This boy…..

Daily Photos

Tuesday's are our days. Knowing he's going into Kindergarten in September makes these days even more special. #judahzane #mybaby
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This is a picture from earlier today. I love this little boy something fierce. It’s not that I don’t love the other boys (and girls) but this little one has his own piece of my heart, in much the same way that the others all have their own special pieces.

I had no plans to get pregnant with this one. He was such a surprise and at the time, I was so conflicted. I already had 4 children and had lost 4 others…I wasn’t sure that I really wanted to be pregnant again with all the accompanying anxiety, sickness and fatigue. And yet…..as soon as I knew I was pregnant, those fierce maternal instincts kicked in and I could not fathom not having him.

I was also conflicted because he would be our 5th child and life had not been easy with Jeremy and at that point, all we knew was that he was dealing with ADHD. It was while I was pregnant with Judah that we started to pursue an Autism Diagnosis for Jeremy. And then……just when we were expecting Judah to arrive, we discovered that Gelica was just starting an intense journey with Cancer.

So many dreams and plans that I had in regards to Judah’s birth were dashed. I like to believe that regardless of how your baby is delivered, that as long as the baby is healthy and alive – it’s a success. So by those standards, he arrived and was alive and was healthy and so………..SUCCESS!!!!

Sort of!

That time was such a difficult time filled with sorrow and so much grieving. There was so much stress. And this “ideal” that I had held of a peaceful home birth, followed by opportunity to enjoy my baby and his infancy was demolished. It was replaced with severe anxiety, chaos, fear, uncertainty, mortality, insomnia, medical knowledge that we never wanted to know about, and a family split between two places.

I honestly wondered WHY this baby was born. Why was he born into such unrest? I wondered if he somehow held a key to Angelica’s journey back to life. We actually saved his chord blood in the event that he was a possible match for Angelica and she needed stem cells. I feel so much guilt over that because in essence we robbed him of blood designed for him on the hope that it might be able to help another child…..so tough.

I (and the rest of the medical staff) were surprised when he was found to be an EXACT match for Angelica….BUT…there was not even half as much as she would need, if she needed it. I’m still not sure how that plays into anything and I pray desperately that we never EVER need him to “help” her out, not now or in the future.

I feel like his infancy was a blur. I tried with everything in me – and there wasn’t much – to hold onto him, to enjoy every moment that I could….but it also felt like I was giving him leftovers. It is definitely not what I had planned, hoped or imagined.

And yet, despite all the chaos, he remains a light in my world….in our world. Yes, as the youngest of five, he has this innate ability to find the exact perfect way to DRIVE EACH OF HIS SIBLINGS CRAZY and he uses that gift way too often. At the exact time, his sweet smile and tender heart can break through even the hardest anger that someone might be feeling…and he does that often, too.

It’s not that my others boys don’t have their own special “something” because they so very much do, but often they instigate or create the chaos. But this one….he swims through and above the chaos with the occasional foray into it. He wouldn’t want to be completely left out.

He is well beyond the ages when the older boys started displaying Autism and ADHD symptoms and behaviors. I feel like I’ve been on edge waiting, wondering if and when he was going to flip the switch. But, he retains the ability to focus, to sit, to listen, to reason, to see. He continues to amaze us with “theory of mind” that the other boys still struggle with.

In someways, his “abilities” are starting to exceed or move beyond in certain areas that his older brothers both struggle with. This can be something that is both exhilarating and saddening. It’s a reminder of the areas of deficit that the other boys have. It’s “in your face”, you can’t escape it….not that we can “ignore” the issues the boys have, but when your 4 year old is capable of understanding reason; and in contrast, your 7 year old or 14 year old are screaming the same sentence over and over and over again, in response to something you have asked them to do…..it’s unsettling.

It’s also a shocking reminder that this behaviour that you have been experiencing for the last 14 years is not actually a result of your terrible parenting. The fact that you have expectations of respect from all your children but some of those children are capable of more and some are capable of less…….A lot of that has to do with each individual child and their particular abilities and disabilities.

