Thursday, November 29, 2012

This one's for me

  This afternoon we learned that Clayton didn't make counts again and he won't be getting his chemo this week.  Because of this, he will attempt to have his treatment on Tuesday, Dec 4th.  If he completes chemo on the 4th, this makes his next chemo due on Christmas Day.. Yep Dec 25th.  Since our clinic isn't open on Christmas, his last chemo would be scheduled for Dec. 26th... So, after he opens all his fun presents, he gets to wake up the day after Christmas and have chemo.  Well.. Hooray.. (Sarcastic comment).  Since his last chemo is the 26th, he will be at his very lowest spot a week after, which is his Disney trip.  We will not risk this with Clayton because he has looked forward to this trip for so long.  Sooo.. we will be postponing his trip for a couple of months.  We are trying to see if the Make a Wish foundation will be able to reschedule the trip for Spring Break.  And... its really ok.  I talked to Clayton about it and his comment was " Oh maybe I'll have hair and it'll be long enough to make me taller for the scary rides measurer".  True.. very true.
    This setback today was followed by a couple of other frustrating events that honestly made me laugh.  It just all came at once.. honestly within about 30 minutes of each other.  Strangely enough, I was ok. I didn't cry, I didn't yell at anyone... I didn't need my punching bag... I really did laugh! Listen,  I am NOT going to say that this experience with Clayton has always given me the " Oh well.. It's okay" feeling.  Honestly,  I will confess to you, that none of this is ok.  It's not ok that my baby has/had cancer.. and I am still mad about that.  It's just NOT.  But lots of things in our lives are NOT ok, but somehow we have to see what IS ok around it.  So,  For my own good, I'm going to map out my day just to prove how much good was in my day vs the bad.  Let's just see what I come up with... I'll note good with :) and bad with :(
-  Morning...
- Woke up.. first thing that went through my head.. and I'm not making this up "Choose you this day who you will serve" I thought... strange, but okay.. I will.
- Stepped on the scale.. picked up a couple lbs.. uh oh :(
- Clayton ate breakfast :)
- Boys were tardy for school :( , but Caroline was on time :)
- Got a surprise phone call from a precious friend in Namibia. :)
- Made it to Zumba (good thing after the scale episode) :)
- Got a GREAT spot in Zumba :)
- Afternoon
- Had a great lunch with a precious friend :)
- My debit Card got declined :( .. I had a back up card that worked :)
- My husband immediately moved money :)
- Watched Clayton PLAYING on the playground at school :)))))
- Saw Clayton answer his teacher calling his name from afar.. Reminder that my baby did NOT lose his hearing as we were first told he may :))))
- Took Clayton for bloodwork where he cried :((((
- Received and Deposited a Pay Check. :) Yeah me
- My husband complimented my appearance :)
- Caroline and I found a $14 headboard to refinish for Kate's bedroom :))
- Received a text that Clayton didn't make counts :(
- Received a voicemail that our tenants at our rent house had to be evicted :(
- Received a call that we CANT close on our new house tomorrow because of a title problem :(
- Came home to see my boys laughing and playing ball in the backyard with neighbors :)
- Clayton had his first basketball practice.. a reminder that he's enjoying things his doctor said he'd not feel like doing :)
- Took Kate to Sonic, which made Cort late for basketball because the worker dropped our order :(
- Watched Caroline do cheer :)
- Went out for pizza.. ran into sweet friends :) .. about the pizza vs the scale .. don't worry.. I ate salad.
- Enjoyed an outing to Target with Caroline where I found a cute dress for $7.48 :) Debit card worked :)
- Had Starbucks :) Skinny Peppermint Mocha :)
- Told the kids about the delays with the Disney trip and the house closing.. they ALL handled it well :)
- Told Clayton that he would not be done with chemo by Christmas: (  (I've committed to be up front with him about everything.. no surprises)
-  He handled it just fine.. as always :)
- Listened to one of my girls complain about her furniture :(.. not a big priority right now, but remember she's a teenager..
- Listened to my boys giggle in their room before bed :)
- Read many posts of how our friends are praying for us :)
- Got a good night kiss from my husband and was reminded that we're together, we're okay.. and cancer did NOT tear us apart :)

