Wednesday, April 14, 2004

Easter Trip to DC

Week #2 of IM #2

OK, see if you can guess the correct answer to my statement:

“The coldest I have ever been in my life was when I……….”

A) Climbed Mount Everest with Sir Edmond Hillary

B) Raced the Iditarod

C) Had my initiation swim with the Polar Bear Club

D) Attended the 2004 Easter Egg Roll at the White House.

OK, so maybe I’m exaggerating. A little. But not a lot! Granted, I’ve never actually done letters A, B and C, but I’m still trying to warm up from letter D! I mean, we lived in North Dakota for four years, so I know cold ---- and it was COLD and wet and rainy in D.C. this weekend!!

But lots of fun too, which made the blue lips and chattering teeth worthwhile. I have to commend the White House staff, or whoever it is that is responsible, for the amazing event they put on at Easter. The “Egg Roll” itself takes only about four seconds from start to finish but is just one of many activities that take place on the White House lawn. Roaming characters, photo ops, musicians, clowns, magicians, TV entertainers, face painting, read-alongs, activities, give-aways, etc. Had the weather cooperated it truly would have been an amazing event. As it was, Kendrie refused to get out of her stroller, and Kellen cried because his hands got so cold (No reflection on the Mom of the family who packed completely inappropriate clothing, right? After all, it’s SPRING in Georgia! Who knew we would need warm clothes???) Brayden at least had fun, although she’s got a good cough now after refusing to carry an umbrella or even put the hood of her jacket up.

We wandered around for about half an hour, grabbed our goody bags and left. But it was still worth it and we’d do it again next year, given the opportunity. There are photos from the weekend in the album. On a funny note, the kids glanced up at the White House at one point and saw someone looking out a window. They are positively certain it was George or Laura Bush, admiring the festivities below. I am certain it was a White House landscaper, crying at the damage done by 16,000 guests on a muddy lawn.

The parts of our trip that made the entire weekend worthwhile were twofold. First, getting to enjoy the hospitality of our friends the Hyzys' who not only let us crash (ie., demolish) their guest suite downstairs (I’m telling you, it was bigger than my first apartment!) also let our kids pester their kids all weekend, played host and tour guide through several DC museums, and shared visitation rights from the Easter Bunny (*and* the Tooth Fairy; go Brayden!) but were kind enough to look the other way when Kendrie barfed her way through Union Station. Those incredibly expensive zofran tablets don’t do you any good when your Mom leaves them sitting on the dresser at the house, and you’re riding the Metro. (Gosh, that’s TWO big strikes against me last weekend, isn’t it?) We had such a good time and hope John, Julie, Brenna and Zack, and their home, survived the invasion.

Part two was getting the opportunity to meet so many wonderful families from my online support group, ALL-kids. I joined this list last November, shortly after Kendrie’s diagnosis and quite frankly, don’t know what I would have done without the advice, guidance, wisdom and support of the other parents. To meet some of them, and their funny, happy kids, was a real treat for our family.

l-r, Leah from VA, Kendrie, Julia from MD, Brandon from MD, and Christopher from MD.

We had an informal gathering Sunday night at the hotel while the grownups gabbed and the kids played for several hours, then met up again Monday morning to go to the White House together, as part of the National Childhood Cancer Foundation group. Thank you to this organization for making the tickets available and sponsoring the hotel gathering.

On a more somber note, one of the great kids we met this weekend, Christopher, (see picture above) attended the Egg Roll with us Monday morning, then had a routine spinal tap done on Monday afternoon. Tuesday his parents received word that Christopher has relapsed in his spinal fluid. I think “relapse” might be the worst word on the planet, second only to “cancer” or “leukemia” itself. But to see this kid, looking healthy, happy, no signs or symptoms on Monday morning, and then hear the news that Monday afternoon they found more leukemia cells in his spinal fluid after he’s already undergone 18 months of chemotherapy, is truly depressing. I can only imagine how his family must be feeling as they await word on where to go from here. If you have a minute, please drop Chris a line at his Caringbridge site. Chris from MD I’m sure they would appreciate the support.

Back at the home front, when the mail lady dropped off our mail today after holding it for four days, it was like someone broke off the top of a Christmas tree and shook it upside down over our house! I have several formal thank you notes to send out; Ms. Kelly, for the awesome Spiderman lunchbox, which Kendrie is sleeping with even as I type this; Ms. Brianna, for the fabulous care package that came today and made everyone happy, even Mom (Thanks for the note inside so we easily knew whose was whose! And we’ll deliver Madie’s as well!); Julianna Banana’s Aunt Tammy, who smuggled us a few more Julianna Banana Wish Bracelets so now Brayden and Kendrie can have their own and not try to steal mine all the time.

And the most inspiring piece of all – a notice from the American Red Cross and our good friend, Bruce G. from Connecticut, that he donated blood in Kendrie’s honor. I can’t do justice in words to the feeling of care and compassion I get when I think about people taking time from their day to donate blood, or put together a care package, or any of the many things people have done to let us know they are thinking of us. I hope everyone knows how very sincerely we appreciate it all.

Speaking of donating blood, I went last evening with my friend Kelly E and donated here in Georgia. Here’s a photo, so you can see how very UN-traumatic it is. See the big smiles on our faces? Those aren’t fake, or just for the camera. While I can’t speak for Kelly, I was excited to see they had Nutter-Butter cookies waiting, and THAT made me smile!! Thank you, Kelly, for joining me at the blood drive, and for dinner afterwards. If any one else has a few spare minutes this week, please consider donating blood as well.

Well, this is quite a disjointed journal entry, with no real clear beginning or end, but I had so many things I wanted to mention! If you’ve stuck with me this far, thanks! We are headed up to Atlanta for a chemo appointment tomorrow, then big plans this weekend, which I’ll tell you about in next week’s journal entry!

Hope you all had a great Easter,

Love, Kristie

WORST PART ABOUT HAVING CANCER TODAY: Hands down, the fact that Mom made me skip Kellen's first t-ball practice since it was so cold here. For pete's sake, Mom, I have cancer, not Snowman-melting disease!!!

BEST PART ABOUT HAVING CANCER TODAY: Well geez, did you even *read* the journal entry and hear about all the nice things people did for me and my family today?? How great is all that?!?

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