Friday, March 30, 2007

March 30, 2007

Yesterday was the one year anniversary of Leah's surgery to remove her tumor. To be honest, I thought about it several times in these last few weeks, but we were busy yesterday and didn't really remember it as the anniversary until Chris called from Grinnell (where he is this week for classes again) and talked about it. What a difference a year makes! We are praying for another happy anniversary of this date in 2008 as well.

Chris is coming home from Grinnell today after finishing up classes there. We have done a great job of keeping busy during the week without him, but the house is a bit messier and I can't get as much done when I am by myself.

We had dance class this week and afterwards I took the girls to McDonalds. This is not my favorite restaurant, but it ranks near the top for the girls. Leah has decided she now likes the big tube you can climb in - Chloe had already decided she liked it and "taught" Leah how to play in it. I have had conferences this week. That means I didn't go to work until 1 on Thursday. So, I took Leah in late to school and Chloe and I ate lunch with her. Today I am on a normal schedule, but Leah didn't have school. She was dropped off at our former neighbor Esther's until my dad picks her up. She is quite excited by the prospect of a day with Grandpa Daryl and Esther is watching her triplet granddaughters, so Leah will get to play with them this morning for a while. Tomorrow the triplets are coming to our house for a playdate.

It is hard to believe that next weekend is Easter already. Time is going so quickly. That also means that Leah's CT scan is coming right up. In some ways I just want it to be done and over with. It is hard to enjoy things knowing that is coming up. We ask for prayers for a clean CT scan and a very low AFP on April 12 when we return to Iowa City. Leah looks great and she now has worn barrettes a few times, so her hair is growing, growing, growing.
Thanks for continuing to check in on us!

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

March 21, 2007

Happy Spring! It seems it has been a while since our last post. Hard to believe that almost two weeks have passed since we were last in Iowa City. We enjoyed a wonderful spring break week last week.

On Monday of break week Leah informed me that spring break meant we were supposed to have fun. Hmmmmm....... we didn't have any big plans, but did manage to take Grandma Kathy out to the Olive Garden for a belated birthday lunch and take a trip to Marion and our consignment shop again. They just have way too many cute things. Chloe was excited to be included on one of these shopping trips, but spent the entire time looking at the toys in the sale room and not the clothes. Leah also had a massage on Tuesday that she enjoyed. And, Grandma Karen had each Leah and Chloe for one night. They were treated like princesses and taken out to eat at their favorite spots - the OP for Leah and McDonalds for Chloe. Leah had a friend over on Friday for a play date and lunch at the Rite Spot. The idea that we would unpack a lot of things was only an idea and never really happened. I hope we are not becoming too used to the boxes lying around. I hardly notice them anymore, I admit. Chris did spend some quality time in our garage organizing things and someday we may get to park in there.

This week we are struggling to get back into a routine. Leah has had some tearful mornings at school trying to tell me goodbye. She would just rather spend time with Mom and be at home -and she is tired out because she stays up late at night reading. She is no longer pretending to be reading, but actually reading -quite fluently- a lot of books. It is so fun to see her take off on this. Chloe, trying to be just like Leah, will randomly ask as she looks at books "what is that word?" Chris is in Grinnell this week at school for his new job. He will be there next week as well, so we are having some quality "girl time."

This week we have been busy with kindergarten round-up and preschool registration. Leah is definitely ready for kdg. and excited about the fall and wondering who her teacher will be. Chloe was excited as well at her registration last night. Leah took great delight in showing Chloe the toy room and telling her all about the schedule at Sonshine, where Chloe will attend in the fall.

Late last week we learned that Bethany Buzynski passed away after a two and a half year battle with cancer. Her mom and her prayer group in Pennsylvania prayed for Leah during treatment and continue to pray for her--something we take great comfort in. Looking at pictures of Bethany on her family's care page it seems impossible that someone so sparkly and alive is no longer on this earth.

People will ask us why we continue to read stories of children who have lost their battle because it is depressing and causes us a lot of worry wondering if this is what we have in store for our future. Unfortunately this is the reality we live in. It is easy to ignore the scary stories if you have never known anyone personally or had it happen to your family, but these families are much like ours and cancer or other tragedies can happen to anyone at any time. It just makes us treasure the good times we are having and not take anything for granted.

Leah's next scan/AFP draw is scheduled for April 12. Please keep her in your prayers - that her CT scan is clear and her AFP continues to be low. March 30 is the one year anniversary of her surgery. It is hard to believe a year has elapsed and that we have resumed a fairly normal life! We pray that these good times continue for her and our family, and we are forever grateful for all the support we have received and continue to receive.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

March 8, 2007

AFP = 2.5
Great news! That is consistent with last month's blood draw. It was 2.2 then, but if you ask anyone in the lab they will talk about margin of error, validity of the test, etc. So, we get to be normal for 5 more weeks.
We left at 6 AM this morning and arrived just before 8. However, I was a little worried when we got there and they had no orders printed up or anything. UGH! Tom and Mary Lou got that taken care of and we had the blood draw done right away. Dr. Rahdi visited with us for a while and we learned about his vacation plans and a variety of other things and then amazingly enough the blood work labs were back when I asked him to check them. So, we spent a while watching the construction outside of the windows by Elevator F. We stopped at Prairie Lights book store and met my friend, Andrea. And then we headed to CR to the Olive Garden and consignment shop. Leah is tired out because of her lack of sleep from staying up late reading every night now. She was up at 5:30 today and 5 AM yesterday (for no reason!). Tonight is the Family Fun night at the elementary school that Leah is anxious to go to. So much for an early night here.

