Our friend noticed that this tree had a large crack where a large branch that hung directly over our house connected to the main trunk. It seemed one strong wind away from falling on our house. Luckily for us, this same friend told us that he happens to enjoy taking down trees, has all the right gear and would do it for us for free!
It was fun, then nerve racking then awesome watching Dan cut the tree down. The nerve racking part was the part RIGHT before we could see which direction the tree was falling. He did such a good job and was "off" his lined up mark by only a few feet. Amazing.
And now we have SOOOOOO MUUUUUUUUUUCH debris to cut into pieces and haul somewhere to burn. Anyone want some firewood??
We had a trip up to Nashville on the horizon for a check-up with Chris' stem cell transplant doctors. My parents also had planned their get-away trip to happen at a location close enough to us to make visiting us possible! Last minute, we realized if they came a day earlier, they could meet us in Nashville. They changed their flights and helped us with hotel reservations and provided babysitting so I could go with Chris to his appointment with the doctor. I'm continually awed and so grateful for their support. It was so much fun to show them around Nashville and share/revisit our history there.
We met up in the evening the day before the doctors appointment and went out to eat at the Rainforest Cafe near the Grand Ole Oprey. It was so much more relaxing than the last time Chris and I ate there with the kids. Having grandparents around is the best.
Then we put the kids to bed in our room across the hall from my parents,set up our video monitor and chatted in my parents room until way too late. Chris and I had to get up early so I could drop him off for his PET scan while my mom watched our kids. Then while Chris was drinking radioactive liquid and laying under warming blankets as a computer scanned his body, I took my parents and kids to the famous, beloved Pancake Pantry for breakfast. I. Love. That. Place. I am sorely tempted to drive the 5 hours one-way up to Nashville just to eat there.
Then my parents walked around the hospital while I joined Chris for the meeting with the doctor. He first had labs downstairs and I was annoyed at the nurses who wouldn't let me sit next to him and hold his hand while they poked him. Of course, it took 2 tries. I know Chris really hates that part. As we waited for the doctor we had plenty of time to talk about what we might hear. Chris always gets nervous before a scan. They've always been the first sign of cancer for him and we worry that we'll get another bombshell dropped on us. But I have to say, Chris has gotten really good at compartmentalizing these worries. He didn't seem withdrawn or extra depressed before this scan.
The doctor comes in and chats for a minute with us, he's super casual and has an awesome accent from somewhere in Africa. He asks if Chris had his PET scan this morning and determines that he could find out the results all ready for us. He excused himself for a minute and used the phone in the hallway (right across from our door) to call 'a guy he knows.' Based on our overheard version of his end of the phone call, we were put on guard and curious. The doctor came back in and first asked if Chris had had a sore throat or some kind of sickness recently. Chris didn't seem surprised and admitted that yes he had had a minor cold with a stuffy nose, and sore throat just about a week ago. I guess he had foreseen this question and wondered himself if his cold would affect the scan results. The doctor seemed relieved and unconcerned as he told us that Chris' lymph nodes in his neck were larger than normal, and one was slightly bigger than the other but that a cold in the past week can explain that away. But he did recommend that Chris repeat the PET scan sometime soon. After realizing that we'll be back up in Nashville in a few months for his 1-year-from-transplant appointment, he decides that we'll just do another PET scan then.
Huh. even managed to slip back with Chris to see if some of our nurse friends were working that day. They were!! so fun!! I always get scared that they won't remember us and so when they looked at Chris and didn't bat an eye, I got all sad. Then they did a double take and saw me and put everything together. It was so good to see them and chat for a bit. I couldn't resist the chance to show our kids to them too. They were good sports about it. (both the kids and the nurses!) :)
Chris had one more test, something for his heart, and so my parents and I took the kids back to the hotel for a quick swim before checking out (thanks to a late checkout and a good idea from my mom the night before to check H&M for swimsuits on clearance -- I had forgotten to bring ours!). We swung back by the hospital to pick up Chris before taking he scenic route (showing my parents the apartment Chris and I stayed in last year, and a few other places) home.
