Wednesday, July 31, 2013

July Happenings

Things I missed from my earlier posts...

Jordan got married! Him and Estefi are one stunning couple! It is such a joyous thing for people you dearly care about to find someone who makes them happy. The wedding ceremony was absolutely perfect. The sealer drifted in between Spanish and English effortlessly and made the experience a tender one for everyone, no matter what language you spoke. The reception of Chris' parents house although not smooth as butter was still very fun and beautifully decorated. I had a blast dancing (too much, it turned out) and even the rain couldn't stop the smiles, in fact I think it produced more. S'mores and sparklers were some of the kids favorite components of the evening! Estefi's mom made the wedding cake and a fun Bolivian tradition is to stick some ribbon strips in between one of the cake layers with one ribbon attached to a ring. Then all the single ladies come and pull out a ribbon at the same time, and the one who gets the ring is supposedly the one to get married next. My little niece Mary turned 10 that very day and ended up with the ring! Dixie had a piece of the cake, which turned out had Brazil nuts and ended up with an allergic reaction! Poor thing, but we managed to get her some benedryl and off to bed and clean up her house after the reception. It was really great to meet Estefi's family and get to know her better. Most of that came not from the wedding weekend but at the WA open house a week later.

 
 

Gwen's Birthday! This little new 3 year old was thankfully completely obvious to the fact that her birthday sort of crept up on us and fell during such a stressful/ busy time. Grandma Dixie and Jess helped make a super cute princess cake and babysit for Chris and I so we could do some birthday shopping. We had our Archibald cousins over for a little cake, ice cream and party. Our sweet Gwendolyn is never-ending source of deep emotions at our house, and when those emotions are love, kindness, happiness and enthusiasm it is such a beautiful thing.  She has such a quick mind and picks even difficult things up quickly. She loves to do puzzles, cuddle with her pink blanket, read books, color, "cook", play with cars, Buzz Lightyear, swords and guns, babies and dress up in her princess /fairy costume.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Trip to Washington! The drive out to UP felt so long, despite it being the shortest drive our family would make this summer. Chris, myself, our kids, Tiff and her kids stayed at Loren and Merlene's so Estefi's family could stay all together at my parents house. It was soooo fun to be home and spend so much time with family and cousins. I love Betteridge Bluff! The open house was simple and nice and way less stressful than the reception.  Although I was dealing with stress of a different kind since I had been bleeding for a week starting from the day after their wedding. A trip to the ER in Provo showed the baby was still OK, they just guessed there was some left over blood flushing out from that first tear in June. The bride and groom came in a day or two early for the Washington open house and we spend some fun time together going to Anderson Island and playing games. By the time Estefi's family came we were ready for more fun and good food...plenty of meat, hot chocolate and bread to last for weeks!


 
At Anderson Island the craziest thing happened!! These two water planes landed in the lake while we were at the swimming hole! The both landed, then they both took off a little while later. It was amazing.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

We had to hurry home for another biopsy for Chris back in Edmonton so only got to spend a couple of hours with our good friends the Talbots and the Lewses.  I'm always happy to rediscover that hanging out with these dear people makes me feel like little time has past since we last lived next door.  We met Justin and Amy in Seattle, ate lunch and climbed on a troll. We then drove up to see Amanda and Peter and let the kids destroy their house while us adults talked and talked and talked. So fun!

 
 
 
 
 
 

 On our drive home to Edmonton, we finally saw another Elk with a HUGE set of antlers just outside of Jasper. 

The rest of July was filled with finishing things up in Canada and saying goodbye. I had a birthday in there and we got news about Chris' diagnosis (but there's another post about that). Here are some of our 'goodbye' pictures with friends. I probably can't say enough about how much our friends there have helped us out with babysitting, meals, throwing us a goodbye party and birthday party, not to mention all the emotional support.  They are the 'salt of the earth' up there.

 
 
  
 
 
 
 One of our favorite babysitters! The kids were being very cooperative, but oh well, I'm still glad for the picture.

Even though this one was taken a few months previous, its of our super nice neighbor when we lived at the Peterson's house. I had to add it in there. 

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Cancer is Back

Biopsy after Biopsy. Waiting after waiting.  Good signs after good signs. We finally have concrete evidence and a diagnosis. Hodgkin Lymphoma is back in my amazing Chis and slowing trying to kill him.  The key part of that sentence is the word "slowly."  It was so hard to find, and hardly growing so we're hopeful we caught it early. Just like two years ago, we are literally in the middle of an international move to a new location empty of people we know.  The diagnosis came 3 hours after waving goodbye to our moving truck. As well, it was my birthday. (That's for you Chris! I'm turning Canadian).

