Friday, November 28, 2008

Not So Tight

On most kids stockings like these are called tights. On my dear Olive they are anything but tight. It cracks me up how they sag around the ankle. Luckily my kids don't take after the Pixton side of the family when it comes to their body shapes. Their skinny little bodies are all Ashcraft. Their sparkling personalities, however, I take full credit for. The tights on Olive are sized 6-9 months. Olive just turned a year and a half.

Her blood labs came back today showing she is still low with her white blood counts. Her red blood counts are high enough that she doesn't need a transfusion. Her next round of chemotherapy, which will require two days in the hospital, will determine if she will have to start daily injections to simulate her bone marrow. Keep your fingers crossed that it doesn't come to that.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Back in the Saddle

Some kids have a special blankie that they carry around for comfort, while others might have a certain teddy bear or doll. Some kids suck their thumbs or a pacifier. My sister was known for sucking on her lower lip. A friend of mine has a boy who will only drink out of his Spongebob sippy cup.

It is not unusually for kids to have certain creature comforts to which they become very attached. I was prepared for this. Rex has a flannel blankie and a little stuffed bug that he sleeps with every night. Olive, however, has become attached to her red flyer rocking horse. It is true. Everyday, for anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour, Olive has to get her "pony fix". She cannot climb up onto he horse by herself so often I can hear her yelling. "DOWN, DOWN DOWN!" (For some reason the word 'UP' holds no meaning for Olive.) When I hear her demanding this at the top of her lungs, I can always find her clinging to the side of her horse. Of course, no ride is complete without the proper riding attire. If she is not wearing her hat while astride her pony, she cannot completely enjoy herself.

As a word of advice to new parents: It is inevitable that your child will probably attach him or herself to a special comfort object. If at all possible, try to help your child pick an object that is easily transported. When we go to Grandma's house, Rex can easily bring his blankie and bug. However, it is traumatic for Olive every time we go. Her pony can never be packed. Until next time... Happy Trails.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Cancer Schmancer

To tell you the truth, I am getting really bugged with this whole cancer gig. A lot of my life is spent dealing with it. It basically is exhausting, and really no fun at all. Olive's blood counts were finally high enough that she was able to receive her fourth round of chemo last Thursday. The day actually went pretty smooth, and we were out of there in less than ten hours. Our real trouble didn't actually start until the next day...

Richard, Olive and I had driven to Filer, Idaho for a wedding reception of a friend of ours. Filer, by the way, is out past Twin Falls, so needless to say we were out in the sticks. As we were going through the receiving line, Olive started acting a bit funny. I of course, didn't clue in, and just thought she might be tired. Thankfully, heaven was smiling down on us that night. Olive waited until we had moved past the bride and groom before she began barfing all over. I quickly buried her head against my chest as she yaked over and over again. She made the pea green soup scene from the movie the Exorcist look like a Disney show. There was puke everywhere. It ran down my shirt and into my underwear. Before I got her head buried, however, she managed to barf all over my hair and hit me directly in the eyes and mouth. Richard quickly ushered us into the men's room. At least 7 men came in to find two, barf covered girls hovering by the urinals. Richard's brilliant plan was to have us rinse off in the restroom shower, and then dry off with paper towels. A bad plan, made only worse by the fact that the showers wouldn't even turn on. By now, the smell was so bad that Olive began dry heaving and trying to bury her face against my arm. Meanwhile, I tried to find a happy place to go to in my mind.

Half an hour later, Richard obtained the keys to the newly married couple's duplex. We drove, wrapped in plastic garbage bags, to their house where we could strip down and shower off. At that point, we should have headed home to Boise. Instead, we proceeded to Pocatello where we planned to spend the weekend. By the time we got to my parent's house, Olive's temperature had spiked to 101.7. We took her to the emergency room. At 11:00 pm, she was admitted with a heart rate of 183 and a fever of 101. They immediately drew blood labs and put a catheter in to obtain a urine sample. While we waited for the lab results, they began to give her fluids. The results came back showing she had no infection, but was severely dehydrated and had very low blood counts. We ended up staying in the hospital until 3:30 pm the next day.

Yesterday, back at the tumor institute here in Boise, they took another blood lab. Olive's counts have dropped lower than ever. Normal levels are typically 1400. Olive currently has a count of 412. What does this mean...It means most likely she will have to have a blood transfusion next week, it means she will now have to spend a day and a half in the hospital each time she has chemo, it means we can not go home for Thanksgiving, it means our trip to Mexico with my family in January has to be canceled. Cancer's exhausting.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Calendar Girl

At the ripe old age of eighteen months, my daughter is already posing for calendars. It's true she's a pin-up. Olive is one of the featured months of a calendar being distributed for the upcoming year. Shayla, a friend and fellow cancer fighter, contacted us about posing for a calendar featuring courageous cancer kids. We immediately jumped at the opportunity. The calendar is being produced by a foundation dedicated to raising money for kids with cancer and their families. We thought the cause was worthy, and the chance to be in a calendar was too cool to pass up.

