Sunday, October 31, 2010

Fall Fun!

The difference between last October and this October has been amazing for my family. Last October was arguably one of the bleakest months that we have lived through. Ally was getting high dose methotrexate chemo, which required that she stay in the hospital for four days at a time. And she got it four times. On top of that, she suffered horribly from mouth sores and was twice put in the hospital for close to a week on a morphine drip. It was awful. And all of the things that normally make my October happy, such as Ally's birthday, Jerad and I's anniversary, my Dad's fall party, and Halloween...well they were all pretty much ruined.

I will never forget the Friday in the clinic, the day before my Dad's party, Ally started with some bad mouth sores. They admitted her to the inpatient unit and I knew there was no way she would be able to go to my Dad's fall party. That was one of the few times that I just lost it in front of everybody (including Ally) and broke down. It was such a huge disappointment to me. My Dad had bent over backwards and got this rock mining operation to come and set up at his party because Ally had seen it somewhere else and thought it was the greatest thing.

Well, last year, I went to the party...with the other kids and friends, etc...but it was very hard. I couldn't even look at the mining thing. So this year, when she walked up to it, and started "mining"....well I just lost it again. And I know you would think I would just be happy. And I was. Happy for her and we have come so far. I know. But the sadness can come back so strong sometimes. One little reminder, and it can practically knock me to my knees again.

Wow, I just noticed that Jerad must have captured me crying in this shot.....hah, such is life.
Treasures beyond compare...
But the happiness was there too. For her and for me. And I could have just sat and watched her play all day. My Dad is nice enough to invite some of my friends (and the kids friends) and Jerad's family...and this year the party was fantastic. The weather was great. The kids went on hayrides and bobbed for apples and got scared in the haunted house. All things that make fall so much fun, wrapped into one event.
So she cheated a little....
I loved this guy....
With her BFF Madison
With her cousins on the hayride:
With her friends....
And Ally even got the extra special pleasure of bottle feeding a baby kangaroo. Pretty cool.

And instead of carving our pumpkins in the hospital this year, like we did last year when she carved a broccoli pumpkin for "Dr Broccoli" we got to carve our pumpkins together. They are finally old enough to do it themselves!
And Ally chose this pattern all herself. It says "SMILE" if you look closely.
Evan did the bats.

Last year we got out of the hospital on the day before trick-or-treat. And Ally still did it then...but this year was better. She dressed up like a nerd. Her brother was Luigi from his Super Mario Video Game. Carly was a Hello Kitty Vampire Witch. We made that up.

And they always go to their great grandma's house...she lives right down the street from me!

So another holiday is here and gone. Tonight I am so very grateful for where we are but still very aware that some kids did spend the holiday in the hospital. I keep praying that we never go down that road again. And my Dad, well he did get to come home from the hospital, but still has to get things in order with his heart. He wasn't feeling too great today, so I am hoping that the doctors help him out when he goes back in tomorrow to get it checked. I know lots of stuff about cancer, but nothing about this! Thanks for keeping everybody in your prayers.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Beach!

While in California, we had to make a couple of trips to the beach. They are absolutely beautiful out there. We have been to lots of east coast/Florida beaches, but the best part about California is that you get the beauty of the ocean and also the beauty of the mountains...all in the same view. It is really just a breathtaking sight. But, on the flip side, you can't really swim in the water, even in Southern California, because it is so cold. And the waves are pretty high too. I guess this is why everyone surfs. In wetsuits.
We went to the town of Laguna Beach, which I had seen on TV at some point. We drove up to the cliff, overlooking the beach, and it was quite possibly the most beautiful place I have ever been in my life. Really. I could have sat in the same spot for days.

And the kids all found various treasures on the beach. (nothing as cool as a Longboat Key Sand Dollar, however)