But this boy…….

He is a light in the darkness.
He is sunshine on a cloudy day.
He is love amidst the anger.
He is so often calm within the chaos.
He is gentle around the rough edges of our life.

He is easy to love.
He is quick to help.
He is quick to comfort.

I am so incredibly thankful that he was given to us.
We needed him….
I needed him……. more than I ever could have imagined.

His name means “praise” or “to praise”…..and its fitting.

This little man is definitely celebrated and praised for his love, his light, for his very being.

And I love his so very, VERY much!

The Countdown is On…

This past Monday we were in at BC Children’s for another monthly chemo appointment. As of today, Angelica has 4 more monthly chemo appointments left until she is finished taking chemo and only 1 of those appointments will have a sedation procedure. This is SO exciting.

There is not that much that is new or interesting about the actual chemo appointment itself! Angelica goes in. They admit her and draw her blood. They give her the chemotherapy and then we see a Dr. and go home. At this point, as long as I don’t think too closely about the poison that they are giving her, it’s all very routine. I know that it’s a necessary evil and I’m so thankful that we are here and can get the medical help, but it’s still tough…..and that’s never changed from the day that she was diagnosed until now….

What’s been different about the last few appointments has been the issues regarding the bones. The news of Avascular Necrosis/Osteonecrosis has been tough. Dealing with how much constant pain Geli was in was so hard. She had a hard time walking, moving, dressing, doing her hair, bathing……Life was pretty tough and every report we were getting was pretty much preparing us that life would pretty much be like this and possible worse…..

Things started to change after our appointment with Dr. Brown the Pediatric Surgeon at BC Children’s. He gave us news that we received as god news….as positive news and in the middle of all the crap…it’s what we needed to hear.

Angelica is doing so much better. It’s not all butterflies and roses, but she is in less pain. She’s tired and her muscles are sore, but she is working SO HARD!

Geli is doing about an hour and half of physio a day…….on her own…..or mostly on her own…

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It’s pretty incredible. She is doing exercises 3 times a day – morning, after school and before bed. It’s making a HUGE difference. Instead of walking around like someone who is 90 years old, she is walking and standing more like a teenager. She is standing straighter and walking straighter. While there is still a bit of a wobble in her step, she looks AMAZING!

It’s exciting to see how far she’s come. Sometimes, it’s hard because she can’t see the change, but to us, looking at her and seeing what she can do now that she couldn’t do a month ago….the changes are astounding. For example, she couldn’t stand up in the kitchen to help with dinner or dishes for 15 minutes without being in pain and so tired. Now, she can do at least an hour. On Monday, she had the sedation procedure with the chemo into her spinal fluid (a Lumbar Puncture) and there has not been one day in the past 2 years that she has done anything other than lay around on an LP day. On Monday, she wanted to walk up to the store a few blocks away from our house to get something that she really wanted for dinner. It blew me away. So SO much different than a month ago……she also has SO MUCH MORE range of motion in her shoulder and elbow and it’s making a difference in the daily living things that she is able to do, like reaching for things up on shelves in the kitchen and doing her own hair.

She still requires help, but all of this change…..it’s only after ONE MONTH of exercise…..The physiotherapist at the hospital said she was doing incredible and our nurse COULD NOT BELIEVE how amazing she looked even all groggy after having the LP. She looked healthy and happy….in fact, more than a few nurses mentioned how great she looked.

It’s so great to see positive change and forward movement in this situation. We have our next appointment with the Orthopedic Surgeon on Tuesday June 14th….I’m looking forward to Geli going in and being in better shape than she was the last time.

