Saturday, March 28, 2009

Spring Break Fun!

We had a wonderful Spring Break! I am really sad it had to come to an end. The weather was perfect and we took advantage of a lot of outdoor activities.

On Monday, we got to help Simeon celebrate his 5th birthday with a fun race car party at his house. Birthday parties never get old! I think I will really miss those when the girls get old enough to go by themselves.

On Tuesday, Aaron, Janet, Mylen, and Aivlyn came up to our house. We all had lunch together and then Aaron took Wes to his chemo treatment. The rest of the afternoon was spent outside in our backyard riding in the Barbie car, riding bikes, playing on the playground set, drawing with chalk, blowing bubbles, and roller skating. The cousins always have such a fun time together, and it was great to visit with Janet.

Mylen taking Avery for a crazy ride. Aunt Katy, do you notice your name on the ground? Avery learned how to spell Katy and wrote it all over the ground and plaground set. Ha!

Does Aivlyn know what she has gotten herself into???

On Wednesday, the girls and I headed to Waterloo Lake for a picnic. We ate our lunch, fed the ducks, played on the playground, and went for a walk around part of the lake. We couldn't have asked for a better day. These pictures were taken on my cell phone. I was surprised how well they turned out.

Abby posing on the rock bench overlooking the lake.

Take a picture of me, mom!

Best friends! (OK, maybe not all the time.)

On Thursday, several of my friends from church and I took our kiddos to Sharkarosa Wildlife Ranch. It is only about 35 minutes away. We had a blast there! There were all sorts of wild animals to pet and see.

Preslee, Kylee, Abby, and Avery petting the baby kangaroo.

Adrienne, Abby, Preslee, Avery, and Paislee going for a ride on the Safari Tram.

Paislee and Avery on tram with the camels behind them. All of the 15 or so camels were pregnant!

Petting the horses from the tram.

Avery's favorite camel.

Do any of you remember R.O.U.S.'s? Rodents of Unusaul Size from The Princess Bride.

Zebras and some sort of deer.

Getting ready to go for a ride on the Barrel Train. During the ride they played, "I Like to Move It, Move It!" The girls love that song!

Finishing up the ride on the Barrel Train. Avery and Abby are in the front barrel.

Abby was pretty cute while she was giving "high fives" to the lemur.

Abby is following the 10 day old donkey. She was so soft to pet.

They also had several large dogs to play with and pet.

The kiddos enjoying their lunches.

The adult table. Love ya ladies!

The whole gang! I love how Simeon held his baby sis. Too sweet!

Making funny faces!

We sure had a great time, didn't we girls?

On Friday, we joined our friends, Royce, Carrie, and Sybil at a large park in Sherman. The girls all brought their bikes and we walked alongside them. They have great sidewalk trails that are perfect for bike rides. We also enjoyed a picnic lunch and played on the playground.

On Saturday, Wes had a Daddy Daughter Date with girls. They decided to go swimming at the indoor pool in town. It was nice to see that they hadn't lost their braveness in the pool that they had acquired last summer.

On Sunday, Dad and Gina had their wedding shower at church. There was a good turn out and they got a lot of neat things. Showers are such a great tradition! Gina kept everyone entertained with her funny stories and remarks. She is a hoot! They get married on May 2nd. Yay!

This past week was Wes' last full week of chemo. Can we say, "Hallelujah"? We got great news about his CT scans this past week. His lymph node in his chest that was enlarged didn't show up, which likely means the chemo has done its job. His cancer blood markers are still back to normal, too. PRAISE GOD! This is such an answer to many prayers. This week has been a little harder than the others (which makes sense). Everyday got progressively harder. In the middle of the night, last night, he threw up a lot and didn't sleep well at all. Tonight he plans on popping some Tylenol PM to ensure a better night.

