Wednesday, March 30, 2005


If there's one thing I've learned from posting in this Caringbridge journal and surfing the sites myself for these past eighteen months, it's that notes and words of encouragement, even from a total stranger, can make a world of difference. I have been so amazed by the support and strength our family has gotten from all of you, and feel so appreciative that you continue to check in on a regular basis.

Today, there's another family who drastically needs support and I'd like to ask all of you to offer it to them, like you've offered it to us throughout this journey.

Molly from New York is a 4-yr old whose mom Donna is on my ALL-Kids support group list for parents of kids with leukemia. Donna and I have e-mailed and spoken on the phone a few times in the past few weeks because their family went on their MAW trip shortly after we went on ours and we were exchanging pointers on the vacation. Tragically, Molly's dad was killed yesterday in a subway accident, less than two weeks after they returned from their MAW trip.

Please stop by Molly's Page and let them know you are thinking about them.


Friday, March 25, 2005

Are you kidding me with this?

(very long, extremely long journal update!!!)

Thanks to all of you for your nice messages and notes of concern for Blaine regarding the loss of his mother. It’s a difficult time, obviously, made more difficult by the logistical circumstances, but there’s really nothing that can be done about it except to focus on our happy memories of her and get through it as best we can. All our best, though, to our family in Oklahoma and Texas; we wish we could be there with you.

I thought I would share with you guys a few examples of the “Oh my goodness, that sort of thing could only happen to ME experiences I’ve had the past few days. Shirley had a good sense of humor and something tells me she’s looking down from Heaven and having a good laugh at my expense. So I’ll go ahead and put them out there, so you guys can have a good laugh at my expense, too. :)

Wednesday morning is when she passed away, and also when Blaine was told he could leave the hospital. I was at his room by 7:30 am and we had been assured that the paperwork was signed and ready to go; he just needed his facial stitches removed, the iv’s and tubes removed, and we’d be ready for discharge. He thought he would be gone by 9am …. I, being more realistic, was hoping for noon. He was sick and tired of being in that hospital and wanted O.U.T. So we waited, and waited. And waited some more. Those of you with hospital experience understand that for some strange reason, there is never any rush to get a person discharged. Blaine was getting annoyed. And more annoyed. Pacing, literally. Well, as much as someone who’s had a bone removed from their lower leg can pace.

Finally, at 2pm, we were ready to go, with instructions to stop by the outpatient pharmacy on the main floor to pick up his medications. We walked from his room to the main entrance. Let me rephrase that: I walked … slowly, carrying my winter coat, purse, his gym bag, and the huge plastic laundry bag of medical supplies the nurses gave us. He limped along behind me like a walking wounded …. Slower than a retiree in the commissary on pay-day. (Our military friends will understand what I mean!) I thought after being stuck inside for nine days he might enjoy some fresh air, so I took him outside, propped him on a bench to wait for me, and went back in to get his meds, which naturally took longer than I thought it would. When I finally turned around, bag of medication in hand, I saw him standing in the lobby with all the bags at his feet. He explained that he had gotten cold outside …. But I felt guilty that he had to drag all that stuff back in; the gym bag was heavy! And here, I was supposed to be making things easier on him!

I hated the thought of him having to wait … longer … while I called for a taxi, when over his shoulder I saw a cab pull into the main drive of the hospital and drop someone off. “Aha! Here’s my chance to make things happen quickly!” I thought. So I sprinted out to the cab and asked the driver to wait. I turned around to get Blaine and saw him limping out to the cab, dragging all the stupid bags with him. By now, I was getting annoyed with him. I came all this way to HELP him and he wasn’t letting me help. So I grabbed the gym bag, the medical supply bag, slung my purse over my shoulder and tucked the bag of pharmacy meds under my other arm. Meanwhile, the traffic-director guy in the drive-through was griping at our cab driver that he couldn’t just PARK there … and I’m hollering, “Wait, don’t go! We’re coming!” while Blaine limped along behind me.

I opened his door for him and ran around to the other side of the cab, mumbling under my breath about the rudeness of these people…. Could they not SEE the shape my husband was in??? The poor guy was moving as quick as he could! I threw the bags into the back seat, leaned in to sit down, and as if it were happening in slow motion, the bag of pharmacy meds slipped the other way and all the drugs fell out of the bag and into the driveway. So on my right, I’ve got Blaine, who can barely move, trying to get himself settled into the cab. On my left, I’ve got a traffic director with an over-inflated sense of self telling me I’m moving too slow, and all I can see is the medication spilling out all over the lot.

Then, I swear, I couldn’t have planned it or done it this way on purpose in a million, zillion years, but as the tubes and vials and bottles landed on the parking lot, the pill bottle with his pain medication in it kept rolling away from me, away from me …. And (no lie, I swear I’m not making this up) directly under the tire of a moving shuttle bus in the parking lot. I’m hollering, “No, no! Shit! Stop, stop! Aaagghh!” and I’m trying to get out of the cab and Blaine is trying to get into the cab and my purse is stuck on the door handle and I was lurching my body out of the cab, frantically trying to grab the pill bottle out from under the rolling wheels and sure enough, the bus kept going and CRUNCH …………. There I was, staring at the crushed pill bottle and little mountain of squashed pills that were supposed to keep Blaine out of pain for the next six days.

At this point there was a litany of foul words coming out of my mouth -- LOUDLY -- and then Blaine was trying to get himself back out of the cab to come around and help me pick up all the little pills, and the cab driver was telling me in broken English that he couldn't sit and wait on us any longer. I snapped “No shit, Sherlock, thanks for the help” and grabbed our bags out of the back of the cab. The traffic director is even more annoyed with us now because my bloody stump of a husband has to sit down in the drive-through because all this activity has exhausted him, and we’re REALLY blocking traffic, and I’m on my hands and knees trying to pick up all the pills, trying to get him settled somewhere, and keep up with the bags. Truly, I was not the best example of grace under pressure at that point.

Finally, I got Blaine settled, I went back into the hospital, got back in line for the outpatient pharmacy, crushed pill bottle and mound of pills in hand ….. and explained what happened to the pharmacy tech. Her first response was to tell me, in so many words, too bad so sad, they don’t take meds back under *any* circumstances. I told her I understood that, but obviously my husband couldn’t ingest these pills … they had been on the ground in a parking drive and under the wheels of a BUS TIRE, for pete’s sake, not exactly hygienic, and we obviously would need a new prescription. At which point she felt compelled to mention to me that these were pain pills, (because I am obviously so stupid I didn’t already know that) a CONTROLLED SUBSTANCE, and we couldn’t have another prescription. That’s when it hit me: “She thinks I’m some sort of drug addict, trying to score more pills!” She’s saying to me, in broken English (Seattle is a very ethnic town, let me just say that) “I don’t know what to do; there is no policy for this sort of thing; my supervisor is not here; we can’t give those pills to anyone else and I can’t give you more pills” and the response that went through my head was thankfully not the response that came out of my mouth. It took a few very-restrained comments from me and required the doctor (who also thinks I am a drug addict, by the way) having to hand-deliver another written prescription to the pharmacy, but half an hour later we left, new bottle of pills in hand. And to add insult to injury, they made us pay full price for them, since the insurance would only pay for one prescription! Whatever.