One other AMAZING bit of news, is that the Physiotherapist at BC Children’s suggested that Angelica go THERAPEUTIC RIDING…..as in HORSE RIDING. Any of you who know Geli, know that she has been in love with horses for as long as we can remember. I have lost count of the number of horse calenders, horse bedding and other horse paraphernalia that Angelica has collected or wanted to collect over the years. To say that she was a horse fanatic is putting it mildly. Unfortunately, horseback riding has not been something that we’ve been able to do, but it has been something that Geli has wanted to do forever.

To have the Physio suggest that as another form of physio that Geli could go riding…..well, it’s pretty huge. Just talk to Geli about it and see the smile on her face when she talks about it….she has this amazing smile that just lights up her WHOLE ENTIRE FACE. She is SO excited! We’ve contacted the stable that does Therapeutic riding out here in Langley and have sent out referral forms to her Dr.s to get them filled out and as of last night we received them back so now we forward them to the stable and then set up a time and …………she starts riding.

What an amazing opportunity that is so perfectly picked just for her. What a blessing! We can see God’s hand in this.

There are other emotional side effects from this whole journey that we are working through and it can be tough at times, but there are a lot of things that are going so well. We keep praying and believing for miracles for Angelica’s physical body. It is so encouraging to be at a place where she rarely feels pain as opposed to the constant pain that she was in.

Thank you for your prayers, your encouragement, for your love, for your support. We couldn’t have done this or carry on without your support. We are so grateful to all of you.

5 Cycles Left

Angelica has 5 cycles of chemo left until she is FINISHED.

September 30th is the day that she stops taking chemo. It seems SO FAR AWAY and yet…..we only have 5 more cycles of monthly chemo to go until that day comes. It’s pretty exciting to think that when the new school year starts, she will have less than a month of chemo left.

Today we headed in for a monthly chemo appointment. We also needed to meet with the Physiotherapist as well as get an X-ray of her left shoulder. Initially, we were going to be getting an ALL DAY infusion on a drug that would help with the pain that she is feeling in her knees, but we changed our minds on that particualr drug after meeting with the Orthopedic Surgeon last Thursday.

Let me back up…..basically, since the Dr’s Diagnosed bone death back in January we haven’t had a really GOOD appointment since then. We’ve had a number of appointments but all of them have been very emotional or full of bad or depressing news. We have tried to stay strong and positive, but with each appointment seeming worse and worse, it’s been so SO tough.

We had a BIG misunderstanding with the Rheumatologist back in the beginning of April and then another BIG meeting with our Oncologist in the middle of April and while it was better….things were still confusing and sounded so……so……..so dark and depressing and negative. It was suggested that we start one drug to help with the pain and we thought about it and planned to go ahead. The Dr sent us a bunch of articles to read. Some of the info was good and some was not so encouraging. Isn’t that how it going with most meds??? Anyhow, We were supposed to start that drug today. It was possible that it might give her bone and joint pain and well as a fever and flu like symptoms like aches, fever, chills and nausea….sounds fun, eh? And, it would have taken all day for it to run…..awesome!!!! Not!

We met with the Orthopedic Surgeon last Thursday and it was a GREAT meeting. He believes that Geli’s case is a mild case of bone death and that she is still in the healing process. He believes that she will get stronger and stronger and that the pain should lessen. He also mentioned that as she gets stronger, that she should also have more mobility as well. These were also very positive things. He mentioned that it is possible that she may not need joint replacements until she was 40 years old. While that is earlier than an average age for joint replacement, it is WAY BETTER than being in so much pain and discomfort that she would need it in the next two years…..He also suggested against the medicine that we were considering because among other things, it can make the bones brittle and more suceptable to fractures. As well, if there are negative side effects, those can possbly stick around for a long time…..a life time even and well….that would not really be cool. Would it?

Of course, this is all a natural, medical opinion and we are still praying for and hoping for miracles. Just going to the specialist felt good. We walked away from the appointment feeling very hopeful. And that is SUCH A GOOD THING!!!!

We go back to see him in the middle of June.