Life's not all that bad, friends.  Sure.. disappointments happen every day and somehow we just have to take a deep breath,  look at the HUGE picture of the Good things and face the next day willing and armed with God's promises to make it great.  As Dr. Phil says .. Be excited about life.  There's so much to enjoy if we will just take it in.   I know that there are so many people truly hurting.  There are devastating things happening all around us.  I know that there are hurts deeper than I have ever known, and trust me.. this old heart has ached pretty bad.  But, I am so thankful that even during the deepest hurt I have ever felt, I am still reminded of the promises of my God. A friend reminded me of Isaiah 41:9 " I will strengthen you and help you. I will uphold you with my righteous hand"  So thankful that I am able to lay it down at His feet.. and off of my shoulders. Now, If I can just commit to do that.. Give it to Him.
   Still so so grateful for your prayers.  Love you all.. Words can't express!! Just can't!!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

It is what it is....

  I'm just sitting here in my very quiet house...everyone is sleeping, but me.... , looking at my gorgeous Christmas tree and thinking about how good life really is.  I had a little pity party today when Clayton didn't make his counts to have his big chemo.  He missed it, but not by much.  It is very discouraging, and here is why... for those of you who don't understand this.
    Clayton is scheduled to have two more chemos.  Each chemo is set to be 3 weeks apart, however, one can not have the chemo drugs if his bone marrow has not recovered from his previous chemo.  Bone marrow is a funny thing.  Sometimes it will recover well, but other times it is tired and takes longer to get back on track.  The further one goes through treatment, the harder it is for the body to recover. Typically 7-10 days after the chemo is administered, Clayton is at a dangerous low with his white cell counts, then the counts slowly recover over the next 2 weeks.  Now, with my Clayton it is impossible, most of the time, to tell if his counts are low or not because he is an active little boy.  I will tell you honestly that I do notice that he cant play like his brother, cousin, or neighborhood friends can.  He takes rests and sometimes just says he'd prefer to build legos.  I know this is because he's low and just has spurts of energy.  So, I never know when he won't make counts.  It's a guessing game....Now,  Back to why it's discouraging... Christmas is Dec 25th and Clayton's Make a Wish trip is Jan 2-8.  If Clayton can't make his chemo this week, he'll go next week, making his last chemo the week of Christmas.  As I said, his Make a Wish trip is Jan 2-8 which would be during his hardest, most dangerous time in treatment.  If you've ever been to Disney, then you understand "crowds" is an understatement.  So, at that point we'd have to decide to postpone his chemo or the trip.  Now, I can't imagine much more discouraging than finishing his CELEBRATION Make a Wish trip and returning to Cook for another chemo. So, we are trying again to make counts for this Friday.  He was not too far from the number, so we are hopeful that it will happen.
     Clayton has no idea that not making counts was discouraging.  In fact, he doesn't mind skipping at all and that is because I make it a HUGE priority for my precious 7 year old to not see the negatives in this big picture.  He is a little guy who desperately clings to the positives and has been a  true example to me of courage, peace, trust and patience.. to say the least.  I honestly have learned so much from him through the past 10 months.  Through this whole experience he has faced tough news with a positive spirit, which I know he gets from his Daddy.
    Tonight, instead of being at Cooks hooked up to an iv pole receiving the poison that chemo is, Clayton thoroughly enjoyed helping me decorate our Christmas tree, talking my ear off, playing keep away in the living room with his Daddy, brother and a football and just loving being home with his family.  It definitely put me in my place as I remember earlier today crying, griping out life and throwing punches at my trusty punching bag just because my timeline got messed up.  This is about Clayton... his health... his recovery and his long life.  It's not about anything else.  Praying, and trying to remind myself that the rest will work out in perfect timing.  God is Bigger, He goes before me, and He knows the plan.  I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that God has HUGE plans for Clayton.. and I hope He has some for me too after this is over.  So, I have NO other choice than to rest in that, and let God work His plan.. even when it doesn't match mine. I'd be lying if I said I'm not still annoyed... I am, but it is what it is..
   Psalm 55:22 "Cast your cares on the Lord.  He will sustain you.  He will NEVER let the righteous be shaken."

