Saturday, May 31, 2008

Travis's post

Hey -- This is Travis.  I've taken over "Andrea's" blog.  Added some music to liven things up.  Thanks for everyone's support and prayers.  We'll get through it.  

If you don't hear music, either your browser doesn't support it, or Andrea found out about my modification of "her" blog.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Our New Reality

Travis did another MRI first thing this morning.  It took an hour and forty minutes. Travis was never claustrophobic before but that changed today! Sadly, I didn't go with him and it was such a miserable experience.  He then went to bankruptcy court to represent a client.  Then it was on to meet with Dr. Mark Lyons at the Mayo Clinic.  Not a fun day for him at all!  But I did get to join him at the Mayo Clinic.

Dr. Lyons was helpful.  He didn't have anything new to say but was compassionate and answered our questions very well. He gave us an option that we hadn't considered but are now giving it some thought.  The tumor seems to be stable and not growing right now.  We can watch it close and check on it regularly with MRI's (like every 6 weeks, at first).  The radiation therapy is still the other option we have but we may not do it right away. Unfortunately, there is no cure for this, no way to remove it or chemotherapy to kill it.  Radiation could help but eventually it could begin to grow again.  This could happen in months, years or even decades.  

The point I'm at is that this is our new reality......something we will be dealing will for the rest of our lives.  We can do that.  It's just different from before.  As with Ella's illness, I feel in awe of life.  How fragile it is. How quickly things can change.  The trivial things mean nothing to me right now.  My focus is on my faith, family, friends and enjoying each day I have with the people I love.  Travis and I are really so blessed.  This has been so evident through this experience. Dozens of calls and emails, meals coming in, treats dropped off, friends taking my kids ALL DAY if needed. The kindness of others is overwhelming. Heavenly Father is working miracles through all of these wonderful people.  I feel confident that we will continue to be blessed with strength and hope.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

No More Answers

What an emotionally draining day it has been.  I like to think how strong and positive I am trying to be and appreciate others saying that also, but today I feel very........tired.  We met with Dr. Ashby at the Barrow's Institute in Phoenix.  She confirmed the presence of the tumor but needs another MRI to get different images.  She got Travis in first thing tomorrow morning.  She meets with a team of doctors on Monday and wants the new MRI for that meeting.  So it sounds like we won't have any more answers until at least Monday.  She thinks the tumor is a glioma tumor but without a biopsy she can't be certain. On Monday the doctors will discuss the possibility of doing a biopsy.  They won't do it if they think it's too risky.  Fortunately, the surgeon who would do the procedure is a world-renowned neurosurgeon, Dr. Spetzler.  The tricky thing about a glioma tumor is that it cannot be removed because it is made up of filaments that weave through the brain like a grapevine.  It sounds like the most likely treatment will be radiation.  It would be 6 weeks long of daily treatments (Monday through Friday).  

Travis is such a superstar!  He is being so patient and loving with the kids.  My patience is tapped out.  While I was quickly trying to brush teeth and get them into bed, Ella said I am being a bad mom.  Now I know she doesn't really mean that but it's a hard thing to hear on a day like this one.  We mentioned to Olivia that Travis had some doctor appointments because he hasn't been feeling well.  She looked concerned and asked, "But it worked out fine in the end, right?"  I believe it will work out fine in the end.  We just have a long road ahead of us.  

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Waiting Game

My cute Ella and her cousin, Paris had a great day playing dress-up and dancing around all day. Ethan enjoyed unlimited Wii playtime with his friend, Smith.  Olivia played all day long with her great friend, Megan and Ryan was happy to just hang out with all the kids at the house.  My kids are in a state of childish oblivion with no idea of the hardship that is going on in our family.  Travis and I are not quite ready to tell them what's going on.  I enjoy the carefree attitudes of these darling kids.  It has helped pass the time as we countdown to meeting with doctors tomorrow.

Travis' dad and brother came over this evening to give him a Priesthood blessing.  I feel so much peace and am thankful for the comfort the Spirit is giving me right now.  I also cannot believe the love we are receiving from all our friends and family.  It is mind boggling to me. Friends dropping off  treats, visiting teachers bringing a bag of food to take to doctor's appointments, words of comfort from so is touching beyond expression.  