Two nights ago the Texoma area got hit with a bad storm. There was a thunderstorm warning as well as a tornado warning. A tornado hit a block away from us in December, so Wes and I did not want to take any chances. It was about 9:25 when we got a call from the city telling us to take cover. We woke up the girls and put them in their bath located in the middle of our house. Avery was totally out of it. Abby was in an adventurous mood. After she got all situated, she asked, "Now what are we going to do?" After we explained about the storm and why we needed to take cover, Avery asked, "Does this mean I won't have school tomorrow?" We told them we wanted to say a prayer, and Abby quickly volunteered to say it. (She is usually the one to volunteer at meal times, nap times, and before bed.) So, she said a sweet prayer that God would protect us and also thanked him for her friends. Not too long after we were all gathered in the bathroom, our neighbor from across the street, Betty, called. She has only been here since last summer. She wanted to invite us over to get in her storm cellar. We immediately grabbed the girls and ran across the street. We watched the weather on TV some more and then quickly went into her cellar. It was really a neat set up. Her cellar was under her garage, so we didn't have to go outside or anything. We really got to know sweet Betty and heard the loud storm pass over us. The hail was incredibly loud. We were thankful to God that we were all safe and had no real damage after it was all over. We will most likely still have our roof looked at, just in case. There were reports of softball size hail in the Texoma area.

Last night, the girls and I joined Carrie and Sybil for a "girls night out". We ate at Cici's (thanks to some gift certificates the girls got from their schools) and then headed to the Theater at Austin College to watch a children's performer, Eddie Coker. He was very interactive and entertaining. The girls all had a ball dancing, singing, and hitting beach balls that were hit all through out the audience. At one point Eddie even came down our row and danced with us. He even handed Avery the microphone to hold so he could really boogie with Sybil. I wish I had had my camera. I did take a few pictures on my cell phone.

Eddie, spinning the ball on his finger.

Abby, Sybil, and Avery ready for the show to start.

Before I finish this entry, I wanted to share a neat devotional book we have been using with the girls each night. It is called God and Me! 2 - Devotions for Girls and it is written by Diane Cory. It has a short story and then a few questions followed by a prayer. The girls have really enjoyed it. They make them for different ages. We are using the one for ages 6-9 and it really isn't over Abby's head. Thanks Adrienne for giving this to the girls for their birthday! We love it!

My Mommy...

(as answered by my 6 year old, Avery, and 4 year old, Abby)

1. What is something mom always says to you?
Abby - Go pick up your toys.
Avery - Go pick a Bible story for us to read.

2. What makes mom happy?
Abby - When we are being good.
Avery - When it is a good day to play outside.

3. What makes mom sad?
Abby - When we disobey.
Avery - When we disobey or lie.

4. How does your mom make you laugh?
Abby - When she laughs.
Avery - She tickles us and she holds us upside down.

5. What was your mom like as a child?
Abby - Her clothes were cute.
Avery - She had bangs. She had a brother and sister. Her nose was smaller.

6. How old is your mom?
Abby - Ummm- 11.
Avery - 22 - I mean 32 (I wish she would have stuck with the first number.)

7. How tall is your mom?
Abby - 30 inches
Avery - 20 inches - no 30 inches

8. What is her favorite thing to do?
Abby - Go to Heaven
Avery - Take us to the movies, or to go swimming.

9. What does your mom do when you're not around?
Abby - She goes to the store.
Avery - She cooks and bathes. (not at the same time)

10. If your mom becomes famous, what will it be for?
Abby - Looking for food to buy at the store.
Avery - What does famous mean? (after a short explanation) - scrapbooking and cooking

11. What is your mom really good at?
Abby - Dancing!
Avery - Scrapbooking and tickling us.

12. What is your mom not very good at?
Abby - Going to Chinatown. (She was being goofy. I was losing her attention at this point.)
Avery - Giving us piggy back rides, football, and golf.

13. What does your mom do for a job?
Abby - Teacher at Nautilus (not true - just work out there)
Avery - Teacher at Western Heights Preschool

14.What is your mom's favorite food?
Abby - Lasagna
Avery - Lasagna

15.What makes you proud of your mom?
Abby - Going to Heaven
Avery - When she makes books about us for us to read. When she scrapbooks.

16. If your mom were a cartoon character, who would she be?
Abby - Tinkerbell
Avery - The Today Show Girl, Hannah Montana

17. What do you and your mom do together?
Abby - Play Hullaabaloo, go swimming, and play with Avery's cash register.
Avery - Read Bible stories, go swimming, go to the park, go to the movies, go to church, go on walks.

18. How are you and your mom the same?
Abby - We both have brown hair, and we have eyes.
Avery - We both have blood vessels and ears.

