Monday, September 29, 2008

What Motherly Instinct?

This morning, I looked over at my treadmill and it appeared to be very lonely and quite dusty. Feeling inspired I strapped on my running bra and some tennis shoes and hopped on. I was briskly walking at about 3.7 miles per hour when Olive, curious at what Mom was dong in the strange outfit came over to inspect. Anyone who as spent any real, quality time on a treadmill would have naturally known to pull the emergency stop. Anyone who has any natural mothering instincts would have realized what was about to occur. Not me, I had neither. I just kept right on walking as I watched what happened next. The last thing Olive did before she crawled up onto the treadmill was smile at me and say "Look mom." 3.7 seconds later her head hit the wall behind me. I think I remember her hitting my legs as she whizzed by. No new collar is going to keep her protected from me. They should have made her a new, customized, body suit with matching helmet.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

A Collar Fit for a Queen

On Thursday, Olive got her new, customized c-collar. "So what?" you say, to which I respond, "Are you kidding? She is already doing so much more!" It's true. Since Thursday afternoon, Olive has finally learned to crawl. Before, she had always moved around much like a chimpanzee. She would sit on her fanny, and use her arms to swing herself forward. It was actually quite impressive, and boy could she move. To beat that, Saturday night she took her first independent steps with her walker. I think she might just be the first child to go from crawling to walking (sorta) in less than 48 hours. Granted she is almost a year and a half old, but her old collar was very restrictive. It had been made for her when she was only four months old. At that age she didn't have much of a neck so they had to form a molded head piece that went up around her noggin. Well, she has grown considerably since then, and the molded head piece didn't mold anymore, instead it just pushed her in the back of the head. In the face down position she could never get her head up into a good position to crawl, and in a standing position in pushed her in the back of the head throwing off her balance. The moral of the story is; her no good mother should have had a better fitting collar made months ago. At this rate, I expect she will be tap dancing by Monday morning.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The Buffet Line of Life

This morning when I got up and let the dogs out, it hit me, the feel of fall. The smell of damp soil and falling leaves, and the tingle in your nose of crispy, cold air. I bundled my kids up in their long pants and sweaters and turned on the heater. By lunch time we were all sweaty. Rex dragged his swim suit out of his closet and I turned the AC back on. Fall in Idaho has always been like that. Freeze in the morning, bake in the afternoon. The change in the air got me thinking, so did an email I received from an old friend, and the lunch (or something like it) I ate with my kids.

I have decided that life must be nutritionally balanced. Let me try to explain. When I met with Olive's nutritionist last week we had quite a lively discussion about the normal eating habits of toddlers. Olive is not alone in her poor eating habits. Rex is no better. Some times the only thing keeping him alive is milk and gummy fruit snacks. I actually laughed right at the poor woman trying to teach me about feeding them well- balanced meals that contained all the food groups. I can't even get my husband to eat from all the food groups. We finally agreed that every meal doesn't need to be nutritionally balanced, in fact every day might not even be 'balanced'. The goal is to find nutritional balance over the course of a week (or 2). Each food group doesn't need to be present at every meal, they just need to be consumed over the course of time. Sometimes our bodies tell us what we need nutritionally. We call them cravings. I know the one week I tried to be a vegetarian by Friday, my body wanted nothing more than a big old burger. My body needed the protein. So to me, a balanced week of eating makes sense, and even seems doable. Now what about my nutritionally balanced life?

Lately, I have taken up whining as a hobby. I spend most of my efforts on Richard. I whine to him about the kids, I whine to him about money, and my hair, and how I really miss school. I whine about missing my old job and all the friends we have moved a way from. The other day after quite a long whining stint I ended my tirade with a, "So what do you think about all that?" He reminded me that I always whine about change. I have never been good at it. I always painfully miss what I once had. That someday, in the not to distant future, I would be missing the very things I am whining about now. So what does this all mean? It means I am having some cravings, but overall I am living a fairly balanced life. I have tasted a lot of different things. In fact my life has been a buffet line. I have been able to go to college, travel, have friends, marry, serve a mission, have a career, study abroad, stay at home with my kids, have hobbies, read good books, spend some money, make some money, get exactly what I want, learn to live without. My plate might not have all those things on it all the time, but that is ok. My life is nutritionally balanced, and the buffet line never closes.

