Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Special Friends

Our Christmas vacation in Portland has continued to be wonderful.  We have had some special times the last couple days.  I'll start with yesterday.  We went to visit the Radford family across the river in Washington!  Kasey has the same tumor as Kelly, and his mom, Amy, and I have talked to each other a lot online and we finally got to meet them yesterday.  Here are Kelly and Kasey.  They had fun playing Wii together with Kasey's brother, Colby, and Kelly's cousin, Jake, that came with us.  Kasey's birthday is Thursday.  If anyone wants to wish him Happy Birthday, his website is www.caringbridge.org/visit/kaseyradford

Kasey and his mom,  Amy.  It was so nice to be able to finally be able to talk to Amy in person!  Kasey taught us his dice game.  He was so cute and really was fun to talk to yesterday. He showed us his special scrapbook too.

Kasey, Amy, Colby, Tracy, me, Jake and Kelly

On Sunday night, our we were happy to see our friends, the Diemers, again.  The Diemers lived in California until last August and have moved back home to Portland.  We met them at CHOC, and if you have been following this website, you may remember Chloe, another oncology patient. They did Relay for Life with us last April.  We miss them, so it was great to see them again! They invited us to a Christmas concert at their church, then we went out after the concert for dessert and coffee at Papa Haydns in downtown Portland.  It was a wonderful night with good music, delicious desserts and great friends and family. 

The Diemer's church put on an amazing concert with an orchestra and choir.

Here are all the kids at Papa Haydns.  In the front are Chloe, Shannon, Hannah, Ashley  and Emily. Behind them are Jake, Megan and Kelly.

Today, we went to David Hill Winery in Forest Grove, Oregon.  It was beautiful and there was still some snow there.  While the adults tasted wine, most of the kids made a snowman outside.

The house above is where the tasting room is, and the photo below is a view of the house from the hill behind it. It was such a beautiful setting.
Wow, so many wines to try ~  Not a bad way to spend the afternoon!

Happy Birthday to Kevin's mom, Nancy Laude! 
Her birthday is today.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Portland Holidays

We have had a wonderful Christmas here in Portland.  I finally uploaded some photos from Christmas.  We are so thankful that Kelly was feeling good this year and was able to enjoy herself.  It did snow one more time on Christmas Day, which was beautiful.  It was such a treat for us since we never have that at home.

Shannon, Emily and Kelly in their new pajamas.  It is a tradition on receive new pajamas on Christmas Eve.  

Megan and Emily opening gifts

Of course we couldn't forget the dogs.  Oreo is Murphy's dog cousin - they are so cute together.  They even opened presents together.  They are quite a team.  Murphy is wearing a new Christmas sweater.

Jake and Shannon handing out stockings.  

Later in the afternoon, Emily and Kelly played Christmas carols on the piano.

The kids (including Kevin) had a great time making a snowman.  Shannon made her own little snowman. We learned that Murphy really hates the rain, but loves the snow.  He had a great time out there too.

Here are both families at a favorite restaurant the day after Christmas.  We always go to this restaurant, Cornelius Pass Roadhouse, when we visit Tracy and Tom.  

The snow has melted here and it is green again, but that also means the roads are clear also.  We had a really nice night last night, but I haven't uploaded any of the pictures yet.  So I will make a separate post about yesterday when I get some photos ready. 

We feel so blessed that Kelly is doing so well this Christmas.  We pray for all the families with cancer warriors who are fighting this horrible disease. 

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

A White Christmas

We arrived safely in Portland last night.  We had to stop in Salem and put chains on because it was snowing so much and the roads were full of snow.  After a couple of hours of very slow driving and noisy chains, we finally made it.  It is so good to be here at last.  The girls are so happy to be with their cousins.  All the kids are all having fun playing in the snow together.  This is the most snow Portland has had in many, many years.  It is beautiful!

Here are the girls playing with their cousins, Emily and Jake, in their front yard.  They also walked to a park and went sledding today.

Kelly making snow angels.

Snow and ice everywhere in Tracy's yard.  Our girls have never had a white Christmas before so this is a special treat.  (Now that we are done driving through it!) It is supposed to snow tomorrow again.