As I was looking at Leah's appointment page that included today's date I realized that a year ago today soem friends we made in Iowa City lost their son, Kyle, to cancer. He was only 5 and a half...just like Leah is. We still check up on their caringbridge site and pray for them daily, and we know how one CT scan or blood draw can change your world forever. We continue to pray that through time they will find some peace. We are so thankful that this check-up was another positive one, yet remembering Kyle and his fight is a scary part of the cancer roller coaster we live on right now. So we continue to ask for your prayers on this journey.

Leah is summoning me to help her upstairs and I need to get a little work done. We still cannot park a vehicle in our garage-and probably won't for some time. Thanks for checking in on us!

Monday, March 05, 2007

March 5, 2007

I am trying to get back in the groove of school after having too many days off last week. However, I spent the morning on hold with Iowa City Hospitals and Clinics trying to reschedule Leah's appointment. We had agreed we would come in 5 weeks at her last appointment on Feb. 8, but got the appointment reminder in the mail scheduling it for March 8. I waited until today to call and reschedule not thinking it would be a big deal. Well, after spending time on hold and finding out that Dr. Radhi was leaving the country for 3 weeks after this week I emailed him myself. He will be gone from March 11 until April 2. He needs to see her before he leaves. Maybe if I really pressured him he would agree to wait until his return, but that is almost 2 months in between visits-too long for us right now. So, we have to head down now on this Thursday. While this should be no big deal, I was completely thrown for a loop by this. I am mentally prepared to go next week-not this week. I agree it will be nice to have the visit with over a week sooner, and not worry an additional seven days. That will leave all of spring break without worrying--as long as her check-up goes well. With all of our moving and trying to settle in and the big storms, I feel like we were just in Iowa City. It certainly does not seem that a month has passed. Leah inquired a few nights ago when we would go again, and usually we try to do something fun as well on our trips. Please, please pray for a good, uneventful check-up. I know that people probably think that these check-ups should get easier over time, but they don't . Instead I think I get more worked up each time and hate going there even more. It brings back a lot of sad reminders of our lives a year ago. We are so thankful to be where we are today and we certainly don't want to go back to that type of life again.
Other than that...Leah has been busy reading up a storm. She is reading Chloe books now, and each night I read a few books to her before bed. She usually picks a few to read right back to me and does not stop until she has read til the end. Right now her favorites are the Henry and Mudge books. We are also anxiously looking forward to spring and some warm weather!
I'll update after our visit on Thursday.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

March 3, 2007

Wow! What a weird week! Last Saturday we were bracing for a big winter storm and were not disappointed. Our power went out around 2 PM last Saturday and after thinking about things for a while and seeing no sign of getting power back anytime soon we all bundled up and headed to our neighbor's house. We are officially in our new house which is further out in the country, but both the town of Denver and the surrounding developments were all without power, so we cannot blame our more remote residence for the lack of power. The weather was just terrible! Tons of ice and wind! All of us spent the entire evening and overnight with our new neighbor (who I happened to work with at Janesville), and then on Sunday headed to Chris' parents. We stayed there until Wednesday after I came home from school. The girls liked spending time with the Ristau grandparents and Molly, the dog. Our power was officially restored on Tuesday night but our house was all of 44 degrees so we decided we would let things heat up again. It has been great to be at our new house, aside from the fact that we have way too much to unpack yet and an enormous mess. It will be a long time before we can invite anyone over! Leah didn't have school the entire week. She is getting used to relaxing, I think, although she loves school, too. I had school on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Yesterday the weather was horrible again so we were all off. The highlight for Leah missing school this week was spending Thursday with the Schaefers since what was originally a late start for snow ended up being another 'no school' day.
In the midst of not having power and trying to get the rest of our junk moved out of our old house, Chris started his new job. They have been keeping him busy and he claims that he loves it. So, all is good!
We are hoping for a few uneventful weeks. Leah's next appointment is March 15--coming right up...they seem to come up so soon! So, please keep praying for another great check-up and very low AFP. I liked 2.2, but I would take a number lower, too.
We still don't have internet at our new house, so I am posting from my parents. I finally ordered our washer and dryer today as well. They should get delivered next Thursday. I think we are planning on going out to eat for supper and then relaxing at home. Leah shared her cold with Chris and me --she seems to have gotten over it quite well, but we are still sniffling a lot. And Reeve has had some stomach bug that includes a lot of dirty diapers and some vomiting. We are praying that she feels good again soon, too.
Thanks for your continued thoughts and prayers-we are grateful for each and every one, and hope you continue to pray for Leah's complete healing here on earth!