19. How are you and your mom different?
Abby - She has green eyes and I have brown eyes.
Avery - She has brown hair and I have blond hair. She has a toe ring, and I don't.

20. How do you know your mom loves you?
Abby - She hugs and kisses me.
Avery - She tells us. She snuggles with us. She hugs and kisses us.

21. What does your mom like most about your dad?
Abby - His bobbed (bald) head.
Avery - He kisses her. He is her sweetheart.

22. Where is your mom's favorite place to go?
Abby - Jumpin' Land
Avery - Church, Nautilus

I love you with all my heart!!!!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Update on Wes, Birthday Party, and Miss Smarty Pants

Wow! What a month! I have to admit that part of the reason I have not posted in a while is because Wes set up a Facebook account for me, and I got a little hooked. He had been telling me for a while to set one up. He said people kept asking why I didn't have one. Being the sweetheart that he is, he just set it up one day for me. The first profile picture he chose was of us smooching. Ha!

Wes is doing well right now, thankfully, but there have been some rough patches. We had been told there would be, but I guess I was just hoping Wes would be wonder boy or something. It still seems unreal that we are going through all this. He has been such a trooper through it all. God has been good and we are so thankful for the blessings of friends and family.

The first couple of weeks, his main side affect was fatigue. He needed lots of sleep which I was perfectly fine with. I would rather him be sleeping then uncomfortable or throwing up. Another side affect he experienced early on was just an uncomfortable feeling in his stomach.

During his third week we were disappointed to find out that he could not get his chemo treatment because his white blood cell count was too low. We were surprised since he had been feeling pretty well. We kept him away from crowds and from anyone who might be sick. People with this sort of treatment can catch something minor and end up in the hospital for a couple of days. Pretty scary stuff, but like I said, God is good! He didn't end up catching anything during that time. He had to get three neupogen shots over the course of three days to boost his white blood cell count. He had been told that theses shots could cause severe pain in his bones. The first couple of days he didn't feel anything and then on the third night excruciating back and hip pain hit him in the middle of the night. I felt so sorry for him. He was just moaning and groaning in the fetal position with no relief. It took several hours for the pain medicine to finally kick in. I tell you, it is so hard to see someone who has always been so strong look so weak, helpless and in such pain. I pray that he doesn't have to get those shots again!

During the third week we noticed his hair was falling out, so he shaved his head himself. (Blake, his brother, shaved his head as well.) It really looks pretty good, if I do say so myself. I know I am biased. Several people have commented on how great he looks. Some ladies at church have even kissed his bald head. I am wondering if I should be worried. He still has his eyebrows and eyelashes. The girls like to touch his head and Abby went around singing, "Daddy has a bald head. Daddy has a bald head." There are some pros about him having a bald head. He spends less time getting ready in the morning, and I have found that I don't have to clean our bathroom as much.

The 4th week (his second full week of treatment) brought good news and some stronger side affects. His blood work revealed that his cancer markers had gone down to normal which means that the chemo is working and prayers are being answered. He has a CT scan on Tuesday which will check the enlarged lymph node in his chest. Hopefully that has shrunk as well. He was hit with more fatigue than the first time. He also threw up some which was not fun!

The 5th week brought some more side affects. He experienced some chest pains which gave us a good scare. His tongue swells from time to time now and his mouth creates a lot of saliva. This can be both humorous and frustrating. His speech can be extremely slurred at times and if you didn't know him better, you would think he was drunk. Benadryl was recommended for that, but then you have to deal with the side affects of being knocked out by the Benadryl. It is like he can't win. On Wednesday he was in the middle of teaching the youth group when his tongue started swelling again. We all felt so bad for him. He didn't want to stop teaching (which was my advice) because he had prepared some "good stuff" he wanted the teens to hear. Well, I started to get emotional and so did some of the others. It is just hard to see him like this. I know he is not dying, it is just hard to see him suffer. Four more weeks - he can do it - I know! He has lost 10 pounds or more. I really am trying to put some weight on him every chance I get.

The girls have had some cute things to say during this whole process. One day while Abby was on Wes' lap she said, "Daddy, why don't we just cut some of my hair and put it on your head?"