So we got back outside to a cab, back to the hotel, went up to our room on the 8th floor; Blaine, not moving any faster and in quite a bit of pain from all this activity; me, hauling all the crap, being extremely careful not to spill anything this time. I got him settled in the room and decided now was as good a time as any (meaning while it was still light outside) to walk the 200 yards up the road to Safeway and buy some food for our hotel room. We have a mini fridge and microwave, thank goodness, since Blaine can’t really leave the room for the next six days. We made a list of things eligible for his “soft foods” diet, plus drinks like milk and Ensure (for him) and pop (for me) and then I realize, being the weakling that I am, there is no way I can carry all this stuff back to the hotel.

So, necessity being the mother of creativity (or whatever that saying is) I decided the best thing to do was take one of our rolling suitcases to the grocery store. Blaine suggested I take the big suitcase, but I was thinking how embarrassing it was going to be, walking down the street with a suitcase full of groceries, and how the smaller suitcase might be less conspicuous. So there I go, still slightly frazzled from my run in with the pharmacy tech, missing my mini-van and life in the suburbs more than you know. I mean, is this what people who live in the city DO???? Drag a suitcase with them whenever they need to buy something? Lori and Darren, if you’re reading this … you lived in downtown Manhattan with no car before the twins were born … how do you get groceries into your apartment? How in the hell can you get a 24 pack of double roll Charmin home from the store????

Anyway, I digress. I bought the smallest size of everything they had in the store, but as you might have guessed by now, it still wouldn’t all fit in the suitcase I had brought. (Damn Blaine and his being right about the big suitcase!) So I put the heavy stuff like the soup and oatmeal and Boost in the suitcase, balanced the 12-pack of soda on top of the suitcase, carried the bags of the lighter stuff like paper plates and bowls (to hold the soup and oatmeal) and Twizzlers (because come on, *I’m* not on a soft-food diet!) over my arms and set off. As I’m walking back to the hotel, I’m struck with the irony that I am now a bag-lady if ever there was one, and wouldn’t it be funny if somebody tried to mug me and all they got was a suitcase full of yogurt and grits.

Then, I hit a curb, the 12-pack of pop fell off the suitcase, when I picked it up the bottom fell out and two cans landed on the ground, one of which was punctured on a rock and started spewing Coke product all over the street. As long as it wasn’t on ME, I didn’t care. I think if I had been hit in the face with a spray of Coke at that point, I would have exploded, too.

So I got back to the hotel, unloaded all the groceries in the room, made Blaine something to eat, wondered if I could take my suitcase into the local liquor store (kidding) and realized that thanks to the three extra days in Seattle, I didn’t have enough clean clothes to make it until Sunday. I’m not above wearing the same sweat pants for two (or even three) days in a row, but I draw the line at pulling a pair of dirty underwear out of a laundry pile for recall duty. So I called the front desk and they told me there is no laundry service available, but there is a public Laundromat just up the street. Hmmm. OK, maybe I am a spoiled rotten brat, but I have never used a public Laundromat in all my life. But at this point I figured well, what else could go wrong? And so I loaded the suitcase back up with dirty clothes and set off again.

Things started off well; the coin machine actually worked and the booth to buy laundry detergent was manned, so I’m thinking “Hey, this isn’t so bad.” And you’ve got to admit, the convenience of doing three loads of laundry at once (figured I might as well wash all Blaine’s clothes while I was at it) is pretty handy. Then, a moment of panic when I realize the fronts to all the dryers are see-through. I’m the kind of girl who hides her underwear under her pants in the chair in the corner when I go for my yearly physical, and now I’ve got to watch my bras and panties on public spin cycle for the whole world to see???

But I do it and try to sit, without being noticed, in the corner. To be honest, it’s been a long, hectic day and I just want a few minutes peace and quiet to sit down, enjoy my book and wait for my socks to dry. Then I hear a deep, guttural voice ask, “Dis is unbeleeevable, no?” The question is repeated and I look up to realize the man sitting a few seats down from me is holding a newspaper and pointing to a picture of Terry Schiavo. And he’s talking to me. I said, “I beg your pardon?” and he just LAUNCHES into a monologue with the most unbelievable Russian accent, about everything that is wrong with our country with regards to health care and government intervention and George Bush and the law.

Now, don’t worry, I’m not going to use this journal as a platform to state my personal feelings on this issue, and I wasn’t about to get into a discussion with this gentleman, either, especially considering his accent was so thick I could only understand about every third word. But he just kept talking and talking and talking! I was nodding, and mumbling neutral comments like, “yes, the whole thing is too bad” and “yes, a lot of people on both sides of the issue are very upset” and I was so eager to get away from him I didn’t even wait for the dryer to finish completely before packing up my suitcase and getting the heck out of there.

So .... Seattle is great. It’s beautiful, cultural, and interesting. But it’s time for me to go home. It's been almost two weeks for me and almost three weeks for Blaine. Today is Kellen's birthday and we missed it. I also miss my mini-van, and I miss my washer and dryer in my very own utility room.

At the very least, I hope Shirley is getting a chuckle out of this.

Thanks for checking in,

Wednesday, March 23, 2005


Sometimes in life, the timing of certain events is so fantastically awful that really, all you can do is laugh. Other times, there’s nothing funny about it at all. This is one of those times.

Blaine’s mother Shirley passed away this morning in Oklahoma. We had been warned throughout the day yesterday that it was likely, but I still don’t think you’re ever ready to believe it. She suffered several heart attacks beginning Monday evening so I suppose the cause of death will be listed as heart failure ….. however, she had been in poor health for awhile so, to me, it’s more a case of a body that was simply no longer able to keep up with a spirit.

Blaine, naturally, is crushed. Even more so because he won’t be able to attend her funeral --- to be there for his brother and sisters and most of all, for his dad. He got out of the hospital today but isn’t allowed to fly yet, and that’s the only way we could make it there in time, plus get back to Seattle for his follow up care and appointment on Monday. It sounds so inadequate …. “sorry, we just can’t make it” …. I know his family knows how much he cares and his Dad knows, too, but that doesn’t make it easier on anyone.

So, since we can’t be there in person to tell them all how much we love them and say our goodbyes to Shirley, I thought I would once again use this Caringbridge journal as a cathartic way to speak my piece and hopefully pay tribute to the 4 foot 11 inch, red-headed dynamo that we’ll miss so much.

So, this is what you would hear if I were able to attend Shirley’s funeral and say something about what a wonderful person she was:

THUD! (That’s me, collapsing behind the podium from the fear of public speaking that I have.) :)

OK, seriously, here is what you would hear if I had the courage to speak in public about my mother-in-law:

Shirley Christine Escoe was, at times, a hard act to follow. I remember when Blaine and I first started dating, many (many!) years ago. I was 19, he was 21. He was still in college, living with his parents and I had my own apartment. I wanted to impress this new, “older” guy I had met, so I invited him over for dinner and offered to cook for him. My cooking repertoire was, shall we say, limited at that time.

I went to the grocery store where Blaine worked evenings to buy the ingredients for dinner. He and I were standing in the aisle visiting, and he glanced down at the items in my cart.

“What’s that?” asked Blaine, the suave, smooth talking college-man.

“Um, I thought we would have spaghetti for dinner” I replied, thinking, “Crap, what if he hates spaghetti? I don’t know how to cook anything else!”

Blaine looked down in the cart again, then looked up at me and said, simply and a little bemusedly, “My mom doesn’t use Ragu.”

