Sunday, December 16, 2012

The Helpers

Like every parent in the nation, my heart is absolutely broken for the families in Connecticut.  The cavernous dark of this act cannot be expressed in words.  How this evil destroyed so much snow white innocence makes one stop and think, "How can this happen?  How can God let this happen?  Where WAS He?!" And while I cannot say I experienced this loss, I can say that I have felt that darkness before.  And then something happened.

I remember when Gideon was rushed into the PICU, hooked up to a heart monitor.  I remember the doctors not being able to explain why Gideon's heart rate continued to decrease.  I remember frantically wondering if I would leave that hospital without this light in my life, this gift from heaven: my precious baby boy.  Right when I was about to yell at God, something switched within me, and there was a Holy presence that was both heavy and light at the same time.  It felt like I was breathing in the cleanest, purest particles while my soul was held, actually caressed, into calm.  It felt like the beams of grateful radiance were shooting out of the slats of each rib and pouring peace through my every particle.  I didn't know if Gideon would live, but I knew everything was going to be okay.  I was grateful and felt like praising God for Gideon and Brody, instead of yelling.  I got it in that second: These boys of mine had added the greatest joy I had ever known in life, and I needed to be thankful for everything instead of disparaging over what may be lost. I watched the doctors and nurses milling around Gideon and knew everything would be done.  God wasn't in the sickness, He wasn't in the doubt, He wasn't in the dark: He was and IS light.  He was in the helpers.

My darkest moment created the moment of clearest joy.

I don't think it is possible to find any joy in the act of what happened, but I am already hearing about heroes in those atrocious moments.  I am already hearing stories of the victims and the impact their short lives had on so many.  I am seeing and hearing countless people joining together to wrap this community up in help and in love.  That's where God is: in the love.

Now I am thinking about those baby witnesses in that school at that moment.  I am thinking about our own children who can sense our worry and sadness as parents.  Just like the quote above, that Mr. Rogers knew his stuff.  I urge every parent/caretaker to go to this link and read valuable information on how you can help your own child while this horrific news blares all around him/her, courtesy of the wise Fred Rogers.

In the meantime, I will admit to adding more tufts of mistletoe to the ceiling of my home to serve as more excuses to slather unexpected kisses on my babies every few seconds.  Also, I need to give you an update.  Gideon has been assigned to a pediatric gastroenterologist to get to the bottom of his pain.  His medication for the pain he is dealing with has doubled, and that truly seems to be helping.  So, thank you to everyone praying for my boy and so many others like him.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Momma Bear in the Woods

Enough is enough. I am tired, tired, tired of the heartbreak from hearing Gideon screaming “OOOOWWWIE!” in the middle of his deep sleep. I don't want to run into his room and see him in a ball-like fetus rocking from side to side anymore. I have had enough of him waking up every morning saying that his tummy is on fire, and not wanting to leave mommy's side to go to school while tears stream down his face. “I just need to lay down, mommy.” I have had enough of him picking at his food, and only eating soft pretzels. Mostly, I am tired of feeling like I am overdosing him on antacids that seem to be placebo and nothing more. I need something to stop the pain. If it's not the cancer causing the pain, let's battle the pain itself. No one should be so uncomfortable, and I am tired of knowing that my baby is hurting. That was a momma bear rant. But, I need all of this to stop.

Gideon still has a cough leftover from a loooong time ago, and a few nights this week I lay awake listening to it while tuning my ear in order to hear even a faint hint of a pneumonia rattle. Last year, we dealt with that beast a ton. This year, I know not to physically push him while he is getting over a cold. I got even more worried when Gideon coughed so hard in the car that he threw-up (thus making us late for Brody's hockey). Gideon has been coming into my classroom during his recess time (which happens to by my lunch time), and lays on my bean bags to rest. Due to all of the discomfort this week, he has welcomed the rest time. That breaks my heart: the way he doesn't beg to go outside to play with his friends. He says he just needs “to lay down.” He's five. I want my baby to act it, please.

Thankfully, last weekend we all lived within the inner compounds of emotional shagri-la. Truly. On Friday, Brody, Gideon and I went on an “Owl Prowl.” We learned how to make owl calls, saw a Great Horned Owl up close, and then went on a night hike without flashlights or any other artificial lights at all. Our eyes had to go back to their prehistoric need to adjust to darkness. We were instructed to be as quiet as we could. I held the gloved hands of two silent boys as we walked heel-toe through the woods. Their voices didn't make a sound, except to gasp softly at the far-away owl hoots. They squeezed my hands every time they heard an owl, and that became our only form of communication – excited hand squeezes. The tree limbs were ink etches against hole-punctured carbon since the stars were sparkling in all of their glory. It was a timeless walk without light of fire or bulb, and my heart felt so free. I loved the way my nose was cold and the way each breath filled my lungs with life. This felt like life, this walk with my boys in silence and all senses acute. I think you can tell we found a new favorite hobby. The way my boys got so into the magic of nature made me so proud to be their mommy, once again.

On Saturday, we went to the Air Zoo to visit Santa and to ride the rides. Then I was awed by my boys again. They wanted to spend more time in the WWII section. They wanted to know about every gun, every artifact, everything. Those who really know me know that I was doubly in my glory! My boys shared my love of nature, and now HISTORY?! Oh. I soaked it UP.

More than anything, I am in awe with the way Gideon can ignore pain for as long as he can to enjoy life. I don't know if I could ever be as strong as him. He hiked as far as he could, and I carried him the rest of the way during our hike. He stood and walked at the museum as much as he could until he could not stand anymore. Instead of crying and pouting and feeling sorry for himself like I would (along with most everyone else), he whispers, “Mommy, I can't hold down the hurt anymore and I need you to carry me or I need to rest.” Mister Gideon, we will conquer this pain so that your love of life and adventure is no longer squelched. His next chemo-at-the-hospital visit is Tuesday. I will keep you all posted. I pray they can help my boy.  

Saturday, November 17, 2012


We were feeling peace and positivity walking into the hospital Friday morning. We weren't told either way what these tests on Friday might reveal, just that his numbers were uncommon when it comes to the types of chemo takes (so that was unlikely to be the cause). Everything else was left gaping open, and I tried-tried-tried not to fill in the gaps with the incomplete information I found on my own and through word of mouth.

Instead, the gap of possibilities was completely filled in with prayers and love and positivity from the countless people thinking and praying for Gideon. THANK YOU for those prayers. THANK YOU for showing so much love! Once Gideon's blood was drawn, he remained “accessed” incase further testing or drugs needed to be administered. Gideon's oncologist told us that if his numbers remained where they were on Tuesday, we would be geared up and ready for an ultrasound of the internal organs. We would work from there. I was okay with the step-by-step and systematic process. It all felt as though we were getting somewhere, instead of running full sprint on the exhausting treadmill of what-if.

