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December 01, 2005


10:11 PM: It was nice to be at home today, since I drove in for work Monday and Wednesday and to clinic on Tuesday. Sophie's teacher said she had a great day at Countryside. She wasn't noticeably crabby or tired (although I suspect that will start soon), and the highlight of the day was that she got to see Ms. Dawn (who was her teacher in the 2-year old room last year and babysat for us before she moved to Virginia a few months ago). Both girls seem especially loving and snuggly lately. I'll have to remember that when they are moody irritable teenagers. Speaking of irritable, Randall is suffering a pretty bad allergic reaction to the amoxicillin he was prescribed for strep when Elisabeth tested positive and he had a sore throat. He has a terrible itchy rash all over, and he's just miserable. It started yesterday, but by the time he realized that it was probably because of the antibiotic, he only had one dose left (although he did skip that this morning). A friend of his at school said it looked a lot like a penicillin reaction. Benadryl has been helping a little but not as much as he would like.

December 02, 2005


9:30 PM Today has been a very, very full day. Unfortunately, I still have an itchy, all-over rash from the amoxicillin. Actually, it seems to have gotten better today, but at the moment, I'm pretty uncomfortable. We got a call from Sophie's day care about mid-morning. She was complaining about her knee hurting. Susan called the oncologist on call and his impression was that it was a possible side-effect from the steroid, although I can't remember Sophie having that particular side effect in the past (just a little reminder that this sort of thing can be quite random). We took Sophie some tylenol, and that seemed to do the trick. Sophie seems to be settling into Countryside a little better every day. She is such a sociable child, we knew it would only be a matter of time before she felt at home again there.

This evening, we all went to the district pastor's Christmas Party. We had a pretty good time, and it was nice to catch up with my colleagues in ministry (hi, Adam!). Unfortunately, we're coming home late, so Sophie will need to take her steroid (with food) now and we will need to wake her up later in order to give her the mercaptopurine (on an empty stomach). Outside of the knee/joint pain today, this round of steroids seems to be less challenging. Then again, we still have two more days to go, so we'll see where we are Sunday evening! This weekend and next week will be especially challenging for me, as I have a Very Important church meeting on Sunday afternoon, a paper due Monday, two more due Friday, a final exam the following week, and Susan will be out of town for two days this coming week. Pray for us all!

December 03, 2005


9:00 PM We've had a very full, but satisfying Saturday. It was mostly a lazy morning (for me especially--the benadryl I've been taking means that I've been sleeping really well lately). We spent most of the morning taking care of things around the house (like laundry) and about mid-morning I went to Urgent Care to have my rash looked at. As always, that was a long visit--I brought my lunch and a book I've been meaning to finish for some time. Turns out I am having an allergic reaction to the amoxicillin, so I was given a steroid shot (ouch) and long-acting benadryl (twice a day). The doctor said I should be feeling less itchy by tomorrow. I can't wait. Actually, this afternoon I was already feeling a little better, although I've been itching a lot this evening. Feeling better (and, apparently, a boost of energy from the steroid shot) meant that I got a lot of work done this afternoon while the girls napped and then went grocery shopping. I finished my sermon for tomorrow (before Saturday evening, I might point out) and got about halfway through a draft of my paper that is due on Monday. The girls got baths tonight and were especially cute. Elisabeth wore a bib in the tub just like Sophie, although I think she decided that it wasn't much fun. Sophie's hair is coming in enough now that she actually has something to lather up the shampoo with. Sophie seems increasingly cranky, and a little food-obsessive, but once again, this round of steroids has been less challenging than those in the past. I imagine that each one will be different. I noticed that once again, Sophie will be on steroids for the Sunday when we celebrate Communion at church. I hope there will be no "I don't want bread, I want macaroni and cheese" tomorrow!

December 04, 2005


8:15 PM This has been an extraordinarily busy Sunday for us. Worship and Sunday School was typical, but we also had a church conference this afternoon to approve preliminary plans for a new facility for the congregation (it passed). Immediately after that we had our first rehearsal for the Children's Christmas Pageant and immediately following that we had our usual Sunday evening Bible Study. There was no date night tonight.

