Wednesday, November 30, 2011

What a day! Disneyland is much as I remembered it as a little girl but a lot has changed over the course of 30 years. The girls had a great time although sprinkled with small disasters such as Autumn totally loosing it at the gift shop in front of “It’s a small world” because she didn’t get a toy that she suddenly became obsessed with. That trauma lasted well over an hour and made all of us involved feel terrible! Nothing like telling a little girl with cancer no and having her scream and cry about it, with her little bald head at Disneyland…I must have looked like a unforgiving, unloving mother, it was no fun.  It is so hard, but I have learned from other parents that it is too easy to give in due to circumstance, however when all is said and done, one may be left with a child that cannot ever take ‘no’ for an answer and the discipline has to start all over again. Autumn has so much love and receives so many gifts that she is in no danger of having too little, but the guilt still lingers, why is that??

We had a letter from the doctor’s office that allowed us to obtain a pass at City Hall which meant we could go through the exit to jump in line instead of waiting each time, what a treat! The lines were very short in most cases, so it was hardly an issue, but it helped with reducing the amount of people with whom we had to come in contact. Before and after each and every ride I diligently wiped down all parts that may come into contact with Autumn’s skin, then wiped her hands bother before and after. She grew tired of that pretty quickly and it appeared as though I was an OCD mom that just wouldn’t give it up.

We just made it back a moment ago and I feel exhausted! The drive at night was easy due to a lack of traffic, but difficult since the freeway was covered in thick, relenting fog punctuated by moments of clear, dark night, much like the last 10 months of our lives. I had a lot of quiet time (another great reason to drive at night!) to reflect on this past year and what changes have been brought to our family. Perhaps there is a reason that people have to endure particular events, we may never know why, but it makes me feel better to think so. We had a lot of looks, stares and interest from all sorts of strangers. I wonder what that attention does to a little one and her siblings and how that shapes their childhood.

I felt the urge to consume one tablet of no doz for the long journey must have worked because I am still awake and it's 2am!!

Monday, November 28, 2011

We began our morning bright and early, the day was sunny and beautiful and the sky was so clear. The girls were all so excited because they knew something big was going to happen and they had no idea what it was. I handed Autumn her piece of plastic with the numbing cream and she faithfully placed it under her shirt and on skin covering her port. In order to work sucessfully, the cream needs to cover the skin for at least one hour prior to being accessed. When we are at the hospital, she removes the plastic, cleans the skin with cloth wipes and waits patiently for the alcohol scrubber. The nurses always joke that if it was up to Autumn, she would access herself! She is an angel when it comes to so many of the daily procedures of this new life she has had to endure. She just does what she needs to do and moves on, almost as if she were doing something so benign as brushing her teeth.

The plan was to head to SB for a blood check and then make an escape to our final destination. As it turns out, Autumn needed only platelets today, hooray! At the clinic, it only takes perhaps one full hour for them to administer, and perhaps another hour to wait for the blood to be delivered, then one more to wait for the results of the blood test (i just realized I wrote this in reverse order :).

At any rate, we arrived at about 9:15 am and left at about 1:15 full of joy for the coming day! I told the girls that I would give in and divulge the plan just as soon as we were on the freeway. I had them guessing for about 3 minutes and then just blurted out...DISNEYLAND!!! The screams of joy were priceless, especially little Autumn's face as she placed her two hands over her cheeks and opened her mouth as wide as it would stretch, it was a very fun moment.

The behaved themselves for the first 2 hours until we hit traffic, then Autumn became irritated and just wanted OUT of that car. After a few stops, we made it to the hotel, La Quinta, just around the corner from the land of fairytales. We met up with my mom and her sister Lorraine and my cousin Nicole, her husband and their kids. Auntie Lorraine's husband, Uncle Wayne was in the military for 20 years and was able to purchase three day tickets for a discounted fabulous price making this trip possible for us to go, Thank You!!!

