Act of Kindness

It takes me by suprise…the kindness of others. Touches me so deeply because i know that Jesus is truly in my midst.
I was at HEB Sunday evening in line at the check out after spinning thru the store quickly grabbing food that would satisfy my hungry teen boys and picking things we needed for our new home when a stranger approached me. A man behind me in line leaned in and asked me if he could pay for my groceries. I said “No, but thank you.” He continued and explained that he had known Glenn. He was an ACTS brother and he wanted to do this for me and for Glenn. He explained that my husband had done so much for him. I asked this man  who looked at me with such compassion and sorrow, what his name was so that i would know him and thank him through my prayer of thanksgiving.
George was Christ tonight. He truly was a gift from God and his kind act gave me hope and reminded me that I am not alone.
Thank you,  George. Your goodness was a light for me. Blessings!

Got Swept Away

It’s been over 4 months since I posted.  Sorry about that.  We returned home in late June and I got swept away with home life and family.

So here is my update working backwards:

November:

Glenn is doing great.  He just returned from Iowa last night after spending three days at the University of Iowa testing, waiting and finally getting the results we wanted to hear.  Glenn is in “Complete Stringent Remission.”  This means that he has no cancer in his body at this time.  Just a reminder, remission only means “temporary recovery.”  Glenn’s cancer is still incurable but we are going to keep alot closer eye this time around and make sure he stays in remission.  So that means, 3 month checkups in Iowa, maintenance therapy for 2 years including Velcade chemo treatments and oral cancer fighting medication and constant monitoring with our local oncologist.  But for now, so thankful God has given Glenn another chance and looking forward to many happy years ahead.

October:

Halloween was so much fun for us again this year.  We invited a few family friends over and the kids went trick-or-treating in a fun group.

Sunshine-Giant-Wizard Happy Halloween!

Sunshine-Giant-Wizard
Happy Halloween!

Clash of Clans, Barbarian King, a Giant (Lego), a Barbarian, a Wizard (Laser), and a Viking

Clash of Clans: Barbarian King, a Giant (Lego), a Barbarian, a Wizard (Laser), and a Viking

Princess was Sunshine & her sweet friend was Rain!

Princess was Sunshine & her sweet friend was Rain!

Football has been in full swing for Bookworm.  He plays on the FEAST Football team and loves it.  His team is heading to playoffs and he’s really pumped.

Bookworm

Bookworm

Our Catholic Alliance homeschool group continues to be a blessing to our family.  We just recently celebrated at our All Saints Day Party where the children dress up as saints and learn about their lives.  Princess was St. Odelia and Lego was St. David of Essex.  Can you find them?

All Saints Day Party @ Sts. Peter and Paul Catholic Church

All Saints Day Party @ Sts. Peter and Paul Catholic Church

Princess started rehearsals for the San Antonio Ballet’s Nutcracker.  She is so excited about being part of a professional production.  Princess will be a mouse this year.  She loves the part because she gets to actually dance and move like a mouse. mouse

Laser and Lego are still very active in Boy Scouts.  (Bookworm has to take a break in the fall for football.)  Laser is the Senior Patrol Leader for the year.  It’s a big responsibility but he is handing it well even with this being his Freshman year of high school at home. And high school at home is a huge responsibility.  Momma can’t teach it all to them so they are doing most on their own.  Lego is troop Historian and loves the camping.  He’ll be cooking at his next campout at Lost Pines Scout Reserve.

Laser as SPL coordinating with his assistant and Scoutmasters.

Laser as SPL coordinating with his assistant and Scoutmasters.

Lego ready to load up!

Lego ready to load up!

Celebrated our niece, Katelyn’s birthday with a mini-party at Mamma Margies with cupcakes and a princess tiara for her.

katelynbday2014

September:

All kid activities kicked off this month.
Princess-ballet at Bravo!Ballet School
Lego-tennis at CrossTrain Tennis Academy
Laser-soccer with the FEAST High School Soccer team
Bookworm-football with FEAST High School Football team

My mom and dad continued staying with us after my mom’s 2nd surgery in late August. Helped keep track of her speech therapy, physical therapy and overall caring for her. My dad also came down with pneumonia during their stay here so I also had to take him in to the doctors office once a week. It was alot to do, but having them here was such a blessing. My kids were able to spend time with their grandparents in ways they would have never before. Princess helped Grandpa put his hearing aids in each morning and Lego helped with eye drops for unsteady hands. Bookworm talked politics with Grandpa and Laser pushed his oxygen tank around.  It was truly a work of mercy and a gift to our family.

Bookworm celebrated his 16th birthday!  It is bitter-sweet that he is growing up.  So proud of the young man he is becoming but sometimes I am startled by the guy coming down the stairs.  Where did my baby boy go?

colinhappybday

August:

We began home school this month.
Bookworm: 10th grade
Laser: 9th grade
Lego: 7th grade
Princess: 5th grade

20140804_111537

It is getting more challenging keeping up with the grading and planning especially with all we have had going on in our family life. Homeschooling high school was not what I envisioned 11 years ago when I set off on this journey but my boys have chosen to remain at home to school.  Yes, Chemistry and Geometry are part of our curriculum and no, I can’t always help them but they are learning and searching for answers.  I am so impressed with their ability to learn on their own.  Bookworm and Laser both took the PSAT this past October. Hoping their scores reflect their efforts.

Happy 80th Birthday, Grandma!
Even though my mom was still recovering from her surgery, we still wanted to celebrate her 80th birthday.  We had been planning a bigger party but needed to scale it down to immediate family.  My mom was Queen for the day and really enjoyed her celebration.  She truly is a treasure to our family and deserved the best.

Queen Mother

Queen Mother

Limo ride with the grandkids. Cheers!

Limo ride with the grandkids. Cheers!

20140803_155224 20140803_155215 20140803_155202

 

Glenn and I went for his first 3 month checkup following his second stem-cell transplant.  We drove and stayed at the Hope Lodge, an American Cancer Society facility, during our week long stay.  After having a PET and bone-marrow biopsy his test results didn’t come back perfect as hoped.  His Monoclonal Protein was still at 0.1.  We want 0.0.  Dr. Tricot said that hopefully next time we’ll get that number. 20140813_201026

Our house had been on the market since the end of May.  It didn’t sell.  We had two offers but they were low-ball and we weren’t desperate.  We may try again in the Spring.

CAM01112

July:

We were home for about 2 weeks from Iowa when my mom fainted, fell and broke her neck on July 4th.  We were at their house to grill up some hot dogs and spend the day with them.  It was a very traumatic experience.  Ambulance took her first to North Baptist Hospital and then transferred her to San Antonio Military Medical Center because of the severity of her injury to her neck.  She broke 2 vertebrates at C6/C7, was in ICU, and had plates and screws placed to support the vertebrates.  Had it been any higher, she would have been paralyzed or dead.  God was with her.  She had a 6 week recovery.  I stayed at their house switching kids out every couple of days.  It was a very difficult recovery because my mom could not swallow food.  The surgery required pulling her vocal chords, esophagus and anything else in the way out of the way to place the braces.

At her 6 week checkup with an x-ray and CT scan they discovered that she had further damage and the bracing had not held up.  Mom had collapsed vertebrates and once again was hospitalized immediately.  God was with her again.  At any point, if her spine had broken or splintered she could have been damaged beyond repair.  She underwent another surgery, this time more complicated and longer.  She was in surgery for 9 hours.  They had to enter from the front of her neck and through the back of her neck remove the hardware and place more extensive support along her spine.  The 2nd surgery so far has been successful.  Praying that at her next appointment, she will be cleared to remove her c-collar and gain full function of her neck again.  It’s been over 2 months and my mom still is struggling with eating and swallowing.  Our hope is that with time, all will return to normal.