Of course, this website is primarily about Sophie, so I should report on her. She's been somewhat cranky today, although not too bad. Our biggest problem, given our schedule, has been getting her mercaptopurine on an empty stomach at night. Because she has been so hungry, it's been hard to keep her from eating 1 1/2 to 2 hours before bedtime. What we have been trying to do is wake her up in the middle of the night (actually, when we get to bed around 11PM) and give her the mercaptopurine. She's not very fond of that, as you might imagine. In fact, last night, we forgot and eventually gave it to her some time early this morning when she needed to go to the bathroom. Because of our schedule tonight, we'll be giving it to her later, after she's been in bed for a while, once again. Hopefully once the steroids are out of her system she'll be able to keep from eating 2 hours before bedtime and all will be well. She complained some more today about her legs hurting, so we gave her tylenol, although she did not want to take that either and cried and cried and cried. Go figure. Hardcore chemotherapy drugs she chews up like candy, but try and get a tylenol in her and she pitches a holy fit.

Cute Sophie moment of the day. We were discussing the Children's Pageant in the car on the way from church today, and we were running down which kids were supposed to play which part. Finally, in a quiet moment, Sophie piped up and said, "Who's going to play God?"

December 05, 2005


7:20 PM: Quick update. When I picked up Sophie from day care today, she started throwing up on the way home. She threw up 3 times in the car (although it wasn't terribly messy) and has vomited 7 more times since we got home. At first the doctor said to give her zofran and watch for signs of dehydration, but when I called back to say she hadn't kept the zofran down, he thought it would be a good idea to take her to the UNC ER tonight, where they can administer fluids and zofran by IV and make sure she's doing okay. I'm happy to do that, because we're worried about how pale and lethargic she is. She doesn't have a fever, and I took her blood sugar and it was fine. He said they probably wouldn't admit us but to pack a bag just in case. I figure they probably will admit her, since they prefer to play it safe. So we'll see! We'll leave as soon as I get packed, and we'll keep you posted.

December 06, 2005


9:00 AM After all the excitement of last night, it was apparently much ado about nothing. Sophie threw up once more on the way to Chapel Hill, but that seemed to be the end of it. They went ahead and put her on fluids to keep her hydrated, administered some anti-nausea drugs through the IV, and ran some blood work just to check and see how her counts are doing. She never did run a fever, and her counts came back low, but not terribly low, which was our concern since she looked so pale. Her platelet count has dropped a lot from last week, so we'll need to get a check again next week to make sure she won't need a platelet transfusion. While they were at UNC, they went ahead and did Sophie's dressing change (she was due for one yesterday anyway), and Sophie reports, "I was this brave [holding out her arms as wide as possible]". Susan took a brief nap and then they returned home late last night. It was Susan's second round trip to the Triangle in one day, so she was pretty wiped out. This morning, Sophie slept in a little bit, but as soon as she got up she was her chipper self and I just got back from taking her to Countryside--she walked right up to the teacher and said, "I went to the hospital last night!" I wish I could be so nonchalant about the whole experience!

12/06/05 PM

10:00 PM Sophie had a good day today. She was a little reluctant to go to school until Randall said, "You want to go see Ms. Ericka, don't you" (that's her teacher). She was very excited about that until she realized that we meant her teacher and not Ms. Erika from church. But Randall got her off to school okay, and Ms. Ericka (her teacher!) reported that although she was a little whiny today, she seemed to feel well.

Our big trauma for the day was that we took one of our cats (Hannah) to the vet this morning. When I was petting her on Friday night, I discovered a rather large lump on her chest. We don't know how long it has been there, but it seems like something we would have noticed, so it must have gotten big pretty quickly. The vet said she didn't think it was anything as simple as a cyst (which had been our hope). She said it could be a lymph node, but it's kind of low (next to her shoulder joint) and none of the other nodes are swollen (which is actually a good thing). She didn't think it was a fatty tumor because it felt too solid, but she says it feels pretty smooth, which is a good sign. She is suspecting that it might be her thyroid gland, even though it's a little off from where the thyroid is and is checking her thyroid levels. If nothing in the bloodwork gives a clue (and probably even if it does), they'll do a biopsy to get a better idea of what's going on. If it's fairly straightforward (and not malignant), they can remove the mass at the vet hospital here in Dunn. Otherwise, we'll have to go to a specialist in Cary, which is about 60 miles away. Treatments (including surgery to remove the mass, chemotherapy, and radiation) could be as high as $6,000 over the course of the next year. So all these possibilities are very overwhelming and kind of hard to take, but we figure we'll be able to manage the information and decisions better when we have more information and some of these possibilities have been ruled out.