This Sunday is conveniently Fast Sunday.  Our ward is planning on doing a special fast for Travis.  We are so thankful for this and appreciate all those who wish to participate.  We know the power of fasting and prayer and have seen it's miraculous workings in our family before. Again, my love goes out to all our dear friends and family.   THANK YOU!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Charmed Life

My mom made a comment the other week that I live a charmed life.  A couple days ago, in light of the recent events, she said that she feels bad for making that remark.  Life doesn't seem so charmed right now.  But despite the challenges we are facing, I can't help but feel incredibly blessed, and that yes, I have a very charmed and beautiful life.  The out-pouring of love, support, kind words and compassion from so many of our friends, family and neighbors has been more uplifting and helpful than I can begin to convey.   I love you and want you to all know we feel the prayers and thoughts that you are all sending our way.  We are extremely optimistic and hopeful about the outcome of this trial.  We meet with specialists from the Barrows Institute and Mayo Clinic this Thursday and Friday and expect to have many answers soon. I have a great deal of faith and hope that Travis will be blessed with his health.  Thank you for your unconditional friendship.  It is truly amazing to me. 

Thursday, May 22, 2008


Graduation time for all my cute kids......if you call the 1st of 3 years of pre-school a graduation or the 1st of 2 years of kindergarten a "graduation."  I guess it is a graduation from this year and ceremoniously sends them off to their next adventure.  I know how much my kids love all the hoop-la and attention it brings.  Olivia completed 4th grade and is going to be a big 5th grader now.  It really is hard to believe she is getting so old.  

But the real reason this has been a heavy week is not about all the kids and their graduations. 
It's about my dear husband.  Let me fill in some history and details to bring you up to speed.  A few months ago Travis noticed that the right side of his face was a little droopy and felt "funny." He saw the doctor who quickly said it looked like Bells Palsy and would resolve on it's own within a few months.  We didn't think too much of it.  It was more of an annoyance to Travis but we weren't too concerned.  That was about 6 months ago and it hasn't gotten any better.  He got a referral to a neurologist and had some blood work done and did an MRI on Monday. Originally they couldn't get him back in to go over the MRI for 2 weeks but then called the next day to say that they could see Travis on Thursday afternoon.  By Wednesday afternoon Travis was feeling anxious and called to see if the doctor would tell him what was going on. The doctor called back about 40 minutes later and told Travis that the scan didn't look good.  It is most likely a slow-growing malignant tumor in his brain stem.....and this area is usually inoperable.  Travis left work and came home.  He found me in our bedroom and told me what the doctor said.  We hugged and cried.  We talked and decided to stay positive and take this one step at a time.  We had to wait 24 hours until our appointment with the neurologist.  It was excruciating. I tried to busy myself with kids, laundry,  "graduation," preparing for our weekend campout, but it was a constant thought.  Our appointment didn't yield many answers.  We looked at the scan pictures and were convinced of the presence of the tumor.  Our next step is to meet with a neuro-oncologist to discuss the diagnosis and treatment options.  The craziest thing about the timing of this is that our little 5 year old Ella was diagnosed with Leukemia on May 20, 2004, nearly 4 years to the day ago.  I really believed we had already cleared the cancer hurdle.  I guess that is not the case.  Please keep Travis in your prayers.  He is the love of my life, the amazing father of our 4 kids and the best person I know.  We are going to beat this!!!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Music & Cookies

Olivia had her Spring performance on Saturday for the musical theater she attends each week taught by Jenee Wright-Prince.  Olivia and her friend, Megan have lots of fun doing this together.  They sing songs and do dance moves along with it.  It's great to see her on stage being such a performer!  She is such a doll.
Today was stake conference.  Now with that said, we enjoyed a family day at HOME.  Let me explain........our last experience at stake conference led us to make the decision that once a year is enough for now.  Unfortunately, the twins repeatedly asked questions about what the whole stake verses general conference is and why we weren't watching it on T.V.  We answered the best we could.  Boy!  Our kids sure do keep us on our toes!  Ella wanted to make cookies, so today it was peanut butter.  I actually let both Ella and Ryan roll out the balls, roll them in sugar and make the criss-crosses with the fork.  I tried hard not to micromanage.    They loved it!  I resisted having even a taste since I am now on day 7 of my "no carb" South Beach diet.  I am grumpier than ever and hope the cravings do stop soon as the program swears they do. UUHGG!!!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Baseball and Chinatown

My boys crack me up.  Tonight while I was making dinner, the kids were playing the Wii with Travis.  I heard Ryan say "I'm going to take you to Chinatown, Dad."  We both started laughing. I asked Ryan where he heard that saying.  Apparently Travis has been practicing "trash talking," as he calls it, with our kids. Great, huh? Then a little while later, Travis is watching the Diamondback game on T.V. when Ethan walks into the room and asks, "Who's hitting?"  I really don't understand what makes boys take to trash talking and sports at such an early age.  It is truly a mystery to me.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Our Kitty Cat Dancer

Ella had her Spring dance recital with her darling cousin, Paris tonight. Ella was just so cute in her costume and it was fun to watch her perform.  The funny thing was that after her dance was done, she asked if she could get a Wendy's frosty.  It's the little things that make life so enjoyable, isn't it?  