Total. Silence.

I looked Blaine square in the eye, and said levelly, “Then maybe you should stay home and have dinner with your mom tonight.”

(Blaine still thinks that story is funny, even this many years later!)

Blaine and I have been married for seventeen years and I think he has finally come to terms with the Ragu that I still buy. I do not, however, think he has ever gotten over the disappointment that I never learned to bake an apple pie from scratch, homemade crust and all, like his mother could.

The first eight months of our marriage we lived in the same town as my in-laws and *never* turned down an invitation to dinner at their house. Reason a) because we were hungry and poor. :)

Reason b) because the woman could cook! Those will be my most prominent memories of her; food and family. It always seemed to me that she enjoyed herself best when surrounded by family. She had five kids, ten grandkids (did I count them all?) and even a few great-grandbabies snuck in there. With the two of them in Oklahoma, three of her children and their families living in Texas, one in Germany for many years, and one bouncing all over the place in the Air Force, it wasn’t often that we were able to corral everyone into the same place at the same time; but when we did, she relished the time with everyone together.

I remember hearing once (magazine? Book? Oprah?) about a woman who sent her mother-in-law flowers every year on her husband’s birthday. I thought that was a great idea and made a mental note to do it last year for Blaine’s 40th birthday. However, like so many of my mental notes, unfortunately, it slipped through the swiss-cheese portion of my brain and I forgot to do it. Now I’m sorry I didn’t do it this year, for his 41st. I should have told her "Thank You" for raising such a spectacular son. My life is blessed thanks to the wonderful job she did with him.

Shirley, I wish we had lived closer so we could have spent more time together. I wish my kids could have gotten to know their granny a little more. I wish I could have your home-made mashed potatoes just one more time. Most of all, I wish we could be there to say our good-byes in person.

Love, your daughter-in-law,
Ps. I promise to try harder on the homemade apple pie, ok?

Monday, March 21, 2005

Out of ICU, yippee!

Hi to all – here’s the latest update from the 4th floor of the hospital, which is NOT the ICU – yeah for progress! Blaine actually got out of ICU on Friday afternoon and moved to a room on a post-op floor. Private room; less noise and interruptions; much better! How do they expect people to actually RECOVER in ICU Recovery, when the nurses and machines and lights are so intrusive??? Beeping, beeping, the constant beeping …. But I digress…..

Steadily and surely he’s showing signs of improvement. Still on iv meds and antibiotics, and still has the feeding tube in place, but we’re hoping that comes out tomorrow. He’s not particularly enjoying **that** particular part of the process, to be honest. In fact, when the doctors told him tonight that once he upped his calorie intake orally they would consider removing the ng tube and trumpet, he practically sprinted to the nourishment room and downed two Ensures. Well, sprinted as much as you can with a soft cast on your leg and dragging the iv pole behind you. Speaking of the cast, they cut it off today for the first time since surgery and can I just say that Blaine’s body is the most amazing example of robbing Peter to pay Paul I have ever seen?

They took the bone and tissue they needed to put in his head from his lower leg. That incision is stapled shut, ankle to knee. Since he didn’t have enough fat down there to close the incision, (WHATever!) They sliced a hunk of skin off his thigh to close the incision …. More gauze and staples over the sliced area. Then, to get the blood vessels from his leg into his neck to make sure the tissue transfer in his sinus cavity was a success, they made a six (or so) inch incision across his throat. I tell you what, the poor guy’s going to look like a road map before it’s all done. Or a mugging victim, I’m not sure which.

I know he’s feeling better because frankly, he’s getting a little grumpy. After a particularly enjoyable round of “Mr. Escoe, you need to get up and move more/Mr. Escoe, please don’t get out of bed until we tell you” with his nurse yesterday, he actually called her a bad name (under his breath and behind her back; don’t worry, he hasn’t lost ALL his manners yet!) and he went toe-to-toe with both nurses and the doctor about why black coffee wasn’t included on his clear liquids list. Pretty good signs, don’t you think?

I was lucky enough to escape his foul mood, er, the hospital environment yesterday for a few hours and went to a neat outdoor mall and had lunch with a new friend (I hope I’m not being too forward by calling her a new friend!) named Mandy. We had met online through this site and decided to both take the chance that the other person wasn’t a crazy-person-stalker and meet for lunch, ha! Naturally, I had 911 on Speed Dial and she had family on the other line ….. just in case ….. but it wasn’t necessary and I had a really nice visit. Thank you, Mandy! And even though I don’t normally watch basketball, I will watch the next Seahawks game closely to see you perform with the Sea-Gals. (And re-live my glory days of high school pom pom squad with the awesome routine to Pac-Man, like I told you, ha!) (Goodness, I am old or what???) (don't answer that)

Speaking of meeting people through the site, I want to let all of you know that Caringbridge is in the process of implementing a new policy regarding links to other sites. Let me first state that I appreciate SO much the cheap therapy that CB has afforded me throughout this ordeal, and I love the way I am able to jump from one site to another, to another, through the links on everyone’s pages. The support and encouragement that our family has received (and that I would like to think I’ve been able to offer other families by visiting other sites and signing guestbooks) is truly immeasurable. I *love* to read a guestbook entry on Kendrie's site that starts with, "you don't know me, but I found your site through so-and-so's"...... I’ve donated to CB a few times, but I know it doesn’t come close. However, apparently there have been concerns regarding privacy issues and CB is making all the authors take all the links to other sites off their pages. Not sure yet if that means we won’t be able to include them in journal entries or guestbook signatures or not, but they definitely have to be removed off the sites.

So, I would recommend one thing and ask one other: if you have favorite cb sites, I recommend you bookmark them, as you might not be able to find them again, if you rely on jumping from site to site. I believe the deadline for the removals is by the end of this week, so get going and make sure you know the addresses to the sites you frequent. Second, I would ask that you e-mail Customer Service at (look for "Contact Us" at the top of this page) and let them know how fabulous their service is and how much you enjoy linking from site to site. As I understand it, they are working on some sort of master directory and I’m hopeful that if they hear from the many people who utilize their service, this master directory will come out promptly.

For a much more detailed, eloquent description of this situation, please visit Julianna Banana's page (shoot, my cheat sheet for putting links on my page is sitting at home, post-noted to my computer desk!) at Her dad Terry really sums it up well AND gives us all permission to link back to him, so we can all do whatever is necessary to keep the links available. If you do indeed feel strongly about the links (as I do) please e-mail Caringbridge respectfully (as I did) and let them know!

Well, I’ll sign off for now. I hope everyone’s week is off to a good start. Mom is getting more than she bargained for, I fear, as both Kendrie AND the dog threw up in the living room yesterday. Ick. I’m so glad she was there and not me. Plus she had to clean dog poop off their shoes from when they went out in the backyard to play. (Cleaning up dog poop is Blaine’s arena so it goes without saying that by now we are cultivating a small manure farm in the backyard.) Who knew being a grandma was such a hands-on affair???? At this rate I might have to refund all her quarters just to get her to come visit again someday.

Love, Kristie

Friday, March 18, 2005


Hello and greetings from the land of swabs, suction tubes, and emesis basins. Some fun stuff, too, like getting to laugh at your husband while he's forced to wear one of those ugly hospital gowns .... and laughing a little more when you realize he keeps flashing the nurse every time he moves and is on too many drugs to even care. :) Actually, he's a very modest guy and he'll be upset to hear that later. I should probably go back and delete it. Naw, I'm too tired and the backspace button is too far away.

