Monday, December 17, 2012

it's been a while!

Things have been so crazy around here that I haven't updated this blog for a while!  Carter is doing really well, has had two clinic visits since the last update.  Everything has looked good.  He also had one ER visit in the middle of the night.  He was diagnosed with "the beginnings of pneumonia" and was on antibiotics for 10 days.  Other than that, nothing major to report on our awesome Carter.  He'll have his last clinic visit at our hospital in a few days.  After that, we're heading across the world to FRANCE!  We already have a clinic visit set up with the new French hospital in January.  Let's hope there's some English speakers around!  Carter's doctor is very supportive and not worried at all about our big move.  I, on the other hand, am terrified about adjusting to a new hospital, new doctors, new nurses, new routines, taking the bus instead of driving our car to appointments, the list goes on and on.  Overall, I'm very excited about our new adventure but this aspect of it is not something I'm looking forward to.  Hopefully it will be a quick and easy transition.  We will really miss our current doctors and nurses.  They are all so fantastic and really care about my little boy.  It will be hard to say good-bye to them in a few days!

We also had a little "graduation party" for Carter from the Chemo Pal program.  Usually this kind of party is reserved fo whenr chemo is finished but since we're moving we got to have Carter's party early.  It was great to go out for frozen yogurt with Jason and Jeannie (from the Children's Cancer Association) and say thank you to them for all their support and help through these past two years.  I wish I had remembered to take a picture while we were there!  This picture was from a while ago, but it will have to suffice.  We have grown very attached to so many people who have helped us along this crazy cancer-fighting journey.  I hate good-byes!

Sunday, September 30, 2012

two more clinic visits

Carter went in a week and a half ago for a CBC.  He's been on about half doses of both his oral meds and his ANC was high enough to bump one up a little.  The boys had a blast with Carter's chemo pal while we waited to talk with the doctor. 
Then a few days ago he went back in for his regular monthly clinic visit for chemo.  His ANC was sky high at 4300 so we increased his other oral med a bit.  Everything looks really good and he's feeling great these days.  He is still loving kindergarten.  He even wanted to bring his backpack in the clinic to show the nurses.  Other than that, not much to report (which I'm not sad about!). 

Saturday, September 8, 2012


Carter is officially a kindergartner!  I've been trying to prepare myself for this day all summer long.  He has been so excited and asked nearly every day this summer when school would start.  I thought he might explode from the anticipation.  The closer it got and the more we did to prepare (school supplies, backpack, new clothes), the excitement just grew and grew in him and the nervousness in me.  Then came back to school night.  I totally lost it before we even walked into his classroom.  Meeting his sweet teacher was more than I could handle and the poor kind woman was so sweet to this bawling momma.  He drank it all in as we did a few activities and picked out a new book.  I came home that evening thinking that my emotions had gotten the better of me but it was probably nothing compared to what the first day of school would bring.  I was so nervous to send my sweet little guy out into the world.  All the common fears of any mom sending their kindergartner off for the first time were on repeat through my head.

Finally, the much anticipated day came.  Carter got up early and was dressed and ready to go with plenty of time to spare.  Or in other words, time to wander around the house asking me when it would be time to go.  I dropped off the younger two at a friend's house and Carter and I headed for the school.  Suddenly, all I could think about was how grateful I am that he is healthy and well enough to be going to school right now.  Yes, having a child going through chemo and also attending public school is nerve-racking to say the least, but oh so exciting.  I've seen the little school room in the inpatient oncology unit and it's so great that it's there but I'm SO glad that Carter isn't having his first day of school there.  I was overwhelmed with happiness and gratitude.  What a triumph for our little man!  He's overcome so much already, now he's ready for new challenges and adventures.  He continues to inspire me and make me want to be better.  Just thinking about all that Carter has been through to get here is incredible.  He deserves to be involved in a normal thing like kindergarten.  He had to fight for this.  And he continues to fight everyday.  So as we pulled into the school parking lot, something magical happened.  The fear and nervousness disappeared and all I felt was happiness, excitement, gratitude, and of course, pride.  When we walked into his classroom, I could tell the teacher was ready to comfort me and assure me that everything was going to be just fine, but I didn't need it.  I was just so darn excited.  Not to mention that his excitement was very contagious :).  Now, I'm not saying that the nerves and fears are gone forever - they are most definitely not, but at that moment, when I needed comfort and strength, it was given to me.  It was so fun to think all day about what he might be doing and I was so eager to hear all about his first day.  I know that Carter has an incredible life ahead of him.  This is a small step to his greatness.

