!  Hope kept saying "hey Dave lets go to the piggy one!"
Jumping on the farm inflatable.  These inflatables are new and amazing!  
Tall Kyle really enjoyed the obstacle course one and this tall slide! Kyle is a tall boy and he looks little on this big thing!
Here is a picture of three out of the four inflatables.  They really are massive, clean, and awesome!  The farm one is a little smaller and it is to the left of these.  We are so thankful for Lynn and Dee Dee thinking of this and for Park Place allowing us to come one night early to enjoy a germ-free, crowd-free evening!!
This sweet girl LOVED it!!  She loves a good bounce and she had such fun with her brothers.
I love this picture!  Here is David going down that tall slide!!  At first he was scared, but Kyle helped him up and then he had such fun sliding!!!  He even got brave enough and climbed to the top himself!!  Yay David!! If you plan to check out these new inflatables, just remember that socks are a must!  Amazingly I scrounged up three pair in my car!!
Between the heart of the amazing people that live here plus all the natural beauty around us, we feel so blessed to call Smyth County our home.  Between visiting with so many today at the yard sale, enjoying this special evening on the new inflatables, and the love from this community, I have shed some happy tears today.  Despite the nightmare that we are in called cancer and chemo, we feel that God is using this community and your love to remind us that He is working all things for good. 

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

In Our Weakness

This has been such a great week full of three busy kiddos loving summer.  On one hand we are excited to head back up to UVA Sunday night for our LAST five day inpatient chemo trip.  We are excited to see our UVA friends and of course finish up this last inpatient chemo.  On the other hand it breaks my heart that that the word hospital is even apart of our summertime. 

David is feeling great this week.  He has eaten a ton and has had lots of energy.  His current obsession is Peter Pan/Captain Hook/or anything pirate!  It is really cute to hear his pirate lingo!:) Kyle is loving basketball camp this week and Hope Madeline is beyond excited for her little princess party this weekend.  We have about ten girls coming over Sunday for princess makeovers!  It should be fun.  Mike said he will serve food and do all the prep work and clean up but please do not ask him to paint any finger nails!! HA!

Today we are gearing up for a day at the lake before David goes for chemo. Riding the boat on the lake is one of his favorite things to do!  The next few days we are hosting a big yard sale here in our neighborhood to get rid of lots of baby stuff and lots of  David's clothes that he has outgrown.  The littlest things make me tear up these days and I had a moment when I realized that some of the clothes that I had put in the too small pile now fit David because he has lost so much weight. 

I will admit that I have thoroughly enjoyed the last week or so of life feeling normal.  I am super excited to start prepping preschool rooms for next year.  I have two precious classes lined up for this coming year and I am so excited that Hope is on the roster as a student!!  What fun we will have.  Then on the other hand when I start thinking beyond chemo and cancer I get so full of fear and panic.  I know our lives will never be the same and that the idea that he can relapse at anytime is always a reality. 

Then I remember our Jesus.  We have been through such hard times over the last year where He has walked with us faithfully each step of the way.  I know as we finish chemo and start those monthly scans to check to see if the cancer has returned He will be there.  Because of Jesus we have such hope.  When panic and fear of relapse consume me I have to refocus on the promises of God from the bible.  He will not leave us, and He will always be there.  In our weakness His strength is revealed.  I am so thankful for that promise from 2cor 12:9 because lately this Momma has felt weak from the "what ifs" down the road in this cancer journey. 

But He said to me, My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.  Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me.

2Cor 12:9

Monday, May 28, 2012

Hometown Weekend

Memorial Weekend has been exactly what it should be-full of fun and sun, relaxation, friends, and family time.  We decided that our lives are going to be pretty busy the next few weeks with an upcoming inpatient chemo starting on June 4th, that we were going to lay low and catch up.  We have not traveled beyond the two miles to the grocery store, church, or the pool.

