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. 

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