Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourseles, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others. ~Marianne Williamson

Friday, December 26, 2008

The Ghost of Christmas Present...

So, what does Christmas look like today?

As much as I try to ignore the Christmas of yest er year, it can creep in at the most inconvenient times. It sometimes overshadows the holidays in odd ways. Not just the fact that the anniversaries of some of the darkest days of our lives are in the days approaching Christmas, but also in the fact that Christmas shopping is now a struggle due to financial strain. We continue to face mounting medical expenses that leaves a budget that has a lot to be desired. No longer do we wonder what reaction awaits the desired gifts, but how gifts will be provided. Now, I know that Christmas is not all about gifts, but it is nice to get your children some of the things they want. This year was stressful but there were funds for some nice gifts and there were very happy children yesterday morning. Not elaborate but very nice.

There was also snow...I can't remember a Christmas that had so much snow. Living in the country means the snow stays pristine and white and clean. It was a wonderful reminder of how blessed we are to have a savior that brings us a new life...a new start...the opportunity to wash away the old and become renewed. The children laughed and played and laughed some more in the white powder. Because I do not like driving in ice and snow, Keith took me everywhere I needed to go and this afforded us some time alone...without the kids...to reflect on where we are, where we have been and where we are going.

Christmas Eve was special. It is no longer just a time to get together with family and friends for gifts and good food. It was a night to be reminded of the real Christmas story...of a savior born to all humanity bearing the gift of everlasting life with our Father. Even if Jesus was not born on Christmas Day, we can still ponder and be thankful for His heavenly presence here on earth. But it was also a night of miracles for our family. The life saving medicine arrived to save our daughter's life. Only 2 cases in all of the United States and they belonged to us. For each key player and event to occur in the exact order they did at the exact time that they did to save her life could have only been orchestatrated by God. We love to say that next to the birth of Christ, we have the greatest Christmas story. She may not have woken up or recovered on Christmas, but by New Year's she was making a new life.

Christmas is not just a time for gifts (although they are fun) but truly a time to remember...remember how lost we were and how very blessed we are to be found.

May you reflect on the new life of Christmas this holiday season.

The Ghost of Christmas Future to come...sorry for the delay...here in the foothills of the Cascades...if you want internet...you may have a satellite and when it snows and there is ice...that satellite may be covered and not receiving signals until it starts melting off and is safe enough for hubby to clear it :)

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The Ghost of Christmas Past

I apologize for all the depressing entries lately. I hope for the newbies that they have had a chance to go back and read some of the old ones to know this is not how I always am. Christmas has become a struggle for me because of 2005, but also the continuing financial strain. I will be doing a short series starting today...with Christmas 2005. Now, I don't normally post about Kennedy's cancer journey here but this will begin to explain a lot. I will look at this Christmas, Christmas today and what I hope for future Christmases.

It all started with the family Christmas party...and the few days following...

Kennedy is in the pediatric ICU (December 22nd)

Ok, so I haven’t gotten better at updating but that is my New Year’s Resolution! I just knew I had to post now as Kennedy is in critical condition. Two weeks of Ara-C finally did it and last Thursday she needed a platelet transfusion (her platelets were 7 and normal is 140-440). Normally not a big deal and expected with Ara-C but not the highlight of our day. Friday she needed red cells so we spent a very long day in Day Treatment but again, it was expected. Kennedy’s ANC was at 1470 on Thursday and she was rather chipper, so we went to the family Christmas party at Caryn’s for some yuletide cheer. That is when we first became aware that there was a problem. Kennedy was running a fever (again, another common side effect of Ara-C) but it was 102 and she had a bloody nose that just wouldn’t stop. We called Dr. Norwood and he sent us to the ER not thinking we would actually have to stay. However, her ANC was now 670 and her platelets were less than 5. We didn’t know how much exactly because when they are so low (below 5) they can’t even see them without a very high power microscope which is not used for a general CBC. We were admitted, got platelets and antibiotics and moved forward. Sunday, she got more blood and her platelets were 38. Monday she was still chipper but also still running a fever. Her ANC was coming up, her red count was steady but her platelets were again less than 5. More platelets and antibiotics but plans to go home Tuesday morning. Next morning her ANC was over 1000 and her platlets were…you guessed it, less than 5. WHAT?????? More platelets, chemo (including PEG which only made it worse) and antibiotics and we were on our way home. Later that night both Keith and I knew something was terribly wrong. Kennedy was vomiting stomach fluid everytime she drank water. She had vomitted in the hospital so we didn’t think too much about it. At 10am she vomitted blood (old blood with what appeared to be clots but may have been tissue) but was not running a fever. I called the clinic and Sam (Kenn’s favorite clinic nurse) said that she would fit her in. We were not expected to return until Friday morning. We got here and guess what? Yes, her platelets were less than 5 and she had more bruises and petichiae (more everyday really). On top of it, her torso (both stomach and back) were really hurting her. They knew she was vomitting blood, was clearly bleeding and having severe pain. They ran all kinds of tests hoping something would at least rear it’s ugly head. (Oh, I forgot to mention that she had blood cultures done-looking for bacteria-in the hospital but nothing ever showed up) Several tests came back inconclusive because of the Heparin in her line so they had to access a vein. They poked several times with no luck (her veins were too little and damaged) so in Day Treatment, they had no choice but to access her through her head. You heard me right, the top of her head!! Dr. Olson and Dr. Norwood both showed up and weren’t agreeing on what it was or what to do. We were admitted to the peds floor for plasma and vitamin K. Plasma is RARELY given to patients and only because Kennedy had absolutely no ability to clot. If she had fallen, she could have literally bled to death in a very short time. Oh, and by this time Kennedy had begun to swell. Within a couple of hours, her deep inney belly button was flat and brusing. She received her plasma and morphine and within an hour and a half, her abdomen had grown by 4 cm. The resident was called and she was admitted to the PICU. There one of our favorite Drs. showed and went over all the possiblities from stomach bleeding to major organs uncontrollably bleeding in to her stomach. The options for treatment ranged from stopping the bleeding and healing to surgery and a respirator. She had more testing (requiring more sticks) and had she not been profusely bleeding they would have added a Hickman catheter. They had to find veins for at least 2 more IVs and immediately. It took about 12 additional pokes and nearly sedating her completely to get 3 more. They basically have to flood her body with clotting factors to stop the bleeding. This means pressure on her lungs and a respirator. The only way to do this was to have more access internally. They sent her for a CAT scan which revealed lots of fluid in her stomach and fluid beginning to pool in her lungs that is collapsing the air sachs. They do not know where the bleeding is or what is causing the fluid but Kennedy is not urinating so there is concern regarding liver and kidney function. That is all I know at this time but they have listed her in critical condition and I will post new info as soon as I possibly can. In the mean while, please PRAY and sending healing thoughts her way, spread the word by forwarding her website info to everyone and anyone and post words of encouragement to her guestbook. Right now I have 445 new e-mails so I may not be checking those but I WILL check the guestbook.

We love you all!

HOPE and FAITH-never lose them,


UPDATE:Kennedy is in liver failure probably brought on by her chemotherapy. They have not yet started a course of treatment but will in the next few hours. The next few days will be critical in knowing whether this can be reversed or is permanant and requiring a transplant; it will all be dependent upon how much damage has occured and how she responds to treatment. Liver failure brings a whole host of complications and has already begun to affect her stomach and lungs. PLEASE PRAY FOR KENNEDY’S RECOVERY!

December 23rd

Okay, it amazes me how things can change so quickly. We just never seem to know what is going on until it is in our faces.

Her liver failure now has a name, Veno-Occlusive Disease (VOD), and to add to the confusion, she also is suffering from Disemminated Intravascular Coagulopathy (DIC). What does this mean? Well, let’s start with the easier one to describe: DIC occurs when your body becomes confused, either by infection or in Kennedy’s case medication, and devours/stops making blood clotting neccesities (platelets, plasma, using vitamin K, etc.) and this is caused by the VOD. Kennedy has no ability to produce her own clotting factors and her liver is using up all the product we are putting in. So what is VOD? According to the information we received and what we can understand from the doctors, it is when there is damage to the blood vessels (which can be caused by chemotherapy) and specifically in the case of VOD, when the damage occurs “to the cells that line the walls of small veins in the liver” and blood clots form “causing swelling of the walls and vein blockage.” Essentially, the veins became damaged, causing her body to send clotting agents to the liver and keeping them from going anywhere else, her liver becomes full of blood clots and no longer processes the chemicals in the body, such as enzymes and ammonia, and backing up the liver. Her blood is no longer able to clear itself of toxins and fluid because it can not access the liver, and this blood and fluids are backing up all over her body causing swelling. Untreated, VOD eventually causes major organ failure and death. So, how are we treating this? Very carefully. Because of Kennedy’s inability to clot blood through out her body (everything is being sent to the liver that we give her and nothing new is being made) we can not just “thin her blood with Heparin” and move on. This overloading of clots has caused full liver failure and thinning them is only part of the solution. Right now, we are flooding her body with blood products to compensate (4 units of platelets, 3 units of plasma, and 2 units of packed red cells in the last 24 hours) and using meds to clear the fluid and ammonia from her system. However, they only do so much. Kennedy’s organs are under tremendous stress and pressure from the build up of fluid so it was necessary to drain off as much fluid as we could to make room and hopefully force the fluid in her chest cavity (lungs and the area between her lungs and ribcage) to move down. This afternoon they drained off 1 liter of fluid and blood from her abdomen with a catheter. Of course, because of the condition of her liver, it will return and need to be drained again everyday or every other day as needed. The good news is Kennedy is not on a respirator at this time although her chances are greater than 50% that she will eventually need to be. She is getting respiratory therapy every two hours and oxygen and we want her to breathe on her own as long as she can without causing too much stress on her heart and lungs. They are literally treating her for the moment and making decisions about her care hourly. Kennedy is considered in critical but stable condition. How can we recover her liver? Kennedy will take a very experimental drug called Defibrotide which is currently manufactured in Italy. This is her best and maybe only chance at recovery. Because it is not currently approved for use in the US, it makes it a little more difficult to come by and now it is a matter of contacting the right people and jumping through the right hoops. Defibrotide will attack and break up only the clots in her liver causing the back up to be stopped and will hopefully allow her liver to begin processing blood products and recover. That is the plan and they have had very good results when it has been used. So the drugs we are giving her now for the VOD are only trying to do what her liver is unable to as we wait for the new drug that can hopefully give her liver the opportunity to function again. She is also beginning to turn “yellow” as billirubin builds up in her system. The conclusion is that she is getting supportive care (treating the symptoms) and soon they will hopefully be curing the problem. They continue to remind us that VOD can be fatal and that while many kids do well-Kennedy is Kennedy.