Holston Hills Community Golf Course has been hopping this weekend and our three boys enjoyed an afternoon of golf over the weekend.  Here are all three coming up on "our hole" to play. 
While the boys were golfing Hope and I were going to relax and watch a movie.  Then she got the great idea to "do school" and we read, we wrote, and we did numbers. 
She is obsessed with Max and Ruby and she insisted to write it herself!  Can you make out the words Max and then Ruby on the other side? 
She is also adamant that every thing must have her name on it, so she wrote it everywhere!

Sunday morniing we loaded up for church.  It was so refreshing to the soul to sing some of our favorite songs at church such as "O Happy Day" and "Forever Reign" by One Sonic Society.  Those two songs are our favorites right now. 

The boys playing some baseball in their church clothes:)

Saturday night we got together with some great folks.  The highlight of the evening was barber shop!  Doug was amazingly brave enough to allow David and Kelsey to shave his head!!!  Wow!

These pictures are out of order, but our town puts on a great Memorial Day Parade every year.  We dress in our patriotic clothes and head downtown to watch the parade.  David loved it so much!  Amazingly we ran into the cute Armbrister boys(and their parents Michael and Tracey of course) to enjoy the parade!  They made room for us and it was fun to watch their reactions to what was coming.  David was thrilled that Ashley's Dad Bradley was in the parade! He blew him a kiss!

These pictures are terribly out of order, but here is a sweet shot of my two oldest golfers playing "our hole."  Hope and I waited for them and then we gave them some treats to eat!
David really enjoyed the parade and was so excited when the fire truck with the twirly things on front came by. 

Hope Madeline did not care for the volume of the parade and sat safely in her Daddy's arms with her hands over her ears:)  We have enjoyed having Mike home with us this entire weekend!  The last two weeks of school are crazy for him with lots and lots of meetings and graduations.  After two hectic and stressful weeks for him, it has been good to see him relax and enjoy the kids this weekend. 

This week is going to be busy as we try to cram as much fun as possible into our week.  Kyle is super excited about the Future Hurricane Basketball Camp this weekend.  Coach Bailey always runs a great camp and Kyle has participated the last three years in this great local camp.  My neighbor and I decided it would be great to have a yard sale next weekend.  We have worked so hard on cleaning out and getting ready for that sale next weekend.  We desperately need to clean out this house!  We are preparing for Hope's little birthday party next weekend while David's counts are high and he can enjoy it.  His nader (the lowest point of his counts post chemo will be around her June 15th birthday, so we are having it early so he can participate)  We actually will probably head back to UVA near her birthday as he counts drop so we will be close in case he gets another bacterial infection.  This is the big dose that has made him septic twice before.  Blessedly this is his LAST inpatient chemo, and we are just anxious to get it done. 

Hope your weekend was wonderful:)

Saturday, May 26, 2012

First Day of Summer

We thoroughly enjoyed our first full day of summer break!  We started the day off by explaining to the kiddos the four things that we want them to focus on this summer: academics by reading, reading, and reading, chores, service and fun.  We have felt convicted lately that we do not focus enough on service as a family so we are looking for ways big and small to teach our children that we must give back.  We have been blessed and loved on by so many people and we have been encouraged so much this past year by kindness from others that we must teach our children the value of service.

We are also focusing on academics because this is going to be one of the longest summers we have ever had (yay!) but we must keep plugging along on reading for all and math especially for David.  David's reading is awesome, but he really struggles in math.  Hope is by far our most eager learner and she wants to "do her wetters" (letters) often! 

So after the hard work of chores and academics, we pulled out our water slide!!  The kids were so excited!  Sadly this will probably be the last time we can use it because after four great summers with it, it has some tears in some seams that cannot be patched.  Sigh.  They have loved that slide! 
David did not last as long as his siblings, but he had such fun!! We dressed him from head to toe and then liberally applied sunscreen.  It was such good medicine to the soul to see him enjoying the sunshine.

