Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Grandma's House

After initially calling off the trip up North to see my family, we experienced an amazing break in the spate of sickness, and we decided Saturday afternoon to pack up and leave first thing Sunday morning. We were so glad we did! It's been a few years since we were able to make it up to my Nana and Poppop's house for Christmas, the place where I have so many fond childhood memories of presents, tons of food, warmth, and music. And not much has changed over the years except that the house doesn't seem as big as it once was.
Bekah and Sadie so enjoyed the experience, with Bekah especially bonding with Kirk and Chad, following them around all night long. The two girls were overwhelmed by the sheer number of gifts; books, bath toys, stuffed elephants, a snow globe, DVDs, adorable clothes, and so much more. Bekah had to take a break, watch Boz for a bit, and then come back to open the remnants. But it was so much fun!! Oh, and Cara now has the minivan itch since the Newby's were kind enough to loan their Honda Odyssey for the voyage. I'm not ready to give in yet, but those automatic sliding doors are pretty enticing.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

BEWARE: the word vomit will appear below!

I don't have much to say in this post other than to say sorry we haven't posted for over a week. We've been sick. It's been miserable, but we are just putting one foot in front of the other in the slow trek back to health.

Bekah led it off by throwing up several times early Sunday morning. She looked like she was doing better Monday but then Tuesday she relapsed and we ended up taking her to the ER to get treated for dehydration. She has been better since then but still tossing her cookies about once a day and being generally exhausted. Today it was so sad; she was happily molding her play-do when all of a sudden she lost it all over herself, the play-do, and her play-do utensils. Early Wednesday morning Cara caught Bekah's stomach flu and by that evening she was sent to a packed French Hospital ER to get a shot, normal procedure for her due to her genetic condition that limits how well her body can fight a virus. While waiting at French, Jan (who was watching the girls) called to say that Sadie had just started vomiting. Thankfully, Sadie and Cara are now recovering slowly but surely, and we are especially hoping Bekah turns a corner soon though she has been not doing well tonight. We were hoping to travel up to the San Jose area this next weekend to have an early Christmas with my family and maybe even take the girls to the Monterey Bay Aquarium, but it's now up in the air.

I should mention though that Cara and I were able to sneak away Sunday overnight as an early Anniversary celebration, and we had a wonderful time staying in Pismo, going out to eat, and actually going to a movie (Four Christmases was only mildly funny though, in case you were wondering). I'm so glad we had that time before everything went totally crazy.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Christmas music addict

This year I waited longer than ever to bust out my favorite Christmas music--the day after Thanksgiving. Yes, I did it! I waited until the culturally acceptable moment to begin the Christmas season, a strange feeling after working at the Parable, where Christmas music is heard come October. So what sounds are heard while we deck our halls this season? Here are a few favorites:
Yes indeed, nothing like a little punk rock Christmas music to get everyone dancing. This is Bekah's downright favorite to dance to, or "hop, hop" as she says when she wants me to pop in Relient K. This CD has it all; rocking versions of the "12 days of Christmas" and "Deck the Halls", thoughtful, poignant ballads like "I Celebrate the Day", and some laugh-out-loud songs like "Santa Claus is Thumbin to town." This was the first one I listened to come Black Friday.
The power of this one sneaks up on you. You're whistling along to a good version of "Do You See What I See?" and all of a sudden Todd Agnew's gravelly voice bursts into a whole new dimension, allowing you to see the Christmas story through new eyes, and from multiple perspectives. The songs on this album are almost all original, written from the varied lenses of those involved in the Christmas story (Mary, Joseph, the shepherds, etc.). Though these songs don't always sound "Christmassy", their depth will blow you away. Listen to the first song and last song back to back for an amazing musical journey!
Cara will tease me on this one since she doesn't think MWS is very cool, but there's no knocking its hugeness. It's all about the sweeping orchestra, the glorious choir, and a great guest performance by Mandisa. I grew up listening to his and Amy Grant's Christmas music, and yes, I used to think "Emanuel" was a rockin song. And still, I find myself reaching for his music each Christmas, just not the awkward 80s holiday tunes anymore.

So what about you? What Christmas music gets you in the spirit of the season? Any new favorites?