The results came in... HIS NUMBERS WERE BACK TO NORMAL!!! We were told there was not a sure explanation for any of this, but I know the explanation was prayer. Also, it was a reminder that I so needed: Love the ones you have in your life ACTIVELY. Adore them. Cherish them. Ignore the in-bin more than your children. Unplug every item in the house during dinner (except for the gets dark crazy early these days, and we don't want to chop off a pinky). When it's sunny, forget the dust in your house that is caught shimmering in the sunlight pouring into your room, get out there! Thank you, God, for those reminders.

This Thanksgiving season is brimming over with a cornucopia of blessings. I don't deserve this harvest I've reaped in life, but here it is! In front of me every single day I have two sets of blue eyes who smile at me and call me “Mommy.” This morning, we snuggled in bed and talked about how cozy flannel sheets make us feel. We then tried to make static electricity sparks. It didn't work, but the movements we made were hilarious, so we feasted on a breakfast of giggles. Precious, happy, heart-awakening giggles.

Gideon and I bought a bird feeder from Wedel's as soon as we left the hospital as his “poke prize”. He could pick out ANY bird feeder he wanted, and he chose the sunshine yellow one because he felt the birds could see it the best. Plus, it's for the winter and it will remind the birds of the warm sun. Mmmmm... I love how he thinks.  We filled up his chemo prize with birdy treats and hung it up. 

This morning, after the gigglefest, we hurried downstairs to catch some early birds through the kitchen window. Then: more magic. A spike, fawn and a twelve point buck wondered in front of our house and near our brand new feeder. I stood back in the kitchen, frozen and watching. Gideon was pressed up to the window. I only remember wishing I could move to get my camera, but I didn't want to startle this magnificent creature. I had never seen one so close, a full-racked deer. Just as I was thinking this thought, marveling at the closeness of this wild beauty, the magic sprinkled more magic on top of itself. The twelve-point buck WALKED UP to the window where Gideon was perched, and the two of them stared at one another. Gideon was making a sound that reminded me of a hushed giggle-sigh. The sound he was making coupled by the scene in front of me was too gorgeous, and it felt holy. I felt awash with amazement and thankfulness. Then, he was gone and Gideon turned to me, “I guess he wanted to see the bird feeder, too!” I replied, “No, I think he wanted to see YOU.”

Yellow bird feeder 

Grilled chicken eaten outside!  HOORAY! 

Gideon in the leaf pile!

Precious Big-bro
Meet Rudy Christmas.  He is Gideon's Christmas dog who plays "Rudolph" when his paw is pressed.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Waiting and trusting.

The more worry and fear that I allow to invade my heart, the less space there is for the peace I know and remember. I was up late last night. Very, very late. I was contemplating that dinosaur that took turns suffocating and eating my heart yesterday. Here's what I realized: Somehow in the folds of my cranium, there is the idea that I can somehow deflect or ward off hardships simply by worrying about it. I remembered the positive naivety and the there-is-no-way-this-is-cancer attitude I took at the beginning of this journey, and the devastating shock of grief that came when I learned I was wrong. I think I was scared of being too positive yesterday. I think I wanted to tell myself to breathe, to not think the worst, all of that, but I was SCARED to do that because that was too eerily similar to where my mind and heart was before this all began. It was the cancer diagnosis baggage weighing me down. I was letting the cancer define my thoughts, worries, and heartache. But, no matter the outcome, I never want to hand that kind of power over to such a despicable and evil disease. Never.

So, I have had my tears. I let myself get it out. I had a very animated and angry talk with God. Thankfully, God is Love and He is still holding me close. Now, I will look forward and realize that the doctors have no idea what caused these number changes in Gideon's blood. I focused on the one possibility of a relapse, and the dinosaur took over. I could just as easily realize that there are any number of possibilities, and I feel it is more likely to be the chemo than cancer. Then... I kept thinking about all of Gideon's “hot belly” complaints and the way Prevacid does not work to squelch the pain, and I worried all over again. I have not felt right about all of that pain for awhile now. AGAIN...this could be from the drugs. It could be from so many factors. Shame on me for googling and seeing words flash on the screen, and then melt into a foggy blur of tears and sobs, thus inviting the dinosaur a seat on my soul with open arms. No more googling for me from here on out, I promise.

Waiting is not something I am a fan of doing. I want to fix it. I want the new normal of chemo drugs and progression that is steady and textbook towards a complete and total cure.

For now, let's rule out one variable at a time until we pinpoint what is causing the commotion in such a little body. I feel like I can breathe now. It's not that I am waiting to worry. It's that I am waiting on God. No matter what, Gideon is alive and sweet and so himself. I will savor and take it all a test at a time. I am not even going to think of what it could be anymore. This isn't denial. This isn't head in the sand stuff. I realize the severe and the minuscule situations that these results can put us in, but where are we now? Alive. Loving one another. Whatever it is, we will deal with the outcome alongside those who love us while looking up to the One who knows it all.

Lastly, I want to thank fellow cancer momma Rachelle for sending me this: “Praying 2 Timothy 1:7 over you. 'God did not give us a spirit of fear, but of power, love, and a sound mind.' That sound mind is probably the hardest. You are loved and held in prayer.”

My crazy mind is soothed by all of your prayers. That peace is directly influencing my boys, and I can't thank you enough for all of the positivity and love that you have all been pouring on top of my fog-induced brain. I have been baptized by it all, renewed by it all, and ready to battle for my baby.

Please keep praying.

The Wii timer is about to go off, and we have a clay pot making marathon to commence. Sweet-sweet normalcy. Please stay.

Gideon and "Little Dog"... He was there since the beginning.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Please, God.

Two.  That's the number of Gideon's appointments I have missed.  One was today.  I won't focus on the guilt I feel for not being there, or the fact that his port wasn't working and for the first time, drugs needed to be used to make it work.  No.  I need you all to know about the crazy huge dinosaur, most likely a ravenous meat-eater, that is sitting on my chest and refuses to budge.

"Wait to worry.  Don't think of the worst.  Stay positive.  Breathe.  Don't let your thoughts go there."  I used to say those things to people.  How clueless I was before, before cancer.  That was when I KNEW Gideon COULDN'T have leukemia.  When there was NO WAY it could EVER touch my baby.  Now here I am, with this perpetual mist that is thicker than any fog floating around my head right now.  It's a wet fog.  It adds to the dormancy of that dinosaur who is camped out on me and doesn't want to venture into this thicker-than-fog mist.  