The treatment plan is the same as what they thought it would be 4 months ago when they first warned us it might be back: 2-3 months of harsh chemotherapy followed by a stem cell transplant that will most likely include a 2-4 week hospital stay.  Of course this is what our Canadian oncologists have recommended and as we get connected with new doctors (but we first have to find them and muck through the insurance mess) we will be subject to their recommendations. I am told that the treatment plan outlined is generally accepted as the best next step for patients in Chris' condition of recurring Hodgkin lymphoma.

That was two days ago. I wasn't feeling well yesterday (bad sore throat and aches) and got to bed so early that by 7:00 this morning I was wide awake. I used this early morning quiet time to reread the most recent General Conference talk by President Uchtdorf on Hope and Light.  I had randomly come across is 4 days ago and wondered at the time, if this talk was preparing me for the upcoming results of Chris' biopsy....maybe they were going to be bad news, maybe I would need to really study this talk as I digested the news.  Turns out it was, and I did, so I am. On my first pass through it I was struck by this paragraph:

"To all who feel they walk in darkness, I invite you to rely on this certain promise spoken by the Savior of mankind: "I am the light of the world; he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life"

As I contemplate helping Chris fight cancer again, I am certain of a few things. I know I will fail at some things. I know I will not be able to do all the good things I want to do. I know I will 'mess up' at being a good mom and a tender wife, two of my roles I value most. I know there will come times when we'll need to make important decisions and I know that if I can have the Spirit with me, I will not be brought down by my shortcomings but instead carried the distance I need to go.  So it seems paramount that over the next 6 months I do what I can to follow Jesus, to 'have the light of life' beside me, to help me recognize my mistakes quickly, to lift me up when I feel down so that I may help my family through this hard thing that has been 'our lot' to live through. Because the kids are asleep and I don't want to wake them up to find my journal, I'll record here the top 3 things I feel will help me keep the Holy Ghost as my companion:

  1. Go to bed early - a full nights rest can work wonders for my body and emotions, and (double bonus) it helps me avoid watching dumb things on TV that even if they don't scare away the Spirit, they certainly don't invite Him to stay. 
  2. Bring back meaningful scripture study with journal writing - I've not been consistent the past few months with recording my thoughts in my journal as I read my scriptures and I KNOW this habit increases the effectiveness (amount of peace and light felt) of my study 10 fold.
  3. Don't yell - I've always wanted to be better at hiding my impatience and nothing drives away the Spirit like contention. This will be hard, but I'm telling myself its not 'who I am' but just a 'bad habit' that I can change with focused intention. 

On the complete other hand, to prove that I'm not being hard on myself, I also know, from experience, that over the next 6 months we will have many moments of happiness.  That we will feel surrounded by love and light as we notice and are grateful for the support and love of those who will inevitably help us. I know the strength and power of loving family and friends.  I know the joy that comes from feeling like, "We're doing ok!" As well, I know we will enjoy exploring and getting to know a new location, culture and seeing the beauty of a Southern landscape.  :)

I'm not afraid, I'm not surprised or confused. I'm not angry or numb. I'm sad. I'm wary. I'm hopeful.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Super busy

Its easier to just do bullet points:

- Getting ready and keeping a house perfect for showings is hard. We watched a lot of movies and ate out a lot.

 
 

- Meanwhile we had a pregnancy scare that required me to take it reaaaaally easy. Im blessed to have good friends who step up and provide meals and childcare for us for a week. We're also blessed to have been spared a tragedy and to live in a day with technology that allowed us to hear and see the baby's heartbeat!

- The next week we packed up our stuff and moved it all to a storage unit but at the same time/day keep the house clean for a couple of showings. What a nightmare but again, I'm so glad for the friends who helped us move, pack, clean, and let us camp out in their house for a couple of days.

- The next day we had fun as a family going to see a movie in the theater in honor of Canada Day! Monster University. It was so fun.

- The next day Chris had a CT scan to compare the size of the active nodes from 2 months ago, then within 30 min if his coming home we headed out in the car to drive 18 hours practically through the night to UT.

- The day after we arrived was the 4th of July! My whole family had a BBQ at Archibalds then headed over to stay up late at the Stadium of Fire. It was really fun, even if it was an hour too long. Kelly Clarkson is a great live performer and the fireworks were HUGE and LONG. Charlie fell asleep during the last song before the fireworks...poor boy. Gwen slept through all the concerts but woke up for the fireworks needing both earplugs and Chris's jacket to keep her from crying. Alec enjoyed the whole thing by plugging his ears. The parachuters that landed in the stadium at the beginning might have been the coolest part. Oh wait, cirque de soleil was cool too.

 
 
 

- getting only 5.5 hours of sleep, we woke up at 6 the next morning to see the hot airballoons take off. It's chris' favorite part of the freedom festival and pretty magical.

 
 
Anyone spot who made a guest appearance? Of course, my boys were too shy to  go up to him to grab a picture...but they sure loved watching him from afar.

 
 

- then my brother got married but I'm too tired to add details now. I guess it'll have to be to be continued....