I'll drive in to work tomorrow, and after work, I'll fly to Washington DC for a one-day meeting on Thursday. I'll fly home Thursday night, but I'm sure Randall will be wishing I were here as he finishes two papers that are due Friday. He thinks he'll be able to finish one of them tomorrow and drive it up to Duke on Thursday (it has to be submitted in person) and get a few more articles for his other paper (which he can e-mail on Friday). I know he'll be glad to have all that work behind him so he can concentrate on Advent and Christmas. He only needs one course to graduate next semester, but he had registered for a full load, thinking he might as well take as many classes as possible before he graduates (plus his fellowship covers most of the cost, so three classes cost the same as one), but all this end-of-semester work is making him think maybe one class would be just fine. We'll see whether he has selective amnesia when the semester starts in January!

December 09, 2005


1:00 PM: In case the lack of a recent post has made you wonder what we're up to, here's a quick update. Randall finished one of his papers and e-mailed it this morning and got an extension on the other one until Monday. Everyone's feeling well. Sophie has a little cough but otherwise seems fine. Randall is still suffering some from the allergic rash, but it's getting better. Elisabeth had a school Christmas play last night (I missed it!), and Randall said it was really good. My trip went well (and I'm back home). The girls were very happy to see me this morning. We've had a big developmental milestone in our hosue: Sophie can get up on the potty by herself (we don't have to lift her up). That's something they've been working on at daycare, and now that she can do it herself, she gets really upset if we forget and lift her up.

December 11, 2005


11:30 PM: It's the end of another busy weekend in our household. We're all doing well, but once again, I feel like I need a break before I go back to work. Sophie and Elisabeth have both been extra cuddly the last few days, which has been nice. Randall made lots of progress on his third and final paper and is on track to turn it in tomorrow. We have another busy week coming up, but Randall and I were able to go out on a date tonight, which really recharged our batteries. It had been a while since we had been able to do that, and we really enjoyed having a good amount of time together.

December 12, 2005


2:00 PM: It's been an exciting day so far. I had to take Sophie to the ER again this morning. She wanted me to cover her up this morning around 4:00 AM, and when I tucked her back in she felt hot. Her temp was 102.5, so I packed up and took her in to Chapel Hill. Her fever had gone down a lot by the time I got her to the ER at 6:00 AM, but they were worried about her cough and took a chest x-ray (in addition to testing her blood). Her chest x-ray showed some areas that indicate she might be headed toward pneumonia, but they decided to send us home anyhow (which is fine with me). They want us to keep a close eye on her, and she'll be taking two antibiotics (amoxicillin and azithromycin) and stopping all other medications including chemo until they tell us otherwise. I have to admit that I'm a little nervous about having her not take scheduled chemo, but I know the doctors wouldn't make that decision lightly.

What's weird is that last week all her counts were low, but the platelets were the primary concern (they had dropped by half from the previous week--from 143 to 79--and were approaching the transfusion point). This week, they're much higher (419), but now the red blood cell count was lower than it's been since her diagnosis (7.8) and her ANC (which indicates risk of infection) had dropped from 1.7 to .8 (which means we can still take her out in public, but if it drops below .5, she needs to be isolated). I'm really surprised they didn't give her a red blood cell transfusion, but by the time they realized the counts were so low, we were on the verge of leaving and that would have meant staying another 4 hours. It seems like now that she's in maintenance, the rules of the game have changed, and they're not nearly as conservative about admitting her and transfusing her as they were before. Once again, I'm really glad I chose to take her straight to UNC, even though it meant a much longer drive. The care we get there is excellent. The Peds ER doesn't open until 9:00, so we were on the adult side, but the nurses and doctors over there were just as good with Sophie.

Sophie fell asleep on the way home, and we both napped from the time we got home (11:30) until I woke up a little after 1:00. She cried for about 5 minutes and fell back asleep. Poor thing. I need to get those antibiotics in her, but I know she won't be able to manage it if she's that tired. I'll post later tonight if I get a chance and provide an update on how she's feeling.

12/12/05 PM

10:00 PM: After sleeping for 6 hours today, Sophie finally woke up around 4:00. I called the doctor at 3:00 or so, because I was worried about her sleeping so much and I wanted to make sure the timing of the antibiotics would be right. The doctor said we could wait to start the antibiotics until tomorrow because she got a good dose of a different antibiotic in her IV today. She said if Sophie was still asleep or sleepy by dinnertime to call back. Sophie was quite alert when she woke up. She hasn't eaten as much as I thought she would, but she seems to be feeling okay. She's coughing a fair amount still, but the fever hasn't returned.