Some things we did find out. They only see VOD at Emanuel about one case every two years and Dr. Olson can’t remember the last time she saw it occur in a patient that did not have a bone marrow transplant. In her research today, she only found one patient who had DIC and liver problems, but it did not develop in to VOD. This makes our girl one in a million for sure. COG (Children’s Oncology Group), the organization that oversees Kennedy’s and many other oncology research protocols, and it’s doctors all over the US and Canada are reviewing her case and giving input in to how they think it could be treated or prevented. I reminded Dr. Olson that Kennedy has never done anything by the book since she was diagnosed and why should this be any different? We still don’t know how this will affect her chemo-she is working with COG and specifically the head of Kennedy’s particular research (AALL0232-arm DH) to make those decisions because there are drugs she will no longer be able to use. Scary for both her current condition and for treating her leukemia (please remember that Kennedy is high risk for relapse and was a slow responder to chemo).

They are also testing Kennedy for a genetic disorder that causes muscle weakness-after all, let’s just add fuel to the fire, huh?

On top of this wonderful crap sandwich-Kennedy still does NOT have medical coverage for her cancer treatment. She really is our million dollar baby!!! And worth every penny, I might add! Oh, and did I mention it was Christmas??? Merry, merry Christmas!

How long will we be here? Very good question-no one can really tell us for sure. Best case scenario, Kennedy can be transferred to the “peds floor” Sunday (although waiting on the new drug makes this very unlikely) and we will spend a few weeks there. Happy Christmas in the Penthouse suite at Hotel Emanuel. They also reminded us that she will get worse before she gets better. Well now, that is encouraging. You mean it can get worse????

How are we holding up? Again, a very thoughtful question. We get through each moment and each moment only.

How can you help? Please send food-really! We have had our fill of hospital food over the last 7 months and would gladly eat your leftovers. No, not the ones the dog won’t eat-you know those which you can’t be sure when you had them or what they are but if you think about it, and truly want to bless us, please send any extras you have. It costs a fortune to eat here and it’s only good the first few times through the menu (it does repeat remember)-after all, people rarely eat here more than a few days. I mean the grill specials are the same every week we’ve been here (7 months, remember????). Home cooked is best since take out has also been exhausted (pizza and burgers). I’m not picky! Not as bad as Keith and the kids at least. So, prayers and food. Lots of hope and faith also, and food. I actually dream about tomato soup and cheese sandwiches.



And keep the encouraging messages in the Guestbook and food coming. We actually have our own fridge right now in the PICU.

December 24th

(12:45 AM)
Kennedy update:It was two steps forward and one step back, but it is moving exactly how her drs expected. The GREATEST news of the day is that her medicine is en route!!!! It is true! After trying desperately to reach someone in Como, Italy with little success, Dr. Olson began working to find some here in the US. As a Christmas miracle, she did. Boy, is it funny how things work out. She was told the person who had it was in Cleveland but was given a North Carolina phone number. Darlene called and confirmed that it was North Carolina and after jumping through the hoops (just before 5 pm their time on the 23rd) to get the FDA to let Kennedy have it, an angel in disguise hand delivered 3 boxes to Fed Ex to be overnighted to our baby girl. This was the best news we could get! It will arrive tomorrow afternoon and she will recieve it shortly after. On Tuesday, when Italy reopens, Dr. Olson will have to reorder enough to restock NC and get Kennedy all of the doses she will need but this gets us moving on it. She told us that without this drug, the survival rate was about 20% and with it about 50%. Amazing how in May we groaned about a 70% cure rate at 5 years off chemo. We gladly are taking the 50%. Kennedy has some big things on her side-she only has liver failure as opposed to multi-organ failure and she has not had a liver or bone marrow transplant. The thing hurting her is that she also has the DIC to deal with, hence the need for this experimental drug. While it appears that it has not been studied on children, they do believe it will work the same way. They assured us it will not worsen her condition but there is the possiblity it will not help. A very slim possiblity! The rare times they have been able to use it for children they have had very positive results. We could not have been more excited just to hear a possible cure was on its way to Portland. It was God’s hand as every piece had to fall in to place to make this happen on the biggest holiday of the year and on such short notice.

She is beginning to fill with fluid again and they plan to drain it off tomorrow morning at the latest. It is affecting her breathing again, though not enough to require incubation. We had a couple scares this evening, first Kennedy was coughing and stopped breathing. Her oxygen saturation levels dipped into the 60s and her respiration, when she resumed breathing, was quick and shallow. They moved her back from respiratory therapy every 4 hours (or every 2 hours as needed) to every 2 hours. They also increased her Versed and Morphine to keep her calm. She is doing better but they are watching her blood gas levels very closely as she seems to struggle getting the CO2 out more than good oxygen in. Second, she was straining when she was agitated and burst a blood vessel in her eye. While this was very upsetting for me, the majority of the white part of her eye is now blood red, the nurse was not concerned and this helped me to relax a little. My biggest fear was spontaneous bleeding from her eye but this doesn’t seem to be the case.

I saw April and Josh Brenneman on the School Age side today and was thrilled to have the support of someone who has seen many trials over the last year. Her words of encouragement and empathy were priceless. Josh looked wonderful and has the most beautiful hair on his head. We rejoice with them as they are all home for Christmas this year and will continue to pray for them as they face the future and its obstacles. I’m sure we will have the opportunity to catch up with them again soon.

Also, many thanks to my sister, Katy, Kim and Becky for the food and tons of laughter. I REALLY needed all of it and my spirits were definitely lifted as we laughed about silly kids and husbands (not to mention all the other girl gossip). It was EXACTLY what my heart needed today. I’m so grateful my dad has been able to be here and could bring my little Bubba up today despite it being hard for all of us. Mom brought me the things I needed (thanks for the deo!) and took care of things at work for Keith so he could be here-and that is a HUGE blessing. Last, but certainly not least, thanks so much to my dear brother-in-law, Jeff, and his mother Kathie who have made it possible for my sister to spend 2+ nights with me. You all have no idea how much this all means. (Still keep the home cooked meals coming!!!) Oh, and thanks to Amy (Kennedy’s PT) for the muffins and all the nurses and staff who love our daughter so much that they find free time to visit and encourage us. And how could I forget Dr. Skau. He showed up to see me at my best (again) this morning and offer his soothing words that always take the edge off. He is the BEST pediatrician and along with the other docs (we love you too!) and the incredible staff at EPPC, they have supported us since before Bubba was born through every cold and stitch and staple and now the big stuff to make our lives so much easier and during this time, bearable.

Well, I hate to cut this short (for me anyway) but I am exhausted and Daddy is on watch to night so I want SLEEP and a shower!!!

Until tomorrow,Mel

(11:49 PM)

Why does there always have to be good and bad? We sure could use all good right about now! The best news of the day is that Kennedy’s medicine is here! We were starting to get worried but it showed up around 5pm tonight. The drs had thought she might not need it after her great showing yesterday but she has had a couple of setbacks. Not too serious but serious enough that it reaffirms the importance of taking the experimental meds. Her liver function had been improving but has taken a little backslide. Her ammonia counts were again rising and her clotting elements were falling. The staff is staying right on top of it and working to bring them back down, or up as the case may be. The hope is that this new medicine will release the pressure on the liver and allow it to work. As you can imagine, this is a long and slow process. She is no longer running a fever and when they drained her abdomen today, they removed less than before. We also learned that her white blood count is zero; this of course means that her ANC is also zero. We now have to be VERY careful about visitors and continuously wash our hands to prevent infection. An ANC of zero means absolutely NO immune system. Ideally she should be over 1500 and this is the first time she has been lower than 20. Pretty scary. Overall, things are progressing-just very, very slowly. There was more talk today of putting Kennedy on a respirator. She is doing well as far as keeping her CO2 down today, but the respiratory therapists are concerned that her lungs are getting tired and may need rest. Oh, when will it ever end? We just cling to the good news and wade through the crappy.

On a good note, I was able to go home for a while today and take a shower, in my own shower!, wrap Christmas presents and get the trailer ready to bring up. The trailer is here so that will make things a lot easier for all of us. It will also be nice to take some of our food to the trailer (Thank you, thank you to everyone who has come bearing food-I would also like to add, that those who have brought food have gotten to see our Miss Sassy Pants!). My mom and Caryn were able to stay with Kennedy today and I really appreciated the time I could have at home with Austin. Speaking of Austin, please pray for him as this has been very difficult for him; not just because of his sister’s condition, but because he has to be away from us for long periods of time.

Bill and Lynn Toops came by today. We had a great time laughing, mostly at Bill :), and visiting. They blessed us with a whole array of food that included a variety of sandwich fixins, chips, pop, string cheese, V-8, potato salad and treats for all. They also sent along the necessary paper/plastic items needed. Thank you so much-all of this blessing has made it feel like Christmas again.

Mom and Caryn decorated Kenn’s room for Christmas and one of her rt’s is bringing her a little light up tree tomorrow. There really is a Santa Claus. Speaking of, he should be here soon so I better get some rest.

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night.


December 26th (I couldn't even write on Christmas Day)

(12:53 AM)

Thank heaven for Austin…if it hadn’t been for him, it would have been very hard to believe it was Christmas. Keith and I slept for a few hours in the trailer-I got up around 5:30am to come back up and be with Kennedy. It was wonderful to sleep with my husband without any kids-I can’t remember when the last time was. Kennedy seemed to do well through the night. Her counts are all coming back good and today she only needed one unit of platelets. Her liver enzymes and ammonia levels are continuing to decline and everything indicates that her liver is wanting to function. It still has a lot of healing to do but it is certainly moving in the right direction. They are still saying she is in critical condition, but she appears to be getting better everyday. The drs and respiratory therapists (now only referred to as RTs) are still monitoring her breathing very closely and have increased her oxygen. They are concerned that her lungs are getting “tired of working so hard” and they are looking at possible options to help her including inserting a chest tube to keep the fluid/pressure off. At this point, it can’t be anymore of a risk than poking her several times to drain it off. After 5 pokes tonight, they were only able to take off about 600cc or about 1/2 a liter. In the grand scheme of things, not much. Her ANC/WBC is still in the hole so they are adding one more drug (GCSF) to increase her counts. They would like to see her ANC over 1000. They usually don’t give GCSF to Leukemia patients (after all, it is in the WBC that they have problems) but the benefits outweigh the risks in this case. They are giving it through her IV rather than as injections so it is important she stay in the ICU to have her blood pressure monitored. We have also learned how long she will be taking the experimental drug-about 2 weeks. They did increase her dose today also.

So, her VOD is improving as is her DIC. They are actually more concerned at this point about how they will go about treating her Leukemia. Because Kennedy is both a high-risk and slow-responding case, it is vital they continue some kind of intensive for the next 4 months before she moves on to maintenance. The problem, is that there are drugs she will not be able to take after having VOD. Relapse may be one of our biggest fears, because should she relapse during her intensive, she may need a bone marrow or stem cell transplant. And she has already had VOD so the likelihood that she would get it again is good but they do not believe another round of it would have a positive outcome. She will still get her dose of Vincristine on Tuesday but after that everything is up in the air. Just something new to worry about!

Austin had a good Christmas and Santa even left him an additional 7 presents up here. Boy, he was sure excited to get up here and see what his treasure was. My mom said that he left a note for Santa reminding him that Kennedy was in the PICU and not to forget her. He definitely didn’t and even left goodies for mom and dad. That was very nice and much appreciated. He had a very difficult time leaving tonight and was very upset that he couldn’t spend more time with me. I promised him that we would work out a way for him to stay tomorrow night with us in the trailer and that very soon he would get to stay every night. That did little to comfort him at the time. It is just very different than being in our usual room (it always seems that we get 3530!) because he can’t be loud or really play. If there was an emergency with Kennedy, the nurses and doctors would not appreciate stepping on Legos! It is definitely more boring for him and everyone is so tired and stressed out that they are not in the mood for entertaining. I told him that things would improve soon but that is so hard to see right now. Tomorrow, Keith is taking him to the movies so that will be a nice change of pace for both of them.

Ok, I know it’s short. I want to thank everyone for your encouraging messages-they really help and of course for the great food! It is my night to sleep all night (and daddy’s night to get 3 hours and then be with Kennedy) so I am headed to the trailer for SLEEP.

Love you all so much,


December 27th

This will probably be rather short but I plan to update more in the morning. Kennedy’s prognosis is really good and they expect her to make a slow but complete recovery. They also plan to do everything in their power to prevent this from happening again.

Kennedy received a special “air” mattress today that has a continuous flow of air circulating underneath her. This is to prevent any breakdowns in her skin from pressure points. She is already showing signs of redness around her bottom and on the back of her head. It takes up more space but she looks much better.

She had another ultrasound today and it revealed that there is little fluid left in her abdomen around her organs. Her liver, spleen and kidneys were slightly enlarged probably due to the stress of her VOD. This does mean that they do not plan to drain off any more fluid or insert a chest tube they are however, increasing her diuretics to help her void out the fluid in her stomach and intestines.

She is also receiving TPN, a nutritional supplement that goes through her central line. They have modified it so that her liver will not be strained in metabolizing it.
She has a new “mask” for breathing. This gives her a break and allows her to sleep better because they will not be interupting her every 2 hours. It assists her in breathing but is not as invasive as incubating her. Just another tool to keep her off the respirator.
There is some concern about her soft palate/throat function as she was vomiting fluid (from her full stomach) through her nose. That does happen to everyone but she was already having problems when speaking with this closure and now it is more of a worry that she will aspirate fluid/vomit in to her lungs.

She received platelets today but did not need plasma or red cells-much improvement over the last few days for sure!

We signed the paperwork today that needs to be sent to the FDA for Kennedy’s new med. Dr. Olson has 5 days to get all the paperwork submitted. There was some pretty scary info on their regarding severe VOD so I was thankful we were not given it on Saturday. However, we know that this is Kennedy’s best chance at beating the odds.

She will have many changes in her chemo and I will actually give more infomation about that tomorrow.

Holding on to hope and faith,


December 30th

I am sure I have caused some panic by not updating, but things have been busy and at the end of the day I am just too exhausted. I thought I had better get on it though as my cell phone has had way too many messages. First, I would like to say that Keith and I greatly appreciate all the messages, guestbook entries and e-mails of hope and encouragement for our baby girl. They definitely help to keep our spirits up. It’s always nice to know that there are people praying for us.

Tuesday night I finally hit the wall. All of the emotion and frustration of the last 7 months came flooding out. The bad news was that it was directed at the new doctor in the PICU that we needed to work with. Keith said that thankfully, none of the drs I was really upset with were there and being the incredibly smart and patient guy he is, he didn’t say a word. I was crying and venting about my frustration that no one had a plan beyond supportive care, I was mad that Kennedy did not appear to be getting better and that no one seemed to be on the same page about what was going to happen. The nurses thought I had valid points, and only because he wanted me to calm down, the dr suggested that we have a care conference. This is when everyone gets together (Kennedy’s team and us) to discuss what is really going on and what the plan is for her. I went off to do the most comforting thing I could…research. I read every study regarding 6tg and VOD and alternative treatment drugs that did not involve overdosing the liver. I was not going to be unprepared or uneducated when making decisions. I spent a considerable amount of the night on the phone with my friend, Tammy, and in prayer. Rather than spend all night venting at God about my overwhelming situation, I asked Him for his strength, wisdom and guidance in making the best decisions for Kennedy. I had finally come to a point of utter dependence upon Him. I knew I could not get through the next moment without His guidance and so I waited. He shared with me that I only needed to trust that He would give me the next step. After I lost my pregnancy between the kids, I read that when we step out in to the darkness, one of two things will happen; either we will have something solid to stand on or we will be taught to fly. Kennedy has absolute faith that God is in control of her cancer and her. She told me a few months ago that even dying is getting better. Her trust in God is so strong that she believes whatever outcome He gives her, it will be the very best thing for her. Every moment, He has given me the next step. Certainly not the whole path, nor does He show me where on the map I’ll be next week, but there is always solid ground where I stand.
Yesterday, we were finally able to start seeing, on Kennedy, signs of improvement. She answered a few questions coherently and opened her eyes. One of the therapy dogs came in, Pogo-a Papillion, and she worked very hard to raise her hand to him. This was one of the first deliberate acts we have seen all week. My aunt Sue also came by and she could tell that she was there and also was responding to both Grammie and Papa’s voice. Even when Kennedy appears to be sleeping, she often can be seen “blinking” her eyes and turning her head towards thoses voices that are familiar. She needed more platelets too and is now using a CPAP machine to help her breathe. For those of you with sleep apnea, it is very similar to the machine you use when sleeping. It forces oxygen in with pressure and helps to expand the lungs and fill the air sachs to keep them from collapsing. Kennedy’s lungs appear to be improving as the pressure from her organs is relieved. She even spent some time today just receiving oxygen and did very well. It helps her body to rest on top of assisting her in keeping fluid from filling her lungs. She is receiving TPN with a very small amount of lipids to maintain her nutrition. There was some concern about the lipids as they must be processed through her liver, so the amount is small and obviously her liver function is being very closely monitored.

Austin had spent Tuesday and Wednesday night with Aunt Tammy, Kylee and Cody and was having a blast. When my Auntie Sue came by yesterday, she also brought gifts left by “Santa” on her door step at Christmas for the kids. Today when Aunt Tammy brought him to her house, there was pleasant surprise waiting for him. Tonight he is sleeping at her house and tomorrow will be able to spend more time with my cousins and their new puppy. Of course, he loves their big dogs too, but how exciting is a puppy??? When I have talked to him, he has been having a blast. Thank you guys for helping him to have such a wonderful time. I do miss him terribly but feel that this distraction is very beneficial. Tomorrow my Auntie will bring him here and he will be spending the night with us. As if all that fun is not enough, Saturday him and Papa will be going to Albany to watch bull riding. What fun! The PICU is just not a fun place for him and while he loves his sister very, very much, he is showing signs of resentment about her being sick and taking them out on me. I’m glad that I have had some time to rest and will be looking forward to having him beat me at a few games of Clue tomorrow night.