"All I want for Christmas is a little power." - Autumn

Lindsey rudely informed Autumn that she cannot actually ask for "power" and I politely corrected her and said there is nothing one cannot ask for, anything is possible!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

We have a secret trip planned tomorrow for Autumn, Sage and Lindsey but we first have to make a quick stop in Santa Barbara to check her blood levels. I am hoping that they are high enough that we do not need a transfusion, but at this point, I should be prepared for one. We are due to arrive at about 9:30am at which point we will have to draw blood and then wait...for about an hour before the results return. It’s a funny thing about Sierra Vista, for some reason, they have results in under 20 minutes. I have learned that every hospital is different in countless ways. They are in the business of making money, something that I had not spent one moment thinking about in my previous life.

All in all, Autumn is doing very well. This morning it seemed as though her little head was a bit warmer than it was last night, but it turned out to be nothing, great news! She still isn’t up to eating very much, however her appetite should come back in another week or so. The girls and I spent some time this evening making Cornish game hens (Sage won one a few weeks back for the AG Turkey Trot!), stuffing, salad and bread. However, when we sat down to eat, everyone complained that the food was yucky, so not much of it was consumed.

I hope you all have enjoyed your holiday break!

Friday, November 25, 2011

As I kissed her tiny, soft, sweet hand tonight while we were sitting quietly on the sofa, I realized just how vulnerable she is, especially after taking so many drugs. She has continued the aggravating movement of twisting her wrists over and over again. It appears to bother her more during the evening hours when she is relaxing, seemingly more uncomfortable than painful. Nonetheless, as I observe the side effects of these drugs she has to take in order to save her life, I feel so helpless and defenseless and frustrated. I just want to be given the power to blink and have it all in the past! I know we are so very close to being there, so very close.

Although there was no defined “playdate” today, we had the opportunity to visit a friend of Sage who happened to have two little sisters who loved playing with Autumn, what a treat that was for her! She scampered about the house having a blast with her two new friends; it was a great Thanksgiving gift.

We are planning a fabulous fiesta for her 5th birthday and end-of-chemo on Sunday January 8th at the Exploration Station here in Grover Beach. We would love to invite any and everyone who can come!! I will send a more formal invitation soon, but it makes me feel good to have a date set…what a stupendous day that will be!!!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

We made it home after a long day at the hospital yesterday. It is good that we were there the day before Thanksgiving as it would be no fun to spend the holidays in the hospital! Today, we had a very relaxed day mostly spent at home and since most of our family was elsewhere and we were not able to commute, we decided to join the hundreds of other families at the luxurious Home Town Buffet, its one stop shop!

I hope you all enjoyed your holiday today. How nice that Turkey day is always on a Thursday in order to maximize the vacation one may have or at the very least to minimize the amount of work one has to accomplish this week!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Well, here we are again, on the familiar bleached white sheets covering an electric adjustable bed in the single private corner room of Sierra hospital on the eve of Thanksgiving. I suppose it's a good thing we weren't here last Thanksgiving although it's felt that long. We came in early this morning for a routine blood check. It has been about 9 days since the start of her last round of chemo, so it is not surprising that her blood counts were low, but I was not expecting a double transfusion. For some reason these transfusions always take more than twice as long here as they do in Santa Barbara. Autumn and I have been in this bed for the past 10 hours drawing and reading and watching too much TV (at the moment isn't her favorite Willy Wonka - the new one of course!).

Sage, Lindsey ahd their friend Nicole were hear earlier to join Autumn in her plight. Thankfully Nicole's mom was able to pick all the girls up to bring them back to her house to play, the desired option for them but Autumn wasn't too thrilled about the loss of her playmantes! It is so hard for her to understand why the hell she can't have a million playdates and it is hard for me to explain to her that we cannot risk infection. I just want to make everything fair and ok and just and not crazy and different and unequal. Some times are harder than others!

We should be leaving soon...

Monday, November 21, 2011

“Mommy, please can I have a playdate…”, little Autum sked today. It is dreadful to be held hostage in one’s own home, especially at the age of four. We have to be so cautious for about a week or two to make sure she doesn’t contract one of the numerous bugs going around so she doesn’t wind up in the hospital with a fever. Avoiding fevers, that’s the focus this week. She is neutropenic, the term given to someone with a very low white blood cell count. It is a very common occurrence among many chemo patients during the course of their treatment.

Lice has been on the rise at school recently. For once, there is something that Autumn cannot get…she can roll around in a bed of lice and they just can’t stick, what a weird but marvelous thought!