We had a Christmas party at church tonight. We have a caterer in the congregation, and we paid her to do it. It was wonderful, and the kids were able to play and have fun. Because we were out a little later than normal, the girls got to bed late (in fact, I'm pretty sure Sophie is still awake). Sophie was pretty upset about her dressing change tonight. I don't know why she was upset about it all of sudden--she had been doing pretty well.

Tomorrow after I get the girls off to school (and Randall off to Fayetteville for his yearly review with the district), I'll take our kitty Hannah in for a biopsy. We hope that will tell us everything we need to know to make the right decision.

December 13, 2005


8:45 PM: Sophie seems to be doing better today. Her day care teachers reported that she coughed a lot, but she hasn't had any fevers and has been in a good mood. Well, she was in a good mood until it was time to go into dance class and she pitched a big fit. We had driven separately, so Randall just took her straight home.

We got a great report on our kitty. Apparently, the mass on her chest was a large fluid-filled sac. The doctor removed the sac, drained the fluid and sent it all off to be tested, but she thought it would turn out to be nothing to worry about. The doctor made a t-shaped incision so she could get a good look at what was going on, so Hannah will have quite a scar. So now instead of calling her "Lumpy," we're calling her "Franken-Hannah." She'll go back in 10 days to have the staples removed (and we should hear back from the lab before then).

Since our move to the new account, the comments entry fields seem a little messed up (the comments page is sometimes missing the fields to enter your name and e-mail address--but requires the e-mail to be filled in before posting). If you have trouble, try clicking on preview before saving--the fields appear on the preview screen. Or you can click on the link showing the time posted rather than clicking where it says "Comments."

December 14, 2005


10:15 PM It has been a while since I posted, partly because of our transition to a new host and partly because I've been slaving away on my final papers and studying for finals. Today was my last final exam--actually, if I only take one class next semester, it may really be my last final exam!--and I'm pretty much brain-dead at this point. I'm glad to have finished all of that work, and it looks as if I've done well again this semester. Elisabeth promised me that if I get all A's, she'll be especially good. Now that is an incentive!

I left early this morning so that I would be able to get to my 9:00 am exam. Susan called during the commute because Elisabeth was beside herself hysterical. I suspect that the flu shot we got yesterday has affected her somewhat, although she is not really displaying any symptoms (other than her arm hurting). She ended up going to work with Susan, which I guess worked out mostly okay. I got to meet them for lunch, and she seemed fine to me. She ended up sleeping all the way home and was pretty whiny around dinner time. Tonight we had rehearsal for the Christmas Pageant, and she seemed fine during that. It's entirely likely that she's feeling moderately crummy and when she's otherwise interested in what's going on, it's not a problem.

Sophie still has a nasty, hacking cough, although her energy level is fine and she's been fever-free since Susan took her to the ER a couple of days ago. Her hair is really coming in, and everyone seems to enjoy feeling her "fuzz." Today at Countryside, she apparently entertained everyone with all of her dance moves. I'm glad she's settling in there.

December 15, 2005


11:00 PM Finally getting around to doing an update, although there really is not that much to report. Sophie continues to have a nasty cough, but she seems to be fine otherwise. Elisabeth returned to school today and seemed to manage just fine (she complained about some aches and pains, but I don't think it detracted from school at all). I, on the other hand, must have hit a wall today. I went this morning with Bob from church to deliver fruit baskets to several members of the congregation and returned around lunch time. After having my lunch, I could barely keep my eyes open so I took a nap. For two hours. I cannot remember the last time I slept for two hours during the middle of the day! I don't know if it was the flu shot or the stress and strain of finals and final papers, but I was wiped out.

Tonight Susan had an awards ceremony for work, so the girls and I were on our own. We had dinner at Andy's and made an early night of it. Both girls seemed cooperative, for the most part, and bedtime was relatively easy. We're working on Sophie's bedtime ritual (actually, we're trying to replace her ritual with our own), and tonight was a pretty good success. Mostly, it is the same ritual we had/have for Elisabeth--bedtime is bedtime, but if you need to stay up a little while longer, you are free to do so with only a small light on and with minimal noise. Sophie can turn her own lights on and off, so she's pretty much into the independence thing. At some point, I heard the toilet flush and when I checked on Sophie, she was finishing up in the bathroom and had already turned her light off. She stayed up a bit longer reading and singing ("Frosty the Snowman," at the top of her lungs), but nodded off to sleep before too long.

