Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Bonus Buy Week

I had three hours to find coats for Meagan and Addie for their Utah trip. So we went to Gottchalks in San Berghetto on a tip from a friend to find them. When I passed the Clinique counter I had to stop for some products that I was totally out of. The first question I always ask is when is the Bonus Buy Week. That's when you can buy $30 in product and you get little samples of 6 or 7 other products for free. I love it. Anything for free is always a good thing.

Just my luck it wasn't starting until the next week. The Sales woman was itching for a commission and was really working on me to buy it now and come back for the bonus and more next week. There's only so much money and time you know.

So I tried to put here off by telling her that I couldn't remember which clarifying lotion # I needed. That lead us to the little slider questionnaire - quiz thing. She proceeded to quiz me on my skin. (oh, you have to know that this was during the 10 day stay with Peter in the hospital. I was on day 7 of that stay. And remember I was out of my clinique stuff, so my face had not been properly washed for a few days. Gross. I know. But life was not normal- but the CLinique lady doesn't know this.)

First question: "If you don't wear sunblock and you're in the sun does your face get sun burnt?"
answer: Yes... I mean. We live in So. California. It's sunny and hot here.
Then she followed up with, "But does it turn into a tan?"
Okay that's a yes, (after the peeling and if you count the patch of new freckles a tan).

Second question: "Do you have break outs?"
answer: No. (unless you count this little trip to the mall a break out)
follow up: "How about once a month?" (why doesn't she believe me?)
answer: oh, okay...

Third question: "Where on your face are you worried about lines?"
answer: I looked at her and thought to myself, "I'm not worried about any lines." Then she must have read my mind because then she handed me a mirror. Oh, the nerve of this woman. So I looked in the mirror and said, "Ah, I guess around my eyes???" (Like I was asking her if that's where she was worried about my lines.)
follow up: "Then she said out loud, "several areas" and moved the slider to that little slot."

I was not having fun with this game, but it looked like she was.

Then the next question: "Do you have oily skin?"
answer: Not anymore.
follow up: "Like, around your nose and forehead."
answer: "Okay!" (Notice the exclamation mark!!!)

Then she tallied up my answers and told me that I failed and nothing would help me. I was beyond help. No. Just kidding.

This was her next comment. I loved it. "Your face would benefit from many of our products."

I think because Meagan was standing next to me that I held it together and politely said that we ran out of time and would just purchase the products at the Redlands store instead.

I was looking so forward to doing just that until one morning last week I had a break out. A huge, enormous, 16 year old adolescent pimple for everyone to see right under my nose. It's so big, even the puppy barks at me. I don't dare show my face around a clinique counter now.

So long bonus buy week.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Welcome New Members to the Hallen Fold

There are two new members of the Hallen Family we'd like to show off.

This is sweet little Harry, as grandma calls him. His official name is Harrison Hallen James. He belongs to Laura and Rob, John's youngest sister. The Family migrated up to Utah over President's weekend for the baby blessing. Meagan & Addie drove up with Grandma & Grandpa to chaperon and keep things lively. Gary's family followed keeping grandpa on a timely schedule. Kristen's family came from Washington and John, Andrew, Peter & I stayed home recovering from the ten day and final stay in the hospital. Oh, we missed out on a lot of family fun: snowball fights, swimming in the hotel, Temple Square, Church Museum, movie, blessing, family luncheon and more.

What a sweetie. I hope to see him soon and hold him and get some real baby time with a newborn. Some say he looks a little like Andrew at this young age. I see a whole lot of Rob in him. I think that I'm going to call him sweet checks. And look how great Thys is at holding his new little cousin.

Here's the second newest member

A whole different kind of cuteness.

This is Boog Hallen. He belongs to Peter, Andrew, & the girls. While the girls were up in Utah we went out dog shopping to fill their void. No, we told the children that after Peter's cancer was over we would get a puppy. We researched and studied and we all decided on either a St. Bernard or Bernice Mountain dog. Then we found Boog. He's named after the bear on the movie Open Season. Peter loves that movie. It got us through these past eight months.

