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June 05, 2007


5:45 PM: What an amazing day. Sophie's last clinic visit was today and it went great. We never thought today would come, but we can officially say we're done (thought there's a little part of me that always wants to add "we hope"--we don't want to jinx ourselves). Elisabeth spent the night with a friend and the rest of us got up early (4:30), picked up our friend Frankie, and drove to Chapel Hill. They had a record number of sedations to do (19 kids), but Sophie was 4th in line, so it didn't take long. We met with the doctor, who gave us lots of paperwork (outlining her history) and contact information for the hospital in Texas where Sophie will do her follow-up (Covenant in Lubbock). Sophie sat in Frankie's lap to get her IV (one poke!), and she did great. She handled sedation very well, woke up fairly quickly, and immediately ate two packages of cheese grits, a container of pudding, and lots of saltine crackers (her new obsession). We hung out so we could hear the preliminary results (Dr. Gold said everything looks good so far), and then we said our goodbyes (accompanied by lots of hugs).

As amazing as today was, it is hard to say goodbye to the people who saved our daughter's life. It's also always hard to be at the clinic hearing other people's bad news (we spent a fair amount of time talking with a mom whose son relapsed last month after nearly 2 1/2 years of treatment--he was diagnosed just one month after Sophie) and seeing pictures of kids we know didn't make it. We are lucky to be coming out the other end of this with a healthy child and an intact family.

Goodbyes in general are hard. We had our last worship service at Wesley Chapel on Sunday, and there were lots of people there to say goodbye to (church members and friends from the community). Elisabeth is having an especially difficult time with goodbyes, and her tears were contagious. Sophie doesn't seem the least bit concerned about the move (doesn't really get it, I guess) and is just happily moving through these days, untouched by stress or anxiety. She was staying with our friend Allison on Sunday night, and Sophie snuggled up to say, "I love you." When Allison said she loved Sophie too, Sophie said, "Everyone loves me. It's because I'm so cute!" She lost her first tooth on Friday (pulled it herself) and goes around showing off her new smile to everyone she sees.

Every night this week, we are having dinner with various friends (which is so incredibly helpful since most of our kitchen stuff is packed up), and we have lots of offers to watch the girls so we can concentrate on packing and loading. It's been an amazing outpouring of support. We also met the new pastor (and his wife) who will be serving this church, and I really liked them. It's good to know that the church will be in good hands.

Meanwhile, we are surrounded by boxes at home, and more than once we've had to open up a box to find something we had already packed up (for example, we accidentally packed up the numbing cream we use for Sophie before we take her to clinic). Even though we are living out of boxes, there are still tons of odds and ends that still need to be packed up, and it seems like there's something more to pack everywhere we look. Not to mention getting rid of food in the refrigerator and the final cleaning that needs to happen. The truck arrives tomorrow, and we'll have it until Friday. We have lots of people coming at 6:00 tomorrow to help load, and we hope we can take care of most of it then. That will leave Thursday and Friday to take care of the leftovers and make sure that the items we have planned to take in the cars will actually fit.

We plan to leave Saturday afternoon (after Elisabeth's piano recital--not that she has been practicing!), and we'll take both cars (cats in one, kids in the other). Night 1: Asheville, NC. Night 2: Williamsburg, KY (visiting Randall's dad). Nights 3 & 4: Clarksville, TN (visiting Randall's mom). Night 5: Fort Smith AK. Night 6: Amarillo, TX (almost there!). We arrive at our new home (feeling mostly refreshed having driven only 80 miles) on Friday morning, June 15. Randall's first church service will be June 17, and the moving van is supposed to arrive on Monday, June 18.

June 08, 2007


9:00 AM: Just a quick note to say that the truck is loaded (Randall is putting the last few baskets and trashcans on top of the pile right now). It's been a very exhausting and stressful time, but once the truck is gone, I think it will be a real relief (and when we determine for sure that everything leftover actually fits in the two cars, it will be another relief). I'm at work today (had to come in for a doctor's appointment) but will head home early to polish off the house (need to clean out the refrigerator, etc.).

Thanks so much for all the wonderful comments. We look forward to a continuing long-distance relationship with the friends we've made in the community, and we continue to appreciate our existing far-flung friends who visit the web site and check in with us. And now, we'll be making new friends!

We leave on Saturday, and although we have our laptops with us, I don't know how often we'll check e-mail or post updates. But we'll definitely let everyone know how things are going on the other side.

(No updates from the doctor with official results of the bone marrow biopsy, but as we mentioned before, the preliminary results looked great.)

June 10, 2007


5:50 PM We're on our way across the country! Yesterday was a somewhat stressful day, getting everything loaded in the car--worried that it all wouldn't fit. One of our cats (Turtle) found an excellent hiding place and we couldn't find her for hours. I was just miserable that we would have to leave her behind. (She was in the silverware drawer of the china cabinet.) Elisabeth had her piano recital at 3:00 yesterday. She was the second to play and did great. She had her music up there with her but didn't need to use it.