We decided to drive up Highway 1 to Seal Beach. This was my only part of the trip that I asked to do. I was thinking of being in Northern California and how I had seen seals right on the beaches. Ally would love that being that she sleeps with her Bobo seal every stinking night of her life. Well lets just say that Janey (me) is no Clark Griswold and the seals no longer come to Seal Beach. ah ha ha ha ha. I did not do the research. Jerad = not so amused.
On the bright side, I have followed a few fabulous photographers from the area (one being Tara Whitney) and I love their work at the ocean...always with a really cool looking pier in the background. And Seal Beach had the most awesome pier ever, so I was really very happy we went there. And at sunset! I spent forever checking out the pier. It was so cool...check out the depth....
LOVE IT Even got the fam shot in, with my pier.
And let Ally practice taking one of Clark and I......
And one of me with my crazy kids.....
Until we collapsed, and it got caught on camera....
And we ran like crazy up and down that beach because it was so gigantic!!
We are still getting our act back together after the trip. Ally didn't feel so great Monday and Tuesday this week. They had increased her chemo, so it could be that (her counts should be dropping). She may have also just picked up a little bug. She seems better now and is all set to go out trick or treating this year. She is dressing up like a nerd! Wow she is getting old to choose to be that.
Dad had his follow up appointment at OSU and all is well with that. He healed up nicely and the tumor was definitely benign. Quite a scare for us. Now today he is scaring me again. He is back in the hospital with some heart irregularities and I need my army to say more prayers that the doctors figure it out and make him better again. He has not been feeling great for a while now, so maybe this will explain some things. Having only one parent now, I get pretty shook up when anything happens to the only one I still have. Please pray that he gets well soon.......

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Some more trip details and pics!

Back to the blog....I have been so slow in writing and going through all 750 of my pictures. I am behind on putting things out here. I still need to write about the awesome Ally's Army game and my Dad's fall party that we had over the weekend, so that is still to come I did not forget!

But first....

One of the very exciting things about our trip for Ally (and her Dad) was that a beautiful white limo picked us up to take us to the airport in Columbus. We also had one waiting for us in Columbus when we got back at 11:30 pm at night. The kids loved it. Here we are right before we departed:
They really wanted to use the champange glasses in the limo, so here is Carly with some Mountain Dew to celebrate. Since it was a "special wish" I obliged on the POP...way too much.

We stayed at a Disney Hotel called Paradise Pier. We were pretty high, 12th floor, and the view out of our room was an awesome one of the California Adventure Park. This is kind of a cross between Epcot and Universal if you are familiar with the parks in Florida. The kids also loved the hotel, especially the fact that they got their own room, which was connected to ours and that the maids left little gold "goofy" coins on their pillow every night. I loved that we could watch the World of Color fountain/light show from our room every night if we wanted to.

For Carly, she was happiest that she finally got to meet the princesses! She had a little autograph book, which she got them all to sign, and then we got pictures to put in it. Here she is with Ariel, one of her faves.
The park was all decked out for Halloween, which was fun to see. I had never been to a Disney park at this time of year.
For Ally's 9th birthday, we went to a character breakfast and Minnie Mouse brought her a little cake.

Jerad and I decided to give her a camera/videocamera for her birthday this year. We gave it to her at breakfast that day, and she took so many of her own pictures. She wants to do a scrapbook of her own for the trip. OH.....she also got some new glasses which she wore a lot! Here she is playing with the camera:

We all took turns wearing Ally's Army shirts every day. That way we have a picture of Ally's Army in all parts of California where we were. Here is Jerad's day. You can also see behind them the first "upside down" rollar coaster that Ally RODE. Crazy girl. She is so brave and no ride was too scary for her. Um...her Dad took her, not me.

On the contrary, Carly was an absolute scaredy cat most of the time. She did not want to ride anything, so we finally quit trying. The best was when she got scared to ride the tiniest little kiddie train ride and I thought Jerad might give her to another family he was so annoyed. I have at least ten pictures of her covering her ears like this:
Or her eyes like this:

At least she is cute.

Here we all are with Mickey:

Evan really enjoyed this Jedi Training show with all the characters from Star Wars. (This was one of the times Carly was covering her eyes.) Evan was really brave and rode all kinds of big kid rides now too. I guess we are all getting older. He loved it all and was a very good traveller. (It takes a long time to get to California, but they were all just awesome the whole way there and the whole way back).
Evan's favorite part of the trip was when we went to Legoland. I am going to post that next time.

Here is my family getting ready to go on the Small World ride, the happiest cruise on Earth and Carly did make it through that.

But she would have rather been off meeting another princess: Here is Tiana from Princess and the Frog. A New One!
Last, but not least, I must share the picture on the Dumbo ride. You have to ride this no matter how old you are.

Even I rode it at age 37.

We really had a fabulous time at all the Disney Parks. Clark was there to guide us the whole time and make sure we were out the door by 7:15 am. (Thanks Jerad) The kids did great as we didn't even have a stroller! I bet Little Miss Ally was probably walking 3 or 4 miles a day. I would have never thought that was possible, but she has really been building her strength back up. (The swim team has been tremendous in helping her to build back up some muscle.)

And so, that is a very scaled down set of our Disney pictures. Thank you Tara and Bunk for watching the entire slide show in our family room the other day. Hah! I do have to include one more, because I thought it told the story for us quite well: