Wednesday, August 28, 2013


Lots of things are changing around here. Our first several months of cancer as a family were about everyone's most basic needs. It was like being in the ER. The goal was to get everyone stable. So, we got Chris treatment, made sure the children's most basic physical and emotional needs were met and brazenly cast aside the nonessential (grammar lessons, team sports, organized meals,... ). Now, we're nine months into treatment, and we have at least nine more to go. We have to figure out how to live with this. So, we're changing some things...

First, about five minutes after Chris was diagnosed, I realized that I didn't have the bandwidth for homeschool and cancer. We winged it for the spring semester last year and decided on a university-model school for this fall. The boys go to school Monday and Wednesday and do the rest of their work at home. They started this week and had a wonderful first day. They had a wonderful half a day schooling at home on Tuesday. We rocked it out until about 11:00 AM and then limped to the finish line from there. Here's our first day of school picture.

Second, Household H has grown. I am no longer the lone female, civilizing force in the house. We found a wonderful and brave young woman from Denmark to come and live with us for the next year. Her name is Cecilie, and she arrived about two weeks ago. Here she is learning to drive in Houston.*

I read Cecilie's application on an au pair website and emailed her. She replied with good, thoughtful questions. In my response, I tried to err on the side of brutal honesty concerning four boys, some school at home and living with cancer. I suggested she think it over carefully and discuss it with her parents before we proceeded. Then, I read through her application more carefully and read her references and realized I had sent a really frightening email to someone who is definitely awesome. And then it was like junior high all over again. I scurried over to my friend's house to talk it out...

There's this girl. I'm afraid I scared her away. I gave her my number and told her to call me, but should I go ahead and call her? Is that weird and desperate? Should I wait for her to call me? What if someone else calls her first?

Well, I didn't scare her away with my CANCER IS HARD and BOYS ARE GROSS AND LOUD diatribe, and Cecilie arrived two weeks ago. She's wonderful. We love her. And really, guys, to be willing to take on Household H at this moment in our story is no small thing. You could select, at random, an American family with young children and 99.5% of the time you'll pick someone whose house is less work than mine right now.

For everyone keeping up with Chris, he made it out of the hospital after a few days. It was hard for him to recover from this round. He just started regaining some strength a few days ago, but... he's starting another round today. It'll start to get bad again the end of next week. We'd appreciate your prayers.

* I did not appreciate the rude texts from my husband, father, brothers and uncles about my ability to teach anyone to drive.


Thursday, August 15, 2013

Update on Chris...

This is just a quick update on Chris.  He is 3 months in to his post-surgery year of chemo.  He switched to a new chemo a few weeks ago.  His platelets and white blood cell counts got really low early this week and that ultimately landed him in the hospital.  The first few days in the ER and hospital were really rough.  He was in a lot of pain.  Now he's more... spectacularly uncomfortable.  He'll probably be in the hospital through the weekend.  All the grandparents are doing much of the heavy lifting with the boys and Chris as I've got a lot of commitments right now (more on that later).  Thanks for all the prayers and good wishes.

And in case anyone is curious, this

is really, really hard to sleep in.  But, it's probably less uncomfortable than being slapped around by chemo, so I'm trying to hold my complaints to 1 or 2 per hour, though I have no limits on melodramatic texts sent to family members...

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Be where you are...

Historically, I suck at contentment. I married too scandalously young to be discontent in my singleness, but at basically every life-stage since, I've been looking to the next thing. Soon after Chris and I married, I started hankering after a baby. Then because the road to bringing David home was so long and painful, I worried over whether he'd ever have a sibling. When we lived in Virginia, I often longed to live closer to our extended families in Texas. I devoted such vast amounts of unnecessary mental energy to the boys' long term school plans. I was worried about when, precisely, to put Bryan in school - junior high vs. high school - before he even started kindergarten, and with absolutely no idea what our lives would even look like then. Ridiculous!

And now, when things are as treacherous and sobering as they've ever been, I find myself able to treasure where I am right now. It's been a hard summer, but in an unexpected way, it's been good and right. I've had precious time with the boys and Chris; we've had a lot of good time together. My boys have had an exceptionally good summer, in ways I didn't plan or control. They've spent a great deal of time with their grandparents, and in a gesture of love and support I will never forget, some Virginia friends, the parents of David's first friend, invited David and Jacob to stay with them for two weeks. Here are David and Ethan early in their relationship...

And a few weeks ago when their pool skills were somewhat more advanced...

I'm reading through Jeremiah right now and recently got to this passage:
"For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11
This has been a favorite passage of mine for years. We even have a kids' worship song with these verses, verbatim, as lyrics. And yet, I didn't notice the context until this recent reading. Jeremiah was writing to the exiles in Babylon. The recipients of this letter were Israelites who were separated from their country and their homes. Things were dismal, depressing and were going to get worse. But,
This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says to all those I carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: "Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease." Jeremiah 29:4-6
God is saying to them, "This crappy, heart-breaking, foreign place where you are - this is exactly where you're supposed to be right now. Now live. Invest. Be there."
And then,
"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11
So, cancer sucks. It's a heart-breaking, horrible place to be and it often feels like exile from normal life. But it's exactly where I'm supposed to be. Not that God wanted Chris to get cancer any more than he wanted the Israelites to go into exile, or David to cheat with Bathsheba or Cain to kill Abel or any of the other devastating and damaging things that have been happening on this planet almost since the beginning of time. But through these words, I felt The Lord affirming - "Yes. This is where you are. Be there. And trust me. I know the plans I have for you, and they're plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Petit jean state park wrap up...

The rest of our week...

Dad and I took the big boys on what was my favorite hike.

We played games,

Read books,

Burned things,

And whittled.

David and Jacob got poison ivy, but they must have been successfully distracted by the pocket knives and fire because they really weren't fussy about it. It was a great week.


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