Over the past few days Olive has been struggling to take her first independent steps. She is quite the walker when she has a firm grasp of my hand. On her own however, she lacks a bit of confidence and balance. To my utter delight, some of her very first steps were taken during her photo shoot. Luck was on our side. Not often does a mother get to have her baby's first steps captured on film by a professional photographer. When Olive does something she always does it in grand fashion. She took full advantage of the situation. I am thrilled.

A website is currently being created and will be up and running within weeks for calendar orders to be taken. The web address is
In the meantime, I can take pre-orders from anyone who thinks they are interested in having one of these calendars. It features ten kids who are currently battling cancer, and sadly two girls who have passed on this year. The pictures are some of the ones that were taken at her photo shoot. However, they are a bit blurry because I don't actually have a real copy of them yet. What you are looking at are pictures taken of the pictures on my computer screen from my email account. I was to impatient to wait for the real images to be sent to me.

As for Olive, we are trying for chemotherapy again tomorrow. Hopefully, the extra week of time has given her bone marrow a chance to regrow and replenish her blood supply. She has seemed exceptionally happy and healthy this week. She did, however, fail her hearing test today. We are still unsure if she has lost any of her hearing due to her chemo medication. She can't manage to sit still long enough to have the exam completed. In order to administer the hearing exam, Olive must sit still, remain silent, and wear ear buds for five minutes at a time. Yeah right. It will never happen. In fact, I don't think I could even meet those criteria. As a result, she is now scheduled to be sedated on December 16, just so they can do a ten minute test. Bless her heart she never does anything the easy way.

Saturday, November 8, 2008


One of the effects of chemotherapy is the destruction of bone marrow. Bone marrow is where blood is formed. Each week, Olive's blood production is closely monitored using blood counts. To qualify for chemotherapy, Olive's counts have to be at certain elevated levels. These levels indicate that her bone marrow has regrown and once again started reproducing blood cells. Qualifying blood counts are typically around 1100. Thursday morning, Olive's counts only reached 726. That meant no chemo for us. We were denied treatment. Who knew that not getting chemotherapy would be a bummer. She has now been set back a week. We are scheduled to try again this Thursday.

In the meantime, Olive broke out in a horrible rash. I called the hospital, and of course they had me rush her right down. Apparently, people with compromised immune systems are susceptible to a painful, blistering rash called shingles. Shingles are an ugly cousin to chicken pox. All this time I thought shingles were a type of roof covering. The good news's not shingles. Apparently my kid has excema. Oh brother. Add that to the list.

Once Upon A Time

Once upon a time I was the owner of a really beautiful, new phone called the ENv. We became instant best friends. I took pictures of my kids, and texted my friends. I stored all my favorite people's contact information, and used it to call my mom every morning. Then carelessly I lost my new phone. We were only together for about two months. Now I am using some ghetto phone my husband found in the lost and found box at work. No one was sad to have lost this ugly phone, therefore it is now mine. In the meantime, I haven't been able to call anyone or receive any phone calls since early Thursday morning. Like every other cell phone owner on earth, I have become completely dependent on my phone. I have not written down 95% of the phone numbers I had. Now the only person that I can call is my mother since that is the only number I know by heart. If you know and love me, or if I ever called you, I now can't. Please get in touch with me soon, so I can store you in my less than new, ugly used phone. My phone number is still the same.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

True Love

I have been in love for a long time. In fact I fell in love long before I ever even knew Richard. It started in the seventh grade in a class called teen living. This class didn't have anything to do with being a teen or much to do about living. It taught us how to bake homemade brownies, balance a checkbook and the fine art of sewing a pillow. My pillow was a whale with three little fish. I loved that pillow.

I reconnected with my love in college. I decided to take clothing construction class on a whim. It was there that I realized I loved fabrics, and creating things with a sewing machine. I took every sewing class available to non-home economic majors. 217 credits and five years after starting my first year of college, I graduated with a degree in Zoology. To this day, I feel as if I the skills I learned in my sewing classes are among some of my most valuable credits. Since that first whale pillow, fabric has been my obsession. I can't stop buying it, collecting it and sewing it. I love it.

In the past few years I have taken a liking to quilting. I made my first quilt without a clue as to what I was doing for Richard's and my bed when we were first married. Countless other quilt tops have followed. Quilting is in my blood. Both my grandmothers were incredible quilters. I have decided I wanted to attempt to earn a little extra income by starting a machine quilting business in my home. While we were in Utah for Olives' MRI, I purchased my first quilting machine. It is a HQ 16, and I am in heaven. I just finished my first quilt tonight. It is a small baby quilt made especially for little miss O. As for Richard, he knows that I love him, but I will always need to buy more fabric.