Gideon's blood counts were off today.  They were the chemistries within his kidneys, to be more specific.  What does this mean?  Even while Dr. Lobel talked to me this afternoon, I feel like every word thickened the mist, and I became more jumpy with the unknown.  I'll just focus on what I know.

Here it is:
We will halt all chemo (besides his steroids) to make sure this isn't a crazy side effect of the drugs.  Dr. Lobel said he has never seen any side effect from drugs present itself this way, though.  On Friday, at 9:30am, Gideon will undergo lab testing.  If his numbers all-of-a-sudden are normal, we can look into the possibilities of it being an anomaly of a reaction towards the drugs.  If his numbers are still off, we need to search deeper.

This is when I asked, "What else could it be?  Could it be a relapse?  Could it be more Leukemia?"

Doctor Lobel said, "We want to rule that out."

That's when the dinosaur found my soul.  Not sure if he is still sitting or has decided to start feasting on my heart.  I really want him to go back into extinction.  Please.  I really don't know what was said after that.  Something about bone marrow tests down the road for more answers.  I can't be sure, though.  I don't know how much was a nightmare and how much was real.

Dr. Lobel did say this could be a fluke result.  My ears perked up at that, but then he added, "But I don't think so since the test was run multiple times."

Sweet-sweet-sweet boy.  Precious sparkle-eyed honey who doesn't deserve any of this crap.  None of it.  

Gideon and Brody were in my classroom while this conversation happened.  Tom's girlfriend hired a real hockey trainer to work with Brody this afternoon, and the boy was so excited.  It was surreal to have such happiness and pent up excitement skipping around me while this kind of conversation was happening.  Gideon, in the meantime, continued to draw smiley-faces on my entrance line in my classroom, so that "Kids  remember to smile as they come in the music room!" according to Gideon.  He hummed happily while he did it.

Once Brody left on his adventure with daddy and Heather, and after I ran into the staff bathroom to have a mini-breakdown (thank you, amazing Early El colleagues for showering love on me), I looked at Gideon and said, "Let's do something fun.  YOU name it.  Anything."

His answer?  "Let's go to Cracker Barrel.  Pancakes sound amazing..."

So.  I bought more toys in that store than I probably should have.  We ate pancakes and played Cracker Barrel "I SPY" for a couple of hours.  We named his virtual fish friends on my iPhone.  We shopped for plants to plant in my fairy garden...

And now we wait.  I wish I could say that those horrific memories of the beginning of this horrendous journey are not replaying in my mind, but I would be lying.

Truth: I believe in prayer.  I believe in miracles.  I believe that the more human voices joined together with petitions to our God, the better.  I am praying for good fishies.  May they be swimming so strongly inside of my boy.  Please pray with me.  No cancer sharks allowed.  Ever.

Sunday, November 4, 2012


It's when they are forced apart that it all comes together. Brody and Gideon have a connection that truly is titanium and solid. They took turns being sick, and had to be kept apart because of this sickness. While Brody battled a fever, he actually started to cry and said, “Is Gideon okay? He really wanted to be with you tonight, didn't he, mommy?” And then a little sob escaped his lips because he actually felt guilty about that separation. He asked to talk to him on the phone whenever he went to sleep, and Gideon asked for the same.

Of course, there are those inevitable times when they are a pile of swinging fists and kicking legs, but then I get to watch the almost instantaneous forgiveness that comes after the savage attacks. That's the amazing part to me -- to see anger almost immediately dissipate into nothingness.  They then let it all go, all of the resentment, and are back to playing as if it never happened.  No grudges are kept, and peace wins.  Baffling and beautiful is what that is!  

Two distinctly unique boys with personalities that are pretty mismatched, my boys share a kindred spirit of brotherhood that blows me away. I love listening to their mini-people talk. I call it mini-people because, well, besides being miniature humans, they talk with genuine frankness and with a tone that is so grown-up, but the issues at hand have to do with which Beyblade has the best defense or how cucumbers are related to pickles... Miniature importance to the adult world, but not so small to these two.

At dinner last night, Gideon told us he plans to be a chef at a restaurant called “Good Fishies” and that he'd donate the money to childhood cancer research. This did not feel like mini-talk, and it was something he decided with a definitive nod of his head. Brody answered, “Great idea! I'll eat there.” And, by the lack of sarcastic glint and because I know that boy so well, I could tell by the way Brody was looking at his brother that he believed him and would support him through any endeavor little (or grown-up) Gideon chooses.

These two have been through much more than most siblings experience together. I know big and wonderful things will come to be because of the huge sense of togetherness and understanding they share. I thank God every single day that I get to witness their friendship.

Sunday, October 21, 2012


Still shocked.  So I won't speak.

And, a little dancing celebration from my Brody:

And, a little more ;)...

Thursday, October 18, 2012


They told me monks invented the shape of pretzels to mimic the shape their arms would make while praying, so I placed one after another in my mouth and ate prayer after silent, salty prayer.  I didn't bite down.  Not once. Instead I let the salt granules melt, the dark layer of brown disintegrate until the soggy innards of the prayer became nothing but thickened saliva for me to swallow.  This was holy work, this ingestion of unspoken prayers.  It was the only food I could eat since eating seemed so odd to me.  How could I pick up a fork while my pale three-year-old lay fighting for his life next to me?  I was afraid to breathe, let alone chew.
"Eat, Amanda!  Eat!" the nurses would say, the relatives would say, the teary-eyed-and-bewildered friends would say.  I always nodded.  "What sounds good?" they'd all ask.  

I would say, "pretzels," but it might as well have been "prayers."  That was all that seemed to register in my mind.  That's the only thing I was doing without making the words at all.  Just the feeling.   So, when words to God couldn't be formed without sobs, I prayed in pretzels.

All Gideon will eat right now without crying in pain is soft pretzels without salt.  I have been warming them up at school and bringing them to the lunchroom.  The damage to his intestinal area from all of this chemo poison doesn't seem to want to heal.  His insides are aflame and in so much pain.  So, I feed him more plain and tasteless pretzels, and I can't help but feel myself being transported back to that hospital stay full of pretzels and fear.  My prayer pretzels have not heard any new ones lately.  Heal, baby!  HEAL!

Can a communion wafer be made out of pretzel?  I think it should.

Gideon is upstairs sleeping.  He wants me to crawl in bed with him so that we can cuddle.  He promises to "Treat me like a lightbulb" even though he's on his "crazy person medicine" (steroids).  That's what he said... I will be his lightbulb and he will treat me like a fragile thing since I am his "sweet momma".  Thank you, God.  He is a gift even when he is RAGING from the medicine.