Things here are ..... OK (spoken cautiously). Blaine is still in intensive care; staying a little longer than planned, not because anything is wrong, but more of a "better safe than sorry" philosphy. He is off the ventilator, but his airways are pretty obstructed with the swelling, clotting, tissue engraftment and enough packing to stuff Dolly Parton's bra. Truly, if I had ever considered getting a nose job, or any type of facial reconstruction, well, I won't go into gory detail but let's just say that after watching some of *that* work being done today, I'll be withdrawing my application to The Swan.

He looks (and apparently feels) like death warmed over, to be honest. Lots of swelling and bruising .... much like someone took a baseball bat to his face. Hopefully tomorrow (day 3) some of that will start to recede. In the meatime, I'm hopeful that no police officers wander by his room or I'm sure I'll be arrested for spousal abuse. He's on a lot of pain medication and asking for lots more --- thank goodness he wasn't of age in the 1960's or I fear he would have been lost to the "Light Up and Be Happy" generation.

Tubes everywhere, monitors beeping, an incision on his neck that's going to look like someone tried to strangle him, disgusting gurgling noises that just make me INSANE, lots of oozing ..... tonight I had really started to think about how much this stinks and feel sorry for us, when three women walked past our doorway from another ICU room, all of them crying. And suddenly, it's all in perspective again. We are LUCKY. We are not in ICU *hoping* that Blaine gets better. We are in ICU *waiting* for him to get better and I have the luxury of knowing that he will. Sure, he looks like shit and feels like shit NOW, but in just a few weeks he'll be back at home, playing with the kids and taking some more good-natured ribbing from me about how one side of his face looked like Marlon Brando in The Godfather.

Now, if I could just figure out a way to keep that damn gown closed, life would be perfect. :)

Thanks for checking in. You guys are really sustaining me and I appreciate it.

love, Kristie

Saturday, March 12, 2005


Tuesday night, 10:45 pm, really, early Wednesday morning (if I were still on Georgia time) update:

Hey, this will be brief, as I'm standing in the hotel lobby trying to update on the public access computers. Blaine stole, er, **borrowed** a laptop from work and while it's great for e-mail, it travels at the speed of the Tortoise Express for internet and I just want to update all of you quickly --- all of you who have been kind enough to check in on Blaine, with your phone calls and e-mails and notes of encouragement in the guestbook. It really, truly, awfully madly deeply (hey wait, isn't that a song?) means a lot to us.

While I hate to say our time here has been "fun", per se, can I just say that Seattle is an awesome place??? Well, I don't fit in very well considering I don't drink coffee and no part of my face is pierced, but for our one, too-brief day of sight-seeing, the weather was perfect and browsing around the piers and shops and markets and Space Needle, without the little rugrats, was really great. (Don't tell the little rugrats I said that .... to be honest, I'm missing them already, although I'd deny it in a court of law.)

Surgery today went well, but was looooonnnnnngggggg. We were at the hospital by 5:30am, surgery started at 8am and lasted eleven hours. They removed his fibula (one of the bones in the lower leg, for you anti-anatomy types) and used it to restructure the oral cavity. I think Blaine is going to try really hard to use that as an excuse to get out of P.T. permanently at work, but the doctor assures us that after a week in a cast, and about six weeks of rest, he should be back to normal physical, leg-ular (is that a word?) activity. What's funny is that Blaine has fabulous legs. It's what attracted me to him in the first place. Kidding. But he was a catcher in high school and he really does have awesome, muscular legs. So muscular that after removing the bone, the doctors had to do a skin graft from skin on his thigh because there wasn't enough fat in his lower leg to close up the incision. Ha!!! NOW do you people understand why I say exercise is not good for you???? I could close a wound the size of the Grand Canyon with the cellulite on my legs!!! I told Blaine all that time spent in the gym wasn't good for him, but did he listen??? NO!

Anyway, he is in ICU now and will remain there for 24-48 hours, depending on how he's doing. He is on a ventilator, but was able to avoid a tracheotomy, so he'll be happy when he wakes up and realizes that. The surgeon said everything went great and despite his appearance (tubes and swelling and gauze and hoses and bandages everywhere .... ick .... now I remember why I'm not inclined to go to nursing school) that he will start to awaken tomorrow. I stuck around the ICU for about four hours tonight but he was completely out of it and I'm sure he will have no recollection of it.

So, bottom line, he's doing great ... we should find out in a few days if the blood vessels are all working .... and I'm pooped from sitting in a waiting room for sixteen hours today. It's like a plane ride, isn't it?? You're exhausted from doing NOTHING. So, I'll get a good night's rest tonight and try to update again in a day or two. I do want you guys to know that I sincerely appreciate the well wishes. Sincerely. Now, I just need to figure out a way to streamline the coffee into Blaine's feeding tube ..... or things might get ugly. Wish me luck. :)
love, Kristie
ps Caringbridge doesn't offer spell check and I apologize in advance.


277 Days of Treatment to Go

First of all, let me say how much I appreciate those of you who have signed in the guestbook and told me that you don’t mind me hijacking the journal for the past two weeks to update about the trip. I’m sure you’ve realized by now that “short and snappy” is NOT my middle name and I had so many photos and anecdotes I wanted to share! Yes, mainly grumpy anecdotes, I'll admit, but anecdotes nonetheless. Those of you who are online friends don’t seem to mind and those of you who are related don’t have a choice anyway. Be sure to check the guestbook for Jennifer C’s message --- and her personal photo from Gatorland, circa 1989 -- how funny is that??? I’d love to pop in a picture or two from my family’s 1974 trip to Disneyworld, for comparisons sake, but I’m one of those people whose parents rarely took pictures when they were little ---I’m sure that is the psychological explanation for why I take eighteen bazillion photos of my kids every month! I might make them miserable, forcing them to pose for so many pictures, but by God, when they grow up they’ll be glad about it!!!

Anyway, although our second day spent at Universal Studios wasn’t the end of the trip, I’ve saved it for the end of the journal updates because 1) these are my favorite photos of the entire week and 2) it’s the one day we all actually got along and the kids were able to manage pleasantness (for a while, anyway.) Always good to go out on a high note, don't you think?

We started the day back at Islands of Adventure, intent on getting a photo of the kids with Spiderman. You know, if you’ve been following our journey at all, that both Kellen and Kendrie are a tad-bit obsessed with anything-superhero-related. So we went in and had the picture taken, and received a free 8x10 when they saw Kendrie’s GKTW button ----

Let me interject a story here, for those of you who have BEEN to GKTW and who might have noticed something in our photos. Every wish kid at GKTW gets an identifying button with their name on it and the dates of their trip to wear at the parks (good for things like free strollers and parking). GKTW gives the boys blue buttons to wear and the girls, pink buttons. Our first day there, the GKTW volunteers bring out a blue button for Kendrie and are calling her “little buddy”. Although Kendrie’s favorite color is blue and I know when she grows up she wants to be “a boy”, I thought it best to let them know that she is, in reality, a girl. The volunteer apologized profusely, and confessed that they weren’t sure, based on her name, if she were a boy or a girl so they had printed up buttons in both colors. When she walked in the door, with her mullet haircut and cowboy boots, guess which button they pulled out and pinned on her. So he handed her the pink button …. and she promptly informed him she would much rather wear the blue! So all week at the village the volunteers were calling her “little fellow” and “sport” and I was walking along behind her, with the pink button pinned to *MY* jacket, thinking well, I suppose there are worse things in the world, right?