Masked up

Today we had our regular monthly appointment and other than it being two straight hours of running around, it was a FABULOUS day and a GREAT appointment at the clinic. There was no traffic to start and we made it in with enough time that we weren’t rushing in from the parking lot. We went into the clinic, and Geli had to mask up as she’s had a nasty virus that’s been making it’s rounds through the kids. We were sent to the back of the clinic which is the long term appointments, but we stopped to talk with our nurse because we were not staying for the extra long drug. While they tried to sort out the confusion, they sent us down to Radiology to get the x-ray that the orthopedic surgeon had ordered for Geli’s shoulder. Geli changed into one of those cute little gowns that tie up in the back and we were to be up next when our nurse came and told us that physio was waiting for us. So we left Radiology and headed down to the PT department. They also felt that both her elbow that seems to be locked and her shoulder that is difficult to move are both from muscle tightness as opposed to being unable to move because of problems with the bones. This is a very good thing. Geli was given a few exercises to work on and we have an appointment that co-insides with her next chemo appointment.

I am hoping that with one month of focused effort that she will start to see some amazing and encouraging results in her physical body. We will be doing a lot of physio over this month and so if you think of it, you could pray that she will stay encouraged to keep on going and that she will see some results sooner rather than later.

After we met with the Physiotherapist, we headed back to the oncology clinic to get her blood drawn so that we could get her counts, as well as get her Chemo drug for this month. After that, we headed BACK DOWN to Radiology to finally get her shoulder x-ray-ed. The results from that will go to the Orthopedic Surgeon and then we will see him in the middle of June. When we finished with the x-ray, we headed BACK to Oncology to meet with Geli’s Oncologist.

It was a completely uneventful appointment. All of Geli’s stats look good. Her white counts are elevated a bit, but that could easily be explained by the virus that she is fighting off. She checked Geli out, increased one of her oral chemo drugs by just a tiny bit and sent us on our way.

All of that happened within 2 hours…….it was a FABULOUS day!

We have just recently made a few changes within our family and house and I’m hoping that those changes will have a more positive effect on all of us. I’ll hopefully be back tomorrow with an update about what’s going on with us……

The Ups and Down of Life

I feel so……so……so caught up inside myself.

There is so much going on and I don’t know where or how to unpack it all. I had a phone chat with our social worker from BC Children’s yesterday and kind of fell apart on her.

I’m tired. I want some help for the kids (and myself if I’m being honest) and “the help” (therapy type help) available, is at BC Children’s….an hour away from here. (We have no extended medical to help cover the expenses for other help and so we’d be paying out of pocket for other help, which we may just have to do…..)

There is a sibling support group that is just about to start, but…..it’s on Thursday afternoon’s for an hour and a half FOR THE NEXT 8 WEEKS.

That’s not really very helpful. If we missed traffic (which would be a miracle – we’d be in traffic for at least one way), we would be driving for 2 hours to go to a meeting for 1.5 hours. And I’m not sure what Geli, I, Siah and Judah would do while the older 3 were in the session. Then we’d be leaving at dinner time (and sitting in that lovely traffic I mentioned) all the while hoping that the baby wouldn’t fall asleep in the van so that he wouldn’t be up until midnight. There would be dinner to figure out and homework to work around and well….it’s just more of a problem than a help…..

I am already running below empty and I can’t fathom adding 8 weeks of that stress into our lives….so where does that leave us………?

Not in a great place, that’s for sure.

I know that we need to get beyond “this time” and that things will look different in a year from now and hopefully things will be easier but I am so tired and worn out, I’m not sure what shape I’ll be in, in a year from now. We’ve been looking forward to “this season changing” for what feels like a very long time and it’s all seeming so very surreal and even unattainable at very low times. We have to believe that things are not always going to be this tough. We are not looking forward to the future as a “magical time of amazing-ness” but we are trying to hold onto HOPE with what little strength we have left, but sometimes, even that feels so very difficult to do.