Gideon had his spinal chemo on Tuesday, and today he had a headache through and through to a full-on body-on-fire-ache.  Again, my boy was able to curl up on my beanbag and sleep as my classes filed in and sang and danced around him.  I kept offering going to grandma's house, but he wanted to be by momma.  And pretzels.  Those prayer-full pretzels.  

I think I will break open a bag now.  

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Puffy Sheep TRUMP puffy dark clouds. Always.

First, the news we have all been hoping for: Izzy's scans of her tumors came back cancer-free! Thank you for all of the prayers and well-wishes. Please keep her in your prayers as the doctors continue to scan and check her spinal fluid, as well. She fights through her disease with so much beautiful optimism, it makes me want to stop grumpy strangers on the street and tell them about her... Life is a miraculous gift, and even though her life is so much harder than so many others, Izzy knows and sparkles through it all.

Life has been uplifting and eye-opening at the same time these days. I am lifted up by the tremendous dominance of good souls on this planet seeing needs, and filling those needs without a string attached – just open hearts. The volunteers, the kids who played kickball, the people who donated time and money...I was overwhelmed by that love. It is crazy to me to comprehend any negativity someone would point out when it comes to an event benefitting childhood cancer. I had ONE person complain about the event. ONE. One person who must have so much internal anger and frustration in that moment, that the big picture was completely askew and the goodness of it all could not come into focus for him. 

At the time that I opened the email, little Izzy was having her tumors in her brain scanned for cancer. It was the exact moment because I remember closing my eyes and praying for Izzy and sending those pink bubbles of prayer to the table where she laid under the influence of a strong sedative. So, that's where my mind was. That's where my heart was. Then, I read negative words from someone who never experienced any pain from childhood cancer. From scans. From any of the nastiness this disease entails. And he felt it was in his place to do this – to be negative at all about our event. I saw red, people, and I was NOT proud of the thoughts I had running through my mind about this individual. It took over me, the absolute disgust I was feeling. It trumped the thousands of dollars we earned, and the gorgeousness that was the celebration of these kids who stood with their warrior medals hanging around their necks. I forgot, in that instant, the deeply emotional moment when 36 sky lanterns were lifting into the sky filled with prayers for the 36 kids who were diagnosed with cancer that day. One pink lantern lifted in memory of Hailey Grace Brown's, too. The gravity of why we did what we did and how that accomplishment felt all evaporated by one person's negativity.

Whose fault was that?


They say it is only in experience that true wisdom is garnered. I will take this rant-like email as an experience. Obviously, not everyone is as passionate about funding childhood cancer research as a mom who has a child with cancer, but it is clear that the desperate NEED for this funding is widely unknown. I will take this email as a message to learn by: many people are in the dark about the facts. This event is not just a school-wide assembly where there are supplies we need, volunteers to set-up, etc. It is so much more than that. This event, Mattawan Kicks Out Kids' Cancer, is about kids playing in honor of children in our OWN school battling this disease. It's about showing these kids that we support them and desire a cure, too. It's showing that we understand that it is only in advocating and in raising funds for research that progress towards a cure is certain. It's about LIFE and quality of LIFE for children.

I am now thankful for that email. It only strengthened my resolve to power through and fight harder on behalf of the children with cancer who cannot verbally stand against those who do not support the cause. This did not deter me, but instead, I went through my list of donors, volunteers, and DREAM TEAM members who worked tireless hours to make this event a reality. I fell asleep counting, and I was well into the hundreds. This is the truth, and it felt much puffier and comforting than counting sheep. I went to sleep counting the human blessings who understood that without CureSearch, when Gideon was diagnosed, we would have been told that his end was near. Instead, he has a positive prognosis. CureSearch saved Gideon's life. No negativity can tarnish the beauty that is progress against this disease.

To all of those COUNTLESS people who dedicated even one minute or one dollar to the event, THANK YOU for being one of the puffy sheep who shed light on one dark experience, and blessed so many lives that rainy and cold Saturday. “...whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things.” Thankful for wisdom that always was, is, and will be in the future.

Please, if you get anything at all from this post: Don't allow darkness, especially if it is only ONE cloud, drown out the sun that is life and beauty. Wisdom. I am stiiiiiiiill learning.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Sparkly Izzy

I am overwhelmed by all of the generosity and help so many provided in this year's Mattawan Kicks Out Kids' Cancer event!  I know so many worked tirelessly alongside me, and there are just so many people I want to thank, and I will do that in my next video :).  We started last year hoping to make $5,000, but we more than doubled that goal.  This year, we have made $18,000 and people are still opening their wallets and donating.  If  you want to drive that amount even higher, please click here.  Soon all of the money we made at the event itself will be plugged into the website.  CureSearch has made Gideon's prognosis promising.  Without this organization, his cancer would be a final death sentence.  To say I am grateful for their work... Well... That doesn't come close to explaining it.  I am not afraid to beg for sponsors, volunteers, bids or auction items.  My son is breathing.

I have a new request for every set of eyes reading this message: pray for sweet Izzy.  Sparkly Izzy is a first grader at Mattawan, and I have the immense joy of being her music teacher.   I mean it.  I say immense joy and it is the honest truth.  When she talks, there is a giggle ready to escape behind her every word. Her eyes glimmer, and when she feels happiness, she tilts her head and lets it completely engulf her in twirls and exuberance.  She is the very pinkest and fluffiest of girl purity.  And she needs us all to pray for her.  Tomorrow she has scans, and we needneedneed those scans to come back clear of this monster known as cancer.  I asked her momma for permission to ask for those prayers.  I am pausing all celebratory videos for our event yesterday until I can stop holding my breath and good news is the result of those scans.  Izzy, I am sending my prayers in the pinkest, most irredescent bubbles.  When they pop over your bed tonight, I pray they sprinkle over your head like fairy's dust -- the most powerful and magical of all fairies.  I love you, sweet girl!

Please click here to meet sweet Izzy via computer.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Mattawan Kicks Out Kid Cancer - The Morning Show with Ken Lanphear - FM 106.5 Music Variety from Yesterday & Today

Mattawan Kicks Out Kid Cancer - The Morning Show with Ken Lanphear - FM 106.5 Music Variety from Yesterday & Today

THANKS to Ken Lanphear!  He made me feel so calm and welcomed.  Right when I walked in he informed me that his wife and daughter have been following my blog, soooo... THANK YOU, ENTIRE LANPHEAR family for the support and love.  I pray that this interview generates interest and, with that interest, more donations to CureSearch.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

The Odd Life is a GOOD life

I had no idea "The Odd Life of Timothy Green" would be such a tear-jerker.  Of course, this is a boy who understands the meaning of life.  As he says, "What's the use of having gifts if you can't give them away?"  And every single time the sun would shine, he would stretch his arms out, lift his face to the sky, and smile.  He also understood that our "time with those we love is short."  And so, I bawled for basically the entire movie.  I kept wondering why I brought my boys and I felt like it was just too emotional for them.  But, as we left, Gideon said, "That Timothy has the light.  And he's not gone for good, mommy.  No one that good goes away for good.  They last and last and last."  So, all three of us talked about life and the way we live it.  Now, I can safely say, it was a great idea that we saw that movie.