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Counting our blessings.. and still trudging along

  Tonight we’re on the road, returning from a GREAT few days away with family.  We took our kiddos and went to Baton Rouge to visit my parents and my siblings and their kids.  It was a great trip and a nice break.  We realized that we haven’t been to visit Baton Rouge in a year.  I guess traveling this year has proven too difficult. So, it was a nice trip.  Clayton was able to go with his cousin, Sophie to see Santa, he rode his bike for hours, built legos, and did lots of eating.  It was so fun, and lots of sweet memories were made.
     It was certainly easy to “count our blessings” and be extra thankful this year. We have so much to be grateful for.  So very much!  Part of me wants to think about how awful this year has been , how unfair, how heart breaking and how exhausting.. BUT, just seeing Clayton alive, cancer free, and thriving kinda makes me forget that black cloud that has hovered over us this year.  This road is coming to an end, with a positive outcome, and that, my friends, is the BEST, most awesome blessing we could ever ask for.
   Clayton has two more big chemos left.  He is officially done with his IN TOWN chemos.   Those are the chemos that  consists of one drug and don’t require him to have an overnight stay or have high blood counts.  We are excited to close the door on that treatment.. now we just finish the two big chemos, and our final scans.  After that, he’ll be seen every 4 months for at least 5 years.  His next big chemo is scheduled for THIS Tuesday.  We are praying that Clayton’s bloodwork is good enough for him to have the treatment.  We’ll check his blood early Tuesday morning, then head to Ft. Worth if the numbers are right.  Please pray with us that everything lines up to allow him to have his treatment.  We are tired and ready to cross the finish line.  His final chemo will be three weeks following, hopefully before Christmas and before his MAKE A WISH TRIP scheduled right after New Year.  We will be having a big celebration, which EVERYONE is invited to, after his final chemo.  More news on that to come.  Just prepare to celebrate with us!
    We have some exciting times around the corner with a new house, a Disney trip, Christmas and all that comes along with it.  We are so so so thankful that we have four kids to do it all with us.  We are so very grateful for God’s provision for our family, health for all of us, and healing of Clayton.  Words can not express the gratitude we have toward our friends who have stepped in and helped us out this year.  From the Jones and Evans keeping our kids for nights on end, to friends who cooked dinner so many times,to moms and dads running carpools for us, and most importantly the many many prayer warriors who daily stand in the gap for us.  We are so blessed and honored that you all love us so much.  Please keep praying us through.  I can see the finish line… now… if we can just keep moving toward it!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

I'm pretty sure... we're moving??

  First of all, and most importantly, please pray for double angels over Clayton this week.  His bloodwork came back not so good.. in fact... incredibly stinky and we just ask that you pray that his little body would continue to stay healthy... that no illness gets through, that his bone marrow works remarkably well, and he can go away from this journey STRONG!

Well, I can't believe I'm actually having this converstion, but I'm pretty sure we're moving.  Not to get nervous, we're just moving streets, but we have a house under contract and it looks like we're moving Nov 30th! Yep.. today is November 14.. and I have packed NOTHING. Okay.. I'm breathing again...

  So, we weren't really looking, although we've realized for some time that we're needing more space, but a house one street over that is not listed became available.  We went and looked at it, realized we love it and it's a price we're willing to afford, and we made an offer.  So, now as we speak, our house is for sale.  It's not listed on the market yet because I am still sitting here kind of shocked and overwhelmed at the idea of finishing Clayton's chemo, Christmas shopping, going to Baton Rouge for Thanksgiving, taking a Make a Wish Trip in January AND... packing up a house full of SIX people, redecorating a NEW house and moving.  Okay.. WOW.. is all I can say. 

We are so blessed by the new house.  As a couple, Chad and I have always made a commitment to live below our means.. meaning we never want to be guilty of putting our focus on "things" and earthly possessions to the point that we can't put our kids through school, tithe, bless another family and most importantly, sleep at night... Don't get me wrong. I LOVE TO SHOP.. but I know the budget, kinda :), and stick right to it.. Right, Sweetie? ;) As a realtor, I see all the houses as they become available, so I sort of get first dibs.  As I have looked , I have become more and more convinced that a house for 6 people with room to move in, in my school district, was looking like more than we wanted to commit to. So, when this awesome house came up with a price we're willing to go for, we just felt like we needed to move on it.  So far, it's looking like the deal is going to go through.