Our social worker asked me what things I could take off my plate so that I wasn’t so overwhelmed and to be honest…..I have no idea. I’m already doing the least amount of housekeeping that I can and still have us be functional. And that right there…..is so tough to deal with. I like a clean, neat and tidy house. I feel like I’m drowning….not even like I’m treading water anymore, but that I’m sinking deeper and deeper under. I have no time or energy to keep on top of all that it takes to keep our family running smoothly and my “coping mechanism” is to “fill another box” with the crap that gets piled up on my counters and then take it down to my bedroom.

It’s definitely not a cool way to deal with things. I think I have 6 boxes downstairs with “crap” that needs to be sorted through. It’s all I can do to stay on top of my laundry and well….besides the fact that I have the worlds smallest laundry room and 7 people’s clothes and towels and linen won’t fit in it…..we just need the clothes to wear. The boys only have about 3 pairs of pants each and depending on how messy they are we could plow through 2 or even all 3 of them in a day. NOT COOL, boys! NOT cool!

Obviously we have to eat and trying to feed a family of 7 economically, while eating a gluten and dairy free diet….well, it’s extremely challenging and sometimes I just wish that we didn’t have to eat.

A significant portion of my time is spent homeschooling Jeremy and breaking up fights and squabbles between the two little boys. A few people have asked me if that’s something that I should off load and just send him back to school. Maybe even a different or new one……to me, this is not even an option. For the first time in his life, Jeremy is EXCELLING in school. He hasn’t gotten a mark that’s been less than an “A” for 2 months now. He feels smarter. He’s ACTUALLY retaining the information that he’s processing. If he doesn’t LOVE school, he at the very least enjoys it, now. As much prep work as it is for me…..and let me tell you, teaching ONE CHILD has a significant amount of prep work and time spent overseeing what he is doing…(I can’t fathom teaching 30+ kids with more than one of them with Learning Differences or other social issues)…..this is something that I believe is CRITICAL right now. I firmly believe with all my heart that Jeremy is learning valuable LIFE SKILLS that will impact him for the rest of his life. To cut this time short, would be devastating, in my opinion. Even moving him to a new school…..he doesn’t “YET” have the skills needed to make a change, and I believe that he would end up in the same position that he was in….behind, feeling stupid and bullied……

So basically, I get up in the morning…….. I sort of teach school. I try to care for my little boys. I attempt to feed and clothe the family. I clean, and it is an extremely loose interpretation of the word, the house and then it’s bedtime…..

For “ME” time….I “try” to work out 3 times a week and while that’s a good thing…I feel like it’s an hour and a half of hellish torture that I enjoy once it’s finished.

Regardless……something has to change, I’m at a breaking point….I’ve been thinking about getting someone in to help out for a few hours a week….maybe twice a week….to help with the little boys and maybe some housework….I dunno….I’m not sure where to find someone, or how exactly to go about it all, but I have been thinking about it….so….that’s a start, right?

Jon and I are missing each other….it’s been so long since we’ve had any time to just “be” together and that’s tough. Even our evenings are crazy. The boys have been particularly needy over the past couple of weeks and haven’t been settling until after 9pm even though we’re starting the bedtime routine at 7:30pm….I dunno if they’ve been feeding off the extra stress……or what the issue is? Whatever it is….it’s not cool!

We did, however, get the chance to get away as a family. Last weekend, we were able to go to a cabin down at Birch Bay for two nights and it was a wonderful time away. It wasn’t so much of a rest….as it was a change. A chance to get away from the house and feeling a need to clean and tidy. The kids played. Nothing “could” or “had” to be done….probably the biggest downfall was that we wanted to pick up a few clothes while we were down there, but again…..shopping (or pretty much doing anything) with 5 kids is…..um…..interesting…..and we didn’t get done what we had hoped and that left some of the family feeling like they were disappointed. We should have just gone down and not hoped to pick up a few things….that would have at least not set us up to fail…..