Wednesday I will take her to Sierra for a blood draw to determine the potential for a blood transfusion. One day at a time, but at this point she is still so full of energy! We stopped at a pet store today where Autumn discovered her love of rats, why not?! A pet rat may be good for her, she can love and care for something so small, it may be very helpful for her.

I mentioned to a friend the other day that Autumn has only about 6-7 weeks left for her treatments. “It seems like it’s been forever!” she exclaimed. Indeed it does but I know someday we will all look back on this year and wonder how we ever made it through! It is incredible to me how humans find the strength to move forward in times of trouble. How many people have encountered such turmoil and chaos in their lives and yet they carry on. The man that I had met while in Santa Barbara last week just lost his wife yesterday. If you remember the story, she is the one who had ovarian cancer but it was so late, too late and she couldn’t destroy it. I felt numb all day, I felt so terribe for her husband and their family. The woman was only about 60, still a lot to live for.

On a similar note, our neighbor just had surgery to remove 1/3 of her right lung due to lung cancer. She smoked for over 30 years, but then she stopped 20 + years ago, how disheartening! My girls have been so sweet with her as they have baked her cookies and spent some time just being with her. We really don’t know that much about her, who knew that we would connect over this type of similarity.

Friday, November 18, 2011

How nice not to have to go to SB today! Autumn spent some time with Nanie and grandpa today doing arts and crafts and watching movies, she was so lively and happy! This evening she was on fire with her level of energy and enthusiasm, so wonderful indeed. 

Mary, a Pacheco mom bought us dinner tonight from the “carne asada” fundraiser. How nice to just come home and eat and not even think about dinner, a magnificent way to end the week, thank you Mary!

We are going to have a very mellow weekend and Thanksgiving week, I hope everyone enjoys theirs!!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

What a day to rejoice!!! Indeed, we still have some work to do, but we have just finished the 20 mile marker of our marathon! Autumn had her fourth round of chemo today and she is back on the saline infusion (with the 8 pound backpack) for her last night. Oh there is so much to celebrate I can hardly stand it!

On our way home today the poor thing had to pee twice during the fairly short hour and twenty minute drive! The second time she decided to pick some flowers right off the beautiful freeway garden to share with Nanie as it was her birthday today. I love how she thinks, it is so sweet!

“Mommy, does Fluffy have a brain, maybe not because her head is too squishy!” - Autumn

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Jeff went with Autumn today for a 2 hour chemo visit at the clinic. I brought the girls to school then taught my classes at Cal Poly and Cuesta. So far so good, Autumn seems to still be in really good spirits! I know it usually takes a week or so for the full effect to take over, but the recovery from the last week long chemo was not as terrible as it could have been. It will also be a matter of living as germ-free as we can, but with flu season here is seems almost impossible! I guess there is some idea that some bodies become resistant to chemo (is that even possible). The little girl we met yesterday had relapsed and this time the chemo wasn’t working. God how frustrating that would be, just when you think you are doing well, you’ve knocked this thing, and it comes back. Autumn’s other friend Daisy had also relapsed and by the time we met her she was almost done with her second round. So far, nothing has come back. It’s been on my mind for the past three day, this idea of relapse therapy. In fact I have been obsessing about it, most likely due to lack of sleep but it is enough to drive a person nuts!

My mom and Ken have been a wonderful, fabulous help through all of this. There have been so many times that I am in a bind and they just pick up where I leave off, no problem. I am so very thankful to have them here!

One more day…hopefully this will be the last week in the hospital for chemo forever!!!!! We’ll have 4 weeks of recovery, then three more short weeks of chemo. I just took a look at the calendar and it looks like the last day may be ON her 5th birthday, bittersweet isn’t it?