Monday, December 8, 2008

Our Wonderful Weekend

It started with my last day of radiation...the office gave me a graduation certificate! Going away for the weekend was a great way to celebrate. We went up to Katie and Rob's and we had such a great time!
They took us to a beautiful tree farm on Saturday. A trail lead us up a hill to the main area and along the way we came across a little cottage and castle that Bekah had a great time playing in. Then we took a train ride around all the Christmas trees (Bekah is obsessed with trains right now she was in heaven - when it was over she said Again! Again!) was really fun but really cold! I don't think the temp. got any higher than mid 40's the whole you can see I had to leave my flip flops behind and I wasn't the only one wearing a hat :). Keith and Bekah also had fun going through a corn maze at the end of our visit at the farm. What a fun adventure!

That evening (after a warm lunch and naps) we all went to the Kingsburg Christmas Parade. The girls loved all the lights and music and we treated ourselves to some hot chocolate and popcorn.

The girls did really well the whole time (this was our first trip with both of them) which means that Keith and I had a wonderful weekend!

Thanks Katie and Rob for all the weekend fun!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Some Fun Pictures!

Keith and Bekah put up a tent in the house one cold afternoon and it became the "hang-out" spot for the rest of the day.
Nana Netty was able to calm Sadie down with some love pats...bless you!
And Bekah took some time to show Papa Scott how to use a tape measure...
she is so helpful!
At this point in the instruction she let go of the tape and laughed as it shot back at Papa Scott...don't worry...nobody was hurt.
Oh Mr. Gavin (my nephew) he had to borrow Sadie's bib and it looks like he likes it :)
The girls and I are practicing our piano skills....we have none but it was fun pretending!

Well, tomorrow is the last day of my radiation treatment! To celebrate we are taking a little family trip up to see my sister Katie and her husband Rob for the weekend....Bekah is very excited!

Friday, November 28, 2008


You should totally come over!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! We're gonna make sugar cookies, and Bekah said she wants to see you! I just asked her, "Bekah, do you want to see Auntie Lissa?" to which she tore her fixed gaze from Boz and said enthusiastically, with a big grin, "YEAH!"

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Tuesday Hilarity

Today was an amazing family day. We started out by taking Sadie and Bekah to Avila Beach. The waves were a little bigger than normal, and it was electrifying watching the storm brewing out over the ocean, slowly inching closer as we played on the swings and slides. I loved it!

Bekah, as always, cracked us up with her ever-exciting antics; making new friends, hunting for starfish (little cement ones along the walkway), and putting sand in her mouth. Okay, so that last one was frustrating. Then we went and shared a strawberry ice cream at one of the little shops.
Afterwords, we came back to town and grabbed lunch at Carl's park (Carl's Jr) and watched Bekah climb through the maze of tubes. From this post and the last one, you're going to think we're not health conscious at all, but it's not true!! Tuesdays are treat days.

Anyways, then late this afternoon Bekah and I went for a walk in the rain. It was only slightly sprinkling, so Bekah put on her pink rain boats, bright pink rain jacket, and grabbed her Little Mermaid umbrella and we braved the elements together. I felt weird, as a Dad, teaching my daughter how to splash in the puddles--but it's awesome!! I refuse to be one of those parents that locks their kids inside when it's a little damp outside. And Bekah had a ball. She ran through puddles, threw rocks in puddles, and even jumped in one or two, squealing with delight all the while. So today had a little of everything--some beach time, some tasty treats, and some rainy day fun!! This is what Thanksgiving break is for. I'm overwhelmed by how thankful I am for my girls!

Biggest Loser Night!!

Tuesday night means one thing in our house: Biggest Loser.
The girls are in bed, the fire is crackling, our feet are up, and our show is on. I'm excited because this week's theme is NFL, and two of my all-time favorite players, Jerry Rice and Steve Young, are training the contestants. We do have a bad habit while watching BL, though. Somehow the intense training and calorie crunching makes junk food sound oh-so-scrumptious. So tonight my companion is...Trader Joe Peppermint Joe-Joe cookies!! Mmmmm.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

I'm Exhausted!

The girls are in bed - Keith is at school - I've had a busy day like most mom's do and as I sat down to write a nice post my mind and body stopped working! I was even planning on sharing a bunch of pictures but it will have to wait until tomorrow morning....I always write better in the morning as I drink my first..second...or sometimes third cup of coffee...Sadie's been waking up around 5am the past few mornings so coffee has been a necessity!