Why were we watching a movie on a pretty Sunday afternoon?  Little Gideon is in a lot of pain from this round of chemo and steroids.  His legs cramp up, his head hurts, his tummy hurts...everything.  I wanted to do something that would get his mind off of it all.  So, what did I do?  Brought him to see a movie about a glorious little boy whose time on earth is short.  Ugh.  But, I am stopping myself.  It stirred up a lot of talk and love for us.  Remember?  I remember.  And, Gideon is beating his beast!  I know he is.  He doesn't have leaves falling off his Timothy.  He just has all of that light and then some.

So, Gideon had chemo on Tuesday.  By Thursday, his kindergarden teacher came to me to say that he was too worn out and uncomfortable from it all.  She brought him into my classroom during his recess, and Gideon laid on my beanbags and drifted to sleep.  He hurt too much to eat.  He didn't want to go home, but he wanted to be by me.  I asked Derek, our principal, if it was okay for Gideon to stay on the beanbag while I taught the rest of my classes that day.  He looked at me and said, "Of COURSE it is!  Kids' needs come first here!"  And they do.  Really.  I am blessed to work in a place who understands what matters and why.  I adore our school culture.

Speaking of school culture, Mattawan had a GOLD OUT for Kids' Cancer at Friday night's game.  And we won!  The gold shirts were a success, and I am hoping that will spur on people to sign up to play in the kickball tournament (or donate money).  THANK YOU, Mattawan advocates.  I am ever-so-grateful that so many people get it.

For the rest of our Sunday, we are going to live like it is always fall and we need to make the most out of every sunny moment.  What's the use in having gifts if we can't give them away?  <3 nbsp="nbsp" p="p">

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

What Makes You Alive

I thought I would share our morning song with you.  We listen to it most mornings, and it has become our go-to question when we feel ourselves get a little greedy or selfish or pouty.  All I have to do now is ask, "What makes you alive?"  and my boys will answer, "It's not what you get, it's all that you give."  Then the sharing commences... I hope this works forever.  If not, I better find another potent-messaged song to use as my teachable tool.

School for my boys has been great.  Both of them adore their teachers, and I love-love-love running into them in the halls.  Those surprise hugs and smooches just make my day.  At the end of the day, they both come into my classroom, immediately open their bags and show me what they accomplished.  Brody is my little filer.  As soon as Gideon takes out his math or art, they get scattered in a mosaic of Kindergarden fun on the floor, Brody promptly starts stacking and putting them away in Gideon's folder.  He even puts the math related things together, then the art, and so on... I am sticking him in my closet to organize my shoes pretty soon.  The boy has skills!

 First DAY of SCHOOL!

I have been very busy with Mattawan Kicks Out Cancer Kickball Tournament.  As you know, we raised over $10,000 last year, and that is pretty intimidating since we are having a slower start this year.  I have faith, though!  My worries are nothing compared to those of some of my friends... I just talked to a cancer mom today who was told she has to hold off on giving her daughter anymore chemo because her little body can't take the poison anymore.  So, what's the only other option?  Wait for the cancer to come back with a vengeance so that chemo MUST be used again.  She was told they could only get her little sweet girl "stable," but not "cancer-free."  Okay.  Why are we holding this kickball event?  For girls like THIS ONE.  The work is worth it if ONE drug is made to her benefit.

If you are willing to donate to this event with ALL proceeds going to CureSearch for Children's Cancer, please visit Brody's fundraising page or Gideon's fundraising page and make a donation online.  If you have something we could auction in our silent auction, please contact me:  If you want to hang something pretty on your window, please buy a Gideon's CureCatcher, as pictured below. I make these with Gideon's help, and we pray on which bead for a cure to childhood cancer.  I am selling them depending on size, but the average price is $50 and all proceeds go to CureSearch.  The problem is, I don't think I can ship them.  SooOOooOooo...if you live around here and want one, I would be more than happy to get it to you!

Click here to see more about Mattawan Kicking Out Childhood Cancer!

Monday, September 3, 2012


I know. I know. I know. It's the last night of summer and my baby, my Gideon, is starting Kindergarden TOMORROW. I should be bawling my eyes out due to the fact that my tiny boy is being unleashed into this world known as growing up and attending ALL DAY school. I should be gazing at him in his bed while tears fall silently as I say again and again, "Where has the time gone?" But, here I am with tears of concentrated thankfulness. I remember when Gideon's heartbeat was slowing waaaay down, when the chemo was doing horrendous things to his brain, when I clutched his three-year-old hand and begged God to fill him with more-more-more light of life. I remember in that moment wanting to see him survive one more day. One more week. Just more time on this planet, is all I wanted. Now, here he is: a big boy Kindergardener, and I am guzzling down a soul-float. (This is like a root beer float, only my heart and soul is just breathing in the air around me and it is giving me the same jolt of happiness as the ice cream snack.)

He is doing so well, everyone. He recently had the EXACT same reaction to his chemo as waaaay back when during the "Clear poop" incident, but it was strange how I was all, "Oh, yeah. I remember this" about the situation. You blog readers since the beginning remember it too, I am sure. I'll spare the details this time. His numbers are doing well, he is still struggling with his internal issues due to the longtime chemo usage, but we are battling back with Prevacid. He is also currently obsessed with Chinese food during steroid time. You should see this boy with a set of chopsticks at three in the's baffling the dexterity he has while managing rice granules at such an hour.

Brody is just growing in incredible ways, too. He smiles more. He understands how he can contribute and help those around him. He is just too fun, and his dry-witty sense of humor makes me guffaw sometimes. Really, I never knew a first grader better at the side-long-adult-look of sarcasm. He is still more grown-up than I am.

My classroom is smack-dab in the middle of my boys, and I can't tell you how wonderful that truly is going to be. Life this year is sure to be amazing, I know it. Gideon says he thinks Mr. Wheaton made a perfect choice in choosing his teacher since she "loves to cuddle" just like him! Move over, Mattawan...You've got a lover headed your way. Hopefully he'll take breaks in hugging to do math, learn to read, you know...that stuff.