I'm really proud of Susan. She and some colleagues won a "President's Award" from RTI International. The award was for their work on the evaluation of the Serious Violent Offender Reentry Initiative, a study of Federally-funded programs for prisoners who are going to be released back into society. Susan really enjoys her job a lot, so it is an added bonus when something like this happens. She got home not too long ago and is pretty tired (not surprisingly).

December 17, 2005


9:15 PM: This weekend is just flying by! Randall and I both worked at home yesterday while the girls were at school/day care. Yesterday was Elisabeth's last day at school until after the holidays, but we found out that we can take her to Countryside next week with Sophie (which we will do until Randall's mom gets here).

This morning we went Christmas caroling with another family from church. Everyone seemed to enjoy it, and I'm really glad we went. After lunch, Sophie and I took a nap while Randall worked on his sermon and Elisabeth complained nearly constantly about not feeling well. Randall gave her some cough medicine, which seemed to help. We've had a quiet evening at home, getting ready for all the activities tomorrow (church, dress rehearsal for the Christmas pageant, and the actual pageant).

The girls are attempting to "camp out" in Sophie's room tonight. The plan is that they will sleep together in a little Dora tent. We're skeptical that this will result in any sleep, but we're willing to give it a try for a little longer before separating them. (It may be a long night).

December 18, 2005


8:45 PM: Wow, what a day! We barely made it to church on time this morning, but it was a good service. One of the church members told Randall that Randall is the best preacher he has heard. I think so too! It's nice to have his talents recognized. After lunch and nap, I headed over to the church to get ready for the play. The dress rehearsal went pretty smoothly, and we had plenty of time to eat dinner before the play started. The church was nearly packed, and the kids did a terrific job. Everyone seemed to enjoy it, and we had a nice time socializing over refreshments afterwards. I am totally exhausted though. I can't believe it's already time to go back to work tomorrow. And I have to drop the car off to be repaired (to fix the dent from the stop sign) before I can start working (we'll get a rental car).

Our biggest tragedy of the day is that both girls ended up spraining their ankles. Sophie hurt hers after Sunday School, while we were getting ready to go. There are two steps from the sanctuary up to the chancel area where the altar is, and she likes to jump from them. She must have misjudged the distance and hurt her ankle. She hasn't been able to put any weight on it all day. There's no swelling, but she cries instantly if she tries to stand. That meant that she had to be held all night and that one of the shepherds actually had to carry her (she was a lamb). Then, after the whole thing was over and Randall was getting the girls out to the car, Elisabeth stepped off the edge of the sidewalk, fell, and actually hit her head on the car ("right where you hit the stop sign" she told me later). She says she can't walk either. We'll see how both girls are doing in the morning. I'm not sure what we can really do for them. We can give Elisabeth ibuprofin, but Sophie can't take that, and we have to be careful about giving her tylenol because it can mask a fever if she's getting one.

December 19, 2005


10:15 PM A surprisingly full day at home today. Sophie and Elisabeth both went to Countryside today (Elisabeth is out of school for break and Countryside offers childcare when school's out--it was her idea, so we decided to let her go). Sophie was still pretty unwilling to walk on her foot this morning, but by the time I picked her up this afternoon she was doing much better. I think she enjoyed having her sister at Countryside today. I spent the better part of the day working on all the things that have been put off to the side while I finished up my exams and final papers, mostly paying bills but also (ugh) dealing with some insurance and billing issues. I think I got everything squared away, or at least I got things so that they are not my problem for the next ten (or more) business days. Susan went to work and was able to drop off the Honda for the body work from when she got up close and personal with the stop sign. Our insurance covers part of the expenses for a rental car (we'll miss the Honda for about three days), and Susan ended up choosing an Infiniti--I told her not to get too attached to those heated seats!

One issue that cropped up today was that we got a letter from our insurance company stating that, effective immediately (!), Pediatric Services of America is no longer part of our network (PSA is our primary pharmacy for medical supplies for Sophie's line care and also contracts out for our Home Health Care). I haven't yet figured out how we're going to manage this change (although I'm certain that there are other providers in our network), but we have been consistently unhappy with PSA from the beginning anyway.