In any case, back to my Islands of Adventure recount: After our photo with Spiderman, we were standing in the middle of Super Hero Street, waiting on Kellen and Blaine to ride the free-fall ride again (and watching Brayden pout, again, just like the day before, that she still wasn’t tall enough to ride it. I swear, she and Kellen BOTH insisted on measuring themselves again for the Hulk coaster, thinking they had grown enough since the day before to ride it now -- how funny is that?) when all the Marvel Superheroes came out for a public meet & greet.

Brayden and Kendrie and I stood in line to wait our turn for a photo, and when Captain America saw Kendrie’s button, he stopped what he was doing, came over to me and pointed out a worker standing to the side. He told me to go over and ask for a private autograph session and that ALL the heroes would be willing to visit with our family privately. So I did, and they did! We followed them to a private area of the park and they talked to the kids for close to ten minutes, high-fiving them, and willingly posing for photos. After they left, the attendant offered to take us to the next section of the park to meet more characters. Again, let me tell you how impressed I was with the level of Guest Service attention we received at Universal Studios!

We left Islands of Adventure and park-hopped to Universal Studios next door. We rode the ET ride which the kids liked, then found the Woody Woodpecker Kids Zone and never left! Kendrie discovered the joy of holding up her arms on the Woody Woodpecker Roller Coaster and I swear she was going for the coaster-club world record for the number of times ridden. Even with our special pass, I was starting to get embarrassed at how many times in a row she ran around and rode it again.

Then the best part of the day was the time spent at the Curious George Water Playland, full of fountains and tubs and hoses and tubes and all kinds of SURPRISE splashing places. I got ambushed once by some kid I didn’t even know, but was glad I risked the water spray because I got so many cute pictures of the kids playing. If it had been twenty degrees warmer, I don’t think we would have ever gotten them to leave. As it was, they only grudgingly put on their dry clothes when the uncontrollable shivering started. (Note to self: check the weather channel and go to the places with water-parks BEFORE the cold front comes through!)

We ate a late lunch at a place called Mel’s, which was set up to resemble a 50’s diner and had 50’s music playing over the speakers. I had what were quite possibly the best onion rings I’ve ever had in my life that day, and experienced the one true hour of happiness on our vacation when the kids were laughing, happy, and enjoying one another’s company --- eating food that we didn’t have to take out a bank loan to purchase and doing a little booth-dancing to Sha-Na-Na (Well, except for Blaine, who doesn’t have a spontaneous booth-dancing bone in his entire body.)

Proof positive that she had a good time by the end of the day!

And that pretty much sums up the entire week. Well, we also attended a Medieval Times dinner, which was fun. Well, it became fun after Blaine lied to the attendant to get Kendrie a hat. Before that, she just whined. Apparently at these dinners, you are assigned seats in a specific section, and assigned a knight to cheer for. We got the yellow and red knight, which was unfortunate since Kendrie’s favorite color is blue. We bought her a blue flag to wave which wasn’t good enough; she wanted the BLUE cheap, paper Burger King hat to wear. So on the way out, after she conveniently left her yellow and red hat behind, Blaine asked the attendant for an extra blue hat and luckily, they were kind enough to give us one. Can you believe we’ve been home almost two weeks and that stupid blue hat is STILL sitting beside her bed in a place of honor???

So, my never-ending thanks to Make-A-Wish and Give Kids the World for the gift of such a wonderful week. Despite the arguing and bickering and fighting and whining, we had moments of greatness that will be forever etched in my memory. Those are the moments and photos I will scrapbook. The other moments, of my children pouting and skirmishing and quarrelling and disagreeing, well, sadly, those are preserved forever on videotape. I’ll be sure to get it out and watch it the next time I get a wild hair to plan a family vacation.

Thanks also to all of you who have sent your well-wishes to Blaine for his surgery next week. He’s already settled in the hotel in Seattle and I’ll be joining him tomorrow. I’m not exactly sure when I’ll be able to update again. The surgery is Tuesday and the doctor estimates it will take about ten hours, then he’s slated to be in ICU for the next 24 hours. Hopefully by Wednesday night or Thursday I will be able to update all of you. Or who knows? Watching him sleep might not be that inherently fascinating --- maybe I’ll sneak the laptop into the ICU and unplug a monitor or beeper or something to use it. But we really are thankful that so many of you are keeping him in your thoughts and would ask that you send some positive vibes to the northwest on Tuesday morning.

Mom appears to have everything under control here and has Kendrie’s chemo schedule all worked out. I’m telling you, her quarter-bribery-scheme was brilliant!! Kendrie practically runs to the kitchen every night, and Brayden and Kellen are chanting “Chug-a-Lug, Chug-a-Lug!” right behind her!! Who knew my kids were so easily manipulated with money? It sure didn’t work as well with our chore-chart system, I can tell you that!

I hope you all have a great week; have I mentioned how lucky we feel to have so many great friends who continue to check in on us???? Thanks!

Love, Kristie

Today it’s not my cancer that stinks, it’s my dad’s. Because it means he went away for a while and I miss him lots. Mainly because my mom can’t play ball to save her life and it’s pretty boring playing outside with her instead of him.

I’m getting a stack of quarters big enough to rival any Saturday night poker champion! And did I tell you that my grandma brought us Home Alone 3 to watch? It is the funniest movie EVER! And I’m speaking from experience because I watched it (no exaggeration) five times today!!!

Thursday, March 10, 2005

MAW TRIP, PART …. Well, heck, who can even keep track? I’ve been updating on this trip for longer than it took to actually take the vacation.

OK, this update, then the final one tomorrow night, then I’ll quit subjecting you to vacation photos of my kids; I promise!!

In addition to the three-day park hopper passes we received to Disney, we also received two-day park hopper passes to Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure. Although Disney is Disney and nothing quite compares, we actually enjoyed the Universal Studios parks more. Smaller parks, more manageable crowds and some really cool playlands!

ISLANDS OF ADVENTURE: For anyone planning a trip to Orlando with Make-A-Wish, I can’t speak highly enough of the Universal Studios parks and the level of guest services we received from these parks. Attendants would see Kendrie’s GKTW button and come up and ask ways they could help make our visit more pleasant. Kendrie’s face painting was free, we got free character photos, and we got a completely private autograph session with the Super Marvel Hero Characters …. And THEY approached US and asked to do it! The Fast Pass we received at Disney was great (in fact, I think without it Disney would have been unbearable) ….. but at these parks, we showed our button and were escorted to the front of the line in person, like complete V.I.P.’s. J.-Lo never had it so good. I could go on and on and on about it, but suffice it to say that the special attention we got here was unrivaled at any Disney park. Here are a few highlights, in (what else?) pictures:

My kids, happily posing for a photo outside Suess-land, our first stop of the day. Or do they just want you to *think* they're happy ........... ???????