He love that squirter thing on top...
and kept Kyle and Hope hopping as they would run as he sprayed them!  Ha!
Hope is definitely a fish and loves the water. She and Kyle were on that thing almost four hours yesterday!!!  David did not make it nearly that long, but he looks cool in his big floppy hat!  He did not want to wear it, until Kyle told him he looked like Captain Pirate off of the Misfit Pirate movie we had just seen the day before. 

After some fun in the sun, we had a BALL playing with spray glitter hair spray and color boost.  We are preparing for a tiny little princess party for a few of Hope's friends next week. We bought supplies for the party and then had such fun experimenting with them!  Can you see the pink in Hope's hair and all that glitter?

Ashley was soooo patient and allowed my chidlren free reign with the glitter spray and pink in her hair!  They had such fun!  We laughed and laughed as everything was eventually covered in glitter. 
This is a better shot of Hope's pink and glitter hair! 
We ended the evening at the ballfield watching Kyle play a game. Kyle was blessed to have a cheering section of Jason, Ashley, Jonas, and Sheila!  David had such fun playing with some sweet classmates, and then he got a game going with Jason and Jonas.  This game was probably more interesting than Kyle's!  Kyle did not pitch and his team won by the slaughter rule. 
I love this picture that Ashley took of the boys playing ball with the stadium lights in the background.
We are ready for a fun and relaxed holiday weekend. We are in cleaning mode around here because next weekend we are having a huge neighborhood yard sale with some friends. Our house is way too full of stuff and it is time to clean out!  We have some fun plans tonight and we have a long "to do" list for our house.  After sitting in the hospital all winter we are actually enjoying working outside.  We even have a small garden with some veggies growing!  Happy Memorial Weekend!

Friday, May 25, 2012

Month Worth of Fun

David's counts have rebounded so beautifully after the last chemo that we have been instructed to live it up before his next inpatient stay on June 4th.  Blessedly the great labs corresponded with the last week of school.  We are so thankful that God orchestrated that!  Yesterday was the last day of school and we packed a month worth of fun into one little day.  These pictures are totally out of order but here goes!
David got to go to school for several hours on the last day in his shirt and tie!  His amazing teachers, Mrs. Hubble and Ms. Alley were so sad that David missed spring pictures, that they took his spot with Rocky Duke!  They presented "his" spring pictures to him yesterday on the last day of school!  We will treasure this forever!
The first grade put on an amazing last day party!  The theme was Rock Star fifties!  Everything was Rock Star themed and here is David leading the conga line in the dancing room!!  This is such a special group of kids.
Ms Alley and David hamming it up in the hallway! 
The day before one of the first grade teachers took a picture of every child and then yesterday they got to make a frame for a keepsake.  I love it so much and Hope and I had fun making David's frame!!  It is already on our refrigerator and it makes me smile:)
Some of the great kids from his class!  We were a little late yesterday, so when David walked in the entire class started chanting "David David" until he would come in!! This group of children is so loving and have encouraged and loved on David all year. 
Sweet Hope had such fun too at the first grade party! 
My pictures are out of order, but the reason we were late to David's party is because we went to Chilhowie High School and Middle School yesterday so they could present him with this ENORMOUS tote full of pop tabs.  Here are Mike and David with two high schol students and two middle school students that were involved in this project.  This picture does not do justice to HOW full this huge tote is with pop tabs.  It was such a pleasure to meet these amazing students and faculty!  Thank you CHS and CMS!!  We have an appointment to deliver all these pop tabs on June 4th to the Charlottesville RMH.  The director of the house is meeting with us to see in person all these tabs we keep telling them about.  They are very excited and they are so amazed that our entire school system and community have been involved in this project!