Kelly is thrilled to be this far away from her hospital and doctors.  Last year she had to have chemo on Christmas Eve and was miserable on Christmas too.  This year I promised her we would avoid chemo anywhere near Christmas.  She feels good and is enjoying being here with her cousins.  We are all so grateful to be together here with Kelly feeling as well as she does.
 We are looking forward to a cozy Christmas Eve tomorrow, even if we are snowed in! 

I am having problems sending out my group emails when I update this website,  I am sorry if I am missing anyone.  I am working on a better way to let people know when we update!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Roadtrip to Oregon!

We are in Ashland, Oregon tonight!  We have been driving for two days, and as you'll see, we are enjoying the drive.  Tomorrow we will continue to Portland to my sister Tracy's house.  Kelly did better last week with chemo.  We realized how important one of her premeds is.  It is the only one of her anti nausea meds that is pill form instead of IV.  The last couple times she took it, she threw up right after.  So this time, her nurse had given me one of the  pills to take home, and she took it before she got to the Infusion Center, before she could start feeling nauseous.  It really helped.  She did pretty good, right until she sat up to go home.  So she had a rough evening, and didn't feel very well the next day, but on Friday she was determined to go to school and she did.  She even walked to Chronic Tacos after school with Megan and some friends. (They had early dismissal, so they went out to lunch.) Our whole family went to a Christmas party that night for the staff of our dance studio.  All the girls (and adults!) had a fun time.

Then early the next morning, we left for Oregon.  We were excited to get on the road.  We had decided to take the scenic route instead of just going up I-5 the first day.  It was a beautiful day and we drove along a lot of the California coast.

The coast along Big Sur is just stunning.  We hadn't done this in a several years, so it was great to take this drive again.  This is definitely one the of prettiest drives we have ever taken.

Shannon and Murphy at one of our stops along Big Sur.  We stopped at Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park and went for a walk overlooking this waterfall to the beach.  Did I mention we brought Murphy?  He is doing great on his first big car trip.  

We stopped along the coast where these gigantic elephant seals were sunning on the beach.  See the two big blobs on the beach?  They were huge!

This is the sunrise view from our hotel we stayed in the first night. After driving through  darling  downtown Carmel just as it was getting dark and the Christmas lights were coming on, we stayed on Monterey Bay and had an ocean view room!  It was beautiful.  It would have been a nice place to stay longer.  We could hear the seals barking in the harbor from our room.  This was a very nice hotel that doesn't allow pets.  Good thing Murphy is small and fits in an empty piece of luggage.  He was very well behaved.  Kevin didn't realize Murphy would be traveling with us when he made this reservation, or we would have chosen a hotel that allowed dogs.  Tonight in Ashland, we are in a hotel that does allow dogs.

The second day, we took a scenic drive from Monterey to San Francisco.  We drove around a little bit, but it was raining, and we wanted to get to Ashland before dark because we knew the weather might be bad ahead, so we didn't stop anywhere.  It was fun to see the pretty townhouses lining the streets of San Francisco.

This is  Shannon and Murphy taking a walk on one of our stops.  Notice his Christmas sweater.  It was quite chilly for this little Southern California dog.  He is a bit of a wimp.  He is really in for a shock when we get to Portland.  It is much colder there!

We saw our first snow close to Mt. Shasta!  It was snowing pretty hard for a while.  Luckily, that didn't last too long.  There is a lot of snow in Portland and we are excited to see it, but it is nice to not drive through it too much.  (Kevin and I both grew up in snowy climates, but we are sure not used to driving in it anymore.  We are so spoiled by our Southern  California weather!)
We are very excited to get to Portland tomorrow!  It will be so nice to be with family for Christmas. Diemers and Radfords, we are really looking forward to seeing you too!  We wish everyone a wonderful Christmas!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Holiday Happenings

The last couple weeks have been full of ups and downs.  Luckily there have been a lot more ups than downs.  Kelly did have a rough recovery from her last chemo.  She was feeling better, then last Sunday she came down with a stomach virus and could not keep anything down.  A day of throwing up that is unrelated to chemo should not be allowed for a cancer patient!  She did have a fun day on Saturday last weekend though.  Last summer, one of the highlights for the girls was Camp Ronald McDonald, a camp for oncology kids and their siblings.  The Camp had a Christmas party last Saturday at Warner Brothers Studio Ranch in Burbank for all the kids that have been to camp.  The girls were excited to see friends they made last summer.  There was food, activities, and gifts for the kids.  They had a great time.

