Monkey Business

Kim, me and Beth relaxing at dinner

Kim, me and Beth relaxing at dinner

August 4, 2009 I’m back! It was a great weekend! We went to a big, beautiful cabin in the mountains of Asheville, NC. Lots of lounging, shopping, eating, laughing, girl talk, sleeping, more lounging, free flowing wine and a beautiful view of the smokies to boot. We spent much of our time trying to think of names for Kim’s two goldendoodle puppies that she will bring home soon. “Rhett and Scarlet” and “Brandy and Whiskey” were Kim’s favorites, although Beth and I maintain that no matter what she decides, we are calling them “Jethro and Ellie Mae.” After all, we were in the “hills, that is.”

Wouldn’t have been such a great time without Beth and Kim and wouldn’t have been possible without my awesome husband and mother-in-law at home taking care of the kids.

I did miss the kids, though and I was happy to be home. Things seemed to go very well at while I was gone. I think the backpack making party and barbecue afterward was the highlight for Tanner. Everyone seemed to have a good time and they made a lot of backpacks to boot. I love this picture of them. Tanner and Jake look like they had a huge time, as usual. Thanks to our church family for making this possible for Tanner.

Tanner, Jake and Friends make backpacks for the needy

Tanner, Jake and Friends make backpacks for the needy

This week has been a nice break from the normally restrictive nature of our outings. With Tanner’s counts at an almost normal level (although her immune system is still more compromised than normal), we were able to cautiously get out a little more. We ate last night at Pie in the Sky restaurant where the kids get to play with pizza dough while they wait for their pizza. Then, this morning I took the kids to Opry Mills mall to buy new shoes and go to the Rainforest Cafe. Normally, this is a huge hit, but it was nearly a bust today. I forgot to bring Tanner a sweater and she was so cold I wrapped a paper napkin around her shoulders while Jake spent the whole time very nervous that the animatronic monkeys were going to leave their perch and attack us. He didn’t even eat since he had his fingers stuck in his ears the whole time saying, “It’s too woud” over and over again. When we threw in the towel and decided to take the food with us and eat it in the car on the way home, he said, “Wets get out of here!” Tanner and I laughed about that the whole way home.

This afternoon Tanner had her friend, Isabella, over for a playdate. They made a hair salon in the bathroom and washed each other’s hair and then put on an impressive show for John, Jake and I complete with dancing, piano, acting and singing. Tanner sang the national anthem. It was quite a patriotic moment.

We’ve been incorporating some of the play therapist’s suggestions into handling Tanner and it does appear to be improving things. There are less tantrums, and although she is definitely still angry, she seems to be able to better get hold of herself. She went to talk with the therapist today. I won’t find out what they talked about until next week, but Tanner had a good time and wants to go back so that’s a good sign. Hopefully, she’ll be able to unload a little anger at these sessions and we can find a way to talk to her about this whole rotten thing. It would be nice to be her partner in this instead of her punching bag.

Poor Jake has definitely started to feel the tension in the house and is acting out as well. (I’m just waiting for the dog to rebel next!) It just breaks my heart. He is the sweetest little thing ever and it’s not in his nature to act this way. Thankfully, he’s pretty easy to deal with and I’m hoping a little visit to Grandmom and Grandad’s next week might give him the undivided attention he deserves. It’s hard for a little fella to not get lost in all this, and we need to remember that his needs are just as important as Tanner’s even if she is sick.

Tomorrow is another landmark in this long journey. It is the last day of Consolidation, the second of five phases of treatment Tanner will endure over 2 1/2 years. It’s also probably the last day we’ll have for a while that she’ll be feeling this good. Thursday, provided her counts remain above 750, which I assume they will, we will start Interim Maintenance. That day, August 6, will mark the first day of exactly two years of remaining treatment. They count it from the first day of Interim Maintenance and go two years to the day from then. Crazy how they know exactly how long to treat leukemia to give you the best chance of avoiding a relapse.

Again, please pray for Tanner’s friend Lily. She has only a week to get her counts up high enough to start school on-time and still isn’t there yet. I just know from our experience how important it would be to her to be there on that first day and to be part of the class from the start. This is so hard for these children… not something an 8-year-old or a six-year-old should have to worry about.


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