With that last statement said... I have found myself unwilling to pack, gather boxes, put a sign in the yard, and tell friends.. I guess because I am hesitant for fear of it falling through.  I realize that God's hand is all in this transaction as we have released it to him fully, but I think I have lost a little bit of my security in this past year in realizing that life's circumstances can change in an instant.  I'm thinking that I will always have this little hesitation in my heart because I realize that there is truly only one "person" who knows what tomorrow holds and releasing it to Him, is not always the easiest thing.  Well, if you think about it.. releasing it is the BEST thing, but oh so hard.

So, please pray for our family as we move forward. We feel soo blessed by the Lord in this time, are overwhelmed with his goodness to our family and just are attempting to rest in the excitement and adventure that will signal a NEW beginning for our family.  AND.. please pray our current house will sell in God's time to the exact right family.  We have a GREAT 4bedroom 3 bath in awesome Woodway with a gorgeous backyard, play center, awesome neighbors (including us as we'll still be in the neighborhood:)  and a great price. 

I'm so thankful and grateful for God's goodness to us as we approach this Thanksgiving week. Thankful that I have FOUR kids to move into this home, thankful for a new respect toward life, and oh so thankful to kiss that little bald head goodnight each night.  God is so good to His people.  Take a minute to really take that in, bless Him for it and keep Thanksgiving just that.. a time to truly THANK our precious Lord.  ..BTW.. below is portion of our soon to be new backyard.. If it's God's plan, of course. Resting in His promise.. The Lord has promised GOOD to me. 

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Getting it right...

So, this week Clayton was able to do Big Chemo... this means TWO MORE.. The light at the end of the tunnel is getting very bright, the people screaming at the end of the finish line are LOUD, the fat lady is grabbing the mic preparing to Sing.. I'm more than ready, as is Clayton.  This round of chemo went so smoothly.  I finally, with the help of the awesome Oncology nurses, figured out what nausea medicines work the best so that Clayton wouldnt wake up throwing up as he has been.  IT WORKED.  Not only did we head on home, but we even stopped at Luby's for a large lunch.  So thankful.
    This week when we started to leave for Cook Children's, Clayton was kind of running from me and hiding from me when I picked him up at school.  I captured him and off we went.  

When we arrived at the hospital, we got off the elevator and walked into the oncology clinic where Clayton decided he needed to go potty. He walked in the restroom, and I turned my back to check us in, and walked back to get Clayton out of the restroom.  I call his name, no answer.  I start looking around the clinic, ask an Oncology nurse, " Have you seen a cute bald kid?"  Her response with a crazy look on her face..."Yes, about 20 today".. anyway.. I alert the staff.  They help me.  An employee decides to might be time to call a "Code Pink" which puts the entire hospital on lock down announcing a missing child.  I'm tearing up, and frantic and suddenly a nurse hollers... He's here... He was quietly sitting in a corner playing a video game and smiling as he ignored us all calling his name and enjoyed the entertainment of "hiding" from us.   OH My gosh... This kid is still as spirited, tricky and sneaky as he ever thought about being.. no matter if he's on chemo or not.  I'm so thankful that this cancer and chemo has not, for a second, robbed him of his spirit.  I guess it makes me wonder if I've allowed it to rob me of my spirit.  I'd like to think that it hasn't but I do know I'm a changed Momma.  Hopefully all for the better.  I remember wondering back in Feb/March if I'd ever find joy again.  I think we have, and I think we are ok..  So thankful for the Lord helping us see joy even in our sorrow.
    I'm the type momma who is always scared that I'm not "Getting it right".. Am I being a good example for my girls, am I teaching my children the Word consistently, am I feeding them healthy foods, am I encouraging my husband, and I making the wrong decision... You get the idea.  Being a mom of a child with cancer, and a mom to his siblings, there are no books that give me all the right answers.  It's kind of uncharted territory in a lot of ways.  I only hope that I can look back on this experience and feel confident that I did my best helping walk my kids through this and honoring the Lord.
     The picture above is of my beautiful girls this week.  They turned 15 and 13.  I'm so proud to be their mom and so proud of the big sisters they are.  They have taken a rough year, and have handled it with grace and confidence.  So thankful for what they bring to my life.  Lots to be thankful for this year for sure!