Here are the girls with one of their friends from camp with none other than Ronald McDonald.  Thanks Ronald for providing a wonderful camp for these kids where they don't feel different from anyone and can forget about doctors and treatments for awhile.

This is the fountain from the beginning of the "Friends" TV show at Warner Bros.

Kelly started feeling better last night and got to help celebrate a big birthday for our friend, Pam at Buco di Beppo.  The Turners have been there so many times for us since Kelly was diagnosed.  It was nice to help celebrate with them. 

Kelly felt well enough today to go to school.  Then tonight, Make A Wish had its Holiday Harbor Cruise in Newport Harbor.  It is such a beautiful boat and it's fun to cruise around Newport Harbor seeing all the Christmas lights.  Some of the houses right on the water have amazing lights displays!  There were a lot of boats that were lit up for the holidays also.

The girls on the boat.  They were handed champagne glasses of 
sparkling apple cider when they boarded the boat.
You can't see the whole thing in this photo, but if you see the black on Megan's leg, she is in an orthopedic boot. Last June she had a stress fracture, and her ankle has been bothering her again in dance.  Her doctor says it isn't as serious (yet) but he wanted to take advantage of Christmas vacation coming up and really give her ankle a rest.  She has a heavy dance schedule starting in January as her dance team prepares for a competition in February.

Our table was on the top level - we had great views of the harbor

Kelly receiving her gift from Santa.  I would take a picture of it, but she is wearing it and she is sleeping right now.  She got a necklace with an angel on it and there is another little charm that says peace.  She loves it.

Linda and Diemers, we really missed you this year!  It just wasn't the same.  The girls wanted you to take pictures of them with stalkers Linda!  (There were boys following them around last year!)

Kelly's confirmation group is doing a service project for CHOC.  (Kelly's idea)  They are raising money to buy things for the teen patients on the oncology floor. There are always stuffed animals and toys for the younger patients, but there isn't always fun things for the teens.  Her group showed a movie at church Friday night and sold candy and are on a good start with their fundraising!  One thing Kelly wants to buy is a Wii Fit.  When she is inpatient, they always want her to get up and walking when she starts feeling up to it.  She thinks the Wii Fit and some other Wii games would be a much more fun way to get moving instead of just walking laps around the third floor.  They are looking for other types of games and fun things for teens while they are in the hospital.  If anyone has any more good ideas, let us know!

Tomorrow is chemo day.  We just want to get through it, then Kelly gets a three week break because we are leaving Saturday to go to Oregon!  We are visiting my sister Tracy and her family for Christmas.  We are excited to get on the road and see them.  

Friday, December 5, 2008

Couch Days

Kelly had chemo on Wednesday and is having a rough week.  She is having a tough recovery this time.  Usually she does so much better the day after chemo and is just tired, but she was nauseous and could not keep anything down yesterday.  She is doing a little better today, but is still not feeling very well. She did get up and make a bowl for her ceramics class. She really likes that class! But now she is back on the couch. She even turned down an invitation to a friends house this afternoon.  Hopefully she will feel better tomorrow since she is helping one of her friends celebrate her 16th birthday and she really wants to feel good enough to get out and have some fun.

Kelly and Bailey did have some fun at the infusion center Wednesday before she started her chemo.  Bailey is already receiving his chemo, and as you can see, it does not affect him like it affects Kelly.  Now you can see why his mom says, "My son excels at chemo."  He really does.  Thanks for  helping me get our Christmas cards done Michelle!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Deck The Halls

We had a wonderful Thanksgiving Weekend. We have so much to be thankful for this year. We are so thankful Kelly is doing so well right now.  We are extremely grateful to our friends and family who have been so supportive over the last year and a half.  This would be so much harder on our own. We can never thank you enough.

 Kelly still was fighting her cold, and didn't eat much for Thanksgiving, but she found a little energy when we got out all the Christmas decorations after we ate on Thanksgiving.  We ate early so we could get started on the decorating.  We usually don't start so early, but Kevin was leaving on Sunday and we wanted everything done and put away before he left.  We enjoyed putting the tree and the rest of the decorations up over the long weekend.  