Today went well. I want to make it very clear though that Kennedy is still in critical but stable condition. There appears to be a misconception that because she is beginning to do well that we are “out of the woods.” While her condition is no longer hour to hour, it is day to day and could change drastically at any time. Okay, enough about that, yesterday Kennedy was moved to the other side of the PICU. With her ANC being zero, having liver failure and still having bleeding problems, it was necessary to move her as far as they could from infectious diseases. In room 10, we were sandwiched between a child with E-coli and a child with Meningococcal. Not a good place for her to be! So, it took us three hours to get her completely moved to the otherside of the PICU with all of her Christmas presents, our junk and everything needed to take care of her. Oh, we also had to move her and her bed. We are settling in nicely.

Our care conference went well. Papa was also able to attend so we had more people on “our side” and that was helpful. My dad has been incredible. Keith and I go to bed in the early morning hours and he is able to be here around 6 am so she is not alone very long. He has been a big support during the day and was very helpful with Austin when he was here. Grammie holds down the fort and thankfully runs errands that are impossible for us to accomplish. I can’t imagine not having all of their help. Okay, back to the conference…I finally feel like we are all on the same page. Dr. Barclay (the liver specialist) feels that Kennedy is starting to improve. He reminded us of how well her numbers are and is hopeful that she will recover with no long term effects. He did remind us that VOD is very serious, and her case is considered severe, and was unwilling to project too far in to the future. He said that things could slide backwards but he did not feel they would. He did not know how long she would be receiving supportive care (basicially as long as she needs it) and said that we’ll have more answers as she comes off the meds that are working so hard. She was unable to take oral meds for about 24 hours and her ammonia levels did go up so clearly that time will not be coming too soon. Dr. Norwood (one of her oncologists) said that right now the concern is for her VOD and infection. Kennedy has NO IMMUNE system-not run down but literally no defenses against infection-so that is a huge worry and concern. When a person has an ANC of zero, if they get a cut on their hand that becomes infected there will be no signs of infection other than a fever. If you or I get a cut, it will become red, inflammed and may ooze pus and we know it is infected; not in her case. Cancer families live in constant fear of sepsis and now that is what we are continually trying to fend off with all the antibiotics. Kennedy was running a fever of unknown origin and they have taken blood cultures with no luck so if it continues a few more days, she will be given a anti-fungal and probably another antibiotic. They have no plans yet to treat her Leukemia or prevent a relapse. Her body is simply too weak to receive chemo and she did not receive her dose of Vincristine on Tuesday. They are consulting with other oncologists who have dealt with high-risk, slow-response kids suffering from rare but severe side effects and will watch and see as to how her treatment will go. Not a fun place to be that’s for sure. Should this problem continue for a few weeks, they will look in to options that are either “liver lite” or that bypass the liver all together. Dr. Norwood was very honest and said in his experience with severe VOD, all of the cases have been fatal. What Kennedy has going for her is that she has not had a transplant and all the complications that go with that. He also said that if we don’t heal her liver, there is no point in even discussing how to treat her leukemia. To sum it up, her treatment concerning Leukemia is in limbo for now. Dr. Christophenie (the intensivist that I hope I spelled her name correctly) just reiterated what we had been talking about and started discussing ways to give Kennedy quality of life. We talked with Child Life and other therapies to schedule times for them to play with and encourage Kennedy. We have to let her know that are things worth waking up for and worth getting better for. Dianne and Kristina came by today and Kennedy was pretty responsive to them. They have cut back on her Morphine and Versed and while she is upset at the prospect of being sick, she does not appear to be having pain. She is still on a Morphine drip, she just has a slightly reduced dose. She was awake for a while today but very clingy to mom. It is just heartbreaking for her to cry out for me to “uppy” her when it is not always possible. I did get to hold her a couple of times and lay with her in her bed but in her mind it just wasn’t enough. She was opening her eyes more and focusing in on particular items. She even made decisions about what she wanted and reached out for toys with Dianne. This was fantastic!!! The nurse and I also gave her a bath-which she wasn’t happy about-and I was able to spend more time rocking her in my lap. We are only speaking positive words in her room so that she will believe she is getting better and will have the desire to get moving as much as possible. I am asking that any conversations that could scare or sadden Kennedy be taken out in to the hallway and even if she appears to be sleeping, she can and does hear everything that goes on. Only healing, strong, happy thoughts for my princess.

I have written a novel and Keith said he did not want to go to bed at 3 am tonight so I leave you with this thought:“The best bridge between despair and hope is a good night’s sleep.”–Anonymous

May tomorrow be filled with hope,


Christmas present...2008...coming soon...

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Enough Already!

Ok, after reading through my last couple of posts, I realized I am so pessimistic or depressed or angry or overwhelmed or whatever. I really do love my life. I love my family and my farm and feel so blessed that we have a house that is safe and warm. I have the freedom and the support to homeschool my children. My husband has a job when many don't. I am able to continue my education because of his job. My children are mostly healthy and happy. I have an amazing view of Mt. Hood and can enjoy the sun rising over it every single morning. There is food to eat and food for our animals. I have a husband who loves me and is dedicated to the well being of our family. I have a God that loves me unconditionally and His love never waivers. I am so blessed.

Many of my fears and doubts and worries will pass. My paper that was causing me so much stress...is making great progress and I expect to do well on it. The term is almost over. Tomorrow is payday and while it will be difficult to stretch it, it will be here and there will be money for the house payment and food on the table. Sunday I get to spend the day with my mom and my sister window shopping at the largest Christmas bazaar. There will be laughter and fun even with no money. And I will enjoy it. I have 3 more classes and 1 final before my Christmas break begins and while I have to study for comps, I will have a lot more time to enjoy my family and the holiday.

I faxed in Kennedy's appeal yesterday so now it is a waiting game. I just continue to pray and thank heaven above that so many of our friends and family are praying along with us. I have done what I need to do. I know that no matter what happens, God has a plan and will NOT just leave us alone in the wilderness when we do what He has asked of us. He will give me the grace I need as He always does.

It is ok to be disappointed...it is ok to look at your circumstances and feel overwhelmed...it is ok to fall but you have to decide what you are going to do when you get there. "When you hit rock bottom you have two ways to go...straight up...or sideways" and I choose to go straight up to the source. So today, I started on my knees in prayer for the things that need to be accomplished today and I laid upon the altar the things I can not control so that He can have them. When the anxiety wells up in me, I will go to Him and rest in Him and the comfort that will come knowing He cherishes me and only wants the best for me and that He will take my burdens upon Himself.

If you haven't had the chance to read Max Lucado's book "On the Anvil," I highly recommend it. As someone who is pulled from the pile and put on the anvil fairly regulary (and I am grateful for it) it has helped me to see it as a blessing rather than the curse it feels like.

Anvil Time, Chapter 15

On God's anvil. Perhaps you've been there.

Melted down. Formless. Undone. Placed on the anvil for...reshaping? (A few rough edges too many.) Discipline? ("A good father disciplines.") Testing? (But why so hard?)

I know. I've been on it. It's rough. It's a spiritual slump, a famine. The fire goes out. Although the fire may flame for a moment, it soon disappears. We drift downward. Downward into the foggy valley of question, the misty lowland of discouragement. Motivation wanes. Desire is distant. Responsiblities are depressing.

Passion? It slips out the door.

Enthusiasm? Are you kidding?

Anvil time.

It can be caused by a death, a breakup, going broke, going prayerless. The light switch is flipped off and the room darkens. "All the thoughtful words of help and hope have all been nicely said. But I'm still hurting, wondering...."

On the anvil.

Brought face to face with God out of the utter realization that we have nowhere else to go. Jesus in the garden. Peter with a tear-streaked face. David after Bathsheba. Elijah and the "still, small voice." Paul, blind in Damascus.

Pound, pound, pound.

I hope you're not on the anvil. (Unless you need to be, and if so, I hope you are.) Anvil time is not to be avoided; it is to be experienced. Although the tunnel is dark, it does go through the mountain. Anvil time reminds us of who we are and who God is. We shouldn't try to escape it. To escape it could be to escape God.

God sees our life from beginning to end. He may lead us through the storm at age thirty so we can endure a hurricane at age sixty. An instrument is useful only if it's in the right shape. A dull ax or a bent screwdriver needs attention, and so do we. A good blacksmith keeps his tools in shape. So does God.

Should God place you on the anvil, be thankful. It means he thinks you're still worth shaping."

I am thankful...that He sees so much more in me than I do.

Monday, December 1, 2008

I Must Have More to Learn

I love that God continually refines us in to better people. That we are never too old, too stubborn, too young, too smart or too stupid that He gives up on us. I figure by the time I reach the otherside I ought to be as pure as can be. Of course, that means plenty of work needs to be done here.

Now, sometimes that work is just awesome. I am stretched beyond my comfort zone and rise to the occasion and am allowed to bask in the glory of my accomplishment...at least for a little while. And sometimes, the work is just downright painful. God allows me to fall on my face for not listening to Him. While I may put the issue on the altar, in His infinite widom, He will allow me to take it back and crash on my own accord...so that I may rise up a better person. And other times, that doesn't seem to be enough and He will pull out all the stops and let life crash in on me. Kennedy's cancer for example. No, He did not give her cancer but I believe He allowed things to happen the way they did for a greater purpose...my salvation...to save my marriage...to save my family...to allow wonderful people in to my life...to stretch me in to a better person...so we could lead others to Him through our testimony...to refine me and make me more like Him.

