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.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Grandpa Prayers

I was reading a book called _The Positive Dog_, and I realized I was doing it while eating cotton candy. The book was meant to be a gift, but now it is sticky from my cotton candy fingers. Should I still gift the book and say the stickiness is just a metaphor for happiness and I drenched it all over the pages? I think yes. I answered my own question. Also, maybe it is rude of me to read the books I buy as gifts, but I want to make sure it makes sense to gift them to people. Excuses, excuses, huh?

Well, I am glad I read this book because there is a WHOLE section about being BLESSED instead of STRESSED. It also uses actual data to back-up claims. It is physiologically impossible to feel thankful and stressed at the same time. It says, "Positivity doesn't change you; it changes everything around you." Prayer feeds the positivity and when it permeates in your soul and bubbles warmth, it is impossible to contain the bubbles and they spill over into life. That last cheesy part was from me. That was my way of summarizing, and it came out in a squiggle of Easy Cheese.

My point is, even though BOTH of Brody and Gideon's grandpas are facing challenges tonight, I am not going to stress. I will pray. I will feel blessed that they are both unharmed and I will continue to pray it stays that way.

Tom's dad, Grandpa Schripsema, is having quadruple by-pass surgery tomorrow morning. One blessing is that he did not have a heart attack in order to discover this need, it was a stress test that let the doctors know something was wrong. He goes in at 7:30 a.m., and when we visited him tonight, the boys brought grandpa a circus: a balloon and cotton candy (yes, I had some seen caught me). Please send up special prayers for grandpa, and for the comfort of all of the family as they wait and wait for positive news.

Gideon and Brody chatted about Gideon's long stay in the same kind of room, and memories were shooting back and forth like crazy. I am happy Gideon wanted me to carry him to the car. All I could do was kiss his head and thank the Lord I was leaving with my baby in a much healthier place than that long visit.

My dad, Papa Krempa, is up north where there is a wildfire that doesn't want to stop burning. It is in Seney now, just down the road from where my dad lives. By "down the road" in U.P. terms, that is still about 10 miles away, but still. I guess if he is to evacuate, someone will alert them when they have thirty minutes to get out of the house. Please pray that the fire stays away from Papa and Grandma Max. Here is more information.

So, I am praying. I am being positive that both grandpas (and Grandma Max) will be safely guided through their struggles. Thank you for joining me.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Shine On...

Wow. What a day. And it was wrapped up with me listening in on the brother banter going on upstairs. "Gideon, it's time you know the difference between tattling and telling with a purpose. Like if someone makes you bleed and you tell, that's telling with a purpose. But if you use that 'Maaaa-ooooom!' voice that goes up and down, you are probably about to tattle." Thank you, Ms. Williams, for being the sage Kindergarten teacher you are -- both of my boys are learning from you.

And now for some more thank yous: THANK YOU to my fellow CureSearch Committee members for making this year's CureSearch Walk a GINORMOUS success. Thank you to Lynn Ross for starting a Bronco Hockey Team (and to all of the Bronco hockey players who came), to my girl Dawn Marciniak for heading up the Edward Jones Team, and to the Mick family for leading the Mattawan team! To all of those who donated and came to support: THANK YOU! If you still would like to donate on behalf of Children's Cancer, there is still time (you KNEW I would throw that in there). Just click here and more funds will be allocated in finding cures for childhood cancer and in developing more child-friendly medicine.

The event itself raised over $53,000.00 and counting! It is still coming in, and I will post that total soon. I can't tell you how excited I was to see the Celery Flats just SWARMING with walkers. Watching those balloons sail into the sky, listening to the speakers, and just feeling that vibe of hope in the air -- I wanted to inhale it forever.

It's always sad to be introduced to so many new families, but we are a forced family who has one another's backs. Which reminds me, Mary Kay Pederson started a Facebook page called "Cancer Families United." If you are battling (or have battled in the past) childhood cancer and want to network with other southwest Michigan families, please join. We are a spunky group of moms with a lot of fire in our hearts due to our common dream. It is so great that we can be so candid and honest with one another. Plus, those ladies make me laugh and cry from their posts. I really, really, really wanna bust out a certain acronym right here, but I think only those ladies would laugh... heeheehee...

As wonderful as the event was, it was just as awful. There were definite holes this year where vibrant children stood last year, but are no longer with us. I felt God all around me today with the blue skies and the sun. I could feel the compassion and love radiate out of the crowd as the families who wanted to remember and honor their children stepped forward. God gave us souls. He gave us brains. We need to use both so that no more families have to step forward. So that no more babies are robbed. Remember that fire? It's still there. I won't give up.

There were those not there today because of loss, and there were others not there because they are deep-deep-deep in the trenches of battle with cancer, and couldn't come. I am thinking of you, Viking Princess Maren! We thought of you as we released our balloon, wishing and praying that you beat this thing!

I have to also mention another hero of mine, James Grubius. He stood next to my Gideon and said, "You are a SURVIVOR! You look like you are doing good." In true James fashion, he lifts everyone else up around him no matter how sick he might be or how much pain he is in right this second. And I was complaining about a headache this morning. These small cancer fighters are bigger people than I will ever be.

With that, I better stop. I'm starting to cry and then I just type-type-type without a filter. AGAIN: THANK YOU!