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The amazing, beautiful girl on the right shared triumphant her story with us yesterday. She was about 15 when she was diagnosed with cancer in her foot. She had been having issues with it for about a year and no one could figure out what it was. The doctors had to amputate her foot in order to ensure removal of the tumor. Autumn listened to her story and had a million questions, she was intrigued! What a thing to go through as a teenager. She now works with the Teddy Bear Cancer Foundation helping little ones with cancer.
Lexi, a three year old battling Leukemia was our roommate this morning. she turned out to be a perfect match for Autumn. The two of them had a blast coloring, gluing and just being silly girls. At at about 10am this morning, we had a wonderful surprise from the ladies at the Teddy Bear Cancer Foundation. They had a Princess Party for the two girls! Autumn never knew a hospital room could be so much fun. They really put on a good show with decorations, manicures, sensational cupcakes and a special visit from Princess Jasmine who read fun stories to them, they were in heaven!

As we left the hospital, I was greeted by someone familiar. A trainer at the local gym was down in SB caring for his wife who had been diagnosed with ovarian cancer 2 months ago; I never knew. Her cancer has spread and she has been in the hospital since her diagnosis, a long time to spend there. The biggest question I get from children or from adults who have not experienced cancer is, “where does it come from”? If only we knew, we could prevent it. Our world is so terribly polluted that it seems it must come from that which we have been shoving down Mother Nature’s throat all these years. We know better, but we just won’t give in. Oil is king and pesticides drive the produce market so unless you are very cautious of everything, the cancer potential is out there lurking behind every beautiful bright red strawberry. When I was a little girl, they would spray the entire neighborhood with chemicals and the only protection we had was to go inside for a short while. Yeah, I’m sure that was healthy.

During the drive back, Autumn slept the entire way, she was so exhausted! We arrived home in time to meet the nurse, but of course she was not there. For some reason we have had a hell of a time with Marrian Medical, they are either really late, forget something (such as the bag of saline that Autumn is being hooked up to!) or don’t show up at all. Perhaps it is the fault of the health industry at large, it is tough to say but what I do know it that it hasn’t once worked smoothly. We waited a whole hour for this nurse to show up! The problem is that during this time, Autumn is not being hydrated, which is of big concern due to the chemo she just had. I had a long talk with the supervisor, but she wasn’t very helpful. Grrr…just another frustration and if I have to do this again, it will have to be another way, not like this.

If feels good to be back home. The hospital is another universe, one that can completely coexist within the world we already know without most people ever even entering it once minus the one time they were born into this life and not even the wisest among us consciously remembers that moment! Sometimes when I return home I feel as though I was temporarily transported to another planet not unlike ours but filled with beings with an adgenda.

Monday, November 14, 2011

We had a good morning drive. Autumn seemed to be in great spirits for the majority of the ride, singing and chatting about everything but the closer we gwere to SB, the more I noticed how agitated she became. The littlest things were upsetting to her, surely it was due to the anticipation of a long week of craziness.

When we arrived, we make a quick stop at the grocery store to purchase more of her favorite Strawberry Capri Sun drinks. She noticed a new barbie movie at the checkout line and felt she would love to have it. I haven't purchased a movie in awhile and it was on sale, so what the heck! The hospital is a great time to watch movies so in the bag it went. There is usually a good moral to each story, so it does have it's redeeming qualities even if the grandmother looks exactly like the granddaughters in the movie!

Upon arrival, Autumn was hooked up to the IV for hydration to get that process going. There are somethings I have learned to ask for over the course of this therapy and this was one of them. Each time is different, the nurses, the room, the chemo and although there is some consistency, her schedule is generally all over the map.

Last week the nurses forgot to mention that she also needed GFR test in order to test her kidney function and determine the appropriate chemo dosage. She was so exhausted from it all that she fell fast asleep right in the machine which was perfect because she has to remain as still as can be!

As we headed back up to Peds, the sailors from Navy Boat were there to greet her. How fun that was for her to see all these ladies in uniform. The one thing she couldn't understand is why their ship wasn't right here with them! One sailor brought up a picture of the ship on her phone for Autumn to see. She replied, "I bet that phone is a bigger than your phone!"..too cute!

We spent some time looking up "beautiful bald women" on the Internet this afternoon. She loved seeing photos of all these glamorous women...bald!

A bit later, Robin presented a Dress-up doll kit for Autumn to enjoy. We spent a good hour making and designing clothes for this mannequin, it was great for her age.