You see...I have control issues...big ones. It's an area that effects many aspects of my life. It makes my life painful at times. During Kennedy's cancer years, I had to work on this. Nothing was under my control...NOTHING. A glimpse? When we were given Kennedy's "road map" to treatment, I went home and put it in my calendar for the next 27 months! The first time there was any deviating from the plan...I came unglued. You see...many things in treatment are unpredictable. There are delays and bumps you simply can not plan for and while the doctors understood that, I was unwilling to even entertain the thought. I had so much to learn. And I got better...but still I like control. My son called me a "micromanager" the other day...I didn't even know he knew what it meant...but he did...and he was right. In addition to my control issue...ok, issues...I also like to light my own path. Boy, He sure has a lot of warnings against that. I should probably take heed.

Where is this going you ask????

He has decided more refining is in order. Kennedy has no health insurance...again. This time it appears to be a weird glitch. I mailed a couple of bills with checks in October from a post office. They did not arrive at their destinations. One was a bill that I could take care of over the phone. When I received a late notice I checked to see if it had cleared the bank and when it didn't, I cancelled the check and paid over the phone. It happens. However, I didn't think about anything else going out that day and that included Kennedy's insurance premium (yes, we pay it in addition to the one we pay through Keith's work for the rest of us). As I was getting ready to mail in the November payment, I received the usual statement in the mail about what they will pay and it said that they paid NOTHING to her last clinic visit! What??? Of course, it was the day before Thanksgiving and after 6pm and I could do nothing but cry. I checked with the bank...the October check had not cleared. *LIGHTBULB* they were mailed on the same day. Crap!

I called Friday...no one was available. To cover my butt, I checked out other insurance options. Keith's work...not an option, but I found a few companies who carried individual plans at a reasonable cost. Ok, sucks but it could be okay. I have to have a plan you know! Bright and early this morning called OMIP to straighten it out and they said flat out...she was cancelled. We could appeal...but how am I going to prove I mailed it...its not like I mailed it certified?? With other insurance companies you have to have had coverage within the previous 63 days or you are subject to the "6 month pre-existing condition" clause and with them cancelling and going back to September 30th...December 2nd was 63 days!! Another crap! If she gets her plan back...it will cost us $609!! Aack! If she doesn't, the first month of medical crap will cost us twice that!!!

I am NOT a crier but the tears just keep coming!

I called the best insurance company on my list...I cried some more...he told us to go ahead and fill out an application but she would be denied. Maybe we could use that in our appeal to OMIP. OMG it sucks! Kennedy has 6 appointments in December and 8 in January!!! Oh...let's see...that is about $4000 just for those without insurance.

Ok, regroup. God could not and would not just leave me hanging but I have to wonder what is up, Big Guy! Jeremiah 29:11...that is my mantra. Obama...you better get on that health care reform you promised...we need it NOW!

Friday, November 21, 2008

I Struggle

It's true. If one more person thinks I'm supermom or superwoman I will scream. No one thinks I'm superwife...they've seen my house :) Yes, I homeschool. Sure, I'm also finishing my bachelor's degree. Yep, I manage to hold it together and oversee my daughter's therapy and specialists. Oh, I have a menagerie of pets to care for. And I have 2 businesses trying to get up and running. I do a little writing. I have an active and busy life...today? Let's see...did homework, folded laundry, made breakfast, got put together, got kids put together, did some grant writing research, found a book on starting a non-profit to drop off for client, fed animals, gathered eggs, worked through language arts lesson with Kennedy, helped Austin with math and then science, met with a client, picked up an extra 11 year old boy for the weekend, ran by the bank, stopped at McD's (this was now noon) to buy 3 kids lunch, took said 3 kids rock wall climbing, went grocery shopping, helped feed animals again, ran to the feed store with hubby and then came home and stacked hay, argued with daughter about why she can't buy a pig, coordinated the ordering (or rather the choosing) of our cuts of beef being butchered in eastern Oregon, helped make dinner, did dishes at mom's house, answered emails and checked facebook, and now updating my blog. Before I can go to bed, I have to work more on my paper, wrestle the boys away from their computer game and send the kids to bed, fold and flip laundry so no one is naked tomorrow and finally hit the hay. But you know what? There are huge failures in my life right now.

My house being one. That is the area that gets sacrificed regularly. There's folded laundry on the train table waiting to be put away. It's a distant cousin of the clean and mostly folded laundry in my bedroom. They are all related to the ugly stepsister dirty laundry that appears in my room, bathroom, laundry room, kids' rooms and even a few in the living room. The kids' rooms are resembling New Orleans after Katrina. The classroom has toys, papers and books strung about. The kitchen floor needs mopped, the living room vacuumed and the dust bunnies are about to take over. I hate it.

School has become number two. I know...hard to believe. Before Kennedy got sick (OK, I have to say how ugly it is that our life is now defined by the before the major life trauma and after said trauma but it happens) I was very dedicated to school and my future career. I could never struggle in school or fail or even get a C. I did student government. I volunteered. I was an Outstanding Student Scholar. I was in Phi Theta Kappa (national honor society). I worked at the Capital in Salem. But (and a very BIG BUT here) I sacrificed my family...Alot. Then Kennedy got sick and suddenly my life was put in to perspective.

Now, I believe that all things happen for a greater good and that God is in control. No, He did not "give" Kennedy cancer but He did make the situation work for a higher purpose. I needed to put my priorities in order and put Him and my family above all else. And I have...but something had to give.

I have come to a point where passing is the goal...period. And I hate to say it. I used to stay up all night working and not go to sleep until the next night. I didn't have time for my kids or my husband. It was horrible. Now, I get by and it is catching up. I had a meeting with a professor that could have gone better. She spoke with my advisor last week who let her know that "the quality of my work had declined substantially." Wow...that's harsh...true, but harsh.

Background on the professor...she grew up in a neighborhood where people don't work because they inherit all the money they will ever need. She went to school and had only school to think about...no job, no money worries, no family...just school and she succeeded in getting perfect grades. Now, she teaches and works as a consultant but still has no family or even much responsibility (in her words). She is an incredible professor. Fair, honest and balanced (which is more than I can say for most professors I have had) and one of the smartest people I know. But, she doesn't get it. She even said that she could not imagine doing what I do. But she is disappointed that I don't and am unwilling to give 100%. For that I feel bad.

So, at our meeting, I laid it all out on the table. She appreciated my honesty but was not happy to hear the truth. I simply told her that my lack of enthusiasm was in no way a reflection of the content of the class, the quality of discussion with my peers or her ability to teach. It was simply a lack of time and my ability to give to all of my competing priorities. I feel like I have a huge stove with a multitude of boiling pots and only a few lids and I have to manage to keep them all from spilling everywhere and destroying my kitchen. I literally take whatever pot is running over at the moment...and I am so tired and burnt. The only thing that keeps me going with school is the fact that after December 17th I will need to pass my comps and pass one class to graduate. That is it. The commute...the class work...the homework...I just can't hardly do it anymore. Right now I have a paper due and I just can't get on it. I don't know what in the world is wrong with me! I know it has to be done or I fail and yet another pot is spilling over that can't wait. The class is very interesting...the topic one of my choosing that I really care about but...nothing.

So, I am not Superwoman and to be honest...I don't want to be.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Election Day

I generally do not post regarding political issues, so please know that this is a rarity. However, desperate times call for desperate measures.

I will not tell you who to vote for...I will not tell you who not to vote for. What I will tell you is that you should THINK, and PRAY. Do not go like a herd of sheep to the polls but open your eyes and your heart and see things for how they really are. If you want change...THINK and CONSIDER the change you want to see. Do NOT be fooled by a wolf in sheep's clothing.

Remember, we are currently being led by a Democratic Congress. Have you been happy with the "changes" they have made the last 2 years??? Is that the change in leadership you are looking for? According to my latest figures, our US Congress has a 14% approval rate...almost half of President Bush's very low approval rate...exactly what does that say about the change we voted in 2 years ago?

We are living in very precarious times. Do NOT fail to vote. DO consider the implications of what you are voting. KNOW who you are voting for and what you are voting for. If you do NOT understand the measure or do not know the candidate...DO YOUR RESEARCH OR DON'T VOTE! And above all else...PRAY.

Remember...our soldiers have done AMAZING things in IRAQ. Honor them for all their work...EVERY SINGLE SOLDIER!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Of Cannibal Chickens and Gender Confused Rabbits

I may have jinxed myself when I mentioned cannibal chickens...it appears we have one. Our little Lola (perhaps it's the name?), biter of children and youngest hen of the group, has discovered she has a taste for eggs...or at least the shell...she doesn't always eat the egg itself.

Broken and cracked eggs began appearing in the far left nesting box shortly after my last post. We did not want to accuse anyone of being a cannibal (I realize in the animal world it is not quite as taboo) but it had become evident from the type of break we were seeing that someone was "pecking" them open. Sometimes it was a small hole...as if she had been caught in the act and chased off...and sometimes only the white and yolk remained of the egg and even more disturbing...sometimes the entire thing would be gone with only a yellow stain as evidence. I had decided that we needed to be diligent about collecting the eggs and catching the offender before all the hard work was for not.