This is it, the photo that incited WW III ... or the moment better known as "Call Park Security --- there's a mad-woman in Who-ville screaming at some children!" All I wanted was a photo of the three of them on this cute little elephant. This whole part of the park was so cheerful and colorful and FUN! And my three kids couldn't even sit on a stupid elephant statue without getting into the whole "she's in my way his leg is on my foot move your hand I want to be in the front she's pushing me" fighting. Aaaaaaaaggggggggghhhhhhhhhhhh! This is when I reached the breaking point and put them all in timeout and just yelled. And yelled. And yelled some more. Truly, it was a public spectacle. NOT a pretty one.

Well, it appears my screaming fit had some impact. The smiles might have been forced for the next hour or two, but at least they were smiling and not bitching at each other. Or at me.

Definitely the highlight of the entire day!! They were so proud of the finished product! But let me tell you that if you plan to do this with your own children, and one of your kids is an 8-yr old girl whose hair hangs in her face, there are no ponytail holders or barettes or clips and rubberbands for sale anywhere in Who-ville. Believe me. And enjoy these images now, because trust me, after we got off the Popeye and Bluto River Barges, my kids looked like Riff-Raf from the Rocky Horror Picture Show. AFTER the swimming pool scene.

I mean, really. Have you ever seen a kid cuter than this???? How scary is she, with her boots and candy necklace and growly-monster face? Never mind that all the other little girls were getting fairy princess makeup and Tinkerbell glitter. Kendrie rocked, man!

GATORWORLD: The day after we checked out of GKTW, we spent the afternoon at Gatorworld, another local attraction. I thought it was going to be pretty cheesy, but was pleasantly surprised at how much we all enjoyed it. After the attraction-heavy and ride-loading days spent at the theme parks, it was a very nice, low-key way to end the vacation.

Eeesh, this kind of gives me the creeps. I felt a little like Steve the Alligator Guy, or Jeff Corwin. Only without the bravery or jokes. These things give me the heebie-jeebies.

Someone please tell me that my children are not the only ones on the planet who enjoy sticking their heads in places they shouldn't be.

Can you believe they thought this was fun??????

And just so you don't think I'm making it all up, here's a photo of Kendrie crying and pouting because I wouldn't buy her any cotton candy from the concession stand. Doesn't matter that they didn't SELL cotton candy ..... apparently I should have pulled some out of the magic invisible purse I carry at all times.

One last day of photos (I'm saving my very, ultimate favorites for last!) and then I'll give you a respite, I promise!!!
love, Kristie



Well, actually, today was a pretty good day. I got to play on a trampoline with my friends Sophie and Jack while my mom's friend Miss Kelly babysat me and my brother and sister ....... because ...........

My grandma is here visiting!!!!!!! She hasn't been to Georgia since I very first got sick with this leukemia nonsense and I am so happy she is here to take care of me and Brayden and Kellen while my mom is in Seattle taking care of my whiny dad. What's a little reconstructive surgery, anyway???? Well, I overheard my grandma tell my mom that she is nervous about making sure I get my chemo properly each night and to entice me (that's a pretty fancy word for a five-year old, huh?) she brought a ziploc bag FULL of quarters --- every time I take my medicine without fussing I get a quarter, and so do Brayden and Kellen. Holy crap, mom's going to be gone for almost two weeks ----- WE ARE GOING TO CLEAN UP AROUND HERE, WAHOOOOOOO!

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

MAW, Part 3 (I swear, I’m almost to the end!)

279 Days of Treatment to Go

You know, I’ve already summed up the gist of the entire vacation:

They fought.

I was annoyed.

We went home.

So rather than force-feed you more stories about my children’s insufferable behavior, I’ll just put up a few of my favorite photos from the parks and hit the highlights in text. I figured out, being the math genius that I am, that I’d need to share ten or twelve photos a day just to show off my favorites …. So I’ll nip that in the bud and be quick about it. (Well, as “quick” as I’m able to be, which you all know is not very!)

--- We went twice to the Magic Kingdom, luckily. The first time was unplanned, when MGM turned out to be a flop. You really need slightly older kids to enjoy MGM. Even Kellen was too short for the “good” rides. It’s not a good sign when the highlight of the park is the tram ride to and from the parking lot. So we park hopped over to the Magic Kingdom for an afternoon, which sounds so light-hearted, doesn’t it? Park hopping; like little fairies, happily flitting about from one park to the next. But let me tell you that park-hopping is not an event to be taken lightly with two adults, three kids, the fanny pack, a stroller, discarded baseball caps and stuffed animals, souvenirs from the first park, a camera bag, jackets, rain ponchos, a snack bag and a handy-dandy folder crammed full of tips and pointers on how to make the vacation more enjoyable!!! How ironic that of the 75 billion people in the Magic Kingdom that day, we wound up in the front line at Guest Services behind the Sterns, our online support group friends who were staying at GKTW at the same time, completely unplanned??? I do think the novelty of hanging out with Rachel and Alexis helped improve my kids’ behavior, at least a teeny, tiny bit, so I’m grateful to Karen and Jeff (and Karen’s mom!) for graciously letting us crash their Buzz Lightyear party in Tomorrowland and then letting us stick around for awhile. At least if they griped about it, they were polite enough to do it behind our backs.

I’m really thankful we were able to enjoy a few hours in the park that afternoon, since I had planned to save the Magic Kingdom for the last day. The night-time parade and fireworks show was going to be our big finale on Friday night …. and when we returned to the park on Friday, we were completely rained out. Parades canceled, temperatures dropping, and we were wet, cold, and not willing to stay until 9pm for the fireworks show. So some of these pictures are from the first day at Magic Kingdom and some are from the second, slightly-more-damp day. (Scrapbookers everywhere will notice that I dressed my kids in the same clothes both days for the purpose of continuity on my layouts, ha!) Kendrie's favorite?? Splash Mountain; we rode it five times in a row. Best comment of the day? When she saw some animatronic vultures in the Splash Mountain ride and said, "Look! Vampire-birds!"

Do you suppose this castle is the single most photographed landmark on earth? Or has Paris Hilton campaigned hard enough to claim that honor for herself?

Character lunch at the Crystal Palace. My kids turned up their noses initially at having lunch with "baby" characters like Tigger and Piglet, but you should have seen Kendrie when she realized Pooh had come and gone past our table while she was in the restroom ..... never have you seen a grown woman chase down a costumed bear like you did that day.

Oh, wait, is this a photo of my kids happy? Actually being pleasant for one moment of one day??? They must be imposters. ps. Kellen's ears are not really that big. He insists on wearing those adult-sized baseball caps pulled down that far and he looks like a goofball.

I just love this photo. We were getting autographs (remind me to tell you the story of the autograph books sometime) and Pinnochio picked up Kellen's sword and started fighting him. Kellen loved it. That sword was the best ten bucks we spent all day. And wouldn't you know, it's the one item that was stolen the entire week. Never mind that I had two thousand dollars worth of camera equipment laying around for hours on end, oh no, somebody wanted the cheap plastic sword ..... Kellen layed the sword on a bench for two minutes and walked not ten feet away to ask me a question. When he returned, sword gone. Seriously, people? Stealing from a kid at Disney???

Well, we were cold and wet, but we were able to get a few autographs so the kids were happy, at least. It lasted about eleven seconds.

How sad is this? By gosh, we're going to make the best of the afternoon pity-parade, even when it's raining.

I do have two more days’ worth of photos to share, but am worried my web host picture-storage place thing will exceed its bandwidth if I put any more up tonight. I'll update again on Friday, and on Saturday. So I’ll close for now, and thank you for putting up with me this long. As much as I’m rambling on and on about it, you’d think we traveled to Great Britain and met the Queen or something.