Now I am looking up to God and saying, "You knew all along where I would be...where my boys would be, and we are all headed to where we are supposed to be." I feel that. I feel this release of wow at all of the life changes that have occurred for us, and how this spot we are in at this instant is where we are meant to be. I'm going to run with it. Or just breathe it like it's ice cream. Yeah, ice cream sounds better than running.

Gideon is now obsessed over the idea of "healing people" and being a doctor. I see it. His nature/science smarts are there, and if all of this poking and prodding he has had to endure brings him to that profession, that would be a blessing to those patients. Empathy? Yes. He would have it. His imagination and the way he is naturally outside of the box will help him find a cure for cancer. I know it.

Speaking of a cure, September is CHILDHOOD CANCER AWARENESS month. Mattawan is hosting the kickball tournament again to raise money for CureSearch, and I am out on the prowl looking for a sponsor(s) for the event. I'll keep you posted.

With all that I am grateful for, I heard a song tonight that just set me off into my tears. A family has been heavy on my heart, a kid-cancer family. I adore them and they are faced with choices no parent should be forced to make. It makes my insides roll. It makes me feel like all of it is NOT fair and that MORE needs to be done. "I'll Stand By You" by The Pretenders came on and I puddled to the floor. I am thankful for these friendships, for these families who get it. I want more people on the outskirts to step in and become active in the fight. I want all of Mattawan, Kalamazoo, Michigan, the nation to rally around this family and so many like them this month and beyond to become advocates so that there are more options for these little ones.

Decorate your car with gold ribbons. Your Facebook page. Volunteer your time for the kickball tournament. Donate something to the Silent Auction. Donate to the cause. Seriously, if you feel moved to do something, here is my invitation to move: email me. I promise to offer a cornucopia of ways you can make a difference this month, Childhood Cancer Awareness Month.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

SUMMAH tiiiiiiiime

Gideon's most recent battle with pneumonia has been won, I just brought Brody back from his last day at skateboarding camp, and now we can't seem to sit still due to the INCREDIBLE excitement that creeps in as our approaching trip to Grand Marais draws nearer! We are daydreaming out loud about all of the incredible things we plan to do up there. Speaking of Grand Marais, I would like the town to know that Brody purchased some Captain America costume pieces with the money you sent. He'll model it for you in the 4th of July parade. Gideon bought a glider... That will be sailing over the bay, I am sure. Grand Marais continues to love on my boys, and we can't wait to love on you SOON.

Yes, we are excited. Gideon's emotions are in overdrive since he had his Vincristine chemo on Tuesday and we are heavy into STEROID WEEK. I am hoping that the Gideon I transport for 8 hours up north in the car will be the sweet and loving part of the chemo accordion. I would rather pull over for cuddling and not to restrain him from Hulking-out on his brother. I am nervously laughing right now...hear it?

Ahem. Gideon's numbers at clinic were phenomenal. His cough from pneumonia is almost gone! When he was allowed to get a "poke prize" from the treasure box, he picked UNO. We have UNO, but I soon found out why he chose that game. A bunch of his chemo kid friends were in the treatment room, and he wanted to play with them. He told me after the cancer kid camp (Camp Catch-a-Rainbow) that Kevin is now his best friend. Kevin was one of the boys in the room, as well as beautiful Camrie. Gideon finished in last place, but he smiled and gave his friends high-fives as I sang him the "Losing Song". I am sure you know it: "WAH-WAH-WAAAAAAAAAAH!" He thinks it's a funny song, thankfully, and doesn't mind losing since he gets to sing the ditty with me. Let's see if that attitude stays this week... Crossing my fingers.

(Gideon with his Cancer Fighting BFFs!)

Now... I think with the proximity to the fourth of July, I need to explain what an extreme blessing my trip to Washington D.C. turned out to be. Mary Kay, Emma's mommy and a SUPER amazing friend of mine, was my advocating partner for the trip. We traveled together, visited congressmen/women, and senators. The amount of information we learned was astronomical, but the immensely huge reward of feeling as though we were ACTIVELY changing something in our government in the names of our children...there are no words in our language. That type of honor, privilege, and gift was elevating my soul as a constant balloon that lifted me someplace higher than I have ever been.

We were told that "The Creating Hope Act" was on the five yard line and that our help was needed to push it all of the way through Senate. It passed the House, but was in conference. We needed to convince the Senators to pass the bill as the House depicted it: giving pharmaceutical companies incentives (a monetary carrot in the form of patenting other more money-making drugs longer, so no tax money would be used) to develop NEW drugs for pediatric cancer patients (a new drug hasn't been developed since 1980 because...get wasn't PROFITABLE), but also to fine companies that do not comply with alerting the FDA when life-saving medicine was going to be in short supply (the stick).

Mary Kay, myself, and two other families (including their superhero kids) attended the meetings together. We took turns describing why our "Three Asks" (as seen in the video below) greatly affected OUR children. We shared anecdotes and even tears. What politician could look us in the eyes and say, "No"?

As I walked the Hill from one appointment to the next, a heavy sensation of pride for my country overtook me. It did. Complain about taxes. Complain about healthcare. But guess what? We are ALLOWED to complain. We are granted that freedom. Just like I, a simple citizen, was allowed to lobby for my cause in order to make bills move faster for my beliefs. What an HONOR. When I was in China, a Chinese tour guide smiled and said, when asked, that "The one child law is right and just." Her smile didn't reach her eyes, and when she turned away, the smile didn't just go away, it instantly vaporized into a scowl as she turned her face down towards the ground. Yet another Chinese tour guide actually DENIED there ever having been tanks in Tiananmen Square, and shook his head in confusion of not understanding who this "Tank Man" could have been. I was heading to a sit-down meeting with a man who helps makes LAWS for our NATION. We are allowed to do this. We can make things happen! To be honest, I dreaded US Government class in high school. I simply memorized the governmental roadmap for the test and I didn't really care much more than that A grade. But to BE THERE, to be actively involved in something so much bigger than I have been biten by the governmental vampire and I am thirsty to do MORE, MORE, MORE in order to do something good of our nation.

We are a blessed people. As you can see from the video below, our efforts were not in vain. God Bless the USA, and God BLESS those children with cancer who the government granted a VOICE in our nation (finally!).

Monday, June 18, 2012

The Oudings

I will blog about my amazing experience in DC lobbying for childhood cancer. I will blog about Gideon's first experience at Camp Catch a Rainbow with all of the other children fighting cancer. I will blog about Brody's amazing seventh birthday... I will blog about it all, but first...