So, we waited and watched. Now, like my friend Mrs. Darling said...a watched hen does not lay...well, a watched hen does not eat either. No matter how often we checked, we could not catch the eater nor keep her from devouring the eggs. I began to resign myself to the fact that an eater was in the midst and there would be little I could do about it.

Then, one day...just by chance...I opened the door to the nesting boxes and low and behold there was Lola happily feeding upon another's egg. You see...all of the other girls (Maddie, London and Hannah) are laying eggs...beautiful, round, soft and creamy in color...but Lola has yet to produce even one. I thought that maybe this was a one time thing. After all, it couldn't always be Lola...right? But...we caught her again...and again...and again.

Now, between the egg eating and kid biting, I was getting rather frustrated with Miss Lola. I even began to research chicken soup recipes or maybe pot pie. And...I began to ask other "chicken people" (did I just say that???) what they thought. Some thought we should blow out an egg and fill it with mustard, hot sauce or Worcestershire sauce. Some thought that perhaps it was a lack of grit...but they are outside most of the time with rocks and such. Perhaps a plastic "fake" egg would help. Finally, the lady at the feed store suggested oyster shell. I had already been contemplating that this might be it (calcium deficiency) so I bought a few pounds and held my breath.
Since? Not one hen pecked egg. Some can get cracked just being layed but absolutely no eaten eggs to be found or even remnants of eaten eggs left behind. And Lola? Well, she lives to bite another day...

Now, rabbits. I have never owned one until now. I've always liked them...thought they were cute...but I remember my grandfather raising meat rabbits for food. And it goes without saying, I never really thought of them as pets.

A few months ago, my sister asked me if I was interested in a rabbit. Her friend had a really cute doe (female rabbit) that she was trying to find a home for. Hmmm...I wasn't really interested. I had turned down several bunnies already and was not on the lookout for another pet anyway (we already had 13 animals to feed at home). Her friend was having to change her living situation and could not take the rabbit with her. I felt bad and told her if when she moved she had not found a home, I would take her in temporarily until I could find a home for her. I was sure I could find someone on my home school list to take her in and give her a wonderful home. I really thought she would find someone else.

The end of summer was here and fall was arriving when I was told she could not (or had not) found a home for Oreo the rabbit and could I please take her. Around the same time, a friend asked me to work at her farm/pumpkin patch for the harvest season leading school groups through the barnyard, to the fishing pond and the pumpkin patch. I jumped at the opportunity. And, I had exposure to rabbits in a rather different light. She has beautiful rabbits. Show rabbits...big rabbits...tiny rabbits...lop-eared rabbits...even a one-eared wild rabbit she rescued. And they were cute...and sweet and not at all wild like the ones I remembered as a child. I got to hold them and handle them and they were fun.

Back to the rabbit that needed a home...

Well, I had a different perspective. I told her I would gladly take her and within a few hours had decided that I would not be finding her another home.

I began to ask my friend with all the rabbits lots of questions so that I could provide a good home for her. She asked me all about the rabbit. She loves to breed rabbits and sell them...especially to 4H homes. She just so happened to have both a Dutch Lop buck and a Minature Lop buck. She wanted to know if I would bring my doe over to see what kind she was and wondered if I was interested in breeding her. Maybe...

Today was the day. I brought her over and they thought she was very cute. We decided to go ahead and try and breed her...after all...feed stores often take baby rabbits but I was sure that I could find plenty of home school families who would love them as well. A buck was chosen and they were paired up for their first meeting...imagine our surprise when it was Oreo who took the lead! WHAT?!? Oreo was a GIRL! Perhaps she didn't know her role...she was confused, huh? No...turns out...Oreo was a HE!!!!

Are you kidding ME???

Nope...it's true...Oreo is really a buck. Apparently, the person who had him had never bothered to check or had been told he was a she (and like me) didn't question it. But Oreo was most definitely NOT A GIRL! Whoa! Back up! WHAT!? So, things are not what they appear to be...a good lesson in knowing what you're buying...or getting...or adopting or whatever.

We absolutely love him just the same and it would have made NO difference in our decision to make him part of the herd...but it would have been nice to know that kind of information BEFORE I subjected her bunny to that!
Well, the kids have decided that with a new identity he should have a new name and keeping in the tradition of wanting to name their animals after Disney characters (chickens: Lola, Hannah, Maddie and London and goats: Zack and Cody) he is now...Mr. Moesby or Moe for short. It fits him...it just screams, "I AM MALE!" No mistaking now...

Saturday, October 11, 2008

We Have Eggs!!!

Soft, downy chicks...barely hatched came to live on our little farm in early May of this year and quickly grew in to smooth, shiny, feathery chickens. They had a bit of an awkward stage in which they were neither cute nor pretty but rather gawky. They still had a lot of fluffy down but were slowly filling in with long, dark, sleek feathers. Now, they are gorgeous. I love the way their black has a shimmery green that sparkles in the sunlight.

We all figured that once they "looked" like adults, they would begin to behave that way as well. I lovingly tended their hen house and yard and cleaned and filled their nesting boxes with fresh pine shavings...hoping that one day they would reward me with a nutritious, brown egg. It became apparent that one was older than the others. Her feathers arrived faster, her comb was more full and she was much larger than her "sisters."
Daily, I would trek out to check their food and water and be sure that everything was as it should be only to be saddened and disappointed to discover that no egg was waiting for me. I began to wonder if perhaps something was wrong with my chickens. Maybe I was feeding them an incomplete diet. They were now eating a laying crumb that was supplemented with dried corn. They had a wonderful yard full of grass, grit, rocks and bugs to round out their diet. They have fresh, clean, clear water available. I just knew they did not like their house. Maybe it wasn't big enough. Did they like their roosts? I just knew they needed an outside roost. Keith and Austin put one up outside for them and they use it often. According to the books, and my chicken loving friends, they had everything they needed to be happy and healthy.

Maybe they were laying eggs somewhere other than their nesting boxes. Oh, what a site it was for me to be crawling around the chicken house...over and under searching for eggs!!! What a laugh that would have been for all of you! I checked the corners where they love to dust bathe...no eggs. I checked under the hen house where they hide...no eggs. In the hen house on the bottom level where the food and water is kept...no eggs. Over and under...around and through...no eggs! Oh no! I had cannibal chickens who were eating their young! It does happen...rebel chickens who crack open their eggs and down the contents. Or, perhaps the over achieving, competitive chicken who would eat the eggs of her sister to remain the favorite in hopes that those who failed to produce would meet the stock pot! Oh...the places my mind goes! I was desperate for eggs!

I could not stand the quest for eggs any longer! I went to a very reliable source. You see...many of my friends who have chickens get them as adults who are already egg producing. They had no idea when chickens fully mature and begin to lay. I had to find someone who had raised hatchlings...and then it came to me. Kennedy's horseback riding teacher had more than two dozen chickens! I was sure she had to raise some from hatchlings! She reassured me that everything we were providing for our little brood was just exactly what they needed. And if we had cannibals? They would certainly be leaving evidence in the form of broken shells. Oh, but what about the notion that they were some how hiding their eggs? Nope...would find those too with the lay out of our chicken yard. If they were constantly free roaming that could be a likely scenario but not for these girls. So...what was it? They simply weren't old enough. What??? Is that all??? I...me...moi...was being too inpatient??? Yep! She figured if they were hatched the beginning of May, it would probably be November.

So...I gave up the quest for eggs...for now, and moved on to more important matters like fattening up the pony, working with Cooper, catching the goats and dealing with the rampant Pigeon Fever that has plagued our other three horses. And I gave up searching for eggs...no more Easter hunts for me...no, no, no...I was done and I would just worry about all the other matters. Ok, secretly...I was still checking but keeping the obsession under wraps. When....what should Keith discover on his way out to feed animals??? An EGG!!! All my searching and worrying and HE finds an egg!!! Ugh! The kids and I squealed in excitement and Austin wanted to cook it right away. What is it with boys? They want to hunt it, capture it and devour it...I wanted to revel in it's beauty and completeness. But, it was cracked and cooked before I had a chance to get the camera.
Of course, I went out of town the next day but guess what? The eggs keep coming. It appears that only one hen (our oldest) is the layer but I imagine the others are soon to follow. So...now I'm back to pampering and worrying about them again and what the shorter days will mean for their egg production. I'm getting on Keith about installing some artificial light (in addition to the heat lamp) with a timer to help them through the winter...and guess what?? I'm already planning on adding to my brood next year...Rhode Island Reds, Araucanas, more Australorps, Plymouth Rocks...so many choices and only six months to figure it out....

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Yes, I am posting again! I know...I know...please hold your applause (did you ever notice that applause looks alot like applesauce? Weird, huh?). I have been totally swamped over the summer mainly with animals and rodeos and kids (it was really a blurry mess so it is hard to tell what is what!). Overall, it was great! Lots of fun, a few bumps and bruises and tons of laughs. I am so glad however, that the summer has come to an end and today really feels like fall. Could be that way because tomorrow if the first day of fall...duh, Mel!

I just LOVE autumn. It is my absolute favorite time of year. Not just because my wedding anniversary is in Autumn (I just was NOT a summer wedding kind of gal) or the fact that my husband and daughter were born in Autumn or that my son was born in December at the end of fall or even that my most favorite holidays (Thanksgiving and Christmas) are during this time of year. I love the sense of slowing down and settling in that takes place during this time of year. Things begin to move at a more relaxing pace. No longer filling the long days with running and playing and the need to get to the never ending work outside, but now there is time to store up for winter, stay inside together and enjoy quieter activities like playing board games and watching movies and reading. I feel ready to tackle the inside of the house and get it ready to spend more time in. During the summer I just run and run and run and the house begins to come apart. Time to restore order here.