Uncle Bob ordered Autumn and I a fabulous cheese and veggie pizza, how delicious! It's a nice treat, especially since we have dined on all the entire menu 8 times over by now. :)
I can hardly believe that this may be the last week we will ever have to spend in the hospital for chemo!!!! Autumn and I will head out early in the morning in anticipation of an 8am arrival at Cottage. We need to begin the day early because she has to have tons of hydration before she can even be given the chemo, otherwise it can destroy the cells in her bladder and other organs. I’ll try to give her as much juice and water as she can handle while we are driving down there, but it isn’t ever quite enough. Hydration is not a terrible thing at all, the only issue is being hooked-up to the IV machine for an even longer period of time. Everything is about timing once the chemo begins. Each day is dependent on the last, so the idea is to begin as soon as possible on Monday morning so as to finish at a reasonable time by Thursday afternoon.

Cyclophosphamide, Stopside and CARBOplatin are the drugs of choice this time around. Sounds like a crazy cocktail, doesn’t it? Worry about all that organic business at home but in the hospital the rules have all been changed, it’s all about hard core chemistry. I can say that I am still amazed at what we know today, and what we will continue to find out as the century unfolds. I had a frightful nightmare the other night about sweet little Autumn. I dreamt that she had lost all of her teeth due to chemo and I was crying desperately because I thought it had damaged her delicate little body forever and she could never again live any sort of “normal” life. Oh that was too painful!!

OK, back to what needs to be done…one more long we go!!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

I didn’t have to get up bright and early this Saurday for once, hooray! Due to Veteran’s Day, the entire campus was closed, no classes. What a bummer, I had a field trip scheduled to visit the local landfill. Sure, I know what you are thinking, yuck! Most every student has enjoyed it once we have gone, so it does offer something knowledgeable to many of us!

Autumn had a great day! She attended a birthday party and played for 2 hours on their ranch, what fun! I love seeing her play with other kids, it makes her so happy! In the evening we went to the drive in to see “Puss in Boots” but everyone was pretty tired by then and it didn’t go as well as it could have. On the ride home she fell fast asleep and is in bed as snug as a bug.

We have one more day before a long chemo week. God be willing it’s the last one she’ll ever have to endure and I am so excited for it to be over I can hardly stand it! One day this may all seem as though it was so long ago but in the moment it feels like forever.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Autumn drew this for Grandma Marji and Grandpa Frank's dog who just recently passed. It was so sweet I thought I would share!

On Wednesday morning we headed to Sierra for a blood draw. It went smoothly and fairly quickly which is always great! Autumn was really in no hurry to leave which I take as a good sign, at least she doesn’t hate the place!

We received the results shortly after leaving the hospital. They were great! What good news because I was becoming so worried about Autumn’s hemoglobin. She was remaining in the low 6’s and she should be above 7 at this point and certainly to have another round of chemo. The bone marrow has to work so hard to recover the damage that the chemo has done over the past 9 months. It’s all cumulative of course which means that over time it only gets worse. She also has been doing a lot of the hand flexing as the Vinchristine damages the nerves and can cause all sorts of frustrations and awkward movements within the joints. Autumn really hates how it makes her feel and she gets visibly upset when she becomes conscious of what she is feeling and doing in reaction. She is at that age where she is becoming very conscious of how people perceive her and how they may interact with her. If she isn’t in the mood, she will be very upset if someone starts to laugh. I think she believes they are laughing at her and when I try to explain that they think she is just funny or silly or they just like being around her, it only seems to further irritate her. She can seem so happy and within one second is just screaming at the top of her lungs that no one cares about her and everyone is laughing. Oh, it is heart breaking and I hardly know what to do except not freak out during those moments.

Once we left the hospital, Autumn commented that she would like to visit Loreli, a very sweet woman (as will be attested by anyone who knows her) who used to care for Autumn once a week while I taught at Cuesta. I phoned and she was home, hooray! We make a short trek to Los Osos and spend a bit of time with her and the two babies she is now caring for. Autumn fell in love with the dog who belonged to one of the babies there and proclaimed:

“I really wish I had that dog because it gives you a lot of love!”

She knows how non-judgmental animals are, they just give and do not expect much in return. Perhaps we cannot have that dog, but maybe a dog one day! I think all the girls would benefit from a fun furry creature to love.