 Just got home. 
(These pictures are in reverse order so if you're picky about that sort of thing I suggest you start at the bottom)
 His teacher drew a heart on his hand "because I love Mommy and Daddy!"
 When he first got to his classroom.
 Waiting to cross the parking lot.
Killing time before leaving for school.
And for the record, he LOVED his first day!  He kept remembering things to tell us all night long.  He and his brother stayed up way too late playing in their room - they must have missed each other.  

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Counts are back up

We visited the clinic again today and Carter's counts are up high enough to restart the oral meds.  I feel like I've written this exact sentence so many times before.  It kinda feels like we're on repeat of this cycle and I don't know that it will ever stop.  At least not til he's done with treatment.

Carter has been feeling pretty miserable off and on the last couple days.  He's even woken up crying from pain a few times.  I'm really hoping its just a virus or something and will be over soon.  I had high hopes that we were done with this kind of nonsense!  He's set to start school in a few days so he needs to be better by then!  Poor thing, it just never ends.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

2 clinic visits

A couple weeks ago Carter had to go in to the clinic unexpectedly because of a fever.  It was probably just a virus.  His ANC was 600, barely above the 500 cutoff for being admitted to the hospital.  Phew!  His fever came back later that day but thankful, they let us stay home since we had just been there a few hours before.

Last week was his monthly clinic visit for a check up and chemo.  Everything went really well, except his ANC was down to 200.  We're holding the oral chemo until his counts go back up.  We'll go back in tomorrow to check.

And the last item of business:  It's been a year since we had Carter's dragon smashing party!  It was last Labor Day weekend that tons and tons of friends gathered in our backyard to watch Carter stomp on those dragons.  What an awesome day that was!  Here's a link to my post about it.  I can hardly believe it's already been a year since Carter started maintenance.  It's had it's ups and downs and Carter has learned and grown so much.  I like to think we all have, but I know for sure that Carter has :). It's still hard to see the end from here because it's so far in the future, but looking back on how far we've come already is great motivation to keep on truckin.  If my math is correct (ya never know), we are halfway through it all.   Yay Carter!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Chief for a Day event!

Last week was the big state-wide Chief for a Day event in Seattle. They put us up in a hotel the night before so we wouldn't have to get up super early to be there by 9 am. We stayed at the Westin Seattle and it was amazing! They gave us a suite on the 40th floor with beautiful views of the city and Puget Sound. It was breathtaking. And huge. There was a big living room/dining room/kitchenette area that connected two bedrooms.

Half of the living/dining/kitchenette area.

The spread we found waiting for us.

Part of our view.  The Space Needle is between the two buildings on the left.

Another part of the view towards the Puget Sound.

But enough about the hotel.  The next morning there just so happened to be an IACP (International Association of Chiefs of Police) training conference happening at our hotel.  Once they heard that Sheriff Carter would be staying at the same hotel the night before they wanted him to be a part of their opening ceremonies.

We met with all the dignitaries right before it started.  Carter walked in with them and sat up on the stand.  It was so cute.

They did the flag ceremony and prayer then introduced Carter.   Then he thanked Carter for taking time out of his busy schedule to be there with them and then dismissed him and us so we could get to our other event.  The two men with guns followed us down the aisle as we left.  It was really cool to be a part of that.

After we were done at the hotel, we headed over to Century Link Field where all the other little Chiefs were.  We had breakfast and Srgt Gardner took Carter around to get autographs from all the Sheriffs and Chiefs there.

Then we waited for the motorcade to leave.
Riding in the motorcade was one of my favorite parts.  There was a huge line of police vehicles and the police motorcycles kept zooming by us to stop traffic.  The motorcade vehicles were the only ones on the road.  All the on ramps were backed up with a Police motorcycle in front of them keeping them off the road until we passed.  We felt like VIPs.

We arrived at the Criminal Justice Training Center where the event was to be held.  Everyone sat in the auditorium and then all 27 of the Chief for a Day kiddos came in accompanied by the academy class who were serving as chaperons.  Our recruit, Chris, was awesome.  He helped us carry things, got the kids ice cream, took them to see things while I waited in line, and much more.

Here he is with all the other Chiefs.  We did the badge pinning and presentation of certificates and then headed over to have lunch.

Me with Sheriff Carter and Sheriff Lucas.

Each little chief had a table full of gifts for him/her and their family.  We got lots of goodies, my favorite being a scrapbook from Denise with all the newspaper clippings, press releases, pictures, etc from this summer.  It is amazing.  Carter got a new backpack and all his school supplies among other things.  His favorite gift is either the police helicopter or his new camera.  That's right, he got a waterproof camera.  He's been really wanting one for a while now so it was a perfect gift.