I love the changes outside. The leaves turning from vibrant emerald to crimson and gold and covering the grass, the road and my car. The clouds masking the blue sky and the rain refreshing the ground. Shorter days lull us to bed sooner making the early rise on school mornings easier than the first days at the beginning of September. The horses and goats are showing signs of the wooly winter coat to come and Champ is finally going to stop shedding. The chickens are rising later and hurrying in earlier at night. Soon the Christmas trees surrounding us will be cut and loaded...headed for cities where no snow falls in winter...some will go across the oceans where Christmas trees don't even grow. The air will smell crisp and clear and set my heart thinking about the holidays soon coming. I can enjoy the smells of Christmas long before it is actually here.

We still have warm days (for the most part through October) but cold nights with cool evenings and snappy mornings. Autumn is like breathing again after the craziness of summer...as if a huge sigh of relief was released. I think that perhaps today would be a good one to make an apple pie and think of the hearty stew for dinner...

Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns. ~George Eliot

No spring nor summer beauty hath such graceAs I have seen in one autumnal face.~John Donne

Monday, September 15, 2008

I Go Tagged! Motivation to Post :)

I got tagged by Candlemom at http://www.candlemom.blogspot.com as a motivation to post to my blog...it has been way too long! So, here goes...

1. Link to the person who tagged you
2. Post the rules on your blog
3. List 6 random facts about yourself
4. Tag 6 people at the end of your post
5. Let each person know they've been tagged by commenting on their blog
6. Let the tagger know the entry is posted on your blog.

Hmmm...6 random facts about me...

1. I am attending school at Willamette University as a Senior in Rhetoric and Media Studies...to simplify it, Aristotle defined rhetoric as the ability in each particular case to see the best available means of persuasion, or basically being able to develop the best possible argument for any given situation. Keith says it is a BA in BS.

2. I am terrible at housekeeping. Most definitely not the reason my husband married me!

3. I never dreamed I would actually own horses and we now have 5.

4. I have always wanted to live in Montana...as long as I can remember.

5. I knew I would marry my husband within 2 weeks of dating him.

6. I'm making homemade applesauce today...yum!

Oh my...who to tag! I love this part because I enjoy seeing what others will say...hmmm...how about Terri in Alaska, Amanda in British Columbia, Becky in Oregon, my sister in Oregon and anyone else who is interested! I do love these things :)

Monday, April 7, 2008

One More Quiz B4 I Get Back to Real Blogging

I promise...just one more. I also have 2 ginormous term papers due ASAP so there is not much brain function going on beyond that and I want to devote some time to writing quality entries here...you'll have to wait a little while longer...

My 5 Favorites:

I saw this on Amanda's blog so I thought I would copy it as I thought it was fun.

5 faves:

5 things you cannot live without under $10
1. OJ
2. my magazines
3. my warm boots (yes, I paid under $10!)
4. Starbucks Vanilla bean Frapps (sometimes with coffee...sometimes without)
5. vanilla mint toothpaste

5 favourite movies
1. Lord of the Rings
2. Anne of Green Gables
3. The 13th Warrior
4. Terms of Endearment
5. Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium

Baby names you love(but won't use)
1. Anna
2. Jennika
3. Ireland
4. Abigail
5. Nalanie
1. Luke
2. Tanner
3. Travis
4. Jack
5. Ryan

5 songs you could listen to over and over:
1. Anything on Kenny Chesney's album-Be As You Are
2. Celtic music
3. Any Patsy Cline Song
4. Celine Dion-Because You Loved Me
5. Imagine

5 people who influenced your life in a positive way:
1. Keith
2. my kids
3. my family
4. Tammy Manley
5. my therapist in 1995-he gave me my life back

5 things that stay in your purse all the time:
1. candy wrappers and snacks
2. emla cream and tagaderms
3. driver's license and debit card
4. checkbook
5. Receipts

5 moments you knew changed you forever:
1. the day I met Keith
2. when Jay came to live with us
3. birth of my children
4. Kennedy being diagnosed with cancer
5. we'll see what the future holds...I'm sure I'll have another life changing moment...perhaps when I win Powerball :)

5 obsessions you have right now: Is it possible to really not have any obsessions? Hmmmm?
1. Carson grant and presentation
2. Narrative theory term paper
3. homeschooling my children
4. my animals and prepping for rodeo
5. Kennedy's long term side effects

5 places you would really love to go:
1. The British Isles
2. New Zealand
3. Disneyland
4. Australia
5. Hawaii

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Another Tag...Today Must Be My Lucky Day :)

I got this one from a friend on one of my e-mail lists...thought I would post it here!

A. The rules of the game are posted at the beginning.

B. Each player answers the questions about themselves.

C. At the end of the post, the player then tags 5 people and posts their names, then goes to their blogs and leaves them a comment, letting them know that they have been tagged and asking them to read your blog.

What I was doing 10 years ago: Living in Portland with my husband, nephew (4) and son (1) and mourning the death of my beloved grandmother. I was a stay at home mom who had been married just a couple of years.

5 Things on my To Do List today: 1)Laundry...in process. 2)Stop by feed store for "baby" food...done. 3)Work on Carson...in process. 4)Pay Direct TV...did that. 5)Spend time with hubby...not enough.

Snacks I Enjoy: Sharp cheddar cheese and Wheat Thins with OJ, Rice Krispies, oranges

Things I would do if I were a Billionaire: 1) Never worry about finances again, 2) donate to charities, 3) buy more property, 4) take care of the people I love the most, 5) write all the time

3 of my Bad Habits: I'm late...a lot, stubborness, disorganized

5 places I have lived: Estacada, Oregon-Mulino, Oregon-Portland, Oregon-Yakima, Washington-Kent, Washington

5 Jobs I have had: legislative researcher, breastfeeding counselor, parent educator, photographer, receptionist for a collection agency

Who am I Tagging???
Since I already did this once today...I'm going to leave it open to all of my dear friends and family...I can't wait to see what you write! :)

I Got Tagged! I Just LOVE These Things :)

I got tagged this morning! So fun :) That's why I'm doing this instead of getting ready to get out the door to school...

My Favorite Things

1. Favorite indulgence: Reading juicy historical fiction! I do not like romance novels but can't get enough of these!

2. Favorite drink: strawberry lemonade with real strawberries...not syrup

3. Favorite movie: Oh, I love so many...this is like having to choose a favorite book! Probably my all time favorite is Braveheart.

4. Favorite TV show: I don't watch much TV, but I can't resist Law and Order SVU

5. Favorite health item: Hmmm...I would say I never go without my Vitamin C

6. Favorite shoes: Ogg style boots...wear them with everything, everywhere

7. Favorite lipstick shade: Mary Kay's "Shell," boring, I know, but I go more subtle on the lipstick

8. Favorite form of exercise: horseback riding, although, Keith tells me that I am using someone else's muscles :)

9. Favorite store: Burns Feed Store-it's where I spend nearly all my money...that an Costco, early Sunday morning

10. Favorite season: Autumn...me, too!

11. Favorite toenail color: I can't even tell you the last time I painted my nails...probably bubble gum pink

12. Favorite hobby: reading and horseback riding

13. Favorite waste of time: the internet...it is my biggest time stealer

14. Favorite fragrance: Ohhh...lots of these...I would have to say in candles (I got tagged by Candle Mom) it would have to be Honeydew Melon as well :)

Who should I tag??? Hmmmmm.....Ok, how about My4Kids in beautiful Alaska and the BramblePatch here in the ever wet and green state of Oregon. Anyone else? If the Bartel Family is out there I would love to read their answers and of course, Papa in Oregon :)

Monday, March 3, 2008

Your Life is an Occasion...Rise to It! A Series...

As many of you know, from following my other blogs, I am a quote junky. I just absolutely LOVE them! And I have a new favorite..."Your life is an occasion, rise to it!"

We saw the movie Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium this past weekend and I can not say enough about it. I was worried as the critics ripped it to shreds but I found it amazing. Sure, the toy store is cool but the real message about the magic within all of us struck a chord with me. The idea that our lives are something to "rise to."

Many of my readers know me from my daughter's site "Courage 4 Kennedy," and know that I am about quality of life. Her illness was absolutely life changing for all of us. One thing I took away from it and apply to my life daily is the idea that quality of life matters. Knowing how to live in such a way that our life is rich and we are enriching the lives of those around us every single day. You could say it is the belief in paying it forward (great movie by the way). Our lives are valuable and God sent us here to work...we have a reason and we have a purpose and let me say this very clearly...it is not about pursuing possessions. "Things" can enrich our lives and make it comfortable, but despite what this world has told you...possessions and things are NOT why you are here. And guess what? The one with the most toys, does NOT win. Get use to it. He will not care about how much $ you had or what you bought with it...He will care how you chose to live your life so get to it!

True, our salvation is NOT obtained by works. He knows we would NEVER succeed. It is only through the life, death and ressurection of Jesus Christ that any of us are saved but we will be judged by our fruit. What does your tree say about you?

Ok, let's get back to where I was going with this...when Kennedy was sick and in liver failure with major organ failure kept at bay only by prayer and supportive care, they told us she was going to die. Well, they didn't say quite that...what they said was that she had less than a 20% chance of surviving the weekend, which by the way was Christmas weekend in 2005. When a team of doctors comes in with a chaplin...it is never good news. One doctor even said that he had only seen 7 cases of this particular problem in his entire career and they were all fatal. It would seem that her light was dimming. But I knew, hope was not lost.