We met with Olive's new physical therapist today. After having read Olive's medical history, she was super impressed with all of her capabilities. Our plan for Olive is to have her walking by Christmas. Who knows, however, what Olive's has planned...
Tomorrow we go and get Olive's blood counts, and on Thursday she gets her new collar. Now I have got to go tend to my chocolate cravings.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

To Pee or not to Pee: Always the Question

So not that chemotherapy on its own is bad enough, but one of the listed side effects is actually anorexia. Figuring that Olive is half Pixton, I didn't plan on this ever being one of her issues. I was wrong. Olive tends to take after the Ashcraft side of her genes and is on the slim side. Slim is an understatement actually. She is almost 18 months old and is still wearing some of her 3-6 month clothing. Needless to say, she doesn't have any extra weight to lose. Well, the little turkey went right on ahead and lost most of her desire to eat and and drink. When we took her to the hospital on Wednesday for fluids she had already lost a little over a pound. She hadn't peed in quite awhile and number two was out of the question. To fix the problem they put her on a laxative and had me meet with a nutritionist. It was one of the strangest experiences of my life. She taught me how to fatten up foods. I now go grocery shopping for foods with the most fat and calories. My daughter is now drinking milk spiked with heavy cream and carnation instant breakfast, all of her food is to be cooked with butter, and they told me to add a tablespoon of oil to anything I could, including her juice. This went against my entire moral being. I didn't even know that they made yogurt that wasn't "light". Needless to say, I am no longer eating the kids' leftovers. In the meantime they have me monitoring Olive's input and output. So the question every day comes down to... Did Olive pee today? Lucky for us the answer today is yes.
On a brighter note my mom and I went through an old box of my clothes as a baby. This week has been a flashback to 1977 for both Olive and I. One of the pictures is actually a snapshot of yours truly. Enjoy the fashion show.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008


Olive finished her second round of her Carboplatin chemotherapy on Thursday. Two months down, ten more to go. It was a long and torturous day. If all goes well, her treatments last anywhere from 6 to 8 hours. However, we have yet to have a treatment go without a hitch. One of the biggest challenges is keeping Olive from ripping out her IV tubing. Olive had a small device called a portacath placed directly under the skin of her chest. It is a small chamber that is sealed on one end with a rubber plug, and a tube on the other end that enters a major artery near her collarbone. The doctors can then administer her medication and withdraw blood through the rubber plug end of her port. This is a great way to keep from destroying her arm veins with the hundreds of needle pokes she would require. The problem, however, is that Olive can see the tubing coming directly out of her chest and wants to do nothing more than pull it out. My job is to keep her from doing just that. Anyone who has every attempted to keep a 1 year old from doing something they are determined to do, knows how nearly impossible it is. To add more challenge to the fun her cervical collar rubs over the top of her port. When there is a needle in the port, she can't wear her collar. So for six to eight hours I am freaking out about her hurting her spine. For those who don't know, during Olive's first tumor resection, they removed her first 7 vertebrate in order to access her tumor. Those vertebrate were not replaced. Now Olive must wear a protective collar until they fuse her neck around age 8 or 9. By the end of chemo that day Olive had only pulled the IV out once, and I was exhausted. Chemotherapy did not sit well with her this time and she practically gave up all eating and drinking in the days that followed. Yesterday she was admitted to the hospital so she could receive 6 hours of fluid and some medicine to get her bowels moving. My mom and dad had already gone back to Pocatello, and I could not find anyone to sit with Rex, so he came too. It wasn't too bad having him there. He must have known he needed to be on his best behavior because he was a doll all day. In the meantime the fluids worked wonders and Olive is already back to her old self. Thank heavens.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Poison Mania

That's right Bret Michaels rocked it out at the Blackfoot state fair and yours truly was there to rock it out with him. The concert was fantastic. It really was. They played all their hits including Unskinny Bop, Talk Dirty to Me and Every Rose has its Thorns. I thought the evening was great, but then... on our way out of the fair we spotted a limo decorated with the words Rock of Love. Of course I had to go find out of Bret was in there. I knocked on the door, but alas he was not. However, I got to meet the four finalist of Rock of love 3. I had them take a picture of me so Bret could see what he was missing as far as Idahoan stay at home moms go. I am still waiting to hear from him. In the meantime, I found out that they all have slept with him, he has hair extensions, and his producers always make him wear the bandanna.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

This Woman Works Magic with a Camera

When you have a sick kid, a lot of neat people and experiences cross your path that never would have otherwise. One of the neatest experiences we've had was meeting an incredible photographer named Kam Taylor. Kam has decided to use her talent to provide free photos and a photography session to families with terminally, or critically ill children. Her gift is priceless. Money, as most of you know, could not be tighter than right now. Currently, every spare dime we have, and alot we don't have, are spent on Olive. As a result, I have never had professional picture taken of either of my kids. We were introduced to Kam through my sister-in-law, and had our pictures taken. She did such a great job of capturing just the way my kids look, and she did a great job of making Richard and I look better than we really are. I am so happy to have such great pictures of my kids, and the frosting on my cake is that Kam and I have become friends. You can find out all about Kam at

Monday, September 1, 2008

Its's About Time

What it has finally come down to is peer pressure. I knew that eventually I would cave in, and the time has finally arrived. I have joined the world of blogging. For over a year now as Olive has battled her spinal cord cancer, I have had people ask me to start a blog so they could keep track of how she is doing. I am forced to admit it is a great idea. I have never been great at journaling, scrapbooking, or even remembering, so this blogging gig just might be the ticket. Please feel free to get in touch with me whenever and however you want.