Hope you are all having a great week so far!
Love, Kristie


Tonight was kind of weird. My dad is in Seattle for some kind of surgery, or something, so Mom gave me my chemo tonight. Usually it’s dad. She used the same applesauce, the same spoon, the same bowl, and the same water …. But she still did it wrong. Or at least I *told* her she did it wrong because I don't want her getting too confident when the old man's not around.


Hey, mom signed us up for something called Relay for Life today! Not sure what it means exactly, but it sounds like fun!

Sunday, March 06, 2005


283 Days of Treatment to Go

For the record, I’m not dragging out these Make-A-Wish journal entries because I think you guys have nothing better to do than visit our site and check in every day (even though I have nothing better to do than check out the guestbook every day!) Truth be told, I took so many photos that I want to share with you that if I loaded all of them up in a single journal entry, I’d cripple Geocities entirely. And, you’d get plain sick of looking at my kids. So I hope by spreading it out over a couple of entries, you won’t be so tired of us that you stop visiting our site!

We began the second day of our trip with me in full "Type-A-Control-Freak-Trip-Planner" mode. Every single “Planning your Disney Vacation” book that I begged, borrowed or stole all said to arrive at the parks at least an hour before opening and by gosh, I’m a rule-follower if ever there was one. So we woke the kids at 6:30 (really, what were we thinking??? Is that *any* way to start a vacation?) and headed to Animal Kingdom.

Blaine and I were in our usual respective positions of driver and navigator, aka Mr. I Don’t Need to Stop and Ask Directions and Mrs. Oh My God Pull Over and Let Me Get Behind the Wheel Myself! I knew the day was off to a bad start when he squinted at a street sign up ahead and asked, “Is that where I turn, honey? Steven Dwarfs Avenue?” Come on, how can I NOT make fun of a guy who obviously needed new bifocals for his birthday last month and doesn’t realize that none of the dwarfs were named Steven?

Anyway, we arrived at the park an hour ahead, just like the travel books suggested. I told the kids that because we were with Give Kids the World, we wouldn’t have to wait in any lines …. they took this literally and were quite upset we weren’t allowed in the main gates at this time, but had to wait with the other thousands of Animal Kingdom groupies who apparently read the same books as me, who also hoped to be the first in the park.

"Kendrie, posing for her first photo of the day at Animal Kingdom"

I want to mention that this outfit you see on Kendrie is one she selected herself. I argued with her for ten minutes that morning that she needed to wear tennis shoes and in fact, carried them around the park all day assuming her feet would get sore and boy, “she’d thank me then!” But of course they didn’t, she didn’t, and she wore these boots every day of the vacation. Whatever.

We rode the safari ride that morning which we liked a lot, and saw the Festival of the Lion King Show, which we loved. By lunch, though, the kids had fought over who got to sit in the strollers (never mind we had two strollers and that Brayden and Kellen, at ages 8 and 6, are a little too big for them anyway!); fought over who got to sit where on the rides, and in the shows, and who got to push the strollers when they weren’t riding in them. Something tells me that Blaine and I lost control of the vacation this very morning, by not squelching their little argumentative personalities right from the start!

Those parks are big, I am out of shape, and those strollers are heavy! By lunch, I was hot, tired, and ready for a break. I had made reservations at the Rainforest Café, which I thought the kids would get a kick out of. We’ve never lived anywhere near one, and I just knew that although expensive for lunch, it would be worth it. By this point, considering they had managed to fight all morning, over any- and everything, I thought it might even be soothing balm needed to help heal the festering blister that had become my kids’ moods.

So as we’re walking in, I’m oohing and aahing over the décor, animals, “thunderstorm” show; telling my kids, “See? Didn’t I tell you this was going to be neat? Isn’t Mommy fabulous for getting us reservations at an awesome place like this????” and feeling all proud of myself and Kendrie looked at me, wrinkled her nose and said, “It smells funny in here.”

After lunch, we went to the Tree of Life and watched Flik's 3D Bug Adventure --- which I discovered too late that if you have a child with you who really freaks out in the dark and doesn't like it, especially when the screen "spits" at you and "bugs" run aound your chair, well, there's no real way out of there! Let's just say I wound up with a crying child on my lap whose head was buried in my shoulder.

Next, we went over to the Dino-land part of the park and let the kids play on a neat play-land and ride a few rides. Then, in an episode that would come to exemplify our entire vacation, we went to the “Dinosaur” ride and Kendrie, although technically tall enough, wasn’t so sure about it. She’s not too keen on being in the dark (see above Bugs Life comment) and although she had the courage to walk in, she balked at the last minute and didn’t want to go. That’s fine, I certainly don’t want to traumatize the poor child at the age of 5, (again, with the Bugs Life episode!) so I told Blaine to take the older two and Kendrie and I would wait out front.

Well, if you’ve never been to Disney, some marketing genius had the brilliant idea to have every “theme” ride empty into a gift shop, conveniently filled with t-shirts and key chains and stuffed animals and all other kinds of “must-have” items. Disney probably makes millions this way. We were waiting for them to get off the Dinosaur ride, and Kendrie asked for a dinosaur book. I said no, and she started in with, “But it’s not fair that they got to ride the ride … I wanted to ride that roller coaster earlier and I wasn’t tall enough and now this ride was too scary and I’m not getting to do anything!” (pout, pout, whine, whine) So I’m thinking to myself, “You know, she’s right. She is too short for a lot of these things and it’s only a few dollars. If it makes her happy, well, this trip *is* supposed to be about her, right?” and bought her the book. Brayden and Kellen get off the ride and naturally, were upset that I didn’t buy THEM anything, so I said, “Fine, find something you like and you can have a souvenier, too” and then Kendrie starts in with, “But if they get to buy something then I get to buy something else!” and Brayden says, “No Fair! How come she gets TWO things???” and I’m sitting back wondering how have I managed to raise the three most greedy, selfish children on the planet without even realizing it???

Anyway, we finished the day with the afternoon parade and a few runs down the Kali River Rapids, which were lots of fun. I was never so smug about the dollar-store rain ponchos I bought for the trip as I was that afternoon.

Then it was back to the village for the evening activity, a pool party with Shamu and other creatures from Sea World. Kellen got over his initial disappointment that Bubbles was unable to join us (I thought Bubbles was the name of Michael Jackson’s chimpanzee???) and he and Brayden and Kendrie limbo’d and hula-hooped the night away. It was really a lot of fun, as were all the activities at GKTW.

OK --- that’s all I’m going to put about the trip for now but I promise to finish up before the end of the week. I’m sure you’re all anxious for me to move on to the other pressing, interesting matters in my life that I write about on a regular basis --- like, …. well, ….. um, ...... wow, maybe I should drag this Make-A-Wish update out as long as possible!

First, though, I want to tell you about an initiative that Saturn Automotive is offering in an effort to help the National Bone Marrow Foundation. As you might or might not know, there are nowhere near enough people signed up to be bone marrow donors on the registry. You need only go to Taylor’s site and read the difficulty she had finding a donor to realize this is a serious problem. Unfortunately, getting signed up as a bone marrow donor isn’t as easy as checking “donor” on your drivers license (which I’m sure **ALL** of you have done also, right?????) I received an e-mail with the following information in it and want to share it with all of you in hopes if we can get the word out, we can help make this initiative a success. Here is a portion of the e-mail I received; I hope you will all visit the site and do what you can to help!