20140911_123234

Doctor explains the surgery.

Doctor explains the surgery.

Dumpster Disaster

Going home didn’t turn out as smoothly as I would have liked.

Packing up our temporary homes is never easy.  We have stuff that we have picked up here and there because our normal stuff is back home.  Usually, we have more to take home than we came with, and this was no different.

We hit a big snag when on Thursday night we had 3 bags full of trash, and trash day had been on Wednesday.  I figured we could go and find a dumpster and get rid of the trash so we wouldn’t leave trash in the garage until the next Wednesday.  Lego went with me.  We drove around town looking for an open dumpster.  Yes, I know some of you are thinking you can’t just use someone’s dumpster…well, I kinda knew that but I just wanted to get rid of the trash and be done with it.  So we drove and drove and passed up the dumpsters behind gates or that explicitly said “No dumping” until we found one.  It was a house construction site and the dumpster only said “No dumping furniture, concrete, tires or electronics and batteries.” Nothing about a couple of bags full of refrigerator clean-out food and trash.  So we tossed the bags and left.

We went home and continued to pack up.  The next morning, we were loading our trailer up in the garage and Glenn who wasn’t up to helping us was sitting in a chair watching.  Next thing I know a police officer is in our garage asking Glenn if he knew how a bag of our trash could be found in a dumpster across town.  The police officer was standing there with old mail from our rental address with the McLaren name.  Great.

Apparently, the construction company that owns that dumpster has had a lot of problems with people. Yes, you guessed it, dumping stuff there.  Someone literally tore open the trash bags to find evidence.  First of all, gross.  Second of all, really?

Glenn sat there looking at him like “What the he%#?”  And I finally spoke up and explained what we had done and why.  The officer told us we needed to either go remove the trash or the construction company was going to press charges and fine us.  He didn’t want us fined so he stood there and waited while we tried to figure out how to unhitch our trailer that was only half full and not tied down.  We tried everything.  We moved it down on the drive to get it level, but it was still on an incline.  So I moved it out into the street and tried to lift it off.  Well, as some may know, the weight of the trailer and the load was too heavy to remove it.  I finally had to just take the van with the trailer and hope everything didn’t fly out.  It was at this point, when the officer tells me that he’ll follow me, that finally I lose it.  Not sure what broke me, but I just started crying.

I’ve been pretty strong through this whole thing.  Husband. Cancer. Find a house rental for our family to be together.  Drive my kids up in a snow storm.  Treatments. Homeschooling.  Packing us up, again.  I just started bawling and telling the officer that “I just want to get my husband and kids home.”  Lego had been so sweet and volunteered to come with me.  He said he was part of it too.  I cried more.  I cried as we drove across town.  And Lego just kept telling me it was going to be okay.

So we pull into the building area/street and pull up.  Construction workers everywhere. Police officer still following me.  We get out and look in the dumpster.  Yuck.  They had torn open our trash bags.  Leftovers everywhere, including the frozen lasagna tray we had eaten the night before.  Lego stepped up and said I’ll get it.  I thankfully handed him my pink work gloves and he climbed in.  It was the saddest sight for me.  My son, in his boy scout t-shirt and pink work gloves rummaging through the trash trying to stuff it all into another bag.  The police officer was actually pretty nice about it at this point since I’d practically cried on his shoulder.  He helped steady Lego resulting in Lego smearing lasagna on the officer’s sleeve. Oops. The officer told me to follow him out and he’d pull over and take our trash to city dump for us.  Humiliation over, I cried more.

So this whole dumpster fiasco set us back about 2 hours.  Still had to finish loading and cleaning the townhouse.  We finally hit the road by 5:30pm that night.  Des Moines, Tulsa and finally home a few days later.

On the road, finally.

On the road, finally.