He's four months old. He has really big paws and he's good natured, so far. He's starting to eat a lot. And that only means one thing. Lots of poo. So it's a good thing we have three children who were just trained today on how to pick up that.

I was hoping for a little break and a slow transition into life again. I was wrong. No resting. This is life. But we have four happy children and I get to cross off #13 from my some day soon list. That's a plus!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Happy Ending

Peter's eight month battle has come to an end. A happy one. He's in the clear. No more chemo, no more central line, and no more cancer. What a blessing. What a miracle.
He's going to be followed very closely for the next four years, which is very reassuring. So we are on our way to living life again. We will not let the fear of the slight possibility of the cancer returning hang over us or over come our thoughts. We realize better now how precious life is and we're determined to enjoy each day more than before. It's a little sad to me that it takes having a child suffer through cancer to really understand that. I'm sure there are many people that already get this but I wasn't one of them. I am now.
We will always remember the love, support, and daily help that Grandma and Grandpa Hallen have given us these past eight months. We've been trying to think of a way or a gift to give them to say thank you for all they've sacrificed for us but there's nothing that we could give that would ever be enough. Their kindness and unselfish service has been a great example of our Savior's love. We thank Heavenly Father every day for them. I hope they will be able to get back to living their life and doing the things that they have looked forward to doing before this came up. One of the greatest blessing in all of this is that some very fortunate grandchildren have learned the importance of family. And we belong to a great one.
There have been many others: family, friends, ward family, doctors & nurses, and even strangers that have reached out to us during this difficult time. It has been very touching to be on the receiving end of so much love and thoughtfulness. So many have prayed for Peter and those prayers have been answered. It has been amazing to feel the power of those prayers. It's what has gotten us through this. So thank you, thank you, thank you. A million times, thank you.
Our knowledge of a loving Heavenly Father has been deepened. His love has cushioned the hard and trying times. I don't know how we would've made it with out feeling his love. It has made all the difference. Prayer really is the answer, especially when you've tried everything else. He can't always take away the pain or suffering but he's able to ease it.
I'm grateful for the lessons I've learned and my children have learned through this. Our family is stronger for it. Our faith is strengthen because of it.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

One Day Soon

I'm home again for a little R & R. We've been in the hopsital since Friday night. Peter's actually doing very well. I'm sorry to any parent who has a child that has ever had to be on I.V. antibiotics. It's a long 7 to 10 day stay in the hospital. Which leads me to a new list. You know how I love lists?

I've been saying, "one day soon..." a lot lately. So at 1 am when I couldn't go back to sleep I started to make a mental note of my list.

One day soon:

  1. ...I'm going to be able to throw away all of Peter's onesies. (I have to keep him in onesies to keep his curious fingers from playing with his central line, aka: his babies.)
  2. we'll be able to have friends over for play dates.
  3. we'll be able to take Peter to the Park.
  4. we won't have to say "chemo" anymore.
  5. Peter will be able to take a normal bath with lots of water.
  6. no more weekend antibiotics.
  7. no more daily, no hourly, worry of a central line.
  8. Peter won't be scratching the rash on his chest caused by the dressing over his central line.
  9. I won't have to type the word central line and wonder if people know what I'm talking about.
  10. John & I will be able to go to the temple together again and not worry that we can't be reached if something goes wrong with Peter.
  11. we will have friends over for dinner again and the missionaries too.
  12. get rid of the tadpoles. They still haven't grown any legs. Something is definitely wrong.
  13. we will get a puppy.
  14. I won't have to pack all of Peter's favorite toys and movies in duffel bags for hospital stays.
  15. cancer will be a memory.
  16. I will catch up on all my thank you notes to doctors, nurses, friends, family, strangers, Pres. Bush, & our ward family.
  17. I will help out other families who are new to childhood cancer. {Get ready friends. I'm going to need your help.}
  18. John and I are going to have our bed back to ourselves. Sorry Peter, the time is coming for you to move on to your bed. We'll see how that goes...
  19. I'll be back to doing the car pool. Thanks Grandpa, Grandma, & Amy!!!
  20. start up the card exchange again.
  21. I'll be able to trade babysitting with friends again.
  22. I'll be able to take Peter to church with us and reacquaint him to the nursery.