We took off right after Elisabeth played and drove to Asheville last night. I had the girls, and Randall had the cats. Randall accidentally made a reservation for a smoking room, so we were all a little miserable in our stinky room (and now Sophie's blanket reeks of smoke). We slept in until around 8:00 this morning and had breakfast out before we loaded up the cats. Today was my day to have the cats, and we were going along pretty well until I hit something in the road and the engine started sounding funny. I was able to pull over to the rest area, but Randall didn't see me, and I didn't have a cell phone signal. I looked at it and couldn't see anything, and it sounded okay when I revved the engine, so I pulled back on. I could tell right away it didnt sound right, when I accelerated, so I just accelerated as little as possible and drove until I had a signal. I told Randall to get off at the next exit so I could catch up with him. He drove it and said it seemed good enough to drive--no real loss of power and the engine lights weren't coming on. We pulled in to his dad's house around 2:00 and have had a nice afternoon. A little while ago, they put the car up on a jack and could see that a plate had come loose and a hose was disconnected. They tightened everything up, but a screw had come out, so we will probably try to stop somewhere tomorrow to get it fixed.

Lots of Randall's family are coming over for a cookout tonight. It's a beautiful day, and we're all just hanging out on the front porch, where there is a nice breeze. Elisabeth is hanging out with her cousin, and Sophie is being all cute with everyone else. Randall's sister Sabine is here visiting too, so we're just having a wonderful reunion. I wish we could stay a little longer. Tomorrow we head to Randall's mom's house to stay for a couple of nights. The girls have an appointment on Tuesday at the children's dentist where she works.

Happy birthday to my mom!

June 14, 2007


9:10 PM Greetings from Texas! We rolled into Amarillo late this afternoon and are having some down time before we hit the last few miles into Farwell tomorrow morning. We've had two long days on the road and really wanted to relax a little bit and arrive "fresh" at our new home. We had a great visit with my mom, although we could have stayed longer. For me, the move hung over the whole visit, though, so it wasn't as enjoyable as it otherwise would have been. We got word yesterday (or the day before, I've long ago lost track of time) that our household goods have arrived in Lubbock and will wait there at the terminal until Monday (our scheduled delivery date). I'm really looking forward to getting home and settled. I'm also very excited and anxious about seeing the church and the congregation. I've been waiting for this day for a long, long time.

Thanks for all the prayers for safe travels. We've gotten this far in pretty good shape, with only minor car trouble and not too much of a challenge from the girls (or the cats). Yesterday (TN to Ft. Smith, AR) was definitely the worst day of the trip--a really, really long drive--but it's over with and we are so very happy to have made it this far (and to have less than 2 hours left).

June 16, 2007


7:47 AM Good morning from Farwell, Texas! We drove in yesterday around lunchtime and took our time unloading both cars. Several folks from the church here met us and helped us bring things into the house and stayed to visit for a while. Yesterday afternoon, people stopped by from time to time and introduced themselves, which was very nice, especially since we didn't have too much to do other than put away the small amount of things we had brought with us. We are all very happy to be here, although the cats don't seem too convinced we're going to stay, no matter how much we tell them, "this is your new home now!"

We are so very thankful that we had (mostly) good days driving out here and that we had so many opportunities to visit with my family. I'm anxious and eager to get to work here and I know that Susan is anxious and eager to get settled and get into a work routine of her own. The parsonage is more than we were anticipating (for some reason we both had a mental image of a house that we lived in when we first got married). Our household goods will arrive on Monday, and I'm sure that there will be plenty to do after that. We have a pretty good sense of where everything will go, but you know something will come off that truck that we will have to leave in the yard for the afternoon until we figure out what to do with it!

Thanks again to everyone for your prayers as we travel. They have been much appreciated!

June 20, 2007


3:00 PM CST: One thing we thing we have learned living on the border between two time zones is that we have to specify which time zone we're talking about whenever we make plans to meet with someone around here. We are living in the central time zone, but nearly everything we are doing (eating, shopping, and taking the girls to summer camp) takes place in the mountain time zone. Every day I feel like I've gained an hour. We can get up later, and when we're hungry, the restaurants are empty!

We are so happy here. Everyone around here is so friendly and generous. We've had food delivered for nearly every meal, and our counter is filled with cakes and cookies. We had lots of people here to help unload the truck on Monday, and thanks to Randall's excellent labeling, it wasn't hard to get the right boxes to the right rooms. The garage is still filled with many, many boxes, but the crucial ones are almost all unpacked. The house feels huge to us, and we have really enjoyed figuring out where everything will go. The furniture that belongs to the church goes very nicely with our own, especially in the formal living room (my favorite place to spend time at the moment).