“Anyway.....Saturn is offering a wonderful promotion to help the Marrow Foundation. They are red wristbands in the style of Live Strong bands. People go to Saturn's site, and they can get two free wristbands. Proceeds from this promotion will go to The Marrow Foundation to help cover the costs of tissue typing new volunteers for the National Marrow Donor Program Registry. If people log on to the Saturn Web site (see below) between March 3 and March 8, they can order two FREE wristbands, and Saturn will contribute $.50 for each one ordered to The Marrow Foundation. According to Trevor's page, Saturn has made 69,000 wristbands available for this purpose with a potential value of $34,500 to The Marrow Foundation!:

Isn't that awesome? Here is the link!
Saturn Wristbands for Bone Marrow

I just ordered mine and the process is very easy! I thought perhaps you might want to mention it to your many readers and pass the word along before March 8th.”

As of right now, I have three bracelets that I never take off my left wrist … my yellow Live Strong band, my green Cure Search band, and of course, the one, the only, the original Julianna Banana Pink Wish Bracelet. I plan to add my red marrow band as soon as it arrives in the mail!

Hope you all had a great weekend; Kendrie played hard and is pooped. Her “boyfriend” Nicholas came over to play today and I think she’s worn out from chasing him all over the yard. I’m not sure if she’d know what to do with him if she caught him, but she sure thinks he’s cute! Maybe the fact she is so tired is why when it came time for meds tonight, the exact same meds she’s been taking every night since last August, she hid in the closet and wouldn’t come out???? Let me just say that Blaine did NOT see the humor in that!

Take care,

My parents just don’t seem to realize that I get tired of taking all this medicine! Bactrim, 6mp, steroids, methotrexate --- every time I turn around they’re coming at me with a vial, or a syringe, or a spoonful of applesauce. Enough, already!

BEST PART ABOUT HAVING CANCER TODAY: Woo-hoo! Mom got our Camp Sunshine stuff in the mail. Hey, all you out there in Caringbridge Land --- who else is going in April??!

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Make A Wish Recap

286 Days of Treatment to Go

First of all, let me say thanks to all of you who posted (often funny, occasionally hilarious --- do you guys actually *read* the guestbook?? You should! Some of you are just plain comical!) notes letting me know that your idyllic family vacations have, on occasion, been less than idyllic. More like spending time trapped in an elevator with that annoying brat from "Full House". You know, *that* kind of fun. From spending a small fortune on meals, to sibling rivalry, to tantrums, to throwing up on Main Street in Disney, thanks for sharing your stories and making me laugh.

I’ve decided the best comparison for our trip is to think of it as similar to giving birth. Going through it, there are moments that stink. Downright painful, in fact. But afterwards, you forget the pain and only remember the good. At least that’s what I’m telling myself, ha!

Our first day we drove to Orlando and checked in at Give Kids the World. Now, I’ll be honest. I have logged on to other Caringbridge Sites, of kids who had recently stayed at Give Kids the World, and read comments by parents who stated they simply couldn't find the words to explain how wonderful this facility is. I’ll admit, I’ve inwardly scoffed, “Then get a thesaurus and start typing!” because, truthfully, I have an insane need to live vicariously through other people. But guess what? After staying at GKTW myself with my family, I simply can’t find the words to explain how wonderful this facility is. Henri Landworth, a Holocaust survivor who immigrated to America with only twenty dollars in his pocket, is the founder. Just typing that sentence makes me feel guilty. I’m proud if I can manage to donate blood every eight weeks and stay caught up on the laundry, let alone raise millions and millions of dollars through hard work and perserverance … and look at the magnificent things this gentleman has accomplished during his life! You can click here if you’d like more information, or buy his book “Gift of Life” (proceeds help the village) for a truly interesting read.

Anyway! I don’t want to give away all the details and secrets and surprises, since I know lots of other families are going soon and I don’t want to ruin the anticipation for them. (Unless you really want to know, so you can plan your trip, then e-mail me privately and I’ll give you a heads up!) Suffice it to say this amazing village, run predominately by volunteers, gives new meaning to “Happiest Place on Earth”. Most likely, I guess, by the fact so many of the workers are there out of the goodness of their heart (duh, isn’t that what “volunteer” means???) Some are “regulars”, and some are like the retired couple we met from Maryland, who drove down in their RV and were staying for a month, volunteering every day. I wish I could explain the feeling it gives you, to witness so many people, working so hard to ensure you and your children are having a good time, helping in whatever way they can. (Even when your kids are intolerable hooligans who are too excited to remember to say "please" and "thank you" most of the time, and these kind people continue to help them anyway!)

The village itself is great, with lots of fun activities planned throughout the day and evenings. We enjoyed simply walking around looking at the whimsical decorations (I guess I enjoyed that more than the kids did), going for fifty thousand merry-go-round rides (the kids enjoyed that more than I did) and taking advantage of the fact the Ice Cream Shop opens at 8am (enjoyed equally by Escoe parents and kids alike! Yes, you really *can* have ice cream for breakfast if you want --- just try that in the real world, ha!)

To try and put it in words is impossible. How can you explain a spirit, a light-heartedness, an atmosphere of frivolity? Imagine living in a carnival and being greeted with a smile and a kind word no matter where you go. Knowing everyone wants you to be happy and goes out of their way to make your life easier for a few days...
I know, I know, you assume that must be what it is normally like in the Escoe household all the time! Sorry to say, you are wrong and our six days at Give Kids the World was a true slice of heaven.

Well, I’m rambling now and probably not making any sense. It’s hard to be entertaining, in a flip, funny way, about the part of our trip that touched my heart the most ….. I’ll be back to my normal, insufferable self soon. But for now, I’ll just post a few pictures from the village and then get on to the Theme Park portion (a.k.a, "Who made the pact with Satan and sold my children's personalities???"-portion) of our vacation in the next journal entry. Thanks again for your guestbook entries; we get a real kick out of hearing from you guys!
Love, Kristie

The view from outside our villa. Keep in mind, these 2-bedroom, 2-bath villas were bigger than some of the base housing Blaine and I have lived in! OK, well, those of you in the military know that's not always saying much, but it was a great set up ---- very generous accommodations!

Another highlight of the trip, getting to meet one of the All-Kids families we know online. This is Kendrie and her new friend Alexis. Alexis' mom and I have become friends and I was so happy to see them walk into the Gingerbread House (the GKTW restaurant) on our first night! Karen, Alexis, Rachel, the whole gang .... we really enjoyed getting to spend time with you guys!!!

This was one of the kids' favorite village activites -- an interactive Dino-Putt-Putt.

Uh, oh .... maybe it's a little too interactive. Where is that roaring coming from?????

"Hey, get me outta here!"

We even have a brand-new Baskin Robbins built near our home, but you can tell by looking at this photo that there's no comparison for fun! Who wouldn't want to eat an ice cream sundae at 8 in the morning, sitting in a big bowl? We loved it! I'm sure our dentist loves it, too.

No, there's no need to glance at your calendar and scratch your head (or any other body part) in confusion. One night each week at the Village is "Christmas" and we got to hang out with Santa for a while, in addition to doing crafts, games, playing in the snow (!) and enjoying ourselves.

More details to follow.............