David had such an amazing time at his party yesterday-he had great energy and kept asking to stay with Mrs. Hubble.  These two have a special bond and we both tried very hard not to tear up after two years together with David.  I thanked her for loving our boy and then we both said "see you soon" instead of goodbye because both of us were teary-eyed. 
David yelled "goodbye everybody" and we left before tears were shed!  David is not the only one that was super attached to these ladies. During picture frame making yesterday, one of David's classmates started bawling.  We just thought that something had happened, but when he was asked he said he was going to miss first grade!!! 
When the kids got out of school yesterday, it was cloudly and a little cool.  Our family tradition is to go to Hungry Mother and swim.  We decided that it was too cloudy and cool to swim, so we opted for pizza and a movie instead.  They loved Misfit Pirate! 
On our way home, we talked to Mike and he was amazed that we have deviated from tradition!  The sun came out and we decided to put on lake clothes and crocs and go wade in the lake!  Well, you can imagine what transpired......
What started as harmless wading in the lake and throwing rocks, became a full out swim!  Poor David is so skinny but he had a BALL in that cold water:)

My kids are such water dogs and loved getting in that lake!

Sweet Hope was not sure about it at first,
But quickly was all in before we left!  It was one of those visits that you ride home bundled in a towel with nothing else on because your clothes got all wet!  Bring on summer-we are soooo ready!

I caught this cute picture of Hope's sweet little foot print in the sand:)

I am so thankful to God for the gift of this past week. This past week has felt like our before cancer life where we are constantly on the go.  Blessedly David's counts are up until June 4th, so we plan to live it up over the next week or so. We are so ready for a holiday weekend to catch up around the house, RELAX, enjoy an evening with friends, and maybe hit the lake again! 

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Field Day and Chemo Update

Today Hope and I visited Kyle's school for field day!  I feel like I have missed so much of Kyle's fourth grade, that I was thrilled that we got to go cheer on his class.  He has had a wonderful fourth grade year!!

Kyle and Mason!
The hula hoop pass game!  They were so smart to stagger themselves by height and they showed such great teamwork!!
These pictures make me belly laugh!  They had a dress relay and here is kyle sprinting in his shower cap, dress, and with his purse:)
Run Kyle run!
Kyle and Andy!  MIS has been such a wonderful school for Kyle this year. He has had a caring and compassionate teacher that has loved on him when our life has been crazy this year.  His teacher would find little love gifts for kyle in her box when we were first at UVA-secret little friends that would show Kyle some love when our life was crazy and unpredictable. 

I have had several questions about the rest of David's treatment and scans.  We are on the home stretch (praise God!) but he still has three big treatments to endure.  His next treatment is scheduled for June 4th when we will be admitted for five days of intense Etopicide and Cyclophosphomide.  He will get a 25% decrease in dosage because he got so sick with his septic bacterial infection episode two weeks ago.  After that big five day treatment he will have two additional treatments of the triple dose that made him so sick last week.  Those will happen on June 25th and July 16th if he makes counts each time to receive those treatments.

After his last treatment on July 16th we will enter into maintenance phase where he will have monthly scans to see if the cancer returns when he is out of active treatment.  You can imagine that that will be agonizing and grueling as we wait and see what happens.  When I get scared and nervous I just keep remembering how far we have come and how faithful our God has been to us. He has proven to be so faithful that He will meet us in those scan rooms in the months and years to come as we watch and see if the cancer has returned.  We will get real cozy with "the donut" (aka CT scan machine) as that will be the way to determine if the cancer returns.  We will also be watched closely to make sure that all the toxicity of the chemo has not negatively affected his heart and kidneys and other organs.

That is all we know as of now.  We thank you for your words of encouragement and love as we got such wonderful news from the scan on Friday.  Of course that is the first of many that he will have, but it is exciting that no cancer has returned while in active treatment.  We will celebrate and praise God for every milestone knowing that at anytime the cancer can return.  We also ask for prayer for our UVA buddy, Alyssa who got the sad news today that her cancer returned on her last day of chemo.  Her family hopped a flight today for Houston for additional scans and advice as they battle osteosarcoma. Please remember them in your prayers as they have a big battle on their hands.