Randall's first worship service was Sunday, and I think it went great. We had to get used to doing Sunday School first (our church in NC had worship first at 9:30 and SS following that). This church has a fellowship time before SS starts (coffee and donuts), and that was a great time to meet people and start memorizing names. The class we attended was lively and fun, and Randall was impressed with how engaged and committed everyone was. The worship service was really nice. Elisabeth sat with her new friend Edie (even though I told both girls they should sit with me at least the first Sunday--they had quite a reputation at our old church for sitting with anyone but me). Sophie was totally shy and stayed by my side as often as possible. She did reluctantly go up for children's time but was happy to come back to me and had no interest in going to the nursery. Randall did a nice job with his sermon (of course, I always think he does a nice job with his sermon), and people seemed really responsive. Sophie endeared herself to the couple sitting behind us, and it looks like she will have several sets of adopted grandparents. The couple across the street from us attends the church, and they have already watched the girls for us (while the truck was being unloaded). I suspect the girls will be seeing a lot of the inside of their house!

Work is going fine for me so far. I didn't have Internet access yesterday and this morning, so I wasn't terribly productive, but it seems to be back now. My goal is to work about half-time this week so that I can stay on top of what's going on but still make some progress unpacking.

Sad news from my mom: her beloved cat--Kitty Supreme--died this morning. He had been having problems with his blood sugar and was more than willing to let my mom give him insulin shots, but his body wasn't responding to even high doses of insulin, and he had a pretty quick decline yesterday and today. My mom and her kitty were very close, so this is hard on her (and us--we loved him too). She thinks she might get another kitty over the weekend, because we think Kitty Supreme wouldn't want her to be lonely. It's harder than ever to be so far away from my mom.

June 28, 2007


7:45 CST: We haven't posted in a while. I guess our hands have been a little full! We've been settling in and getting acquainted with our surroundings, neighbors, and new friends. People here are really nice, and I like the small-town atmosphere (so far--ask me again when everyone we see knows who we are and has expectations). Let's see, what's been going on? We participated in the local county Relay for Life on Friday night. After they took pictures, the ceremonies began, and they started with a survivors' lap. During the pictures, Sophie had gotten to know an older lady, so they held hands as everyone walked. Randall, Elisabeth, and I sort of tagged along in the middle of the field to make sure she was okay. Randall and I both got surprisingly emotional about seeing her walk with other cancer survivors (she was the only child). I don't think we've really taken the time acknowledge the end of everything we've gone through since January of 2005--we've been so focused on the future and the transition to our new home. On the second lap, the caregivers joined the survivors, so we walked too (and carried Sophie). The relay teams joined on the third lap, but we dropped out and got in line for food. A big storm came up as we were walking around the field looking at each team's tent and activities, so we headed home. The girls were both terrified that the storm would turn into a tornado (a tornado caused some pretty serious damage in nearby Clovis not too long ago). They eventually went to sleep, but it took a lot of time and reassurance. They've been scared every evening there's been a dark cloud in the sky (or maybe it's just a clever attempt to delay bedtime?). In general, the girls have both really been pushing the boundaries (and our buttons). We're wondering whether it's the daily separation from us (they go to all-day camp while we work), when were used to being in a very small space together 24 hours a day. Or maybe it's just growing pains as we get used to our new home. Luckily, they generally "show their tails" (as our friends in NC say) only when they are with us and not so much in front of other people.

Randall has two worship services under his belt, and he's starting to get a feel for how he might make little changes here and there. This week, he's having his secretary (and, no, that's not me!) reformat the bulletin. We went choir practice last night, and not only am I now singing in the choir, I'm doing a duet (to recorded music) with an amazing singer in the congregation (that's the only way I can do a duet--I really need to be under a strong lead). I'm actually a little nervous, partly because I'm not very familiar with the song, but I have a recording and a copy of the sheet music, so I'll practice this week. Randall has been visiting several of the shut-ins and learning more about the congregation. He goes to his office every day and really seems to be getting more comfortable.

Our very good friends from Albuquerque--Barbara and Jeremy and their kids Jacquelyn and Jacob--are coming to visit this weekend! We are so excited to see them. Elisabeth and Jacquelyn were born 5 weeks apart, and Sophie and Jacob were born two months apart. We have really missed weeing them and are glad we're only 4 hours apart now.

Update on my mom: she got a new cat. She went to the animal shelter and considered several possibilities, but the cat that seemed most perfect for her was one whose owner had died and didn't have anyone to take him in--they had both been orphaned! His name is Shadow (he's black and white), and although the shelter thought he was around 4 years old, her vet thought he might be more like 7. She's still pretty sad about Kitty Supreme, but having a new companion at home eases the sting a little bit.