At a friend's birthday party one of Avery's friends noticed bandaging from the IV on his arm. She asked, "What is that for?" Avery responded, ever so nonchalantly, "Oh, that's my dad. He has chemo." (She keeps getting cancer and chemo mixed up.)

What a hottie! The gotee didn't last long.

On Saturday, February 21, we had a cooking birthday party for the girls. We usually have a party for both of them since their birthdays are fairly close and they have so many of the same friends. The kids got to decorate their own aprons, cups, create fruit, cheese, and ham kabobs and decorate cupcakes. We also played some cooking games. We had a wonderful time with family and friends and made some great memories.

Decorating the aprons as people start to show up.

Abby eating her fruit, ham and cheese kabob.

Abby, about to blow out her candles on her cupcake creation.

Look at that sweet face!

Avery, about ready to blow out the candles on her cupcake creation.

Dad and Carson competing against each other during the marshmallow game.

My Aunt Cathy and my cousin, Scott, came to visit for a couple of nights during the next week. She had flown to Abilene from Alabama to be with Scott for his birthday. We had a lot of fun catching up and playing with the girls. It is always fun reminiscing about all the fun times we had together growing up. Mom was so lucky to have such a sweet and fun sister who liked to play around with her nieces and nephew. It was always neat to see Cathy and Mom together growing up. They would tell some great stories and we always enjoyed playing Progressive Rummy, our favorite family card game. Maybe, we can all play that again in Heaven.

Abby and Scott "cooking".

Cathy doing what she loves - videoing! Abby is doing her puppet show behind the chair.

Abby, in her element - ACTING!

The next weekend was Park Avenue's annual ladies retreat. Wes was still feeling pretty good at this point. He and the girls went to visit his family for the weekend. 78 ladies went this year to Sky Ranch and we had an awesome time. Several ladies shared their testimonies (making us all cry, then laugh, cry, then laugh some more). My spirit was refreshed and renewed. Relationships were strengthened and new friendships began. I am so thankful for such neat group of ladies that I can call friends and sisters in Christ. One afternoon we had the opportunity to do some daring activities, such as the zip line, bungee swing, a gigantic trampoline pillow and some other climbing activities. It is so fun to see 60 and 70 year old women do some of these things. I hope I am that fun when I am there age. Sky Ranch is an amazing place. I would highly recommend checking it out.

The whole gang. I am on the front row on the left.

Amy (Russell) Johnson. She was in our youth group when we first moved here. Now she is married. Time flies. Love ya, Amy!

Great friends, Carrie and Wynn. We are getting ready to do the zip line.

Wynn at the top of "THE POLE". You amaze me, Wynn!
(The object was to climb an extremely tall pole then jump to a trapeze.)

Karla and her mom waiting their turn to try the zip line.

Karla, climbing "THE POLE". She was awesome!

Karla and I doing the zip line for a second time. Karla was in our youth group too and is now married to a youth minister. Love ya so much, Karla!

Me on the bungee swing. That was a rush!

We found out some great news about Avery this past week. Her teacher gave her the STAR test this past week which determines what level they are reading on. Her teacher emailed me with excitement to let me know that Avery is reading on a 1.7-2.7 reading level. For all of you who are not elementary teachers, this means she is reading between a first grader in their 7th month of school and a second grader in their 7th month of school. She is such a smart girl. And yes, I love it! We are so proud of her! She now has her butterfly and ladybug on the wall in the cafeteria which means she has over 60 AR points. The students get points from reading books and doing well on the computer tests over the books. She was the first kindergartner to get her ladybug on the wall and there were some 1st, 2nd, and 3rd grade classes who didn't have a single student with a ladybug yet. OK, I will stop bragging. I am just proud! I prayed (and still do) that she would enjoy learning and I am so thankful that she does.

I have to brag on Abby too. She loves being read too and can read several three and four letter words by sounding them out. She wants to be like "big sister". It is too cute! She also can write some of the letters. Her coloring has been great lately. She stays in the lines so well and she has begun drawing her own pictures more and more. (We can actually tell what things are now, it isn't just scribbling.)

This week is our Spring Break. Yippee! We are supposed to have some good weather. I plan on spending a lot of time outdoors with the girls. We hope to enjoy some long bike rides, picnics and maybe even a trip to Sharkarosa Wildlife Ranch.

Keep those prayers coming!