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that’s Jeremy in the bottom left of the picture

I have a TON of pics from our time away and I’ll share some of them in the next post. It really was a beautiful place and right on the beach…….like RIGHT ON the beach. The smell of the air, the sound of the waves, the seagulls crying…….it was amazing. Truly, truly amazing. I love the beach. It really is a “Happy” place for me. We are SO THANKFUL to the family that made it possible for us to get away. It was INCREDIBLE! SO, SO INCREDIBLE!

Thanksgiving

So, we are almost at the American Thanksgiving and so I figure that I’m still good to share our family’s Thanksgiving day Celebration.

We arrived home from Angelica’s Wish Trip on Saturday October the 8th. Before we left on the trip, we were throwing around the idea of having my family come over to celebrate Thanksgiving on Monday October the 10th and just a few days before we left, I told my sisters that it wasn’t going to happen.

I had a feeling that we’d be a bit wasted from our trip AND I figured that the “clean up” from the trip would take more than a day. We agreed to celebrate Thanksgiving a week or so later.

I AM SO THANKFUL that I put that off by a week. There is NO WAY that we could have been ready.

Well, I suppose that I could have stayed awake for the next two days and gotten everything done, but I am so Thankful that I didn’t have to. I would have been such a basket case with that extra pressure and stress and UNNECESSARY STRESS is something that I’m trying very hard to avoid in my life right now.

This means that I’m saying no a lot more than usual as I try to balance our lives. I’m thinking twice or three times before I say yes, and trying to live within my abilities and not overstretch myself.

Anyway, I was trying to share our Thanksgiving pictures.

It was such a great day, even if my Mom and Dad couldn’t be there. My Momma was in Romania on a missions trip and my Dad was out in the bush hunting. And so it was the first time “holiday” where it was just us kids and our families.

Even without my parents, it was still such a fun day.

Sisters

Everybody brought food for the feast and it was all so delicious. I was so busy trying to organize and arrange things that I totally forgot about taking a picture of all of us at the table….oh well!

Cleaning

Everyone pitched into help clean up after dinner and then we relaxed a bit…

Chillin'

Denver looks so thrilled to have his picture taken, no?

There were cuddles with our special Aunty Brynn…she is just so beautiful, isn’t she?

Snuggling

My Love…..

My Love

Here Judah thinks he can use two iPhones at once….maybe he wanted to talk to both Nana and Pappa?

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The littlest member of our family is getting bigger and he’s just so STINKIN’ CUTE!

Smiles

Here the boys are just having a friendly competition on Baby Piano! It was AWESOME!

Working the Technology

Okay, so that’s probably not what they were doing, but it sounds good, no?

It’s so much fun to have cousins that are your age…it’s like ready made best friends!

Cousins Again

It was such a fun day and I can’t wait until we can get together and do it again. I’m so thankful for my family. They are a pretty awesome bunch!

If you’re interested in seeing all the photos from Thanksgiving, click here!

A New Day

Jon started his new job today. He left the house at 7:30 this morning because he has no idea how long it’s going to take him to get there in rush hour traffic and he has to be there at 9am.

This is a HUGE change for us and while a part of me thinks that I’m a lot more ready for something like this to happen in our family (as opposed to a year or even 6 months ago), there another part of me that has no idea how this is going to work.

Obviously we will do what we have to do in order to make it through, but this is the first time in a very long time (approximately 8 years) that Jon will be rocking the “daily grind”,3 outside of the house, on a Monday to Friday, 9-5 kinda deal with an hour of commuting on either side of the day.

This past year has really taken a toll of me and while I used to believe that I could do anything and everything….I now feel like I have no choice in the matter and somehow I just have to survive. I often hope that in the very act of “surviving” that I will be able to heal enough to the point where I feel strong again. At the same time, I wonder if that’s even a possibility. You know how if you break your leg and get it set properly, put a cast on it, rest and let it heal; it will heal better and faster (and almost as good as before) than if you just carry on limping and walking on your broken leg, doing what you’ve got to do. Sure it might heal eventually, but it may heal crookedly or you may not get full strength and/or mobility out of it, but the intensity of the pain might not be as severe as it was as first….