First I need to say that two amazing people lived two doors down from me when I first moved to Kalamazoo. We lived on a cozy Milwood street where every house seemed to breathe with its own character and charm. The houses had more stories than the people who owned them, there is no doubt about that. Old and thick tree trunks lined the road, and perennials from what seemed to have been planted a million years ago popped up huge and impressive in every garden. I loved it there. I loved that we closed down our street to have our own summer festival. I loved how everyone helped one another out.

My favorite neighbors, the Oudings, stood out above the rest. Katie ran her own daycare out of her home and I tried and tried to get Brody in as one of her charges, but the girl was TOOOOO popular. I was forever on a waiting list. It was no surprise as to the reason. She ran her daycare with a sweet calmness that seeped with learning and exploration. She loved those children and poured herself into them (she reminds me a lot of the boys' current daycare provider, thankfully).

Mike, her hubby, was into the same quirky movies I was into and it was beyond easy to talk to both Mike and Katie. When we had to move away, I think I cried about the house as well as leaving such an amazing street. A couple of months before the move, Katie introduced me to her "instant family" as she called it. She and Mike adopted three Liberian siblings: Christian, Blessing and Vic. Vic watched us guardedly, but it was obvious that this little honey had a ton of personality. Blessing smiled happily when she met Brody and me on our walk. Then there was Christian. I will never forget the way he went right up to baby Brody and instantly connected with him. Christian seemed to have that "big brother" charm with the little ones. He had a true glow of life that poured out of his eyes, and he was so very polite.

Unfortunately, this was my only one-on-one experience with the children as the Oudings moved to the Grand Rapids area soon after we moved. Thankfully, we stayed connected through Facebook. I happily watched as their family grew in size and in number. When Gideon was diagnosed, Katie and Mike showered countless comforting and loving words on us. They made me laugh over our "little girl mullet" comparisons that both Katie and I sported back in the day, and they just are a family I truly look up to and respect.

They were there for me through my tragedy, and now I am finding it impossible to find a way to be there through theirs. Tomorrow I will be going to the visitation for Christian, their oldest child, who lost his life to Lake Michigan. He was a true soccer prodigy, and he never lost that glow of friendliness that made such a deep impression on me. Here is where I am lost. Here is where I just want to pull out my hair and scream out "WHY". Ouding family, your grace through this tragedy is nothing short of miraculous. I wish I had something I could say or do to lift some of the crushing heaviness that is the weight of losing your son. That is impossible.

The only thing I can think of is to send out this story of your incredible family on Gideon's cancer blog. As tiny as it is, all I can do right now is send out a message to everyone else, everyone else who still has a family with living and breathing children within the four walls you are blessed enough to call a "home" (including myself):
- Never leave one another without an "I LOVE YOU."
- Inboxes are inboxes, dust is dust, messiness is messiness, and it will always be that way. Kids will not always be kids, so stop stressing about things that will not matter in 20 years, and LIVE.
- Bask in memories and moments.
- Surround yourself with supportive and understanding people. People who do not feel that they are "owed", but continuously reach out with loving hearts and gracious spirits. A friend is someone who you may not see or talk to often, but when you are together, it feels like home.
- Be yourself and open yourself up to let the people in your life change you for the better.
- Focus on the blessings in your life and do not let negativity cloud what you have in the here and now.
- Do not look sideways at the people around you and the things of this world. Focus inward and let all that is in, out. Shine that soul of yours to others every single day, the way Christian did.

So many prayers are headed in your direction, Ouding family. Everyone who reads this, please do the same and pray. Thank you.

Friday, June 1, 2012

It's Friday :)

Yesterday began my folded-accordion-of-emotions boy. One narrow paper accordion plane is a sweet and happy boy, but it butts right into the paper part that is frustration and moodiness. That one rests on the part of the fan that represents the hunger and the cravings...where nothing else matters and all the world is a chicken drumstick. On and on the fan folds, back and forth, emotion resting upon emotion until the fan is complete and the week that is Steroid Week is fanned into a fire. We never know which section we will be in, and everyone watches him, waiting. I just want to reside in two of those fan sections: the cuddly love and the sweet and kind section.

Before he took his first steroid of this regimen, Gideon was sick twice yesterday, had chemo at the clinic and was the most constipated I have ever seen him. I was supposed to hang out with my cancer-mom-friends last night, but there was no way I could leave the boy with a toilet attached to his bottom as tears ran down his cheeks and he cried, “Owie. Owie. Owie.” He sat there for an hour as I knelt in front of him, rubbing his belly. THANK YOU to all of you who helped with advice! We went the Miralax, 7Up, and Prune juice route. I am happy to report: The Portage sewers tripled in capacity around 10:30 last night. Taaaadaaaaa! Don't worry, I won't attach a picture.

I adore Gideon's free nature, and I know that the drugs hinder who he truly is as a person. I love how he is so in touch with not only his nature, but nature-nature. He will forego any game, any ride, anything at all to plant a flower in the garden with me – even when he is deeply entrenched in his steroid usage. He is so curious about how an ant lives out her day, about the way clouds change shape, and which birds sing which song. He wants to know the name of every plant and every flower. My garden has never been so green, so flower-filled as now. My boy never forgets to water it, he deadheads better than I do, and he always takes the time to admire all that grows from the earth as he weeds. We could both spend an entire day in a greenhouse. My personal, most recent favorite activity is to go on listening walks with my boys. At night, we listen to recordings of birds known to live in our area, we study the sounds and quiz one another (the cardinal thinks everything is “PRETTY.” He is forever chirping, “Purdy! Purdy! Purdypurdypurdypurdy!” A good reminder to look around outside, huh?). Then, we go for a walk the next day and try to pick each song out of the choir of birds. Life is so gorgeously musical when we can isolate every piece of beauty, every section of the bird choir, and appreciate an individual sound. Ugh. May I say how thankful I am for my boys? They slooooow me down to make fleeting moments last, and the smallest and most ignored things the most gorgeous.

I also want to celebrate how my Brody is becoming such a peaceful problem-solver. When Gideon is ready to attack with fists flying during steroids, Brody has a way of blanketing him with peace. We ran out of time for a bath, so it was shower-time instead. I packed them both in there, and immediately there was a fight over who got to be under the water stream. I heard Brody say cheerfully, “I have an idea, Gideon! How about we take turns under there? The person out of the water gets to play with a toy while he waits. Do you want to have the first turn under the water?” Notice how he didn't ask if Gideon wanted to take turns, he just offered Gideon the first turn. This boy is going somewhere. I know it! He also said to me yesterday, “Mommy, if I could get a Beyblade organizer, that would be great. I will sort the parts into different compartments, and then I will have great practice to help you organize your drawers. I could put your paints in one holder, your brushes in another, see? That Beyblade organizer would help both of us.” SQUEEEEEEEZABLE.