There was free ice cream everywhere.

And face painting

and pony rides.

This may have been my favorite part.  The K-9 demo.  They let any little chief that wanted to have a turn to go be a helper to the K-9 handlers.  We've met these guys a few times before since they train down here in our county.  They were really excited to see Sheriff Carter and they even had a little gift for him. 
So he went up there, they gave him a fake gun, and then he said to the bad guy, "Stop or I'll send the dog!"

You can see him to the right with his gun pointed at the bad guy and he was saying, "Show me your hands!"

Then the dog was called off and Carter took the bad guy away.  I think he's the only little chief that improvised that last step.  It was so cute to watch him do that.  I loved it!
Srgt Gardner and everyone else there from the county took such good care of us.  We were all exhausted from being out in the 100 degree heat so we packed up to head off.  But first we opened the gift basket they had for us.  I didn't actually take any pictures of that happening but here's part of the aftermath:

It was such a fun day. 
What an incredible summer we've had!  We have grown very close to these folks we've been working with all summer and it's sad that it's over now.  Luckily, they have assured us that our friendships will continue.  What a ride it's been!  Thank you to everyone that has helped in any way.  We are truly blessed.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Aug clinic and some surprises!!

We went in for Carter's monthly clinic visit last week.  We even had some friends come along to join the fun.  And Carter's chemo pal was there, too.  It was a full/fun room :)  Carter did great, as usual.  It was pretty uneventful, just the way we like it.  His numbers are all looking good so they increased the dose of one of his oral meds again.  They're slowly trying to get back up to full dosage, we're at about 70% right now for both of them.

Now onto the fun stuff!  First of all, Sheriff Carter got to go meet the police dogs!  Here's an article about that:  Then a few days later, the Sheriff's department and Chief for a Day folks sent us to the Great Wolf Lodge!  That was a blast.  We didn't tell the boys what we were doing so they were so surprised and excited to see the huge indoor waterpark insided the hotel.  Here's their faces just seconds after seeing it:

And here's the wolf cave they got to sleep in.

As if that wasn't enough, we came home to a big surprise.  Here's the news clip from that evening:

I can't believe all that was done for us.  Friends, neighbors and strangers all came together in the 103 degree heat and worked ALL day long, cleaning everything spotless inside and out, new light fixtures outside, new plants, bushes, and flowers, new bedding and decor for the boys bedroom, new kitchen set for the baby girl, cleaned our carpets, and of course the huge play structure in the backyard.  I can't name everything that was done it was so much.  And I have no idea who all helped.  I know a few of you that were involved but I know there was more that are still unknown to us.  So just let me say  THANK YOU!!!!!  Thank you so much, this all means so much to us.  To see the look on the faces of our kids when they saw they're new bedroom and "park in the backyard" (as they call it) was priceless.  I can never say thank you enough.  I am overcome with emotion whenever I think about all the kindness that we have been the recipents of.  We are amazed and comforted by the goodness of the world around us.  We already knew that we have fantastic friends because they've done SO MUCH for us already.  But their dedication, along with that of others that we've never even met is just....   I'm in awe.  A special thanks to Sergeant Shane and Denise for organizing this whole thing.  We are so happy that you chose our son to be your Sheriff and that we've had the opportuny to work so closely with you all summer long.  I don't even know where to begin with my Thank Yous for you so I'll save that for later :)  We had such an amazing weekend, it's hard to go back to real life today.  But it's made much easier because my house is clean and pretty, and the kids are outside playing :)

Saturday, July 7, 2012

July Clinic Visit

We headed back to the clinic this past week.  Everything went really well.  He didn't have a sedation this time so it was pretty quick, too.  He was super brave this time and didn't even sit on my lap when the nurse accessed his port!  That was the first time he's ever done that.  I asked him if I should just drop him off at the front next time and he can come to his appointment by himself.  I was relieved that he still does want me there :)  His counts are good:  White blood cell 2800, ANC 1900, hemoglobin 11.4 and platelets 229,000.  They increased the dose of one oral med since his ANC is a little high again.  Other than that, it was short and sweet.

Sitting all by himself for his access.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

June clinic visit

We went in for Carter's monthly clinic visit last week.  The Dr. said Carter looks great!  His numbers are up a little bit from last month.  White blood cell count is 2800, ANC 1700, hemoglobin 12.1 and platelets 211,000.  Since his ANC is slightly above the 1500 that they like to keep it below, they increased the dose of one of his oral meds a little bit.  His sedation went really well and he woke up feeling better and a lot less wobbly this time around.  He's been sleeping more since then, recovering from the chemo but he's pretty much back up to his normal energy levels now. 