It became an animal morning as we made a quick stop at the coffee shop to purchase a bagel and coffee and met a man who had a fabulous parrot who lived on his shoulder. Autumn wanted that bird first, before she met the dog of course!  This was some parrot; it was 18 years old and lived in Morro Bay on a boat on the shoulder of the gentleman we met, what an exciting way to live!

When we arrived home that afternoon, Mrs Dottie met us for a shaved ice fiesta! Mrs Dottie was Autumn’s preschool teacher last year and has been a wonderful help this year with everything Autumn has had to endure. Grandmother’s House Children’s Preschool has allowed us to “drop in” from time to time to maintain a presence for Autumn. She cannot attend hardly ever, but to even just be there can help with her sense of self, to reminder herself that she is a kid and this place has not forgotten about her! The school has never had to work around cancer before, so it has been a learning experience for us all. Autumn, at her young age, has been one heck of teacher for all of us!

Due to Veteran’s Day, the girls didn’t have school on Thursday or Friday. Tracy and Mark graciously lent us the use of their time share in Avila Beach for two nights!! We had a blast swimming and watching TV and pretending to be visitors in our hometown. It’s nice to see things from a different perspective, especially right where you live. It added a little pizzazz to our week which seems to be just what we needed.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Autumn had a playdate with her friend Rio today. Rio just turned 5 and was here with her sister the day (March 15th) that Autumn and I went to the ER to figure out what had gone wrong after she tripped and fell at the beauty school. It seems like that was a decade ago, so much has transpired since.

Tomorrow we will head into Sierra Vista for yet another blood draw to determine if she is well enough to begin another round of chemo. I believe she has accumulated over 50 beads from Robyn the social worker, for blood draws over the past 9 months and we aren’t even done yet. Remember being a kid and thinking that a “poke” was the worst thing on earth? A kid can agonize about that needle for days both before and after a doctor’s visit. To think that Autumn has to endure this on a weekly and sometimes a daily basis just seems brutal. What is even more remarkable is she really does it, with very little resistance. In the clinic, the nurses told us of one boy that is perhaps 8 years old who screams inconsolably and cries for a good long thirty minutes each time he has his blood drawn. It doesn’t sound shocking to me, that’s really what I would expect, having been a kid myself once long ago.

Monday, November 7, 2011

We had a fun day today, Autumn was able to visit preschool for just a short while to say hello and eat lunch with some of her friends. I always love going there, the feeling of innocence and youth and happiness; a sign of simple times. When kids are in preschool, life is a lot slower, naps dicate a large percentage of each day and there is down time. Once the little ones enter the institution of elementary education, it’s a whole new ball game with sports, homework and peer pressure. I need to cherish this last year of wholesomeness before it effervesces into thin air and reemerges into the unknown.

We met a little four year old boy who had long blonde hair at the coffee shop today. He explained to us that everyone usually thinks he is a girl because of his long hair and Autumn said that everyone thinks she is a boy because she doesn’t have any. We have a way of creating these images in our heads, beginning as young as they are, which form what we like, what we don’t who we think we are and what we think we want from this life. What is “normal” is varied across all continents and cultures. Why don’t we have the rings on our necks or the large holes in our ears (well, some of us elect for that here or there in Africa)?

“When I’m a grown up, I want a pink car that flies!” – Autumn Nov 7, 2011

Sunday, November 6, 2011

We had a ideal weekend. It was nice and relaxing and just what the doctor ordered-literally! Autumn had a birthday celebration with her friend Adelina at the movies, popcorn and all! Three friends celebrated her fifth birthday and they had a ball! It was perfect timing as the theatre was only sparsely populated which is always a concern with her counts remaining low these days. She has just had so much chemo given to her in the past 8 months that it has become harder for her to recover each time.

We are sort of in a waiting game right now, waiting for Autumn’s counts to be high enough to go for her last week-long hospital stay chemo. It will seem so very close to the end when we are all on the other side of that week. It has been pushed back another two weeks, so hopefully it will begin then! The holidays are coming up and it would be so lovely to have that one tough week over and done with!