I kinda feel like that second scenario is playing out in my life. I feel a bit broken and tired and like there is no option to re-set, rest and heal and I’m just hoping and praying it will all be okay eventually. I DO feel stronger than before, but I’m so acutely aware of my fragility, compared to the strength that I feel I used to have and that’s……well, that’s tough!

I’m sure that the kids and I will fall into a routine of sorts, and I know that families do this all the time, but right now it feels a bit daunting.

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I’m so THANKFUL that Jon was able to get work. In faith, I’m confident that it will work out and that we will be okay. According to feelings, I’m not so sure.

Day 6 – Day At Sea

By Thursday we were ready for a slower day…..we only had two full days of our holiday left. This was a 7 day Eastern Caribbean Cruise that we were on.

I woke up before the girls & Judah did; and headed out to my balcony to sit in the quiet for a few moments.

We had been given two rooms on the ship that were side by side….for whatever reason, we had believed that we would have adjoining rooms and it was a bit of a surprise to find that we didn’t, but we adjusted fairly quickly.

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It did mean that we had to split up and so Jon took the two boys into one room with him; and the girls & Judah and myself were in the other. It did require some juggling when putting the littlest boys to bed and….well, it wasn’t ideal but we did work it out. I think that if we’d been prepared for to have two separate rooms that it wouldn’t have been such a surprise, but we decided that it didn’t matter if we had to be in two different rooms, because we were just so blessed to be able to even be on this vacation and we were determined to enjoy every single minute of it and to not waste time over silly things like sleeping arrangements.

Judah woke up and I quickly got him so that he wouldn’t wake the girls and we hung out on the balcony for a while. It was AMAZING to have the balcony. I LOVED sitting out there early in the morning or relaxing with Jon out there after we put the two little boys to bed. It was such a treat to have.

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(I only have iPhone photos from this day. So while the quality is not perfect; it’s good enough for memories.)

Finally Jon woke up and went and got me a coffee…..YUM! I stopped drinking coffee back in March, but I had coffee while I was on holiday’s and it was a nice treat….sucked when I had to quit again once I got home…but a nice treat nonetheless…

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Once all the kids woke up, Jon took a few of them up to the buffet and picked up some breakfast for us all and we ate back in our room and out on the balcony. It was so nice to not be in a hurry rushing off to anywhere.

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It was looking like it was going to be an AMAZING day on the ship and we had a few special treats planned.

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Jon had booked a spa special for both Geli and I to have together. We got to choose 5 spa services and get pamperd for an hour and a half. We both chose to have a neck and shoulder massage, a scalp massage, a facial, a hand massage and a foot massage. We walked away from our time at the spa feeling very relaxed and very special.

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We had signed up for a babysitting slot in the Flounder’s Nursery and were told on Wednesday night that a spot had opened up between 1-4pm on Thursday for Judah and so we took it. We grabbed a quick bite to eat for lunch and then placed ALL the kids into their respective “clubs” and Jon and I had some actual “down time” just for us.

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It felt so amazing and yet really weird at the same time. I was quite worried about Judah because he had started screaming as soon as we left him in the nursery and he alternated between screaming and falling asleep in one of the workers arms, but he wouldn’t let them put him down or he’d wake up and start screaming again. Needless to say, he didn’t enjoy his time in the nursery, but Jon and I really did enjoy our time off.

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The rest of the cruise we not really a vacation for Jon and I. Taking a trip with 5 kids is not a “holiday” but it is definitely a vacation from the daily grind. But we were just so thankful and grateful for the opportunity and what a wonderful and amazing opportunity it was. I’m not complaining, it’s just the reality with a big family….it’s like we work hard to make it an amazing memory for the kids. And it truly is a MOST AMAZING MEMORY!