Don't get me wrong. Saying, "one day soon..." is not the same or even close to saying, "I'll be happy when..." I'm already happy. I'm just looking forward to my one day soon.

I hope to share some really good news tomorrow or one day soon. I don't want to jinks it so you'll have to check back one day soon.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

There's a silver lining

How beautiful is this? Well, the camera wasn't able to capture the true beauty of this sunrise. {Notice how I blame the camera. Couldn't be the one working the camera that's the problem.} But it was an exceptional sunrise the other morning so I had to take it's picture.
Just a quick update on Peter. He has just one last round of chemo to go. Last week because of his low white count it was postponed. All I want is to get this over with. So when Wednesday rolled around again and his lab work came back good we were looking forward to this all coming to an end very soon.
Then there was a change in events. We checked in Wednesday night so he could be hydrated for the chemo to start in the morning on Thursday. Then two hours later at midnight, during normal vitals check, the nurse was alarmed when the thermometer read 102 degrees. He has a temperature!The lights went on. The crew came in. It's a serious thing to have a temperature on the oncology ward I found out. The blood work was sent to the lab and antibiotics were given. The waiting game is not a fun game to play, especially with a two year old in a hospital room.
By Friday, Peter was back to normal. The first of the blood cultures came back negative. And the doctor sent us home in the evening.
Then two hours later. The doctor called and told us that we had to bring him back immediately. "His blood is infected" {I snuck in a shower first} But he looked totally fine.
Peter has been very fortunate not to have an infection this whole time through chemo. It's common with chemo patients having Central lines.
I keep thinking how blessed we were that Peter was in the hospital when he got the temp and they were able to start antibiotics right away. What a blessing. This kind of infection can be very serious. Heavenly Father is trying to make this as easy as possible for us. I know that and I am grateful.
And I'm learning that life doesn't go according to my schedule. What's my hurry anyway???
So John's with Peter and I'm home for the afternoon. Oh, to lay in my bed. What a wonderful thing. I didn't, couldn't sleep. But that's okay. I just rested under my feather down comforter. Warm. Listening to the rain and resting. It felt good. Trying not to feel guilty that Peter's at the hospital. The good thing, he's having fun with dad. I'm sure he's getting some daddy juice and watching movies.
We're hoping to be home tomorrow night. I get to be nurse mommy for the week. Yet another skill I get to learn. How to administer antibiotics in his Central line.
I should have been a nurse.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Last time

I just have to show off Peter's beautiful head of new hair. It came in a lot lighter and to our surprise, thick. Sometimes after chemo the hair goes back in thin at first.

And the other surprise it didn't fall out this time. Tender mercies...

We're off to the hospital tonight to start the last round of chemo. Not looking forward to the next two days, but I know he'll get through it, thanks to lots of prayers.

Thankful for prayers.

The light at the end of the tunnel is in view.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Weekly Inspiration

This picture of Peter was my "weekly inspiration."

I had a cold this past weekend and felt terrible. I stayed in bed on Sunday to get extra rest. I'm still trying to get over it.

What a pleasant surprise to happen upon this photo today, of "Peter the Great" helping his dad build the play set. Addie took it on Saturday.

Please, nobody tell him that he isn't feeling well.

Where does he find the energy? I think it comes down to one thing. Desire. He wants to be out there with Dad and Andrew. He doesn't let the lack of energy or illness keep him down.

I've heard Dr. Laura talk about not giving into the "but, I don't feel like it" mentality.

So Peter wanted to go on a walk this morning and I "didn't feel like it." A little bell sounded in my head and...I put down the dish towel and we went on a walk. This time no stroller. Peter's hand in mine and Andrew on his scooter. We ran down the block chasing Andrew, Peter laughing the whole way. Me, smiling, grateful to have two happy boys. We stopped for rocks, bugs, and foxtails.