A test in patience this whole process has been. Someone asked me last week how it is that a 4-year old can stand being in a hospital room that long. I honestly cannot say how she does it, but I can say that she has developed an amazing personality through all of this and she does love attention for which I am so thankful! She loves making the nurses laugh, it always makes her feel better. She has grown very sensitive to people laughing at her and not with her. She is very keen on the difference and does not entertain the former with much ease. I cannot imagine what she must feel inside, I think about it 10 times a day. The littlest situation will cause her great frustration which can lead to tears and screams that are discouraging for all. Sage and Lindsey have built some resistance to this, but they too are sensitive and can lash out at the attention and forgiveness of negative behavior that is granted Autumn through this tough time. At times it seems almost cruel to discipline her with everything she is experiencing. However, I have heard that if the parents do not maintain some sort of chaos-control with a four year old, it has the ability to lead to a terrible five year old. Ugh, there is always something, isn’t there? I guess none of us on this planet can really ever say we are bored, can we??

Friday, November 4, 2011

Finally returned, what a lot of driving for a short stay in LA! It was great to see little Camila, Adam and Alma’s little girl. She is adorable and the girls love playing with her so much that they begin to argue about who is going to hold her first when we arrive!

We returned late last night after a long peaceful drive home. The girls were so exhausted that they didn’t even make one sound the entire 3.5 hour drive!

To a relaxing and enjoyable weekend!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Hooray!!! I can hardly believe it, but the trip to LAX proved to be successful and I can hardly believe it!

We began our journey after the girls were released from school today in SLO. We headed south at about 4pm passing through Ventura at about 6 where we stopped to eat and rest for a moment. The drive is just long enough that in the back of a smaller car three kids can drive each other batty! They were interested in seeing Camila, their baby cousin and could care less about changing tickets to some far off land.

We found terminal 2, AeroMexico and parked right across the street for $45 a minute, ha! As we made our way over the bridge and into the ticketing lines, all I could think of was jumping on one of those fabulous planes and going somewhere, anywhere! Traveling has to be the most fun one can have on this planet, there is just so much to see and do that it can never get boring.

Luckily we happened to arrive just moments before the ticketing counter was about to open (each day it’s closed from 5-8 pm, in case anyone is wondering ). There was only one single man in front of us but as fate would have it, that one person had to wait an hour to purchase his ticket and we waited an additional 30. The longest line of one that I ever did see, but that’s the airport for you! Oh the girls were going insane just waiting and waiting, Lindsey threatened to jump on the conveyer belt and send herself to another planet just so the waiting would end. I tried desperately to explain to her that life wasn’t always easy and that sometimes we really do have to wait for something good. To no avail, she was over it all and said that I was simply torturing her and couldn’t care in the least. Out of the mouth of babes, it could only be so sweet! Of course the moment we jumped into the car and exited the airport, all three girls rejoiced in our accomplishments and said the waiting was worth it…way too funny!

I was so incredibly thankful when the woman actually found dates and times in which to change our tickets that I nearly jumped over the counter and hugged her! We will be off to Costa Rica towards the end of March…something to look forward to indeed!!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Happy Halloween!
Autumn had to have a hemoglobin transfusion yesterday.  Her hemoglobin had been dropping, not typical of this time in her chemo cycle, but we are nearing the end and there are cumulative effects to the insane amount of poison that has filtered through her body. There is only one kidney left, a huge step in the filtration system; I just hope it can hang in there a bit longer!! Her bone marrow is working overtime in an attempt to replace the blood that is being destroyed, and it just hasn’t caught up to where she needs to be. Therefore, we will put off that intense week long chemo for at least another week. I know it will feel like we are close when we are on the other side of that week.

She is sitting with me at my desk exploring all of my “junk” spread everywhere. She found a drawing of a horse named “Chief White Cloud” that a woman drew for her while we were eating dinner in a restaurant a few months ago. This lady owns this horse and offered to bring Autumn, Lindsey and Sage out to her ranch for a ride! Perhaps that will be something fun to look forward to in the next month!

I love this time of the year, the changing of the season as well as the holiday spirit that permeates the air everywhere you go. I realize that it’s nothing like Chicago or New York, but the night are becoming a bit more crisp and chilly and I do love it!

Next year will be a whole new beginning in so many ways. As much as I am trying to live in the present, I do think about the future to a time when this could all be nothing but a memory.