Cute Sophie moment: Sophie has been singing all kinds of Christmas songs since we went caroling on Saturday. Unfortunately, she kind of gets obsessed with one song and will sing it over and over and over again, with no end in sight.

December 21, 2005


10:00 PM: We skipped another day again yesterday--sorry about that! Randall and I thought we were going to have all day yesterday to work at home, but Elisabeth developed some aversion to going to Countryside. We eventually gave in and let her stay home (we should have stood our ground, but it's tough sometimes). Not having Elisabeth go made Sophie very upset, but I was able to drop her off and escape with some distractions. We ended up having a very nice day with Elisabeth, who cleaned up her room (much needed) and some of Sophie's room (she makes more of a mess in Sophie's room than Sophie ever does), and played independently most of the rest of the time.

Today both girls happily went to Countryside. I worked hard all day trying to finish up the revision of that article I'm working on (it's due Friday!). Randall drove up to Durham to return the rental car and pick up our Honda. He also did some more Christmas shopping. He says he's done (whether he has everything or not, he's tired of the crowds). Randall's mom arrives tomorrow, and we can't wait! The girls will go to Countryside in the morning--Sophie has a party in her class. Sophie is also having a blood test tomorrow--the home health nurse said she would be happy to meet us at Countryside so Sophie won't have to miss anything. Then we'll head out to the airport. We had planned to do some shopping in the afternoon. I don't know how Randall's shopping moratorium will affect those plans. Stay tuned.

We are really enjoying the Christmas cards (and letters--we love reading those!) from our friends and family. Our Christmas letter has now been drafted, and Randall bought paper and cartridges today, so we hope to get ours out soon. It was tough writing the letter this year. I'm pretty sure most everyone on our list knows about Sophie, but finding the right words to sum up this year was challenging. Luckily, I procrastinated long enough that Randall wrote it (and did a nice job!).

December 22, 2005


10:50 PM: We have had such a nice, full, day today. We had a lazy morning and got the girls to Countryside just after 9:00. Amy (the home health nurse) met us there to take a blood sample from Sophie. Elisabeth (who was hanging out in Sophie's room this morning) said all the kids were curious about the nurse visit and wanted to know what we were doing to Sophie). Then the girls enjoyed a Christmas party while Randall and I got ourselves organized for the day. We picked the girls up late morning and headed to the airport to pick up his mom. We were all so happy to see Karin. We had lunch and did a bit of shopping (including fun things to serve at our party on Saturday). The girls stayed up a little late tonight but are both asleep now. Tonight is Sophie's turn to sleep with Oma.

We got the results of Sophie's blood test this afternoon. Her red counts and platelets are good, but her ANC (which indicates her ability to fight off infection) is low (0.6, down from last week which was 0.8). Because her ANC is still under 1.0, they said we should still hold off on giving her any chemo at home until next week. They said her monocytes are on the rise, so they expect her ANC to be where it needs to be on Wednesday when we take her back to the clinic for her monthly visit.

If you are in the area on Saturday, please join us for our open house from 2-5 (and for our worship service at 7:00). E-mail me if you need directions to our house or to the church.

December 23, 2005


9:45 PM A very full day for our family. This morning was relatively quiet. Susan did some work on her paper and took Hannah (our cat) to the vet to have her stitches/staples removed from her surgery. The rest of us got ready for the day while the two of them were gone. Susan came home and finished up her paper (it was due today and made it out today, hooray!). We all went out to lunch (Cracker Barrel, one of our favorites) and Susan and Elisabeth left from there to drive to Raleigh to see the Nutcracker--we've had tickets for the past two years and for the past two years, we were unable to go (we all had the flu two years ago and last year, we had a winter storm the day of the performance). I'm glad that finally, after three years of trying, Susan and Elisabeth were able to see a performance of the Nutcracker.

Sophie, Mom, and I went to Fayetteville to do some shopping for Susan. That was an adventure! We probably spent more time in the car trying to get in and out of the parking lot than we spent in the mall itself. Sophie had fallen asleep on the way, so she was quite cranky about being pulled out of the carseat and insisted that I carry her around the mall pretty much the whole time. I feel like I've been working out all day, my arms are so sore and tired. I really, really hope that we are finished with all of our shopping, because I'm not sure I'm up for any more. I feel like a total Grinch about the whole thing. Fortunately, we have had a quiet night at home with wrapping presents, baths, and staying up late (the girls had gotten sucked into Charlie and the Chocolate Factory). We also helped ourselves to some cake made by a member of the congregation (Hi, Sylvia!). What a treat!

