Friday, August 21, 2009

Birthday Fun

Katie rallied after her unfortunate (!) evening Wednesday night, and she enjoyed every minute of her birthday. On her actual birthday, which was Thursday, we had breakfast at the Parson's Corner (aka Eddie's), where Katie binged on potatoes and talked to EVERYONE. Then Katie and I met two other moms and their little girls for a playdate, some lunch and a special treat. We traveled to Greensboro for a special kids' performance of the Craftsbury Chamber Players. The girls danced and played. We got to sit two feet from the cellist and to observe the instrument as she played. Katie was thrilled. She had a wonderful time with her friends, too. We returned for a family barbecue, and Katie enjoyed the attention from her grandparents. She opened lots of presents she really likes. I found her a pink guitar, and she is very excited about it. We spent a lot of time reading her new stories this morning. We were pleasantly surprised by her energy level throughout the day; she didn't get much sleep Wednesday night, but she romped and played all day long, smiling and happy.

The fun continued. We had two of her friends and their moms over for Katie's first ever kid party. Katie began planning this three weeks ago. She chose Tinkerbell party supplies and items for the goody bags. We assembled the goody bags several days ago, and they sat on our kitchen counter awaiting the arrival of the big day. Katie's friends spent a lot of time chasing each other around with blowouts. They made their own pizzas. Then we made musical instruments (paper plates with beans inside to shake) and banners (paper plates made to look like suns with streamers breezing out behind). The kids were good, and they were very funny. They were enthusiastic about the parade idea despite the rain, so we held the parade inside. The cake was a big hit, and Katie liked her presents (Hello Kitty school supplies to match her backpack!). Her best buddy wrote a beautiful letter about how much she loves Katie, and Katie had hugs for all. She ran and played and celebrated. It was fun to watch her interact with her friends. She was excited and happy--healthy and beautiful. She was great. (I'm tired now, but she is still zipping around the house, energetic and spirited.)

The funny thing is that Katie still remembers last summer's birthday fondly. She spent her third birthday in the hospital, but she enjoyed that, too, and she still talks about it. Personally, I'm a big fan of birthdays at home (!), and I suspect that Katie preferred today's festivities because she had time with her pals (all of whom will be in her class next year), but I am beginning to suspect that Katie is capable of great fun wherever she goes. When she feels good--and she feels GOOD these days--she lives with a kind of gusto that I really admire.

The fun continues tomorrow. My parents are traveling to the Kingdom for the Orleans County Fair, the social highlight of the summer season in our part of the world. There are animals to visit, rides to enjoy and plenty of good greasy food. We're looking forward to this next adventure. Life is good.

It was a pleasure to celebrate with Katie this year. I was thinking about the American Cancer Society's new slogan: "A world with less cancer is a world with more birthdays." The ads for this campaign typically feature adults. The ads for this campagin SHOULD feature children celebrating their birthdays the way Katie celebrated hers this year. She got every last bit of fun out of this birthday, and she was amazing.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Birthday Surprise

Today is Katie's birthday, but the surprise is on all of us. Just before midnight last night, Katie began vomiting for no apparent reason. It continued through most of the night as Amy and I lost count of the number of trips that we made to the bathroom with her. I think the last trip was some time after 3am.

We slept as late as possible this morning, but a birthday breakfast at the local diner is, at the very least, postponed because when Katie did wake up, she woke up with an extremely low blood sugar and needed some food in her system ASAP. She is currently in the tub, washing away the smells of her late night activity and trying to perk up enough to enjoy her birthday. With any luck, her sudden nausea is a fluke and a momentary inconvenience instead of the beginning of something bigger.

She did receive her treatment, including an LP, last Thursday. At the time, the doctors noted that she had gained a pound and grown an inch which pushed her into the next steroid dosage category. They doubled the dose of steroids that she had to take for the next five days. We didn't see any noticeable gain in side effects except for her hunger, but who knows... Maybe this is related. She has, after all, been eating enough for a person twice her size for seven days now. Maybe her body just couldn't hold any more.

As we look forward to the rest of our day, our fingers are crossed.

Monday, August 10, 2009

A Real Summer Vacation: Part One

The trip to Boston went off without a hitch. In fact, we all had a great deal of fun everywhere we went. We started our Boston trip with a visit to the Public Garden for a swan boat ride followed by lunch in Beacon Hill within walking distance of the Boston Common at a little restaurant named Figs. (The pizzas were absolutely delicious!) We then headed out on a tour of Boston in a Duck Boat. Then we needed a break from the sun and the humidity so we checked into our hotel and headed for the pool. We finished our first day off with a walk around the city at night and with a trip to the Cold Stone Creamery for some ice cream.

The second day included a trip to the New England Aquarium, lunch at Faneuil Hall, an afternoon of playing and exploring at the Children's Museum, and an evening at Revere Beach. With all of that behind us and two tired children in tow, we headed for home to recover and prepare for our trip to two New Hampshire attractions, The Whale's Tale and Santa's Village. (More on that later!) We did not reach home until midnight on the second day of our journey, but we were happy to have squeezed in so much fun.

We all have favorite memories of our trip to Boston. Amy loved the Swan boats inspired by Make Way for Ducklings . I enjoyed the Duck Boat tour (Joshua got to drive a Duck Boat around the harbor!) and our late night walk through the city. Josh was happiest at the aquarium and at the beach, while Katie had her best moments in the Children's Museum. There was something for everyone. It was especially gratifying to tag along after Katie as she took the city by storm. She climbed to the top of a three-story activity structure in the Children's Museum, assisted by Joshua. She ran and played. She asked question after question. She was energetic and enthusiastic, dynamic and funny. Passersby would never have guessed that she is a cancer patient. She looked good, and she had fun--as did we all.

Funny note: If you know our history, you may remember that Katie's last trip to Boston ended in a surprise visit to Massachusetts General Hospital in the middle of the night. Amy went running Wednesday morning and jogged right by; tempting fate, she waved and smiled as she celebrated our good fortune in spending two sunny days in Boston with our beautiful children without medical intervention!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Josh's Birthday

Happy Birthday, Joshua!

It is hard to believe that Joshua is now seven years old. He is nearly as tall as I am, and he is growing like a weed. He will begin second grade in August. He is growing up so fast. As I write, he is stretched out on the floor at my feet working on his summer homework. He really wants to be working on a Clone Wars coloring page. He is a curious mix of all grown up and little boy. I'm not sure I'm ready to part with the little boy just yet. What will I do when he no longer fits in my lap?

It was fun to host Joshua's birthday party yesterday. The horses were saddled and ready to go, but the rain started before we could ride, so the scavenger hunt was our only outside activity. We found enough to do inside, though, and I think the kids had a good time. It was a nice group. Our kids were tired at the end of the day, so this is a good day to catch up on errands and to get our chores done. The kids can play with Joshua's new toys while I get the house cleaned up and mow the lawn.

We are all excited about going to Boston tomorrow morning. When Rick and I sat down to list our planned activities for the rest of summer and to schedule them in, the calendar was nearly full. This will be a busy month. It is a joy to have this time to spend with our children. We are both tired, too, but we are making memories to sustain us through the long winter ahead.

For the record, I am very proud of my beautiful boy. He has dealt with the challenges of this last year and a half in his typically good natured way. He remains kind and affectionate. He has energy and enthusiasm to spare. He is learning and growing. He is healthy and happy. I love you, Joshua. Happy Birthday!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Living Well

This last month has gone really well for Katie. She has been feeling great and having a lot of fun. Just look at her bouncing on the trampoline, riding one of our horses with her mom, and raiding fresh spinach from our garden. At the moment, she is one happy kid...