It was so good to be home.  Our house was spotless since we had left it for “show” and that was a nice ending to a very long trip home.

Happy Father’s Day

Glenn had a good day.  We attended mass at St. Patrick’s and then went for an early lunch at Texas Roadhouse.  The food was sooo good, but I gotta say, ‘If you are going to have a TEXAS Roadhouse in Iowa, you’ve got to get the staff to say, “Y’all!” instead of “You’ins”.’ Am I right, or what?!

Golf on TV, a nap and ice cream treats for dinner. Not to mention a San Antonio SPURS Championship VICTORY!

It was a good day.  So thankful he was up to celebrating his day, dad-style.

Missing Bookworm, but still a great family day with Lego, Princess and Laser with their Dad.

Missing Bookworm, but still a great family day with Lego, Princess and Laser with their Dad.

Dudes and their Dad

Dudes and their Dad

Princess and her daddy.

Princess and her daddy.

Megaphone for Father's Day.  Perfect gift for calling kids downstairs.

Megaphone for Father’s Day. Perfect gift for calling kids downstairs.

 

 

All Counts are Up!

The days have been the same with labs and a visit with a PA. Glenn’s WBC counts have been steadily rising with his Hemoglobin taking its time to very slowly catch up but rising all the same. So that is what we have been up too. He has been tired and still having the evening low grade fevers but all is well. The kids do school each day and ride their scooters up and down the street racing and doing tricks.

We were given the day off on Wednesday because his counts are stabilizing and we were able to get into a cancellation with Dr. Tricot on Thursday morning. Meeting with Dr. Tricot only happens twice during our visits. He’s kinda a rock star as far as we are concerned and way to busy to see us on the day to day visits. He however, is always monitoring Glenn’s progress and directing his care. He usually goes over his labs and gives him a physical exam checking for numbness and strength in his legs and arms. Lots of questions about overall physical abilities, “eating habits, tremors in his hands, sleeping, activity level, ect.” Then he sits at his computer and silently inputs his findings and orders for Glenn’s continued care. Glenn and I usually sit there in silence waiting for his directions. I am always dismayed as I watch this brilliant doctor peck at the keys with one finger. I’m so tempted to move him out of the way and have him dictate to me while I type. He gets the job done, prints us a report and then asks if we have any other questions.

Glenn’s report is 21 pages now. Six years of labs and statistics and medications and treatments plans all in one nice tidy spot. 21 bone marrow biopsies, countless needle pokes for blood tests, MRIs and PET exams. Oh, and one of Glenn’s favorites, the pulmonary function test. “Just breathe … and hold it and blow it out….” Never had one or seen one? I’d fail it. But Glenn is a trooper and takes it on as a challenge. 21 pages covering this cross Glenn continues to carry.

Glenn’s stem cell transplant this round has been uneventful. We will know more about how well the transplant did in a few months when Glenn is due back for re-evaluation. It’ll be at that checkup that he said he can give us a prognosis. He couldn’t give us one yet. Last time it was 8-10 years, but we didn’t hear the part about “in normal cases.” Glenn’s not a normal case. He’s a high risk multiple myeloma case. But we are still hopeful. He’s really doing quite awesome and I believe God is with us through it all.

So much to be thankful for, including the weather.  Every night it dips into the 60’s and warms up in the 80’s. I just love the foliage here. Fur trees and Cottonwoods and lush Kentucky Blue Grass.

huge tree

huge tree

Princess is a tree hugger!

Princess is a tree hugger!

There is a walking trail a street over from us. The kids and I went on a walk. Well, I walked and they scootered. Each one took turns hanging back with me as the others raced ahead going down hills and swerving along the trail.  Such a great walking & biking trail and a great chance to relax for me.  Hopefully, the next week will find us on our way home.  In the meantime, it’s a great place to be.

Scootering on the North Liberty/Coralville Rec Trail

Scootering on the North Liberty/Coralville Rec Trail