Brody and Gideon, when you read this blog someday, I want you to take note of the date. This was the week that our “PEACE SIGN PRAYER TIME” was completely taken over by the two of you. This is a huge deal to me, your mama. Incase you forgot (I hope you haven't), on our way to school each morning, I reach my hand into the backseat. Brody grabs my thumb and Gideon grabs my pinky. Our arms make a peace sign, and I pray about our day. I thank God for waking up and hearing two sweet “Good morning”s coming from your precious mouths. We talk to God about our hopes, about our sins, about things we want to change about ourselves and how we need to love those around us – especially the hard-to-love ones. We pray for grace and that we can extend that grace out of ourselves. Mommy prays that she doesn't lose sight of the good in ALL people, and that her momma-bear claws stop popping out over small issues. Brody prays that he smiles more at people, and Gideon prays that he will try new food without gagging it back up. You both used to add snippets, but let me pray the bulk of it. Not this week. This week, the peace sign was extended and I asked Brody if he wanted to start. Brody, your prayer flowed out of you as you talked to God like the personal savior He is, and I felt tears of absolute elation prick in my eyes. You said after your prayer, “Gideon, would you like to keep going?” And Gideon, you just let it all out: Praising God for the rain because you knew your flowers would grow the best from rain instead of the hose. You went on to pray that you would do better at listening to mommy the FIRST time. Again, you prayed about it all. I felt the Holy Spirit filling my soul with light because of you boys. I can't wait to hear what you will say in today's PEACE SIGN PRAYER TIME. Speaking of, time to go!

The world is going to be alright. Happy Friday, all!

Monday, May 28, 2012

Lots to say...Lots to see...


I know I am driving my Facebook friends crazy with the goings-ons of Hotwheels, Charlie, Sparkles, Eli, Ella, Capricorn and Pegasus (plus Steve, the adopted one who was saved from the birdbath). Thankfully for you, and those aforementioned, our little sweet thangs have taken flight. It has been a journey, as seen here:

Yes, our little pieces of skinny and moving string ate and got fat, hung themselves into an ever-so-still J shape, spun into chrysalides (did you know that was the plural form of "chrysalis"? I didn't...), and emerged gorgeous butterflies. We let them go today, and it was a blast. One in particular, I think it was Capricorn, didn't want to leave Brody.

We are thankful to report that Grandpa Schripsema is on the mend after his bypass surgery! He is recovering in the hospital and is in pain, but everyone is hopeful that he will ease into this healthier heart and be able to live life to its fullest, once again!

On a sad note, over 21,000 acres of gorgeous Upper Peninsula wildlife has been burned. It is within 51% of containment, but we are still praying that is completely extinguished. Family and friends in Grand Marais have told me that the dark clouds are definitely visible. Please keep praying for the crews fighting the fire, and click here to keep on top of the situation.

Speaking of Grand Marais, I need to give a public THANK YOU to the people of Grand Marais who have sent care packages to both of my boys every single month since Gideon was diagnosed. They never let up, never stopped. It just goes to show that the smallest of towns actually DO have the largest hearts. Brody and Gideon have recently been receiving money shaped as different origami-type things. Most recently, they received money chains. Here are pictures of them wearing their money before going into Target to get this month's goody from the sweeties of Grand Marais.

THANK YOU, Grand Marais!

Some more amazing news: we received a letter from the lovely and talented Judy Markee letting us know that the "Gideon's Gift" piece that ran on Channel 3 has been nominated for an Emmy! What makes me ecstatic about that is that more people could potentially hear about, become aware, and become impassioned to do something in order to make childhood cancer a disease that is not one that notoriously gets the least funding/airtime of all cancers.

Speaking of this, I recently had an "aha!" moment about the public's perspective of pediatric cancer... Since Gideon is directly in the trenches of fighting childhood cancer, I am never completely shocked or taken off guard when asked to sign forms basically saying that anything could happen due to the chemo -- including death. Oh, it's not something that is ignored. It is not something I sign lightly and I can't say that my heart isn't gripped in absolute terror every time I sign this form, but I have found the alternative is not a road we can go down without trying, and by trying, we have to sign the form. As chemo/radiation becomes more intense and as many children are forced to try experimental test drugs, those risks become much greater. Recently, when this was reiterated, I was told a few people were "shocked and upset" by this news. Yes. It is shocking and it is upsetting. It should be. What I realized by this particular shock I was told about is that educating the public about pediatric cancer must be a top priority. I remember when HIV and AIDS was completely swept under the rug and people knew of it, but didn't educate. Now people know about it in so much more detail. What happens with pediatric cancer is that as adults, we don't want to think about what it is doing or can do to our babies. We don't want to know. We want to believe that a child's chances of beating it are at least as probable as an adult's, and sometimes it is. But, childhood cancer is an entirely different beast than adult cancer. These children are still growing. Cell division is different. The cancer is different. It is more persistent. Please world, see that this is not just nameless faces and children this cancer is attacking. Be shocked and be upset, and then continue to do something to battle it! Thank you.

Off my soapbox... Gideon receives Vincristine on Thursday and we start steroid week! Yes, there are chicken drumsticks in the fridge.

I think I'll end this blog with adorable anecdotes.

Story #1: Gideon asked if he could bring "SMART WATER" to bed with him instead of normal water. This is that water that comes in that loooooong shape, and, you guessed it (since you are so smart) it says "SMART WATER" on the side. I heard Gideon upstairs bragging about his special H2O. "Ask me anything," Gideon said with absolute confidence, "I am drinking Smart Water, and I will know the answer."

"Okay, what's 9 times 44?" Brody asked.

Then I heard, "Hold on, I need to take another few drinks... I don't think it's working yet."

(Adorable boy)

Story #2: This one Tom told me. He took Brody to the Skate Park downtown. There were a group of boys without skateboards sitting on the side. They began taunting Brody. Brody noticed that they didn't have boards, so he stood his ground. Instead of getting really upset, he invited them over to skateboard with him. Later he told me, "Those boys just were acting mean because they were sad they didn't have a board. I didn't get as many turns as I would if I didn't share, but I made new friends and they weren't mean anymore."

I want to be like Brody. Oh, to be six and to understand the beauty of sharing what he has with those without! He could have said, "NO WAY! I saved up my OWN money for this board and it is ALL mine!" (True story: he did save up every nickel and dime until he could buy it. He worked hard to earn that money, too.) But he didn't, and he knew what he did was the right thing to do. We should ALL be like Brody.