Before this, my grandmother and another child we knew had passed away within the last 2 months. We had talked alot about death...to put it mildly...Kennedy was obsessed with it. We all came to terms with that possiblity. I'm not going to elaborate here but you can find it on Kennedy's website. Anyway, we had begun to accept that death was a part of life. And me? I began to read.

I read Tuesdays with Morrie and The Five People You Meet In Heaven...two of the best books ever by the way...and was beginning to see life in a very different way. I was beginning to see death in a very different way. I began to understand that death is not the end and that when we accept the fact that we will all die and come to terms with that...only then can we really live our lives here. Wow...that was huge for me.

I started to look at the quality of life we were giving Kennedy...and Austin...and each other and I began to live my days knowing that we are here...we have a reason for being here...and this is not the end for us. That changes how you manage things. It begins to change how you think, how you feel, how you respond, how you dream, how you talk...it begins to transform you.

I wanted everyone to "get it." Some people thought I was crazy. They thought having almost lost Kennedy finally had me falling of the high wire I was walking. I wanted others to feel the freedom that comes with knowing that this life here is just "passing through." We don't get that. We cling to and hold tight to this life. We fear the end. Now, before I say anything else...I do not want to die any time soon. I am not running to my death and living like I am invincible but I am living...some days it feels like for the first time.

I started thinking about death. How we deal with our own impending death and how we deal with losing loved ones. You can't help but be surrounded by death when a loved one has cancer. Next to losing my husband, the worse thing I could imagine would be losing one of my children. I could NEVER recover from that loss. But I like to think I could be at peace with it...happy? Heck, no! But at peace...they are NOT the same thing.

*disclosure* I do NOT for one minute claim to know what losing a child or spouse would be like. I can only IMAGINE. Facing the possiblity has given me a very slight idea of what it COULD be like. I have learned that we can NEVER put ourselves in someone else's shoes and say "oh, I would do this" or "I would do that." We like to think we can, but let me say that it is impossible. We can say that we would HOPE to respond in a certain way. So, with that, I will discuss my personal observations (which are objective) regarding death, life and living our lives to their full potential.*

This will be a series of entries...there will probably be other unrelated entries in between but I feel compelled (ok, pushed by the Lord) to talk about this issue. So many of us are wasting our time here and not preparing for our time in heaven (which is where we will be for all eternity)...we're just walking through with no direction and no purpose and it is so sad. So sad to see people just sleep walking...or like Auntie Mame would say, "Life is a banquet and most poor suckers are starving to death!" Don't Starve!

To talk about life, first, we must talk about death...

Friday, February 29, 2008

Hmmm...Didn't You Always Want To Know This...

Ok, I would love to write something witty, amusing or deeply insightful, but after this long week, I'm not sure I have it in me...plus, I have to write a paper for my History of Western Medicine class this weekend and I must save all my "witty, amusing and deeply insightful" comments for that. Believe me, it's going to take all of the ones buried deep in my brain (I have to talk about a common theme of two books...one on Cholera epidemics of the 19th century and the other on the epidemic of childbed fever both before the discovery of germ theory) to write this paper and I can't waste them even for my treasured blog...

I will, however, share some little known facts about me...as some of my readers have only recently met me, this should be very interesting...

Let's start off with something easy...

1. I have lived my whole life in the northwestern US...Oregon and Washington to be exact.

2. As a little girl, I wanted to have 4 children.

3. I have worked as a photographer, a receptionist for a collection agency, a legislative researcher and at a toy store.

4. I worked at a pet shop for 2 weeks but my irrational fear of birds ruined that for me.

5. One of my favorite stories of all time is Charlotte's Web.

6. I volunteered as a breastfeeding counselor and taught breastfeeding classes.

7. I have taken 2 years of college level Spanish but can barely form a sentence about myself...let alone one that uses any verbs.

8. I am not only scared of birds (I like chickens though) but am still afraid of the dark.

9. Both of my children were born via c-section.

10. I have always wanted to learn to quilt.

11. I had no idea what 4H or FFA were until I was an adult. I thought 4H was some branch of the Girl Scouts.

12. I was asked to leave my high school my junior year because of my truancy record. I went on to college.

13. I wanted to be a nurse but could never complete that many math and science classes.

14. I stink at math. Statistics was a living hell.

15. I will have managed to finish my bachelor's degree without ever having taken chemistry or physics or biology in college. In fact, I only took one year of biology in high school.

16. To meet my science requirement for my degree...I took a class called "Women Naturalists in North America."

17. I am a Rhetoric and Media Studies major and NO ONE knows what in the world that is until I explain it...you'll have to e-mail me to find out!

18. Most people look at me as if I said my major was philosophy.

19. I became a rhetoric major because I didn't like people telling me what topics I could write on...in rhetoric, I can critique any piece of discourse in nearly any topic I want to.

20. Many of my topics, prior to Kennedy's illness, were regarding adult corrections and the death penalty.

21. I was a Political Science major and then an International Studies major but it was easy and I wanted more control over my writing.

22. I have some control issues that God is working on...I am still a work in progress.

23. I knew I would marry Keith just 2 weeks after I met him.

24. It took him a little longer to figure it out.

25. When I was in elementary school, the music teacher told me I couldn't be in choir because I couldn't sing...it took nearly 20 years before I sang in a choir again and I haven't had the confidence to do it since.

26. I always wanted to grow up and live in Montana.

27. I wanted to live on a farm or ranch but grew up in the suburbs.

28. As a kid, I couldn't understand why we couldn't have a horse in our suburban backyard.

29. Now that I have horses, I get it.

30. The first time my son rode a steer, I thought I was going to be sick.

31. Now, I still feel like I'm going to get sick...I just hide it better.

32. My absolute favorite color is green and no picture looks complete without it.

33. I'm ok with the fact that I am book smart and not so much common sense smart.

34. Thank God Keith has lots of common sense.

35. I always wanted to homeschool but didn't start until last year.

36. I pray everyday that I don't mess up my kids.

37. Last time I did this (100 things), it was for our whole family and it was a lot easier.

38. I always loved riding on a motorcycle.

39. The things I love about motorcycles are very similar to what I love about riding horses.

40. I have to confess that Keith does most of the work for the horses.

41. I'm lucky that I get to do the fun stuff most of the time.

42. I hate roller coasters.

43. I tried to like them as a teenager, but just never got it.

44. I was so scared of Splash Mountain in Disneyland that I just really wanted off.

45. My favorite Disney villian is the evil queen from Snow White.

46. I was so excited to have my picture taken with her! Kennedy was not thrilled at all with the idea.

47. I actually told Mickey Mouse that I had been waiting over 30 years to see him.

48. I'm sure he thought I was a yahoo.

49. I love sappy historical fiction.

50. I would have been a history major but thought I would never be able to get a job.

51. I LOVE history.

52. I do not like to cook.

53. I'm not a very good cook either.

54. I am not very organized...I have to work at it.

55. My favorite housekeeping chore is vacuuming.

56. I think "vacuum" is spelled weird.

57. I want to learn to speak German.

58. The nationalities I can identify in my family tree are English, German and Scandanvian.

59. My favorite movie is Braveheart.

60. I once wrote a history term paper about William Wallace and had a very difficult time coming to terms with the fact that while he was a great hero, many thought he was a cruel and violent traitor.

61. I learned a lot about how history is written and about the framing and construction of character.

62. I also wrote an extensive research paper on the possible link between the MMR vaccine and Autism.

63. I was awarded a research grant in 2005 and will be presenting on my paper this April.

64. It is a narrative ananlysis of death row inmate, Christian Longo's sentencing statement.

65. My children's laughter is magical.

66. Having children is one of the most amazing things that has ever happened to me.

67. There are no words to describe how I felt when we found out that Kennedy had cancer.

68. It turned out to be the best thing that ever happened to us as a family.

69. I always wanted to learn ballet.

70. I would like to learn how to play the piano.

71. Will Smith is my celebrity soul mate (according to a quiz...those who have seen this will know exactly what I mean.)

72. I would NEVER want to be famous.

73. I hope to travel to Ireland and Scotland someday.

74. Once, my parents and I drove to Texas, stayed one night and drove home.

75. To this day, I still think it was crazy.

76. Although I didn't believe it as a kid when my mom told me it would happen, my sister has become one of my bestest friends.

77. She is the funniest person I know.

78. I have a half brother I have never met.

79. I am terrible at crossword puzzles unless they are about entertainers...think People magazine.

80. I absolutely LOVE Sunset magazine and read it over and over and over even though I'm sure I am not in the target audience.

81. I love the idea of "roughing it" camping but can't stand to do it...it's the no flushing toilets or shower thing.

82. I do not like the cold.

83. Autumn is my favorite time of year.

84. I'm not much of a cat person but love my cat.

85. I really like having a big dog.

86. I wish I could paint as much as I wish I could sing.

87. I love scrapbooking with my family...I like scrapping, but I love hanging with my family more.

88. I am just terrible at returning phone calls.

89. My friends I have had the longest just keep calling till they reach me.

90. I didn't learn to swim until I was 10 or 11.

91. My parents threatened to send me to an all girls' school if I did not pass the 6th grade.

92. I think my teacher passed me because she was afraid I would be in her class again if I was forced to repeat it.

93. I have NEVER liked homework. Ever.

94. I don't like being told what to do.

95. God is working on this as well.

96. I will argue that I am right (even when I know that I'm wrong) because I can't stand admitting I've made a mistake.

97. God is working on this too.

98. I hope to be a published author someday.

99. If I ever find enough time to write.

100. Oh, and I always have to have the last word.