I don’t remember too much about that evening, but I’m sure that we headed back to our rooms fairly early because we were going to spend the whole day at Castaway Cay the next day and we were really REALLY looking forward to it.

To see the whole set of photos from this day, click here…

Happy Anniversary… sort of…

On June 16th, 2010, we received a call from our family Doctor that started the most difficult year our family has ever had to deal with. We spent that night in the Emergency Room at BC Children’s Hospital getting asked a million question and getting poked and prodded and at about 1:00am on June 17th an Oncology Resident came into our room and stated that initial blood screen results indicated that Angelica was fighting Leukemia. We were admitted to the hospital, tried to get a few hours of sleep and…

On June 17th, 2010, after a bone marrow biopsy, the diagnosis was confirmed as Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia – B Cell (with a few other specific gene type annotations). This became Day 0 and a whirlwind of activity began that changed the course of our lives.



June 17, 2010
June 17, 2010

Tomorrow is June 17th, 2011. One year since all this began and Angelica is still in active treatment. Her counts are very low, so we have an appointment tomorrow to get some blood transfusions. It will take all day in at BC Children’s, and we would like to celebrate.

We are not looking to celebrate a year of leukemia treatment… that is just morbid. We do want to celebrate a year of life, a year of triumph and a year of community coming together. As her counts are so low, and she is not really allowed to be around groups of people, we can’t go and throw a big BBQ in the back yard, but we can celebrate in other ways. I would like to ask you to send in a comment at the bottom of this post or e-mail (to: patti@xangelle.com) and share “something” with Angelica. You may have a moment in this journey that really sticks out to you. You may have a way that this journey has impacted your life. You may just be able to say, “I am still standing with you”. But please take a moment to share something. I would like to be able to share your encouraging thoughts and comments with her all during the day tomorrow at the hospital.

Also, please have a look at the shirts that Angelica is selling (button on the right) and buy one or pass the link along to friends and family. And if you are not interested in using the paypal shopping cart, or wish to pay in cash, please just contact us and we will set it up. We will be placing our first order with the shirt printer on Monday.

Jon

Which is your favorite?

On Tuesday, I briefly mentioned that we had Family Photos done a few weeks ago and that you could go and see a few of them if you went over to the Red Handed Photography Blog.

Tania had posted a bunch of pictures of the kids. On Wednesday, she posted a few of Jon and I together. And today she posted a bunch of our entire family.

I am SO thrilled with these photos. I love to be able to capture my family in pictures. I love to be able to catch moments or scenes from the different points in our lives. Some of those times are amazing and some are a bit tougher, but all those pictures go together to tell a story! Our Story!

As many pictures as I am able to take of the kids, or even of Jon….I am never able to get pictures of Jon and I together and none of our entire family. For Cara to volunteer her winning photo package to us as a family and for Tania to take the photos……I am so SO blessed.

This is such a gift. SUCH A HUGE GIFT to us. I am so thrilled to have photo’s from this time in our lives.

To see pictures of the kids, of Jon and I, and of our family all together, please go and visit Tania’s website.

Red Handed Photography

And if you are thinking about getting pictures taken, I would strongly encourage you to contact Tania. She is fantastic. The shoot was so easy and comfortable. Her ability to deal with all 7 of us and to not get stressed or upset, was amazing. She made this entire process so fabulous!

I’d love it if you would check them out and let me know which one(s) are your favorite?

I love this goofy shot of the kids……

Strawberry Shakes and Pictures

Angelica’s counts came back too low and she’s scored herself some blood. So, her and Jon are in for a LONG and boring day at the hospital today.

I have more to update on how Geli is doing and what’s up in our world, but time is tight right now…so, I’ll just send you over to RED HANDED PHOTOGRAPHY to see the Family Photo‘s that Tania took of us a few weeks ago.

They are AMAZING!

Tania, BABE!!!!! THANK YOU SO MUCH!

We are so blessed to have such amazing people in our lives.