It made me very happy the other day when I realized that this summer I will NOT have to put sunscreen all over his bald head!  And he hasn't thrown up in 2 months!!!!  The last time that was true was about a year and a half ago.  We are all so happy that he's feeling so good.  Also, I just registered him for kindergarten.  Holy Cow.  The office lady was so very sweet.  It's all over his registration papers that he's going through chemo for leukemia.  She told me, without asking any questions or anything first, that they will do whatever they can to help him and keep him healthy.  She said, "We're all moms here, we understand!"  She was so kind and caring and it helped to calm my anxiety a little bit.  He, of course, is incredibly excited to start school.  He will love it and do great there, I'm sure.  It's me I'm worried about.... and his little brother who will be so sad to have his best friend gone everyday.  But, life goes on, and thank goodness for that!

Monday, June 4, 2012

We have been busy!!

 Well, Carter is the police chief.  He was "sworn in" a couple weeks ago.  This was before the ceremony and all the media were filming and taking pictures, the sergeant was pinning on his stars, and he was completely oblivious, playing with the toys.

 Repeating the oath.

 Shaking hands with the sheriff.

 The next day we were invited to a service honoring the police officers who've been killed in the line of duty.  It was really touching and I'm very grateful that we were invited to be there.  Afterwards, Carter got to go around and meet all the police dogs.  Have you ever seen a police dog up close??  They're really big!  I was a little nervous but I think Carter pet each and every one of them.  He was very excited to find out that he's the "boss" of the dogs also :)

 We were in a parade, riding in the Sheriff's boat.  

 Carter was invited to be the ribbon-cutter at the opening ceremonies of the Rose Festival.  It was so awesome!  He loved the gigantic scissors, even though he couldn't hold them up by himself.

 He was on live TV as he cut the ribbon!

 After the ceremony, we were given wristbands to go on all the rides we wanted.  Oh man, they boys had a blast!!  After a few hours it started pouring rain but we still had such a fun evening.

His brother occasionally calls him "the sheriff" or "the chief".  And Carter often tells people, "I'm the sheriff!  Did you see me on the news and in the newspaper?"  He asked while eating an apple, "Do Sheriff's always eat all of their apple?"  I could see this working in our favor...

More fun to come!  But first, another clinic visit in a couple days.  Stay tuned.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Chief for a Day & 2 clinic visits

Carter has been chosen to be the Police Chief for a Day!  They do this program every two years where each police department chooses an honorary Chief (usually a child with a life-threatening illness or something significant like that).  All through the summer he will get to be in parades, go see SWAT team and K9 unit training, go on a boat patrol on the river, and whatever else they come up with for him.  He even gets his own little chief uniform!  He's being sworn in this Wednesday morning (contact me if you're interested in attending, it's open to the public).  The big ceremony with all the police departments and their honorary Chiefs will be later in the summer.  We are so excited and honored to be a part of this program!

His monthly clinic visit was the past week.  Everything went really well.  His blood counts are exactly where they want them to be, finally!  White blood cell count 2100, ANC 1100, hemoglobin 11.2 and platelets 214,000.  He went in to check counts a few weeks ago to see if we could start his oral meds again.  His ANC was barely high enough so he's been on half dose ever since.  He's so brave for his sedations now!  He just climbs up on the bed and closes his eyes.  I tried to capture his pose before he actually went under cause it was so cute.  His legs started falling over right as I took the picture so the sedation doctor held them up for another second for me.  Once he woke up he was really loopy and wobbly but he REALLY wanted to drive his little car.  He was very upset that we wouldn't let him.  He couldn't even sit up without tipping over!  After some rest and some snacks he was finally able to get into his car and then he was happy again.  He's been doing really well and is happy and energetic most days.  It's wonderful to see.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Make-A-Wish Check presentation

 We were asked to come share our story again at this Make-A-Wish check presentation.  It was at a car dealership and this time we took all the crazy kids with us.  It was great to share our story and say thank you to more people that have done a lot to make wishes come true for local kids.  No amount of thank yous will be sufficient to express our gratitude for that amazing trip but it's great to be able to say a couple here and there.

We also just go this in the mail:
It's a scrapbook from Make-A-Wish with tons of pictures from our trip!  It's incredible.  It's up on our mantle and Carter gets it down all the time and just looks through it, asks a lot of questions like, "Hey Mom, remember when we fed the dolphins?"   And then he puts it back until next time.  What a fantastic gift!  I cannot ever say enough good things about the Make-A-Wish foundation.  We love them!