After all of that, tomorrow is likely to be just as busy, if not busier, as we have our Open House and will have worship later tomorrow evening. Sunday morning will follow close behind, and I'm sure we will all collapse into a heap come Sunday afternoon!

Tonight, Sophie reminded me that Santa Claus was coming and that he would bring me a toy if I had been good. When I asked her if she thought I had been good, she thought for a long time and said, "mostly." Then I asked if she had been good, she thought for a long time and said, "mostly." At least she's being honest.

December 26, 2005


10:30 PM We've taken a couple of days off from the weblog, largely because we've been so busy, but also because we figured folks would be away from their computers anyway. We've had a wonderful Christmas this year. It was great having my mom with us, and it was also nice to really feel "settled" here in this community and in our home. The girls have done really well at home for all these days in a row. They seem happy with their gifts and are playing with them all. Elisabeth got a "Pixel Chix" game and has spent a lot of time with that (but she's also been trying out several outfits these last couple of days). Sophie's favorite present of all seems to be a bag of pretend food, diapers, and lotion for her baby dolls. Even our cats got presents they are enjoying (new toys and cat treats). Susan and I had a belated "date night" tonight while the girls stayed with their Oma. We went shopping and out to dinner. We had a great time. I will say that the mall was a lot less crowded this evening than it was three days ago!

This has been a very special Christmas for us, for all of the obvious reasons. We are especially aware of all the gifts that we have received these past several months, perhaps the greatest of which are health for Sophie and the friends and loved ones that we have grown even closer to this past year.

Tomorrow we'll be taking mom to the airport. It always feels like she's leaving before we're ready to have her go. I guess that's better than the alternative! Wednesday we'll take Sophie to the clinic to see how her counts are doing and if they're strong enough, she'll get a quick dose of chemo, after which we'll head on up to Virginia to see Susan's mom and grandmother. I just commented this evening how we really haven't had any bad winter weather yet this year, I hope it will stay that way for at least the next week!

I hope everyone has had a very merry Christmas, and thank you all so much for keeping in touch with us and keeping us in your prayers. Many blessings for the remainder of the Christmas season and on into the new year!

December 27, 2005


9:21 PM: Randall's mom left for home today, so that was pretty sad. None of us were ready to have her go. To ease the pain of separation, we arranged for the girls to spend the morning with friends from church. They had a great time while we took Karin to the airport and then went out to lunch. In the afternoon, I learned how to make butter mints from scratch. What fun! It's not something I plan to do on my own any time soon, but I might give it a try one day, and I got to bring some home to munch on. The biggest tragedy of the day was when Sophie closed her fingers in a door. She was picking things up with that hand by the end of the night, so we think she's okay, but we'll have the doctor take a look when she goes to clinic tomorrow. We're trying to get packed up tonight for our trip to Virginia. Sophie's appointment is early and we'll go straight to Virginia from there. Mom called today to let us know that my grandmother has been admitted to the hospital with some unexplained bleeding. We hope she'll be able to come home soon, but until then we'll be able to give mom a break while we're there.

December 31, 2005


10:30 PM Once again, it has been a while since we posted. We spent the past few days in Virginia with Susan's mom and grandmother. Nannie was released from the hospital on Thursday and seems to be on the mend. I hope we were a help to the two of them. If anybody knows what an unbelievable burden hospitalization and a health care crisis it has been our family this past year. We have learned a lot of hard lessons, and, surprisingly, we have learned a lot of really good lessons--like admitting that we need help when we need help, and being willing to drop everything when something of utmost importance intervenes.

The girls charmed their grandmother and great-grandmother, of course. I'm thankful that they are able to spend as much time with them as possible. Susan is very close to her grandmother, and I'm glad that our girls are getting to know her and their "Grammy" so well. Sophie will wrap up her five days of steroids tomorrow. She seems a little crankier than usual and perhaps a little more obsessed with food, but it may be too early to tell. The doctors reduced the levels of her other chemo drugs in order to keep her counts from falling too low (neutropenia) and compromising her immune system. We'll see how she does this round.

This has been an amazing year for us and we want to wish everyone who keeps up with us through our little weblog a happy and healthy 2006.