My mom and I had our appointments with Dr. Malone this morning...mine went as I expected - he asked how I was doing, checked my radiation site since it's getting a bit burned and told me I'm doing great. When I asked him what I should do with my hair since some pieces are starting to grow (although a lot of them aren't) and I look like a scrounge he said I have to start letting it grow some time and I'll just need to wear a hat....he laughed at me when I told him I get tired of wearing hats and if I have to deal with looking at my scroungy hair so will everyone else :)! So watch out friends scroungy Cara is coming!

My mom's appointment was after mine and the first thing Dr. Malone told her was that she didn't have cancer (yay) but that one of the tests wasn't back yet and he's waiting on that to make a diagnosis. If it isn't conclusive he wants to run more tests and send them up to stanford for more detailed and specialized tests. It looks like my mom either has a genetic anemia that would be treated with a shot of EPO every few weeks to help with her symptoms or Milodisplasia (MDS....this can get worse with time and could eventually turn into leukemia...not good!). We find out in a few days if she has an official diagnosis or if the more detailed blood work is required. She's feeling very worn out and for good's hard to wait for results especially when your body isn't working properly and is constantly in a state of fatigue! She is a strong woman though and I'm glad we are able to support each other...

God sure is stretching us right now and it makes me wonder what He has in store for the future...only time will tell!

Have a good night to you in the morning with a big cup of coffee and a refreshed body and brain...hopefully :)

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Quick Update

The news from yesterday was mixed. I gave my lesson as planned at Arroyo Grande High School and it went better than I expected. The students totally engaged with my lesson theme and I had no real discipline issues. After the lesson, my professor (who is also the teacher of this AGHS class) blew me away by saying that I have great natural teaching instincts and that she would hire me tomorrow. She loved every part of the lesson!! Phew!

I went home and took care of Bekah and Sadie while Cara took her Mom to her bone marrow biopsy. The procedure did turn out to be very painful as Dr. Mallone had a tough time getting the stir-straw-size needle to go into her hip bone. On the third try, he finally got it. She came home limping and in quite a bit of pain. We now have to wait until next Wednesday for results, so I'll keep you all posted. In the meantime, pray for Jan as she recovers from the procedure and awaits hopefully positive results.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Back to 9th Grade

Tomorrow is a big day. At 9 am tomorrow morning, I'll be standing in front of a 9th grade class at Arroyo Grande High School, lesson plan in hand and hopefully nerves in check. It's a huge part of my grade for a class this quarter, and every minute will be critiqued by my professor. It'll be good though. I tried out my lesson today on Cara and got some pointers from Josh, so I'm not dreading it too badly. Just in case you're curious, I'll be having them read the poem "O Captain my Captain" by Walt Whitman and then listen to a song by the band Anberlin, and having them think critically about the themes of both. So pray!!

Even more pressing is the procedure that Jan is going to undergo tomorrow at 11:30a. Her doctor is alarmed because her Red Blood Cell count is super low, and the ones she does have are not working properly. This is usually a sign of a serious medical condition. So tomorrow she must have a bone marrow biopsy, a procedure involving a large needle being shoved into Jan's hip bone. OUCH!! After that, we will get results in one to two weeks and hopefully it will not be as serious as the doctor seems to be hinting at. Pray for positive results and for a quick and painless procedure.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Drum Therapy

Let me begin by stating the obvious: my wife is ridiculously amazing. For my birthday, she pulled together so many resources (people, $, and materials) to transform a beat up old wood shed into a top-notch drum room!! Many thanks to all who helped--and a special thanks to my parents and Scott and Annette--now I can go practice to my heart's content. And Bekah even plays from time to time. Oh, and I apologize to the neighbors, Ken and Judi, who now get to live their life to a beat.

It's been a while

Hey Everyone. It has been too long since my last post. Between school and hanging out with my girls and getting stuff around the house done (cleaned out the nasty rain gutters this morning!), life has been so exhausting. I have been, however, so overjoyed and energized by the dawning reality that Cara is cancer free, a realization that has been hitting me in stages. I thought the word "remission" would cause me to immediately jump up and down and be lost in the moment, but the joy is steady and subtle, mixed in with the other realities--this cancer has taken a heavy toll, Cara (and all of us) are weary, and now Jan is looking like she may have serious health issues related to her alarmingly low red blood cell count and kidney damage. To be perfectly blunt, it's hard to say how I feel moment by moment. The battle inside rages on.

But that is how life is, isn't it? Riddled with sin and doubt and questions, but more loved by God that we can every imagine.