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Mother's Day

We came home from Church and the kids couldn't wait for me to open all the Mother's Day presents that they made at school and church.  I love the sweet little handmade cards, picture frames, weavings, scrapbook and handprint gifts.  My kids are so proud of their projects!  I love the look of joy on their faces as they present me with all their creations.  I am feeling especially in love with my husband today because it's one of the only days of the year that I can truly get away with anything!  Since sun up he has been managing the kids and home without complaint and happily complies to everyones demands before they can ask me.  What a wonderful day!

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Water Balloon Fight

Today we celebrated my niece, Miah's 4th birthday.
Highlights included a pinata and water balloons.

Olivia was very serious about taking down the pinata! 

I love how Ryan is suspended so high in the air.
What a great evening......thanks Bill and Jamie for such a fun time.
I can't help but think how crazy it is that we have so many kids in the family now with 2 more on the way!  It's only going to get crazier.....but I can't wait.  Love you all!

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Last of the Park Visits?

After I picked the twins up from morning kindergarten, with lunch packed, we headed to the park for a little picnic and play time with my sister, Jamie.  I keep thinking, "Is this our last park visit?" before the temperatures soar.  I love Springtime but it doesn't last long here in Arizona.  I am already mourning the loss of nice weather.

I wanted a picture of my cute gang to give my mom for Mother's Day so this is what I came up with.  You think it would be so easy..........think again!   I sure do love these guys.  It makes me smile when I ponder the details of the day and all the sweet things they say and do.  

*Olivia is growing up so much and we have such fun just talking about school and friends.

*Ethan is so silly but brilliantly writes sentences on paper such as "Keep out of Ethan's room."

*Ella is the biggest sweetheart and loves to help me in the kitchen.  Today it was apple berry salsa with cinnamon chips.

*Ryan is the family clown and show-off!  At bedtime he comes out of his bed 7 times wanting another kiss and hug and says "I love you so much."  How can you get mad at that?

Today I really love my job!

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Retro Disneyland

Just an interesting photo to share.   Andrea and Travis at Disneyland before Travis's mission.

Happy Birthday, Miah!

Today is my niece, Miah's 4th birthday!  She is such a sweet, energetic and fun little girl.  She is my little Ryan's best friend.  They have so much fun together.  Sometimes I feel like she is one of my own kids.  I sure do love her.  Happy Birthday, sweetheart!

Here is my very yummy Bear Lake Raspberry Crepe recipe:

Crepe batter:

1 1/2 cups flour
2 T powdered sugar
1 t baking powder
1/2 t salt
2 eggs, beaten
1 t vanilla
2 cups milk


1 (3 0z) package instant vanilla pudding mix
2 cups half & half
1/2 t almond extract


3 cups raspberries, fresh or frozen
1 T cornstarch 
1/2 cup sugar

Crepe batter:
Combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.  Mix well.  Add eggs, milk and vanilla.  Beat until smooth.  Lightly oil skillet.  Heat until water sizzles when dropped on skillet.  Pour about 1/4 cup batter onto hot skillet.  Tip skillet to coat bottom of pan.  Cook over medium heat until light brown.  Loosen edges with spatula, turn and brown other side of crepe.  Stack cooked crepes on plate. Cover until ready to use.

Combine instant pudding mix with half & half and extract.  Beat until smooth and pudding begins to thicken.  Refrigerate until ready to use.

Mix together sugar and cornstarch.  Place raspberries in saucepan, mash and heat until bubbly.  (if fresh berries are used, add 1/4 cup of water.) Stir sugar/cornstarch mixture in bubbly berries.  Stirring constantly, bring to boil. Cool.

To serve:
Pour a small amount of sauce on serving plate.  Place about 2-3 T of pudding in the center of  each crepe and roll.  Place 2 crepes on serving plate.  Top with additional whole raspberries.  Sprinkle with powdered sugar.

This is a family favorite.   We make it for brunch family get-togethers.  I always feel so gourmet when I make it!  Best of all, it is so easy.  Really!