Our red front doors always look their best at Christmas!  We also had time for some fun Christmas outings.  Late Saturday afternoon we went to the Sawdust Festival in Laguna Beach.  It is so Christmasy there and we did a little Christmas shopping.  We then headed up the coast to Newport Beach and visited Roger's Gardens to look at their Christmas displays.  It is so nice to walk though all their decorated trees.   It was a fun way to get into the Christmas spirit.

Kevin left Sunday morning to fly to Newport, Rhode Island for a 2 week class with the military . Unfortunately, there was a mistake in his reservations and he ended spending 12 hours in the San Francisco airport trying to get on a flight to the East Coast.  After flying all night, and missing his first morning of classes, he is finally in Newport and hopefully the rest of the trip will be smooth.

Kelly is feeling better and actually went to school today for her two classes at the high school.  She is trying to catch up in French, and her teacher has been wonderful and flexible making her feel comfortable, even though she misses a lot of school.  She just said today that she can't imagine having nicer teachers and that makes her high school experience so much easier for her.

Tomorrow she has labs and chemo on Wednesday.  Hopefully this week we can get her to feel better the whole day, including when she comes home. 

Team Unite..... Help Cure Childhood Cancer

Monday, November 24, 2008

Yes, Virginia, there is an update...

Happy Thanksgiving!

It has been quite a while since I updated.  I know it is time to update when we start getting phone calls making sure Kelly is OK.  For the most part, no news is good news.  Kelly did have chemo last week.  She did pretty well during chemo, and luckily slept through a couple hours of it.  But as soon as she sat up to go home, she got sick.  It didn't end until she went to bed late that night.  So we need to figure out how to keep her more comfortable not just during chemo, but the rest of the evening also.  Then just as she recovered from chemo, she came down with a cold.  What she thought were allergies yesterday turned into a full blown cold (hopefully just a cold) today.  She is feeling pretty bad and is just resting today.  We're keeping a close eye on her.

While we were at CHOC last week for labs, Kelly's fourth grade teacher, Clare, had an appt. for her daughter for an MRI and then an appt. with Dr. Muhonen, who is also her neurosurgeon.  So after labs, Kelly and I met them so Kelly could help Clare with her 3 year old twin girls.  It is always good to see Clare, and Kelly just loves being with her girls. She also was happy to get to see Dr. Muhonen.   This is Kelly with Caitlin and Brianna waiting Caitlin's MRI.

If is finally cooling off here and feeling like Fall.  Perfect weather for Thanksgiving this week.  We are looking forward to a cozy day at home Thursday.  Kevin is leaving on Sunday for a military class in Rhode Island (I wish we could go!)  Since he is going to be gone for a couple weeks, we are going to get out all of our Christmas Decorations and put everything up - starting Thursday after Thanksgiving dinner!  It takes us several days to get everything decorating and get all the boxes put back away.  We are really looking forward to it.

Kelly is featured in a calendar made my Heide Randall for Team Unite.  Heide, mom to angel Jessica, works tirelessly to raise awareness and funds for childhood cancer.  These beautiful calendars are for sale at the Team Unite store on Cafe Press (link following)  They feature kids like Kelly and also include information on Childhood Cancer. Kelly is on the December page.  You can see photos of the calendar by following the link.  So if you need a 2008 calendar, here is one with a really good cause.   Here is a message about the calendars from Heide:

The Team Unite calendars are officially AVAILABLE!!


Please note that on our smallest calendar ("Team Unite Wall Calendar"), the informational text is a bit difficult to read from a distance. Please consider one of the larger sizes ("Team Unite Vertical Wall Calendar" or "Team Unite Oversized Wall Calendar") if you feel this may be an issue.

The profits from these calendars will be split evenly between CureSearch and the Jessica Catherine Randall Memorial Scholarship.  