I read Lamentations 3:31-32 the other day, while sitting on the rocks in Morro Bay, and it struck me as beautiful and so what I needed to hear: "For the Lord will not cast off forever, but though He cause grief, he will have compassion according to the abundance of his steadfast love."

Sure we face challenges right now, but we're going to be fine. When I'm overwhelmed, I need only to look at the huge grins on my girls' faces and see the strength in Cara's eyes. May joy be the undercurrent of our life, and Christ it's endless spring.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Radiation Treatments

I got a call from Dr. Gilroy's office today and found out I will have my first treatment this Thursday at noon....and continue five days a week for 17 treatments last one landing on December 1st! It sounds like the treatments won't be to severe and my body may even be able to heal from chemo. during the radiation....yay!

On another note my mom has to get a bone marrow biopsy next Wednesday. She's been having her own medical issues involving extreme fatigue, anemia and shortness of breath and is now seeing my chemo dr....Dr. Malone so keep her in your prayers....I may get to start taking care of my mom just like she's been takeing care of me....

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Happy Birthday Bekah!

I can't believe my little girl turned 2 today! It has been so much fun to see her grow and change these past two years. She has been my joy and my challenge and I'm so thankful for her. I love my little Bekah Boo and I'm excited to see what this next year brings for her!

Friday, October 31, 2008


That's right I'm in remission! The chemo worked!!!

I called for my PET/CT results this morning and was told "it looks good" by Dr. Malone's I asked..."does that mean I'm not glowing(the cancer spots glow in the PET)?"....and he said "Ya, you are in remission but you still need to see Dr. Gilroy (the radiation dr.)"

I knew I was still going to need radiation even if I showed no sign of cancer because studies have shown that the cancer will come back and to the exact same places if you don't get the full treatment so.....I will still get to be stuck in the mask everyday for probably four weeks but it's worth it!

I'm still in shock as I'm writing this post - God has been so good to me - I have been so blessed these past few months! I know it's not over yet and I'm still dealing with some side effects from chemo but it amazes me every day how God has used so many people to help and be a part of this journey--not only to me but to my family also.

Thank you for all of your support and prayers!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Bekah's pumpkin adventure

Hi, I'm Bekah and I am beautiful. This year my parents took me on a family outing to this giant white tent. The park would have been way better. The people who work there look scary. And it was hot, and dirty, and no other kids were there to play with. But Momma and Dadda were excited to pick out a pumpkin. I wore my pretty pink sunglasses and clips and I looked really adorable, as always. Dad grabbed a red wagon to pull me, but he was doing it all wrong so I got out and told him "I do iiit!" Then they made me walk around the dusty tent and look at sooo many orange pumpkins. "Do you like that one? Which one do you want?" They kept asking questions. And then in between Mom would make me look up at her and say cheese. But I just wanted to run around the tent, and then maybe go in the bouncy house and hay maze. Momma and Dadda said no because we were going to go to Carl's Junior. Finally Momma helped me pick a perfect pumpkin, but Dadda took forever finding his. Sadie and Momma will just share ours, I guess. Then Dadda paid the scary toothless woman for our pumpkin treasures and I once again showed him how to pull the wagon to the car. He needs help a lot.
Then we went to Carl's Junior and ate chicken strips. I stole Momma's fries a lot. Dadda showed me how to play on the playground, and Momma sat with Sadie while she slept. Then I met a new friend, but she had to go. I was sad, and then a bee attacked Dadda's nachos and we decided to go too.
Tonight, Uncle Joshy, Dadda, Momma and I made faces on our pumpkins. At first I was a little confused so I just colored all over mine with every different color. My art skills are impressive, I thought to myself. Then Momma helped me cut a hole in the top. Dadda reached down and grabbed the orange goo, and I yelled, "Naaasstyyyy!!" Joshy held a whole bunch of the goo in his fingers and I actually touched it!! I said nasty like 5 more times. Luckily Momma showed me how to scrape out the inside with a spoon without getting any on your fingers. Once all the pumpkin guts were out...we got tired so we made Dadda finish...I let Momma help me carve out two square eyes, one little nose, and one big smiley mouth. Then we took them outside, turned off all the lights, and put fire inside them. They glowed, one spooky, one silly, and one little happy one (mine). I laughed and twirled around on the dark grass until Dadda took me in for bathtime. Pumpkins are fun, I guess, even though they're nasty. And Momma and Dadda had so much fun tonight, which is what made my pumpkin adventure totally worth it. Check out these pictures! And don't forget my birthday is in four days!!