(Total side note: Gwen has been throwing some crazy tantrums recently...that girl has some lungs!!)
Once home, we wasted no time in showing my parents our new house! I had been so excited to show them that my semi sad feelings as I walked them around surprised me. I think I really cared about them liking it but also feared they wouldn't. I kept seeing all the problems our house has and wanted to beat them to the punch in pointing them out. I was really weird, but my parents are amazing and did their best to convince me that they really like it. I'm so crazy. Sorry everyone!
We had a nice easy day our frist day back with the boys in school. It even happened to be Grandparents Day for the Kindergartners (2nd grade had theirs just two days before!) so my parents surprised Charlie for lunch by showing up to eat with him! He loved it. Then we shared with my parents our new favorite pizza place: Lost Pizza Co while we had Friday Night Movie Night.
The next day was cool and overcast - perfect for our yard work plans. We worked in the yard alllllll day. Dad and Chris took down the big trunk of the dead tree out back and we pruned and cleaned up some needed areas. I almost feel back for working my dad so hard,...he was pretty sore the next day...but I'm too happy for the progress in the yard to regret it!
Who said we wouldn't ever use our sleds or snow shovels in Mississippi? All you Canadian doubters...
Sunday, I had to attend a different ward for their Ward Conference and one of my callings is the Stake Young Women Secretary, so I didn't get to go to church with my parents but it sure was helpful to have them take the kids to church and look after them while Chris had his meetings and taught his class.
It was hard to say goodbye on Monday, but thinking about going to their house in just a few months for Christmas made it bearable. Oh, I love my parents.
**Sorry its been a while! This post has been waiting as a draft all this time! I guess I forgot to actually post it**
Gwen's first day of preschool! She was so brave and excited until we were 2 feet from her classroom door. Then she sucked on her fingers and buried her head into my side. It took some extra time coaxing her to become engaged with some toys, but it happened and I was able to leave her smiling.
Two days later the boys had their first day of school: Alec in 2nd grade and Charlie in Kindergarten. Both were a little nervous but easily went into their classrooms. (Maybe it helped that we were a few minutes late and there was no time to make a scene) Next year, I hope to be able to transition them with some more time and even snap a few pictures with their teacher. My mom always did that with us, although I sort of remember not really like having to pose for a picture with a complete stranger in a strange environment. In these pictures Charlie is holding his kinder mat, since Kindergarten is all day and they have a nap time. I remembered that he could bring a special blanket the night before the first day and I so wanted to make him a new special blanket. He loves having new things. So I stayed up a little late throwing one together. It has footballs on one side and basketballs on the other with a yellow trim and his initials CA on one side. I had to make a matching pillow too, honestly, I had no choice.
The first day of Kindergarten was just too big to pass up and I tried to at least take a picture of Charlie at his table, but he really didn't want to look at the camera or do anything that would draw the attention of his classmates/teacher. Cute kid.
Alec didn't want to ride the bus, but I was waiting for almost 2 hours in carpool every day to pick them up. We decided to at least try the bus for the second week of school. I wrote a note to each of the boys' teachers explaining it and Charlie's teacher was especially sympathetic towards my request of helping Charlie feel comfortable on the bus. She walked him to the bus herself and left a message for me on my phone to say he got on safely. The bus driver mentioned to her that he wasn't able to turn around at our house and asked Charlie's teacher to tell me to meet them 'at the fork.' Well, we don't have a fork anywhere near our house so I took my best guess and waited for the bus. Chris actually followed the bus from the school. We wanted to know where on the route our house was and he wanted to make sure the boys made it home safe. He lost the bus when it pulled down a dirt driveway and so he just drove home. Seeing him pull up without the bus in sight made me nervous but it all worked out ok as it showed up within a minute or so. We had a special snack of donuts and popcorn waiting for the brave boys on the bus.