Team Unite ......  Help Cure Childhood Cancer

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Las Vegas Dance Convention

Last weekend Megan and Shannon's Dance Team attended "The Pulse" Dance Convention in Las Vegas sponsored by the Broadway Dance Center of New York City.  They had the opportunity to take dance classes on Saturday and Sunday with the choreographers from "So You Think You Can Dance," one of their favorite TV shows.  Saturday evening, Megan's advanced team performed in a Showcase.  It was great for the girls to be exposed to different styles of dance and take classes with well-known choreographers.  All the girls were excited to take Mia Michael's class and Kelly was happy to have a chance to talk to her. (See first photo below. The guys in black are her bodyguards.)  If you were following Kelly's story a year ago, Kelly's fourth grade teacher, and good friend now, Clare Reding, contacted Mia and told her about Kelly and what  big fan she was.  So shortly after Kelly was released from the hospital after her recurrence last year, Mia came down to our house to visit Kelly.  (It is in the October archives if you missed it last year.)  So it was fun for everyone to get to see her again.  We had such a fun trip with the girls' dance friends and teachers. Since Dance is such a huge part of Shannon and Megan's life, this weekend was exceptional for them.  Kelly had a good time just being away for the weekend.  Thanks for being such a fun car companion Louise!  And as always, Thanks Misty for taking such good care of Shannon. 

Kelly talking with Mia Michaels

Megan, Amy, and Kelly at New York, New York
 Our first night in Las Vegas.

Gold Teammates Amy, Paige, Kate and Megan.

The convention was held at the Las Vegas Hilton.  All the girls on the teams had fun staying on the same floor of the hotel.  
This is all the girls with their teachers.

Shannon with her Red Team
This is the ballroom where they took their classes.

All the girls with the Pulse Faculty: Shane Sparks, Tyce Diorio, Laurieann Gibson,  Mia Michaels, Cris Judd

Thursday, November 6, 2008

A Weekend Away

Kelly had chemo yesterday and we were very happy to be able to come home at the end of the day.  She was pretty nervous after what happened last time when she was admitted and spent five days in the hospital.  But her doctor reassured her that it shouldn't happen again, and it didn't. She has been on two different meds to protect her stomach.  She did much better and actually slept through a couple hours of the afternoon.  She did get sick at the end, but that is still much better than all the buckets she went through last time.  They think she was fighting something viral two weeks ago and that is what made her so sick and eventually caused the fever.  She is resting comfortably today and catching up on her "Charmed" reruns.  She feels better as long as she has food in her stomach.  She has a theory that if food is going down, it can't be coming up.  As long as she feels better today.  

If you have been following Kelly's story long enough, you may remember last year when she got to meet Mia Michaels, one of the choreographers from So You Think You Can Dance?  The girls get to see her again this weekend.  Megan and Shannon's Dance Team is going to "The Pulse", a dance convention in Las Vegas.  They will get to take classes with some the the Dance Choreographers from the show.  They are so excited.  Megan's advanced team will be performing in the the showcase Saturday night in front of the choreographers.  Kelly is going too and looking forward to a weekend away and getting to see Mia again.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

CHOC Trick or Treat

Infusion Center Staff and kids

Friday morning, Kelly, Shannon and I went trick or treating at CHOC.  It was nice to be there for a fun reason!  We met Ashley there, then trick or treated with the Spoonies and Cheyenne and her mom, Virginia.  We're sorry we missed you Sharon, we would have loved to have you and AJ with us the whole time.  I'm glad we got to see you though.  We have to get together soon.  All the kids had fun walking through the hallways at CHOC lined with different departments handing out goodies.   Kelly was happy to see some of her nurses, especially when they weren't about to infuse her with chemo!

Kelly with two of the Infusion Center Nurses, Barb and Angela

Kelly with nurse Dana. Their costumes looked good together!

Of course we had to go to the neurosurgery office.  Kelly was happy to see Erin and Myrlee there, and she also got to see Dr. Muhonen, who looked really good as a tiger.

Kelly and Shannon with the Spoonies

Kelly and Cheyenne

Thanks so much for spending the morning with us Ashley!

Shannon with Bailey - they had a fun morning together.

Kelly is feeling more herself again.  She is having a fun weekend.  The girls went trick or treating with friends last night, who all came back to our house afterwards.  Tonight, Megan and Kelly are spending the night in Palm Desert with a group of girls for one of their friend's 16th birthday.  Yes, that was a little bit hard to let Kelly go after the week she had last week, but luckily, one of the moms that is there with the girls is a nurse, so that made me feel better. (Thanks Michelle!) I know a night away with friends will be good for Kelly!